Shooting from the lip/May 16th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Many local fans likely are disappointed that Lightning games are now on Versus/NBC instead of Sun Sports because they can't listen to announcers Rick Peckham and Bobby "The Chief'' Taylor. However, listening to the Lightning games called by national announcers does allow fans to get a fresh perspective on the team.
Usually, the complaint whenever a local team is on national television is that the announcers merely scratch the surface with their information. The announcers often show just a basic working knowledge of the team and merely spout off news and notes for a national audience that already are known by the hometown fans. But this is where the Versus announcers -- in this case, Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire -- separate themselves from others. Their information and analysis is as deep as a viewer is going to find and makes the broadcasts thoroughly informative, as well as enjoyable. You might not get a splash of the hometown bias you’re looking for, but it's first-class coverage.
Worst optical illusion
Occasionally on Rays games televised by Sun Sports from Tropicana Field, the camera angle on deep fly balls to rightfield leaves viewers helplessly guessing as to whether it's going to be a home run or not. Instead of pulling back and letting the viewer watch the rightfielder as he tries to track the ball, the camera follows the path of the ball. That angle gives the impression that the ball is going to land deep in the seats when, often, it's just a warning-track out. Funny, it doesn’t happen on fly balls to left or center, just to right. And it doesn't happen all the time. But when it does happen, it is terribly frustrating to viewers at home who are fooled into thinking they are seeing a homer instead of a can of corn.
Sarah Silverman is one of the funniest people on the planet, yet her half-inning appearance on Saturday night's Fox primetime coverage of the Red Sox and Yankees was akin to crickets chirping, mostly because announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver gave her absolutely nothing to work with. Buck tried but, while being an excellent play-by-play announcer, he is not nearly as hip as he tries to come off. McCarver seemed totally out of his comfort zone and barely uttered a word. Silverman made a funny crack that major-league pitchers should be given LSD "as a treat'' so they might be able to throw a no-hitter like Dock Ellis did for the Pirates in 1970. Other than that, it was a dud, which suggests that bringing celebrities into the box is something Fox might want to avoid in the future.
Best breaking-news coverage
Fox was all over the Jorge Posada story Saturday during its coverage of the Red Sox-Yankees game. In case you missed it, Posada, who has been struggling this season, pulled himself from the lineup Saturday after learning he was hitting in ninth. Fox's coverage included reports from Ken Rosenthal and an interview with Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Meantime, the YES network's postgame coverage had the media interviews with Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Posada, interviews that were uncomfortable, awkward and completely compelling. Then, ESPN continued to be all over the story on Sunday's Baseball Tonight, as well as its Sunday night Game of the Week broadcast.
It's hard to figure out if there's a bad guy here. The Yankees certainly should treat such a loyal and classy veteran with a bit more respect instead of just taping a lineup card to the wall. On the other hand, Posada, who was hitting .165 at the time, comes off as a tad arrogant for pulling himself from the lineup, citing a need to clear his head and later back stiffness. In the end, you have to feel that Posada, who apologized to Girardi on Sunday, deserves better from the Yankees.
It just goes to show that there's no good way to ease a legendary star out the door. And, the Yankees better figure out how to handle it a bit better because, someday soon, they are going to have a similar issue with Derek Jeter.
Three things I liked on TV this weekend
1. Hey, check it out: The Lightning and goalie Dwayne Roloson got a little air time on ESPN's Sports Reporters on Sunday.
2. Sun Sports' Rays Live pregame show on Sundays is well-produced, informative and entertaining. Good features, strong analysis and nice behind-the-scenes coverage make the show a must-see for Rays fans.
3. There are few things worse for TV than a rain delay at a golf tournament, but NBC's coverage during Saturday’s weather issues at The Players Championship was worth watching because of the variety of features and interviews.
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica on ESPN's Sports Reporters, talking about Tiger Woods' future after more leg injuries forced him to withdraw from The Players Championship: "This is one of those times where you start to think, 'Wow, how many golf tournaments is he going to win as we move forward?' ''
Lupica is right. Woods is only 35 and needs just four majors to tie Jack Nicklaus' record of 18, but never has Nicklaus' record seemed more safe than now. Hard to believe, but Woods hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and he has won only two majors since 2007.
Three things that popped into my head
1. A big reason why the Lightning easily handled the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final? Lightning coach Guy Boucher threw some wrinkles into his system and absolutely schooled Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team looked completely baffled for the first 20 minutes as Tampa Bay took a commanding 3-0 lead.
2. The best news for the Rays through one quarter of the season? The American League is full of average teams and 90 wins might be more than enough for, at worst, a wild card.
3. Who thought we would be in the final four of the NBA and NHL playoffs and there would be no Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Red Wings, Capitals or Blackhawks?