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

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  1. For LeBron James, this decision feels right

    Nba

    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.
  2. Paul Azinger says Tiger Woods needs to regain confidence

    Pga

    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....

  3. Baseball steroid policy needs more bite

    Ml

    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, who served a 50-game suspension last summer, will start in next week’s All-Star Game.
Getty Images
  4. 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.
  5. 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....

    New York Yankees’  Derek Jeter looks to third base coach Rob Thomson during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt) MNAH108
  6. 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....

    Anton Stralman
  7. Beautiful party over for U.S. at World Cup

    Sports

    ST. PETERSBURG

    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....

    NEW YORK: Fans sit in defeat under Brooklyn’s Manhattan Bridge after the United States lost 2-1 in extra time to Belgium.
  8. 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....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9), with a cast on his right wrist, during batting practice before the start of the Miami Marlins against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.
  9. Marty St. Louis secures Game 4 win for Rangers

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    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.
  10. Marty St. Louis: 'Was anyone more loyal?'

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    You can still see the hurt in his eyes. You can still hear the frustration in his voice. Marty St. Louis is fully aware of what's going on back in Tampa Bay. He knows that he is seen as a traitor, a deserter, someone who wadded up his Lightning sweater and threw it in the trash. He stomped his feet and held his breath until he got his way. You should know that he hears you and he knows what you think: that he turned his back on Tampa Bay. "You think I turned my back?" St. Louis said with a pained look on his face while standing in a quiet corner outside the Rangers dressing room at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday afternoon. "Turned my back? Really? I was there 13, 14 years. Was there anyone more loyal to them in those 14 years?" Those 14 years should have turned into forever. It should have ended with a retired number in the rafters and a statue outside the building. It should have ended with his name on the door of a corner office that overlooked a street named in his honor. Instead, the most beloved player in franchise history might now be the most despised. He knows that, and it hurts him deeply....

    Marty St. Louis says being left off Canada’s Olympic team — by Steve Yzerman — was the key factor in his trade demand.
  11. Stanley Cup party is over for Rangers

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK — What a king-sized bummer.

    Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena, was revved up and ready for a party Monday night. The first Stanley Cup final game here in 20 years was to be the setting for the first victory in this final for the Rangers.

    Mark Messier, the captain and star of the 1994 Cup-champion Rangers, was there. So was Robert De Niro. Jimmy Fallon, too. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston was shown on the scoreboard, looking every bit as creepy as Walter White while firing up fans who, truth be known, were already about as fired up as they could be....

    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 09:  Dwight King #74 of the Los Angeles Kings takes a shot past John Moore #17 of the New York Rangers during the first period of Game Three of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on June 9, 2014 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 495643199
  12. Brad Richards the Rangers' unappreciated man

    Lightning Strikes

    NEW YORK

    At the grand entrance of Madison Square Garden, near the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 33rd Street in midtown Manhattan, a massive collage of great Rangers moments and players covers the wall and welcomes fans to "Ranger Town."

    Right next to slightly-larger-than-life-sized photos of superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist and defenseman Ryan McDonagh stands yet another, this one of Marty St. Louis. Little girls and grown men alike, all jacked up for tonight's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final between the Rangers and Kings, take turns having their photos taken with the likeness of the former Lightning star....

    The Rangers’ Brad Richards, left, has five goals and six assists in this year’s playoffs
  13. California Chrome fails to win Triple Crown, owner cries foul (w/video)

    Horseracing

    ELMONT, N.Y.

    This was supposed to be the year. The story was perfect.

    A couple of working-class regular Joes, self-proclaimed "dumb a----" who were novices to the horse game, scraped together a paltry $10,000 to buy a jittery filly and breed her with a colt that had breathing problems and had never won a major race. The union was a horse with a name picked out of a hat.

    Trained by a quiet 77-year-old who runs a tiny barn far off the beaten path way out west and ridden by a jockey who was afraid of horses when he was a child, California Chrome came to the Belmont Stakes wearing a breathing strip and ready to rewrite history Saturday by becoming the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown....

    Tonalist, left, with Joel Rosario up edges out Commissioner with Javier Castellano up to win the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) ELM132
  14. California Chrome takes on history in Belmont Stakes

    Horseracing

    ELMONT, N.Y. — Standing along the rail up against the home stretch of the Belmont Park race track, you look over an enormous plot of dirt and sadly realize that here — right here in front of you — is where dreams go to die.

    A dozen horses have won the first two legs of horse racing's elusive Triple Crown over the past 36 years. None has won the third leg here at Belmont. One didn't even try. And it's because of right here, the home stretch of a torturous mile-and-a-half track that zaps the resources of even a special thoroughbred and turns him into just another footnote in the annals of horse racing....

    California Chrome, with exercise rider William Delgado up, works out at Belmont Park on the eve of the Belmont Stakes.
  15. Tom Jones' Stanley Cup final preview

    Lightning Strikes

    Neither team should be here, you know.

    Take the Rangers. They should be gone. Long gone.

    Back in the second round of these Stanley Cup playoffs, they trailed the Penguins, 3-1, in their best-of-seven series. They were 60 minutes from golf season, just one loss from another disappointing playoff exit. There were whispers that it was time to fire general manager Glen Sather, blow up the whole roster, start over from scratch....

    New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis, right, takes a shot on goal during a team practice Sunday at the Rangers training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y.  [AP]