Shooting from the lip/Aug. 22nd edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Sun Sports had its hands full Sunday with one close play after another during the Rays-Mariners game. There was a near grand slam by Johnny Damon where the ball actually hit the outfield railing and bounced back into play. There was a diving catch (that should have been called a trap) by Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist. There was Desmond Jennings being hit by a pitch on what first appeared to be a wild pitch. And another wild pitch moments later when Matt Joyce was cut down at home. In each case, the cameras were in perfect position to capture replays that clearly showed the plays. A gold-star day for the Sun Sports crew.
Just a thought
Rays television analyst Brian Anderson was off over the weekend, and there's always a bit of a hole when there isn't a former player in the booth. Todd Kalas filled in, and the broadcasts were fine. But here’s a thought: When Anderson is absent in the future, why not mix Rays radio announcers Dave Wills and Andy Freed into the TV mix? Have Wills, Freed and TV play-by-play man Dewayne Staats do a rotation between TV and radio. Wills and Freed could each call a few innings on television, and Staats could take a three-inning stint on radio. Maybe toss in some guests analysts such as Don Zimmer and Orestes Destrade. Just something to mix it up, and there would be a little cross-promotion.
ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday had a special roundtable to discuss the blueprint for fixing college football. Rece Davis was host, and the panel included college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Urban Meyer, Mike Bellotti, Robert Smith, Mark May and Rod Gilmore, college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, college coaches Nick Saban (Alabama) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) and Tennessee athletic director Joan Cronan.
Discussed were the usual topics: paying football players, a playoff system, how to punish those who break rules and so forth. These are topics that have been talked about for the past several years, so it's not surprising that nothing new came up in a half-hour discussion.
But the best line of the conversation belonged to Meyer, who said: "College sports, in my opinion, is not broke. What's broke right now is human behavior.''
ESPN’s Baseball Tonight reporter Buster Olney threw out three names who could replace Jim Hendry, who was fired this past week as general manager of the Cubs. Olney said the Cubs want a GM with a proven track record and have interest in the Yankees' Brian Cashman, the A's Billy Beane and, most of all perhaps, the Rays' Andrew Friedman.
"They (the Rays), of course, have not been able to get a new ballpark,'' Olney said. "He's kind of like (baseball's version) of Bill Belichick of 2002, where he's the hot name. I think he'll get offered the Houston Astros' job, maybe he’ll get offered the Chicago Cubs' job, (and he'll) have a very tough decision.''
If Friedman does leave, you could make an argument it would be the biggest loss in the history of the franchise, including if the Rays lost manager Joe Maddon or even slugger Evan Longoria.
Most interesting prediction
When ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit talks, we listen. He might be the best pound-for-pound sports analyst on television.
On Sunday, he weighed in on the Gators and said he doesn't see them winning 10 games in their first season under coach Will Muschamp simply because of the brutal schedule, which includes road games at LSU, Auburn and South Carolina, and home games against Alabama and Florida State.
"I think Florida is going to be a better team than a year ago,'' Herbstreit said, "but it’s not going to show in their record.''
Herbstreit picks Alabama and South Carolina to meet in the SEC Championship Game.
Gary Myers, the well-respected NFL writer for the New York Daily News, came out with his list of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. The Bucs' Josh Freeman did not make it. Tom Brady came in at the top, followed by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez.
Myers admits that Sanchez might be ranked too high, but he said his list relies heavily on how far a QB has taken his teams, and Sanchez has gone to back-to-back AFC title games. That's also why Eli Manning, who did win a Super Bowl MVP award, came in at No. 8.
ESPN's NASCAR prerace show Sunday addressed the Danica Patrick situation. Patrick will hold a news conference this week during which she is expected to announce that she will run a full-time NASCAR Nationwide series schedule in 2012. ESPN NASCAR analysts Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace look forward to her running the Nationwide series, but they don't want to see her running Sprint Cup.
"Going to the Cup? That's too much gas for her,'' Wallace said. "She needs to focus on the Nationwide and forget about that Cup stuff right now.''
ESPN and Sports Science's feature Sunday on how NASCAR drivers stay cool inside their race cars was one of those, "Gee, I never even thought of that'' stories. Unless you follow NASCAR closely, you probably never knew that race cars don't have air conditioning. But it makes sense when yo do think about it. Drivers are kept cool by a hose that connects to their helmets. Whenever you see a story outside the box like this, you know producers are thinking and doing their jobs well. Nice work, ESPN.
Interesting stat of the day
On Sunday, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez played against the Twins' Jim Thome. It was the first time two players with 600 career homers had met in a game since Hank Aaron (Braves) played against Willie Mays (Mets) on July 17, 1973.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Wouldn't it have been funny if Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the preseason game against the Bucs: "Yeah, we weren't trying, either.''
2. Think the mayor in Montreal had a "secret plan'' for keeping the Expos?
3. With just more than a month to play, there really isn't a close compelling baseball race to follow at the moment. The Yankees/Red Sox runnerup will still likely be the wild card. The D'backs and Giants are kind of close, but it's not all that compelling, and the race will be played out late at night on the West Coast. Good thing football season starts for real soon.