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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. Fennelly: Welcome to Tampa, Brian Gregory: Make USF basketball interesting (w/ video)

    College

    TAMPA — Congratulate me.

    I'm pretty sure Wednesday was the fifth new USF men's basketball coach news conference I have attended.

    Seth Greenberg, Robert McCullum, Stan Heath, Orlando Antigua and now Brian Gregory.

    The boxed set.

    Shouldn't I get a prize?

    A set of steak knives?

    A winning program?

    Brian Gregory was introduced Wednesday at the Sun Dome. Like the men before him, he said the right things. He said them quite well, in fact. He comes from the Tom Izzo coaching tree, as good a tree as there is....

    Brian Gregory takes over a USF program that in its 46-year history has been to the NCAA Tournament three times.
  2. 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]
  3. 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:...

    David Price ends up getting traded during a season that sent the Rays into a long fall.
  4. Fennelly: Erratic FSU is capable of anything in the NCAA Tournament

    College

    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]
  5. Fennelly: Dear USF, aim higher than Flunk City

    College

    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.
  6. 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]
  7. The other amazing athlete who raised Florida's Canyon Barry

    College

    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....

    Florida Gators guard Canyon Barry (24) drives to the basket over Belmont Bruins forward Amanze Egekeze (32) and Belmont Bruins guard Dylan Windler (3) in the first half during the game between the Florida Gators and the Belmont Bruins at Amelie Arena in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, November 21, 2016.
  8. 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....

    Sebastien Bourdais drives in the Grand Prix … or is he making a run to the 38th Avenue Publix?
  9. 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....

    Ah, the red container of life many of us have desperately needed on occasion. The rest of you? Where’s your sense of adventure?
  10. Fennelly: Bryson DeChambeau having great week on, off course

    Golf

    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
  11. Fennelly: Rays' Corey Dickerson slims down in chase for bigger production

    The Heater

    TAMPA

    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’s Rays career got off to a rough start, but he recovered with a .326 average over his last 24 games.
  12. 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 shortstop Willy Adames (27) looks to make the throw to first base after gathering a ground ball hit by New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres (81) during the fourth inning of a spring training game Tuesday, March 07, 2017 in Tampa.
  13. Fennelly: Bucs best served to pass on WR DeSean Jackson

    Bucs

    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.
  14. Fennelly: Love, legacy in the air for boxer Keith Thurman

    Boxing

    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
  15. Bucs should stay away from Adrian Peterson

    Bucs

    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]