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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: Longtime Bucs fans, we want to hear from you


    Calling all Bucs fans! Calling all Bucs fans!

    The season is five games old and we're already reached the Uh-Oh portion of the program. The Bucs, the Bucs of so much promise, are edging toward the abyss after the desert debacle.

    Bucs fans, the most resilient fans in sports, have seen this before. Promise fading. Hopes dashed. A season heading the wrong way.

    There's a little Captain Fear in all Bucs fans, who can turn on a dime and fear the worst. Jameis Winston's shoulder doesn't help....

    Jameis Winston is pressured by Chandler Jones during the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
  2. Fred Ridley on the Road to Augusta


    Last week, I sat down with Fred Ridley, the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Ridley, a lawyer who has resided in Tampa since 1981, was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion and is the only Chairman to have played in the Masters. I wrote a long story on Ridley, but here are some of the other things he had to say during the half-hour interview in his office at Augusta National....

    Fred Ridley, looks on during the Green Jacket Ceremony during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament in April at Augusta National Golf Club.
  3. Meet the Tampa attorney who took charge at Augusta Monday


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — The new Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, and with it the Masters, wears a 42-long jacket, including his green one that never leaves the premises.

    Monday was the first day on the job for Fred Ridley, 65, a highly successful Tampa lawyer and equally successful husband and father of three grown daughters. Those last two things matter the most.

    Last week, Ridley was giving a visitor a tour of his office at America's most famous golf club, home to the world's most iconic golf tournament....

    In this Sept. 3, 1975 file photo, Fred Ridley of Winter Haven, Fla., hits himself on the head with his putter today after missing a shot on the 13th green during the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Championship. Ridley beat Andy Bean, of Lakeland, Fla., 2 and 1, and went on to win the title. On Monday, Oct. 16, Ridley, a Tampa attorney, assumed his duties as chairman of Augusta National Golf  Club.
  4. Playoff baseball: Pay no attention to the sleeping child


    It's the usual postseason routine.

    Sometime tonight, very late tonight, Fox Sports cameras will search the stands at Yankee Stadium and find a sleeping child in his seat, or slumped against a parent’s shoulder as the Yankees and Houston Astros battle on in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

    And the announcer will make a snappy comment.

    And I will throw something. Again....

    We are raising an entire generation of baseball fans – losing them, really – with criminally late start times and pathologically slow game pace.
  5. Fennelly: Who needs curses?


    Who needs curses when you playing lousy all by yourselves?

    Jameis Winston says he and his aching shoulder will be back soon.

    Bucs fans can put their hearts back in their chests.

    The Ryan Fitzpatrick Curse in on hold for now. What curse? Winston leaving Sunday’s game does not yet qualify.

    Still, I told him to wear garlic around his neck!

    If Fitzpatrick starts Sunday at Buffalo, have at it. And check to see that Niagara Falls isn’t running in the opposite direction. Then, I’m telling you, that Fitzpatrick, he has powers....

    Gerald McCoy is seen on the bench during the second half of the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals.
  6. There's a path to a New Year's Day bowl for USF


    It’s a pretty clear track.

    USF now has a path to a New Year’s Six Bowl. And that would make it a transcendent season for Charlie Strong and his now 16th-ranked Bulls.

    If USF wins out, hello to that elusive conference title. The Bulls have been chasing that since the program began.

    If USF wins out, hello Peach Bowl, or Fiesta Bowl, whichever. I think.

    Hello to tangible progress....

    USF defensive end Greg Reaves (41) celebrates a sack of Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ross Trail (12) during the second half.
  7. Fennelly: USF has to win every game, then pray


    TAMPA — This time is was 33-3 over Cincinnati.

    Uninspired at times, USF still moved to 6-0. Make it 11 wins in a row dating to last season, the longest streak in school history, and the longest active streak in the nation. Make it 23 straight games of 30 or more points, tying the record for the longest such streak in the history of the Associated Press poll.

    "It's great that we're 6-0." USF coach Charlie Strong said. "But it wasn't good enough. We can play better. … We haven't arrived yet."...

    South Florida Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) escapes the the tackle from Cincinnati Bearcats defensive end Curtis Brooks (92) during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, October 14, 2017.
  8. Ten years ago, USF sat atop college football, almost


    It is USF's version of Halley's Comet.

    Only it's never coming back around.

