Shooting from the lip/Oct. 17th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Coverage of the day
Ultimately, this item doesn't mean a hill of beans compared to what happened Sunday at the IndyCar race in Las Vegas. But while hundreds of thousands were sitting at home anxiously awaiting word, ABC missed the official announcement that St. Petersburg resident Dan Wheldon had been killed in a crash.
ABC spent the two hours after the crash trying to stay on top of the news and providing whatever information it could gather. It even sent a reporter to the hospital. But then it inexcusably missed the announcement, joining the news conference of IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard in progress -- after he announced Wheldon's death. He was already sending along prayers to Wheldon's family and announcing the drivers would drive five laps in honor of Wheldon. But at that point, viewers still didn't know Wheldon had actually died.
Later, ABC warned viewers it was going to show replays of the crash then proceeded to show six from different angles. Too many? Too graphic? Whose to say? There is no manual or script to cover a death in a sporting event. It's all so sudden, stunning and tragic. Virtually anything that is said or done can be construed as insensitive even if the intentions are good. Overall, ABC's tone following Wheldon's death was respectful and journalistically sound. Announcers, appropriately, said nothing during the five-lap tribute, then closed the broadcast with a shot of Wheldon drinking milk during his Indy 500 celebration and a photo of Wheldon with the words: Dan Wheldon, 1978-2011.
Worst use of a graphic
Television has fallen in love with in-game graphics, but Sun Sports learned a hard lesson Saturday night about using them at the wrong time. In the third period of the Lightning-Panthers game, the Lightning was down by a goal and won a faceoff in the Panthers zone. Just then, a graphic showing both teams' scoring chances was posted in the bottom left corner of the screen. The problem was the graphic completely covered Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who just happened to have the puck. Bergeron faked a slap shot then fired a wrist shot at the net -- except the viewers never saw any of it. Suddenly, the puck was in the back of the net.
Not counting the shootout, only four goals were scored in the game, and viewers missed one because of an ill-placed and, worse yet, ill-timed graphic.
Jeremy Schaap is doing a bang-up job, as always, filling in as host of ESPN2's Sports Reporters for John Saunders, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a fall. During Sunday's "Parting Shots'' segment, Schaap talked about South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's decision to leave the Gators for the Redskins in 2002.
"Spurrier is a superb coach, but he could've been a (Bear) Bryant or a (Joe) Paterno or a (Tom) Osborne,'' Schaap said. "He could've been an institution at Florida. Instead, he took the money. That was his right. That also was his mistake.''
Spurrier went 12-20 in two seasons with the Redskins and is 50-34 (and only 27-26 in the SEC) in six-plus seasons with the Gamecocks.
Worst self-promotion, Part I
Each week, I keep watching Fox NFL Sunday in hopes it won't make me want to whip my remote at the television. After all, I used to really dig this show. Lately, the crew has fallen in love with their own jokes and laughter. Sunday, it was shameless self-promotion. In the first 15 minutes alone, Sunday’s Fox pregame show:
• Pointed out analyst Terry Bradshaw was the first quarterback to win four Super Bowls.
• Showed an overly produced piece solely to remind viewers Bradshaw correctly picked the Bills to beat the Eagles last week.
• Called Jay Glazer the "NFL's best insider.''
• Reminded viewers analyst Jimmy Johnson wrote a best-selling book … in 1993!
Like I said — shameless.
Worst self-promotion, Part II
Not to be outdone by Fox, CBS's NFL Today also couldn’t let a pregame show go by without pimping its prime-time programming. The show brought in Pittsburgh native Billy Gardell, star of the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, to help make predictions. And the only reason he was there, of course, was to tell people to watch Mike & Molly. How annoying.
Worst game of chicken
Quarterback Carson Palmer remains "retired'' until the Bengals trade him.
"I talked to the Bengals this morning, and they told me they are absolutely not going to trade him,'' Charley Casserly said during CBS's NFL pregame show Sunday. "As far as they're concerned, he's still retired.''
Good for the Bengals. If they dealt Palmer, every disgruntled player would "retire'' and demand a trade.
Over the past few weeks, several readers have called or written in to complain about Fox announcer Joe Buck. Many cite what they believe is Buck's lack of enthusiasm. What many don't realize is Buck is battling a virus that has affected his voice for the past 10 months. Buck risks going hoarse or losing his voice completely if he talks too loudly too quickly. He's almost 100 percent but not quite.
For those who aren’t Buck fans, try this little experiment while watching the World Series. Notice how many times Buck goes quiet just before and right after critical moments. Instead of trying to be the star, Buck allows the game and the players to be the stars. That's the mark of an excellent announcer who understands his role. For my money, Buck is among broadcasting's all-time elite.
Fox baseball analyst Tim McCarver has a penchant for repeating himself, especially when he makes a point that turns out to be true. But I'd rather listen to McCarver make a point twice than an analyst who won't say anything until after a play happens. After all, anyone can second-guess, can't they?
But here's what makes McCarver so good as New York Daily News media critic Bob Raissman noticed during Game 4 of the ALCS. It was the 11th inning, score was tied with a runner on second and one out. The Tigers intentionally walked Adrian Beltre to face Mike Napoli.
"Napoli is the most productive hitter in baseball from July 4 on,'' he said. "That’s why when you combine this with Beltre's bad knee, I'm not sure that (walking Napoli) is the right move.''
McCarver added that Nelson Cruz might get a chance to bat in the inning. Napoli singled in a run to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead, and Cruz followed with a three-run homer.
Three things that popped into my head
1. If you're a Red Sox fan, aren't you incredibly embarrassed at all the finger-pointing and second-guessing going on since the September collapse?
2. Ace pitcher Cliff Lee leaves the Rangers for the Phillies, but it's the Rangers going back to the World Series while the Phillies play golf. Ain't sports funny?
3. Not to kick USF while it's down, but two losses in a row after a promising start … how many times have we seen this movie?