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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

The British Open and, yes, Norman did choke again



Shooting from the Lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

Norman Best event
Did anyone else out there find themselves not really rooting for Greg Norman during the British Open?  Sure, it was compelling that a 53-year-old who barely plays anymore was in contention for a major title. And he seems like a nice enough guy, although former close friend Andy Mill, whose ex-wife Chris Evert reportedly had an extramarital affair with Norman and married him this month, might disagree.

But back to golf: Just because Norman is 53 and was not expected to be in contention does not mean he still didn't choke away the tournament. ABC's Mike Tirico said during the broadcast, "It doesn't feel like Greg Norman blew this one.''

Really? Norman had a two-stroke lead going into Sunday and started the final round by going bogey, bogey, bogey,  par, par, bogey. It took him all of three holes to turn the lead over to eventual champ Padraig Harrington. Hey, just because he’s an "old'' guy doesn’t mean he's immune from us pointing out that he wilted under the pressure. Again.

Azinger So-so coverage
ABC's coverage of the British Open was mediocre mostly because of the mediocre broadcasters. Host Mike Tirico is a solid golf guy and always does a professional job, but I'm not much of a Paul Azinger fan. Azinger just hasn't seemed to have found his voice as a broadcaster. His monotone delivery makes it impossible for him to sound clever or funny, and, quite frankly, it's hard for him to sound authoritative at majors when he only won one — the 1993 PGA Championship.

Thank goodness Tom Watson didn't make the cut because he was the best thing ABC had going. Hmm, imagine that, the vanilla Watson being the highlight of a broadcast. Still, except for Tirico, ABC's broadcast team is now way behind NBC with Johnny Miller and Dottie Pepper.

Reilly_2 Most underused reporter
ABC and ESPN are still trying to figure out a way to best use newly-acquired Rick Reilly, the former Sports Illustrated columnist. Reilly always seems two seconds away from saying something inappropriate, but that actually makes him compelling to watch. And the guy is fall-on-the-ground funny. Golf is Reilly's strongest subject and ABC, which sorely lacked personality at the British Open, should have used him more.

Choi Best moments
Tom Watson had the two best lines of ABC's weekend coverage of the British Open. When KJ Choi hit a bunker shot into the wind Saturday, Watson said, "That's a shampoo shot. After you hit that shot, you have to go shampoo your hair.''
He also broke out something golf viewers might have never heard when he said, "Ben Hogan said, 'I know I'm going to hit seven bad shots, on average, in a round of golf.' You’re going to fail some. It's how you react to your failure and how you recover from your failure that makes you a champion.''
That's good stuff.

Steinbrenner Most overblown praise
Reader Gerry Kaszer of St. Petersburg picked up on something Fox's Joe Buck said during last week's All-Star Game. Buck talked about how Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has done so much for baseball and should be in the Hall of Fame. Kaszer wrote, "My take is that Steinbrenner has been good for George and for the Yankees, but not real good for baseball. In general, Buck showed himself to be an aimless prattler who really didn't need a baseball game behind him in order to yammer relentlessly.''

I think Buck is outstanding, but on this particular subject, I have to go with Mr. Kaszer.

Best feature
I made a vow over the weekend to not write about ESPN's Outside the Lines. I write about that show every week, it seems, and I didn't want anyone thinking I was on OTL's payroll.

Then -- dang it -- it produced another outstanding piece. Disturbing, but outstanding and important. Reporter T.J. Quinn looked at children getting involved in mixed martial arts. Not as viewers, but as participants. Watching images of kindergartners punching other kids, flipping them through the air and putting them in submission holds was nauseating. Watching adults, including the parents of crying kids, defend it was even more shocking and sickening.

Frank Shamrock, an MMA legend and commentator, handled himself pathetically, choosing to defend it by doing little more than laughing, shaking his head and essentially saying:  "What's the problem?''

This was all bound to happen, by the way. We flood TV with MMA fights, make it seem cool, and soon enough, kids are going to get involved. What's troubling is the parents seem to be the ones pushing kids into it. If the parents and instructors aren't going to protect these kids, lawmakers need to. MMA is barbaric and panders to our lowest instincts. Banning this sport entirely would be perfect, but making it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 seems imperative.

Favre Best Brett Favre take
As we continue to follow the Brett Favre soap opera, ESPN's Sports Reporters boiled it all down Sunday. Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free-Press said if you have veteran Favre or kid Aaron Rogers, who would you want as your quarterback? "With all due respect to Aaron Rogers,'' Albom said perfectly, "he isn't due any respect.''
Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News added, "(The Packers) are a 'now' team about to hand the keys over to a 'tomorrow' quarterback.''

Three things I learned via TV
1. The Angels' Casey Kotchman, who grew up in Pinellas County, is the toughest  American Leaguer to strike out -- it happens only once in every 17 at-bats.
2. Speaking of the Angels, closer Francisco Rodriguez likely will hit the free-agent market and might be looking for a five-year deal worth $75-million. Maybe Rays owner Stu Sternberg should start digging in his couches for loose change.
3. Oklahoma City is going to call its new NBA team the Thunder, and here's the word that comes to mind: ugh! And further more, bleh! Don’t we all hate singular noun nicknames? This is the NBA, not the Arena Football League.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 2:42pm]


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