Shooting from the lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Listening to Florida State football games on the radio, and in particular the color commentary of Lakewood grad and former FSU fullback William Floyd might be the most entertaining thing on radio since the days of Jack Benny and Milton Berle. Of course, it's not funny if you're a Florida State fan, but the worse the Seminoles play, the funnier Floyd becomes because he is so into his alma mater. He berates the players when things are going bad, criticizes the officials, questions the coaches and you can't help but start laughing when his frustrations boil over into uncontrolled rants.
Normally, one would criticize a broadcaster for being such a die-hard fan, but college football announcers probably fall into a different category. Cheerleading is to be expected, especially because almost every listener also is a die-hard fan. So, Seminoles fans probably don't mind Floyd’s rants and raves. And the rest of us can get a kick out of it.
Biggest pet peeve
ESPN's John Saunders is one of the good guys and does a splendid job on Sunday morning's must-watch Sports Reporters. But there's one thing he does every so often that undercuts the credibility of all sports reporters, and he did it again Sunday. When talking about the Tigers blowing their lead in the American League Central, he said to Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom, "If momentum counts for something, Mitch, I'd be worried.''
He said it as if Albom should be worried -- as if Albom actually cares if the Tigers win or lose. Sportswriters constantly fight the misconception that they care if any team wins or loses. When Saunders says something like that, he only adds to the viewers' misguided belief that sportswriters root for the teams they cover.
Can you remember the last time there was this much buzz about a Monday Night Football game? When the schedule came out, Monday's Vikings-Packers game seemed just like another chapter in one of the better rivalries in the NFL. But it became one of the games of the year when former Packers quarterback Brett Favre came out of retirement (again), this time with the Vikings.
"This one fell into our lap when No. 4 decided to come back,'' MNF senior coordinating producer Jay Rothman said.
And don't think that this is just another game with the media creating all the hype.
"Talking to Favre a couple different times since he left Green Bay and being around the Packers a little bit, this is the game Brett Favre’s wanted to play,'' play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said. "When the Packers essentially said, 'We don't want you to be our quarterback anymore,' Brett Favre had an unbelievable clock ticking inside him to want to play the Green Bay Packers. So you can say that he's waited 13, 14 months for it and you're not overstating it. It certainly equals the hype.''
Most honest quote
With all this talk about Brett Favre and his damaged relationship with the Packers, there has been a debate about loyalty. ESPN analyst Mike Ditka summed it up: "If you think there's any loyalty in professional sports, you're crazy. Maybe this wasn't totally about money, but nobody's loyal to anyone. When they think they've used you, you're finished. Out the door you go. I don't blame him for being mad in that area. He wants to crush them''
CBS NFL Today insider Charley Casserly said three groups are interested in buying the Rams, and one of the groups includes radio personality Rush Limbaugh. Runnerup for best rumor: Hockey Night in Canada's broadcast had an interesting little tidbit that there are rumblings the Atlanta Thrashers eventually could be sold and moved to Winnipeg.
Time for college football to seriously rethink this "excessive celebration'' penalty. It's now affecting the outcomes of games, and many of the flags are being thrown for what hardly seems like "excessive'' celebration. It's not a stretch to say LSU won by scoring a late touchdown with the help of a ticky-tack penalty against Georgia for celebrating.
"There's a difference between taunting and celebration,'' ESPN analyst Lou Holtz said. "It's an emotional game. Let them show some emotion.''
Worst good team
The coming college football showdown between Florida and LSU seems like a big deal with the Gators ranked No. 1 and LSU No. 4. But, come on, does LSU really strike anyone as being the fourth-best team in the nation? They barely beat a Georgia team that seemed overrated at No. 18. In fact, that game was so sloppy that CBS's Gary Danielson said: "These teams are playing to their reputation. I mean, does anybody know any more about these two teams?''
The biggest surprise in Saturday night's Lightning opener wasn't that the Lightning lost. It was TV analyst Bobby "Chief''’ Taylor without his familiar mustache! I ran into Taylor at a Rays' game a couple of months ago and he said he was trimming the 'stache he had for more than 30 years when he took too much off and ended up looking like Adolf Hitler. So he had no choice but to shave the whole thing, and he has decided to leave it off.
ESPN's Outside the Lines ran a piece on University of Buffalo football coach Turner Gill not getting the Auburn job last year. Many, including Buffalo's athletic director, Warde Manuel, and former Auburn basketball star Charles Barkley, said Gill didn't get the job because he's African-American. Instead, Auburn hired Gene Chizak, a white coach who was highly successful as a defensive coordinator but was 5-19 in two seasons as head coach at Iowa State. Who knows if race played a role, although Gill said he didn't believe it did. Either way, the timing of the story seemed strange. First, the hire was last December. And Sunday's story came a day after Auburn moved to 5-0 on the season and the same day that it moved into the Associated Press poll at No. 17. Meantime, Buffalo lost its fourth straight on Saturday and fell to 1-4.
There's no good reason why the Twins-Royals game was not on Sunday. With the Twins and Tigers tied for first place in the American League Central, the MLB Network picked up the Tigers-White Sox game, which was nice, but then again, it already was on nationally on WGN. Meantime, TBS has a game of the week, and it picked up the Dodgers-Rockies game, which was meaningless because the Dodgers clinched the National League West on Saturday night. Between TBS, ESPN and the MLB Network, someone needed to pick up the Twins-Royals game.
Everyone jumped all over Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb last season when McNabb didn't know the NFL overtime rules. This is worse: former NFL quarterback and current CBS game analyst Rich Gannon made a similar blunder Sunday during overtime of the Bengals-Browns game. The Bengals called timeout with seven seconds left to set up for a game-winning field goal. Gannon questioned calling timeout. Now that might make sense if Gannon was suggesting that the Browns would have time to run a play if the Bengals missed the kick. But Gannon's point was the Browns would have time to return a kick if the Bengals made the field goal.
Partner Ian Eagle, according to Yahoo Sports, informed Gannon "quickly and politely'' that the game would be over if Bengals made the kick. Gannon laughed and apologized for his mistake.