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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

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  1. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And score. And score.

    And to think there wasn't even supposed to be a next year's All-Star game. Leave it to the chowder heads at the National Hockey League and the International Olympic Committee to wipe out NHL participation in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. It still takes nothing away from us getting the All-Star Game....

    The World All Star Team members line up during introductions before the start of the 1999 NHL All-Star game on Jan. 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa. Times Photo by Brian Baer.
  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Anyone can be traded. Wayne Gretzky was traded. Anyone can be traded.

    Keep him.

    Keep Jo Drouin.

    Yes, it will be hard to sign Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Drouin to new deals. Someone probably has to go....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) battle Ottawa Senators right wing Curtis Lazar (27) for the puck during the second period of Thursday√¢‚‚ ̈‚„¢s (2/2/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    And when the fidget stopped spinning, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who is on record as saying he wants a "bad (naughty word)" football team, was apologizing to his former team, the defending NFC champion Falcons.

    What a killjoy. An apology? What fun is that?

    What is this, a NATO summit?

    And didn't the Falcons troll first?

    Ah, the famous Falcons fidget-spinner flap....

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  4. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    At this time this season, after his 10th start, Archer is 3-3 with a 3.76 ERA.

    This feels different. It feels encouraging.

    So far, pretty good.

    At least that's how Sunday looked at Tropicana Field, despite Archer being on the hook for a second straight loss, this one 3-2 to the Yankees....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
  5. Hey, somebody really ought to write about this Aaron Judge guy

    Blog

    He can catch, too.

    It's no tall tale.

    Aaron Judge, The Amazing Colossal Man, has come and gone, but not before he stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge robbed Evan Longoria of an RBI double and helped double off Corey Dickerson. Best catch of the year to go with all those home runs....

    Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.
  6. Before she was a Tampa legend, Gayle Sierens was an NFL trailblazer

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It's in a picture frame on a wall in Gayle Sierens' South Tampa home, a home she and her husband have mostly filled with photographs of their three children. But there are photos of Sierens with Pope John Paul II, with Laura Bush, with Oprah, with Bobby Bowden, with Arnold Palmer, part of her long broadcasting career at WFLA-Ch. 8, including 29 years as a news co-anchor. Sierens, a two-time Emmy winner, retired in 2015 as one of the best-known names and faces in Tampa Bay....

    Gayle Sierens, former Tampa Bay news and sports anchor, pictured at her house in South Tampa Tuesday (05/16/17). Sierens became the first woman to ever do play-by-play for an NFL broadcast in 1987. Sierens talked about that experience in light of last week's news that ESPN has assigned Beth Mowins to do the same for an NFL game on Monday Night Football in Week 1 of the 2017 season. Mowins is the first woman to do so since Sierens.
  7. ESPN's Beth Mowins : 'I've been doing Monday Night Football since I was knee high'

    Bucs

    In September, ESPN broadcaster Beth Mowins will become the second woman to call play-by-play of a regular-season NFL game, the first since Gayle Sierens in 1987. Mowins, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., was captain of the basketball team while attending Lafayette College and earned a master's degree from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications. She has been working as a play-by-play announcer since her days doing Syracuse women's basketball. She has been calling college football since 2004 and is entering her third season as the preseason play-by-play voice of the Oakland Raiders. She spoke by phone from her home in San Diego....

  8. Brace yourself: LaVar Ball and Showtime are about to collide

    College

    LaVar Ball, the new clown prince of player parents, is at it again. When isn't he? There might not be a person who needs to be windmill slam dunked more than the father of former star UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball.

    And I'll be all for it … when I stop laughing.

    This loon is triple-double entertaining. And a marketing genius. His son's college career ended two months ago, the NBA playoffs are going on, but we're still following the Balls. I know I am. I can't help it....

