Fox baseball's lost weekend in Tampa BAY
Shooting from the Lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
So, we had a look at what postseason baseball might look like from the Trop as Fox was in town Saturday for its Game of the Week. Anyone notice how off-center the camera angle was from centerfield? It looked like the camera was set not in center, but in left-center. Home plate was shoved against the right portion of the screen, and it was just unsettling enough to be a distraction for the entire game. And I'm convinced the reason for the off-kilter angle was to get the advertising sign behind home plate into the picture. Let's hope that gets fixed if (when?) Fox does return to St. Petersburg in October.
Poorest choice of words
Fox baseball pregame host Jeanne Zelasko was attempting to be clever when talking about Major League Baseball adding instant replay, but she showed poor judgment or, at the least, proof she hasn't picked up a newspaper or watched a news show in a few days. In a bubbly voice, a smiling Zelasko said, "In the name of progress and disaster preparedness, instant replay has arrived.''
Considering that people were literally fleeing New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with a major hurricane barrelling down, the phrase "disaster preparedness'' was an awful choice of words.
Meantime, Zelasko, as she has all season, keeps insisting the Rays play in Tampa. Two more times in Saturday's pregame she called the team the "Tampa Ray'' and in the postgame introduced the highlights from the game "in Tampa.'' Every time she says it, it's like nails on a chalkboard. Her studio partners, Mark Grace and Kevin Kennedy, get it right. Saturday's play-by-play man Kenny Albert got it right. Pretty much everybody gets it right. Why can't she?
The best part of college football starting again? The return of ESPN's College GameDay -- the best sports show on television. Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit are in the zone -- so knowledgeable, quick and incredibly comfortable with each other without flooding the viewers with "inside'' jokes or comments. Even weak-link Desmond Howard seems to be growing into his role and had a strong debut Saturday, speaking with more confidence and authority than in the past.
GameDay ignored USF on Saturday but talked plenty about Florida. Corso had the best point about the Gators, saying: "The one thing that worries me about the Gators, if you're a Gators fan, is this: Only six teams in the nation committed more penalties than they did in 2007. There is no excuse for that. … They will not beat SEC teams if the don’t (commit fewer) penalties.''
Then again, it should be noted that when Florida won the national championship two seasons ago, it was the most penalized team in the country.
ESPN's College GameDay recycled an Outside the Lines' piece on Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, but every time you see it you can't help but get a tear in your eye. The kid could easily spend the summer at the beach chasing good times, but instead he does missionary work. Even if you hate the Gators, you can't help but respect Tebow.
This needs to be repeated over and over: If there is a better baseball announcing crew than Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane, I haven't heard them. Here's what I love about them. On Sunday, Jason Bartlett was hit by a pitch that looked intentional in the eighth inning. The first thought in my mind, and I'm betting most who were watching, was: "Hmm, do the Rays retaliate? Should they retaliate?''
And then Staats and Magrane addressed that very issue in the top of the ninth. And it was Magrane coming strong when it was apparent the Rays would not retaliate.
"I'm sorry,'' Magrane said, "you got to protect Bartlett.''
"Yes,'' Staats said, "He's the one guy you don't want anybody messing with.''
Bartlett was Todd Kalas' guest on the postgame show, but wasn't asked about it.
Best and worst tennis news
Tampa had a good news/bad news match over the weekend. Tampa's Mardy Fish won a big third-round match at the U.S. Open. That was good. "Fish played the best match of his life,'' CBS analyst John McEnroe said. "And if he can play like that … look out.''
The bad part was the victory came against Tampa resident James Blake, who continues to fall short in the Grand Slams. Blake will be 29 in December and, unless something drastically changes, he is never going to make a major impact in a major. He has never reached a semifinal of a Grand Slam tournament and, in fact, he has reached the quarters only three times. Not to pick on Blake too much, but even Anna Kournikova reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam once.
Most surprising show
Ch. 13, the local Fox affiliate, produced a half-hour show on the Rays before the national coverage Saturday afternoon. Chip Carter hosted and, though it was nothing more than catching up with the Rays' season, it was a nice idea and well executed. The show included interviews with Evan Longoria, Joe Maddon, Carl Crawford, longtime fan Dick Vitale and TV announcer Dewayne Staats.
Five things we learned in the first weekend of college football
1. Either Clemson is really bad or Alabama is really good. It's probably a little of both, but if I'm an SEC coach, I'm suddenly a little worried about the Crimson Tide, especially if QB John Parker Wilson is going to play like that.
2. Missouri better fix its defense if it hopes to contend for a national title.
3.Told you Pitt was overrated.
4. With Clemson and Virginia Tech looking so bad, Florida State might actually have a chance in the ACC.
5. Georgia might be ranked No. 1, but Southern Cal is the best team in the country … right now.
The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan, on Sports Reporters: "Haley Joel Osment isn't the only one claiming to see dead people. I think I just saw Carl Pavano win two games for the Yankees.''
College GameDay's Chris Fowler, who is good for one I-don't-care-who-I-tick-off zinger a week, took a sledgehammer to LSU, saying, "LSU has the softest nonconference schedule of any SEC team, and that's an embarrassment for a defending national champion.''
Fowler is right. LSU's nonconference schedule: home against Appalachian State, Troy, North Texas and Tulane.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Wonder who enjoyed Utah's victory over Michigan more, Utah fans or West Virginia fans?
2. Many complained when the Rays did not make a move at the trade deadline. Turns out, they did get a key late-season acquisition -- Rocco Baldelli.
3. Who would've thought before the season that this week's three-game series between the Rays and Yankees would feature a first-place team and another team 12 1/2 games back, and that the Yankees would be the team 12 1/2 back?