Shooting from the lip/April 11th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
ESPN drew huge television numbers for the Thursday and Friday broadcasts of the Masters. CBS had the second-highest Saturday ratings in the past nine years of Masters coverage. When television numbers come out today for Sunday's broadcast, look for more outstanding ratings, most likely putting it among the top five Masters ever. There's one reason why: Tiger Woods.
Love him or hate him, Woods remains television gold for the PGA Tour. Those who love Woods probably loved him before his scandal. And those who don't like him now probably didn't care for him much before the scandal. Tiger is the Yankees. He's Notre Dame football. He's Duke basketball. People tune in to either root for or against him. He doesn't have to win. He just has to be in contention. And if he is in contention, the networks fall all over themselves to make sure you see maximum Woods coverage.
Case in point: CBS's weekend coverage, which made Woods the star with everyone else playing a supporting role. It's hard to blame CBS. It knows that the better Woods does, the more people will watch. Still, it's hard to shake the impression that the announcers really, really like Woods. A "good'' Woods shot is described as "great.'' A "great'' Woods shot is described as "incredible.'' And when he does something wrong, excuses are plentiful. It's one thing for the network bosses to want Woods to do well. It's another for the announcers to vocalize their desire on air.
Personally, I'm not a fan of CBS's golf announcers. They are full of cliches, light on serious analysis and way too optimistic about everything to the point that they almost never utter a critical word, even when it's called for and viewers want it. Worst of all, they consistently jump in too quickly to proclaim that someone has hit a remarkable shot when the result turns out to be not so remarkable. It's almost as if everything about CBS's coverage is to convince you that what you're watching is really good instead of just letting the viewer watch and then judge for himself. Too many times Sunday, we heard phrases such as, "What a day this is.''
It's like telling someone how good a piece of cake is instead of just letting them eat it and decide for themselves. Give me NBC's golf coverage any day over CBS.
How obnoxious was it to hear CBS's Masters team making excuses for Tiger Woods when he three-putted to bogey No. 12? The announcers actually tried to pin the blame on Woods' playing partner, Martin Laird, because Woods had to wait while Laird three-putted. Funny, no one seemed to bring up how Angel Cabrera had to wait around while playing partner Rory McIlroy hacked his way through Sunday.
The only thing more obnoxious was listening to Woods give one-sentence answers to the questions he was asked by CBS's Bill Macatee after his round Sunday. Didn't Woods say something about being a changed guy after his problems last year? Wasn't he supposed to be more humble, more accessible, more respectful? Hmm, could've fooled me. Everyone else gave insightful postmatch interviews and one can't possibly suggest that the 2011 Masters meant more to Woods than it did to the others, such as Jason Day and Adam Scott. And McIlroy, who shot 80, was classier than Woods.
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica had a good line about Woods on Sunday morning's Sports Reporters on ESPN saying: "Know who he has turned into lately? The guy at your club who wants to talk about the score he should have shot instead of the one he did.''
Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan was even more blunt, saying Woods is now "thoroughly unrootable and unlikable.'' Ryan added, "How can you root for this guy?''
Most interesting comments
Former Lightning general manager Jay Feaster, now the acting general manager of the Calgary Flames, was the guest on Hockey Night in Canada's After Hours show late Saturday night. He had a chance to take a shot at Tampa Bay hockey when he was asked about what it was like to be in Calgary as compared to Tampa Bay, where the scrutiny is much more diminished. Even though the show airs in Canada and he could've safely assumed that no one in Tampa Bay was watching, Feaster said the only difference was that there were more media members covering hockey in Canada than Tampa Bay, but not that they were any more knowledgeable or critical than those in Tampa Bay.
The Manny Ramirez experiment by the Rays blew up badly in Tampa Bay's face, although it really should not come as any surprise. The phrase "Manny being Manny'' includes shenanigans like this and the national types wasted no time taking their shots.
On the Fox Game of the Week, analyst Tim McCarver said: "He had an unconventional career that turned into the epitome of irresponsibility. … There's no question about his talent, no questions about his numbers. The questions are about everything else. And I mean everything else.''
Nice job by Sun Sports to address the Manny Ramirez situation straight on. (Then again, it would have been criticized in this spot had it not talked at length about it.) Before Friday's game, there were interviews with key players Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton, as well as Rays manager Joe Maddon. It would have been nice if game announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson had talked in greater detail about the situation, but at least the topic wasn't ignored.
Fox baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal, sadly, is struggling with the same questions that all other Baseball Hall of Fame voters face in the wake of the steroid era. What, exactly, do you do with people such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and so forth?
"I used to love voting for the Hall of Fame,'' Rosenthal said. "Now, I hate it.''
Three things that popped into my head
1. No offense to Carolina, but the NHL is always more interesting when the Rangers are competitive. So it was a good thing for the NHL that the Lightning beat the Hurricanes on Saturday to eliminate Carolina and send the Rangers to the postseason.
2. Was there anything more painful than watching 21-year-old, third-round leader Rory McIlroy completely disintegrate Sunday?
3. When, exactly, is Magic center Dwight Howard going to grow up? He was suspended for Sunday's game against Chicago for picking up his 18th technical foul of the season. Eighteen! Okay, so it had no effect on the Magic's playoff situation, but imagine those who might have saved up money to go to Sunday's game and couldn’t watch him because of his immaturity.