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Martin Fennelly, Times Sports Columnist

Martin Fennelly

Martin Fennelly is a sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. He was born in New York City, raised on Long Island and was sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, minding his own business, when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in one night to beat the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Prior to joining the Times, he worked as a columnist for the Tampa Tribune, St. Louis Sun and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Martin graduated from the University of Albany, where he studied history, and attended the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Lutz with his wife, Siobhan, their children, Conor and Norah, and, at present, five cats.

Phone: (727) 893-8495

  1. Fennelly: Bucs' offense takes huge step by drafting O.J. Howard


    TAMPA — This is a 10-win Bucs offense.

    Maybe an 11-win offense.

    Whether it's an 11- or 12-win Bucs defense is another question. Whether the Bucs will be a playoff team next season is still another question.

    But this offense took a huge step Thursday night — in the way it will look, in the way it will eventually perform. The new man, O.J. Howard, arrived at One Buc Place on Friday, the latest toy for Jameis Winston, a stunner, dropping into the Bucs' laps in the first round. I didn't see one mock draft the past three months that had Howard lasting past the 15th pick....

    Tight end O.J. Howard from University of Alabama, selected by the Buccaneers in the first round of the NFL draft, is introduced at a press conference at One Buc Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, April 28, 2017. The Buccaneers selected Howard with the 19th overall pick. Seen to his left is head coach Dirk Koetter, and to his right general manager Jason Licht.
  2. Jim Harbaugh remains a world beater


    Jim Harbaugh has crossed the Rubicon.

    And I love it.

    Michigan’s daffy, driven head coach has marched on Rome with his team and family. Field trip.

    At the Vatican, Harbaugh handed a Wolverines helmet and Jordan shoes to: Pope Francis.

    Talk about team building.

    Then he addressed the media.

    Harbaugh, that is, not the Pope. Harbaugh wore a suit – and a Michigan cap....

    Jim Harbaugh makes college football interesting, unpredictable and fun, Martin Fennelly writes.
  3. Bucs can't go wrong with a safety or tight end


    It’s time for last-second crazy talk.

    Give me a safety or give me a tight end.

    Give me a destroyer of tight ends or a destroyer of safeties.

    The NFL Draft is here. The Bucs sit at the 19th pick, at least at the moment.

    This team has all sorts of needs. Safety is an obvious one. Tight end isn’t.

    Either one works for me.

    NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s mock draft Wednesday night had Ohio State safety Malik Hooker falling all the way to the Bucs. I’m not seeing that, but if Hooker does drop, great news. Me? I’d move up a few spots to get him. If that happened, and if I was a Bucs fan, I’d start banging pots and pans in celebration....

    If Ohio State safety Malik Hooker drops to No. 19, great news.
  4. Nikita Kucherov needs to shut his yapsky


    Shut your yapsky.

    Lightning All-Star scorer Nikita Kucherov waited until he was all the way back in Russia, preparing for the hockey world championships, before he slammed teammates’ lack of commitment during their disappointing, playoff-less season.

    The 23-year-old Kucherov’s lips were mostly zipped down the stretch this season, his anger presumably mounting. But show some guts. Do it here. Don’t tail gun from afar. Don’t tell a Russian news outlet that some Lightning players “got their money and stopped working.” Of course, that’s translated....

    Lightning All-Star scorer Nikita Kucherov waited until he was all the way back in Russia, preparing for the hockey world championships, before he slammed teammates’ lack of commitment during their disappointing, playoff-less season, Martin Fennelly writes.
  5. Junior's legacy goes beyond his father


    Dale Earnhardt Jr. is stepping away from NASCAR after this, his 18th season. Surely his sport must be in a white-hot panic. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart retiring is one thing. Junior’s departure is an earthquake. His sport needs him. More than it should, probably. Maybe it was lazy in always thinking Junior would be there.

    Junior doesn’t leave racing as one of the best drivers in history. His father might be the chart topper in that regard....

  6. Fennelly: It's April and the NFL still owns your soul ... just admit it


    It is that time of year. That Mel and Todd time of year. That 14,000 hours of continuous NFL Network coverage time of year. I remain bedridden from the network's "preseason schedule" special.

    It's that time of year, when the National Football League reminds us who runs the sports world. Here are four words that should send you scurrying to build a backyard underground shelter: seven-round mock drafts....

    Workmen construct the stage for the upcoming 2017 NFL football draft on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in view of the Rocky statue in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) PX105
  7. Fennelly: Jameis, just avoid the Island of Misfit Toys (w/video)


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston arrived at One Buc Place on Monday for the start of the team's offseason conditioning program.

    Winston's optimism is Week 1 ready.

    "I'm going to be excited, man," Winston said. "I'm dreaming right now."

    Now it's the long road to making dreams a reality.

    The Bucs appear to be clearing the deck, removing all obstacles for their third-year franchise quarterback in the name of the playoffs and his progress. They signed DeSean Jackson. Next Thursday night, Winston might get another early Christmas present in the NFL draft, possibly a running back or tight end, maybe even his former Florida State teammate, Dalvin Cook....

    As an NFC South quarterback, Jameis Winston has some very tough acts to keep up with.
  8. Fennelly: One-handed pitcher Kevin Ewing a perfect inspiration


    ST. PETERSBURG — It happens a lot when he pitches. And he loves it.

