Shooting from the lip/Oct. 18th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
The Bucs have been blacked out three times this regular season, but Sunday was the first time the blackout was truly disappointing.
Going into the opener against the Browns, not much was really expected from the Bucs, so perhaps fans didn't feel as if they were missing much. The second blackout against the Steelers also probably didn't hurt because most who follow the NFL probably figured the Bucs would have trouble hanging in there against Pittsburgh. But, after last week's impressive and unexpected victory at Cincinnati, the Bucs were 3-1 and maybe, for the first time, an intriguing team to follow.
See, my theory is that black-out games don't sting the fans as much as the NFL likes to think. People like to watch their hometown teams, but if the game isn't on, they will find something else to do -- watch another game, go outside, whatever. They aren't going to just sit in a dark room and pout over what they are missing. Sunday, however, might have been the only time that the majority of Bucs fans who couldn't go to the game thought, "Dang, I wish the Bucs were on.'' Sadly, after a 31-6 loss to the Saints, fans won't be thinking that next Sunday when the Bucs-Rams game will be blacked out.
Several plays before Gators backup kicker Chas Henry missed a 42-yard field goal with four seconds left in Florida's 10-7 loss to Mississippi State, ESPNU showed a replay of Henry missing an earlier field goal by hooking it -- wide left. Analyst Chris Spielman pointed out that it's not uncommon for a kicker to overcompensate on his next kick and "push'' it -- meaning miss it wide right. Sure enough, Spielman was right on the money as Henry pushed what would have been the tying kick.
Do you think CBS would be okay with Katie Couric doing a commercial with Barack Obama or Sarah Palin or John McCain? So why then is it okay that lead CBS NFL announcer Jim Nantz can do commercials with someone he covers -- Colts quarterback Peyton Manning? Another new Sony ad popped up over the weekend featuring the two. I wrote about this exact same topic a year ago, and Nantz went on Don Imus' radio show in New York and said, "I could care less'' about the criticism. Nantz is too good of a broadcaster to even appear as if he has a conflict of interest, and making money by doing a commercial with someone you cover is a blatant conflict of interest.
I've always preferred Fox's baseball coverage to TBS's, but it’s starting to swing the other way because of two men: analysts Ron Darling, and John Smoltz. With their work in this year's playoffs, they are starting to establish themselves as the best baseball analysts on TV. They look forward more than they look back and give viewers something to watch for -- something that usually ends up happening. Their pitching knowledge is unmatched, they work well together -- often setting each other up and playing off one another -- and are always teaching the audience without talking over our heads. Play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson is still feeling his way as a baseball play-by-play guy, and sideline guy Craig Sager has become an interruption to the broadcast, but TBS's coverage is a pleasure because of Darling and Smoltz.
CBS's Bill Cowher was all business and asked the tough, pertinent questions of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the NFL Today pregame show. Cowher pressed Roethlisberger on the allegations that he forced himself on women, whether he had any regrets, what lessons he learned, and what he thought of the remarks made by former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who has been highly critical of Roethisberger. Roethlisberger still denied he did anything wrong, but he did show a little contrition. But the star of the interview was Cowher, who coached Roethlisberger with the Steelers. It was Cowher's finest hour as a broadcaster.
Will ESPN Sunday Night Baseball announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan return next season? They have been together 21 seasons and are calling the postseason on ESPN Radio, but New York Daily News sports media writer Bob Raissman points out that neither has been signed for next season. That's a tad odd, although it doesn't mean they are out. Personally, it wouldn't break my heart if ESPN decided to shake up the Sunday night booth.
The NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora had a couple of eye-openers during Sunday's NFL GameDay Morning pregame show. First, he threw former Bucs coach Jon Gruden’s name out as the next coach in Cleveland.
"Mike Holmgren, who runs that organization, has ties to Gruden,'' LaCanfora said. "They share an agent, there has been a sense in league circles for a while now that if Gruden wants to come out of the booth, he is going to want to make upwards of $10 million a year and that Cleveland is going to be one of the destinations to look at. Gruden to the Bay Area is one to look at as well.’''
When he said "Bay Area,'' he didn’t mean Tampa Bay, he meant San Francisco. Meantime, LaCanfora also reported that the Steelers approached the Rams before the season about trading quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and draft picks for the Rams' No. 1 pick, which the Steelers would have used to draft quarterback Sam Bradford.
An interesting rumor came up during the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast Saturday. Concerned about the number shootouts, the NHL might consider a new overtime format: an eight-minute, sudden-death overtime with the first four minutes played with four skaters on each side, then, if no one has scored, a four-minute overtime with three skaters each. If no one scores, then there would be a shootout. The new format would definitely cut down on the number of shootouts and certainly would be a blast to watch.
Three things that popped into my head
1. After the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, the Lightning's Steven Stamkos is the best pure goal scorer in the NHL.
2. Didn't it seem unfair that the Rangers-Yankees had to play Friday night, then again Saturday afternoon, while the Giants-Phillies didn't start until Saturday night? The ALCS should have been the night game Saturday.
3. For the first time in years, this season's Florida State-Florida game looks like it might be fun to watch.