Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for 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 as writer and editor for 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


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

  1. Rays can't keep this up, can they?

    The Heater


    Big game. Big series.

    Huge win.

    Rays vs. Red Sox. Even normally sleepy Tropicana Field had a bit of buzz to it Friday night. Okay, so it wasn't Fenway Park, and it didn't quite feel like October, but it did feel like a game that mattered.

    And right now, the Rays are suddenly a team that matters playing games that matter.

    Opening night of this key three-game series against those hated Red Sox, and David Price was throwing peas and Evan Longoria was hitting seeds. The Rays' two stars led the way to keep the winning streak going. It's now eight and counting after the 6-4 win....

    It’s a team high-five after the Rays win their eighth straight and go to 20-5 for the past month.
  2. Bucs camp off to a better, boring start



    First day of Bucs camp, and if you're looking for controversy, all we can offer is Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy showing up in a robe and slippers.

    There you go. That's pretty much it. There's your TMZ moment. Big guy rolls out of bed and goes to work. Film at 11.

    No one stayed away demanding a new contract. No one showed up two hours late with booze on his breath. No one left his brain at home and said something stupid....

    Let's see if the new additions on defense, such as Clinton McDonald, left, and Michael Johnson, right, are better than the players they are replacing, Tom Jones writes. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Tony Dungy's comments on Michael Sam disappointing … and hypocritical


    Tony Dungy has long been the conscience of the National Football League.

    He is thoughtful and kind and smart. He is a pioneer, the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl.

    His words have meaning. His opinions carry weight. We seek his advice.

    We listen to him. We like him.

    Most of all, we trust him.

    Which is why it was so disappointing to hear his comments — and his rather convoluted and contradictory explanation of those comments — about the first openly gay player in NFL history....

    Michael Sam, SEC co-defensive player of the year, accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS July 16 in Los Angeles.
  4. Best and worst of weekend televised sports

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Biggest switch

    The big controversy in sports media at the moment is Fox announcing that Pam Oliver has been removed from her role as sideline reporter for its No. 1 NFL broadcast team, which includes Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Erin Andrews will take Oliver's spot, and Oliver will work one more season on the NFL with the No. 2 team of Kevin Burkhardt and former Bucs safety John Lynch....

    Does anyone really care what the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton — or anyone else — did in the Home Run Derby?
  5. TV networks hope to ride soccer surge

    World Cup

    It was the 84th minute of the World Cup final.

    Germany and Argentina were locked in a tense 0-0 game. The first goal almost assuredly would be the deciding goal in one of the best soccer tournaments we have ever seen.

    As we inched dramatically toward a thrilling conclusion, ESPN announcer Ian Darke took a moment to remind fans that later that night on ESPN, Portland was taking on Seattle in a key Major League Soccer match....

    Clint Dempsey has a strong following as a World Cup player and with the MLS’s Seattle Sounders.
  6. Best, worst of weekend sports TV: LeBron breaks his story


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best story

    Perhaps the most delicious part of the breaking news that LeBron James was going back to Cleveland to continue his NBA career was who actually broke the story: LeBron James. Well, that's mostly right. While it seemed as if ESPN had 100 reporters working the story, not to mention all the other news outlets that were scrambling for the big scoop, James controlled the message by working with Sports Illustrated writer Lee Jenkins. Here's what happened: Jenkins is a longtime NBA writer for SI and has known James for years. He penned the cover story when James was named the magazine's "Sportsman of the Year'' in 2012 and wrote a piece late last year nominating James for the 2014 "Sportsman of the Year.'' Last spring, Jenkins approached his editors with the idea of writing a first-person story about James' upcoming free agency. Last week, Jenkins informed his bosses that the James story might come to fruition. It appears that James and his camp reached out to Jenkins. According to several reports, Jenkins met James in Las Vegas on Thursday....

    AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 26:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Detroit Pistons  during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 26, 2009 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The Cavaliers won 99-78. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
  7. For LeBron James, this decision feels right


    This time LeBron James got it right.

    He said it the right way, with class and grace.

    He did it for the right reasons, such as loyalty and humility.

    This time there will be no burning of jerseys or hanging of effigies. This time there will be no disparaging words or hurtful criticism.

    This time he deserves our applause and admiration, our open arms, our pats on the back.

    Four years after leaving, Le­Bron James is going home....

    LeBron James, then a Cavalier, in 2007.
  8. Paul Azinger says Tiger Woods needs to regain confidence


    The 143rd British Open begins Thursday at Royal Liverpool in England. It's only the second time in the past 47 years the seaside course has hosted the Open Championship. The other time was 2006, when Tiger Woods scorched the course by shooting 18 under and winning by five shots over Ernie Els and a stunning 17 shots ahead of third-place finisher Mark Calcavecchia. We get you ready for the Open with this Two Cents preview, including a Q&A with Bradenton's Paul Azinger, who will be the lead analyst on ESPN's coverage of the season's third major tournament. Azinger, 54, won the 1993 PGA Championship and nearly won the British Open in 1987....

