Shooting from the lip/July 25th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
There were some uncomfortable moments during Saturday night's Rays-Royals broadcast on Sun Sports as announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson got into a rather contentious debate. It was unusual for the two who normally get along swimmingly, a bit awkward for the viewers and yet completely entertaining.
Here's what happened: In the fifth inning, Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton argued after a called strike three. Anderson insisted the pitch was so far outside that Upton had no chance to spoil the pitch. Staats countered that home-plate umpire Ted Barrett had called that pitch all night and it was Upton's responsibility to find a way to foul off the pitch. Neither would back down, even talking over and interrupting one another. The crew was on top of it, showing several replays while Staats and Anderson continued to argue. For a few seconds, the two seemed genuinely peeved at one another, although both remained professional and neither tried to embarrass his partner.
Because it was more testy that normal, it was not the kind of exchange viewers want to hear every game. But every now and then, it's not bad to have two solid baseball men with loads of experience and expertise taking black-and-white stances on a gray issue. It was one of the finest moments of the season for Staats and Anderson and yet another reason why Rays fans should feel fortunate to have these two calling Rays games.
More good stuff
Brian Anderson had more good moments over the weekend than his on-air disagreement with partner Dewayne Staats. Often, analysts will back the team he covers no matter what, but Anderson showed the guts to tell it like is when he ripped into the Rays' Sam Fuld for what Anderson felt was an improper slide. On Friday night, Fuld spiked the leg of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, and the Royals retaliated by hitting Fuld with a pitch on his next at-bat. When replays of the slide were shown Saturday night, Anderson took Fuld to task and even said he didn't blame the Royals for being upset.
"There is nothing okay about that slide,'' Anderson said. "If that is the way he continues to slide, he's going to get hit a lot. You just can't do that.''
Good for Anderson. Calling it the way he sees it gives him credibility, and the next time he says something in support of a Rays' player, viewers can believe that is how he actually feels, as opposed to assuming he is simply taking the side of the team that pays him.
During Fox's brief pregame show for its baseball Game of the Week, reporter Ken Rosenthal said. "(Rays centerfielder B.J.) Upton will be traded. Trust me on that.''
The debates continues to smolder about the media's treatment of the U.S. women's soccer team following its loss to Japan in the World Cup finale. Some believe the criticism has been light because it was a women's team even though the United States was a heavy favorite and lost to a team it had never lost to in 25 matches after blowing two one-goal leads and making a mess of penalty kicks.
During his closing commentary on HBO's Real Sports, host Bryant Gumbel said, "Are we now so fearful of being labeled sexist that we can't objectively assess the efforts of females athletes? … Had a men’s team turned in a similar performance, papers and pundits nationwide would have had a field day assailing the players, criticizing the coach and demanding widespread changes to a men's national team that flat out choked.''
On the other hand, maybe the women deserve the pats on the backs they have received. After all, the team really did dominate the World Cup final and was more unlucky than anything. Plus, the Americans showed grit and talent just surviving Brazil in the quarterfinals on its way to the final. In the end, even the criticism of the team is a good thing for women sports because that means the women were judged simply as a soccer team, not a women’s or girls’ soccer team.
As you probably noticed by now, former Bucs receiver Mark Carrier is no longer on ESPN 1040-AM's Prime Time afternoon drive show. The other two hosts -- Ronnie "Night Train'' Lane and Tom Krasniqi -- remain and the show already sounds improved, especially because Lane and Krasniqi usually seem to be on the opposite sides on just about every issue. Having three people on a sports talk show is one too many, particularly when you're constantly adding a fourth voice by taking calls.
Carrier is a good guy, which might have been part of the problem. He was never strong enough with his opinions. He also seemed to be interested in mainly two topics: the NFL, which you can understand, and the NBA, which was harder to understand because, honestly, the NBA is not a hot local topic. In fact, it's one of the topics that get local listeners switching stations.
Show of the day
Derek Jeter's chase for 3,000 hits will be featured in a new HBO special, Derek Jeter 3K, which makes its debut at 9 p.m. Thursday on HBO. Don't expect much in the way of controversy. The Yankees shortstop had editorial control of the film. However, Jeter did wear a microphone for two games as part of the filming.
Three TV things worth mentioning
1. Thumbs-up to CBS's coverage of the RBC Canadian Open. Hosts Bill Macatee and Ian Baker-Finch might have been better, dare I say, than normal CBS golf hosts Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo.
2. Hard to believe that the Pittsburgh Pirates -- yes, the same Pirates who haven't had a winning team since 1992 -- will be featured on a national ESPN game Monday night, and it's a game with meaning.
3. The best part about the NFL lockout coming to an end is now we don't have to sit through ESPN lockout stories.
Three things that popped into my head
1. For everyone whining that penalty kicks were a lousy way for the U.S. women to lose the World Cup final: Let's not forget that the greatest team in U.S. women's history, the 1999 team with Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and so forth, won the greatest match in this country's history -- the 1999 World Cup final against China -- on penalty kicks.
2. What does it say about golf that the sport's biggest story this year has been Tiger Woods firing his caddie?
3. Not that ESPN has lied or even taken anything out of context, but how come it constantly reminds viewers about the Rays' attendance woes and yet we never hear about the Marlins, A's, Indians and Blue Jays -- all of whom draw about the same numbers as Tampa Bay?