Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Maybe it was because the weather turned the weekend inside out. Maybe it was because a couple of unknowns sat atop the leaderboard. Maybe it was because Tiger Woods couldn't put together a run to get into contention. Maybe it was just overkill, with so much golf that it felt like a telethon. Maybe it was all those things, but something seemed to be missing from NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open. Watching it seemed like an exercise in stamina. It was more to be endured than enjoyed.
When rain plays havoc with a tournament and sets up marathon days of golf, a network has a choice: It can either go wall-to-wall with nothing but golf shots, or it can break up the monotony by sliding in a feature now and then. NBC chose to show golf, and it's hard to argue with that choice. The network, after all, is there to cover the golf. But it became monotonous: the same golfers hitting the same shots with the same voices droning on and on and on. It all blurred together. NBC did nothing to mix it up. Bob Costas, the best TV sports personality in the business, seemingly went hours without being on the air. When there was a break Sunday evening between the end of the third round and start of the fourth, what did NBC do? It showed a replay of the end of last year's fourth round, which meant more golfers hitting more shots with the same voices talking about it.
Granted, NBC was in a tough spot because of the weather, and the network generally broadcasts sporting events as well as anyone. But it got to the point where I couldn't wait for the darn thing to be over.
Outside of the analysis of Johnny Miller and Dottie Pepper, the best thing about NBC's golf coverage is Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte. Problem is, NBC rarely puts him on the air, and it was a crime that he got less air time over the weekend than Al Roker, for crying out loud. (A quick aside: Miller, it seemed, was better at predicting weather than Roker the weatherman.) Rosaforte came on Saturday with host Bob Costas and quickly informed viewers on leaders Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover, who aren't exactly household names. He told viewers Barnes is the son of a former New England Patriots punter and how Glover almost quit golf because he was so disgusted with his game. Rosaforte also talked about how Mike Weir, who was in third place at the time, plays well in soggy conditions. He came back Sunday with more on Glover and resurgent David Duval. It was good information, and NBC needs to tap more into that resource.
Wimbledon is a lot less exciting now that defending champion Rafael Nadal is out because of a knee injury. If Roger Federer is going to break Pete Sampras' record of major singles championships at this event, he won't do it vs. his rival. It's hard to imagine anyone else stopping Federer on grass, and Federer beating anyone other than Nadal for his 15th major title doesn't seem right. The women's side also offers some concern. The Williams sisters can't meet until the final, and you get the feeling Venus and Serena flip a coin in the locker room before they play to see who will win.
Count Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan among those shocked by Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth receiving as part of his punishment only a 30-day jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter. "Thirty days does not hit the ear well,''’ Ryan said on ESPN's Sports Reporters on Sunday. "People need to hear 'year' involved when a life is the issue. … The mention of the word 'days' in conjunction with a homicide is upsetting. Is not a life worth at least a year?''
This isn't meant as criticism of Todd Kalas, but how in the world can the Rays have two TV color analysts and neither were at Sunday's game against the Mets? Kalas, a good man and broadcaster, did a respectable job filling in for Kevin Kennedy and Brian Anderson. But it's irritating enough that the Rays don't have just one analyst, then Sunday they had to dip into the bullpen for a No. 3 guy. Next season the Rays need to go with one, and only one, analyst because two -- or three -- isn't working. The Rays need to pick one, offer that analyst the full schedule of 150 or so games, and if the guy can't do it, move on to the next person on the list.
When the Rays' Ben Zobrist came up to bat against the Mets in the top of the ninth of Saturday's Fox game of the week, analyst Tim McCarver said, "Ben Zobrist has one thing on his mind right now with two out and nobody on, and that's to pop one.''
Three pitches later, Zobrist popped one into the rightfield seats, and McCarver joined the Zobrist-for-All-Star-Game bandwagon. "(Manager) Joe Maddon said how can you argue with this guy being on the All-Star team. And when you think about it, you can't.''
One of the more irritating things about Monday Night Football a couple of years ago was ESPN bringing guests into the booth. Those guests usually were promoting some show on ESPN's partner network, ABC. When Fox did something similar Saturday, it was no less annoying. During the Rays-Mets game of the week, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, who threw out the first pitch, sat in the booth for a half-inning to talk about the Mets, the Packers and Brett Favre. Television had plenty of wasted moments over the weekend, but none more so than listening to Van Susteren pine over Favre and give what seemed like a half-hour speech on which team she would root for if the Packers played a Vikings team with Favre. And at the end of her dissertation, she didn't even pick which team she would cheer for. Hey, I don't blame Susteren, I just don't want her or Bill O'Reilly or Jon Stewart on the Game of the Week.
Best of the weekend
1. Game coverage: ABC at the Iowa Corn Indy 250, including a top-notch prerace feature about the possible problems between Andretti Green Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti.
2. Feature: ESPN's touching, tear-jerking Father's Day piece about Aaron Stewart, whose father, Payne Stewart, won the U.S. Open 10 years ago and was killed in a plane accident four months later. Aaron, now 20, plays at golf at SMU.
3. Event to watch: NASCAR's SaveMart 350 on TNT. How cool was it to watch the good ol' boys racing on a nonoval track?