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Shooting from the lip

Best eavesdropping

Fox wired home plate umpire Jerry Layne with a microphone during its national broadcast Saturday of the Yankees-Red Sox game. It makes you wish every baseball broadcast had a player or umpire wired for sound. In fact, why not wire every player every game? Baseball is a game with lulls between each pitch. Infielders are always having discussions with runners on base. Base coaches are always talking to runners or players, and most of the time they are making each other laugh. Fox had a perfect example of how eavesdropping can make a game more interesting. In the bottom of the sixth, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey attempted a pickoff at second base. His throw was wild and shortstop Marco Scutaro dove and fell on top of runner Ramiro Pena. Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought Scutaro took too long to get off Pena and mildly argued. The next inning, Fox caught this exchange between Layne, above, and batter Derek Jeter, pictured below him, as Girardi was arguing:

Layne: "Do you think he intentionally laid on top of him?''

Jeter: "I don't really know the rule.''

Layne: "Do you think you would've gotten up faster than that?''

Jeter: "Well, I move around like a cat. Like a big ol' cat.''

Layne: "I move around better than you do.''

Both men laughed and went back to work. Baseball games are full of those little exchanges, and it was nice to be in on the joke.

Worst performance

By the time CBS came on for the final round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger Woods was long gone. He completed his final round of 7-over 77 long before the cameras started rolling. Not good for CBS's ratings, and certainly not good for Woods. His total of 18-over par was the worst four-round performance of his career. And it fuels speculation that his personal life is clearly interfering with his golf game. "Tiger is lost,'' analyst Nick Faldo said.

Did we just see rock bottom for Woods, or are there worse things to come? This week he has to deal with the PGA Championship, the last major of the season. If he plays poorly there, he has to deal with talk about whether he is worthy of Ryder Cup selection. "I have my doubts about this Ryder Cup thing,'' Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe said on ESPN's Sports Reporters. "He doesn't like it, never has liked it. It's a thing he's been dragged into kicking and screaming. It's antithetical to his thinking of what the sport is about, which is me. I don't want to be dependant on you, or you dependant on me. He should say, 'Please don't pick me and I'll see you in two years when I'm back to being myself.' ''

Woods has no coach, his personal life is chaos and he will likely lose his No. 1 World Golf Ranking. Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships is looking pretty safe right now.

Second worst performance

Seems like the Rays are in danger of being no-hit in every game they play. It happened again Sunday against the Blue Jays, and announcer Dewayne Staats, above left, is getting used to this. He already has called three no-hitters this year, and there have been two one-hitters. And Staats didn't stray from his philosophy of not mentioning that a pitcher is working on a no-no, even the opposing pitcher. In the fifth inning he said, "(Brandon) Morrow has nine strikeouts, one walk and nothing else. I mean nothing else.'' And in the seventh he said, "Morrow has retired the first 19 of 20 batters and 16 in a row. The Rays have nothing.'' Just say it, Dewayne! He hasn't given up a hit. He has a no-hitter going! Analyst Brian Anderson, pictured below Staats, even stayed with the script. In the ninth he said, "(Morrow) has been dominant, not much else you can say about that.'' Well, you could say he hasn't given up a hit. The duo finally mentioned it later in the ninth when a graphic about the last time a Blue Jay threw a no-hitter was flashed. Then Staats said no-hitter twice. One batter later, Evan Longoria got the Rays only hit. Staats did indeed jinx Morrow. Nice going, Dewayne.

Best change of pace

Usually, when flipping to a Sprint Cup race, I'm able to watch a few laps of cars making left turns on a track that looks like every other one before reaching for the remote. But this week's version was much different and worth watching. The track at Watkins Glen isn't just an oval, and it has right turns instead of left. Drivers sometimes drove over grass on the funky turns. Maybe there should be more tracks like that to keep the average fan interested. I'm sure there are a lot of purists who would disagree.

Three things that popped into my head

1. As a person with a receding hairline (okay, bald), I'm hoping Tim Tebow's new "Friar'' haircut he got as part of rookie hazing in Denver catches on.

2. Last week, Tom Jones admitted his prediction that the Rays wouldn't make the playoffs might be wrong. This week, that prediction looks pretty good again.

3. I have no doubt that in 10 years when I take my kids to a Rays-Yankees game in Tampa (you heard me), the Yankees will still bring out Mariano Rivera, above, to save it in the ninth. That guy's amazing.

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

Best ceremony, biggest snub

Saturday night's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony was worth checking out. The 2010 class was one of the strongest in a long time, with Dick LeBeau, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, John Randle, Jerry Rice, Floyd Little and Emmitt Smith getting busts in Canton, Ohio. They also got a nice little highlight reel of their careers before making speeches, though a lot of those highlights seemed to be against the pre-pewter Bucs. The speeches by Little and Smith stood out, which probably explains why they were the last two to speak. Marc Little, son of Floyd, gave an impassioned introduction of his father, who was the only good player on some bad Denver Broncos teams. Floyd Little followed with a well-thought-out, well-delivered speech. But everyone seemed to be there to see Smith. The NFL's all-time leading rusher got the largest ovations and delivered with a well-prepared speech that thanked everyone from his high school coaches at Pensacola Escambia, Dwight Thomas and Jimmy Nichols, to his coaches with the Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson and Norv Turner. He thanked his parents, his wife and kids, and even the fans. But Gator fans had to be thinking, "What about us?'' There was no reference to his time in Gainesville, 1987-89. No thank you to Galen Hall or the other coaches during his time there. Fans lit up Twitter about the presumed snub from UF's second inductee into the Hall of Fame. Perhaps it was just an innocent omission — that was the reason (and apology) posted Sunday night on Smith's Twitter page —but most of the other players managed to get in a shout-out to their college team.

Shooting from the lip 08/08/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 8, 2010 8:52pm]
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