    "I'll hear the other team in the dugout," 18-year-old Kevin Ewing said. "They'll say 'He's left-handed. … No, he's right-handed. … No, he's left-handed.' My movement is pretty quick.

    "There was an umpire who was convinced I was ambidextrous. I had a coach one summer, we played 20 games, and it was 18 games in when we were working on a hidden-ball trick and he finally realized I only had the one hand. It was awesome. It was funny. Pretty entertaining."...

    California Angel?€™s pitcher Jim Abbott leaps for a line drive by New York Yankees Jesse Barfield in the fifth inning wednesday night.

Baseball Teams, California Angels
  9. Fennelly: Tampa Bay, like many others, had a friend in Dan Rooney (w/ video)


    Dan Rooney died Thursday. The Pittsburgh Steelers chairman helped make that franchise a six-time Super Bowl winner and a model of consistency. He helped grow the NFL, too. He was a voice of reason among NFL owners on a number of issues, including minority hiring. Football had a friend in Dan Rooney.

    "Pittsburgh certainly did," said Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Bucs coach Tony Dungy said of the 84-year-old Rooney. "And just people in general. Dan was so much about doing the right thing and listening to people and making good decisions."...

    FILE--This Nov. 2, 2014 file photo shows Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Greene, left, hugging Steelers chairman Dan Rooney following a ceremony to retire Greene's jersey number 75 at half time of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers announced that Mr. Rooney died Thursday, April 13, 2017. He was 84. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar/File) PAGP102
  10. Fennelly: Lights, camera ... crickets? Charlie Strong adjusts to different fan base at USF


    TAMPA — Where are the cameras?

    USF football coach Charlie Strong has asked that more than once after one of his open spring practices, a fresh slant for him, intended to let the media in to see his Bulls. But the cameras haven't been there a lot. Um, same goes for sports columnists. Strong wonders: Where is everybody, anyway?

    He comes from a short, rough tenure at Texas, a school with a 100,000-seat stadium and its own TV network. Those Longhorn Network cameras were always there. As for the rest of the cameras, they were outside looking in. Closed spring workouts....

     Charlie Strong says he couldn’t hold open practices when he coached Texas because it would’ve been a distraction. But at USF, that’s not the problem. Creating a buzz is.
  11. Do Bucs and FSU fans like the idea of Dalvin Cook through the Tallahassee pipeline?


    Hey, FSU/Bucs fans, we're reporting from the Tampa Bay Times Draft Central analysis center (we have lights, bells, printouts and everything).

    I'm here to ask Florida State and Bucs fans a question:

    How do you feel about the Bucs possibly having another high-profile Seminole, running back Dalvin Cook, in their sights for a third straight year?

    The Bucs have gone Jameis Winston at No. 1 and took kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round. Is it a good or bad thing if the Bucs turn into Little Tallahassee?...

  12. Your intention, please: Look what baseball's done to the intentional walk

    The Heater

    History occurred last Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Play wasn't stopped. No one asked for the ball.

    Rays hitter Corey Dickerson walked to the plate in the 11th inning of a 2-2 game. Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin stopped him.

    "Get out of here," Martin said.

    Dickerson had just been intentionally walked.

    As he reached first, he heard the first baseman.

    "Keep on going," the voice said....

    Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, left, calls for an intentional walk from reliever Neal Cotts on Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria. right, during the eighth inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Longoria went on to score the go-ahead run in a 5-4 win over the Rangers.
  13. Martin Fennelly's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The streaking Steven Souza Jr. had the big bop Sunday, a three-run homer — his first of the season — an inning after he and Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki jawed after a late Souza slide into second base and Tulowitzki in the second. Benches cleared. An inning later, bases cleared, courtesy of Souza.

    Jake Odorizzi, who lost his first start, came back strong after a two-run first. He was on his game as he shut the Jays down after that, allowing no hits and facing the minimum in his final five innings. This despite taking a smashed Jose Bautista one-hopper to his hamstring in the third (Odorizzi pounced on the ball and threw Bautista out)....

     New Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Martin Fennelly.
  14. Fennelly: Steven Souza Jr. continues sizzling start for Rays

    The Heater

    Break up Steven Souza Jr.

    One inning after the annual bench-clearing argument between the Rays outfielder and Blue Jays shortstop and royal pain Troy Tulowitzki, Souza got the best of Tulo, just like he keeps getting the best of this young season.

    It's a small sampling, but it beats the previous Souza model, the one that Rays fans had grown weary of across two injury-infested, strikeout-filled seasons, that faraway look as Souza trudged away from the plate....

    Steven Souza Jr., facing camera, gets a hug from catcher Wilson Ramos after his three-run home run in the third inning of the Rays’ victory over the Blue Jays to close out a 5-2 homestand. Up next: the Yankees. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  15. Fennelly: Derek Jeter, owner of Marlins rather than Rays? Sigh

    The Heater

    Don't tell me: The first thing he's going to do is raise the outfield walls.

    There is a report that Derek Jeter, Tampa's Derek Jeter is the face, front and center, of a group interested in purchasing the: Miami Marlins.

    Jeets, what about us?

    Yes, the Rays are owned, majority wise, by Stuart Sternberg. And Sternberg has done mostly right by Tampa Bay. But that won't last if he doesn't strike oil on one of those 311 potential stadium sites....

    Derek Jeter appears interested in buying the Marlins. Well, it’s fun to at least imagine him running the Rays instead.