Shooting from the lip/June 18th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Most awkward pairing
Marlins TV play-by-play announcer Rich Waltz and Rays TV analyst Brian Anderson teamed up to call Saturday's Rays-Marlins game on Fox's Baseball Night in America game of the week.
And, man, it was an awkward broadcast. The two had no chemistry. It seemed as if Waltz talked way too much, while Anderson didn't talk nearly enough. In fact, there were moments when this viewer wondered if Anderson had left the booth for some reason. There were other moments when this viewer wondered if Waltz was being paid by the word. What made it especially noticeable was the game went 15 innings and took more than five hours.
Now, it's possible that Anderson didn't talk because Waltz was talking too much. Or maybe Waltz talked so much because Anderson wasn't jumping in enough. Maybe it was just a chemistry thing. Let's just put it this way: Anderson sounds just fine when he works with regular partner Dewayne Staats and sounded just fine when he worked with Fox's Dick Stockton a couple of times earlier this season.
NBC could not have been more excited heading into its weekend coverage of the U.S. Open with Tiger Woods in contention heading into Saturday's third round. Let's face it, golf’s popularity on TV still relies heavily on Woods.
But then things couldn't have gone worse for Woods and, thus, NBC. Woods shot 75 Saturday to fall five shots behind the leaders and opened Sunday by going 5-over-par in the first five holes to take himself out of contention just as NBC's broadcast was heading into prime time.
NBC's coverage, highlighted by analysts Johnny Miller and Gary Koch, is always superb television, but the network deserves major praise for how it handled itself Sunday night. Instead of pounding us with Woods coverage, NBC treated Woods like any other golfer out of contention, showing him only occasionally. Sunday night was spent focusing on those who could win the tournament. That was the right call.
Every time NBC covers a golf event, it brings in Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte maybe two times a broadcast. That's like seven times too few. Seriously, he is one of the most interesting golf voices on television and NBC totally underutilizes him. He uses his reporting skills to tell us behind-the-scenes stories and interesting tidbits about the golfers we're watching. It’s the type of stuff that no other golf commentator gives us.
Take Sunday. Talking about 17-year-old Beau Hossler, Rosaforte relayed stories from Hossler's father and grandmother, including how Hossler's family always knew he had great hand-eye coordination because of how hit a Wiffle ball when he was 18 months old. Then Rosaforte told a story about how Jason Dufner's parents were divorced when he was younger and then how his father passed away from cancer, a story all the more poignant on Father's Day.
See, that's the stuff you're not getting anywhere else on TV. Why NBC doesn't bring in Rosaforte more is a complete mystery.
This column, for the most part, is dedicated to writing about the things we all watched on television over the weekend. One of those things this particular weekend should have been the NBA Finals on ABC. In the past I have written about how much I liked analyst Jeff Van Gundy and how I wished studio analyst Magic Johnson would show more personality and how I wanted studio analyst Jon Barry to talk even more. I've written about ABC's great camera work and how reporter Doris Burke does a solid job from the sidelines.
But, honestly, I lost interest in these NBA Finals because of the long delay between Games 2 and 3. Game 2 was played Thursday night and Game 3 was Sunday night.
That's no game Friday, a full day of sports Saturday and Saturday night, and a long day of sports Sunday, which included golf's U.S. Open, a NASCAR race, Major League Baseball games, the College World Series and soccer's Euro 2012.
"By the time Sunday night rolled around, I was "sported out'' and had to remind myself what had happened in the first two games of the Heat-Thunder. What's more, if this series goes seven games, it wouldn't end until June 26. Cripes, that's another week and a day.
In the past, I've railed against in-game interviews with coaches and players because they rarely reveal anything other than cliches or scratch-the-surface stuff. But there were two little gems in the Rays-Marlins game Saturday on Fox.
First, Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle, when asked by analyst Brian Anderson about working quickly while pitching, ripped into both Fox and ESPN for having extra commercials between innings and, thus, slowing the game. Buehrle even added sarcastically how baseball says it wants to speed up the game but allows nationally televised games to go so slowly.
Meantime, Rays pitcher David Price was asked by announcer Rich Waltz about being a possible starter in the All-Star Game, and Price revealed that he would vote for Chris Sale of the White Sox.
Fox should take note of this, meaning it should scrap talking to managers during the game and talk to a player instead. The players are always more open, honest and relaxed.
Worst camera work
Ugh! Don't you just hate it when a batter hits a fly ball and the camera tracks the ball instead of the outfielders? Following the track of the ball gives the viewer absolutely no perspective on how far the ball has been hit. It happened Saturday during the Rays-Marlins game. Tampa Bay's Jose Molina hit a ball that sounded and looked, at first, as if the ball was going to go a mile. The camera tried to track the ball, although if you're like me, you couldn't even see the ball anyway in the midst of Trop’s catwalks and roof. The camera gave the viewer the impression that the ball was going to land 20 rows into the stands. Instead, it turned into an out when Miami’s Justin Ruggiano caught the ball at the wall. Maddening!
Three things that popped into my head
1. Hey, Major League Baseball, can the Rays swap out a few games against the Yankees this season for a few more games against the Marlins?
2. I have no way to prove or disprove any doping allegations against former cyclist Lance Armstrong. But it seems suspicious that he was so much better than so many who did get busted for doping.
3. Sports are awesome, but give me a really good golf tournament, a really nice big-screen television, a comfortable recliner and that's about the most relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.