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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Rays are fun even when they lose



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

Rays Best and worst weekend
This weekend should've been right up there among the best sports weekends of the year. The Rays are in a pennant race. The Bucs opened the season. A good U.S. Open was coming to a close. And there was college football. Then the whole thing crumpled.

The Rays? Swept. The Bucs? Losers. The U.S. Open's Super Saturday? Ruined by rain. Instead of watching sports all day and night, you probably turned to Oxygen, half-hoping to run into a Snapped marathon. The killer was the Rays' heartbreaking loss Saturday, when they rallied to tie in the ninth, took the lead in the top of the 13th, then lost on a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the inning. That was followed by a maddening 1-0 loss Sunday.

But here's the thing: No matter what the Rays do from here on out -- even if they completely fall apart and miss the playoffs -- they have made this year, and even the past weekend, special for the Tampa Bay area. All you really want from the team you follow is more good days than bad, more days of pleasure than frustration, or worse, apathy.

The Rays have certainly given that. And when was the last time you whipped a pillow at the TV screen during a Rays game in September? When you think about it, that's a good thing.

Locker Worst call
The excessive celebration penalty called Saturday against Washington was a joke. Quarterback Jake Locker scored with two seconds left to cut Brigham Young's lead to 28-27, but he was penalized for flicking the ball over his shoulder and hugging teammates. He wasn't taunting or drawing attention to himself but was still flagged. The extra point became a 35-yard kick, which was blocked.
"This could be a job-loser game for (Washington coach) Ty Willingham — bottom line,'' ESPN's Mark May said. "The officials took this out of the players' and coaches' hands and put it in their own, and that's wrong. It should've never happened.''

Fox's Jimmy Johnson said, "You have good coaches, you have bad coaches. You have good officials, you have bad officials. This official is an idiot for making that call!''

But ESPN's Lou Holtz had the best line: "What scares you when see officials make that call is (knowing) they can vote.''

Best and worst sight
The Cowboys' Terrell Owens scored Sunday against the Browns and celebrated by lining up like track star Usain Bolt. Then, daggumut, he was hit with a penalty. Come on, it was funny. The NFL needs to lighten up. And if you're an opponent who doesn't like seeing him celebrate like that, here's a solution: Don't let him score.

Best exchange
Fox NFL Sunday weather person Jillian Reynolds congratulated analyst Howie Long and his wife, Diane, because the Long's son, Chris, made his NFL debut Sunday for the Rams.
Reynolds: "I’m nervous. I can only imagine how Diane is feeling.''
Long: "She has been in two fights in the parking lot already.''

Bowden Favorite quote
In a feature on ESPN, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said that character is more important than reputation.
"Your reputation, that's a photograph,'' he said. "Your character is your face. Your reputation is what people say about you. Your character is what God knows about you.''

That's really good, although I didn't think a whole lot of his character or reputation when he tagged on a touchdown with a minute left Saturday night in a 69-0 beat down of I-AA Western Carolina. Then again, the Seminoles have been so bad the past few years that they probably removed the "take-a-knee'' play out of their playbook.

Strongest quote
"Kansas City is the worst team in football.''
-- Sports Illustrated's Peter King, during halftime of NBC's coverage of Notre Dame and San Diego State.

Ocho Funniest line
ESPN's Mike Ditka when asked what he thought of the Bengals' Chad Johnson changing his name to Ocho Cinco: "I'd like it better if it was Ocho Stinko.''

Eastcarolina Best answer
East Carolina appears to be this season's USF after stunning upsets of Virginia Tech and West Virginia in the first two weeks. Immediately after Saturday's victory against West Virginia, as fans stormed the field, ESPN's Holly Rowe asked East Carolina coach Skip Holtz how he planned on keeping his team grounded and not too excited.

Holtz gave the right answer: "I don't plan to. Right now, I want them to get excited. This is awesome!''

Diaz Best analyst
HBO's Max Kellerman blasted away Saturday night after calling Juan Diaz's split-decision victory over Michael Katsidis, and because of it, he showed again why is among the finest analysts in sports. He isn't afraid of anyone or anything.

First, during an interview broadcast in the arena with Katsidis and his trainer, Kellerman bravely disagreed with their view of the fight and their strategy heading into the later rounds. Then he scolded the pro-Diaz audience in Houston for booing Katsidis. In his best moment, he blew up at the judges for a scoring the fight so closely, even though it appeared to be a lopsided bout in Diaz's favor. Really, it appeared Katsidis won maybe three or four rounds.

"That's one of the worst jobs of scoring I've ever seen,'' Kellerman said. "It goes beyond just bad scoring. It makes you question whether there was a corruptive influence in the scoring.''

Three things that popped into my head
1. Sorry, I know he's come through most of the time, but Troy Percival still makes me nervous.
2. The Dodgers are going to win the NL West. They don't play a team above .500 for the rest of the season.
3. Which college football team had the best weekend? Southern Cal ... and the Trojans didn't even play. But they did watch next week's opponent (Ohio State) struggle against Ohio and then spent the rest of the day licking their chops.

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


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