Friday, July 20, 2018
TV and Radio_sports

Shooting from the lip

Best work

Excellent work by Sun Sports on Sunday covering the minicontroversy of whether or not Matt Joyce's liner down the rightfield line was fair or foul, and a homer or a double. Sun Sports fired up replays from at least three different angles, including the one shot that clearly showed the ball hitting the foul pole, making it a homer. Umpires ultimately agreed and awarded Joyce a home run.

In addition to the replays, the direction and production were sharp. Using split screens and quick edits, the cameras bounced around to show the umpires huddling, the separate conversations between the umpires and the managers, Joyce on second base and the spot where the ball might have hit. At just the right moments, replays were shown. Best of all, the crew made sure to keep a camera on the umpires coming back on the field after reviewing the video and signaling a home run.

At no point did the viewer feel like he was missing anything.

Best tribute

CBS opened Saturday's golf coverage of the Byron Nelson Championship with a 17-minute tribute to former analyst Ken Venturi, who died Friday at age 82 from a spinal infection and pneumonia. After winning 14 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1964 U.S. Open, Venturi was CBS's lead analyst from 1968-2002.

"I think I can speak on behalf of everybody at CBS right now," host Jim Nantz said. "We're all feeling a heavy heart."

What made Venturi's broadcasting career so remarkable was he overcame a severe stutter as a child.

Venturi was elected to the golf Hall of Fame. And at the May 6 induction, Nantz said, "Doctors told his mother he will never speak. He will never be able to say his own name. That's what drove him to golf; to sit on a range, beating balls, hearing himself in total clarity in his head, 'This is to win the U.S. Open.' And he overcame that with great will and determination and became the longest-running lead analyst in the history of sports television."

Most interesting conversation

ESPN president John Skipper confirmed reports that he had a conversation with Saturday Night Live head writer and "Weekend Update'' anchor Seth Meyers about hosting a late-night sports talk show on ESPN.

Meyers was announced last week as the future host of NBC's Late Night. He will replace Jimmy Fallon, who will eventually replace Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show. But Skipper realized, as he relayed to, Meyers never gave ESPN serious consideration.

It is interesting that ESPN wants to get into the late-night talk show game. One name thrown out as a possible host is former ESPN anchor and former CBS talk-show host Craig Kilborn, who also was the original host of The Daily Show.

Best call-out

Everyone knows the reputation of Rangers and former Lightning coach John Tortorella. He can be tough to deal with even when his team is playing well. NBC analyst Pierre McGuire knows that, yet that didn't stop him from taking a pretty good (and deserved) shot at Tortorella during Sunday's coverage of the Rangers-Bruins game.

Prior to Sunday's game, Tortorella was asked by reporters why Ran­gers wing Carl Hagelin wasn't playing more on the power play. Torts responded by saying, "Because he stinks on the power play. I don't know why. I wish I could play him more on the power play, but every time I put him on, he stinks."

When that topic came up Sunday, McGuire said, "Throwing your player under the bus at this time of the year? No, I'm not buying that. (The power play) has been a problem all season. It's the schematic that's wrong, not the players."

Good one.

Best coverage

The Preakness doesn't have quite the hype as the Kentucky Derby. The atmosphere is a bit dialed back, and NBC's coverage of Saturday's Preakness reflected that. It wasn't quite as ambitious. It wasn't nearly as splashy.

But don't take that as criticism. NBC's reserved broadcast was appropriate. And it was, when the day ended, as comprehensive as it should have been.

The entire on-air crew was solid, and unlike the Kentucky Derby, NBC figured out a good use for Michelle Beadle. Her uneven performance at the Derby had more to do with NBC's use of her than the uniquely talented Beadle herself. A little too over the top and corny during the Kentucky Derby, Beadle was more laid-back Saturday. And it felt like she was a part of the team instead of the outcast she seemed to be at the Derby.

In fact, given a more serious role, Beadle provided one of the highlights of the coverage: her interview with jockey Rosie Napravnik.

NBC already knows how to do horse racing. Now that it has figured out the best way to use Beadle, it should have the blueprint for covering the Belmont in three weeks. Too bad ratings will be down because there is no chance at a Triple Crown.

Newest show

ESPN will launch a new show called NFL Insiders on Aug. 5. It's an hourlong show that replaces NFL32. The new show will be hosted by Suzy Kolber with reporters Chris Mortensen and Adam Schef­ter appearing regularly. Interestingly, the show will feature only reporters. There will be no former players or coaches. It's strictly an information show without the X's and O's.

Best return

One of the best sports analysts in the business is making a comeback after a short-lived break from broadcasting. Former NBC on-course golf commentator Dottie Pepper is returning, this time for ESPN. Pepper left NBC in December after eight years to work with the junior program for the PGA of America.

So why the comeback? Mostly because of a light schedule. ESPN covers only the majors and Ryder Cup, so Pepper points out she's working only 14 weeks over two years. She also will do reports for SportsCenter and write for She will keep her job with the PGA of America.

All this is terrific news if you are a golf fan because Pepper is an outstanding analyst. Meantime, showing great class, Pepper agreed to take the job with ESPN only if the network agreed it would not affect current ESPN analyst Judy Rankin, a friend and mentor of Pepper.

Strongest comment

This was supposed to be a good season for the Knicks. They ended up getting bounced in the second round by the Pacers. But there's always next season, right? Uh, maybe not. ABC/ESPN analyst Bill Simmons said bluntly Sunday: "The window of this team was this year. This was the best chance they had to make the Finals, and they couldn't get out of the second round.''

Three things that popped into my head

1. I like ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. But why does ESPN think it's okay for Smith to openly talk about being a Knicks fan when one of his duties is to talk about, analyze and report on the NBA, including the Knicks?

2. Rays TV broadcaster Dewayne Staats (right) has called practically every game in team history and can speak with as much authority on the Rays as anyone. Still, I was a bit surprised to hear him say on a telecast last week he thinks Desmond Jennings is a better centerfielder than B.J. Upton.

3. Did you ever think pitcher Jake Odorizzi (right), who is set to start tonight for the Rays, would be the first player acquired from the Royals in the James Shields trade to make it to the majors?

tom jones' two cents

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

ESPYs host Danica Patrick falls flat in opening monologue

ESPYs host Danica Patrick falls flat in opening monologue

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Published: 07/19/18

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