Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Best, worst of weekend TV

Worst news

A lot of people rejoiced last week when baseball analyst Tim McCarver announced he would retire from Fox after this season. I was not among them. I like McCarver's work. His analysis is insightful and honest. He isn't afraid to criticize or question anyone, but he does it in a way that isn't disrespectful to the participants or the game.

He's a little long-winded for some and isn't bashful about pointing out when he's right. But he's a good man and a heck of a broadcaster. His retirement will be the end of an era. He has worked 28 consecutive postseasons and called a record 23 World Series on network television.

McCarver, 71, said it was "time to cut back,'' though he is neither tired of broadcasting nor has lost interest in baseball. It makes you wonder if it was entirely his decision to walk away. I hope that wasn't the case. He deserves better than that.

Fox announcer Joe Buck, McCarver's on-air partner for 17 years, said, "What he has meant to me goes beyond professional. I've said it before: I don't want to do these games with anyone but Tim."

Hmm. Does that mean Buck, who also is Fox's No. 1 NFL voice, could walk away from baseball after this season? That's hard to imagine, but don't be surprised if he does.

Who might replace McCarver? Fox has Eric Karros in its stable. He isn't bad. And Ron Darling, who works for TBS, has come up. He would be a great fit.

Worst shot

I had a bit of an issue with some scrub coming off the Michigan bench and firing up a 3-pointer with the Wolverines up by more than 20 points with less than two minutes left against Florida in the NCAA Tournament South Region final Sunday. I also had an issue with the Michigan bench going wild when the shot was swished.

CBS analyst Steve Kerr said he knew people might think Michigan was pouring it on but didn't have a problem with the bench-warmer taking the shot, saying, "Let it fly. Have a little fun out there.'' I'm not a Florida guy, but I think Billy Donovan is too much of a good guy to rub it in like that. Michigan coach John Beilein is on the hook for that momentary lack of class.

Best point

Hockey Night in Canada's Glenn Healy pointed out Saturday that Guy Boucher's best time as coach of the Lightning was when assistant Wayne Fleming was standing beside him. Fleming, who died of a brain tumor last week, was not with the Lightning after the 2010-11 season, Boucher's first and the season in which the Lightning advanced to the Eastern Conference final.

Most exposed

Don't be surprised if you don't see Charles Barkley as much on next year's coverage of the NCAA Tournament.

There's already a bit of an issue that Barkley isn't quite qualified to analyze NCAA games because he doesn't do it during the regular season. He's an NBA guy, and his college analysis is scratch-the-surface stuff.

But there's more. Barkley does a ton of commercials. You can't seem to turn on a basketball game these days without seeing Barkley over and over.

"I do think I was overexposed," Barkley told the New York Daily News. "I have been addressing it with (the network executives), and hopefully they will change it up."

Worst segment

Nice idea by CBS to bring in just-fired UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland for Saturday's Road to the Final Four show. But the execution quickly fell apart when the analysts hijacked it by having a pity party for Howland. The crew seemed ready to grab pitchforks and torches, and storm the UCLA campus.

Maybe Howland did get a raw deal from UCLA, which fired him despite three Final Four appearances in 10 seasons. But the grandstanding, especially by analyst Greg Anthony, made for bad television. At one point, Anthony even said Howland was sabotaged by a group "associated with the university.''

If Anthony is going to go that far and that strong, then he needs to name names. Even Howland appeared uncomfortable.

Best broadcast

The best work of the weekend goes to HBO for its coverage of the brutally entertaining fight between Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios on Saturday night. (Alvarado won a close unanimous decision; his face looked like it fell into a blender when it was over.) Play-by-play man Jim Lamp­ley was his usual outstanding self, and Roy Jones Jr. and Max Kellerman were on top of their games as well. What made the broadcast so good was the announcers simply got out of the way and let the fight dominate. That's what announcers should do when they have an event that good.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Luke Scott has become the Ryan Malone of the Tampa Bay Rays.

2. From 1948-75, UCLA had one basketball coach: John Wooden. Steve Alford, hired over the weekend, is UCLA's ninth coach since 1975.

3. Hockey great Gordie Howe turned 85 on Sunday. When it comes to scoring, passing, leading, checking and, yep, occasionally dropping the gloves and throwing knuckles, Howe is the most complete hockey player who has ever played the game.

Worst timing

Andy Murray won an exciting tiebreaker over David Ferrer in the final of the Sony Open on Sunday, but CBS viewers missed it. The match ran so long (2 hours, 45 minutes) that CBS had to switch to the start of the Florida-Michigan NCAA Tournament region final. The tiebreaker was shown on the Tennis Channel, which is fine, unless you spent the early afternoon getting sucked into the match and then didn't have the Tennis Channel to switch to. CBS later showed the match point.

You could blame CBS for bad scheduling. Then again, the Murray-Ferrer match was the longest of the tournament.

Worst slogan

What the heck was Nike thinking when it pulled out an old Tiger Woods quote about how winning fixes everything and slapped it on a new Woods ad? Did Nike forget about the fallout from Woods' extramarital affairs and its effect on Woods' wife and children?

New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica pointed out that Woods probably could not care less what people think of the ad. If you do think Woods cares, he wrote, you're "as much a sucker about Woods as ever. … He doesn't care what people think, even when he says he does. He never cared, unless it makes him money.''

Most respectful

One of the most difficult events a network has to deal with during a broadcast is a grotesque injury. CBS was faced with that Sunday when Louisville's Kevin Ware broke a leg during the first half of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region final against Duke. • All in all, CBS handled it well. It showed a couple of replays and then moved on. It spent the rest of the nine-minute delay showing reaction shots of the teams and fans. That was the right way to handle it. Announcers Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg discussed the injury and its possible effects respectfully. Sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson did a good job, though I didn't need to see Ware loaded into an ambulance. • It's an uneasy situation for any network, and it's easy to second-guess a network for whatever decisions it makes during a time like that. But CBS did about as well as you could expect. Put it this way: If Ware was my brother or son or friend, I wouldn't have had a problem with the coverage.

     
 
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