Shooting from the lip
Looking back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports ...
Just wondering, but could Brent Musburger possibly have made any more mistakes calling Sunday's Little League World Series finale? He messed up the count, the number of outs and even tried to dramatically call a home run that turned out not to be a home run. Analysts Dusty Baker and Orel Hershiser were great. Too bad their partner wasn't.
Seen that NFL commercial for the opening of the season between Peyton Manning's Colts and Reggie Bush's Saints? Cute idea, having the two in the same hotel and ordering outrageous items from room service to be sent to the other's room. Yeah, I really like it, but I have to say I liked it even more the first time I saw it when the NHL did it with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin last winter.
Most honest analyst
I've gone back and forth on this Tiki Barber-ripping-Eli Manning mess. Finally, I've decided that while Barber doesn't earn points for being a good guy, he does earn points for being a good broadcaster. NBC hired Barber, in part, to give unbiased insight and analysis. Maybe Barber took the low road in criticizing Manning, but it was his opinion and, after all, that's what he's getting paid to give. Better to honestly rip someone than do what so many ex-jocks do — which is to never say anything bad about anyone even if they have some dirt.
For months the Michael Vick controversy has created a divide between races, cultures and parts of the country. But this was interesting from Sunday morning's Outside the Lines on ESPN. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz said he wrote a column last week, basically calling Vick a "coward'' for lying about this whole mess. Schultz said the reaction from readers ran about "20-to-1'' in favor of the column. Had he written the column about six weeks ago, Schultz said, "I would’ve worried about starting my car.''
As I said, the Vick controversy has plenty of gray area for many because, well, it is a black-and-white issue. But on Sunday's Sports Reporters, Howard Bryant came on strong, telling everyone to read the investigation reports of what Vick allegedly did to dogs.
"And if it doesn’t horrify you,'' The ESPN columnist said, "then you don’t have a soul.''
Will Vick ever play again? The earliest he would is probably at age 30. Assuming he is allowed back, who knows if he'll have any football skills left after sitting out, perhaps, three seasons. But Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said it's more about whether Vick ever shows contrition, which he really hasn't done yet. Ryan said his return will depend on "who he is going to be, not what kind of football player he is.''
Best historical comment
ESPN basketball analyst Bill Walton, talking about the United States dominating the FIBA Americas basketball tournament: "This has become more lopsided than the Battle of the Alamo.''
Shame on Fox baseball pregame show analyst Kevin Kennedy, who is usually solid, but was out of line Saturday. The subject was Twins lefty Johan Santana, who appeared to pull himself out of a game after striking out 17 (three short of tying the record) in eight innings on Aug. 19. Kennedy said Santana was wrong unless he and manager Ron Gardenhire had discussed how much longer he would pitch. Fox analyst Eric Karros seconded Kennedy’s remarks.
Here's my beef: The pregame show was Saturday. Santana's game was the previous Sunday. That means Kennedy had almost six full days to call Gardenhire or Santana, or get someone at Fox to check on it. Why not do a little reporting and get the facts before you rip a guy on national television?
ESPN NASCAR analyst Rusty Wallace, talking about Saturday night's race at Bristol: "It's definitely the most exciting race anybody ever goes to. The track is amazing, the fans are amazing. If you're ever going to win one, Bristol's at the top of the list.''
That's his opinion and it's more educated than mine. But I think I might go with a little race called the Daytona 500.
The U.S. Open tennis tournament is the latest sporting event to incorporate a skills competition. Sunday had goofy events like hitting targets and so forth. It actually was somewhat entertaining, as were some of the musical guests. And it got me thinking about how all these sporting events, such as the NFL and NBA and NHL, are trying to look hip in, what I can only guess, is an attempt to attract younger viewers, especially kids. If that's the case, then perhaps these events should be on early enough in the day for kids to actually watch. I guarantee there will be an incredible U.S. Open match in the next two weeks that won't end until 1 in the morning.
Fox baseball insider Ken Rosenthal reported that Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter turned down a $14-million a year contract and wants Ichiro money, which is like $18-million a year. Rosenthal is always full of good stuff, and I don't understand why Fox doesn't lean on him more.
Speaking of Fox's baseball broadcast, you might have noticed that usual pregame host Jeannie Zelasko was absent Saturday. She was attending the funeral of her father. Chris Rose did an admirable job in her chair.
Best "Whatever happened to … ''
Remember Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson? ESPN's Outside the Lines caught up with him Sunday. He's coaching the Mexican National Team. Richardson lost his job at Arkansas in part for saying the school, the media and fans mistreated him because he is African-American. He sued the school (unsuccessfully) over charges of discrimination. These days, it's hard to argue that discrimination is keeping him out of college basketball. Bob Knight and Bob Huggins have been given second chances, but Richardson, who is only 65, has never even been interviewed for a college job despite one national championship and three Final Four appearances.
Best upcoming event
For me, the U.S. Open — or tennis in general — doesn't have the pizzazz it had 20 years ago. The days of McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Lendl on the men's side and Navratilova, Evert, Austin and, later, Graf were the golden age of tennis, in my opinion. Yet, I'll watch the tennis this week for two reasons: John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. No analysts in any other sport are as informed and entertaining as these two. By the way, McEnroe's brother Patrick is as solid as they come, too, and he also will be a part of the CBS coverage.
Three things I thought last weekend:
1. The new Lightning logo doesn't look any different to me than the old one. If you're going to change it, why not go crazy?
2. One final note regarding the Orioles losing 30-3 to Texas last week: The Baltimore Ravens did not give up 30 points in a game last season.
3. I was going to write something this week about the Bucs broadcast, but it's hard to write anything when you can barely keep your eyes open. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again. I hate preseason football.