Shooting from the lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Biggest story with local angle
Opinions continue to pour in over Alex Ovechkin's 50th-goal celebration Thursday at the St. Pete Times Forum when he dropped his stick and acted as if it were too hot to pick up. Much of the NHL media has come out against Ovechkin while fans seem split.
Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry, a critic of Ovechkin’s celebrations even before Thursday, did not disappoint with his commentary Saturday night, although it should be pointed out that Cherry was calm throughout his segment.
"You should be a role model; you don't need to do this,'' Cherry said. "You're above stuff like that. You're the best hockey player playing today. Have a little class and do it right. How would you like to be playing for Tampa? They've gone through a nightmare season, it's in their building, they're being beat … and you score on a rookie goalie. I mean, how do you think (goalie Mike) McKenna feels about this? You think the people from Tampa came to see him act like that?''
Cherry even complimented Ovechkin while criticizing him, saying he didn’t believe Ovechkin was a mean person. During Sunday's NBC coverage, Ovechkin was criticized by analysts Pierre Maguire and Mike Milbury, with Milbury being the harshest critic.
Bottom line: What Ovechkin did was wrong. He disrespected the Lightning and the game and put his teammates in jeopardy had the Lightning decided to retaliate. And I'm guessing that if Sidney Crosby had celebrated the exact same way in Washington, Caps fans would be livid right now. By the way, the most disturbing part of the whole incident? That not one Lightning player stood up to Ovechkin. The teams play twice more this season, but seeing as how nothing happened after Ovechkin's celebration Thursday night, it's doubtful anything is going to happen in the final two meetings.
CBS had a good weekend with the NCAA Tournament. After struggling early to find the right times to switch between the endings of games, the network hit its stride Friday night, deftly alternating between the thrilling finishes of the FSU-Wisconsin and Ohio State-Siena games. It did even better Sunday, bouncing back and forth and around between three close games (Michigan State-USC, Missouri-Marquette, Sienna-Louisville). But you have to ask: Why doesn't CBS use more split screens when more than one close game is ending at the same time?
Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg are CBS's lead announcers for the NCAA Tournament and will be calling the Final Four. But if I were in charge, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery would call every basketball game on CBS.
Spending a weekend afternoon watching golf on NBC is always a pleasure, and it was even more so this weekend with the Transitions Championship being played at Innisbrook. There are no better golf analysts on TV than Johnny Miller and Dottie Pepper, and the rest of the NBC team, led by host Dan Hicks, had a good weekend. It didn't hurt that the Copperhead course has gained the reputation of being one of the best and toughest on the PGA Tour, making for compelling action, even without Tiger Woods in the tournament.
"One of the toughest tests on the tour outside of the major championships,'' Hicks said.
Miller added, "You gotta bring your A-game. It’s just a tough course. … This is a real test of golf.''
NBC's hockey coverage continues to excel, although it's getting a little old seeing the same teams (Penguins, Flyers, Rangers) every week. But here's something little that makes for a big-time broadcast: During the first period of Sunday’s Pens-Flyers game, the Penguins were called for an offsides that immediately drew an argument from Pens star Sidney Crosby. NBC cued up an ice-level replay that showed the Penguins were not offside. And analyst Pierre Maguire, who is stationed between the benches, did his job by passing along to viewers exactly what Crosby told the linesman who blew the call, adding that Crosby made his argument in a "professional'' way.
It was weird to watch a Rays game on television and not hear the voice of Joe Magrane, who is now with the MLB Network. New analyst Kevin Kennedy made his debut Sunday during the Rays-Yankees spring training game and seemed at ease with partner Dewayne Staats. Kennedy will do a good job, but it's still a mistake to have him do only 100 games then bring in other analysts to fill out the schedule.
The NBA MVP award is coming down to, probably, three players: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. During Sunday's Pistons-Heat game, ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy voiced his vote: "Wade takes a backseat to no one as the best player in the game. He has done more with less than anyone in the NBA.''
Rays radio announcer Dave Wills, talking about the Rays beating the Yankees on Sunday: "This will break the Yankees' nine-game winning streak … and put (Yankees manager) Joe Girardi on the hot seat.''
Thought of the day
Remember a few years ago when it appeared the Lightning was going to trade Vinny Lecavalier because it didn't seem as if Lecavalier and then-coach John Tortorella could co-exist? General manager Jay Feaster stepped in and told Lecavalier that Tortorella was not going to be fired. And he told Tortorella that Lecavalier was not going to be traded. He told them to figure out a way to get along and move forward.
Maybe someone with the Broncos should step in and do the same thing with new coach Josh McDaniels and disgruntled quarterback Jay Cutler.
Three things that popped into my head
1. How much did Kevin Garnett's absence hurt the Celtics? They went 7-6 without the star and went from battling Cleveland for the top seed in the East to having no shot at catching the Cavs and having to fight the Magic for the No. 2 seed.
2. A player you have to love: the Lightning's Marty St. Louis. The Bolts are (and have been) hopelessly out of the playoffs and yet St. Louis plays every game as if it were Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
3. Think Barry Melrose still believes Steven Stamkos, who now has 18 goals, isn't ready for the NHL?