Shooting from the lip
A look back at the weekend of televised sports ...
Sometimes we take it for granted because it's on every day. But with all the cool graphics, the strong use of cameras and the announcing team of Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane, it's hard to imagine there are any teams out there that have a better local broadcast than the Devil Rays. It's not always easy to drum up interest on a Sunday afternoon game inside a domed stadium, but the Rays' broadcast makes it about as interesting as it can be.
Talk all you want about Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak or even Hank Aaron's home run record. Then think about Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who hadn't missed a game since May 31, 2000, until Friday when he was put on the disabled list with a broken left wrist. He had the fifth-longest consecutive-games streak in major-league history at 1,152 games and still wasn't even halfway to Cal Ripken's mark of 2,632.
Next best record
Then there's Tiger Woods' assault on Jack Nicklaus. Think how dominant Tiger has been since bursting on the scene. Yet his 12 major championships are still six behind Nicklaus. Can Woods do it? Sure. But it’s not a slam dunk. And that, again, reminds us just how impressive Nicklaus was.
How cool were those Devil Rays throwback uniforms Saturday night? If the Rays are talking about a name change, they should consider a uniform change, too. I realize those uniforms wouldn't exactly be comfy-cool in early August in Kansas City, but fans love the baggy look.
Is Fox baseball's Thom Brennaman running for office or something? He spent way too much of Saturday's Yankees-Giants Game of the Week sounding off about this and popping off about that. I have no problem with opinions from anyone, especially if it can spruce up a dead part of the game. Problem was, Brennaman was so intent on getting his strong opinions across that he ignored chunks of the game.
The game featured several play-of-the-week defensive gems and you never would have known it listening to Brennaman. They were all treated like routine two-hoppers to short. Meantime, his points were all over the map and carried on for so long that partner Joe Girardi often was reduced to silence.
In one instance, Brennaman droned on and on about Barry Bonds and the home run record, never actually used the word "steroids,'' and all we got out of it was, "The shame of it all is there is a question mark around (the greatest record in sports).'' He was practically yelling by the end of it, and it was the most excited he got all day even though it was a back-and-forth game that carried on 13 innings. Another time he ripped into Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel, who might be the nicest guy in baseball.
I like Brennaman, but if he's going to go off like he did Saturday, he needs to pick his spots better and not get in the way of the game.
Fox baseball insider Ken Rosenthal seems to know his stuff, and I don't understand why Fox doesn't use him more, kind of like ESPN uses Peter Gammons on the Sunday night game. Come to think of it, ESPN should be using Gammons more, too.
Anyway, Rosenthal made good use of his abbreviated time Saturday, saying now that Joe Girardi has turned down the Orioles job (a good move, according to Rosenthal's baseball sources), Baltimore could look to White Sox coach Joey Cora, Mets coach Jerry Manuel or old Mets and O's skipper Davey Johnson.
He also said he's hearing that it wouldn't be a surprise if St. Louis' Tony La Russa and Houston's Phil Garner are available next season.
See, isn't that good stuff? We should see more of it.
Most unwatchable event
Hey, did you see the PGA tournament over the weekend? Yeah, well, I didn't. I tried to watch Saturday, but there's something about the tournament the week after a major tournament, like the U.S. Open. Feels like you're eating Hamburger Helper the day after steak and lobster.
Most welcome sight
Boy, it was great to see Max Kellerman on HBO Boxing's coverage of the Ricky Hatton-Jose Luis Castillo fight Saturday night. Full disclosure: I'm a huge Kellerman fan. He knows his sport as well as any analyst , he's articulate and he's a great interviewer. That came through after Hatton's fourth-round knockout when Kellerman pressed Hatton to answer if Castillo is just a shell of the fighter he used to be.
Kellerman will split duties with Larry Merchant. Now, I like Merchant, too. But sometimes Merchant gets into a zone and talks as if everything is a private joke that he is not going to take the time to explain to you. If you're a boxing fanatic, Merchant is your cup of tea, even though he's a little high-brow and a tad esoteric.
Kellerman is more of a working-class analyst, and I think HBO should try putting them on the air together.
Mitch Albom, on ESPN's The Sports Reporters: "Unless (the Lakers) get LeBron James in return, (Kobe Bryant) isn't going anywhere.''
It takes a lot for me to watch Arena Football — like it's already on the TV, I can't find the remote and I'm too tired to get up — but I'll watch anything that Rick Peckham is announcing, at least for a few minutes. He called Saturday night's Storm game, so I watched. Well, until I found the remote. But I wonder if Lightning fans appreciate how good Peckham is and how lucky we are to hear him 70-some times a season.
Most controversial statements
I found an interview on the Internet the other day with Lou Piniella, who sat down for a short question-and-answer session with the New York Times. He talked about a wide range of topics, including who he thought was the smartest player in baseball (Alex Rodriguez) and which managers he respects most (Bob Lemon, Bobby Cox and Tampa buddy Tony La Russa).
But here’s the exchange I found most interesting:
Question: It might be nice if baseball moved into the future by including more women in its ranks. Do you think a woman could be a good manager?
Lou: If she had a good bench coach, why not? I would think she would need a good, hardened, professional baseball guy that would help her with the X’s and O’s during the ball game. Someone who knew the intricacies in and out of the game.
Question: Plenty of women already know the intricacies of the game.
Lou: I’m not sure of that. I think some of the sportswriter women probably think they do.
Tom Jones: I think I’ll just slowly turn and walk away from this one.