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February 25, 2001
Devil Rays
Hammer time?
[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
ST. PETERSBURG -- Since the day they made him the No. 1 pick in the June 1999 draft, the Rays quickly have gotten used to being amazed by Josh Hamilton.

Caruso, Guillen know what Hamilton faces
ST. PETERSBURG -- More than any others in the Rays camp, Mike Caruso and Jose Guillen know what it's like to be Josh Hamilton.

Rays tales
HAVE GLOVE, WILL TRAVEL: Baseball has provided Rusty Meacham the opportunity to make a living and live out a dream. It's also given him a chance to see the country.

Gary Shelton
Jones must weigh his legacy
TAMPA -- If he were a heavyweight, he would be preening by now.

Sorrow in mind, foot on the gas
Winston Cup gets back to business today, but thoughts of Dale Earnhardt are everywhere.

Fans pour out their emotions for Earnhardt
As I watched the news on Sunday night, one of Dale Earnhardt's fans was asked why people feel so close to these race drivers. I think I know the answer.

Bodine makes late pit stop pay off
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- Todd Bodine gambled on a late stop and made it pay off Saturday with a victory in the Alltel 200 Busch Grand National race at North Carolina Speedway.

Gordon wins pole, tips cap to late rival
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- They were friends, but not fishing buddies.

Injury could make Mario sit out against Lightning
The game is still three weeks away, but chances of Mario Lemieux playing at the Ice Palace on March 17 seem to be fading.

Today: Lightning at Sabres

Clymer’s career could move forward
PHILADELPHIA -- With a post-season berth a long-dismissed notion and its focus now firmly on development, the Lightning continued to assess players this weekend with the recall of 22-year-old Ben Clymer from Detroit.

One game, two shutouts
The Lightning stands skate-to-skate with the Flyers and gets a point with the first 0-0 tie in franchise history.

Avs aren’t cheering -- yet -- trade that brought in Blake
There is no downside to the Rob Blake trade, right? I mean, how could anyone involved with the Avalanche fret over bringing in the NHL's best defenseman for a run at the Stanley Cup?

CAROL AND ALEXEI: Supermodel Carol Alt and beau, Senators superstar Alexei Yashin, caused quite the sensation last week when they appeared together at a charity function in Ottawa. The Citizen did an extensive story on Alt ("Two minutes for looking so good") and she revealed details of how the two met.

NHL roundup
No Blake, no problem: Kings 2-0 since trade

Bucs/Pro Football
The market for top QBs likely is too competitive
TAMPA -- The market for Johnson & Johnson would have to drop dramatically for the Bucs to sign one of the blue-chip free-agent quarterbacks.

Professional football roundup
Levens could be ex-Packer on Tuesday

Gasparilla Distance Classic
Drake pulls off unique daily double
Defending 15K champion Laura Drake wins both women's races.

Quick start, fast finish
Muchapiwa Mazano sets a blistering pace, then holds off his challengers at the wire to win the men's 15K.

Fewer runners challenge for titles as expected
TAMPA -- Some people might have been scared off by reports of smoke from the fires in Polk County. Others might have changed their minds because of projections of warm weather.

With all their new pluses, Rangers still minus pitching
PORT CHARLOTTE -- Their team ERA was the worst in the majors. So the Rangers signed shortstop Alex Rodriguez to a $252-million contract.

Today’s area camps workouts
BLUE JAYS: 9 a.m. at Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin.

Hard-throwing Colome gets good reviews
ST. PETERSBURG -- It looked like a front office staff meeting behind the batting cage on field No. 3 Saturday. Most of Tampa Bay's top officials were gathered there to watch Jesus Colome throw batting practice for the first time this spring.

Torre: As usual, pitching is the key
TAMPA -- One thing hasn't changed as manager Joe Torre starts his sixth season. Torre said the Yankees will be as good as their pitching.

Baseball roundup
Martinez pleased in return

College basketball
Bulls back in hunt entering rematch
Though banged up, USF could take over first place with a little revenge against Memphis.

Stumble sends Tampa down rugged path
It took 13 minutes to transform Tampa's post-season outlook. In that time, the Spartans' eight-point lead against Eckerd turned into a 67-63 loss in the season finale Wednesday night.

Gators reach deep to clobber Crimson Tide
Missing Brent Wright, UF gets sterling work from its reserves in an 89-68 win.

