Shooting from the lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Can we just decide right now that anyone who yells, "Get in the hole!'' as soon as a golfer drives a ball, hits a chip, strikes a putt, whatever, should be taken behind the nearest Porta-Potty on the golf course and beaten severely with a sand wedge?
Joe Girvan, weekend host of The Sports Connection on Bay News 9, didn't hold back in saying what the Devil Rays should do with Elijah Dukes. On Friday night, Girvan closed the show with a commentary saying the Rays should part with Dukes immediately. Trade him or release him. Now. He also took a little shot at Delmon Young, too. Whether or not you agree, it was refreshing to see a local sports television announcer voice such a strong opinion.
In the wake of the district attorney in the Duke lacrosse scandal stepping away from his post, the question came up of who was ultimately hurt most in the scandal. Was it the alleged victim? The players? The program? The law? The sport of lacrosse?
Mike Lupica completely nailed it on ESPN's The Sports Reporters: "You know who I think the real victim is? The real victim is the next actual victim of rape in one of these high-celebrity cases because when she comes forward, you know what's going to be the first thing in the conversation? The Duke case.''
Outside the Lines did an insightful piece on Amanda Beard, the seven-time Olympic swimming medalist who posed nude for the July issue of Playboy. The piece talked to Beard, who explained why she did it, as well as two other female athletes who turned down posing nude in the past: soccer player Brandi Chastain and softball pitcher Jenny Finch. Chastain did once appear in a magazine without clothes but was covered by strategically placed soccer balls. Finch, who has appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, said she would never pose nude.
Swimming analyst John Naber said, "It certainly will change the way we look at Amanda Beard.'' He went on to say that instead of being seen as an incredible swimmer with a healthy and attractive figure, Beard will now be remembered as an attractive woman who posed nude who also happens to swim fast.
ESPN commentator Jemele Hill countered: "I think her Olympic career far overshadows (posing in Playboy).''
Each person will have his or her opinion, but it does make a worthwhile discussion.
Most surprising comment
While everyone outside of San Francisco, it seems, is down on Barry Bonds as he approaches the all-time home run record, Fox pregame analyst Kevin Kennedy said emphatically that Bonds should be in the All-Star Game: "He has GOT to be on that all-star team.''
Nike's commercial of golf clubs being made for Tiger Woods' future child was priceless. It took a few seconds to figure out what was going on, but the payoff at the end — the clubs being delivered to Woods' house and the words "Happy Father's Day'' on the screen — made it the best ad I've seen all year.
Most refreshing comment
I get sick and tired of listening to athletes and celebrities groan and moan about media attention and invasion of privacy when they were the ones who chose to go into those professions. If you don't like the attention, go find a 9-to-5 job somewhere for $50,000 a year. That's why it was great to hear Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on ESPN SportsCenter's Sunday Conversation not complaining
"It's unfortunate,'' Jeter said when asked about the coverage given to teammate Alex Rodriguez being seen in Toronto with an ex-stripper who is not his wife. "Everything is news in New York.''
"Does that bother you?'' Jeter was asked.
"No, it doesn't bother me,'' he said. "I understand it. It's part of it. It's part of the job.''
After watching the U.S. Open, it's clear that NBC has the best golf coverage. Bob Costas is a tremendous host. And Jimmy Roberts is a top-notch reporter who knows the game as well as any non-former player out there. But the real reason NBC's coverage is so strong is analyst Johnny Miller, who isn't afraid to criticize or question anyone — including Tiger Woods.
For example, when someone said it appeared Aaron Baddeley had "settled down,'' Miller fired back: "I don't think he's settled down at all. He just three-putted a par 5. ... I think he's still in shock mode if you ask me.''
As Roger Maltby said on a weekend special about Miller on the Golf Channel: "Whatever pops into the back of his head comes out of the front of his face.''
It's not the best way to make friends, but it is the best way to do your job as a sports analyst.
Anyone from Pittsburgh (and in full disclosure I am from Pittsburgh) had to get a little choked up at NBC's opening Saturday and Sunday from the U.S. Open at Oakmont. With images of steel mills, smoke stacks and the beautiful downtown on the screen, announcer Dan Hicks said, "It's not so much a city as it's a hometown. You're not just from here, you belong here. And within those deep roots has grown an attitude. You're strong. You're tough. You're from the Steel City.''
If you're from anywhere else, that probably sounds sugary. If you're from Pittsburgh, it sounded perfect.
I railed against this year's Masters because the course conditions, combined with the weather, made the course essentially unplayable. Who wants to watch golf where players hit the ball exactly where they want and it still turns into bogeys and double bogeys?
But the U.S. Open is different. Once a year, it's good to see the best players in golf have to be nearly perfect on every shot. And what makes it great is if the players do put the ball where they want, they are rewarded.
As Mitch Albom said on ESPN's The Sports Reporters: "There was a famous quote from the U.S. Open (about) 30 years ago that said the point of the U.S. Open is not to humiliate the best golfers in the world. It's to identify them.''
Worst example of getting carried away
Guilty as charged. That's how I plead after I proclaimed LeBron James as the best basketball player on the planet about two weeks ago. I got carried away with his performance against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference final. After watching him get shut down by the Spurs in the NBA Finals, I have to agree with several readers who wrote me (before the NBA Finals, I should add) that LeBron remains behind Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade on the list.
I still think he will end up better than Kobe and Wade, but he needs more time to develop his perimeter game and become more aggressive in the big moments. He was aggressive against Detroit and that shows he has it in him. He just needs to do it all the time.