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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

CBS continues to feed our nightmares with MMA



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

Mma Worst programming
The sour taste left in our mouths by CBS showing mixed martial arts in May had finally disappeared when CBS sunk to its lowest depths again Saturday by showing another MMA card. We saw more blood, more over-the-top announcing and more disturbing images of men and women beating each another into submission.

Sen. John McCain has come up with the perfect description for MMA: human cockfighting. Still, it has an audience, and that's all CBS apparently cares about. The network makes money, and who cares if our children see on free TV faces split open or blood soaked into the mat?

Yes, I know. If you don't like it, you can turn the channel, and if you don't want your kids to watch it, then monitor what they watch. I know all that. It still doesn't excuse one of our major networks from taking responsibility for showing this monstrosity.

More from MMA
One more thing about this CBS-MMA mess. Announcers Gus Johnson and Mauro Ranallo don't sound like they're calling these fights. It's more like they're selling them to the public. Is that really their job? Shouldn't they just call the fights instead of telling us how great this alleged sport is and making it sound like a two-hour commercial? Johnson could be heard encouraging the audience to applaud the fighters. Can you imagine Joe Buck doing that at a baseball game? Or Al Michaels at a football game? Even HBO's Max Kellerman and Jim Lampley don't do that at a boxing match.

I don't expect much from Ranallo, who is nothing more than an MMA shill, but Johnson is better than this. He's a good announcer who does great work on college basketball. But when he works MMA, he sounds more like old wrestling announcer Mean Gene Okerlund than one of the more solid broadcasters in the business. He's too good to be doing this.

Paterno Most irresponsible story
ESPN's Outside the Lines does such outstanding work that it's all the more noticeable when one of its stories fails to meet the high standards it sets. And when a story fails to meet most journalistic standards, it's disturbing.

Such was the case with Steve Delsohn's sloppy, irresponsible story on Penn State football. The piece tossed out a bunch of numbers to make it appear as if Joe Paterno's program is out of control because of off-the-field incidents. The emphasis was on charges and arrests as opposed to convictions. though all numbers were revealed. Worse, the numbers were given no context as to how Penn State compares with other Division I programs, or even the regular student body. That's Journalism 101.

Only a couple of incidents were mentioned in detail, giving the viewer no clue as to how serious all of the incidents have been. (The highlighted incident appeared to be little more than a late-night party fight.) And the most powerful interviews came from students whose credibility could not be verified.

Paterno, on air, said the piece was a "witch hunt,'' and he's right. It's as if a bunch of producers sat in a room, decided they were going to go after Paterno and his program, and then geared the story, statistics and interviews to fit their agenda. This story fails to pass journalism muster, and it's quite shocking that a quality show such as OTL would air a piece with so many holes in it.

Funniest line
Chip Carey, who calls Sunday baseball games for TBS, is not a favorite, but he did have the best line of the weekend. When asked by partner Harold Reynolds if he had ever been hit by a baseball, Carey said, "No, my family crest was the yellow fleeing chicken.''

Aaron Is that your final answer?
During Saturday's Red Sox-Yankees game on Fox, analyst Tim McCarver talked about Francisco Cabrera's hit that drove in Sid Bream to give the Braves the 1992 National League pennant. McCarver said, "Still the biggest hit in Atlanta sports history.''

One could make that argument, but seeing as how the Braves didn't win the World Series that year and went on to play in three more World Series and won one, can you really say it was bigger than Hank Aaron's 715th homer in 1974 to break Babe Ruth's all-time record? One can't help but wonder if it's just another example of Aaron being the most underrated and overlooked star baseball has had.

Grace Most awkward moment
It started with a little playing around. Fox baseball insider Ken Rosenthal was asked during the pregame show if analyst Mark Grace was a Hall of Famer. What made it awkward? Both were on the air at the same time. Rosenthal said, “No.'' Everyone laughed uncomfortably and Rosenthal continued, "I love Gracie, but is he a Hall of Famer? No.'' Grace (.303 average, 173 HRs, 1,146 RBIs) held his poise and didn't say anything. And Rosenthal is right. But, geez, how embarrassing.

Best on-the-money remark
Let's see. Brett Favre remains a great quarterback, yet the Packers don't want him back and only a few teams seem interested in acquiring him. As Mitch Albom said on ESPN's Sports Reporters: "There's something weird going on here that still hasn't been answered.''

Best pregame show
The Rays On Deck pregame show has become entertaining, informative and a splendid way to get you ready for the Rays. Actually, with the way the Rays played Sunday, the pregame show was the most enjoyable part of the broadcast. Sunday's show included well-done features on broken bats, the Rays' bullpen and infield defense, and, in its best moment, a quick tutorial from analyst Joe Magrane on how pitcher Andy Sonnanstine's recent troubles might be attributed to his grip on the ball. Magrane is at his best when he is explaining baseball intricacies in everyday language. Sunday he did it again.

Manny Good work
Some highlights from Fox's baseball coverage:
• Pregame analyst Kevin Kennedy delivered the goods when, talking about the Red Sox's problems with Manny Ramirez, he mentioned he once had problems in Texas with Juan Gonzalez. He could've said, "I once had a player …'' Instead, he named a name, and that's what fans want. And deserve.
• Game analyst Tim McCarver showed some reporting chops by relaying a conversation with Sox GM Theo Epstein in which Epstein said the Red Sox would entertain trade offers for Ramirez if Manny ever waived his no-trade clause.
• Announcer Joe Buck delivered the best line in talking about Ramirez: "He is untradeable.''

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


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