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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: Lightning didn't truly join this season until it was over

    Lightning Strikes

    Coyote ugly.

    That's it, boys.

    Say good night and draw the sheet over your heads.

    Ten games remain in this dreary Lightning season, but it didn't feel like it Tuesday night.

    It felt like the end.

    It's all over but the tee times and who to protect in the expansion draft.

    With a telling thud, the Lightning lost to Arizona, the second worst team in the NHL, which was playing the back end of a back-to-back, a third game in four nights (after losing its first two) and starting its back-up goaltender, who has a losing record....

    Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) calls for a penalty as Vladislav Namestnikov (90) is tripped up by the Coyotes during the third period. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. Why this Lightning season could be the most disappointing in Tampa Bay history

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning trails in the race for the final wild card. It has made a commendable late charge, despite more injuries and employing a patchwork lineup.

    But there is the current two-game losing streak. Tonight's game at Amalie Arena against Arizona, the second worst team in the league, qualifies as "must win."

    Arizona. Must win. Desperate hockey.

    The Lightning is trying to save some face. It's about the greater fight, a pitched battle to stave off infamy:...

    Trent Dilfer and the Bucs had a standout 1997 season, then regressed badly the next year.
  3. Fennelly: Erratic FSU is capable of anything in the NCAA Tournament


    ORLANDO — They out-dunked Dunk City.

    Let's start there when it comes to Leonard Hamilton's young, talented and uneven Florida State basketball team.

    It was FSU nine dunks to two, by my count.

    Also by my count, No. 3 seed FSU can win some more games in this NCAA Tournament.

    The Seminoles opened by beating Florida Gulf Coast University, those adorable dream weavers, 86-80 in the first round Thursday....

    Florida State's Terance Mann celebrates as he dunks against Florida Gulf Coast during the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Amway Center in Orlando on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Florida State advanced, 86-80. [Stephen M. Dowell | Orlando Sentinel/TNS]
  4. Fennelly: Dear USF, aim higher than Flunk City


    TAMPA — There's a Country Bear Basketball Jamboree in Orlando today — the NCAA Tournament, with Florida present, with Florida State present. And with the little school from Fort Myers everyone loves and nobody slams — Florida Gulf Coast University.

    They've got Dunk City.

    We've got Gunk City.

    Brian Gregory, the new men's basketball hire at USF, is charged with changing that. I hope he does. I wish him luck....

    USF guard Michael Bibby (10) passes the ball.
  5. Fennelly: The Lightning season we gave up for dead is still alive

    Lightning Strikes

    It's not make believe. No illusion.

    The Lightning is a hunter.

    It went into Madison Square Garden and said as much Monday night.

    It beat the Rangers, 3-2, to pull within a point of Toronto for the final wild card.

    This is for real.

    The Lightning is charging. For real.

    The Bolts are at it again in Ottawa tonight. No rest.

    With two goals from 21st-birthday boy Brayden Point, with back-up goalie Peter Budaj coming up with some big saves for his first Tampa Bay win, the Lightning continue to try and turn a feel-bad season into a feel-good one. Give them credit....

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates with teammates Victor Hedman (77), Nikita Kucherov (86) and Jake Dotchin (59) after scoring a goal during the third period Monday against the Rangers. [AP photo]
  6. The other amazing athlete who raised Florida's Canyon Barry


    GAINESVILLE — The story is as old as higher education and detergent.

    Two parents doing their college kid's laundry.

    It doesn't matter that you've hit the genetic Powerball with your only child, that he's a 23-year-old basketball star for the NCAA Tournament-bound University of Florida, that he's a 6-foot-6 swingman with a scoring touch. That he's a brain, too, carrying a perfect 4.0 GPA in pursuit of a graduate degree in nuclear engineering....

    University of Florida guard Canyon Barry, center, is escorted onto the court on Gators senior night by his mother Lynn, right, and his father, Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry.
  7. Fennelly: Vive la St. Pete: Sebastien Bourdais passes Publix test so he's a local

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — He's one of us.

    Drives faster, but he's one of us.

    St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais won the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday afternoon. He won it going away, a remarkable performance since he started last. He finished first. His tears followed.

    "To win here in front of family and friends," Bourdais said.

    He was born in a racing mecca — Le Mans, France but this is home now, too....

    IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais (18) hugs team owner Dale Coyne in victory circle after winning the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday (03/12/17). Bourdais started in last place and came all the way from the back to win the race.
  8. Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Running on empty brings drivers, fans together

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — Running on empty last May, Alexander Rossi won the Indianapolis 500. He made it.

    Running on empty last month, Chase Elliott lost the Daytona 500. He didn't make it.

    Brothers, we've been there, done that. Sort of.

