Shooting from the lip

Staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

Worst sports days of the year

The great thing about sports is they are 24/7. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Every day can be a sports day. But not every day is a good sports day. There are a few clunkers in the sports calendar. Today tops the list. Here's a look at the five worst sports days of the year.

Day after baseball's All-Star Game

That's today. There's no baseball to watch other than the Triple-A All-Star Game, which is fun to watch for about 45 seconds. During the sports year, typically there are only three days when there isn't a game in one of the four major North American sports — Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL. Today is one and that leads us to the next two worst days on the list.

Day before baseball's All-Star Game

Well there are no baseball games, so that makes it a boring day. But then baseball takes it an extra step and actually makes it annoying with the home run derby. Can we just put an end to that thing? Aside from being boring, ESPN's broadcast with Chris Berman yelling "back, back, back, back'' has grown tiresome. Suggestion: add new skill contests, such as fastest runner, most accurate throwing arm, best bunter. But it would still be a bad day in sports.

Christmas Eve

This is the third day with no live games except for maybe some second-tier college bowl game. The NHL shuts down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The NBA usually has a marquee game on Christmas Day, but nothing on Christmas Eve. But we're not complaining. Christmas Eve is meant for family and, of course, TBS's 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

Day after the Super Bowl

Only one group of people enjoy the day after the Super Bowl and that's the fans of the team who won the Super Bowl the day before. This year, that was Steelers fans, who could spend Monday soaking in every highlight show, newspaper and internet story and maybe even their DVR replay of the game. Everyone else goes into a deep depression knowing that the six-month hibernation until training camp started.

Day pitchers and catchers report

Somehow the phrase "pitchers and catchers report'' has become magical for baseball fans. But why? Okay, it means the official start of the baseball season, but it's all just one big tease because there's nothing to see. Just a bunch of guys playing catch. Football is over. The NBA and NHL are in the dog days of their seasons. Pitchers and catchers reporting really are just a reminder that we still are a couple of weeks from the first day of spring training when the scrubs play most of the game.

Keck to leave Ch. 28

Veteran bay area sports anchor Al Keck will not have his contract renewed by WFTS-Ch. 28 when it expires later this summer. Keck said his last day will be sometime around Sept. 1.

"And now I'll look at other opportunities,'' Keck said. "I've got some exciting possibilities.''

Keck said he is mulling over possibilities locally and outside the area both in broadcasting and outside of broadcasting. He added he has one intriguing possibility, but wasn't prepared to talk about it because it's in the early stages.

Essentially, it sounds like it came down to an economic decision, not Keck's work. Many local sports stations throughout the country are parting ways with high-salary employees, particularly in sports when segments have been trimmed to only a few minutes during the 6 and 11 p.m. broadcasts.

Rich Pegram, Ch. 28's general manager, said, "As we all are in this industry during these times, we are re-examining the best way to cover all the stories that we need to cover. Sports is still an integral part of what we do and we know people care about sports. But we are re-examining our future and we felt it was best to let Al know as early as possible about this. He is the consummate professional and we wish him nothing but the best.''

Pegram said no decision has been made about a replacement or even if the station would replace Keck. With Keck's departure, Tom Korun would be the only full-time on-air sports anchor.

"We're still deciding how best to go forward,'' Pegram said. "Right now, any and all options are possible.''

Keck, 54, was an anchor at WTSP-Ch. 10 for more than 12 years when his contract was not renewed in 2001. He joined Ch. 28 later that year.

Batting stance guy

Gar Ryness is our new hero.

The 36-year-old married father of two from Los Angeles has turned into an Internet sensation by doing something that all baseball fans used to do as kids. He imitates batting stances of major-league players and has earned the nickname, "the batting stance guy.'' It all started when a friend videotaped him in the backyard before one of their Wiffle Ball games.

He calls it "the least marketable skill in America,'' but that's not true. Not only has Ryness, who works for a nonprofit Christian organization as a spiritual adviser for people in the entertainment industry, blown up on the YouTube and his own Web site (battingstanceguy.com), but he appeared Monday with David Letterman.

"Most kids imitate their favorite players,'' Ryness said on The Late Show. "So ideally I would have grown out of it by now."

Letterman allowed the segment to run for more than nine minutes as Ryness imitated such stances as Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Pete Rose, Rod Carew, Willie Stargell and Kevin Youkilis. On his Web site, Ryness imitates stances past and present from all major-league teams, including the Rays and a hysterical recreation of the time Gerald Williams was hit by a pitch and charged the mound.

Now comes word that he will be featured on the 19 regional baseball networks, including Rays television, for the rest of the season.

Starting Friday, FSN and Sun Sports will start airing "Guess the Stance" segments within our Rays telecasts.

Number of the day

83 The percentage of 380 major-league players, according to Sports Illustrated, who would rather see homefield advantage in the World Series determined by the regular-season record as opposed to which league wins the All-Star Game.

Three things that popped into my head

1. I know Evan Longoria's latest health issue (infected finger) is a fluky thing as was his fractured wrist last season, but doesn't it seem like he has a lot of health issues for a 23-year-old kid?

2. Best news of the day Tuesday was that tennis player Rafael Nadal plans to return to action Aug. 10 in Montreal and, hopefully, will be ready to go for the U.S. Open and a showdown with Roger Federer.

3. Anyone else miss the days when Bill Davidson owned the Lightning?

Shooting from the lip 07/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 7:41am]

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