Shooting from the lip/Sept. 19th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
During Saturday's Rays-Red Sox game on Fox, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria was ahead 1-and-0 in the first inning when analyst Tim McCarver said he would be surprised if Longoria got anything to hit. Boston's Jon Lester then followed with two consecutive strikes.
"Ha,'' McCarver said, "that's crack analysis.''
It actually was refreshing to hear McCarver poke fun at himself. Lots of folks seem to have it in for McCarver, but I'm not one of them. Sure, he can be a little hokey at times, and he might, occasionally, beat a point to death. But overall, he's more solid than most.
Worst first 10 minutes
Sometime during the offseason, CBS and Fox must have gotten together and decided to trade NFL pregame show philosophies. CBS analysts used to spend most of the hour laughing hysterically over things that weren't funny. Now it's the Fox NFL Sunday show that has turned into a bad Dean Martin roast. The first 10 minutes of Sunday's show were unwatchable because of all the horsing around.
And, oh, opening with the Simon Cowell voice-over talking about NFL players having the "X Factor'' was the type of shameless self-promotion that would get ESPN killed -- and for good reason.
The Rays got some airtime on ESPN's Sports Reporters on Sunday morning.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell said, "If I'm the Yankees, I want no part of the Tampa Bay Rays (in the playoffs).''
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica chimed in: "Nobody does. … The best pitching staff this side of the Phillies.''
Fox NFL Sunday’s Jay Glazer reported that before Peyton Manning's recent neck surgery, the Colts QB traveled to Europe for stem-cell therapy not approved in the United States, all in an effort to get back on the field as soon as possible. Who knows how Glazer digs up these things, but he usually has something once a week that no one else has.
Most missing guest
ESPN's Outside the Lines produced a compelling piece on how former Gators QB Tim Tebow has become one of the most polarizing athletes in this country. Give the show credit for showing one of its own -- Merril Hoge -- ripping into Tebow during the piece. But the panel discussion after the piece featured two newspaper columnists and ESPN yapping dog Skip Bayless. Why not have Hoge on the panel, seeing how critical he has been of Tebow?
Three things I liked about Sunday's Bucs-Vikings broadcast on Fox
1. Former Bucs safety John Lynch is well on his way to being a top-notch NFL analyst. He's prepared, concise and intelligent. And he's learning to become more critical.
2. Hiring rules expert Mike Pereira full time before last season continues to be a brilliant move by Fox. He can jump into any game when necessary, and he was smartly brought in Sunday to explain why the Bucs were penalized for an illegal shift that wiped out a Josh Freeman touchdown pass to Mike Williams.
3. The Bucs fell behind 17-0 in the first half, prompting Fox's Howie Long to blurt out: "Where's the running game? Where's LeGarrette Blount?'' Long was right. Blount had five carries for 4 yards in the first half. He had eight carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco tweeted last week that he was in awe of the offense, even though he caught one pass for 14 yards. For some reason, ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, a former Pats linebacker, didn't like what Ochocinco wrote and ripped him. For starters, Bruschi needs to remember that he works for ESPN, not the Patriots. His odd and bitter reaction brings into question his credibility when he speaks about the Patriots. Meanwhile, on the NFL Network's GameDay Morning show, analyst Michael Irvin said, "There's nothing wrong with (Ochocinco) saying that. I got a problem with Bruschi saying all of that. And if it was still 'The Patriot Way,' Chad wouldn't be there. The Patriot Way is dead.''
Better yet, Sports Reporters host Jeremy Schaap, filling in for John Saunders, criticized Bruschi's comments, which was refreshing because Sports Reporters is an ESPN show.
Good stuff on TV over the weekend
* Chip Carter's Tailgate Sunday Bucs pregame show on Ch. 13 is surprisingly detailed and entertaining for a locally produced show, and analyst Jorge Diaz, a former Bucs tackle from the late 1990s, is really good.
* It’s so cool that 1010-AM radio host J.P. Peterson brought on 620-AM's Steve Duemig for his Sunday morning TV show, Tampa Bay Sports Central With JP, when you consider the two go head to head during the week on the radio. But it's a smart move because their conversations are always enjoyable.
* The Rays games are getting more important, and announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson are getting better and better. Both had a great weekend, and this week's series in New York should be must-see TV.
It was nice to see Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson return to the airwaves Saturday with the Florida-Tennessee game on CBS. In my book, Danielson ranks second among college football game analysts, behind ABC's Kirk Herbstreit and just a notch ahead of ESPN's Todd Blackledge. Danielson's best line Saturday: "Florida couldn't snap the ball to its quarterback last year. It was a mess. They know what they're doing now.''
The best exchange during Saturday’s pay-per-view boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz might not have been between Mayweather and Ortiz but between Mayweather and HBO's analyst Larry Merchant. After Mayweather's controversial fourth-round knockout of Ortiz, Mayweather refused to be interviewed by Merchant.
"You don't never give me a fair shake,'' he said. "So I'm going to let you talk to Victor Ortiz, all right? I'm through. Put somebody else up here to give me an interview. HBO needs to fire you because you don't know (expletive) about boxing. You ain't (expletive).''
The 80-year-old Merchant responded by saying, "I wish I was 50 years younger and I would kick your (expletive).'' Merchant later admitted that he probably couldn't have beaten Mayweather 50 years ago, but he would've tried. Attaboy, Larry. Isn't that great? Only in boxing.
On the NFL Network's GameDay Morning pregame show, analyst Kurt Warner predicted the Chiefs would give up 40 points to the Lions, a team that had scored 40 only once in its previous 57 games. Final score: Lions, 48-3.
Three things that popped into my head
1. No matter how it ends, the Rays will be playing meaningful games in late September. Really, what more can you ask for?
2. Florida State might not be ready to compete for a national title, but the Seminoles showed Saturday night that they are a heck of a lot closer than they were two years ago.
3. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tied Trevor Hoffman's MLB record with his 601st save over the weekend -- which makes you realize just how good and underappreciated Hoffman was in his 18-year career.