Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tom Jones: Shooting from the lip

Best call

NBC did a solid job with golf's Players Championship over the weekend, as it always does.

There was a little dustup between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods. Garcia said he was disrupted during a shot Saturday because Woods pulled out a club that sent a charge into the fans. NBC's broadcast team mentioned the incident and referred to the fact that Garcia and Woods don't get along, but it would have been nice if someone had been stronger in telling viewers who was in the right on this particular incident.

Other than that rather small complaint, and NBC showing a replay of Woods using an expletive, I thought it was a good broadcast. Lead analyst Johnny Miller is just sensational. Few analysts in all of sports are better at telling viewers what is about to happen.

Perfect example: Woods was lining up his second shot at No. 10 Sunday and right before he hit, Miller said, "It's real easy to miss it left."

Sure enough, Woods hit his shot and immediately looked down in disgust and angrily swung his club again. The ball sailed far left. A replay close-up of Woods' club hitting the ball showed why he hit it left. Those 30 seconds — Miller's comments, Woods' reaction and the replay — were the best 30 seconds of television all weekend and the type of thing you see all the time on NBC's golf coverage.

Best comeback

Speaking of the Tiger Woods- Sergio Garcia back-and-forth, Woods had a good comeback when Garcia complained that Woods was to blame for the crowd making enough noise to disturb Garcia's shot Saturday.

Woods said, "… not real surprising that he's complaining about something."

Garcia should have come back with this: "It's not real surprising that Tiger is in the middle of some sort of controversy."

Worst news

Terrible news. It looks as if the broadcasting career of ESPN radio analyst and basketball Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay is over. The 88-year-old Ramsay needs to begin immediate medical treatment for a medical condition. It hasn't been revealed exactly what his condition is, but he has dealt with cancer off and on since 1999. The treatments will keep him out for the rest of these playoffs and he already decided this likely was his last season.

"I'm not enjoying it like I used to, and travel is difficult," Ramsay told the Miami Herald. "I will miss the association with the players and coaches. It has been a great ride."

Ramsay, who coached Bill Walton and the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, is one of the smartest voices on basketball and will be sorely missed. For now, Chris Mullin is filling in for Ramsay.

Biggest replacement

So Faith Hill quits as singer of Sunday Night Football's theme and is replaced by Carrie Underwood. SNF executive producer Fred Gaudelli said that when Hill informed him she was stepping down, "I only had one person in my sights, and that was Carrie. … She's the only person I spoke to about this."

Hey, I like Underwood just fine, but what's the difference between her and Hill? Aren't they the same? Why not mix it up and pick someone other than a 30-something white female country singer?

Best switch

Hockey fans have to love NBC's dedication to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Games are broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network, and the network also is shipping games to CNBC, as well as For everyone who complains that the hockey is not on ESPN, it's hard to imagine any network dedicating itself as much to the NHL as NBC and its stable of networks.

Biggest losses

Those who truly love the game of basketball must have been disappointed to learn that the New York Daily News laid off veteran basketball writer Dick Weiss. He was one of about 15 staffers let go in a cost-cutting move.

How much is Weiss, right, associated with basketball? His longtime nickname is "Hoops."

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas tweeted: "No writer is more ingrained in the game's fabric than Dick 'Hoops' Weiss. While some Tweet through games, he watches the games. Respect."

Meantime, my respect goes out to Michael Hiestand, who penned his final sports media column for USA Today after 24 years of excellence. In a final column Friday, Hiestand pointed out just how much media coverage and sports television has changed over his 24 years. And Hiestand did as good of a job as anyone covering it.

Sports Emmys

The Sports Emmys for 2012 were handed out last week, and NBC collected most of the big awards. Bob Costas (studio host), Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (event analyst) and Pierre McGuire (reporter) were all winners. Also winning Emmys were TNT's Charles Barkley (studio analyst), and MLB Network and TBS's Tom Verducci, who shared the best reporter award with McGuire.

Other notables: Showtime's Inside the NFL was named best weekly studio show, MLB Network's MLB Tonight was named best daily studio show, HBO's Namath was named best documentary, NBC's Sunday Night Football was named outstanding live sports series. NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XLVI was voted outstanding live sports special.

So do you notice who is missing from the big awards? ESPN.

ESPN's Bill Simmons, the brains behind the network's "30 for 30" documentary series, tweeted out: "Anyone who hates ESPN should go to the Sports Emmys. It's the one night that the industry can get us back by not voting for anything we do."

Biggest move

Get used to these names: Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole. Who are they? They are the two main anchors on Canada's TSN SportsCentre. According to Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, they are leaving their jobs with TSN to become the featured anchors on Fox Sports I, the sports cable outlet that debuts in August. Fox Sports I hopes to be a competitor for ESPN. Deitsch writes that "it's a smart, outside-the-box hire" and correctly points out that chemistry is "hard to develop for this type of show, and Fox Sports executives believe Onrait and O'Toole already possess it."

Deitsch also reports that former tennis star Andy Roddick and former ESPN personality Charissa Thompson also could be headed to FS1.

Three things that popped into my head

1. I'm sure the umpires who completely forgot a basic rule in last week's Angels-Astros game are nice fellows. (They allowed a relief pitcher to leave the game without facing at least one batter, a rule that practically every baseball fan knows.) But doesn't a two-game suspension for one ump and a fine for the other three seem like really light punishments for not knowing a simple rule?

2. Anyone else notice that on Saturday Fox had a soccer match from Europe and a NASCAR race, but no baseball Game of the Week? Heavens to Betsy!

3. With an average attendance of 18,292 through 19 games, the Rays are on pace to draw 1.48 million fans this season at Tropicana Field. That would be the lowest total since 2007, the last time the Rays had a losing record for a full season.

tom jones' two cents

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


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