HBO was the big winner Monday night in the 29th Sports Emmy Awards. It took home eight Emmys. Fox was next with five, and ESPN won four. In the big individual awards, CBS's James Brown was named best studio host. Cris Collinsworth of HBO and NBC was named best studio analyst. And NBC's Sunday football team of Al Michaels and John Madden were named top game play-by-play and analyst, respectively. No real complaints with those winners, but my choices would be ESPN GameDay's Chris Fowler (studio host), TNT's Charles Barkley (studio analyst), Fox's Joe Buck (play-by-play) and NBC's Johnny Miller (event analyst).
ESPN polled more than 80,000 fans and came up with its 2008 Ultimate Rankings, which rate every team in the four major North American professional sports leagues. The ranking was based on eight categories, including wins, likability, ticket and concession prices, ownership and so forth.
The Tampa Bay teams did well. Out of the 122 teams, the Lightning came in 36th, the Bucs were 68th and the Rays were 75th.
By the way, the top three teams? The Colts, Spurs and Hornets. The bottom three? The Knicks, Maple Leafs and Lions.
Check it out
Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier is recovering from shoulder surgery. To see an interview with him about his recovery, go to blogs.tampabay.com/lightning.
The hair talks
It will take years before we know which teams had the best 2008 NFL drafts, but early returns are in from the man with the magic charts and magic hair spray. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper weighed in on which teams had the best and worst days.
Kiper's bottom three
Three things that popped into my head
1 If the Twins offered me Delmon Young right now for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, I'd think for about 0.2 seconds and then say, "Okay."
2 Barry Melrose, left, is a heck of a nice guy. But if we're picking someone to coach the Lightning, I'll stick with John Tortorella.
3 Maybe the Bengals' asking price is too steep, but I'd still like to see Chad Johnson wearing ocho cinco for the Bucs.
Oh ye of little faith, why can't the Rays make the playoffs? Rags-to-riches stories in baseball are possible. Here's a look at five teams that went from the bottom of the barrel to the cream of the crop.
1967 Boston Red Sox
From 1964 to 1966, the Bosox lost 90, 100 and 90 games. But in the Impossible Dream season, the Red Sox overcame Tony Conigliaro's beaning and reached the World Series behind Carl Yastrzemski's, above, Triple Crown season.
1969 New York Mets
The Miracle Mets were coming off an 89-loss, last-place season and never had won even 74 games over a season in their history. Led by Tom Seaver, above, they shocked the world by winning 85 games and upsetting heavily favored Baltimore in the World Series.
1987 Minnesota Twins
The Twins went 71-91 in 1986 and finished sixth in their division. But with young guns Kirby Puckett, above, Gary Gaetti and Kent Hrbek, the pesky Twins used the Metrodome to beat the Cardinals in the World Series.
1991 Atlanta Braves
Worst to first? Try worst to dynasty. The Braves finished last in 1990, going 65-97. But behind young pitchers Tom Glavine, above, and John Smoltz, they won 94 and went on a run of 14 consecutive postseason appearances.
1993 Philadelphia Phillies
In 1992, the Phillies lost 90 games and finished 26 games out of first in the NL East. Led by a band of misfits (John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, above), the Phillies won 97 games and reached the World Series.