Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Sunday was the 30th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night at old Comiskey Park in Chicago. Between games of a doubleheader, a Chicago disc jockey blew up disco records and the result was the end of disco and a riot with fans storming the field and tearing up the field, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the second game.
ESPN's Sunday SportsCenter put together an outstanding look back, including interviews with fans, players, broadcasters, disc jockey Steve Dahl and Mike Veeck, the son of White Sox owner, Bill, and, many believe, the man behind the promotion.
Many retrospectives often make light of the whole thing, like it was an amusing chapter in baseball history. But what made ESPN's piece so good was, sure, it brought out the humor of the night, but it also relayed just how frightening and out of control the fans were and how dangerous the night turned out to be. The best part was a rare and surreal clip of then-White Sox announcer Harry Caray and the elder Veeck singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game in a misguided and bizarre effort to calm down the fans.
Week in and week out, the best 10 minutes on television these days are the postrace interviews during TNT's NASCAR coverage. Sticking a microphone in front of a bunch of drivers still pumping with adrenaline is television gold. You never know what someone is going to say, but someone is going to say something fun. Saturday's best moment was Kurt Busch, who was ticked off that he lost an early lead when he was spun out by Jimmie Johnson: "I'm starting to lose faith in his ability to be a three-time champion on the track. … Couple runs spoiled by the 48 car, so I'm not digging it.''
There are a lot of ordinary analysts on national baseball game broadcasts. ESPN's stable is full of mediocre talent. Fox's Tim McCarver is probably the best in the bunch, but Fox's Eric Karros is closing fast. His work Saturday on the Yankees-Angels game was excellent, and one moment stood out in particular. In the first inning, the Angels' Chone Figgins was nearly doubled off first base after a diving catch in center by the Yankees' Brett Gardner. (Replays showed Figgins, who went back standing up, should have been called out.) Replays also showed Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin standing with his hands on his hips instead of telling Figgins to slide.
It's the type of thing where Karros could have given another former player -- and a onetime teammate with the Dodgers -- a pass. Instead, Karros called out Griffin for not doing his job. Good stuff.
No doubt Radim Vrbata, signed as a free agent by the Lightning last summer, was a bust. After signing a three-year, $9 million deal, he had three goals and three assists in 18 games before going to his native Czech Republic. Well, Vrbata wants to come back. Last week, Times staff writer Damian Cristodero asked Lightning general manager Brian Lawton about Vrbata, and Lawton said: "He won't fit into our plans. There won't be a roster spot for him. He has the right to come back, and if he wants to he can, and he'll end up in (minor-league) Norfolk.''
Excuse me, but isn't this the GM of a team that has been the worst in hockey the past two seasons? Can you really afford to make roster decisions in July? After all, this is a guy who scored 27 goals two seasons ago. What if he comes to camp and lights it up? You're telling me this team doesn't have room for a goal scorer? Now if it's a salary-cap issue (as we suspect it is) come out and say that. But don't make it sound personal. This team isn't good enough at the moment to hold grudges.
ESPN's Sports Reporters, still one of the most watchable shows on TV, had its most interesting segment in months when the panel of Mike Lupica, Bob Ryan, Mitch Albom and host John Saunders discussed the late Steve McNair and did so by bringing up some of sports' dirty little secrets, including that many athletes lead double lives that involve women on the side. Albom was especially harsh, although not out of line, to point out that McNair had a 17-year-old son and a 20-year-old girlfriend. He had a home with a wife and four kids, yet also had a condo for his flings. Lupica was bothered by those who claim McNair, just like Michael Jackson, should be remembered only for his good deeds and talents.
"Don't tell me how to remember someone,'' Lupica said. Agree or disagree, it was a powerful conversation.
It's one of those statistics that you know but always seem to forget, and then when you see it you're surprised all over again. You think of the Yankees and their incredible history, but their all-time leader in hits (Lou Gehrig) was well short of 3,000 — 2,721. Fox's Game of the Week reminded us that shortstop Derek Jeter is now second on the team's all-time list, with 2,645 hits after Sunday’s game.
Here's something else that might surprise you. Let's say Jeter, 35, gets 100 hits the rest of the season, that would give him 2,745 in his first 14 full seasons. After 14 seasons, when he was also 35, all-time hits leader Pete Rose had 2,762 hits. There are a variety of reasons why Jeter likely won’t catch Rose (4,256), the biggest being it's hard to imagine Jeter wanting to play until he's 45 like Rose did. But it is interesting to look at Jeter being on the same pace as Rose.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Cyclist Lance Armstrong and Astana teammate Alberto Contador had a little dustup the other day when Contador apparently didn't follow the team plan and leapfrogged Armstrong in the Tour de France overall standings. I still don't get this whole "teammate'' thing in cycling. Why not just have everyone out there race for themselves?
2. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome made a little noise in the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament Sunday and isn't it nice to have a local golfer to make the women's majors a little more interesting to watch? If it wasn't for Lincicome hanging around the leaders, many of us would have missed Eun-He Ji's incredible putt to win.
3. Anyone else sick and tired of those shaving cream pies during postgame baseball interviews?