Shooting from the lip/Feb. 13th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Most overhyped coverage
Yeesh, could CBS golf host Jim Nantz have gushed any more about the Pebble Beach course over the weekend? We get it. It's a nice track. I just wanted to watch some golf, and I felt like Nantz was trying to sell me property.
CBS's golf coverage is only a few weeks old and I'm already yearning for NBC. The lone bright spot is main analyst Nick Faldo, who mixes in a nice blend of analysis and humor. He knows the game as well as anyone, and he knows how to communicate it. He isn't willing to be as critical as NBC's Johnny Miller. Then again, no one in golf, and few in sports broadcasting, are as critical as Miller. Faldo, however, does a good enough job to make CBS's announcing crew tolerable. Barely.
Meantime, if you watched CBS's coverage from Pebble Beach, you could tell how badly it wanted Tiger Woods to be in contention. That's not a criticism. Television ratings go up when Woods plays well. You can't blame CBS for wanting to see Woods make a run. Still, the announcers have a little more enthusiasm in their voices when Woods sinks a long putt or chips in from the sand. They certainly make more of a fuss than when another golfer does something similar.
This, however is criticism:
After Woods fell apart Sunday, Faldo said, "Tiger has got to face the media today.'' That, disappointingly, did not start with CBS. On-course reporter Peter Kostis started well enough by questioning Woods on his tough day but then completely ruined it by fawning all over him, telling Woods, essentially, that Woods did some good things and is going to win again soon. Seriously? It felt like Kostis was trying to win Woods' approval or hoping Woods wouldn't be mad at him for asking a couple of semitough questions.
It got worse. Nantz joined the Tiger pity party by thanking Woods for doing the interview at a difficult time. The guy lost a golf tournament, not a limb. Let's not act like Woods went above and beyond what is expected from any athlete. It's all so obvious that these guys want Woods to like them that perhaps they don't even realize how docile they look. I've never seen an athlete have that kind of a grip on broadcasters.
Most interesting ticker item
CBS isn't the only network that understands how much Tiger Woods means to ratings. At one point Saturday, Woods was three shots out of the lead and that was enough to warrant ESPN running a "Tiger Alert'' on the bottom of the screen.
Is Giants quarterback Eli Manning, with his two Super Bowl MVP awards, a Hall of Famer? New York Daily News sports media critic Bob Raissman points out that ESPN's Chris Mortensen has it right.
"We don't have to have this discussion right now,'' Mortensen said on ESPN's NFL 32. "Let's let his body of work complete itself.''
Mortensen is right. Manning just turned 31. He likely has another four or five productive seasons left in him.
Rangers and former Lightning center Brad Richards owes the Lightning's Dominic Moore an apology. Last week, Moore was given a roughing penalty and subsequently fined $2,500 for a hit on Rangers and former Lightning forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who might have suffered a concussion on the play.
In a rush to judgment, everyone assumed that Moore intentionally threw a shoulder at Fedotenko's head as he tried to gain position in the offensive zone. Turns out, Moore's shoulder actually hit Fedotenko's stick, and it was the stick that hit Fedotenko's jaw. NBC showed that revealing replay during Sunday's NHL on NBC game between the Rangers and Capitals. Analysts Pierre McGuire and Ed Olczyk both defended Moore.
Last week, Richards criticized Moore's hit, saying Moore "knew what he was doing.'' It's admirable that Richards was sticking up for a teammate, but now that replays revealed that Moore never even touched Fedotenko, Richards should man up and say he was wrong to accuse Moore of something so sinister. Richards' teammate Brian Boyle, who called the hit a "really, really dirty play,'' owes Moore an apology, too. If you're going to toss around accusations that serious, you better be 100 percent right. Turns out, Richards and Boyle were wrong.
Best coming-out party
How about this Jeremy Lin of the Knicks? No player has scored more points (109) in his first four starts in NBA history. Despite playing without Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks have won all four games, with Lin averaging 28.5 points and eight assists. Look, maybe this is all a beginner's luck type of thing and Lin will flame out. And, yes, other teams gave up on Lin in the past. And, yes, the Knicks haven't played any elite teams in this stretch, unless you think the 15-12 Lakers are elite. Still, if I'm a Knicks fan, I'm a little irritated that my team stumbled to a 9-15 start while this kid was sitting on the end of the bench.
Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk was solid on Sun Sports over the weekend as he broadcast from between the benches for games at Buffalo and Pittsburgh. It's normally difficult for three broadcasters to call a hockey game, but regular announcers Rick Peckham and Bobby "Chief'' Taylor did a good job of working Andreychuk into the telecast. Andreychuk spoke just enough to justify his spot on the ice, but not so much to step on Taylor's toes. Andreychuk's footprint was just about right.
His best moment came Saturday when he showed a folding chair next to him on the bench and explained how Lightning forward Marty St. Louis, who is 5-foot-8, preferred sitting on it because the bench was too high off the ground and didn't allow St. Louis to properly rest his legs. That is what a sideline reporter is supposed to do.
You have to love ABC's NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy. During Sunday's Celtics-Bulls game, the Washington Wizards came up in conversation and Van Gundy dropped this jewel: "Can we all come to an agreement that Washington be banned from national TV? What have they done to warrant being shown on national television?'' Ha, beautiful. There are always rumors that Van Gundy will return to coaching some day. Let's hope not. He's the best NBA television analyst alive.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Would you just once like to hear a golf host say, "Welcome to our coverage and we’ll do our best even though the course is lousy, the weather stinks, the tournament director and volunteers have been anything but helpful and we can’t wait to get to next week's tournament''?
2. There were 33 college basketball games on television Saturday, but USF-Providence was not one of them. What a pity.
3. Do we really have to wait more than six months for a meaningful NFL game?