Is the Masters a great golf tournament because the golf and course are incredible or because we've all been programmed by CBS to believe it's the greatest golf tournament in the world? There is no other sporting event — not even the Super Bowl — where the network (in this case, CBS) constantly jams down our throats how special the event is. With host Jim Nantz using a thesaurus as a script and the commentators rarely going more than three sentences without talking about how great the Masters is, the coverage feels more like a cult meeting than a golf tournament. ¶ Look, the Masters is a special tournament, but is it any more special or historic or filled with tradition than the U.S. Open or the British Open? In fact, I prefer those two tournaments over the Masters. It would be nice if CBS just let this tournament and course speak for itself instead of harassing us with the syrupy piano music, flowery prose and insistence that every golf tournament beside this one is akin to goofy putt-putt.
Worst part of the Masters
You can't really blame CBS for wanting Tiger Woods to make a Sunday charge because the better Tiger does, the more interesting the tournament is. But it became frustrating to listen to the commentators talk about Tiger in comparison to the other golfers. When the other golfers made a mistake, it was chalked up to "nerves.'' When Tiger made a mistake, he was never called out on it. In fact, no one even tried to explain why Tiger couldn't get in the hunt even though no golfer ran away and hid from Tiger and the rest of the pack. It has gotten to the point that no one on any of the networks ever criticizes Tiger.
We all know that Tiger Woods has never won a major when he has trailed going into the final round, but Mike Lupica, on ESPN's Sports Reporters, points out that it isn't something that should be dismissed just because Tiger has won 13 majors. "It's an amazing hole in his resume,'' Lupica said. "He's 32 years old already. It seemed like it should've happened before this.''
Best Masters analysis
It would be wrong to let you think there was nothing good about the Masters coverage. CBS does have Nick Faldo, who isn't quite in the same category as NBC's Johnny Miller or Dottie Pepper, but has become a pretty decent golf analyst.
Biggest train wreck
What in the world was Fox doing on Saturday? Yes, the network caught a bad break when its baseball Game of the Week between the Yankees and Red Sox was delayed more than two hours by rain and backed up into its NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage, but Fox bungled it about as badly as it could.
With the Yankees down by a run and batting in the top of the ninth, it was apparent the game was not going to end before the start of the race. On the baseball telecast, fans were told the game would be switched to FX and the start of the race would be seen on Fox.
The start of the race was delayed, but with two outs and two strikes, the Yankees' Robinson Cano kept fouling off pitches. So the race couldn't wait any longer and the network, contractually obligated to show the entire race, switched the baseball game to FX in the middle of the at-bat. Only a quick remote finger over to FX — which, by the way, is only seen in about three-fourths of the country — allowed you to see Cano make the last out.
Obviously, Fox was gambling that the half-inning would end before the race started. But it should've just gone to FX to start the inning. Better yet, it should've just stayed with the baseball for the rest of the half inning and then told NASCAR to lump it if we happened to miss the first couple of laps. After all, we couldn't miss a few laps of a 312-lap race?
Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom, on ESPN's Sports Reporters: "The Tigers are 2-9, Dontrelle Willis just went on the disabled list and the Detroit bats are colder than the weather. Then again, there's a reason why they call us HockeyTown.''
Boston College beat Notre Dame 4-1 to win the NCAA hockey championship Saturday, but Notre Dame was robbed on a call. It had a goal disallowed for being kicked in, but it didn't appear the puck was kicked. At the time, it would've cut the score to 3-2 with more than 14 minutes left. Instead, it stayed 3-1 and less than a minute later, BC made it 4-1. Kudos to ESPN announcers Gary Thorne and Ray Ferraro for criticizing the replay official for blowing the call.
There is one way to stop these controversies: allow pucks to be kicked into the net. You're allowed to kick a pass, you should be allowed to kick a goal. Some think you put goalies at risk for being kicked, but there are always skates flying around near the crease and it's hard to imagine goalies being at any more risk than they already are. Players wouldn't be kicking that many pucks to begin with and the ones they would kick would be on the ice, not 3 or 4 feet off the ice.
Best show, part I
ESPN's Outside the Lines is one of sports television's better shows and Sunday was one of its better efforts. First, Greg Garber did a compelling piece on New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes, whose brother is serving 27 years in prison for a drug conviction. And it showed how sports can save a life as Tynes went the athletic route instead of hanging with his brother and his brother's friends. "I just had a great urge to be successful in sports,'' Tynes said.
Staff writer Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
Best in the clutch
Rays TV color analyst Joe Magrane made a great point Sunday about slugger Carlos Pena. Magrane pointed out that Pena, right, who hit 46 homers last year and already has six this year, never seems to hit his homers in "garbage time.'' He never seems to homer when the Rays are trailing 11-1 in the ninth inning or up 9-0 in eighth.
"It seemed like they all meant something — getting back into the game, taking the lead, tying the game,'' Magrane said. "He was there when the Rays needed him most.''
Best show, part II
The second half of Outside the Lines centered on the problems and protests surrounding the Beijing Olympics. Now many politicians wonder if they should at least boycott the Opening Ceremonies. Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, said it would be a "cop out'' to skip the Opening Ceremonies.
But OTL guest Philip Hersh, the Olympic writer for the Chicago Tribune said: "I disagree entirely. The Opening Ceremonies are essentially a political statement about the culture of a country in which the games are being held … a way for a country to glorify itself. … If it takes a little bit of humiliation, spoil the party a little bit, I think that's a good idea and it doesn't punish any athletes.''
Three things that popped into my head over the weekend
1. The Rays radio team should've spent a little more time in Sunday's postgame praising Jeff Niemann for throwing the pitches for his first victory and a little less time praising catcher Mike DiFelice for calling the pitches.
2. It's too bad not many people are watching NBC's hockey coverage because it is outstanding.
3. Do we really have so much free time that we now watch college football spring games? We really need to get a life, people.