tom jones' two cents
The latest from the world of sports.
The ratings game
Tuesday's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks, which featured Chad Johnson being cut by the Dolphins, was the second-most-watched episode of the series ever, with 984,000 viewers. That was a 34 percent jump from this season's debut episode as the series features Miami. The finale of the 2010 series, which featured the Jets, drew more with 1 million viewers.
If you haven't seen the scene with Johnson being released by coach Joe Philbin, make sure to find it and watch. It's hard to watch but impossible not to watch.
No news is bad news
Another NFL season. Another NFL season without the NFL Network for Bright House Networks cable subscribers.
This week the NFL Network and Cablevision reached a deal, and the network now is being carried by eight of the nine largest cable/satellite companies. The one that doesn't carry it? Time Warner, which negotiates deals for Bright House.
It is believed Time Warner and the NFL Network were close to a deal last year, but talks ended. Time Warner says conversations are ongoing and it hopes a deal can be made. That sounds good.
This doesn't: The NFL says the sides are not talking and they are not close to a deal.
Making matters worse for those missing the NFL Network is the network is nearly doubling the number of games it is showing this season. It will carry 13 games on Thursday nights.
The Bucs play the Vikings on the NFL Network on Oct. 25, but that game is expected to be shown on a Tampa Bay area channel so even Bright House subscribers can see it.
• Chucky alert: Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden will be profiled in the next Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, which debuts at 9 Tuesday night on HBO. Gumbel traveled to Tampa hang out with Gruden, left.
• ESPN begins its fourth consecutive season of televising England's Premier League soccer at 9:50 this morning. Arsenal and Sunderland kick off the network's schedule of 15 live matches through Nov. 5. Play-by-play voice Ian Darke and analyst Steve McManaman return for their third seasons.
• CBS said Bill Macatee will be the lead play-by-play voice for tennis' U.S. Open. CBS's coverage begins Sept. 1. It's quite the coveted role. Macatee becomes the fifth lead U.S. Open announcer since CBS acquired the tournament's rights in 1968. He follows Bud Collins, Pat Summerall, Tim Ryan and Dick Enberg.
• Former Gators football coach Ron Zook has been hired by CBS Sports Network as a college studio analyst. He will work with another former SEC coach, Houston Nutt.
ESPN's College GameDay, pound-for-pound as good as any sports show on television, returns for its 26th season Sept. 1. The gang kicks off this season at the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas, where Michigan plays Alabama.
The only change to GameDay is Samantha Steele hosting the show's first hour, which appears on ESPNU from 9 to 10 a.m. Steele replaces Erin Andrews, who is now at Fox. The regular 10 a.m. to noon show on ESPN is the same, with host Chris Fowler and analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack.
Three things that popped into my head
1. I don't care if Bobby Valentine is a bad manager or not. Any Red Sox player who sneaked into the owner's office and bellyached about Valentine was completely out of line. You don't do that.
2. Know what I'm tired of? Baseball teams that have adopted these hand gestures to celebrate after getting a hit and driving in a run. You drove in a run. Big deal. Act like you've done it before and expect to do it again.
3. Ever see ESPN's ticker on the bottom of the screen that says "No-hitter Alert'' when a guy is coming close to a no-no? Think maybe ESPN should put that up before every Rays game?