Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Still trying to wrap my brain around Roger Federer winning his first French Open on Sunday and tying Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles. He was fortunate to avoid Rafael Nadal, who was upset earlier in the tournament and could have a serious knee injury that would pave the way for Federer to break the record. Nadal has surpassed Federer in the past year and had won four consecutive French Open finals against Federer. It’s hard to accept that Federer could have beaten a healthy Nadal this year. Then again, isn't all this a part of the game? Maybe the Steelers don't win last season’s Super Bowl if New England quarterback Tom Brady doesn't get injured in the first week of the season. The Rockets won NBA titles in 1994 and 1995 when Michael Jordan was off playing baseball. In the end, they don't ask how. Federer beat everyone he played in Paris.
So who is the greatest tennis player of all time? Pete Sampras and Roger Federer both have 14 grand slam titles, so who do take? On Sunday, NBC announcer Ted Robinson said, "Hard to argue, greatest of all time.'' Actually, Ted, it is quite easy to argue. Perhaps Federer is the greatest, but good arguments can be made for Sampras, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg.
"'He's a good pick,'' NBC's Mary Carillo said of Federer. "I'd like to reserve judgment till after Rafa Nadal's career, but how can you deny the absolute fluency for the sport that Roger Federer has? It's a beautiful thing to see.''
Best use of silence
Kudos to NBC's tennis announcing team for knowing that saying nothing is better than saying anything sometimes. The announcers did not utter one word from deuce in the final game of the Roger Federer-Robin Soderling final until three minutes after the match was over. Shots of Federer and nothing but crowd noise told the story better than even gifted announcers such as John McEnroe and Mary Carillo could.
Most disappointing coverage
ABC had a bit of bad luck for the Belmont with Rachel Alexandra not running and no Triple Crown on the line, save for Calvin Borel trying to win a jockey Triple Crown. Still, ABC's coverage Saturday was disappointing. This is an event that is 141 years old, and it just didn't feel special. Aside from Kenny Mayne's hilarious feature with Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley, who stole the piece with perfect comedic timing in a sketch in which the two conducted a fake interview in a pickup truck, every feature and segment seemed tired and formula-driven. Watching the prerace show didn't inspire me to want to watch the race. If NBC's and ABC's coverage of horse racing was an actual race, NBC would win by 20 lengths.
John Saunders of ESPN's Sports Reporters used his parting shot to defend Bobby Bowden's right to keep his victories at Florida State -- part of the punishment handed down by the NCAA for a scandal that involved football players cheating on an online exam. It was a bizarre defense. Saunders seemed to think it was no big deal because it was an online test for a music class, then offered up the weakest excuse of all, saying he doubted Bowden, above, even knew about it. Well, isn't that kind of the point of the punishment? That first, players were cheating and second, the guy in charge of the program didn’t know? What happened at FSU isn't on the level of giving recruits cars and cash or anything like that, and maybe Bowden doesn't deserve to have his victories taken away. But let's not act as if a little bit of cheating is okay and the man in charge is not responsible for what goes on within his program.
Don't count me as one of the ones feeling sorry for former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine, who was released by the team last week and didn't like the way the Braves handled it. He whined so much that the Braves "paraded'' him for a minor-league start before letting him go that he weaseled the Braves into apologizing to him. Shut up, will you?
For years, Glavine was paid rather well for services rendered, and no one wants to hear his bellyaching now. Six weeks ago, four journalists from the Baltimore Sun were laid off as they were in the press box about to cover a game. Go to Detroit and talk to someone who worked 30 years at GM and find out how their last day went. Ask any of the tens of thousands who have lost their jobs in this economic mess what they're going to do now.
According to Baseball Reference, Glavine made approximately $128 million in his 22-year career -- most of it from the Braves. Last year, those Braves that disrespected him so badly paid him $8 million to go 2-4. You don't have to lift a finger the rest of your life, and now you're talking about not getting respect? Grow up and just go away.
On Sunday's Sports Reporters, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan laid into the Williams sisters, and rightfully so. Yes, Ryan pointed out, Serena and Venus are tremendous players, among the best in the history of the game. But how come whenever they lose, it's always something they did wrong instead of giving credit to their opponent? When Serena lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the French Open quarterfinals last week, she said, "Honestly, I think I lost because of me and not because of anything she did.''
Ryan cracked, "This act is getting old, and I can't be the only one who is tired of it.''
Best hockey player
Only twice in the past 30 years has the Conn Smythe winner -- the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs -- come from a team that did not win the Stanley Cup. Flyers goalie Ron Hextall won it in 1987, and Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere won it in 2003. But it could happen again this year. Even if the Red Wings, who lead the Penguins 3-2, win the Cup, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin has clearly been the best player in the postseason.Should the Pens lose and Malkin wins the Conn Smythe trophy, he would become just the sixth player and second nongoalie to come from a team that didn't win the Cup. The only nongoalie was the Flyers' Reggie Leach in 1976.
Did you know?
If the NBA Finals goes the full seven games, it will take 15 days to play. That's ridiculous. After all, you can pass only so much time talking about what Kobe Bryant likes for breakfast and watching Dwight Howard do imitations of Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. Actually, I could watch those impressions all day, but you get my drift.
Three things that popped into my head
1. How cool is it that Pete Sampras is off living quietly somewhere and not one of those ex-jocks who feels the need to be in the news or on some stupid reality show just to keep his name alive?
2. If the Rays had a real closer, where do you think they would be in the standings right now?
3. At this moment and at any moment over the next couple of weeks, there’s an 87 percent chance there’s a college baseball game on television. And about a 2 percent chance I will want to watch it.