    Running out of gas while going for it is as American as it gets. True, race car dudes are going for greater glory, trophies and cash prizes. The rest of us? Just get us to exit 342 and the Wawa....

    NOTE: picture for a sports column on running out of gas. A gas can on the wall of turn 10 as IndyCars race in the background during the second IndyCar practice session on the opening day of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg opening day.
  9. Fennelly: Bryson DeChambeau having great week on, off course


    PALM HARBOR — Bryson DeChambeau is having a great week at the Valspar Champion­ship. And it was a great week even before play began. Yes, the 23-year-old Californian is 5 under and in contention through two rounds on Innisbrook's Copperhead course.

    But it wasn't that.

    "He actually got a kidney two days ago, so everything is awesome," DeChambeau said. "It was a dream come true."...

    Bryson DeChambeau drives at hole one while playing in the second round of the Valspar Golf Championship, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Palm Harbor, Fla. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP) FLPET120
  10. Fennelly: Rays' Corey Dickerson slims down in chase for bigger production

    The Heater


    Corey Dickerson is half the man he used to be.

    We don't mean it how you think, and not half, anyway. But Dickerson did shave 25 pounds from his 6-1 frame and reported to spring training a svelte — you heard me, svelte — 200 pounds. Hey, bud, can you still hit home runs? Just asking.

    "Of course," Dickerson said.

    Dickerson, 27, owns one of those bats the Rays will need to produce to have any chance at winning many more games than the 68 they brought in last season....

    Corey Dickerson is on a mission to prove that he can keep his average and OBP up and that he can handle the outfield.
  11. Sorry, Chris Carter, scorned Rays look like the better choice

    The Heater

    TAMPA — The Rays wanted to sign slugging 1B/DH Chris Carter this winter, but he didn't want them, opting to join the Yankees instead.

    Carter said Tuesday he picked the Yankees because he felt their signing of Logan Morrison would have limited his opportunities for at-bats in Tampa Bay.

    "It was going back and forth but then they ended up signing Morrison and that pretty much was the main factor," Carter said. "I liked the situation here better. After they signed Morrison I didn't really see the same opportunity I'd have here."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) pitches in the second inning of a spring training game against the New York Yankees Tuesday, March 07, 2017 in Tampa.
  12. Fennelly: Bucs best served to pass on WR DeSean Jackson


    DeSean Jackson is potentially a perfect fit for the Bucs.

    He can still stretch a field when called upon.

    He can still run past everybody when called upon.

    He can catch footballs out of the slot when called upon.

    He can still return a kick when called upon.

    His winning punt return against the Giants that day still amazes me years later.

    Jackson does a lot of amazing things. Or did....

    Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Landover, Md., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.
  13. Fennelly: Love, legacy in the air for boxer Keith Thurman


    ST. PETERSBURG — He was on something called a VersaClimber, probably the most modern piece of equipment inside the adorably well-worn St. Pete Boxing Club. Clearwater's Keith "One Time" Thurman, another modern wonder, 28-year-old undefeated WBA welterweight champion, was on the cardio climber. His sweat pants and rash guard were drenched. Perspiration turned into a puddle on the floor, then a body of water. Lake Thurman....

    FILE - At left, in an Aug. 1, 2015, file photo, Danny Garcia competes against Paul Malignaggi during a welterweight fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.  At right, in a June 25, 2016, file photo, Keith Thurman competes against Shawn Porter during a WBA welterweight title fight at Barclays Center. Boxing can always use an event that makes folks take notice. If the welterweight unification fight Saturday night, March 4, 2017, between WBA champion Keith Thurman and WBC titleholder Danny Garcia doesn't do the trick, well, fans might still be missing quite a show.  (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File) NY155
  14. Bucs should stay away from Adrian Peterson


    The Bucs should stay away from Adrian Peterson.

    And receiver DeSean Jackson.

    Maybe if they were five years younger.

    Same goes for Jamaal Charles.

    Even if Doug Martin is eventually given the boot.

    I would hope the Bucs won't make a pass at Peterson. I bet they don't.

    Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht should be up to that task. They'd better be.

    I'd rather they reach for Dalvin Cook....

    OT_359854_WALL_Bucs_14 (10/25/2012  Minneapolis) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett (71) wraps up Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) on a run during the fourth quarter. SECOND HALF ACTION: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis on Thursday. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
  15. Fennelly: Why Rays' pitching is overrated … for now

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays occasional ace Chris Archer made a good point as spring training began, namely that it would take more than pitching to make this team a winner again. It hasn't been one since 2013. Last year's 68 wins were strictly Devil Rays stuff.

    "People are going to have to step up in the bullpen," Archer said a few weeks ago. "We're going to have to score more runs than we did last year, because when we did pitch well, we still struggled to win games. … I think it's time for us to shift away from relying solely on starting pitching."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) walks to the dugout after the top of the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.