Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones is the writer and editor for Page Two of the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544

Email: tjones@tampabay.com

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

  1. Lightning's Kristers Gudlevskis should start Game 3

    Lightning Strikes

    MONTREAL — Desperate teams call for desperate measures.

    And right now the Lightning is one desperate hockey team.

    So here is the desperate measure:

    Turn to another goalie. Turn to the kid. Turn to Kristers Gudlevskis.

    Hey, it's worth a shot.

    What's the worst that can happen? The Lightning loses again? That it has the exact same result as the past two games?

    Have you watched the first two games? Nothing else is working. The Lightning is down 2-0 in this best-of-seven playoff series to the Canadiens, and time is quickly running out to salvage this series and this season....

  2. Loss leaves Lightning full of questions

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Now what?

    What does the Lightning do now?

    Aside from signing Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr and putting them in a time machine, that is.

    Ankle deep in water to start Friday, the Lightning is now waist deep in rising tides. The 2014 playoff run is about go under, over before it really even got started.

    The Lightning is now down 2-0 and heading off to a hostile building in Montreal for Games 3 and 4....

  3. Lightning must switch to playoff mode fast

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    Don't let the closeness of the score fool you.

    Don't be misled that it took extra time to determine a winner.

    And don't for a second think the Lightning was anywhere near the vicinity of being good enough to win Wednesday night's Game 1 of their playoff series against the Canadiens.

    The Lightning got exactly what it deserved. And if it doesn't soon figure out that playoff hockey is not the same as regular-season hockey, it will be getting something else it deserves: an early start to its summer vacation....

    The Canadiens’ P.K. Subban, left, and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning’s best player in the game, scuffle in overtime.
  4. Lightning refuses to listen to doubters

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There's no reason to believe the Lightning has much of a chance in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

    It is starting a backup goalie who has looked every bit like a backup goalie for most of the season.

    It is starting a bunch of rookies whose only NHL playoff experience involves a couch and a remote control.

    Even the guys who have been to the playoffs — veterans such as Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell and Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman — haven't been there in a few years....

    The Lightning's Tom Pyatt gets sandwiched between Montreal Canadiens defensemen Francis Bouillon (55) and Mike Weaver (43) during a game earlier this month in Tampa.
  5. Sports feats to nosh on

    Sports

    We all know the famous records and accomplishments in sports. There's Barry Bonds and his home run records (career, 762; season, 73). There's Emmitt Smith's all-time NFL rushing mark (18,355 yards). There's Brett Favre's touchdown passes record (508). But there are quite a few remarkable statistics that are not officially records, yet might be as surprising and impressive as any official record. Here are five feats that are as fun as they are remarkable:...

  6. Ben Bishop's injury puts Lightning's playoff chances on life support

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This could be bad. Real bad. Like season-is-over bad.

    The playoffs haven't even started and already it feels as if the Lightning is on the brink of elimination.

    That's how it feels when you see starting goalie Ben Bishop gingerly skating off the ice. That's how it feels when you learn Bishop is out with what his agent says is an elbow injury.

    He might miss a week, maybe two, maybe more. The Lightning isn't exactly sure. He might miss just long enough for the team to get bounced out of the first round of the playoffs....

  7. Plenty of love for Lovie Smith among Bucs players

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    Lovie Smith wasn't available Tuesday afternoon at One Buc Place. He was probably trying to see which name — Blake, Teddy or Johnny — looked best on a nameplate above a Bucs locker.

    No matter. There were plenty of others who spent the afternoon bragging about the new Bucs coach.

    Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and newly-demoted quarterback Mike Glennon went on and on about Smith. Lavonte David called him cool. Even kicker Connor Barth was saying how great it was to have Smith in town....

    Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and newly-demoted quarterback Mike Glennon went on and on about Lovie Smith today.
  8. Shooting from the lip

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Funniest rip job

    Turner Sports tried something interesting Saturday during the Final Four.

    TBS carried the two semifinal games with the No. 1 announcing crew of Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr.

    But the games were simulcast on TNT and truTV with announcers geared toward each team. Turner called it the "TeamCast." For example, Saturday's Florida-UConn game was televised on TNT with announcers giving a Gators slant, while those calling the game with a UConn perspective were on truTV....

    Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka celebrates the ICC World Twenty20 cricket title victory over India. You watched, right?
  9. Critics off base of player's paternity leave; the no-Tiger Masters

    TV and Radio

    Anyone who criticized Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the first two games of the season to attend the birth of his child is completely out of line. Talk-radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa each took shots at Murphy. Francesa said it was okay for Murphy to attend the actual birth but that he could have hired a nurse to tend to his wife for her recovery from a caesarean section. Esiason said if his wife were pregnant, he would have wanted her to have a C-section before the season started....

    New York Mets’ Daniel Murphy stands during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, Thursday, April 3, 2014, in New York. Murphy is proud he put fatherhood ahead of baseball, and New York Mets manager Terry Collins thinks criticism his second baseman received for taking paternity leave this week was unfair. Murphy made his season debut Thursday three days after the birth of son Noah. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) NY163
  10. USF athletic director Mark Harlan rights ship after rough start

    College

    TAMPA — Good thing USF announced a new basketball coach Tuesday. Had it waited one more day, new athletic director Mark Harlan would have been out of suits to wear to the news conference.

    "I'm down to the wire," said Harlan, who has been living on the edge and out of a suitcase since starting his job March 24. "This is my last one. This is it."

    Of course, had this whole hiring thing been done right in the first place, Harlan wouldn't have run out of clothes. All this jazz would have been wrapped up a week ago....

  11. David Price still an ace, and still a Ray

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    He wasn't even supposed to be here.

    David Price was supposed to be on another mound Monday, in another city, on another team.

    He could have been in Southern California or New York City. He probably should have been in Chicago or San Francisco or Texas.

    No one thought he would be here. At Tropicana Field. In St. Petersburg. And, most of all, in a Rays uniform....

    David Price plowed into the eighth, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six to lead the Rays past Toronto on opening day.
  12. Shooting from the Lip

    TV and Radio

    Best line

    This happens every year. A bunch of college coaches does a bang-up job in the NCAA Tournament, then we start hearing rumors about those coaches jumping to the NBA.

    Florida's Billy Donovan certainly fanned the flame on his rumors recently by saying he is still intrigued by the NBA and is attracted to a job where all he would have to do is think about basketball instead of basketball along with recruiting and players' eligibility and so forth. Kentucky's John Calipari has been linked to the Knicks, who likely will have an opening after the season....

    Vinny Lecavalier
  13. Tom Jones: Rays shouldn't be a heavy favorite

    The Heater

    Not so fast. Before we start mapping out parade routes and designing World Series championship rings for the Rays, maybe we should just pump the brakes and take a longer look at the upcoming baseball season. Once again, the Rays are baseball's fashionable pick. You can understand why. They have all that pitching. They have all that defense. And they have Joe Maddon, baseball's best manager. Once again, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman has put together a roster strong enough that everyone believes it can win it all. Well, almost everyone. I'm not on board just yet. Look, there is so much to like about these Rays. And if recent history has shown us anything, it's that no one should ever doubt what these guys are capable of. Still, this thing is not a no-brainer slam dunk. There's plenty to doubt, too. Plenty to worry about. Here are five reasons why the Rays might not have a championship season....

    David Ortiz and the World Series champion Red Sox remain the team to beat in the AL East.
  14. Jon Cooper a coach of the year candidate

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    The Lightning appears well on its way to the playoffs, which is quite stunning when you consider all that it has been through this season.

    Its best player, the best goal-scorer in the league, Steven Stamkos, was lost for 45 games with a broken leg.

    The anticipated collapse never came.

    Its next-best player, its heart and soul, Marty St. Louis, forced his way out of town with a trade that left the Lightning without its captain and leading scorer....

    Jon Cooper brought the same laid-back, optimistic, confident style he showed as a lawyer to the NHL and has made it look so easy despite all the roadblocks that should have made it so hard, Tom Jones writes.
  15. Blame for USF Masiello mess falls on many

    College

    Well, that didn't take long.

    USF athletic director Mark Harlan hasn't been on the job long enough to take a coffee break and he already has a hand in the most embarrassing moment in the history of South Florida athletics.

    What a mess.

    USF somehow managed to fire a coach before it even hired him. Only at USF, kids.

    Follow along: USF tried to hire basketball coach Steve Masiello from Manhattan. USF offered him the job. He accepted. He told his old team and started following some of his new players on Twitter. In today's world, that's practically official, right?...

    Steve Masiello talks with Manhattan's Michael Alvarado during the Jaspers' NCAA Tournament loss to Louisville.