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....
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....
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....
07/08/14 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....
07/06/14 TV and Radio
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
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....
07/03/14 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....
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....
06/13/14 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....
06/11/14 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....
06/10/14 Lightning Strikes
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....
06/09/14 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....
06/08/14 Lightning Strikes
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....
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....
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....
06/03/14 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....