    LaVar Ball, left, is putting a lot of pressure on his son Lonzo, right, with grandiose statements and by announcing a Big Baller Brand shoe for Lonzo that costs $495 a pair. [Associated Press]
  9. Fennelly: Lessons from a Lightning-less NHL playoffs

    Lightning Strikes

    We're more than a month into the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's heaven for fans. Hockey's version of the forced march has been packed with stories, like the Nashville Predators' run to the Western Conference final, the star power of Oilers star Connor McDavid, the Caps holding off Auston Matthews and Toronto, the annual Caps fold, overtime games galore, comebacks galore, mayhem galore, galore galore....

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks to face off against the Ottawa Senators during the second period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 13, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) 700047961
  10. Meet the Rays coach picked ahead of Derek Jeter

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola is used to the jokes, especially at baseball draft time. He laughs at them. He's a great sport. His personal favorite is when he is asked if the New York Yankees still send him Christmas cards.

    "It's a good way for guys to get on me," Mottola said. "It's something that's been with me my whole career, but at this point it's entertaining and a compliment. I like to have fun in this game. The game is evil enough, cruel enough. And there are worse guys to be associated with."...

    Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola talks to a player during batting practice before their baseball game against the New York Yankees Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
  11. Fennelly: Rays are on verge of something, and it's not good

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Is this the trap door?

    Is this the trap door for Kevin Cash and the Rays?

    It's early.

    But there was buffoonery on Monday, 16 more strikeouts and four errors in a loss to the Royals. Then came Tuesday, when the Rays went up 4-0 in the first inning but came back to lose 7-6 to the Royals in 12 innings. They have blown a lead in 14 of their losses. Tim Beckham struck out — a Rays trademark — to finish it....

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout after pitching the top of the sixth inning of the game between the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.
  12. 16-0 shows us it's a Cavs-Warriors world

    Blog

    16-0.

    That's your NBA, kids.

    That's the combined record of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors as they hop, skip and jump through the NBA playoffs.

    They seem destined to meet in a third consecutive NBA Finals.

    Can we get some older story lines here?

    Yeah, it's the rubber match (they've split the first two Finals) and there's a fresh slant: Kevin Durant....

    LeBron James, right, drives past Kevin Durant.
  13. Take a ride with a big Bucs lineman who lived in his SUV

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He didn't live in a van down by the river.

    Let's get that straight.

    He lived in an SUV down by the beach.

    "Not homeless, just a choice," Stevie Tu'ikolovatu said with a smile.

    Tu'ikolovatu — "Stevie T." to Bucs players and coaches who gave up trying to pronounce his name last weekend at rookie minicamp — is a big man (340 pounds) with a bigger dream: playing in the NFL. The former run-stuffing Utah defensive tackle and USC graduate transfer was selected in the seventh round of the draft by the Bucs....

    Defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu participates in drills during the first day of rookie mini-camp at the team's practice facility, One Buccaneer Place, in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, May 5, 2017.
  14. Fennelly: Fans shouldn't tolerate hate speech at the ballpark

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There have been encouraging signs since Monday night, when Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was pelted with racial slurs at Fenway Park.

    There were the apologies to Jones and condemnations of the incident, from the Red Sox to the mayor of Boston to the governor of Massachusetts to the commissioner of baseball. And there was the loud ovation that Jones received from Red Sox fans as he stepped to the plate for the first time Tuesday night....

    Fenway Park security guards stand at the ready as Adam Jones heads to the dugout. Wednesday, the Red Sox banned a fan from the ballpark for life.
  15. USF, Charlie Strong scrambling after another player arrest

    Blog

    USF football has had prouder days than Wednesday. So has the new head coach, Charlie Strong.

    Bad scene.

    Circuit judge Margaret Taylor, a USF graduate, tore into USF player LaDarrius Jackson, who was arrested Monday night on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment of another student in a residence hall.

    Then Taylor let Strong have it, too.

    "This court, and I'm sure I'm not alone, questions whether you have control over your players," Taylor said of Strong. "It's fairly clear that you do not have control of them off the field. ... I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being coach at USF is a good fit before any other members of our community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players."...