Rays outshine Lightning
Wednesday's Two Cents ...
Bad luck of the day
The poor Lightning. It gets new owners, a new coach, a bunch of new players. It opens the season in Europe and hardly anyone is paying attention because of the Rays' magical playoff run. Then it gets worse. The Lightning opens its home schedule Saturday night at 7:30 -- just 37 minutes before the scheduled first pitch of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Rays and Red Sox.
The Lightning did call Saturday's opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, to ask about changing Saturday's game time to avoid the Rays-Red Sox game, but the Hurricanes said no. Carolina plays Friday night at home against the Panthers and the travel and turnaround would be too quick for a day game. Besides, league rules prohibit a team playing a day game after a night game. The earliest the league would permit a starting time Saturday would be 5 p.m. That's the starting time the Lightning wanted, but the Hurricanes still said no.
The Lightning wasn't upset and said it understood Carolina’s position, but, quite frankly, I don’t. With a short flight from Raleigh after Friday night's game, the Hurricanes would be in their Tampa hotel across the street from the St. Pete Times Forum by 1 a.m. -- some 16 hours before the puck would drop Saturday. That's plenty of time to rest up for a game, especially one so early in the season. And, honestly, two-and-a-half hours is going to be that much of a difference for the Canes?
In the end, it really is in Carolina's best interest, too, to change Saturday's game time. The NHL needs all the fanfare and attention it can get. Going up against the Rays is bad for the Lightning, which is, in turn, bad for the entire NHL -- an NHL that includes the Carolina Hurricanes.
TBS announces announcers
TBS has announced its announcing team for the American League Championship Series, which starts Friday at the Trop. Chip Carey will handle the play-by-play with Ron Darling and Buck Martinez as analysts. Craig Sager, he of the funky sports jackets, will be the on-field reporter. Harold Reynolds, who worked as an analyst on the Rays-White Sox series, will go into the studio to join Inside MLB host Ernie Johnson and analysts Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley. It would've been nice if Reynolds, who was excellent in the first round, could've stayed in the booth for the next series. That also would've allowed Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson to stay with the studio team for the ALCS. Granderson was the strongest of the studio analysts.
Thoughts on Inside MLB
TBS's pre- and postgame show, Inside MLB, has been consistently inconsistent. It has gotten a tad better as the playoffs have gone on, but it's still filled with too many awkward and unsteady moments.
Ernie Johnson does a solid job as host, just as he does as host on TNT's Inside the NBA. The problem is when he looks down the desk on the baseball show, the highly-entertaining Charles Barkley isn’t sitting there. With all due respect to Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley, neither brings the energy or humor that Barkley does. To be fair, if Barkley were to leave the basketball show, there probably wouldn't be anyone to replace him there either.
Without someone like Barkley, Johnson, it seems, is having a difficult time pitching ideas and topics for Ripken and Eckersley to run with because neither seems willing to run. Perhaps in the ALCS, Harold Reynolds will bring a little more life to a show that needs a lot more life to be entertaining.
All in the all, Inside MLB delivers all the information and insight, but in a way that's still a little too boring.
Through Sunday, TBS was averaging about 4.3-million viewers for the 13 playoffs games it has shown. That is a big drop from the 5.4-million average viewers TBS garnered for the same time period in 2007.
A few reasons for that. One, there were no New York teams in the postseason for the first time in 13 years. The other was the network took a big hit when one of its glamor games -- the Cubs vs. the Dodgers -- was aired at the same time as the vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, which drew about 70-million viewers and was one of the most-watched debates in political history. The final thought is none of the first-round series was really that competitive. All four started with a team taking a 2-0 lead and none went the full five games.
Bad idea of the day
So the word out there is actor Kevin Costner has met with movie writer-director Ron Shelton about making a sequel to the 1988 classic Bull Durham. In addition, the New York Post is reporting that actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon would be interested in reprising their roles. Can I just go on record right now and say this is a bad idea? Sports sequels do not work. Think about it.
Slap Shot is my pick for the greatest sports movie ever made, but Slap Shot 2 might have been the worst movie ever made. Well, actually Caddyshack II might be the worst movie ever made -- more evidence that sports sequels are a bad idea. Major League was good, but Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors were awful. The first Bad News Bears was great, but both sequels were a mistake. The Mighty Ducks was kind of cute, but the sequels were kind of annoying. Same with Karate Kid. The only sports sequels that worked were a couple of the Rocky sequels. But as Times Outdoors Editor Terry Tomalin astutely points out, Rocky is more like a superhero and superhero sequels (Batman, Spider-Man, etc.) usually do work.
Bull Durham ranks No. 2 on my all-time sports movies. I don't know why, but I'm almost positive Bull Durham 2 will not be in my top 50. Don’t do it!
Three things that popped into my head
1. Doesn't it seem like all the baseball playoff teams are going a little too crazy with the champagne and all after winning their first-round playoff series?
2. He might not be the NFL's best running back, but the Saints' Reggie Bush in the most exciting. When you see him take the field, it's like seeing Barry Bonds or Reggie Jackson come to bat. You have to watch just to see what he might do.
3. Don't you just get the sick feeling that Jason Bay, who was the subject of trade rumors to Tampa Bay but ended up in Boston, is going to do something to hurt the Rays in the ALCS?