Shooting from the lip/April 5 edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Most interesting story today
While underdog Butler tries to pull off the upset tonight in Indianapolis against Duke in the NCAA basketball national title game, the most interesting story today might be taking place about 500 miles away in Augusta, Ga., where Tiger Woods will hold his first full news conference as Masters week gets under way.
Woods is expected to address the media for about a half-hour at 2 p.m. and, supposedly, no questions are off-limits. But don't expect any revelations regarding his affairs or therapy or what happened during Thanksgiving when he crashed his car outside of his home near Orlando. Woods will be asked some personal questions, but it would be surprising if anyone presses him for any sordid details of his extracurricular activity.
However, the most intriguing moments could be if Woods is asked whether he has ever taken human growth hormone. In December, the New York Times reported Woods was treated on at least four occasions in 2008 by sports medicine specialist Anthony Galea, who is under criminal investigation for providing athletes with performance-enhancing drugs. Galea has denied the charges.
But this, potentially, is a much stickier issue for Woods than all the other shenanigans. This isn't to say Woods has used performance-enhancing drugs, but this is a subject that he can’t duck or slough off by saying, "It's a private matter. These questions involve his golf game, and if there's anything to it, it's way more damaging to golf than anything else Woods has done. It will be surprising if there is anything to this story, but it's something that Woods must be asked about — starting today.
Other than too many timeouts, CBS put together an entertaining Final Four broadcast Saturday. The announcing team of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg are solid pros, although I still miss the old days when Dick Enberg, Al McGuire and Billy Packer (before he turned into a crotchety old man) called the NCAA championships. Nantz is always steady, and Kellogg is 100 percent better than he was a season ago, developing into an outstanding analyst. The studio team of Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony and Seth Davis is exceptionally good.
The timeouts thing, however, is an issue. On several occasions Saturday, less than a minute ticked off the clock before there was another commercial break. The Duke-West Virginia game, despite being a blowout, took more than two hours to play. Seems like just when the players and fans are getting into the rhythm of the game, there's a timeout.
Speaking of Final Four coverage, ESPN's postgame coverage, especially the analysis of Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas after Saturday’s games, was top-notch stuff.
Most depressing quote
Ah, it's the start of baseball season when every team is still in the race and anything is possible … unless you root for the Pirates or Royals. The Pirates haven't had a winning record since 1992, and the Royals have had one in the past 16 years. And this year?
"A new baseball season is about to begin and that can only mean one thing,'' Howard Bryant said Sunday on ESPN's Sports Reporters. "The Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals can start making plans for the winter.''
Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Johnson, former WNBA great Cynthia Cooper, the 1992 Dream Team and longtime high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. are all expected to be named part of this year's Basketball Hall of Fame induction class that will be announced today. No arguments with any of them. But where is Don Nelson? Nelson has won 1,332 games as an NBA coach, which ties him with Lenny Wilkens as the all-time leader. True, he has never won a title as a coach, but neither has Jerry Sloan, who is in the hall even though he has won 145 fewer games. Nelson, the Warriors coach, is a three-time coach of the year and was a solid player, too, winning five NBA titles with the Celtics. How isn't he already in, let alone snubbed again?
CBS had a nice tribute Saturday for broadcaster Dick Enberg, who called his final NCAA basketball game March 27 when West Virginia beat Kentucky in the East Region final. Older sports fans can remember Enberg's work on college basketball going all the way back to the 1960s with the great UCLA teams. He started with NBC in 1975 and called some of the classic NCAA Tournament games, including the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird meeting in 1979. He moved to CBS in 2000 and, at age 75, still can be called one of the best announcers on television.
Now Enberg goes back to his roots, calling San Diego Padres baseball games on television. He's expected to continue calling NFL games on CBS and calling tennis on CBS and ESPN. But he will be sorely missed when March Madness starts again.
It's funny how people can rarely agree on announcers. For every fan of, say, Marv Albert or Joe Buck, there's probably someone who doesn't like them. But Enberg, with his trademark "Oh my'' call, seemed to be liked by everyone. That's a testament to just how good he is.
The Rays should be ashamed of themselves for charging fans between $12 and $150 for Friday night's exhibition game against the Mets at Tropicana Field. It was an exhibition game, for crying out loud. The Rays should have had free parking, dollar hot dogs and charged fans 5 bucks to sit wherever they wanted. Maybe a few families who can't afford to go to a regular-season game could have gone.
Who, exactly, is behind this big push to expand the men's NCAA Tournament from 65 to 96 teams? Does anyone besides TV executives and coaches think this is a good idea? As ESPN's Brian Kenny pointed out on Sunday's Sports Reporters: "Rarely does a week go by when someone doesn't (call into a sports talk show), wondering why there isn't a playoff in major college football. I can't recall, though, anyone at any point over the past 25 years saying they thought anything was wrong with the NCAA basketball tournament.''
Three things that popped into my head
1. Seems like everyone is picking the Rays to win upward of 90 games this season. Sorry, I don't see it. Victories for the Rays this season? 83.
2. I hope I'm wrong about the first thing that popped into my head because summer sure is a lot more fun when the Rays are really good.
3. The Lightning has four games left, but the season has been over for weeks. It ended the moment GM Brian Lawton pushed assistant coach Wes Walz out the door behind coach Rick Tocchet's back.