Shooting from the lip/Sept. 12th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Radio analyst Dave Moore might get paid by the Bucs, but he works for the listeners. He is, easily, the best radio analyst the Bucs have ever had. He isn't a homer. He doesn't play favorites. He calls it like he sees it. Two instances, specifically, during Sunday's Bucs-Lions game showed his willingness to speak his mind.
Late in the third quarter, Moore questioned the Bucs punting on fourth and 1 from their 29 while trailing by two touchdowns. It probably wasn't a smart idea, but Moore at least threw out the possibility of going for it because the Bucs defense seemed to be wiped out.
Then, just before the Bucs were stuffed on fourth and short with eight minutes left, Moore said they looked confused and needed to call a timeout. He predicted before the snap that the play had little chance to succeed. In both cases, right or wrong, he questioned the Bucs and, in a way, coach Raheem Morris. That makes his compliments about Morris and the Bucs more credible.
It has to be frustrating for diehard Bucs fans to have games blacked out, but Moore's honest work helps make game days a bit easier.
This is the fourth consecutive year the men's U.S. Open final will be played on a Monday because of weather. The Open needs to start a day or two earlier or tighten up the first few rounds to leave more room for rain later. The tournament needs to end on a Sunday afternoon when everyone can watch instead of a Monday afternoon when most people are working. And the schedule threw a kink into the weekend's television schedule. The men and women had semifinal matches Saturday, but there wasn't enough time for the four matches to be played one after the other. That meant the Samantha Stosur-Angelique Kerber match was moved to the Grandstand and not televised, while the other three matches, including the Serena Williams-Caroline Wozniacki match, were played inside Arthur Ashe Stadium and televised. There probably wasn't much griping, considering Stosur and Kerber are not household names. But imagine if the other semifinal had been between, say, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. Regardless of the players, it looks bad to have a semifinal of a major not on television.
ESPN has added an hour to Sunday NFL Countdown, which now runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. To make room, Sunday morning staples Outside the Lines and Sports Reporters have been shifted to ESPN2 starting at 10 a.m. Strange, however, that the main feature on Outside the Lines was about Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. Why run an NFL story on ESPN2 when you’re kicking off your signature NFL show at the same time on ESPN?
Best new voice
There are certain athletes you have to stop and watch when they come on television. Broadcasters are like that, too. Add ESPN's Bill Parcells to that list. You never know what he might say, but it's going to be brutally honest, informative and entertaining. His strongest moments Sunday morning came when he said the Bengals should not trade disgruntled QB Carson Palmer.
"You can't let players shoot their way out of any place,'' Parcells said.
When reporter Chris Mortensen jumped in to ask Parcells about the time he traded unhappy WR Keyshawn Johnson to the Bucs, Parcells reacted angrily, saying he didn't let Johnson "shoot his way'' out of New York. We were a half-second away from sensational TV, but the segment was cut short, unnecessarily so because the program was three hours long, for goodness' sake.
Most emotional moment
Most sporting events over the weekend handled the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with respectful dignity. Same goes for the NFL shows. The most touching segment was listening to NFL Network's Steve Mariucci talk about his 9/11 experience during NFL GameDay Morning. Mariucci was coaching the 49ers in 2001 and played the Jets in the Jets' first game in New York after 9/11. There was footage of Mariucci's postgame speech after the 49ers beat the Jets, when Mariucci dedicated game balls to then-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as well as firefighters and police officers. A tearful Mariucci described that day and likely had some viewers reaching for tissues. It might have been his finest moment as a broadcaster.
Great work by CBS in Sunday's U.S. Open women's final during the controversy at the start of the second set when Serena Williams was docked a point (and lost a game) for yelling during a rally. CBS quickly dialed up the replays, with very clear audio, of Williams sniping at the chair umpire. Within moments, reporter Mary Joe Fernandez passed along the rule that proved the chair umpire was correct in docking Williams a point. Of course, none of this is a surprise. CBS covers the U.S. Open about as well as any network covers any event. It helps to have Mary Carillo and John McEnroe in the booth. The only bad part of CBS's U.S. Open coverage is this is the final one for legendary announcer Dick Enberg.
This is the kind of thing that drives viewers crazy. Just before a commercial break on ESPN's NFL Countdown Sunday, reporter Adam Schefter teased viewers to stick around and hear which NFL teams contacted Brett Favre in the offseason. Then, when the show returned, viewers learned that no team contacted Favre in the offseason.
Speaking about Peyton Manning's neck injury, Fox NFL Sunday analyst Terry Bradshaw said Manning must be honest with the Colts about his health going forward. Bradshaw then relayed how he wasn't up front with the Steelers when he injured his elbow near the end of his playing career.
"Had I been truthful with the Steelers, you know what?'' Bradshaw said. "They would have drafted Dan Marino. Can you imagine Marino in Pittsburgh right after me? Pretty amazing.''
Best pregame show
CBS’s NFL Today had a strong season debut Sunday. The crew members cut out their usual yuck-fest and got down to the business of football. It made for a solid hour. Even Shannon Sharpe came through, delivering the best line of the weekend: "How many coaches is (49ers QB) Alex Smith going to get fired before they realize he can't play quarterback.''
Instead, it was the Fox crew that did a little too much clowning around Sunday. Normally, I'm a big fan of Howie Long, but there are times when he just starts talking and goofing with one of his partners when one of the other analysts is talking. He did it Sunday and completely talked over rules expert Mike Pereira. It's maddening for viewers, especially because Long is so good otherwise.
Three things that popped into my head
1. FSU and Florida are 2-0, and I have no idea if either one is any good.
2. Notre Dame might not be any good, but its games are sure fun to watch.
3. I'll admit it, even a week ago, I thought the Rays had no chance at getting back in the AL wild-card race.