Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Shooting from the lip

Biggest pains

Every time I turned on ESPN over the past two weeks, it seemed like I saw one of two things: Urban Meyer or the Little League World Series.

I quickly grew tired of both.

I've written time and time again that I love youth sports but hate that the Little League World Series is on TV. I just don't need to see a little boy who gives up the winning homer or costs his team a championship because of an error have the worst moment of his life on TV just for our entertainment.

But let's move on and talk about the overwhelming coverage of Meyer and Ohio State football. ESPN went inside the program with exclusive coverage of practices complete with Meyer wearing a microphone. Other Big Ten schools must have been furious over what turned into a tremendous recruiting tool.

Why didn't ESPN go behind the scenes with Wisconsin, considered to be the conference's best team? Why not extensively cover Michigan or Michigan State? After all, both programs are eligible for a bowl this season, something Ohio State is not.

Heck, even the current state of Penn State football is a much more compelling story than Ohio State. But nope, ESPN decided to throw its coverage behind a coach who was employed by ESPN just last season. Hmm.

Worst nonreplay

Ch. 10's taped broadcast of the Bucs-Patriots preseason game on Friday was solid. The only nit was just one immediate replay of guard Davin Joseph suffering what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury. Once the cart was brought on the field, it had to be obvious this was a big deal.

Perhaps Ch. 10 didn't want to gross out viewers by showing Joseph's leg bending awkwardly. And perhaps Ch. 10 didn't want to make any assumptions about Joseph's injury. But because it was such an important player suffering what clearly was a bad injury, it called for more coverage.

tom jones' two cents

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

Three things that popped into my head

1. Every time you see Giants catcher Buster Posey (passed over in favor of Tim Beckham) don't you wonder what he would look like in a Rays uniform?

2. Poor Donald Penn. The Bucs left tackle wrongly blames himself for pushing a Patriots player into the right leg of teammate Davin Joseph, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on the play. Hey, Donald, it's football. Guys get hurt.

3. Whenever there's a storm headed in our direction, I'm watching Ch. 28's Denis Phillips. Dude tells me what's going to happen, when it's going to happen and how it's going to affect me. And he doesn't panic or try to scare anyone. That's the way it's done, folks.

Best graphic

During Sunday's Angels-Tigers game on TBS, Detroit's Prince Fielder had two strikes against him when the network flashed a graphic that showed Fielder was tied for third in the American League in two-strike hits. One pitch later, Fielder singled. Nice.

Newest analyst

You just knew former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was going to end up on TV somewhere. He's charismatic, likable and well-known from not only his football career, but his victory on Dancing With the Stars. The question was where was he going to end up?

The answer: NBC as a studio analyst on Notre Dame football. Ward will join host Liam McHugh and analyst Doug Flutie.

Best news

The Dodgers had a tremendous weekend and not because they acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from the Red Sox.

Nope, better than that, legendary broadcaster Vin Scully announced Sunday he is returning for his 64th season with the team.

Scully, 84, said he has been revitalized by the team's new ownership and its commitment to winning. Scully will call all home games as well as road games in California and Arizona. However, look for Scully to travel to New York next season, when the Dodgers play the Yankees in interleague play.

"If Sandy (Scully's wife) promises to go with me, I really would like to see Yankee Stadium and the Dodgers and the Yankees," Scully said. "That's the one thing I might add to the schedule."



Most surprising host

Fox NFL analyst and former Giants great Michael Strahan is the choice to be Regis Philbin's permanent replacement alongside Kelly Ripa on the syndicated morning show.

Strahan is expected to continue with his role as an analyst on the Fox NFL pregame show, but it's hard to imagine he can keep up the dizzying and tiresome pace of the two shows. His weekday show with Ripa is shot in New York while the Fox NFL show is shot in Los Angeles. There's already a buzz that Fox will keep a close eye on Strahan to make sure his work on the NFL show doesn't slip.

