Shooting from the lip/May 3rd edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
It only takes about two minutes to run the Kentucky Derby, but NBC somehow managed to make a three-hour show out of it. And, you know, every single minute of it was entertaining. NBC's broadcast had a little something for everyone, from the diehard horse racing enthusiast to the casual observer who tunes in just to watch celebrities in silly hats sipping mint juleps. There were compelling features on owners, horses and jockeys that were interesting, informative and entertaining, even to those who watch this one horse race a year.
NBC adjusted well to the crummy weather, even teaching viewers how jockeys wear as many as six goggles during the race, removing one when it becomes covered in mud, and how horses have eyelids that act as windshield wipers to keep their vision clear on muddy tracks. Who knew?
Meantime, the red carpet interviews and even the food segments with Al Roker weren't too tedious to sit through. Probably the best word to describe NBC's Kentucky Derby coverage is "accessible.'' Host Bob Costas did his usual masterful job running things, while reporter Donna Brothers was the star of the broadcast with her reports, mostly from horseback. You didn't have to be a horse racing fan to thoroughly enjoy NBC's Kentucky Derby coverage and, when you think about it, that's the sign of a tremendous production.
It's becoming nearly impossible to turn on a hockey game and enjoy it to its fullest if NBC's Mike Emrick is not doing the play-by-play. The guy is simply a genius and, quite frankly, it's a crime he didn't win the Sports Emmy for best play-by-play voice. (It went, instead, to CBS's Jim Nantz. Way to go out on a limb there, Sports Emmys!) Over the weekend, Emrick called Game 1 of the Flyers-Bruins series and Game 2 of the Penguins-Canadiens series for NBC along with partners Ed Olczyk and Pierre Maguire. It's remarkable how in synch the three are with one another, especially when you realize that Maguire is stationed between the benches while Emrick and Olczyk are in the booth.
During Saturday's Flyers-Bruins game, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara was wide open for a slap shot from the slot. Olczyk described during replays how Chara found himself all alone, then Emrick, showing just how in tune he is with the viewers at home, asked Olczyk what every viewer wanted to know: "Whose fault is that?'' Olczyk immediately pinned the blame on one of the forwards because of a poor line change. That's terrific stuff.
Just before Saturday's Cavs-Celtics game, TNT analyst Kenny Smith predicted the Cavs would have trouble containing Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, while fellow analysts Chris Webber and Charles Barkley were vehemently disagreeing with him. The Cavs won Game 1, but Rondo finished with 27 points and 12 assists, proving Smith right.
J.P. Peterson, the 1010-AM afternoon drive sports talk-show host and former Ch. 8 sports anchor, debuted his new weekly sports TV show over the weekend. Tampa Bay Sports Central With J.P. Peterson aired Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on Ch. 44, and it was a strong opening act with good guests -- Lightning star Steven Stamkos and former Bucs coach Tony Dungy -- and a roundtable with former Bucs punter Mark Royals and 620-AM talk-show host Steve Duemig. In fact, what a smart and amusing move by Peterson to invite Duemig, whose extremely popular radio show airs at the same time as Peterson's show. Peterson's interviews with Stamkos and Dungy were solid, and the 10-minute roundtable, which had ample room to breathe, hit the hot topics of the moment -- the Rays' hot start and the Bucs' draft. The only nit was the furniture. The oversized chairs swallowed up everybody and made them look like kids sitting in dad's chair. But other than that, a nice start for the new show.
Most overdone story line
Enough of the LeBron James' elbow injury. The guy has a bruised elbow, and the networks, especially TNT (which carried Saturday's Celtics-Cavs game), act as if James was about to have his arm amputated because of the pain. Gee whiz, if a hockey player had a bruised elbow, no one would even know about it. Hockey players are playing with broken bones, bad cuts and holes in their gums where teeth should be. Yet everyone acts as if James -- who, by the way, is playing it up, too, with that ridiculous arm pad he is wearing -- is the epitome of courage and determination.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Listening to Lightning announcer Rick Peckham's outstanding work calling Stanley Cup playoff games on Versus should remind everyone in town just how lucky they are to have him calling games in this market.
2. New favorite NBA analyst: Reggie Miller, who teaches me something every game. Example: Boston's Ray Allen passed up an open shot Saturday and Miller, from experience, knew exactly why: A referee moved into Allen's peripheral vision, and replays showed Miller was spot on. How good is that?
3. It's ridiculous that the Orlando Magic will end up having eight days off between games.