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Shooting from the lip

St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Worst language

Glad to see Tiger Woods showing respect for the game just like he said he would when he returned from his personal soap opera. Woods could be heard Saturday dropping the trump card of curse words after missing a putt. In fact, he said the word several times. Speaking of Woods, every time I write about his scandal, I get e-mails asking, "What does his personal life have to do with golf? Why is this still a story?'' Well, it's obvious Woods is not the same player he was before the events of last Thanksgiving. He's a different golfer and a different person. That's why it is still worth discussing.

Most mediocre coverage

Louis Oosthuizen, left, didn't do ESPN any favors by running away with the British Open, but didn't it seem as if ESPN's coverage was a little flat? The main commentators — Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange — were heavy on cliches and light on analysis. The entire broadcast spent too much time talking about what an unknown Oosthuizen was when they could have used that time to educate us on who he is. Host Mike Tirico is the best golf host on television (way better than NBC's Dan Hicks and CBS's Jim Nantz), but he can only talk so much. Plus, when you have someone that good, why are you having him split hosting time with Scott Van Pelt?

The best part of the coverage were some cool graphics, such as the Putt Zone, which told viewers where a putt needed to travel to have a chance to go in, and the shot tracker, which showed the flight of the ball. But those graphics weren't used enough to make up for what was a disappointingly mediocre effort by ESPN.

Most complaints

The first e-mail arrived about the third inning of Saturday's Rays-Yankees game on Fox. Then came another. And another. Then another. All afternoon, they steadily trickled in as local viewers voiced their complaints about Fox baseball analyst Tim McCarver, left.

"I can't take it!'' Susan Massarsky of Safety Harbor wrote. "Can McCarver stop talking about the Yankees? … I have to turn on the radio broadcast. This stinks!''

"This is the worst broadcast I ever had to sit through … McCarver never shuts up,'' St. Petersburg's Diane Fisher wrote.

You get the gist.

McCarver is one of those polarizing figures in broadcasting. You either love him or hate him. For the most part, I like him. He knows the game, seems objective, has strong opinions. And while I seem to be in the minority, I thought McCarver and Fox did a decent job talking about the Rays on Saturday even though Fox, as it should, had a mandate to honor the passing of Yankees legends George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard.

However, McCarver did make two missteps. One was acting shocked when the Rays attempted two safety squeeze bunts with runners on first and third and no one out in the fifth inning.

"Very unusual,'' McCarver said. "I have never seen that."

Well, it's something the Rays do all the time. In fact, they have become known for that particular play this season, and McCarver probably should've known that. Still, you could give him a mulligan. He has 30 teams to follow, and he can't be expected to know the nuances of every one.

The other mistake is a little more unforgiveable. In talking about how the Yankees have ignored the accomplishments of former manager Joe Torre, McCarver went on a rant he should've swallowed:

"You remember some of those despotic leaders in World War II, primarily in Russia and Germany, where they used to take those pictures that they had … taken of former generals who were no longer alive, they had shot them," McCarver said. "They would airbrush the pictures, and airbrushed the generals out of the pictures. In a sense, that's what the Yankees have done with Joe Torre. They have airbrushed his legacy. I mean, there's no sign of Joe Torre at the stadium. And, that's ridiculous. I don't understand it."

Attacking the Yankees over Torre is fine, but we're going to compare this to things that happened in Nazi Germany and the old Soviet Union and during World War II? Really?

It's like last week when the Rev. Jesse Jackson compared Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to a "slave master'' over the whole LeBron James mess.

This is just sports, people! Let's stop using references to Nazis and slavery and other things such as the Sept. 11 attacks, world wars, Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden and anything in the real world.

Back to McCarver: I still think he's a good announcer. But, yes, he had a rough day Saturday because of two mistakes, one in which he should have known better.

Biggest question

The one question that remains to be asked of LeBron James is whether he regrets going on ESPN for an hour special to announce where he would play next year? Just wondering: Do you think anyone at ESPN would actually ask that question, seeing as how the network was James' partner-in-crime in the whole mess?

Best research

During the pregame of Sunday's Rays-Yankees game, Sun Sports' Brian Anderson told viewers to keep an eye on Rays slugger Carlos Peña because he had a good track record (12-for-38 with five homers) against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. Nice job, Brian. Peña blasted a three-run homer off Pettitte in his first at-bat.

Three things that popped into my head

1. With the way Tiger Woods is playing and the performance of Americans at the British Open, the U.S. could be in trouble come Ryder Cup time.

2. The trade rumors of Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay are exciting for Lightning fans, but one baffling question remains: If you're the Flyers, why are you even thinking about dealing Gagne?

3. This is hard to believe, but the first NFL training camp (Browns) opens Friday. Yes, this Friday.

Shooting from the lip 07/18/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 18, 2010 9:18pm]
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