Shooting from the lip
The best and worst from a weekend of televised sports ...
Maybe it's that cool music. Maybe it's the grass. Whatever it is, I love watching Wimbledon. Actually, I know what it is more than anything else — the analysis of John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. They know their stuff, have great charisma and one can tell that they have a friendship that goes back to when they were kids by their easy-going-back-and-forth with one another.
Carillo, on Maria Sharapova winning on a rain-shortened day: "She should go to Acapulco for a few days and find some sun.''
McEnroe, on whether Roger Federer has an edge playing most of his matches on centre court: "The bigger edge is that he’s better than everyone else.''
Who was the numbskull who decided to give TBS the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show? What a train wreck. Even host Ernie Johnson seemed embarrassed as he kept telling viewers to hang in there until the end of the Braves-Marlins game. The show was supposed to come on at 4 p.m. — or just after the Braves-Marlins game. Of course, the game in South Florida was delayed 90 minutes by rain, went to extra innings and didn’t end until 5:52 p.m. — nearly two hours late. Seriously, I was pulling for a 22-inning game just to further embarrass baseball for this idiotic scheduling.
Why anyone would schedule an important show like this after the conclusion of a baseball game is beyond me. What if the game had gone 13 or 14 innings? A four-hour plus baseball game is not unprecedented.
This show needed to be on at a set time. Just give it back to ESPN, which was smart enough to know when to schedule a show like this. Put it on at 7 just before the Sunday Night Baseball. The show itself — with Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn — was fine, but by that point I was too aggravated to enjoy it.
The Storm playoff game Saturday was about as exciting as Arena Football can get and yet the telecasts still come off as a bit flat unless you’re a huge Arena fan — and, admittedly, I'm not. ESPN does a good job miking the players so we can hear the coaches and the call of the next play. Of course, that's only good if the analyst — in the Storm's case, Merril Hoge — interprets the confusing set of numbers and words and tells you what is coming. Hoge did that.
But this device of telling what's about to happen is something ESPN relies on too heavily and it eventually turns boring. The announcers, ultimately, need to tell me more about the players, offer some human interest. Or why should anyone care what happens?
Day in the Life
ESPN kicked off its NFL "Day in the Life'' series on SportsCenter. It's a short segment about what NFL players do on a typical day in the offseason. The Dolphins' Jason Taylor was featured Sunday. Tonight it's new Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia at his celebrity golf tournament in California. The rest of the series will have San Diego’s Shawne Merriman (Tuesday), Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (Wednesday) and Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney (Thursday).
MVP of the weekend
Steve Phillips has turned out to be ESPN's best baseball analyst behind Peter Gammons. His work on Sunday morning's extended SportsCenter has become must viewing for baseball fans. On Sunday, he broke down the buyers and sellers leading up to baseball's trade deadline at the end of the month.
Here's what he said:
AL buyers: Mariners (starting pitching), Angels (power bat), Tigers (bullpen help).
AL sellers: Rangers (Mark Teixeira ), White Sox (Jermaine Dye), Orioles (Melvin Mora, Jay Payton, Steve Trachsel).
NL buyers: West Division (offense), East Division (starting pitching), Brewers (an experienced leader).
NL sellers: Astros (Brad Lidge), Reds (Adam Dunn and maybe Ken Griffey).
It was the most informative five minutes of sports television over the weekend.
Bargain of the weekend
NBC's Jimmy Roberts pointed out that fans who attend Wimbledon get a full refund if rain prevents them from seeing less than an hour's worth of tennis.
"That means fans at centre court (Saturday) got to see the defending champion, Amelie Mauresmo, polish off Mara Santangelo in 57 minutes and because there was no more tennis, they all get a full refund. Rain is usually a bummer for fans but today it actually soaks the All England Club itself … to the tune of a million and a half dollars. Ouch. Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. Somebody, please send this policy to Major League Baseball.''
Fight of the weekend
So golf's diva, Annika Sorenstam, had the gall to say she is still hoping to get an apology from Michelle Wie after Wie withdrew with what Sorenstam thought was a shady injury from a tournament Sorenstam sponsored a few weeks back. I know that Wie withdrew a few weeks ago to avoid shooting an 88 and getting knocked off the tour. But that wrist injury is part of the reason she was in danger of shooting an 88. Now that Wie withdrew from the U.S. Women's Open because of the same wrist injury, I'm thinking Sorenstam owes Wie an apology.
Favorite quote of the weekend
Just the other day, the guys around the office were talking about whatever happened to old NFL coach Jerry Glanville. Well, ESPN's Outside the Lines gave us the answer. Glanville, 65, is the new football coach at Portland State. And he delivered this gem as to why he would go to such a place:
"Anybody can be the head coach at Ohio State or Texas or Michigan. What's the fun in that? Here, you’re managing the bus. The bus is going down the road at Portland State and just about every other day, we get a blowout, we have a flat tire. And as the head coach here, you have to get off the bus, fix the flat tire and get it rolling again. And I wouldn't want it any other way.''
ESPN/ABC has set its announcing teams for college football. The biggest change is Bob Davie is moving from the ABC game to ESPN2 where he will work with Mark Jones. The ABC Saturday night game will have a two-man booth of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit. I would prefer Davie staying as part of a three-man booth, but … oh well.
Herbstreit has been an animal over recent years, working Thursday nights, Saturday mornings on College GameDay and then Saturday nights. ESPN smartly is pulling him off the Thursday night games to give him a break. Doug Flutie and Craig James will now do the Thursday games with Chris Fowler.
The Saturday night ESPN game will still have Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge, who make up what might be the best college broadcast team going right now.
Whatever happened to …?
"Oil Can'' Boyd. Remember him? The old Red Sox pitcher? This Week in Baseball did a cool feature on him. He has formed a barnstorming team in the tradition of the old Negro teams of the early 20th Century. And he has been joined by two former major-leaguers: Delino DeShields and Bill "Spaceman''’ Lee. Did you realize that the Spaceman is now 60 years old? Man, we’re getting old.
Another TWiB feature
As cool as it was to see Oil Can Boyd, This Week in Baseball's best story was a feature about singer Paul Simon and the line about Joe DiMaggio in his song Mrs. Robinson. Initially, DiMaggio thought he was being made fun of in the song and was insulted. Later, he found out Simon actually wrote the line in honor of him. Simon said he ran into DiMaggio in a New York restaurant and DiMaggio invited him to sit down.
Simon said he laughed, and said, yes, he had seen the Mr. Coffee commercials, but what he meant was he missed that what Joe DiMaggio — the legend, the bigger-than-life athlete, the hero — represented was no longer a part of our society.