Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
If any of you were worried about the Bucs this season, Ch. 8's pregame show Saturday put those fears to rest. After watching it, we should all be convinced that Byron Leftwich is going to be great, Michael Clayton is going to stay healthy and catch 80 passes, and the team is going to be just fine.
As far as the broadcast of the game against the Jaguars, Chris Myers and John Lynch were a bit better than in the Titans game the previous week, though Myers promoted quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to offensive coordinator at the end of the game, something that might have come as a surprise to Jeff Jagodzinski, the actual coordinator. When Lynch doesn't rush through his thoughts, he offers astute analysis and should be a good addition to Fox's broadcasts this season. His best moment was to point out that the Bucs might have been wise to play second-string defensive backs with the first unit seeing as how starter Tanard Jackson is suspended for the regular season's first four games and starter Aqib Talib could be suspended.
The only nit was that the broadcast occasionally lost focus, letting the paint-by-numbers production get in the way of covering the game. Example: On Jacksonville's last drive, the Bucs were called for a critical roughing-the-passer penalty. Instead of showing the replay of that, viewers had to sit through the "KFC highlight of the game'' or some such thing, which was Josh Freeman's TD run in the third quarter. Only after Myers -- who knew what fans at home were screaming at the screen -- said something about wanting to see the replay of the roughing call did the production team show it.
During Saturday's Yankees-Red Sox game on Fox, analyst Tim McCarver jumped on New York pitcher A.J. Burnett for not concentrating on the batter and worrying about Boston's Dustin Pedroia, who was on second base with two outs, by faking a pickoff throw. "Where’s Dustin Pedroia going?'' McCarver said disgustedly.
Next pitch: Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run homer.
Worst use of a reporter
The Rays-Rangers game Saturday was delayed briefly in the bottom of the ninth when Rangers leftfielder Marlon Byrd, who had homered just minutes earlier to tie the score, complained about some sort of harassment from the stands. The umpires even gathered with security and pointed at the crowd. Why wasn't Rays sideline reporter Todd Kalas dispatched to find out what was going on? What's the point of having such a reporter if he's not going to be used to check out such things? It's puzzling how little the Rays television broadcasts use Kalas. They might go innings without checking in with him.
You could take two kids playing Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and I'll watch it if it's on HBO's Boxing After Dark, which remains the most compelling sports-event coverage on television. No coverage offers more access or better analysis. Saturday night's broadcast crew was Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis, and they had their usual outstanding night. The best moments came after the main event, when Paulie Malignaggi, who had lost a controversial decision to Juan Diaz, exploded with an uncensored tirade that only a cable network such as HBO could show. Kellerman handled it brilliantly, allowing Malignaggi to vent and then later explaining why Diaz won, even though Kellerman agreed Malignaggi got a raw deal.
The coverage also offered the best line of the weekend. Midway through the fight, Malignaggi's trunks started to fall off, and Papa said, "Boxing After Dark … and the moon is coming out.''
Most controversial moment
ESPN's Buck Showalter didn't make any friends in these parts on Saturday's Baseball Tonight. Showalter has a plan to revamp the major-league schedule so division opponents aren't playing each other so many times. Showalter's plan is to make the majors one big league. Every team plays each other six times -- three at home, three on the road. And there are four seven-team divisions. But to make it work, two teams would have to be eliminated. For his exercise, Showalter decided the teams to kill would be the Rays and Marlins.
"They have spring training anyway,'' Showalter said. Ouch.
Best and worst week
It was a strong weekend of features on ESPN, highlighted by Outside the Lines' piece Sunday on the 20th anniversary of Pete Rose's ban from baseball for gambling, Rachel Nichols' Sunday Conversation with LeBron James and a Jemele Hill SportsCenter piece on former Lions wide receiver Charles Rogers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft who is out of football because of injuries and a drug problem. Hill, did a masterful job drawing out Rogers during the interview.
It was a good comeback by Hill, whose week didn't start off well. On ESPN2's First Take, while talking about Brett Favre, Hill suggested Packers fans give him the "Duracell treatment,'' meaning they should throw batteries at Favre when he returns to Lambeau Field with the Vikings this season. Moments later she said, "I was just saying the battery thing tongue in cheek. I was just kidding about that. I don't want them to beat up Brett Favre.''
Of course, she was kidding. Still, she has to know better than to even joke about that. That's just another example of how broadcasters can get in trouble when trying to be funny or cute. Hill doesn't need to say things like that. She's not like Skip Bayless or those shouting heads on Around the Horn, who seem to think that the louder they talk and the more outrageous they are, the more right they are. Hill makes interesting, intelligent points and is one of the network's most watchable personalities without doing schtick.
Most disgusting coverage
I refuse to watch ESPN/ABC's Little League World Series coverage. No one can convince me that putting 12-year-old kids on television in pressure-packed games is a good idea. For every winning team and home-run hero is a losing team and the pitcher who gave up that home run. They're just kids.
What's even more disgusting is listening to the announcers talk about how pure this all is, how this is what sports is all about, kids playing the game for the joy of it. If it is pure and how the game is meant to be, it wouldn't involve television cameras and postgame interviews.
Three things I'm tired of
1. Jim Rice. He criticizes the modern-day player even though he was considered one of the biggest horse's rears when he played.
2. Preseason NFL games. We're only halfway done?
3. Shaving cream pies. Enough, already!