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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition



Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

Kennedy Best announcing
Kevin Kennedy has had an up-and-down season in his first year as the Rays' television analyst. But Kennedy has had more good days than mediocre of late. He appears to be growing more comfortable, and Saturday was one of his better efforts of the season.

Like all analysts, he is at his best when he expresses honest opinions even when they are critical of his team. With the Rays trailing Toronto 9-5 with no outs in the eighth Saturday, B.J. Upton was thrown out stealing, and Kennedy was quick to criticize him for it.

"That's a mental mistake right there,'' Kennedy said. "Outs are precious at this point. You only had six, and now you have five. That's not a good play.''

Later in the inning, Pat Burrell knocked in two runs to make it 9-7, but he was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. Kennedy criticized Burrell’s choice to go for two. Kennedy thankfully has cut way back on his "when I was managing'' moments and is letting the game dictate his analysis. He's more fun to listen to these days, though it's still a problem that he isn't calling the full schedule of TV games.

X games Most chilling story
ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday produced a chilling, hard-to-watch feature on the increasing risks taken by extreme sports competitors. OTL didn't shy away from showing replays of devastating crashes by skateboarders, motocross and BMX stars, and other extreme sports athletes, though it respectfully did not show the impact that killed motocross racer Jeremy Lusk this year. It did show clips of and an interview with Stephen Murray, a BMX competitor who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 2007 crash.

Though those interviewed accepted responsibility for pushing stunts and tricks to more hazardous lengths, the story missed a key element: ESPN has as much to do as anyone with these sports' popularity -- as well as the accidents that are becoming more frequent. ESPN essentially invented the X Games and created a culture in which competitors feel the need to push the envelope further and further to keep these sports entertaining.   It's to the point where competitors have to do something that has never been done or fans will lose interest. For years the race was to see who could do the first backflip on a motorcycle. Then it became front flips. Once someone has done it, where do you go from there? The only choice is to attempt something more dangerous, and soon enough, you have people suffering permanent injuries or dying.

Outside the Lines told a good story. Unfortunately, it didn’t tell the whole story by at least acknowledging ESPN's significant role in extreme sports.

Buehrle Best coverage
Give FSN and the Rays' television crew high marks for celebrating Mark Buehrle's perfect game even though it came at the Rays’ expense. FSN showed postgame interviews with Buehrle and announcer Dewayne Staats was a pro, showing genuine enthusiasm. (By the way, White Sox announcer Ken "Hawk'' Harrelson, not surprisingly, stepped all over the moment with his constant jabbering.)

One final thought on Buehrle’s perfect game: How could anyone who calls himself a true baseball fan not be rooting for Buehrle in the ninth inning, even if he is a diehard Rays fan? This was baseball immortality. To see one of the rarest achievements in the game trumps that it came against the Rays.

Best points
The Rays' radio team, Andy Freed and Dave Wills, made some interesting points during Friday night's game with the Blue Jays. As they talked about the Yankees' ability to beat up on teams they should beat up on, Freed and Wills pointed out that the Rays' downfall this season has been too many losses to teams they consider to be not as good as Tampa Bay. Specifically, they pointed out, the Rays have lost six of eight to the White Sox, four of six to the A's and five of eight to the Indians. And, as Wills said, the Rangers' three-game sweep of the Rays in early July doesn't sit well, either, though one could argue that the Rangers are just as good as the Rays.

Ben Best argument
ESPN's Sports Reporters got a little testy Sunday when Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom and New York Times columnist Bill Rhoden got into an argument about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who is being accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually assaulting a woman. The argument essentially started because Rhoden came off highly critical of Roethlisberger. Albom, who made a point of saying he didn't know whether Roethlisberger was guilty, brought up the possibility that the allegations are false, saying, "There are many women who make false claims.''

To which Rhoden said: "Many? Name five.''

Albom said, "You sound as if you already presume he has already done this.''

Rhoden: "I'm presuming he put himself in a bad position.''

The conversation was headed down an uncomfortable road when fill-in host Mike Lupica jumped in. It's also interesting to note that the Roethlisberger story, initially ignored by ESPN, was the first topic on the show.

Funniest line
"You can't blame Steve Spurrier for forgetting to put Tim Tebow on the All-SEC team. After Florida drubbed South Carolina 56-6 last season, I'd want to forget everything about Tim Tebow, too.''
-- Israel Gutierrez, Miami Herald columnist, on ESPN's Sports Reporters

Cantor Three things that popped into my head
1. Telemundo's coverage of Sunday's Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico, which won 5-0, was worth watching just to hear the signature gooooooaaaaaal call of legendary announcer Andres Cantor. No matter how many times you hear it, it never gets old.
2. Just wondering: If you had just completed a jail sentence for dog fighting, do you think you would be able to go back to work at your old job?
3. It would have been nice if the smiling, warm Jim Rice who entered the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday had been that way when he played.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 2:43pm]


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