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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

Email: tjones@tampabay.com

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

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  1. The stars come out for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    The history of the Stanley Cup playoffs is littered with obscure players who made a name for themselves with unexpected playoff success.

    Right here in Tampa Bay, we've seen little-known players become post­season stars. Ruslan Fedotenko and Sean Bergenheim, for instance.

    While you need everyone to chip in and do their part this time of year, here's the secret to hockey success: If you want to make a deep playoff run, your best players must be your best players....

    Tyler Johnson beats the Red Wings’ Petr Mrazek with his second goal, and the Lightning’s third of the second period.
  2. Game 2 is Lightning's head game (with video)

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON

    Win or lose, the routine is typically the same for NHL coaches after the game.

    Grab a bite to eat, maybe knock back a cold beverage (or two, depending on the result) and, at some point before the next day's practice, dissect the videotape of the game just played.

    The Lightning's Jon Cooper and the Red Wings' Mike Babcock both did just that in the 12 hours or so between Detroit's 3-2 victory in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Thursday night and each team's practice Friday afternoon....

    "Is our thought process, 'Oh my gosh, we threw our best shot at them and we didn't beat them, so we're going to pick up our ball and go home?' No,'' Jon Cooper said. "We'll be ready, swinging for the fences (Saturday).'' [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  3. Lightning's loss is reality check for fans

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    You didn't think this was going to be easy, did you?

    You didn't think the Lightning would simply show up, leisurely skate around for a couple of hours and skate off with a victory in Thursday night's Game 1 of the playoffs against the Red Wings, did you?

    Actually, many of you probably did. And you know what? You could hardly be blamed for getting a little giddy about your team and a little ahead of yourselves....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman (6), left, collides with Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34) during the first period of game one of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening. (04/16/15). Opening face off is at 7:30pm.
  4. Jones: Last year's disappointment fuels Lightning playoff hopes

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON

    They were here, in this exact spot, one year ago.

    The Stanley Cup playoffs were about to begin, and the Lightning was ready to plow over all comers in a two-month joyride to a championship.

    Despite that messy soap opera with captain Marty St. Louis and the horrific injury to Steven Stamkos, the resilient Lightning put together a 101-point season and thought of itself as a legitimate Cup contender as the playoffs got under way....

    Captain Steven Stamkos looks down as time runs out during the Lightning's Game 3 loss to the Canadiens last season. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Tom Jones' Two Cents NHL playoff preview

    Lightning Strikes

    How wide open is this year's race for the Stanley Cup?

    Well, consider this: the defending champion Kings didn't make the postseason. Neither did the Big Bad Bruins, the team with the best record in hockey just a season ago. Seven teams that missed the playoffs last season are in this season. That's the biggest turnover in the history of the league.

    So, as the playoffs are set to begin Wednesday, here's a look at what should be a crazy first round....

    Rangers wing Rick Nash was third in the league in regular-season goals with 42 and 20th in points with 69.
  6. Masters leads TV's highs, lows from sports weekend

    Sports

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

    Worst trend

    When did it become acceptable for golf announcers to openly root for golfers?

    You hear it all the time on all the networks, announcers wanting golfers to do well. Here's an example:

    During Saturday's third round of the Masters, Charley Hoffman had a short putt on No. 16. As the putt was sliding past the hole, CBS's Verne Lundquist (near right) yelled, "Get in there!'' When it didn't, Lundquist let out a disappointed "Awww.''...

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees reacts after he hit a pop fly in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 8, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) 538577067
  7. Ratings game, media notes and 3 things that popped into Tom Jones' head

    College

    The ratings game

    The NCAA men's basketball ball tournament averaged 11.3 million viewers, the best it has averaged since 1993 when 12.7 million viewers tuned in. The Monday night final between Duke and Wisconsin had 28.30 million viewers, the most since 28.36 million watched Kentucky and Arizona in 1997.

    Meantime, the game did well in Canada, too. TSN drew 325,00 viewers. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot, but it was a record for a the championship game on the network....

  8. Jones: Are baseball players soft?

    Ml

    Maybe it's a good thing that the Rays are out of town this weekend because this probably wouldn't go over too well in their clubhouse.

    But don't you sometimes think baseball players are a little soft, at least when compared to other athletes?

    For starters, baseball players aren't in nearly as good of shape as other athletes. Babe Ruth might have been the greatest baseball player ever and he looked like he ate a steady diet of powder doughnuts, hot dogs and beer. Have you seen the Red Sox's Pablo Sandoval lately? Or the Yankees' CC Sabathia?...

