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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


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

  1. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    That's not what sports columnists are supposed to say.

    We're supposed to have strong opinions. We're supposed to have hot takes. We're supposed to write like Stephen A. Smith talks.

    Loudly and confidently and no one is going to tell us we're wrong. We're supposed to write in permanent marker, not pencils with big erasers....

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  2. Jones: Mallex Smith has the write stuff for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Kevin Kiermaier went down with an injury earlier this month, the Rays' season was supposed to go down with him.

    That happened last year. Remember? The centerfielder missed two months and Tampa Bay fell off the face of the earth, going 14-34 in his absence. So when he went on the disabled list on June 9, many expected the Rays' engine to once again sputter, stall, crash and burn without its sparkplug....

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Tom Jones: If Warren Sapp is worried about NFL safety, we all should be worried


    Warren Sapp is the baddest man Tampa Bay has ever known.

    Has there ever been a football player who was meaner? Tougher? More brash? More arrogant? More macho?

    Sapp is the epitome of the perfect football player, exemplifying all the immense skill, courage and grit necessary to be a Hall of Famer.

    But these days, the guy who was never afraid of anything is scared to death of the one thing he dominated....

    Sapp, perhaps the toughest Buc of all time, seems to be paying a price now for his all-out play during a Hall of Fame career.
  4. The truth about golf's longing for the next Tiger Woods


    Did you see? One of "our'' guys won golf's U.S. Open.

    Brooks Koepka grew up in Palm Beach County. He won a Florida high school state golf title. He played at Florida State. His brother played at USF.

    Good for him. Yay for us.

    Okay, now that that's out of the way, here's what else happened over the weekend at the U.S. Open.

    A whole lot of nothing.

    We've seen the future of golf without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. And I have one word....

    HARTFORD, WI - JUNE 18:  Brooks Koepka of the United States poses with the winner's trophy with Jena Sims after his victory at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 18, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) 692255529
  5. Jones: Golf fans, give Fox's U.S. Open coverage a chance

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Most polarizing coverage

    This is the third year Fox has broadcast golf's U.S. Open, and reviews for the first two years were not good. So how did this year go?

    First, the field did the TV network absolutely no favors. The leaderboard was full of unknowns, save for Rickie Fowler. Big names including Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day missed the cut. Phil Mickelson withdrew to attend his daughter's high school graduation, and Tiger Woods is still out....

    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to National Basketball Association all-time leading scorer and social justice advocate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 683132747
  6. What to make of Jameis Winston's mini-camp interceptions


    TAMPA — The hot summer sun was beating down on the final day of Bucs mini-camp.

    Coach Dirk Koetter made a deal: If kickers Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk make two field goals each without missing, practice is over.

    Both did their job and the giddy players mobbed the kickers, cheering at the chance to knock off 20 minutes early....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson is congratulated by offensive tackle Donovan Smith and quarterback Jameis Winston after making an end zone catch during the third day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, June 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  7. Jones: Why Lightning fans won't lose sleep over Drouin trade to Montreal

    Lightning Strikes

    Jonathan Drouin is a decent NHL player on his way to being a good NHL player.

    He might even turn out to be a very good player.

    But it won't be for the Lightning.

    And that's fine.

    Au revoir, Jonathan, and don't let the Zamboni door hit you on the way out of town. Then again, if the Zamboni door is in the defensive end, there's no chance Drouin will be anywhere near it.

    Don't fret, Lightning fans. Don't lose sleep. This is all going to work out just fine....

    Mikhail Sergachev #26 of Team Russia bites down on his bronze medal during the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship bronze medal game against Team Sweden at the Bell Centre on January 5, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Sergachev on Thursday in a trade that sent forward Jonathan Drouin to Motntreal.  Sergachev's Team Russia defeated Team Sweden 2-1 in overtime to win the bronze medal.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
  8. Jones: Forget the naysayers. Cavs-Warriors made for a great season


    So what does it all mean?

    For Golden State? For LeBron? For us?

