Tiger's absence means dark days for PGA
Shooting from the Lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Biggest elephant in the room
A half-hour into its Saturday broadcast of the Travelers Championship, CBS dedicated about 10 minutes to the stunning news that Tiger Woods will miss the rest of the year with knee surgery. CBS didn't look back at what already has happened but smartly looked forward to what this all could mean to the PGA Tour and to Woods himself.
But you don't need 10 minutes to know what this means for the tour: It's disastrous. Golf addicts will continue to watch, but the casual fan won't. TV ratings prove that. And whose fault is that? The networks and the PGA Tour. They have only themselves to blame. True, no other golfers have stood up to seriously challenge Woods, but it's not as if Woods wins every time he plays. Still, when Tiger plays, it's all Tiger all the time. The networks show his every shot, his every walk up the fairway, his every move, often at the expense of other golfers. When you put all your eggs in Tiger's basket, you shouldn't be surprised that few care when Tiger isn't around. Now it's too late to sell the fans on other talented and charismatic golfers. Want an example? Rocco Mediate is 45 years old and has been on the tour for 22 years, and it was only last week that we learned how great of a guy he is.
This is going to be a long year for the PGA Tour.
Speaking of Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, the Detroit Free Press' Mitch Albom made a point that needed to be made on Sunday’s Sports Reporters on ESPN: "The one thing I worry about with this injury thing with Tiger is that you diminish what Rocco Mediate did. This was an amazing thing, and I don't think Rocco Mediate deserves to be remembered as, 'Oh, well, if Tiger were healthy, he would've blown you out of the water.' ''
Anyone who regularly reads this blog or my newspaper column knows I'm a big fan of Rays TV announcers Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane. I would rank them among the best in all of baseball, and Rays games (even when the Rays were really bad) have always been entertaining to watch because of those two. The Rays' success this season has been even more enjoyable because of how Staats and Magrane call a game. I wouldn't trade them for any other crew in baseball.
But having said all that, recently the two have fallen into the bad habit of jumping on umpires, especially regarding balls and strikes. Now and then is fine, and granted, based on replays, the two usually are right. Still, too much bellyaching starts to wear on the viewer. And while calls might be missed, it doesn't appear as if the Rays alone are getting a raw deal by umpires. Bad umpiring usually goes both ways. Wednesday against the Cubs, the two ripped into home-plate ump Kerwin Danley for not ringing up a Cubs batter then the very next half inning completely ignored it when Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano raised a stink on the mound for not getting two close pitches to go his way. By complaining as vigorously as Staats and Magrane have in recent weeks, they come off a bit whiny, and both of them are too good to ever be thought of that way.
Biggest rip job
Fox baseball pregame analyst Kevin Kennedy earned his paycheck Saturday, laying into new Mets manager Jerry Manuel. Essentially, Kennedy said Manuel didn't have the back of fired manager Willie Randolph. He pointed to Manuel, who was Randolph's bench coach, talking about the things he would've done differently and would do differently now that he has taken over. As far as Manuel's grand plans, Kennedy said, "What good does that do Willie Randolph now? … Jerry Manuel didn't handle it the right way.''
Shilling for Schilling
During Saturday's baseball Game of the Week on Fox, announcer Thom Brennaman had some powerful words regarding Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is out for the season with shoulder surgery and might retire.
"I've never seen a more fearless performer in any sport in my life,'' Brennaman said, "than Curt Schilling was in that 2001 year.''
That's the season Schilling went 22-6 in the regular season for the Diamondbacks then pitched six postseason games, going 4-0 while allowing six earned runs in 481/3 innings. So is Schilling a Hall of Famer? Well, consider this: Schilling won only 216 regular-season games with a 3.46 ERA. Bert Blyleven is not in the Hall and he won 287 games with a 3.31 ERA. Orel Hershiser won 204 games with a 3.48 ERA, and he's not in the Hall, either. Schilling's postseason numbers might push him over the top. He went 11-2 with a 2.23 in the postseason and won three championships. Still, Blyleven went 5-1 in the postseason with a 2.47 ERA and has two rings. Hershiser was 8-3 in the postseason with a 2.59 ERA and pretty much single-handedly willed the Dodgers to the 1988 World Series title, winning the NLCS and World Series MVPs.
One more thought when you're comparing postseason numbers: Schilling had the benefit of an extra round in the playoffs, something Blyleven and Hershiser never had. Throw out Schilling's first-round playoff numbers and he was 7-2 in the postseason. In fact, if it weren't for the wild card, the 2004 Red Sox might not have even made the playoffs -- and the whole bloody sock game wouldn't have happened.
This isn't as much an argument against Schilling as it is for Blyleven and Hershiser. If one gets in, all three should get in.
Just pointing it out: Two more horses were euthanized after being injured Saturday at Churchill Downs. But, don't worry, fans assure us there's nothing wrong with horse racing.
Favorite analysts of the weekend
Andy Gray: ESPN soccer announcer makes Euro 2008 worth watching. I could listen to him reading a phone book and be entertained.
Bela Karolyi: Not slick or stylish, but refreshingly candid and himself analyzing women's gymnastics on NBC Sunday night.
Ian Baker-Finch: CBS golf analyst doesn't rely on shtick or gimmicks. He just calls what he sees, and that's good enough.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Why did Willie Randolph lose his job as Mets manager? Partly because the Mets payroll is loaded with supposed stars who aren't really stars. Carlos Beltran might be the most overrated so-called "superstar'' in baseball. Bottom line is the Mets just aren't as good as the Mets think they are.
2. Watch out for the Yankees. They play 23 of their next 35 at Yankee Stadium, and of their 12 road games, nine are against the Pirates, Mets and Blue Jays.
3. Dang, that Rays' loss Sunday hurt. Losing two of three to the Astros took some zip out of sweeping the Cubs, didn't it?