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 09: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox check swings at a high inside pitch in the third inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 9, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) 538577167
  9. Jones: UConn's women's basketball dominance contributes to ratings dip

    College

    Good team, bad audience

    Last week, I wrote that, perhaps, UConn's dominance in women's basketball was actually bad for the sport. It wasn't meant to slam UConn, but the point was fans might lose interest because they already knew who was going to win. Well, consider this: Tuesday's championship game on ESPN in which UConn won a third national title in a row and 10th overall, drew 3.08 million viewers. It was the lowest audience in six years. More viewers (3.9 million) watched the final round of the PGA's Houston Open....

  10. UConn coach Geno Auriemma extends his legacy

    College

    TAMPA

    One night after Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski put down stakes among the best coaches in the history of college basketball, Connecticut women's coach Geno Auriemma planted his name among the all-time greats.

    Ever. In any sport.

    This son of Italian immigrants who moved to Philadelphia when Geno was 7 is now in rarefied air, right next to coaching legends such as John Wooden and Phil Jackson. On Tuesday night, right here at Amalie Arena, Auriemma claimed his 10th national title and third in a row when his Huskies methodically dispensed of plucky Notre Dame in the women's final....

    “I was a big fan,” UConn’s Geno Auriemma says of John Wooden, who won 10 men’s titles.
  11. Calm Kevin Cash makes managerial debut with Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A framed poster of Bo Jackson holding a baseball bat hangs on one wall. On another is a Florida State baseball sign. That's about it. Save for a couple of desk-sized photos of his kids, that's about the extent of the decorations inside the office of new Rays manager Kevin Cash.

    "I need to do a little bit more," Cash said.

    You'll have to pardon his dust. Right now, he's busy trying to construct something a little more important: a competitive baseball club. This fixer-upper, missing a few of its support beams, might require lots of sweat judging by Monday's season opener....

    Kevin Cash, right, greeting Orioles manager Buck Showalter, is low-key about his debut. Cash’s family? Not quite as calm.
  12. Emotional roller-coaster Final Four ends for South Carolina seniors

    College

    TAMPA

    Notre Dame's familiar fight song echoed through Amalie Arena. Irish players danced and hugged in front of their bench. A Notre Dame assistant coach raised her arms and yelled to the Irish faithful, "Let's go!" but the fans needed no prodding. They were already giddy from Notre Dame's heart-fluttering, nail-biting, stomach-testing 66-65 victory over South Carolina in Sunday evening's national semifinal....

    Seniors Aleighsa Welch and Elem Ibiam walk off the court after their last college game for South Carolina.
  13. Jones: Is ESPN's K-Zone too much technology?

    Ml

    Familiar with ESPN's K-Zone? It's the little box that appears over home plate that shows whether a pitch was a ball or a strike during a game. Usually, the K-Zone is used strictly on replays. But this season, look for ESPN to use it during live action for most pitches. That's what ESPN producer Phil Orlins told Sports Business Daily.

    Ugh. Not sure I like this idea. I don't even like TBS's use of the strike-zone box and that's limited to the corner of the television screen. The ESPN K-Zone will be a box over the middle of the plate. Sounds like it could be a distraction. Then again, most of us thought the boxes in the corner of the screen telling viewers the score and the count and the inning and number of outs used to be a distraction and now we can't imagine watching even one pitch without it....

  14. UConn's greatness not necessarily a boon for the sport

    College

    It has lost one game in two seasons. It has dismantled teams by embarrassing scores: 115-26, 117-44, 102-43. It has won an NCAA Tournament game by 51 points. Its average margin of victory this season — an incredible 42.5 points.

    Yes, the UConn women's basketball team is good. Really good.

    Too good.

    So good that the Huskies are bad — bad for women's basketball. They have taken the drama and intrigue out of the game and replaced it with monotony and foregone conclusions....

  15. Media notes and three things that popped into Tom Jones' head

    College

    Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its web site, ESPN debuted a newly-designed site last week. The redesign features a much cleaner looking home page and seems best suited for the growing number of viewers who use mobile devices.

    • Raul Ibanez, who was a candidate for the Rays manager's opening last offseason, will work this season for Fox. He will serve as a studio analyst and will also be seen on various Fox Sports 1 shows such as Fox Sports Live and America's Pregame. By the way, look for Fox and Fox Sports 1 to combine to show about 65 games this season....