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We’re inching closer to sports’ return. Here’s what to watch in the meantime

Various leagues are discussing ways they believe their athletes can return safely. But what to do until then?

You can practically feel the return of live sports in the air.

Local businesses and restaurants are reopening. People are flocking to local parks and beaches for “exercise.” Even the malls will have some life to them, once again.

Various leagues are discussing ways they believe their athletes can return without posing a greater risk to others in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Everything remains hazy, but one of these days the sun will pop through and we’ll have some answers.

Related: For Rays and MLB, plans for starting play are coming into focus

The sports staff of The Tampa Bay Times is as anxious for live sports to return as the rest of you. So, to help satisfy your craving, we’re compiling weekly lists of what we’re watching, streaming, recording on our DVRs (assuming you still have one), listening to and reading.

Here are some of our recommendations for the week:


Road to the Cup, Fox Sports Sun, recommended by Lightning reporter Diana C. Nearhos

  • Are the details of the Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup run a little foggy after 16 years? Fox Sports Sun is airing the victories from each round on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through May 16.

The Rookie, Disney+ subscription or Amazon Prime, recommended by sports trending and outdoors reporter Mari Faiello

  • If you’re looking for a feel-good movie, you should check out The Rookie, based on the life of former major league pitcher Jim Morris, starring Dennis Quaid. Follow Morris’ story as a high school baseball coach who competes in an open tryout in Texas for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, and I had forgotten many of the good bits. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but you’re never too old to follow your dreams.

Live baseball from Korea, ESPN2, recommended by Rays reporter Marc Topkin

  • The 13-hour time difference makes it a challenge, but a DVR can be a good friend as ESPN struck a deal Monday to show live baseball games from Korea, starting at 1 a.m. Tuesday with the NC Dinos-Samsung Lions season opener. From there, the plan is for games at 5:30 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 4 a.m. Saturdays and 1 a.m. Sundays, mostly on ESPN2 or the ESPN app. Among locals to follow: Tampa’s Preston Tucker (Kia Tigers), Sarasota’s Casey Kelly (LG Twins), ex-Ray Taylor Motter (Kiwoom Heroes).

Vintage Rays Games, 95.3-FM WDAE, recommended by Rays reporter Marc Topkin

  • Watching old Rays games on TV — from last season and classics from franchise history — has helped fill the void. But why not try something different and check out Rays replays on the radio? Listen to the familiar voices of Andy Freed, Neil Solondz and Dave Wills, and let your mind explore the scene they create with their words. Games are replayed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at noon on 95.3-FM WDAE. They’re also available through the iHeartRadio app. This week, you can relive games against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Royals.

Searching for Bobby Fischer, Amazon Prime rental or Hulu subscription, recommended by sports columnist John Romano

  • The calendar is meaningless. The TV is always on. You’ve lost brain cells and gained weight. You need something more than championship replays. This one may not be considered, strictly speaking, a sports program. And it will cost you $2.99 to rent on Amazon Prime or a Hulu subscription. But watch the 1993 film Searching for Bobby Fischer with Ben Kingsley, Joan Allen and Laurence Fishburne. You will thank me in the morning.
Related: Lightning, NHL still in theoretical stage of bringing back hockey


Rays history, recommended by Rays reporter Marc Topkin

  • Radio pre-/post-game host Neil Solondz has been doing some really interesting podcasts with key players from Rays history, including Dan Johnson, James Shields and J.P. Howell, and his comforting interview style has gotten them to open up in sharing stories. You can find the interviews, along with those from current players, at There are also video clips on the @RaysRadio Twitter account.

SportsDay Tampa Bay, recommended by Bucs reporter and host Rick Stroud

  • SportsDay Tampa Bay is a daily podcast (Monday-Friday) produced by the Tampa Bay Times that focuses on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, USF, college sports, motorsports, golf and other local and national sports news. Hosted by Times Bucs reporter Rick Stroud and producer Steve Versnick, it’s fun, smart sports talk when you want it. We also have regular guests that include many of our Tampa Bay Times beat reporters, who take you behind the scenes of their latest stories, as well as area sports personalities, players, coaches and general managers. You can interact with us on Twitter at @SportsDayTB, and we will answer your questions in our weekly mailbag segment. It’s available on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.
SportsDay Tampa Bay is a daily podcast (Monday-Friday) produced by The Tampa Bay Times that focuses on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, USF, college sports, motorsports, golf and other local and national sports news of the day. The weekday show is hosted by Bucs reporter Rick Stroud. [Tampa Bay Times]


Meat Market," by Bruce Feldman, recommended by college sports reporter Matt Baker

  • If you want to see how the sausage gets made in college football recruiting, this is the book for you. It’s a fantastic, all-access look at Ole Miss leading up to national signing day in 2007. Among the characters: then-Rebels coach Ed Orgeron, Hugh Freeze and a pair of Tampa quarterbacks, Robert Marve and Stephen Garcia.