Women’s basketball briefs
Teary Irish get settled, top Hoyas

College basketball roundup
Connecticut keeps UM hemmed in

Today: FSU at N.C. State
WHEN/WHERE: 4; Entertainment and Sports Arena, Raleigh, N.C.

Et cetera
Sports digest
Gators trip Seminoles 3-2

Highs and lows

Most agree: NBA wouldn’t fly in Tampa Bay
I have been reading your columns for almost 15 years, since I regularly started reading the newspaper at age 10.

This week on TV

Media sell Mickelson short after playoff win
Could someone tell me why the media and/or the other PGA golfers don't give Phil Mickelson the credit he deserves as one of the top golfers on the tour? When he won his last tournament (the Buick Invitational on Feb. 11), the press only stressed how odd it was that he won shooting double bogey. How about the other 75 holes?

Calm day shortens regatta
A lack of wind forces the Anchor Cup event to stop early.

Area piers offering a variety
Check the information from four of the most popular piers in the bay area and decide which suits you.

‘Kunga’ a winner by TKO in the 10th
TAMPA -- Glenn "Kunga" Kelly won his rematch with Billy Lewis Saturday, pounding the Pensacola fighter and close friend of headliner Roy Jones Jr., and finally scoring a TKO in the 10th and final round of their light heavyweight fight. Kelly, the Australian champ rated No. 1 by the IBF, also beat Lewis in September by TKO. Saturday night, though, it took three more rounds because of some dubious patience by the referee.

Tarver starts comeback with TKO
Antonio Tarver, who lost his last fight to Eric Harding, returns to the ring at the Ice Palace, stopping previously unbeaten Lincoln Carter.

NBA roundup
Wesley rescues Hornets again

Hillsborough schools have a banner day
Four Hillsborough County high schools had chances to win state titles Saturday in towns throughout Florida: Bloomingdale girls soccer, Jesuit and Gaither boys soccer and Brandon wrestling.

Eagles proud with their two victories
LAKELAND -- Springstead came to the state championships with a shot at a state title. In the end, the Eagles had to settle for two.

Three area wrestlers win titles
Matt Booker, Gerard DeCristofaro and Tye Reedy are the North Suncoast's only state champions.

Land O’Lakes leaves no doubt early, crushes Hernando
LAND O'LAKES -- Land O'Lakes quickly wore down visiting Hernando on Saturday afternoon.

Jesuit, Bloomingdale win titles
TAMPA -- It wasn't strange that Jesuit won the Class 2A state title Saturday. What else would you expect? Jesuit came in 29-2, was ranked No. 2 in the nation by, No. 1 in the FACA state poll and had won four of the past six state titles.

Bulls bring home title with overtime victory
TALLAHASSEE -- Just in case DeLand didn't see enough of Bloomingdale's Kim Martins and Tara Escribano during the Class 4A state title game, its players could catch a final glimpse of them mugging for photos and slapping high fives as the Bulldogs filed out of the FSU Soccer Complex and onto their bus.

Cowboys fall in penalty kicks
TAMPA -- In the past two seasons, Gaither has found every conceivable way to win. Saturday, it ran out of miracles.

War Eagles swarm Leopards
Titusville Astronaut returns to the final four after a thorough 60-30 defeat of Hernando.

Goals not necessary for Tigers' celebration
TAMPA -- It wasn't strange that Jesuit won the Class 2A state title Saturday.

Tornadoes win 3A state title
TAMPA -- Clearwater captured the school's first boys soccer state championship with a 1-0 win over Flagler Palm Coast in the Class 3A final.

Tornado seniors go out on top
They won titles in youth leagues. And they end their prep careers with a state championship.

Six Bulls seniors keep their promise to bring home title
TALLAHASSEE -- Just in case DeLand didn't see enough of Bloomingdale's Kim Martins and Tara Escribano during the Class 4A state title game, its players could catch a final glimpse of them mugging for photos and slapping high fives as the Bulldogs filed out of the FSU Soccer Complex and onto their bus.

Jesuit goalie overcomes ‘deathly sick’
Evan Doyle couldn't believe his ears.

Sarasota overwhelms Boca Ciega in Region 3 final 83-48
SARASOTA -- The Boca Ciega girls basketball team salvaged its season in the past month, going from mediocrity to the last county team alive in the regional playoffs.

Cousins make statement instead of state history
LAKELAND -- Cesar Grajales Jr. had a chance to make history Saturday night.

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