Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports ...
Who could have thought that a golf event in which Tiger Woods did not make the cut would turn into one of the classic tournaments in recent memory? Thanks to 59-year-old Tom Watson, who turned back the clock to the 1970s, this year's British Open was as captivating as golf gets. And ABC did a splendid job covering Watson's attempt to become the oldest man to win a major championship. The network's coverage rose to the occasion and only enhanced what was one of the great days in golf.
Did the ABC crew sound as if they were pulling a tad for Watson? Perhaps, but who could blame them? Everybody in the world, except for the few family members and friends of the other golfers, was rooting for Watson. From there, the announcing team, especially outstanding host Mike Tirico and analysts Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger, was able to put into perspective something that was virtually impossible to put into perspective. After all, golf had never seen anything like a 59-year-old legend dialing up the golf of his younger days. There was nothing to compare it to. Not in golf or any other sport, for that matter.
Yet Tirico, Strange and Azinger were intelligent with their comments while conveying just how incredible Watson's performance was.
At the same time, ABC didn't fall into the trap of following only Watson. He was the lead story throughout the day but not the only story, and ABC kept viewers completely abreast as to what everyone else on the leaderboard was doing. As the names continued to flip flop at the top, viewers were already fully aware of how everyone had been playing. It would have been easy to focus only on Watson, as the networks occasionally do with Woods, but ABC did not do that Sunday.
In recent years, NBC has crept ahead of ABC in its golf coverage, but it's hard to imagine any network doing a better job than ABC did Sunday.
Other random thoughts on ABC’s British Open coverage
* When it comes to golf hosts, I'd take ABC’s Mike Tirico over NBC’s Dan Hicks and CBS' Jim Nantz. Tirico's work throughout the weekend was near perfect. Everything he said was informative and/or entertaining, and nothing was dumb or over the top.
* The unsung hero of ABC's coverage was field reporter Judy Rankin. Her reports all day -- from what the players were thinking to their lies to what club selection they should use -- was spot on. I'm a huge fan of NBC's Dottie Pepper, but Rankin was just as good Sunday.
* Thumbs up to the crew switching gears and talking about what Sunday's victory meant to Stewart Cink and just what kind of guy Cink is when it was obvious Watson was collapsing in the playoff. Also, it was smart of ABC to point out how difficult it was for Cink to win at Watson's expense. Even in victory, part of the Cink story was about Watson and ABC did a good job pointing that out.
* Nice work to get Jack Nicklaus on the phone with Tirico on Sunday to talk about Watson.
* The only disappointment of the day was ABC not getting a one-on-one interview with Watson after the playoff. Instead, ABC was forced to show a feed from Watson's general news conference. It then cut away after only a few questions. Too bad, because Watson's best answers came after that, although ESPNews did show the rest of his news conference and ABC did direct viewers to ESPNews if they wanted to see the rest.
* Great work by Rick Reilly, whose video essay honored Watson's incredible weekend. And Reilly managed to get a little dig in on Woods as well. In his list of "thank-you's'' to Watson, Reilly said, "Thank you for reminding us that golf is a gentleman's game whether it's going good or bad.'' Then, as there was a clip of Woods slamming his club on the ground after a bad drive Friday, Reilly said, "Some of us forget that sometimes.''
ESPN reporter and former Tampa resident Erin Andrews apparently has been the victim of a creepy crime. ESPN has confirmed that someone videotaped an undressed Andrews through a peephole in her hotel room and posted the grainy video on the Internet. Her attorneys released the following statement:
"While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent. She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future. Although the perpetrator or perpetrators of this criminal act have not yet been identified, when they are identified she intends to bring both civil and criminal charges against them and against anyone who has published the material. We request respect of Erin's privacy at this time, while she and her representatives are working with the authorities.''
Best local mention
The Tampa Bay Rays popped up during a conversation about the Blue Jays possibly trading ace Roy Halladay on Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN. Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom said, "If I'm Tampa, I'm looking at this saying, 'How am I going to catch the other guys ahead of me unless I put myself over the top somehow.'''
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica added: "The Rays are starting to get whole, but they need a closer. … It's a huge gap for them.''
Check it out
Remember Barret Robbins? He was the Pro Bowl center of the Raiders who went AWOL for Super Bowl XXXVII against the Bucs. Robbins was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder to go along with substance abuse and multiple run-ins with the law. He sat with HBO's Andrea Kremer for an upcoming episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and talked about how his trouble started in college at Texas Christian.
Robbins: "Some football guys get together and drink. Some football guys get together and smoke. Some football guys get together and do steroids.''
Kremer: "And you did all of them?''
Robbins: "And I did all of them, yeah, when you're feeling up, and, you know, really high, you want to drink alcohol to, to come down or smoke marijuana to come down. When you're down, very down, you want to take cocaine to come up and to feel real again. To feel that spark again.''
The episode first airs Tuesday at 10 p.m.