Football For a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, by Jeff Pearlman, recommended by college sports reporter Matt Baker

  • The title sums it up perfectly; everything about the USFL was crazy, including some of the spectacles around the Tampa Bay Bandits. It’s a fun, fascinating read full of hard-to-believe stories and a reminder that truth can be stranger than fiction.

Sports on the Air

Monday, May 4

  • NHL Hat-Trick Trivia, 5 p.m., NBC Sports
  • On This Date “2008 New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins,” 5:30 p.m., NBC Sports
  • Greatest Games — 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final: USA vs. China, 7 p.m., FS1
  • Hey Rookie: Welcome to the NFL, 7 p.m., ESPN
  • Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks, 8 p.m., ESPN
  • The National Dog Show, 9 p.m., NBC Sports

Tuesday, May 5

  • Pro Football Talk, 9 a.m., NBC Sports
  • All Access with Notre Dame Women’s Basketball, 10:30 a.m., ACCN
  • SEC Storied: Lolo Jones, 5 p.m., SEC Network
  • Saturdays in the South - Part 4: 1969-1979, 7 p.m., SEC Network
  • 2013: UConn vs. Notre Dame Women’s Basketball, 10 p.m., ACCN

Wednesday, May 6

  • SEC Rewind: 2008 Ole Miss vs. Florida, 1 p.m., SEC Network
  • Dale Jr. Download, 4 p.m., NBC Sports
  • #HockeyatHome “Crossover Athletes,” 5 p.m., NBC Sports
  • iRacing Series — Wednesday Night: Week 6, 7 p.m., FS1
  • 2006 Classic NBA Finals Game 3: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat, 7 p.m., ESPN
  • 30 For 30: The U (Football), 8 p.m., ACCN
  • 2011 Classic NBA Finals Game 2: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, May 7

  • Pro Football Talk, 9 a.m., NBC Sports
  • SEC Rewind: 2007 LSU vs. Kentucky, 1 p.m., SEC Network
  • No. 10 Oregon vs. No. 6 Pittsburgh (Women’s Volleyball), 2 p.m., ACCN
  • NHL Player Gaming Challenge, 5 p.m., NBC Sports
  • On This Date “2010: Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers," 6 p.m., NBC Sports
  • NASCAR Race Classic — 1997 Daytona 500, 7 p.m., FS1
  • ESPN Original Documentaries, 7 p.m., ESPN

Friday, May 8

  • Pro Football Talk, 9 a.m., NBC Sports
  • E:60 Pictures: Hilinski’s Hope, noon, SEC Network
  • Greatest Games: NFL — 1996 NFC Championship: Packers at Cowboys, 7 p.m., FS1
  • College Football — Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m., FS2

Saturday, May 9

  • World of X Games: 10 Years of Real Street, 11 a.m., ESPN2
  • SEC Inside: SEC Basketball Season In Review, 11:30 a.m., SEC Network
  • Cornhole, noon, ESPN
  • American Ninja Warrior “Houston Finals," 2:30 p.m., NBC Sports
  • Greatest Games: MLB — 1988 World Series, Game 1: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Dodgers, 4:30 p.m., FS1
  • E:60 Pictures — Drew Bledsoe: Better With Age, 5 p.m., ESPN2
  • E:60 Pictures: Heir McNair, 6 p.m., ESPN2
  • 2017: Clemson vs. Syracuse (Football), 7 p.m., ACCN
  • Cornhole, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Sunday, May 10

  • E60 Presents: Project 11 — The Alex Smith Story, 9 a.m., ESPN2
  • 1993: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Massachusetts (Men’s Basketball), noon, ACCN
  • American Ninja Warriors “Orlando Finals,” 1 p.m., NBC Sports
  • Road to the Madden Bowl: Part 3, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
  • The Last Dance — Episode 1 (profanity free), 3 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 2 (profanity free), 4 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 3 (profanity free), 5 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 4 (profanity free), 6 p.m., ESPN
  • Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina (Semifinal No. 1, ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament), 6 p.m., ACCN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 5, 7 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 6, 8 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 7, 9 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 7 (profanity free), 9 p.m., ESPN2
  • The Last Dance — Episode 8, 10 p.m., ESPN
  • The Last Dance — Episode 8 (Profanity Free), 10 p.m., ESPN2

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.