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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: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    "It's just the start," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said.

    But how can you not like what we're seeing from the Lightning? It has jumped out hungry, as if it wants to squash last year's disappointing playoff miss right out of the gate.

    This season could be special....

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  2. Florida football has become something to be endured, not enjoyed


    The Jim McElwain era at Florida is something to be endured, not enjoyed.

    I hear dutiful Florida fans heading to Gainesville, "Well, we'll see."

    They might as well be going to a dental drilling.

    That is how far Florida has fallen, how big a hit the Florida brand is taking,

    And to think McElwain won the SEC East his first two seasons. And to think that Florida's win at LSU last season, amid all that post-hurricane nastiness, was one of the great Gator wins....

    Florida Gators defensive lineman Khairi Clark (54) leaves the field after the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators lost to the Texas A&M Aggies 17-16 MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
  3. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'


    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    “I think we have to do a better job of trying to put them in the best possible position,” Smith said. “They’re the players that we have.”


    “They’re the players we have” is a variation on a theme explored by Bucs Dirk Koetter time and time again in his first two seasons in charge....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  4. Fennelly: Even frustrated Bucs fans hold out hope


    Many fans wrote back when I threw out an all-points the other day, asking if Bucs fans are perpetually in a state of expecting the worst.

    Check out some of these responses and where they’re from. There are Bucs fans across the country, even the world. Serious.

    Subbu Pichappan from Philadelphia wrote:

    “I've been a long-time Bucs fan since I went to my first game in 1996 at old Tampa Stadium as a 5-year old. Until I was 18, I lived in the Tampa Bay area with my parents and attended games each and every season. ...

    Bucs fans cheer during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in August at Raymond James Stadium.
  5. Time to break out the Bucs fan's emergency kit?


    TAMPA — Bucs fans, do you have your kit ready?

    I'm talking about your Bucs preparedness kit. The ones you break out when Bucs seasons head south.

    Bucs fans might be the most resilient fans in the world. Think of how many Uh-Oh moments they have come across, and I'm just talking about the last 10 seasons or so, not the Bucs' Dark Ages....

    Fans endure pouring rain during a preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  6. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter, not Jameis Winston, has to make the call


    "Touchdown" Tom Jones, the best Bucs columnist in town, took it to the house Tuesday when he wrote that Jameis Winston should do the right thing and take a seat if he's not perfectly healthy to play at Buffalo.

    But that's where Dirk Koetter comes in.

    Because Jameis will want to play. That's what he does. He has never missed an NFL start in three seasons. He wants to run through walls to win. He will do anything to get on the field....

    Head coach Dirk Koetter looks down at his playsheet during the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals. [LOREN ELLIOT | Times]
  7. Dirk Koetter, not Jameis Winston, has to make the call


    “Touchdown” Tom Jones, the best Bucs columnist in town, took it to the house Tuesday when he wrote that Jameis Winston should do the right thing and take a seat if he’s not perfectly healthy to play at Buffalo.

    But that’s where Dirk Koetter comes in.

    Because Jameis will want to play. That’s what he does. He has never missed an NFL start in three seasons. He wants to run through walls to win. He will do anything to get on the field....

    Whether Jameis Winston plays Sunday or not is Dirk Koetter's call.
  8. NBA off and running to its usual ending


    The NBA season began Tuesday night.

    It ends in June.

    Call me when the Warriors win.

    True, there was news Tuesday night, bad news, grisly news, as Celtics small forward and newcomer Gordon Hayward dislocated his ankle and broke his tibia in a look-away injury early in Boston’s opener at LeBron.

    Translation:  Cavs win the Eastern Conference.

    And there are 81 games to go....

    Call me when the Warriors win, Martin Fennelly writes.
  9. It's time for the Dodgers to be back in the World Series


    It’s hard to believe that it’s been 29 years since the Los Angeles Dodgers made the World Series. That’s far too long. I still remember being at Chavez Ravine for the 1988 World Series, watching Kirk Gibson homer into the right field stands to beat the Oakland A’s in Game 1.

    Been a long time.

    The Dodgers pushed Joe Maddon and his defending world champion Chicago Cubs to the brink Tuesday night, beating them up for 3-0 lead in the NLCS. The Dodgers are a win away from the Series. And the Cubs are a loss way from not having won a world championship since 2016. Imagine that....

    The Los Angeles Dodgers congratulate each other after beating the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series
  10. Nikita Kucherov's start something to see


    Yes, the Lightning lost in a shootout at New Jersey on Tuesday night, blowing a 4-3 lead late in the game.

    But Nikita Kucherov kept his streak alive.

    He scored his eighth goal of the season, and now has at least one goal in each of the 5-1-1 Lightning’s first seven games. His pursuit of DiMaggio continues.

    Actually, it’s not DiMaggio. According to the NHL record book, the man Kucherov is chasing, and still trails badly, is Harry “Punch” Broadbent, a Hockey Hall of Famer who in the 1921-22 season scored a goal in 16 consecutive games. Broadbent was not available for comment....

    Nikita Kucherov is on quite a roll
  11. Tampa's Lance McCullers Jr. knows this stage — and this feeling


    He has been on this stage before, two postseasons ago.

    And he knows this feeling, too.

    Former Jesuit High star Lance McCullers Jr. shined back then. He shined again Tuesday. His team lost again, too.

    The 24-year-old Houston Astros right-hander dominated the New York Yankees through six shutout innings at Yankee Stadium in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, allowing just one hit as Houston took a 4-0 lead. They were nine outs from a commanding 3-1 series lead....

    Houston Astros pitcher acknowledges the crowd as he leaves Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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....

    Fred Ridley, 65, of Tampa is the new Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, and with it the Masters. [Augusta National Historic Imagery]
  15. 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.