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Shooting from the lip/Sep. 2nd edition



The latest from the world of televised sports ...

sports.jpgShow of the day
Sports television's $64,000 question these days is will anybody ever be able to give ESPN real competition as the dominant network?

The short answer is probably not. ESPN has too big of a lead. But it is interesting to see what's going on with Versus and NBC since NBC's merger with Comcast. Versus is adding a live weeknight studio show starting Sept. 8. NBC SportsTalk will air weekdays from 6 to 7 p.m. The show on Monday and Friday will concentrate heavily on the NFL. Versus also is launching a sports business show on Friday hosted by CNBC’s Darren Rovell.

Starting Jan. 2, Versus will be renamed the NBC Sports Network. For the past few months, NBC/Versus gave the impression it could not overtake ESPN, but the addition of the nightly programs shows NBC is testing the waters at becoming a true rival.

azinger.Look who's talking
Last week, 1993 PGA Championship winner and ESPN golf analyst Paul Azinger decided to take a shot at President Barack Obama.
On Twitter, Azinger wrote, "Facts: Potus has played more golf this month than I have: I have created more jobs this month than he has: #Marthasvineyard.’''

The next day, ESPN reminded Azinger that tweets such as that violate its new social media policy. An ESPN spokesman told USA Today, "Paul's tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field.''

By the way, a golfer -- a golfer! -- is cracking on somebody about their work ethic. Really?

buck.Voice of the day
If you watch plenty of baseball and football on Fox, you've likely noticed that lead play-by-play announcer Joe Buck hasn't sounded like himself for the past several months. Since February, Buck has been battling a virus that has attacked a nerve in one of his vocal cords. His voice strains when he talks too loudly or quickly. He hopes to be 100 percent again, but it’s going to take a while.

"People say just rest your voice and don't talk, but that doesn't do anything,'' Buck told the New York Times. "This is a nerve issue. It's not like I have polyps or a strained vocal cord. I'm waiting for one of the longest nerves in the body to recover. Nobody has said this is something that won't come back, but they told me it could take six, nine or 12 months.''

Media tidbits
The PGA Tour announced new nine-year agreements with CBS and NBC on Thursday, keeping the tour on those networks through the 2021 season. CBS will continue to average 20 tournaments a year; NBC will continue to average 10 a year. The new deal, for which financial details were not disclosed, also allows simulcast coverage on,, and The deal is the longest network deal in golf history.

ryan.jpg* Sam Ryan has joined the MLB Network as a studio host and reporter. Previously, she has contributed to CBS's coverage of the NFL and the NCAA basketball tournament, and worked the sidelines for ABC/ESPN. Ryan makes her MLB Network debut Tuesday, when Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his return to the majors.

* Writer and reporter Bruce Feldman has left ESPN for CBS to cover college football. Feldman spent 17 years at ESPN but recently had a falling out with it after co-writing a book with former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach, who is suing ESPN. There was more controversy over whether Feldman was suspended by ESPN after Leach filed the lawsuit. Either way, Feldman said Thursday he no longer has faith in the management at ESPN and took some serious parting shots on his way out the door. He starts with CBS Sports and immediately. Here's a good piece on this whole subject by Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch.

* LPGA star Paula Creamer has joined Golf Digest as a playing editor. She will provide tips and articles for the magazine and website, including a regular column titled "Paula Tips'' for Golf Digest Woman.

* Former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen has joined Fox's college football studio team along with Kevin Frazier, co-anchor of the tabloid show The Insider.

ebersol.* Former NBC Sports chair Dick Ebersol, who resigned in May, is returning to NBC Sports as a senior adviser to Mark Lazarus, the new head of NBC Sports. Ebersol will help out with Sunday Night Football and the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Ebersol’s speciality over his career has been Olympic coverage. Today show producer Jim Bell has been named executive producer of NBC's Olympic coverage, but look for Ebersol to be heavily involved behind the scenes. As NBC has said, that also likely means viewers should not expect much of a difference from past Olympic coverage on the network. And that’s not a bad thing. NBC's Olympic coverage always has been first-rate.

Analysis of the day
Fox NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson sees the NFC South as a two-team race this season, and the Bucs aren't one of those two teams. Speaking to reporters on a national conference call this week, Johnson said, "The division is so competitive. The Saints and the Falcons both will be extremely strong. … It's a two-team race in the NFC South, as far as I'm concerned.''

Three things that popped into my head
1. Maybe if Desmond Jennings had been called up by the Rays back in May or June, he would not have been ready to tear it up like he has. But, gee, it makes you wonder if a callup in May or June would have been worth seven or eight games in the standings for the Rays.
2. Here here to the suggestion by Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski to cut the major-league baseball season to 154 games. That would allow for more playoff teams, but better yet, it would eliminate the sticky subject of whether to count the (alleged) steroid-inflated homer record of Barry Bonds. By going back to 154 games, the season homer record would once again be Babe Ruth's 60 in 1927.
3. You know, if you look at Florida State's football schedule, if it can beat Oklahoma on Sept. 17 to start 3-0, it might be a favorite to get to the national title game. There aren't a whole lot of potholes after Oklahoma.


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