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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Shooting from the lip/July 16th edition



Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

paterno.Something to consider
In the wake of the horrible things that happened -- and apparently were allowed to happen -- at Penn State, there's a growing sentiment that the football program should come under the so-called "death penalty.'' Some believe the NCAA should shut it down and, if it doesn't, the school itself should close the doors on football.

Any time one writes or talks about former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing boys and the school's cover-up, you feel it necessary to acknowledge that, truly, we hope the victims can live as normally and peacefully as possible. Nothing is more important than that. And suggesting Penn State not come under the death penalty does not mean one does not care about the victims.

However, here's one aspect that, perhaps, some who want the death penalty have not considered. Football at Penn State, like most Division I-A schools, provides the bulk of the revenue for the entire athletic department. To shut down the football program might cripple all sports at Penn State.

Athletes in every sport -- baseball, track, wrestling, women's softball, volleyball and so forth -- could be forced to transfer from a school where they are established, especially in their degree path.

Those who work in the athletic department, including secretaries, administrators and other support staff, might lose their jobs, in some cases, only years or months away from retirement and pensions. These are good, hard-working people no different than you and me, people just trying to make a living.

Think about Beaver Stadium, where the football team plays. Think of all the office staff, maintenance workers and groundskeepers who would no longer be needed. Think of those whose supplement their meager incomes by working as ushers, concession workers, ticket takers, security or parking lot attendants on game day.

Let's go further. Think of all the businesses -- from mom-and-pop motels to locally owned diners to office and equipment suppliers to even churches and such that rent out parking lots on game day -- that rely on Penn State football for a major chunk of their annual income.

None of these people or businesses had anything to do with what happened at Penn State. Yet they would be punished. Maybe you're okay with that. Maybe you don't care. And if that's how you feel, that's certainly your right.

But it is something to think about before we just demand the football program be given the death penalty.

kalas.Best broadcaster
Know who performed the best of anyone I saw on television over the weekend? Sun Sports' Todd Kalas of the Rays broadcasts.

Let's start with Friday night, when he informed viewers the replay system inside Tropicana Field was unavailable and the rules that applied without replay. Good information.

Then let's move to Sunday, when Kalas had an interesting breakdown on the differences between Rays pitcher James Shields in 2012 and 2011. The piece included a smart graphic by the production team, an interview with Shields and solid analysis by Kalas. That was followed by more excellent perspective by Rays broadcasters Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson.

Later, Kalas added an interesting tidbit about Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett. According to a statistic told by Kalas, Beckett was among the majors' slowest-working over the past five years, taking an average of 25.5 seconds between pitches. No wonder Sunday's game took more than four hours to play.

There are times when Kalas has to chop wood, so to speak. That is he does what needs to be done: talk about charity events, hold up bobbleheads, wear goofy hats, interview fans and so on. In those moments, you can't help but feel a little sorry for him because you know he's being wasted. When you see him handing out real information, you see how good he is and how much he adds to the broadcast.

Best shot
The Sun Sports production team had an outstanding day Sunday on the Rays-Red Sox game. The entire broadcast was full of sharp replays, informative graphics and excellent camera work.

It's hard to pick just one thing, but the highlight was a replay of Carlos Peña smacking himself in the helmet with both hands when he saw Ben Zobrist had rounded a little too far past first base and was thrown out in the seventh inning with the Rays trailing 7-3. What a great shot.

Speaking of which, Rays Live analyst Orestes Destrade was a little too apologetic in the postgame for Zobrist pulling a rock. Zobrist plays hard and is a great guy, so it's never easy to criticize him. But that was, flat-out, a bad play. On the flip side, Destrade made a strong point when asked if the Rays should concentrate on winning the division or going after a wild card. Instead, Destrade said, the Rays should concentrate on winning every series, then see where that takes them.

legrand.Favorite line
Eric LeGrand, the paralyzed former Rutgers football player recently signed by the Bucs, was the star of last week's ESPY Awards on ESPN. He gave an inspired speech upon receiving the Jimmy V Award. He certainly made an impact on ESPN's John Saunders, who closed Sunday's Sports Reporters by saying: "LeGrand told me that one day he'd like to join us here at ESPN to talk about the game he still loves. Now I hope to work with him when he's hired. And, yes, I did say 'when' because I believe this young man can still do whatever he sets his mind to.''

Best event
Whenever I watch NBC’s taped coverage of the Ironman World Championships from Hawaii, I think two things:
1. I need to get in waaaay better shape.
2. This is among the most enjoyable broadcasts in sports.

Sunday, NBC re-aired last year's race, for which it won a Sports Emmy for outstanding camera work.

NBC's production team spent nearly 24 hours on the course, and that was followed by weeks of extreme editing to whittle a long day of swimming, biking and running into a tight hour-and-a-half. Aside from airing the dramatic details of the race itself, NBC also took the time to tell interesting stories about the competitors such as a woman undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer and a man who works in a home for troubled children. Don't miss these broadcasts.

He wrote it
New York Daily News media critic Bob Raissman is a fan of former Bucs quarterback Shaun King, last heard in these parts as the co-host of his show on 1010-AM. Check out what he wrote: "There's a good reason to watch NBC Sports Talk, and it ain't the annoying Erik Kuselias. It's Shaun King, the former NFL QB. He brings fresh insight and plenty of fun. King's got major TV upside despite having put on a few pounds since his playing days.''

Three things that popped into my head
1. If baseball fences were moved to where the warning track begins, the Rays' Hideki Matsui might have 10 more home runs right now. That's not a compliment.
2. Hard to believe that we are less than a week away from the opening of an NFL camp.
3. Uh-oh. After reading about the NHL's opening offer to the players for a new labor deal, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

[Last modified: Monday, July 16, 2012 11:12am]


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