    Royal Liverpool’s 198-yard, par 3 11th hole, “Alps,” will play as the 13th hole in the British Open this week in Hoylake, England.
  9. Baseball steroid policy needs more bite


    Why would you ever take steroids?

    In a more innocent time, in a more decent and honorable day, that was a question that you would ask a baseball player.

    The question today is: Why wouldn't you take steroids?

    These days, it all seems worth it.

    The health risks. The shame of being labeled a cheater. The temporary loss of employment.

    It seems like no big deal.

    Look around major-league baseball. Look at the players who have been busted. Look at how their careers have not only continued, but flourished....

    Nelson Cruz sat out 50 games and then signed an $8 million deal with the Orioles. [AP photo]
  10. Jeremy Hellickson gives Rays (and fans) some hope

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — We now welcome you back to the bizarre career of Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.

    Part drama and part mystery, Hellickson has become baseball's version of the show Lost. You tune in, but you honestly have no idea what you were watching.

    With Hellickson, he remains an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. I'm still not exactly sure what I'm seeing and, more important, where it is all headed....

    Jeremy Hellickson makes his season debut, lasting 4⅓ innings (84 pitches) and giving up one run on six hits.
  11. Best and worst of weekend sports TV

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Because of the focus on the World Cup, Wimbledon seemed to slip under the radar this year. Having no Americans reach the quarterfinals on either the men's or women's side also didn't do ESPN any favors. Still, ESPN did a bang-up job for the fortnight. Chris McKendry was more than capable as host. She took over the lion's share of hosting duties with Mike Tirico off in Brazil doing the World Cup. Chris Fowler also did a solid job as the main play-by-play voice. ESPN also continues to get strong work from the likes of Chris Evert, Cliff Drysdale and Brad Gilbert. But there's no question about who the stars are: the McEnroe brothers, John and Patrick. John McEnroe has turned into arguably the best analyst of any sport. He is honest without being preachy, authoritative without being arrogant and funny without being a smart aleck. He is simply brilliant. On Sunday morning, John and his brother were the perfect analysts to call Novak Djokovic's thrilling five-set victory over Roger Federer. They never once overshadowed the match, yet perfectly complemented the drama with well-timed and consistently good analysis....

    Brothers John, left, and Patrick McEnroe were the stars of ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage with their consistently good analysis.
  12. Yzerman improves Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    The last time we saw the Lightning, it was skating off the ice in Montreal, pretty much domi­nated and thoroughly dejected after being swept out of the playoffs by the Canadiens.

    It was such a bummer end to what had been a surprisingly feel-good season.

    Playing without injured starting goalie Ben Bishop, the Lightning was better than it showed in the postseason but, clearly, still miles from where it needs to be if it wants to become a real-deal contender in the NHL....

    At forward, the Lightning added 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle, left, a grittier, meaner and more-skilled version of Nate Thompson. [Times files (2012)]
  13. Beautiful party over for U.S. at World Cup



    Shoulder to shoulder we stood, an uncomfortably crowded mass of Americans wearing red, white and blue on our backs, our heads, and in some cases, on our faces.

    It was hot. Hot and sticky and steamy.

    It was loud, so obnoxiously loud that conversations were often reduced to nods and hand gestures.

    It was smelly, a musty blend of booze breath and sweat and half-eaten nachos....

    U.S. fan Anita Wray, left, hugs Sofia Trogu during a public viewing party on Tuesday in San Francisco.
  14. 10 reasons the Rays are baseball's worst

    The Heater

    When the baseball schedule came out, no one would have been surprised that this weekend's series between the Rays and Astros would have included the worst team in baseball. We just wouldn't have thought the worst team would be the Rays. But that's what has happened. The Rays came into the series with a record of 25-42, which had them 5 1/2 games behind an Astros team expected to be the worst in baseball. What's happened? How did the Rays get here? Here are 10 reasons why the Rays are the worst team in baseball....

  15. Marty St. Louis secures Game 4 win for Rangers

    Lightning Strikes


    A little after 5 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, Rangers forward Marty St. Louis, wearing a sharp and perfectly cut charcoal-colored suit, entered the employees entrance of Madison Square Garden near the corner of 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue

    And he was promptly stopped by security.

    First his bag was checked. Then another security officer ordered him to go to the back of the line, behind other MSG employees waiting to get in so he could be patted down....

    Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist makes 40 saves in the 2-1 Game 4 win over the Kings, who outshoot New York 41-19, including 15-1 in the third period.