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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Shooting from the lip/Aug. 30th edition



Looking back at a weekend of televised sports, including the Bucs preseason coverage, Tiger's bad decision to play this year and why Boston's Victor Martinez showed by ashamed of himself.

martinez.Worst sportsmanship
During Saturday's Rays-Red Sox game, Boston's Victor Martinez came up in the 10th inning and hit a weak grounder to first for what appeared to be the third out. Immediately, Martinez started hopping around as if the ball had hit him on the right foot. Home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman had no choice but to call a foul ball. But Rays manager Joe Maddon argued the ball never struck Martinez's foot, and excellent camera work by Sun Sports seemed to back Maddon's claim. In fact, it didn't look close.

On one hand, you can credit Martinez for his quick thinking. The Red Sox are desperately trying to stay in the playoff race, and Martinez kept the inning of a critical game alive with some excellent acting. He's oing whatever it takes to win, you might say. It paid off, too, as he ended up reaching on an infield hit. On the other hand, you can look at it like I did: If Martinez did fake getting hit, he was cheating and it was a bush-league move. And this isn't a Red Sox thing. I'd feel the same if Evan Longoria or Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Howard had done it.

Baseball, of course, is full of deception. Teams try to steal signs, and middle infielders routinely try to deke runners. But it's not the same as what Martinez did. Teams that don't want their signs stolen constantly change their signs. If their signs are stolen, it's ultimately their fault.
And if they suspect an opponent of stealing signs, they can combat it with a brushback pitch, and the other team knows that. Baserunners who pay attention to the ball and the base coaches are rarely fooled by middle infielder fakes.

But the Rays and the umpires had no way to defend themselves against a guy who was, when you think about it, lying. Martinez's acting took advantage of an umpire who could not be reasonably expected to see if a ball hit Martinez's foot. In essence, the umpire was trusting the ball hit Martinez's foot because Martinez was telling him it had. As Sun Sports' Kevin Kennedy pointed out, the move made the umpires look bad. I'll go a step further. If Martinez was acting, not only was it disrespectful to the umpires, it was disrespectful to the game. In that at-bat, Martinez was beaten by the opponent. Be a man, accept it. Don't cheat your way into a do-over.

Look at it this way: Your son or daughter is playing a youth league game and the same thing happens. After the game, he or she tells you that they faked being hit by the ball to keep the at-bat alive. Deep down, would you be proud of the way you raised them? Or disappointed? Just because Martinez plays in the majors doesn't make the move any more decent.

ruud.Worst replays
Well, it's preseason for everyone. After two strong weeks of Bucs telecasts, Ch. 8 took a step back with its broadcast of the Bucs-Jaguars game.

Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud turned in the play of the preseason so far, intercepting a pass in the end zone and returning it 80 yards. Yet this is everything that happened before we saw a replay of Ruud's thrilling interception return: seven plays, the two-minute warning, 12 (that's right, 12!) commercials, including a promo for the Bucs and the same KFC commercial twice. When Ch. 8 finally did get around to showing a replay, it didn't even show the whole replay, cutting it off as Ruud was only 50 yards into his return. 

That's not all. It took 16 minutes -- an eternity in television -- from the time Earnest Graham scored the Bucs' lone touchdown of the game to the time viewers were shown a replay of it. That, too, included a commercial break. True, Ch. 8 was dealing with the last two minutes of the half and commercial obligations, but it must find a way to be more timely with what turned out to be the two best Bucs plays of the game.

barber.Most surprising comments
One of the strong points of the Bucs telecasts on Ch. 8 is the halftime recorded interviews. During the first two games, announcer Chris Myers turned in good interviews with Bucs coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman. Then came this past weekend and the smart decision to let analyst John Lynch interview his former teammate -- cornerback Ronde Barber. When Lynch asked Barber about Morris, Barber gave a surprising answer, saying he knew Morris would make a good coach someday, but adding, "I don't know if he was ready. … I was shocked he got the opportunity so quickly.''

Best Tiger observation
You have to wonder now if Tiger Woods made a mistake coming back in 2010. Looking back now, he really didn't take much of a break at all between his scandal and his return to the PGA Tour. Now, he likely goes into 2011 with as many questions as he did going into 2010.
On Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN, Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom said, "If he gets it back, it will be when the calendar doesn't read 2010 anymore. In retrospect, he might have been better off in his life and his career taking the whole year off. … He may have been able to save his marriage and family if he had said, 'I'm going to put golf in the proper perspective. I'm going to walk away from it.'''

Best line
After a fan ran on the field during Saturday's Rays-Red Sox game at Tropicana Field, Sun Sports announcer Dewayne Staats said, "Well, it was a sellout. Now it's a sellout minus one.''

goodell.Best conversation
ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday featured an interview with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell followed by a panel discussion. What made it enjoyable was the show went 19 consecutive minutes without a commercial, something that's practically unheard of for a 30-minute show. Hannah Storm did a decent job with the interview, although she could've pushed Goodell a bit more on the talk of an 18-game schedule. Goodell gave a lame answer about league changes improving players' health, cutting preseason games and how the collective bargaining agreement allows for 22 total games. Storm should've pressed the commissioner more, but either she didn't or her followup was edited out. Either way, Goodell was not forced to answer the players' objections over adding two regular-season games.\

Speaking of which, does anyone want to see two more games added to the regular season? Isn't 16 enough?

favre.Three things that popped into my head
1. It's always fun to watch the Rays play on national television, as they did Sunday night on ESPN, just to see what the rest of the country thinks about the team. But your enjoyment of Sunday's game likely depended on your feelings about announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. They seem to have as many detractors as they do fans. But they turned in a solid performance Sunday night, and it was a nice change of pace for local viewers, even if the two harped on the low attendance. And considering the crowd was just fewer than 24,000, who can blame them for bringing it up a few times?
2. It's hard to get excited about the U.S. Open, which starts today, considering Serena Williams isn't playing on the women's side and we have to wait two weeks for the inevitable: Rafael Nadal against Roger Federer on the men's side.
3. Admit it: The NFL is more interesting with Brett Favre playing.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 29, 2010 11:43pm]


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