Shooting from the lip/Jan. 31st edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
This is why you have to love ABC's NBA announcer Jeff Van Gundy. During Sunday's Celtics-Lakers broadcast, there was a graphic showing that the Celtics' Ray Allen takes 0.7433 seconds from the time he gets the ball until he releases his shot. Proving again that networks have fallen in love with obscure stats that really don't say anything, Van Gundy, who has coached two NBA teams and has been involved with the sport practically his whole life, essentially said that stat was meaningless to him.
"Who comes up with this?'' Van Gundy asked. "He got off his shot in 0.7433 seconds. I don't even know, is that good''
Broadcast partner Mark Jackson said it was very good. To which Van Gundy wisely said, "Then how can the rules say a player can get off a shot with 0.3 seconds left when one of the best guys in the league takes 0.7433 seconds?''
Tampa Bay Storm coach Tim Marcum is taking heat after it was learned that his work computer contained pornographic material and e-mails that contained the "N-word'' and other racist remarks. The story was first broken by Ch. 10's Mike Deeson after he dug up a deposition Marcum gave as part of a lawsuit against the Storm's former owner.
Marcum, of course, can't control the e-mails he receives. But he can control the e-mails he sends or forwards to others, and that's where the problem lies. When you pass along such e-mails, you are advocating what those e-mails say. Forget about the porn part. It might be strange or perverted or even downright sick, but that's not the issue here. (Although, Marcum was incredibly stupid or naive to think that using your work computer to send e-mails with pornography won't get you in trouble with your boss.)
The racist e-mails are the real issue here. If Marcum did forward the racist e-mails, there simply is no defense for spreading bigotry. The Storm is owned by the Lightning, and when Marcum is on his work computer, he is representing the Lightning and owner Jeff Vinik. It's hard to imagine that after all the good things that Vinik and the Lightning have done over the past year that they are willing to tolerate an employee who thinks it's okay to forward e-mails with the "N-word'' because he finds the e-mails funny or cute. What kind of message does that send to the other employees with the Lightning? What kind of message does it send to the community?
What's almost as disturbing is those who defend Marcum by blaming Deeson for uncovering the story. It wasn't Deeson who forwarded the e-mails and, based on his past, Marcum has proved he doesn’t need anyone's help to get in trouble. And, yes, this is a story. The coach of a local professional football team and a known public figure allegedly forwarding racist e-mails? That most certainly is news. And this isn't about free speech. No one is suggesting Marcum be sent to jail.
Look, everyone gets inappropriate e-mails. We open them, perhaps without knowing what we will see. We see them. We delete them. What we don't do is forward them to others. Those who do forward them are no different than those who wrote the e-mail in the first place. Tolerating such behavior is not much better.
During a live TNT NBA pregame show last week, actor/comedian Tracy Morgan provided an awkward moment when he made a sexual remark about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin that was not funny, and it was completely inappropriate. As the New York Daily News' Bob Raissman points out, TNT did apologize by saying, "It's unfortunate Mr. Morgan showed a lack of judgment on our air with his inappropriate comments.''
TNT is right. Morgan did show a lack of judgment. But so did TNT. You invite a comedian known for pushing the envelope and then you're shocked when he … pushes the envelope? It's like putting a fox in your hen house and then being surprised that you end up with no hens.
The NFL's Pro Bowl is like most all-star games: boring because it's not a real game. Baseball's version is the all-star game that best resembles an actual game. But there were a few little things that made Fox's football broadcast on Sunday enjoyable, especially allowing viewers to occasionally hear the play call so we could see what was coming. Still, it was no Super Bowl.
National signing day is Wednesday as high school football players select their college programs. It might be the most overblown, meaningless, overhyped waste of time on television. A bunch of scouts you've never heard of will talk about a bunch of kids you've never heard of and by night's end, everyone will be talking about what a great day this program had and what an awful day that program had. All because some websites say so. Fans and boosters might even call for their coach's head all because some dot-com said it was a bad day because the school didn't sign enough of that dot-com's top 100 players. And then we'll forget about it.
Can anyone out there name which programs had the best recruiting class a year ago? Two years ago? Can anyone say off the top of their head what kind of recruiting class Oregon or Auburn had three and four years ago? How many recruits who will sign letters of intent Wednesday can you name? Five? One? Any? Yet ESPN and local sports networks will go crazy over something that doesn't appear to be a barometer for anything. If you like watching it, hey, knock yourself out. But surely there is something else on that is better viewing -- a ball game, a sitcom, a documentary, a test pattern.
Most mediocre idea
The NHL thought it would create excitement with this year's All-Star Game by having players choose the teams, instead of dividing them up by conference or nationality. In the end, it was utter confusion for the viewer, who had to wait for the announcer's call before being positive about which players they were watching. At least with the old formats you had a good guess as to which player had the puck. This format was just a bunch of guys in blue uniforms against a bunch of guys in white uniforms, and the only thing for certain was no one attempted to play defense.
Of course, the point of the All-Star Game is to celebrate the sport, not produce an actual hockey game. In that regard, the game succeeded as always. But the new format didn't change how the game is played or perceived. Unfortunately, there might not be a format out there to create a better game. The best part of the Versus broadcast was having players wear microphones and being able to give interviews while they were actually playing on the ice. And no slam against Versus because it does a good job, but the NHL needs to get this game back on network television.
Three things that popped into my head
1. How cool was it to see Lightning stars Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos playing on a line with former Lightning star Brad Richards in Sunday's NHL All-Star Game?
2. There is no great college basketball team (nope, not even undefeated Ohio State), but there are about 20 really good ones and your best bet when filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket this year might be picking names out of a hat.
3. Can you believe it is only a little more than two weeks until Rays pitchers and catchers report?