Shooting from the lip: Best, worst of weekend TV sports

tom jones' two cents

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

Longest hour

I'm not a fan of the Heisman Trophy show on ESPN. And it's not really ESPN's fault. It's an award show with only one award. It's hard to make much out of an hour dedicated to only one announcement.

ESPN does a decent job introducing all the finalists and looking back at other great Heisman moments, but ultimately, it's a 59-minute pregame show for a one-minute game.

Here's a thought: Instead of waiting until the end to announce the winner, ESPN should consider making the announcement earlier in the broadcast, perhaps even halfway through. That would leave more time for reaction, and perhaps, add a little interest to the show.

On the positive side, give reporter Tom Rinaldi credit. He did allude to the sexual assault allegations and controversy surrounding Jameis Winston in an interview with the FSU quarterback before the award was announced. Rinaldi then got a really big kick out of when Winston (above, far right, with the other finalists) made a crack that he sometimes felt as old as Rinaldi.

A little funny. Not that funny.

Best moment

My favorite moment of the weekend came during Saturday morning's English Premier League match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on NBC Sports Network.

Early in the first half, Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic (right) crashed to the ground despite barely being touched. He got up complaining, but analyst Tony Gale laid into Ivanovic in the most cutting, yet polite, way possible.

"You never trust Ivanovic," Gale said. "He's one of the best divers, for a defender, in the Premier League. He always finds himself on the deck for a such a strong man."

Beautiful.

Best show

HBO's 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic made its debut over the weekend. The four-part series is a behind-the-scenes look at the two NHL teams — Red Wings and Maple Leafs this time — as they prepare for the outdoor hockey game on New Year's Day.

Just like Hard Knocks involving NFL training camp and the Countdown to … boxing shows, the Road to the Winter Classic has become must-see TV.

The formula of peeking behind the curtain never gets old.

One complaint, however, comes from Saturday's show as the Leafs' Dion Phaneuf had a telephone hearing with the NHL for a dangerous check on an opponent. (He was suspended for two games.)

The hearing was not televised in the show. Now if it was Phaneuf's request that the hearing wasn't shown, that's fine. But if the league made the hearing off limits, that's wrong, especially because it is asking the teams and players to open up their lives.

Again, maybe Phaneuf didn't want it televised, but it would have been interesting for fans to see.

Strongest comment

Have you seen how bad the NBA's Eastern Conference is? Only two teams (Heat, Pacers) have winning records. The Celtics are three games under .500 and are leading the Atlantic Division.

Analyst Charles Barkley was on SiriusXM's NBA Radio last week and took a machete to the league. The New York Daily News quoted Barkley as saying on the air: "I've been in the NBA since 1984 and I've never seen the NBA as bad as it is right now. This is trash that I'm watching. You have to be very lucky to find some good teams playing each other on a nightly basis. Most of the stuff is just trash."

Strangest comment

Near the end of ESPN's Heisman Trophy show, reporter Joe Tessitore broke down the voting: first-place votes, voting by region of the country, that sort of thing.

It was interesting, but as he concluded, he said, "And a curious note …" as he reported that winner Jameis Winston was left off 115 ballots.

There was nothing curious about it. Winston, obviously, was left off most of those ballots because of the sexual assault allegation.

Most interesting numbers

The NFL draft in May is supposed to be rich with quarterbacks, but the NFL Network's Charley Casserly made an interesting point when talking about Redskins QB Kirk Cousins (above) on NFL GameDay Morning, and it's a point that could have an impact on the Bucs.

"There are six to nine teams that need quarterbacks," Casserly said. "There aren't six to nine quarterbacks in the first two rounds of the draft. If (Cousins) plays well, he's going to have some value."

Biggest change

Those who get the YES Network and enjoy watching a simulcast of Mike Francesa’s radio show, you better get your fill now. Word is that YES and Francesa are splitting after 10 years.

In its place, YES is expected to simulcast Michael Kay's New York-based radio show. Makes sense. Kay is a Yankees broadcaster, and the YES Network is the home of the Yankees.

The switch is expected in late January or early February.

Most touching

ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown had a segment recognizing the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Host Chris Berman relayed a message from the community, asking people to perform an act of kindness in honor of the 26 victims.

Best point

There's no way Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III can coexist, and this latest mess — RGIII being sat, supposedly, for his own protection — cannot being going over well with the second-year QB.

On the NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning, former Redskins QB Joe Theismann said: "The worst thing you can do to an athlete who is healthy is sit him down and not allow him to play on Sunday. If you can't play and you're healthy, you walk around that locker room wishing you weren't there."

Best work

Fox NFL Sunday insider Jay Glazer had interesting video showing Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi on the field while the Steelers were returning a missed field goal last week. No penalty was called. Coincidently, the play came against the Steelers and coach Mike Tomlin, who was recently fined $100,000 for being on the field during a play.

"If there's ever a game where this rule is enforced and the officials make sure they got it right," Glazer said, "you'd think it would be in Mike Tomlin's next game."

When Tomlin was busted for his infraction, he claimed it was an accident and that it happens all the time.

Three things that popped into my head

1. FSU fans don't want to hear this, but if I were Texas, I'd make a serious pitch for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher to replace Mack Brown. Fisher probably wouldn't leave, but everyone has a price and if I'm Texas, I'd find out what Fisher's price would be.

2. I sometimes wonder if the NHL schedule-makers failed geography in school. This Lightning schedule is a mess. First, the team had to play at 7 p.m. in New Jersey on Saturday and then turn around and play at 5 p.m. the next day in Detroit. Oh, and then the Lightning has to fly to New York to play the Islanders on Tuesday.

3. With all the errors he saves, 1B James Loney is the biggest reason the Rays have the best defensive infield in baseball.

Shooting from the lip: Best, worst of weekend TV sports 12/15/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 15, 2013 7:58pm]

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