Game 7 kudos
As a lukewarm hockey fan with no rooting interest in Friday night's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, I found myself unable to switch the channel. Even as the Rays were coming back from a 3-0 deficit to the Nationals at the same time, hockey was Option A, and for good reason. From Pittsburgh's surprising two-goal burst in the second period to a highly intense final six minutes, the game absolutely lived up to the hype that most Game 7s get. And aside from perhaps Joe Buck in football and baseball, I'm not sure there is a better play-by-play announcer than Mike Emrick. He's excited when he is supposed to be, and he lets his color commentators do their job, inviting them into the flow of the broadcast whenever possible. The game also got good reviews on ESPN's The Sports Reporters. "That was a great game," New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said. "When you've got a deciding game and the goalie has to go sliding across with two seconds left to keep it from going into overtime, that's as good as it gets." Then there was Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press. He wasn't about to give the Penguins any credit. "Sidney Crosby wasn't a star of this series, and he skated first with the Cup. And by the way, he made Nicklas Lidstrom wait for a handshake, which was totally classless. But do I think (Pittsburgh) will be back next year? I do. The average age of that team is 14."
Lighten up, Derek
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, below, is a tremendous player, a solid role model and a future Hall of Famer, but it would be nice to see him loosen up just a little. Granted, he has played in the country's largest media market his entire career, but he had a chance to drop his guard a little during an interview with Fox's Chris Rose before Saturday's game against the Mets. Rose was lobbing softball questions at Jeter, including in this exchange:
Rose: You've recently come out with your own cologne, called Driven. Which one of your teammates is most in need of a bottle of Driven?
Jeter: I've given a bottle out to most of them.
Rose: But which one really stinks?
Jeter: They're all smelling pretty good right now, not that I smell them, but they're all pretty good.
But we didn't get our answer! Is it Jorge Posada? Nick Swisher? Geez.
Say what you will about Rays TV analyst Kevin Kennedy, below, but he had good insight during Sunday's game against Washington. With the Rays trailing 4-0 in the fourth inning and runners on first and second, Gabe Gross hit a fly ball to Elijah Dukes in centerfield. Dukes caught the ball and tried to throw out Carlos Peña at third, unsuccessfully. Ben Zobrist wisely tagged from first and got into scoring position. Pena and Zobrist eventually scored.
"That's the kind of stuff that gets a manager fired," said Kennedy, referring to the rumored imminent firing of Nationals manager Manny Acta. "There's no way Dukes should be thinking about third base there. He's not going to get him. He should be throwing to the cutoff man to keep the runner out of scoring position. When the manager meets with the general manager, those are the things that will come up. You must not be working on that stuff."
That kind of analysis, for both teams, is what viewers are looking for.
TNT was all over the quickly brewing feud between Yankees reliever Brian Bruney and Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Bruney said of Friday night's error by Luis Castillo that allowed the Yankees to win 9-8, "It couldn't have happened to a better guy on the mound, either." Rodriguez responded with, "Instead of sending a message in the paper, next time he sees me at Citi Field, come up to me and say it." Then, 15 minutes before Sunday's game, TNT had a camera on Rodriguez as he confronted Bruney on the field during warmups. Teammates kept the two apart. TNT was able to get a graphic of both quotes and show the confrontation. Good stuff.
Three things that popped into my head
1. The Yankees should rethink the price of those home plate seats. There sure were a lot of empty ones during the nationally televised game Saturday against the crosstown rival Mets. It looked like the Trop.
2. Good for John Daly, above, for making the cut in his first PGA tournament after a six-month suspension. But can the PGA fine him for his choice of pants? Man, those things are ugly.
3. Is anybody else tired of Pat Burrell?
HBO may overhype certain fights, but Saturday night's Miguel Cotto vs. Joshua Clottey welterweight bout wasn't one of them. It had only 25 minutes of prefight analysis, and it informed those who may not have known much about the fighters. It had a good piece on Cotto's loss to Antonio Margarito, in which Margarito was accused of using weighted wraps on his hands. HBO used St. Petersburg Times writer John Cotey in its piece on Cotto. Once the fight started, Jim Lampley was his usual solid self, and Emanuel Steward and Max Kellerman were brutally honest. One nit: I wish they had given more explanation about the fifth-round incident in which Clottey appeared to lunge at Cotto before being slammed to the mat. Clottey had to walk off an injury to his right knee. Otherwise, it was a smooth broadcast of the 12-round split decision that went Cotto's way.
St. Petersburg Times staff writer Rodney Page takes a look back at the weekend of sports on television.