    Ten years ago Saturday, the USF football team, coached by Jim Leavitt, was ranked No. 2 in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings of the 2007 season.

    Really. It happened.

    It will never happen again....

    In this Oct. 18, 2007 file photo, USF football coach Jim Leavitt talks to his team in the second quarter of USF's 30-27 loss at Rutgers. The loss toppled USF from the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings -- a lofty college football perch USF has not approached since. 


  9. Readers weigh in on the anthem debate


    A lot of readers felt strongly about a column I wrote earlier this week, praising athletes’ protests during the national anthem, but saying it’s time to move on to bigger and more meaningful work in the name of their causes.

    A brief sampling:

    Richard in Valrico writes:

    … Fans do not go to sporting events for their political value. The alt lefties behind this nonsense do not care about sports at all. It is all based upon the big lie of mass deaths at the hands of the police, starting in Ferguson, Mo. All they care about is destroying America. They despise football because it embodies very hard work, dedication and self-sacrifice....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers Mike Evans (13) and DeSean Jackson (11) kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  10. This Is What The Lightning Needed


    It’s the start the Lightning needed.

    Have they given up a few too many chances and goals? Yes. Do they need to get better? Yes.

    But there is No way to not like the way this season has started. The Bolts have won three of four to start the season, and the last two have come over Washington and Pittsburgh. Problems?

    Thursday night at a rocking Amalie Arena, the Lightning beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, 5-4, a rousing affair that had a lot of fast break to it. Great fun to watch....

  11. Pioneers of the puck: Flashback to the Lightning's first season (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — It was 1992 and between periods at Expo Hall, the fairgrounds barn of a hockey rink for the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning, the first NHL team in Florida. Terry Crisp, the team's head coach, stood in the cramped dressing room (what wasn't cramped at the Hall?) and ripped his players for particularly lousy play. Five minutes into Crisp's eruption, the door swung open. A father and son, holding popcorn and a snow cone, walked into the room....

    Rob Ramage holds a silver hockey stick presented to him by Phil Esposito, president and genearl manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, at pre-game ceremonies honoring Ramage who was to start his 1000th NHL game.
  12. Anthem protests: Time for players to be bigger than Pence


    It's time for NFL players and other athletes to end their protests during the national anthem.

    They have made their point, peacefully. And well.

    That also goes for Lightning player J.T. Brown, who raised a fist during the anthem Saturday night to show support for those trying to bring awareness to inequality and police brutality.

    Brown said he received racist remarks and death threats on social media afterward....

    The Tampa Bay Lightning's J.T. Brown protests during the national anthem before the start of a game against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS) 1212829
  13. Fennelly: With one pass, Miami-FSU is a rivalry again


    TALLAHASSEE — Now that's how you end a losing streak.

    There were Miami Hurricanes dancing all over Florida State's football field at Doak Campbell Stadium early Saturday evening. Some did front flips. They were back.

    For the first time in forever, they owned the Seminoles.

    Miami coach Mark Richt stood at midfield, doing a TV interview. When he was done, he took a deep breath amid the bedlam all around him....

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Auden Tate (18) hauls in the 19 yard pass from quarterback James Blackman (1) for a first down in the fourth quarter of the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. The Miami Hurricanes beat the Florida State Seminoles 24-20.
  14. Fennelly: Bucs' clock buffoonery cost them chance to win


    They should have spiked the football.

    Nick Folk is probably done as Bucs kicker. But just because he's the face of the 19-14 loss to the Patriots doesn't mean he's the only one to blame.

    Let's talk about coaching and lousy clock management.

    Back it up, before that last try to win it, that Jameis Winston pass to O.J. Howard that fell incomplete as time expired....

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter stands on the sidelines in the fourth quarter. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  15. Florida State-Miami: The game that made a rivalry


    Thirty years ago, Bobby Bowden stared at the young faces surrounding him on the Florida State sideline at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU and Miami had slugged it out for three hours. It was early evening. The FSU head coach had just sent the kicking team out to tie the game at 26-26 with 42 seconds left....

    Florida State coach Bobby Bowden walks through the crowd of Seminole fans after the dedication of a statue in his likeness (in the back) at Doak Campbell stadium in Tallahassee.   Sculptor of piece is W. Stanley "Sandy" Proctor. (Times archives)