Shooting from the lip/Jan. 16th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Best announcing team
Normally, you don't see a whole lot of praise in this space for CBS's Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. But either they're getting much better or I'm finally catching on. The two called Saturday night's Patriots-Broncos game and for the second weekend in a row get this vote for the best announcing team.
Here's what made them so good Saturday night: While most of the country focused on Tim Tebow mania, Nantz and Simms simply went out and called a football game. Tebow was far from being the story in the Patriots' 45-10 victory, and Nantz and Simms didn't try to shoehorn the Tebow angle into the broadcast.
In a way, they treated Tebow with respect by treating him as they would any other quarterback. They spent most of the night talking about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. That was the right call. After all, Brady was the story of the game.
Best and worst No. 2 announcing team
It's stunning how much of a drop-off there is between Fox's No. 1 football team (Joe Buck-Troy Aikman) and its No. 2 team (Kenny Albert-Tony Siragusa-Daryl Johnston). Albert is first-rate, but Johnston and Siragusa are masters of the obvious as well as hyperbole. Everything is "tremendous'' and "incredible'' and "unbelievable,'' and rarely do they tell viewers something they don't already know or can't see for themselves. The fact they are considered Fox's second-best team says more about Fox's empty stable of broadcasters than "Moose and Goose.'' I don't know, maybe each would be better if they were split up.
Meantime, CBS's No. 2 team of Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf is really like a No. 1 team. There isn't much of a difference between those two and CBS's top crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. In fact, keep going down CBS's roster of football announcers. There's Ian Eagle-Dan Fouts and Marv Albert-Rich Gannon. Either could be Fox's No. 2 team.
One could question why Fox analysts such as Brian Billick and John Lynch weren't in a booth over the weekend.
Often when a guest joins the set of a pregame show, he is treated with kid gloves. But high praise goes out to CBS's NFL Today for how it questioned Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Analyst Bill Cowher asked Suh about the perception that he's a dirty player, and host James Brown asked Suh specifically about the Thanksgiving game when he kicked a Packers player. The CBS guys asked the questions with a respectful yet no-nonsense tone. And to his credit, Suh answered the questions. In the end, everyone came out looking good.
Most interesting conversation
I don't always agree with everything said by Sun Sports hockey analyst Chris Dingman during the Lightning's postgame shows, but it's usually compelling. Actually, it makes for good television when the viewers don't always agree with the broadcasters.
Host Paul Kennedy does a masterful job leading the former Lightning tough guy through a variety of topics. Sunday, they talked about the on-ice dustup between the Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier and Penguins' Evgeni Malkin, the rise in concussions in hockey and why the Lightning is struggling.
Again, you might not agree with Dingman's thoughts, but they are worth your attention.
Best second choice
Hey, if you're a Lightning fan and you’re looking for a team to adopt come playoff time -- seeing as how the Lightning won't be there -- how about the Rangers? They're young, play the game hard and have plenty of Lightning connections with former coach John Tortorella, assistant Mike Sullivan, Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko. Plus, the NHL is a blast when there are playoff games at Madison Square Garden.
Know what I’m sick and tired of? Analysts swearing on the air. Add Shaquille O'Neal to the list. He thought he was off the air Thursday night during TNT's Inside the NBA when he used a four-letter word. He wasn't. Later, host Ernie Johnson made light of the whole thing by trying to put a bar of soap in Shaq's mouth. That reminded me of when ESPN's Lee Corso swore a couple of months ago on College GameDay and appeared the next week with a piece of tape on his mouth.
It's not funny. It's distasteful and even more so when networks try to make a joke of it. Seriously, how hard is it keep from swearing when you're on television? It shouldn't matter whether you're in a commercial break or not. How about this: If you have a microphone, don't swear. The networks, particularly the folks who run Inside the NBA, need to take this a little more seriously.
Here is a little bell and whistle that can make a broadcast really good. During Saturday afternoon's college basketball game between St. Bonaventure and Xavier on ESPNU, a box suddenly appeared in the corner of the screen. In it, analyst Doug Gottlieb, on tape, talked about the NBA prospects of Bonnies forward Andrew Nicholson. Simple, informative and entertaining. In addition, it was unexpected.
The Lightning's Guy Boucher is an outstanding coach and figures to be for a long time. But his too-often use of the word "adversity’' is becoming tiresome. The more he uses it, the more it feels as if there's a reason beyond the Lightning’s control as to why it is struggling. It feels like an excuse. Maybe he doesn't mean it that way, but that's how it comes off.
This really happened: Turned on the Fox NFL pregame show Saturday just as it was starting. The crew -- Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson -- sang, "Hello … hello … hello'' Three Stooges style. It quickly evolved into inaudible talking and uncontrollable laughter. I then turned the station.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Here's the thing about Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. You can root for or against him. That's your right. But he's authentic. He's not a phony. What you see is really who he is. Shouldn't that be respected instead of ridiculed?
2. The Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady won their first Super Bowl 10 years ago. As of right now, after all this time, don't they look like the best bet to win this season's Super Bowl?
3. Pet peeve of the moment: NHL players I've never heard of who wear numbers higher than 40. If you're going to wear a number that high, especially in the 80s and 90s, you need to be a superstar.