Shooting from the lip/Feb. 28th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
ABC NBA announcer Jeff Van Gundy is among the best analysts on television, but even he can get carried away sometimes. In the final minutes of the Lakers' victory Sunday against the Thunder, Lakers stars Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant each drew charging calls against Oklahoma City.
"(That) shows you how much they want to win,'' Van Gundy said.
No, that showed you they were simply doing their jobs. If they aren't willing to take charges, they shouldn't be playing. Van Gundy is a stellar announcer, but Gasol and Bryant do enough great things that they don't need to be praised for routine (and expected) plays.
Thought of the day
This isn't an original thought, but if NASCAR is interested in attracting viewers, the announcers need to get out of the habit of referring to drivers by their car numbers. NASCAR fans know that Jeff Gordon is No. 24, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 88, Jimmie Johnson is 48 and so on. But viewers not used to watching NASCAR get lost when the announcers say things such as, "Watch out for the No. 88 car.'' Or, "Oh, the 48 car got loose coming out of Turn 3.''
NASCAR diehards will say that those calls are a part of the tradition and that new viewers need to educate themselves to follow along. But, in case no one has heard, NASCAR could use more fans. It needs to do whatever it can to accommodate newer viewers.
As pleasant as it was to hear, once again, Dave Wills and Andy Freed calling a Rays game on radio, it must have been frustrating for Lightning fans driving in their cars to go on a scavenger hunt to find Sunday's Lightning game. The Lightning is normally on WDAE-AM 620 but got bumped to WFLA-AM 970 on Sunday afternoon because 620-AM was doing the Rays-Pirates spring game.
Surely, these switches are covered in each team's contract with 620-AM, but it just seems that a Lightning regular-season game in a playoff race trumps a Rays spring game. The Lightning game should've stayed, and the Rays should have been bounced to 970-AM.
Oh, speaking of Rays spring games on the radio, the next broadcast is Saturday. Why not broadcast all the spring games? It would seem the Rays on the radio would be more coveted during the spring when most of the exhibition games are not televised.
Doesn't it seem like hockey announcers are more honest and better at getting straight to the point than other sports' announcers? That even goes for home-team announcers. During Sunday's Lightning-Rangers game on Sun Sports, as the Lightning was floundering its way through another powerless power play, Bobby "Chief'' Taylor said, "The Lightning power play, today, has been kind of embarrassing.''
Don't you just love that?
ABC's Mike Tirico rarely makes a misstep, but during a Sunday halftime interview with new Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, Tirico asked Anthony about his trade from Denver to New York and added, "I know this season has been hard on you.''
Let's see. Anthony refused to sign an extension with the Nuggets. He not only forced a trade but managed to get traded to the team he wanted (Knicks). Then he signed a three-year deal worth $65 million. Which was the "hard'' part?
Tigers star Miguel Cabrera is scheduled to make his spring debut today, less than a week after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. In 2009, Cabrera got into an altercation with his wife after a night of drinking and had to be bailed out of jail by the team as the Tigers were in the final weekend of a tight pennant race. (The Tigers ultimately lost the division to the Twins.) On Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN, Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom said, "Yet, Cabrera never mentioned (the 2009 incident). Just said the typical 'sorry' to teammates and fans, called it a one-time thing. What kind of man takes something that serious that lightly? … A man with a problem.''
Dead deal of the day
The Jets were a big hit on last summer's Hard Knocks reality show on HBO, but Jets coach Rex Ryan said he isn't interested in doing the show in 2011. What about after that? HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg told the New York Daily News, "You never know what the future holds. It took many years before there was a Star Wars sequel.''
As entertaining as the Jets were and as driven as they should be next season (if there is a next season), it probably is a good idea to try another team. Which team would be a good fit? Obviously, those around the bay area would love to see the Bucs, and they should be an intriguing team next season. But it isn't known if the Bucs are interested, and they might not have enough national sparkle for HBO. The Patriots would be fascinating, but you know there's no way coach Bill Belichick would let cameras spy on his team. You know, come to think of it, maybe HBO can talk Ryan and the Jets into it again next season.
Your two cents
Sunday's 2C in the St. Petersburg Times looked back at some of our favorite sports movies of all time. I wrote that there weren't many decent movies about auto racing, but several readers wrote in to say that Le Mans, the 1971 movie starring Steve McQueen, should have been mentioned. Most agreed the plot was pretty thin but that the racing sequences were outstanding, especially for 1971.
The other movie that readers were disappointed not to see mentioned was Brian's Song, a 1971 ABC movie of the week about the friendship between Bears running backs Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer. Billy Dee Williams played Sayers and James Caan played Piccolo. It probably should have been mentioned because it's impossible to hear the theme to Brian's Song and not start bawling.
And when it comes to best lines in a sports movie, one astute reader had a line that should've made the list: Bob Uecker as announcer Harry Doyle in Major League when he said, "Juuuuuust a bit outside.''
Finally, one clarification about the best lines in a sports movie. Tanner Boyle was actually a player (not a coach) on the Bad News Bears who said, "Those Yankees are turds.''
Three things that popped into my head
1. If you have kids (or good taste), you can't listen to the Hooters Nation Morning Show on WQYK-AM 1010. It’s supposed to be a sports show, but you're more liable to hear about sex and body parts than batting averages and national rankings. They even have an occasional guest whose sole purpose is to talk about which women get naked in movies. Seriously. He's called Mr. Skin. Isn't 7 to 9 a.m. a little early for that kind of stuff?
2. Inspired idea by Channel 8 to gather all three local pro sports coaches (Rays' Joe Maddon, Lightning's Guy Boucher and Bucs' Raheem Morris) for a roundtable interview that was shown in segments last week. Unfortunately, the three coaches were more entertaining and fascinating during the informal "Behind the Scenes'' segment than during the actual formal interview when they really didn't open up, relax and engage with one another as much as the viewer would hope. Still, it was a good idea with better-than-average results.
3. Is it okay to say that spring training is kind of boring?