Best Olympics ever
Vacation is over. I finally got bored with sleeping in and staying up late and taking naps and ... actually, I didn't get tired of that. But I'm also not tired of drawing a paycheck and so I'm back at work. Here's a look back at NBC's coverage of the Olympics, as well as a couple of odds and ends from the weekend.
The Olympics came to a close Sunday, and NBC's coverage was worthy of a gold medal. The network set the standard for all future Olympics broadcasts.
The coverage wasn't perfect. Yes, the network did tend to concentrate on American athletes, then again, the last time I checked, this is America. Maybe NBC could've shed more light on the political issues of these Games, but those topics are the responsibility of all media, not just NBC, and it's a topic that has been, generally, well covered. There were issues with the 12-hour time difference, yet NBC did the best it could with those and cannot be blamed for any complications because of it. In fact, whittling down a long night of track and field and/or gymnastics into a tight hour segment made it more enjoyable. There was no standing around, so to speak.
So, in the end, NBC gets an A-plus. Here were some of the best parts of NBC's coverage.
The late Jim McKay will always be known as the pre-eminent Olympics host, but Costas' performance, particularly during interviews, was outstanding, and Costas deserves to have his name mentioned right alongside the legendary McKay. There is no better sports broadcaster on the planet right now than Costas.
Gold medal: The track-and-field trio of Tom Hammond, Ato Bolden and Lewis Johnson were, by far, the stars of NBC's event coverage, especially Bolden. It also helped that Hammond proved he wasn't just some polished broadcaster who brushed up on track and field on the plane ride to Beijing. Hammond showed throughout the Games that he knew as much about the sport as his two broadcast partners.
Silver medal: Doug Collins' work on the U.S. basketball team's redemption was not biased in the least even though his son was a member of Team USA's management and many of the players dedicated the gold to Collins. (Collins was a member of the 1972 team that was robbed of a gold medal. In fact, after Sunday's gold-medal victory, many players raced over to shake hands with Collins.) Collins was critical of the team during Sunday's title game against Spain, and his analysis through the tournament was spot-on.
Bronze medal: Gymnastics color analyst Tim Daggett did a splendid job breaking down how routines are judged, pointing out where deductions occurred and even took the judges to task on more than one occasion for fishy scores.
All events coverage
In most Olympics, we are flooded with coverage of swimming, track and gymnastics. Certainly, those events were the highlights of NBC's prime-time coverage, but thanks to additional coverage on USA, MSNBC and CNBC, we were exposed to heavy coverage of all sports, including table tennis, water polo, field hockey and, still the coolest event in the Olympics -- team handball. No event was left out in the cold. In addition, sports such as beach volleyball, regular volleyball and softball got the best rides they've ever been given in coverage.
The "Up Close and Personal'' features have long been a staple of Olympics coverage, going back to the days when ABC showed the Games. NBC took the microwave approach -- limiting most such features to only a couple of minutes. The profiles remained effective without chewing up large chunks of time.
What didn't work
NBC did have a few hiccups on its coverage.
Cris Collinsworth is one of the better football analysts around, but his "Gosh, golly, shucks, ain't the Olympics great?'' routines in studio grew tiresome.
Bela Karolyi seemed cute at the start of the Games, but his outright cheering -- as well as NBC's bizarre decision to play up his cheerleading -- quickly became annoying.
Andrea Joyce should be ashamed for her interview with U.S. gymnast Alicia Sacramone, whose subpar performance cost the women's team a gold medal. Asking a question or two about Sacramone's failure is Joyce's job. Pestering Sacramone until she teared up seemed sadistic.
And now for sports other than the Olympics ...
Most annoying announcer
Someone please tell Fox pregame baseball host Jeanne Zelasko that the Rays go by Tampa Bay, not Tampa. Zelasko said "Tampa'' three times in a 15-minute pregame show. Hey, it isn't the "Los Dodgers'' or "New Yankees,'' and it isn't the "Tampa Rays.'' It's "Tampa Bay Rays.” How hard is that? Even partner Mark Grace mentioned the team played in St. Petersburg, yet that didn't stop Zelasko from continuing to refer to the team as "Tampa.''
The Rays certainly got some nice play on Fox's Game of the Week on Saturday. Announcers Josh Lewin and Eric Karros seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the Rays and the afternoon was a proud moment for local baseball fans, especially after the Rays rallied to win. Anyway, in talking about the Rays out-of-nowhere season and how they don't appear to be going away, Lewin had a nice line: "What was, initially, just kind of thought of as a novelty act, like 'Oh, isn't that nice? They're off to a good little start.' Now, they are absolutely the gum on your shoe.''
The Rays announcing team didn't hold back tearing into Doug Eddings after the umpire's controversial interference call helped the White Sox beat the Rays on Sunday. Kudos to the Rays TV production team for showing several replays, and one would have to agree with the Rays broadcasters that Eddings blew the call, although postgame host Todd Kalas seemed to let some anger show, calling it "the worst call that has gone against the Rays in their 11-year history.'' (Based on reaction from the booth last week, I thought B.J. Upton being called out at first against the Angels was the "worst call'' ever.) Announcer Dewayne Staats also deserves credit for pointing out that the Rays had a chance to close the game out in the ninth and that the controversial play should've never happened in the first place.
The Tampa Bay region didn't get TBS' Game of the Week coverage of Sunday's Rays-White Sox game, but here's what announcer Chip Carey said about the controversial call that went against the Rays: "Here is the spot where you really do wish you have replay so the umpires could see the unbelievable acting job that A.J. Pierzynski just turned in. I mean you talk about Academy Award-winning. Polish the statue and mail it to 35th and Shields because A.J. Pierzynski just stole 90 feet on the base paths and may end up stealing a win in this 10th inning.''
Little League World Series
Don't ask me what I thought because I didn't watch it. It's my own little personal boycott. I've beaten this drum before so no need to repeat myself. Bottom line is I don't think Little League games should be on television because these kids are too little to have that kind of pressure put upon them.