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Shooting from the lip

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Funniest rip job

Turner Sports tried something interesting Saturday during the Final Four.

TBS carried the two semifinal games with the No. 1 announcing crew of Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr.

But the games were simulcast on TNT and truTV with announcers geared toward each team. Turner called it the "TeamCast." For example, Saturday's Florida-UConn game was televised on TNT with announcers giving a Gators slant, while those calling the game with a UConn perspective were on truTV.

To no surprise, many viewers didn't get it, even though the graphics on the screen clearly identified what was going on.

That led to a classic rant by studio analyst Charles Barkley (right) between the semifinal games.

"Some of you people are idiots," Barkley said. "You are tweeting (analysts) Kenny (Smith) and Reggie (Miller) complaining about the TeamCasts. They are supposed to be homers. Stop complaining!"

Host Ernie Johnson said, "That is the point of the TeamCast."

Barkley kept going: "Listen, you idiots, that is why we call it a home-cast telecast."

Frankly, I thought the whole idea of a TeamCast was unnecessary. It seemed to be nothing more than a reaction to all those misguided fans out there who are under the belief that announcers secretly hate their team and purposely call the game in the other team's favor.

National broadcasting crews could not care less who wins any game. They don't hate any team. They aren't cheering for any team.

By having TeamCasts, it seemed as if Turner gave credence to the wrong perceptions of those goober fans out there.

Best use of replay

Great work Sunday by Sun Sports. Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish (above) is one of the top strikeout artists, but he doesn't walk a lot of batters. What's the reason for his normally solid control?

Using super-slow motion on Darvish's delivery, Sun Sports analyst Brian Anderson told viewers to watch how steady Darvish's head was during his windup and pitch. His head didn't bob up and down and that led to good control.

Perfect marriage and use of replay and commentary.

Best point

During Saturday's Lightning-Stars game, Sun Sports announcer Rick Peckham made just a passing reference to something, but it was a very strong point. He mentioned how every hit in the NHL, even the clean ones, often "must be answered."

In other words, even if you hit someone clean, you have to be prepared for an opponent to come after you and maybe even challenge you to a fight. Peckham is right. And so is Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who has complained about this in the past.

If you hit someone clean, that should be it. The other team shouldn't be angry. And the person who delivered the hit shouldn't have to fight anyone. What happened to the days when you hit someone and the game continued?

Smartest line

It's good that baseball is back, and it's always good to have Brian Anderson back calling Rays games on Sun Sports. He says something really smart every game, and he had an intelligent line Friday night after Rays pitcher David Price threw a fastball to a batter who is considered a fastball hitter.

"Just reaching back and letting this fly," Anderson said during the replay. "You challenge a good fastball hitter. Just because a guy likes fastballs doesn't mean you don't throw it to him. If that was the case, you would never throw a fastball because all hitters like fastballs."

True that.

Biggest hire

Another former Bucs player is headed to television to provide analysis.

Anthony "Booger" McFarland, who played for the Bucs from 1999 to 2006, has been hired by the SEC Network, the network run by ESPN that launches Aug. 24.

McFarland, who played his college ball at LSU, will join a roster that already includes Tim Tebow, Jesse Palmer and Brent Musberger. McFarland lives in the area and cohosts an afternoon sports-talk show on 98.7-FM.

Most interesting stat

Baseball games sure seem to be dragging these days, don't they? If you tune in to or go to a game, be prepared for at least three hours.

Pitchers and hitters do so much goofing off between pitches that it's no wonder the games are so slow, but there's a more tangible reason for games slowing down. Pitchers have become too good. Well, either that or hitters have become worse.

New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden checked into this topic. He found, with the help of the Elias Sports Bureau, that runs and home runs have remained flat over the past 10 years, but strikeouts are way up. In 2006, the average game had 13 strikeouts. Last season, the average game had 15 strikeouts. Pitchers tend to be ahead of hitters early in the season, but strikeouts in 2014 are nearly 17 a game. More pitches equal longer games.

Quickest line

It was no fun hitting the golf ball in the bunkers at the Houston Open over the weekend. The bunkers were raked in such a way that made most bunker shots difficult. When Sergio Garcia found himself in a fairway bunker on No. 18 on Sunday, analyst Roger Maltbie said: "I don't even know if I'd classify this as a groove. It's more like a trough."

Newest sport

Did you see cricket on ESPN2 Sunday morning? The network televised the ICC World Twenty20 final.

ESPN has a bunch of channels, and there's no harm in putting on cricket. It is testing the water to see if there are enough viewers in the United States, perhaps those originally from places where cricket is popular, to make it a regular thing.

But, geez, don't we have enough trouble paying attention to all the sports ESPN already shows?

Three things that popped into my head

1. Gators basketball coach Billy Donovan (right) is headed to the Hall of Fame, but he was outcoached Saturday in the loss to UConn and coach Kevin Ollie. In the second half, UConn scored possession after possession after possession and went more than 11 minutes without missing a field goal, and almost all of those points came in the same way: up close in the paint. That cannot happen.

2. Hey Lightning, feel free to stop hitting the snooze button and start playing again.

3. Good news: The Masters is this week. The bad news: CBS playing that blasted sappy piano music, while Jim Nantz whispers about a "tradition like no other."



tom jones' two cents

tom jones' two cents

Shooting from the lip 04/06/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2014 10:15pm]

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