Biggest controversy

I don't personally know ESPN's Skip Bayless, but I do get the feeling the star of ESPN2's First Take says outrageous things simply to be outrageous. He says crazy stuff, takes outside-the-box stances and plays the angry contrarian simply because it's good for TV ratings and, thus, good for his career.

I'm not fully convinced he truly believes everything he says.

So were his comments Wednesday morning about Derek Jeter over the line or just scripted to create a buzz for a show that could use a bump in the ratings?

During the show, Bayless mentioned how well the 38-year-old Yankees shortstop is playing this season and said one has to wonder if Jeter is taking some sort of performance-enhancing drug.

"I'd have to be sight and hearing impaired not to at least wonder," Bayless said. "How could I not wonder, 'Is he using something?' "

Jeter was asked about Bayless' comments, tried to laugh them off and suggested maybe Bayless should be drug tested. Yes, Jeter has every right to be annoyed that someone could just throw out such an accusation based on nothing but a suspicious mind.

Jeter has never been accused of using PEDs or connected even in the most outlandish rumors when it comes to PEDs. In fact, Jeter has such a spotless reputation, he's probably the last person suspected of doing such things.

Does Bayless really believe Jeter is juicing? I don't know. Did Bayless know his words would cause such a controversy? Absolutely. Was he out of line? I'm not so sure.

Maybe we shouldn't blame just Bayless for throwing the question out. Save most of your scorn for all the athletes we believed were clean but weren't. Because so many athletes have betrayed our trust, we wouldn't be shocked if we learned any athlete out there is doing something illegal.

Best replay

The best visual over the weekend was NASCAR driver Tony Stewart whipping his helmet at the car of fellow driver Matt Kenseth on Saturday night as Kenseth was coming out of pit row during the race in Bristol, Tenn. Stewart blamed Kenseth for a crash moments earlier.

The ABC/ESPN broadcast team made plenty of wisecracks and jokes about Stewart's helmet toss. Maybe it could have cracked a little less wise and offered more analysis on who was right, who was to blame and how Stewart throwing his helmet should not be tolerated by NASCAR.

The most interesting part of Saturday's telecast was a clip of Kevin Harvick lashing out against his crew during the previous race over the amount of air in his right-side tires. (Harvick changed crew chiefs for Bristol.) An exasperated Harvick said, "Why do we even have meetings?''

That's tremendous.

Biggest controversy

I don't personally know ESPN's Skip Bayless, but I do get the feeling the star of ESPN2's First Take says outrageous things simply to be outrageous. He says crazy stuff, takes outside-the-box stances and plays the angry contrarian simply because it's good for TV ratings and, thus, good for his career. I'm not fully convinced that he truly believes everything he says.

So were his comments last Wednesday about Derek Jeter over the line or just scripted lines to create a buzz for a show that could use a bump in the ratings?

During the ESPN2 morning show, Bayless mentioned how well the 38-year-old Jeter is playing this season and said one has to wonder if Jeter is taking some sort of performance-enhancing drug.

"I'd have to be sight-and-hearing-impaired not to at least wonder,'' Bayless said. "How could I not wonder, 'Is he using something?'''

Jeter was asked about Bayless' comments, tried to laugh them off and then suggested that maybe Bayless should be drug tested. Yes, Jeter has every right to be annoyed that someone could just throw out such an accusation based on nothing but a suspicious mind.

Jeter has never been accused of using PEDs or connected even in the most outlandish rumors when it comes to PEDs. In fact, Jeter has such a spotless reputation that he's probably the last person suspected of doing such things.

Does Bayless really believe Jeter is juicing? I don't know. Did Bayless know his words would cause such a controversy? Absolutely. Was he out of line? I'm not so sure.

Maybe we shouldn't blame just Bayless for throwing the question out. Save most of your scorn for all the athletes we believed were clean, but weren't. Because so many athletes have betrayed our trust, we wouldn't be shocked if we learned that any athlete out there is doing something illegal.

     
     
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