    The NBA season is over. Warriors-Cavs, Part III punctuated one of the most memorable, if not competitive, seasons in league history. Golden State won its second championship in three seasons in a five-game series that had only two close games....

    The Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant carries his MVP trophy as he celebrates with fans a championship after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-120, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 12, 2017. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group/TNS) 1204013
  9. Jones: Good bit of tarnish on this Stanley Cup

    Lightning Strikes

    The Nashville Predators got hosed and the NHL got embarrassed. And, oh, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup.

    That's what happened Sunday night. Too bad that one of the most special moments in sports — the presentation of the coolest trophy there is — was more ammunition for those who think the NHL is rinky-dink league and the latest example for conspiracy theorists who believe the NHL is rigged to favor the Penguins....

    NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11:  Trevor Daley #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after defeating the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game Six of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) 700056240
  10. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Down on Kardashian-shaming and Price's blaming

    TV and Radio

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

    Best commentary

    Good for ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy (right). The best basketball announcer in the business blasted those who tied the playing woes of the Cavs' Tristan Thompson to Thompson's relationship with reality star Khloe Kardashian (below). Van Gundy called that "downright low-rent.''...

  11. Rays-A's doubleheader: Let's do this again, soon

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Let's play two.

    And let's do it again. And again.

    The Rays hosted a doubleheader Saturday at the Trop. A real doubleheader. It even said "DH'' on the pocket schedule and everything. Now that it's over, the only question I have is: When are we going to do it again?

    It felt like the 1970s all over again. That's the last time anyone cared about doubleheaders. That's what made Saturday so special. It was throwback day at the yard....

    Tom Hoen plays the organ in center field before the start of the first game of the double header between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
  12. Jones: Predators have deep Lightning connections (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    Saturday, just before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, a few folks gathered at the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue in downtown Nashville.

    Some were there to see country music star Alan Jackson perform. Most of them were there to get a good spot to watch the hometown Predators play the Penguins on a big screen set up outside Bridgestone Arena.

    Wait, did I say a few? I meant 50,000!...

    Former Lightning coach Terry Crisp has been a Predators TV analyst since their start.
  13. Jones: Entertaining Rays worth the popcorn and price of admission

    The Heater

    Today is a day when we all probably should be ripping into the Rays.

    Did you see them this past weekend?

    They couldn't pitch. They couldn't catch. They couldn't hit.

    They couldn't win.

    If a train wreck had a child with a Dumpster fire, it would have looked like the Rays in Seattle.

    A mediocre Mariners team put a pounding on Tampa Bay, beating the Rays by scores of 12-4, 9-2 and 7-1, and, to be honest, the games didn't feel even that close. The Mariners scored more runs (28) than the Rays had hits (19) in the three-game spanking....

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) as he rounds the bases on his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  14. Tom Jones' 2 Cents: NHL needs more Subbans

    TV and Radio

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

    Best player

    If you don't like P.K. Subban, there might be something wrong with you. The Predators defenseman is everything you would want. A great player. A big personality. A showboat. A trash talker. And a good guy.

    This is the type of player hockey needs. This is the type of player any sport needs. He's as talented as he is flamboyant, as skilled as he is charismatic....

    Predators defenseman P.K. Subban is not only talented but a charismatic showman, the kind of player the NHL has — one of?
  15. Jones: Tampa delights in being Break Glass In Case of Emergency City (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Welcome to Tampa, the Break Glass In Case of Emergency City.

    Bring us your tired, your poor, your NHL skills competition. Whatever you want, Tampa has whatever it takes.

    Rain in California postpones Super Bowl plans there? No problem, Tampa can host the Big Game.

    Looking for a college football national championship game host? Make reservations for Tampa.

    And now the NHL All-Star Game....

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (center) addresses the audience along with Lightning owner Jeff Vinik (left) and City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (right) during a press conference to discuss the 2018 NHL All-Star Weekend, planned for AMALIE Arena on January 26-28. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]