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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Shooting from the Lip/Aug. 3



Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

Gross Most interesting coverage
The last two innings of Sunday's Rays game wasn't much fun for Tampa Bay fans, but it was pleasing to listen to Rays TV announcers Dewayne Staats and Kevin Kennedy call James Shields' bid for a no-hitter. Staats, following baseball’s long-standing tradition, never used the word "no-hitter,'' instead saying things like, "there have been five hits in the game, all by the Rays'' and "there's something special going on.''

When Kansas City's John Buck broke up the no-hitter with a blooper to right to lead off the eighth, Kennedy did exactly what a good analyst does -- he got inside the mind of the fan sitting at home. Most probably wondered if rightfielder Gabe Gross should have dived in hopes of keeping Shields' no-hitter alive. But Kennedy pointed out it was a 0-0 game in the heat of a pennant race. If Gross had dived and missed, Buck would've had at least a triple. "Gabe made the right play,'' Kennedy said.

Staats and Kennedy got even better as the inning went on and the Rays imploded. Both were quick to criticize awful defensive plays by catcher Dioner Navarro and shortstop Jason Bartlett. And they did it without excuses or sugar-coating.

Assault Best feature
HBO Sports' Assault in the Ring, which made its debut Saturday night, is sobering, disturbing, heartbreaking and, at the same time, brilliantly written, directed and produced. Boxing agent-turned-film maker Eric Drath's 90-minute documentary looks back at a 1983 boxing match between down-and-out fighter Luis Resto and up-and-comer Billy Collins, Jr. and its aftermath. Resto gave Collins a savage beating as he won an unanimous decision, but it was later discovered that much of the padding in Resto's gloves had been removed. Within a few years, Resto and his trainer were in prison and Collins was dead from a car accident that some believe was really a suicide.

There are several twists, turns and surprises along the way as Drath goes on a journey to discover what happened that night and who was responsible. To list the plot twists here would be to spoil the viewing experience. So I'll say just this as strong as I can: watch this documentary. It is on throughout the month.

Best analyst
Mentioning Fox baseball analyst Eric Karros is becoming a weekly exercise because he points out the nuances even if it makes a player look bad. Take Saturday's Rays-Royals game when he criticized Kansas City pitcher Bruce Chen for not backing up third base on a play and then took it a step further by pointing out that leftfielder David DeJesus should have been backing up the play, too.

"What's he got to do out there besides be a spectator?'' Karros said. You have to love that kind of honesty. Earlier in the game, Tampa Bay’s Pat Burrell popped up and jogged to first. When the ball dropped between the centerfielder and the second baseman, Burrell suddenly started sprinting to second and was thrown out easily.

"It's one thing to not hustle,'' Karros said during several replays of Burrell jogging to first. "He's frustrated, I understand that. But the problem is you compound it by trying to make it up and get into second base. ... Better to be on first and not hustle than to hustle on the second part and be sitting in the dugout.''

Longoria Check it out
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria will be featured on Tuesday's E:60, (7 p.m., ESPN). Jeremy Schaap reported the story, which focuses on Longoria's mental approach to the game.

"If I make an error in the field or if I swing at a pitch in the dirt at the plate and I really feel like I've lost control of either my emotions or the at-bat, that’s when I step out,'' Longoria told Schaap. "I always look at the top of the leftfield foul pole.''

Longoria also revealed he was not surprised that he was undrafted out of high school.
"I wasn't good,'' he said. "I mean I knew the game, I enjoyed playing the game, but as far as ability and talent, I wasn't a professional player at that time.''

Best point
Here's a pretty good quote from Mike Golic on his ESPN radio show Mike and Mike in the Morning: "Is it not so much the steroids anymore but the person that is associated with it, and if he's a well-liked person then it's not okay, but we will look past it. But if you are disliked then you get ridden a little bit. … It's not so much the crime anymore, but who committed the crime''

He couldn’t be more right. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez are seen as villains, mostly because they have come off as arrogant and defiant. But look at how fans have judged players such as Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez and, so far, David Ortiz, who are considered "good guys.'' But, you know, the moment they took a pill or injected a needle in their rear end, they were no different than Bonds and Clemens and the like.

Skimpiest coverage
The quality of Women's British Open television coverage was fine. It was the quantity that was the problem. A major championship and yet ABC showed only 90 minutes on Saturday and only two hours on Sunday. Meantime, ABC showed three hours of the X Games on Saturday and another three on Sunday. This isn't meant to point a finger at ABC. If there's an audience for any sporting event, a network will clear out all day and half the night to show it. But if there isn't an audience, you get 90 minutes one day and two hours the next.

Just wondering
If Brett Favre had made his decision to retire six months ago, do you think he would've been offered the Monday Night Football job instead of former Bucs coach Jon Gruden?

Best decision
ESPN has lifted its ban on New York Post reporters appearing on its network. The decision came nine days after Post writers were banned by ESPN, which was upset that the paper had posted photos from the infamous Erin Andrews' peephole video. This was the right call by ESPN to reinstate the Post writers who had nothing to do with the decision to run the Andrews' photos.

Prior Saddest news
The Padres reportedly have released pitcher Mark Prior, the former Cubs sensation who, for a spell there, looked like he was on his way to becoming one of baseball's all-time greats. He went 18-6 in 2003, but his arm and shoulder eventually just gave out. He's only 28 and appears to have reached a sad end to his career. And Prior could be the first witness called for those who make a case for pitch counts. Back in 2003, Prior routinely threw 120, 130 pitches late in the season and in the playoffs as the Cubs made a run toward the World Series.

Prior is now the second player drafted in the top three of 2001 draft who doesn't have a job with a major-league organization. The Twins took catcher Joe Mauer with the first pick and that has worked out extremely well. The Cubs then took Prior and, with the third pick, the Rays took Dewon Brazelton, who is now pitching for the Camden Riversharks of an independent league and hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 2:43pm]


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