Tuesday, January 23, 2018
TV and Radio_sports

Jones: Golf fans, give Fox's U.S. Open coverage a chance

tom jones' two cents

Most polarizing coverage

This is the third year Fox has broadcast golf's U.S. Open, and reviews for the first two years were not good. So how did this year go?

First, the field did the TV network absolutely no favors. The leaderboard was full of unknowns, save for Rickie Fowler. Big names including Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day missed the cut. Phil Mickelson withdrew to attend his daughter's high school graduation, and Tiger Woods is still out.

The course didn't help, either. With scores reaching double digits below par, Erin Hills played like it was hosting the Greater Milwaukee Open instead of the U.S. Open. If the tournament doesn't feel special, then the coverage isn't going to feel special.

Nevertheless, fans just don't seem to want to give Fox a chance. Are we simply predisposed to hate Fox's golf coverage because we aren't familiar with it?

Based on social media, lead announcer Joe Buck takes most of the criticism, though I'm not sure why. I like Buck on everything he does. He's a first-class pro, and his golf coverage is solid — every bit as good as what Dan Hicks does for NBC and Jim Nantz does for CBS.

The rest of the coverage does seem to come up a bit short at times. Fox doesn't have anyone as solid as NBC's Johnny Miller, but Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger are just as good as, say, CBS's Nick Faldo.

Bottom line: NBC and CBS do a better job covering golf than Fox, but that shouldn't come as a surprise because NBC and CBS do way more golf than Fox. But to dismiss Fox's coverage as bad is not fair. Just because Fox might not do it as well as the other two networks doesn't mean the network does it poorly.

Best feature

E:60 re-aired an oldie but a goodie Sunday: Jeremy Schaap's tear-jerking piece about TNT host Ernie Johnson (right). If you come across this on your television or computer, make sure you get a box of Kleenex first.

Besides looking at Johnson's relationship with his dad, former major-leaguer and Braves broadcaster Ernie Sr., the feature looked extensively at the job he and his wife, Cheryl, are doing with their adopted son, Michael.

Michael was adopted from a Romanian orphanage 28 years ago. The Johnsons had wanted a heathy baby girl. Instead, Cheryl saw a 3-year-old boy with severe disabilities. She called Ernie and said she wouldn't know how to live the rest of her life not knowing what became of the little boy. Ernie said three words to his wife: "Bring him home.''

She did, and Michael continues to suffer from disabilities and illnesses, including a form of muscular dystrophy that has left Michael requiring 24-hour care. The Johnsons' love for and care of their son is truly inspirational.

Most interesting

The latest 30 for 30 on ESPN is a five-hour documentary on the rivalry in the 1980s between the Celtics and Lakers, and is well worth your time.

Best of Enemies looks at the intense battle between two of the greatest teams in NBA history, but it is so much more. It does not flinch from the racial aspect of the rivalry and looks extensively into the racial issues in Boston and Los Angeles, going back to the 1960s. It looks at the Boston busing crisis and the Los Angeles Watts riots, and looks at race through the eyes of the Celtics' Bill Russell (above left) and the Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (below left).

That alone makes it worth watching. Add some of the best basketball we have ever seen and you have a must-see documentary.

The ratings game

Which market had the best viewership for the NBA Finals between the Cavs and Warriors? Cleveland. The average rating was 34.7, meaning 34.7 percent of all Cleveland households with televisions were tuned in. San Francisco-Oakland was second with 33.3. Columbus, Ohio, was third with 19.9.

The most-watched game nationally was Game 3, with 20.09 million people tuned in. The most-watched Stanley Cup final game between the Penguins and Predators was the deciding Game 6, which 6.9 million watched.

Best remembrance

Be sure to check out Tuesday night's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (10 p.m.,HBO). The show looks at longtime correspondent Frank Deford, who passed away last month at age 78. Deford spent 22 years with Real Sports, reporting 117 stories.

Longest coverage

Horse racing fans will love this: NBCSN will present live daily coverage of England's Royal Ascot meeting, one of the most prestigious meets in the world, starting Tuesday. The coverage will air at 8:30 a.m. each day for five days, for a total of 221/2 hours of coverage. This is the first time the races are being aired in this country. For those unfamiliar, the Royal Ascot is the center of the British social scene and includes an appearance by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Uh, they don't race. They watch.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Be honest, Rays fans. One year ago today, did you think Logan Morrison and Tim Beckham would be on the roster on June 19, 2017? Here's a better question: Did you want them to be on the roster?

2. Plenty of Lightning fans are still up in arms over the club trading Jonathan Drouin. And a year from now, they still will be upset because Drouin is going to have a better 2017-18 season than the guy he was traded for, Mikhail Sergachev. It will take maybe two, three years for this trade to look good from Tampa Bay's perspective.

3. Say what you will about his dad, but I will absolutely tune into Thursday night's NBA draft just to see where UCLA's Lonzo Ball is drafted. It's all the interest drummed up by his dad, LaVar, that has me so attracted to watching.

     
 
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