Real Sports jumps the shark
Shooting from the Lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel truly is one of the best shows on television. If you didn't know that already, all you have to do is watch the show's year-in-review special as Gumbel and the show's correspondents spend the hour slobbering all over one another about how good the show is. You half expect that arrogance from Gumbel and some of the other correspondents, but it was disappointing to watch Frank Deford and Mary Carillo joining in the lovefest.
Real Sports is a superb show (although it wasn't as solid as past years), but no one wants to watch journalists tooting their own horns for an hour. Making it worse was Gumbel asserting that Real Sports is the only show that does good investigative and feature sports journalism. Gumbel said other networks do "puff pieces'' because they are broadcast partners with the big leagues such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.
"The hardest question they ask is why do you pronounce it 'Brett Favre' when it's V-R-E?'' Gumbel said. "I mean, that's the hardest thing they ask.''
That is simply ridiculous. Shame on Gumbel for feeling the need to pump up his own good show by running down other shows with unfair and inaccurate claims. Gumbel needs to watch a few episodes of ESPN's Outside the Lines to see a show that's as good if not better than Real Sports and, obviously, doesn't care who ESPN's broadcast partners are.
Ironically, during Real Sports' year-end special, Carillo mentioned one of the stories that got away -- a piece on high school basketball phenom Elena Delle Donne, who decided to quit the sport because she didn't have the passion to play anymore. It was a feature Carillo wanted to get but couldn't — the type of feature Real Sports does. And the exact feature that was shown on Sunday's Outside the Lines.
Outside the Lines' piece on former basketball star Elena Delle Donne on Sunday should be required viewing for every parent with a child who plays sports. Delle Donne was considered the "female LeBron Jame'' -- the best female high school basketball player in the country. She committed to Connecticut but decided that after all her years of practice and games and personal trainers that she really didn't have and never really had the passion to play basketball. She left UConn and is now at the University of Delaware playing volleyball while working toward a degree in special education. (Her sister is a special-needs person.) Delle Donne is the classic example of burning out and playing a sport not because she wanted to but because everyone else, including her parents, wanted her to.
Worst prediction (so far)
ESPN's Lee Corso made a bold prediction, saying the ACC would have the best record of any conference in the bowl games. So far, it's not working out so well for Corso and the ACC. Florida State and Wake Forest won their bowl games, but North Carolina and Miami lost. Actually, it's the Big East and Pac-10 off to good bowl starts. The Big East is 2-0, with victories by USF and West Virginia, and so is the Pac-10, with victories by Arizona and California.
Cool idea by Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida to swap analysts for a period during Saturday's Lightning-Panthers game. Panthers analyst Denis Potvin worked with announcer Rick Peckham on the Lightning broadcast during the second period, while Bobby "Chief'' Taylor joined the Panthers telecast. It gave viewers a fresh perspective, and you wonder why hockey broadcasts don't do this more often.
Fox baseball pregame host Jeanne Zelasko is throwing her hat in the ring to call the 40 Dodgers road games that Vin Scully doesn't work. Zelasko has no play-by-play baseball experience, but if she gets the job, she will be the first woman to do play-by-play for a major-league team. (Suzyn Waldman works as an analyst on Yankees radio broadcasts.) Zelasko could use the work. It has been reported that Fox might do away with its pregame shows next season.
Maybe Randy Shannon will turn around Miami, but the final two minutes of Saturday night's Emerald Bowl loss showed a Hurricanes team that is not coached very well. Trailing Cal by seven with 2:41 left and a timeout remaining, the Hurricanes ran only eight plays and used the timeout after an incomplete pass when the clock was already stopped. The Hurricanes never spiked the ball, and QB Jacory Harris stayed in bounds on a play when he could have stopped the clock by getting out of bounds. There was one occasion when the Hurricanes wasted nearly 35 seconds between two plays. Sorry, but players not knowing what to do is on the coach’s watch.
So the Yankees now have the four highest-paid players in baseball with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the recently signed CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, and their payroll now stands at $14-trillion or something.
"Look, you can be angry at the Yankees if you want, but they're just doing what they’re supposed to be doing, which is taking advantage of the system,'' NBC's Jimmy Roberts said on ESPN's Sports Reporters. "The system is totally broken. … It deprives people in towns like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh of rooting for hometown Hall of Famers. It's just wrong. It needs to change.''
When talking about the Yankees spending all that money to sign Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia on ESPN's Sports Reporters, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN and Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald pointed out that Boston's Kevin Youkilis had more extra-base hits than Teixeira last season and that the top of the Red Sox rotation (Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and a healthy Josh Beckett) is still probably better than New York's Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and a healthy Chien-Ming Wang. They should've mentioned one more thing: Neither of those teams won the American League East last season.
Three things that popped into my head
1. It's not unusual for NHL power forwards to take a few seasons to find their footing and start scoring in buckets. Great power forwards such as Kevin Stevens, Cam Neely and Rick Tocchet, just to name three, all took a couple of NHL seasons before finding their way. That's why we should all keep an eye on the Lightning's Evgeny Artyukhin, who had a monster weekend.
2. Raise your hand if you picked the Dolphins and Falcons to make the NFL playoffs. If your hand is raised, you're lying.
3. They aren't playing for the national title, but all things considered, Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles had a nice season.