Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.
Bright House Sports Network makes more changes
Weeks after changing its name to Bright House Sports Network from Catch-47 and expanding into Orlando, the network is planning another major shakeup.
It has canceled most of its half-hour theme shows and will go to an hourlong live show at 6 p.m. weekdays. The new show, called The Lineup, will review each day's sports news and preview what's happening that night. It will be hosted by Tom Buehring and include contributions from its stable of reporters and writers from the St. Petersburg Times. It is expected to debut Feb. 2, the day after the Super Bowl.
The show will originate from the BHSN studio in Pinellas Park and other locations, such as Tropicana Field and the St. Pete Times Forum on nights of Rays and Lightning games.
Among the shows canceled are the football-themed Xtra Point, the BaysBall Show, High School Scoreboard, the hockey-themed Lightning Strikes and the roundtable topic show The Press Box. However, The Press Box and a daily high school report will be incorporated into the new show. (Full disclosure: I hosted The Press Box and will be a regular contributor to The Lineup.) Station manager Paul Kosuth said he believes the half-hour shows were well-produced but some of their topics became quickly dated because the shows were taped.
"This gives a one-hour show that is able to cover stories and breaking news live,'' Kosuth said. "With this new show, there's a buzz and certain urgency, and the opportunity to explore the most current topics that we did not have before because of the inability to be timely because the shows were taped.'' The new show also will include analysis from local sports personalities Fred McGriff, Phil Esposito, Mark Robinson, Mark Royals and Nick Anderson. It will be replayed at 8 p.m. in the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets. The network will continue to air Sports Connection each night at 11. It also will continue to show its USF coaches show, with football's Jim Leavitt in the fall and men's basketball's Stan Heath in the winter.
Bright House Sports Network also announced it will air a Super Bowl show all next week. The show, Bowl by the Bay, will be co-hosted by Rock Riley and Tom Buehring live from 6 to 7 p.m. from the Super Bowl media center at the Tampa Convention Center. The show will consist of interviews with current and former NFL players, celebrities and athletes from other sports. In addition, the nightly 11 p.m. Sports Connection will be broadcast from the convention center Monday through Friday and then move to Raymond James Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.
Your turn Subject: Note from Rocco Baldelli
With all the bad news that is printed each day, what a refreshing surprise to find the half-page message from former Tampa Bay Rays player Rocco Baldelli (left). Too many times we hear negative stories about our sports figures, so to see this farewell from Rocco was a testament to his character and a reminder of why we loved him as an important part of our team. After all he went through with his illness, to watch his comeback was truly special. And to cheer him on during the Rays' run for the World Series title was even more special. There are many reasons Rocco will be missed on the Rays' roster, but I wish him the very best in Boston and will continue to follow his career. Thanks, Rocco, for all you did for the Rays and the Rays' fans.
Renee Johnson, Palmetto
Dungy's new gig
Tony Dungy, right, retired this month as coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and he already has a new job lined up. Well, a temporary one. NBC announced Wednesday that the former Bucs coach has been added to its Super Bowl pregame show, along with Mike Holmgren, who stepped down at Seattle after the regular season, too. "Over the past few years, I've enjoyed getting to know Tony and Mike through numerous production meetings and have been impressed by the way they handled themselves, not only as coaches and communicators but also as men," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and the executive producer for the Super Bowl broadcast. "What I learned is that in addition to their obvious Super Bowl credentials, Mike and Tony share extraordinary storytelling ability. We're excited to have them make their broadcast debuts with us. I'm sure viewers will enjoy their unique perspective and insights as Super Bowl coaches."
Mock draft of the day
SportsIllustrated.com put out one of what will be many NFL mock drafts until the April 25-26 event. It has the Bucs, with the 19th overall pick, taking Darrius Heyward-Bey, a 6-foot-3, 206-pound wide receiver from Maryland. SI.com writes: "The Bucs could use another pass rusher or help in the interior line, so home-state product Everette Brown, an explosive edge rusher from Florida State, could be the choice. But with Joey Galloway's age and Michael Clayton's potential free agency, Tampa Bay could also stand another receiver opposite Antonio Bryant.''
Bubba reaches for the stars
With the Super Bowl coming to Tampa, stars will be rolling into town. Local radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge has lined up some for his morning show, which airs from 6 to 10 on 102.5-FM. Bucs running back Earnest Graham is scheduled to be on this morning. Former NFL star Deion Sanders and boxer and St. Petersburg native Winky Wright are scheduled for Wednesday, followed by former NBA star Dennis Rodman on Jan. 30.
Best Damn Sports Show comes to Tampa's Ybor City
Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show will set up shop in Ybor City next week for the Super Bowl. The show will be taped from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at the Centro Ybor Courtyard at Eighth Street. The tapings are free and open to the public.
Guests lined up include Bucs stars Jeff Garcia and Derrick Brooks, Rays stars Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria, NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, former NFL players Joe Theismann and Michael Strahan, former Bucs star John Lynch and rapper Lil' Wayne.
Three things that popped into my head
1. What kind of sleazeball is Mark McGwire's brother, Jay? He's trying to sell a book proposal by claiming Big Mac used steroids and HGH in his career. Not to condone anything McGwire might have done, but imagine being ratted on by your brother because he wants a few bucks.
2. You think Jon Gruden will take out a half-page ad in the St. Petersburg Times thanking Tampa Bay fans, like Rocco Baldelli did?
3. I never thought I'd write these words, but Jeff Kent, the major-leaguer who retired Thursday, might deserve Hall of Fame consideration. I said only consideration, but he did have more homers as a second baseman than Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.