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Highs and lows from Tampa Bay and national sports TV and radio

St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

Just wondering

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I'm not sure why anyone calls the Rays' postgame radio show, because whatever point you make or opinion you have, host Rich Herrera, left, is probably going to tell you that you're wrong. Herrera works for the team, so it's understandable that he defends the Rays. And, yes, some callers are cuckoo. But if fans want to vent, cheer or question whatever they darn well please, shouldn't a postgame call-in show be a forum for them?

There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with callers, but too often fans are either cut off, yelled at or made to feel dumb.

Example: After Wednesday night's 7-6 loss, a caller complained about the lack of production by B.J. Upton and Gabe Kapler. Herrera scolded the caller for picking on Kapler, who is not a regular. If Kapler is in the lineup, he is open for discussion. And certainly the leadoff hitter who was batting .177 after Wednesday is fair game. Another caller tried to compare Scott Kazmir's troubles with those of the Tigers' Dontrelle Willis, a legitimate point considering both are young and loaded with talent but suddenly and mysteriously have issues. When the caller asked Herrera if he could have 15 seconds to make his point, Herrera said, "No, you can't," and hung up on him.

When you have 13,721 fans showing up for a game, as the Rays did Wednesday, can you really afford to be hanging up on people who want to be involved with your product?

These are just a couple of examples from one show, but they are not isolated incidents.

It's okay to disagree with someone and do it in an intelligent, respectful manner. That's good radio. It's even okay to let a caller air his frustration and move on to the next caller. It's another matter to have contempt for your audience as you debate. Eventually, there won't be any callers to debate. Or insult.

Best exchange

Thanks to SportsBusiness Daily for putting together this priceless exchange between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and ESPN boxing host Brian Kenny that aired on Wednesday's SportsCenter. And let's officially say right now that Kenny is "the man."

Mayweather: "I already forgot who I'm talking to. I'm talking to Brian Kenny, a guy who has never laced up gloves a day in his life who don't know nothing about boxing."

Kenny: "It's good to have you back in top form already. You retired, Floyd. You want to be a champion emeritus forever? Why come back now?"

Mayweather: "Why not? The sport needs their cash cow back. We already know what I can generate … and we already know who's the face of boxing. … What these fighters have done since I've been gone together in (pay-per-view), out of all the fighters, haven't topped what I've done in two fights."

Kenny: "One was with Oscar De La Hoya, who was the cash king."

Mayweather: "I'm the cash cow, please."

Kenny: "Not compared to Oscar De La Hoya. Have you drawn as much as Oscar De La Hoya in (PPV)?"

Mayweather: "De La Hoya been on (PPV) a thousand times. It took me two times (to get) 3.5 million homes. Me, Floyd Mayweather."

Kenny: "With Oscar De La Hoya, though."

Mayweather: "Did he win? … Once again, we're talking to Brian Kenny, a man of many traits, a master of nothing."

Best analyst

Former Lightning general manager Jay Feaster, left, is a regular on Sirius/XM satellite radio's hockey channel as a "hockey insider," and the guy is really, really good. He's funny, honest, well-spoken and, most of all, quick with thoughts and opinions. He comes off as very authoritative.

This is a crazy idea that probably wouldn't get anywhere, but Feaster would be perfect as a pregame and intermission analyst on Lightning games. The Lightning continues to look for someone to team with host Paul Kennedy and has tried out former players Dave Andreychuk, Brian Bradley and Chris Dingman.

If Feaster would be allowed to be himself and give frank analysis (and that's probably doubtful considering who is in charge of the Lightning these days), he would make Lightning intermissions something to watch instead of time to restock the refreshments.

Magical thoughts

The Magic's upset of the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference final was good news/bad news for the league. On one hand, it showed the series is going to be competitive and not a Cleveland sweep, which would have been horrible for TV ratings. On the other, you just know the NBA is biting its fingernails over the possibility that LeBron James might not make it to the Finals. By the way, this is a tired excuse I've heard time and again from folks who don't watch the NBA: "I don't watch the NBA because the last two minutes take an hour to play." If you don't want to watch the NBA, fine, don't watch. But stop exaggerating about the end of games. The final two minutes of the Magic-Cavs game, which featured three lead changes in the final 32 seconds, took all of 10 minutes of real time.

Kornheiser's decision

Newsday reported that Tony Kornheiser asked ESPN about working a limited Monday Night Football schedule so he would not have to fly as much, because he hates flying. But ESPN didn't go for that. So Kornheiser decided to step down, and ESPN hired former Bucs coach Jon Gruden to replace him. On his ESPN show Pardon the Interruption, Kornheiser explained his decision: "Here's the deal: I did three years. I thought I got better each year. … But the truth is, I hate flying, as everyone who knows me knows, and this year's schedule has about 3 million flights in it."

Then, Kornheiser joked, "I figured if I go out in the same year as (John) Madden and (Brett) Favre, then we can all go to the Hall of Fame together." There is now speculation, somewhat fueled by Kornheiser, that he could end up back on radio hosting a show.

Three things that popped into my head

1. For all you haters of Tropicana Field, how many rainouts would the Rays have had this week if they played outdoors?

2. It's great that Major League Baseball and Fox will start World Series games before 8 p.m., but it would've been nice to see MLB and the network go a step further and have at least one weekend afternoon starting time.

3. Okay, the Bucs' Aqib Talib, right, gets in a fight. He apologizes. Everything is cool with his teammates. Great. But don't let it happen again.

Highs and lows from Tampa Bay and national sports TV and radio 05/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 8:07pm]
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