Sunday, December 17, 2017

Shooting from the lip

Best voice

The best part of Fox giving us the Redskins-Falcons game Sunday was listening to Sam Rosen on play-by-play. The veteran is near the top of the list of the most underappreciated, overlooked, under­utilized announcers in the business. He calls New York Rangers games and is brilliant on hockey. But he's superb on football, too, and it's too bad Fox doesn't assign him better games.

Worst idea

A year ago, Terry Francona was fired as manager of the Red Sox and ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, above, was hired to replace him. That left an opening in the ESPN booth, and it was filled by none other than Francona.

Well, now that Valentine has been fired by the Red Sox and Francona hired by the Indians, you might think Valentine can just slide back into his role at ESPN.

That would be a mistake by ESPN.

Valentine's embarrassing tenure with the Red Sox shot a major hole in his credibility with baseball fans. The hole is so big that fans likely wouldn't believe much of what he said on television.

Look, Valentine knows baseball and can communicate with an audience. But his season in Boston was way more than just a losing one. It was a train wreck. He criticized players, fought with the media and even threw his coaching staff under the bus, suggesting it undermined him.

Most of all, Valentine came off as unlikable.

Fans will put up with a broadcaster they don't like if they think he knows what he's talking about. But if fans don't think Valentine knows what he's doing and they don't like him, why would they want to hear anything he has to say?

Worst choke

Florida State just kissed away its schedule tailor-made for a national championship run. In other words, with West Virginia begging out of its game against FSU, Virginia Tech way down and the Gators coming to Tallahassee this season, the Seminoles' schedule was set up to get FSU to the national title game. Then again, it had to win every game on the schedule, and that went down the tubes Saturday with a loss at North Carolina State.

The problem now is even if FSU doesn't lose again, it will have a hard time getting back into the title hunt. Because that schedule that was set up to benefit FSU now will hurt it.

Best interview

Great get by CBS to interview NFL replacement official Lance Easley, who made the infamous call at the end of the Packers-Seahawks game. Easley ruled that Seahawks receiver Golden Tate simultaneously caught the ball along with Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings and called it a touchdown to give Seattle a victory.

Easley told NFL Today host James Brown the players were "wrapped around that thing like a meatball and their arms were like spaghetti.'' He said he did not have a doubt it was a touchdown, and he still doesn't.

Brown asked Easley about being hated and threatened by some Packers fans.

"Well, one thing I want to say is I wanted to come out and let people know I'm okay," Easley said. "This is a part of the deal. Officials, the guys that are out there now, any official, we understand that going in. It's not a popular place to be to begin with. … I'm a former college coach. I've been involved with the game since I was a child, and people know that I'm a person of character. I did the best job I could.''

When asked if he would do it again, Easley said, "In a heartbeat.''

Worst assignment

Cal Ripken Jr. is a decent enough broadcaster, and I think he can call an unbiased baseball game. Still, I think it's a bad idea for TBS to assign him to Orioles games if the network can help it. He is too associated with the Orioles. He should be calling one of the other playoff series.

Best line

Fox NFL Sunday's Terry Bradshaw is person No. 319 to take a shot at Bears QB Jay Cutler, left. Last week Cutler was seen walking away from Bears assistant Mike Tice, who was trying to talk to him. Bradshaw had a pretty interesting comment for Cutler on Sunday.

"If I were you, I would learn how to be a little bit nicer,'' Bradshaw said. "I know you don't care, and nor do I care if I ever sit down and do an interview with you — which I have yet to do. Maybe there's a reason for that. I like everybody. I'd like to like you, but right now, I don't like you. Grow up, young man."

Best numbers

Here's an interesting nugget pointed out by New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica: Since Sept. 1, 2011, the Red Sox are 76-113. That's 37 games under .500 after going 31 games over .500 entering the last month of last season.

Three things that popped into my head

1. This is a radical thought, I realize, but NFL kickers are so good that maybe awarding three points for a field goal is too much, especially when teams often need just a first down or two to get into field goal range.

2. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman works for the owners, and he does what they tell him to do. But I think it's time Bettman steps away from these labor negotiations because the players no longer trust anything Bettman says or does. His presence alone impedes the talks.

3. The real referees are back. So, Packer fan, who are you going to blame for Sunday's loss to the Colts?

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Most interesting line

CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson, at the end of Saturday's Gators-LSU game, said, "I still think a one-loss SEC team can still play for the national championship.''

Best alternative

A thing I like to do is to see what else is on whenever big events are on television. For example, Sunday is an NFL day, with afternoon games on Fox and CBS. That's when I like to flip over to NBC and ABC to see what they are showing. ABC had a WNBA game Sunday, and NBC was showing yacht racing. I decided to watch yachting — it was, officially, the America's Cup World Series — mostly to poke fun at it. I ended up watching it for 45 minutes because the coverage was so good. Seriously, the elaborate graphics NBC used (such as lines on the water, wind speeds, current charts, etc.) made it entertaining and interesting. I'm not ready to go out and buy a sailboat, but I was wrong to think I could make fun of something that turned out to be pretty good TV.

He wrote it

Count New York Daily News baseball writer Bill Madden among those who believe the Rays' David Price, above, should win the American League Cy Young Award. • "Our pick is Price, who would've had 3-4 more wins were it not for the Rays' pathetic offense — they were shut out in three of his starts,'' Madden wrote. "Against the AL East, Price was 10-2 with a 2.51 ERA. Price faced teams with the equivalent of a .749 OPS as opposed to the major-league average .724. He also limited his opponents to a .318 slugging pct., lowest in the AL."

Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

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Sports in brief

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Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

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