There is nothing more difficult for the production crew of a sports television broadcast than what to do when there is a serious injury. That was the issue Saturday night on Sun Sports when Rays pitcher Alex Cobb was hit in the head with a line drive. • It's Sun Sports priority — in fact, it's their job — to tell the story of every game, but there's a fine line between showing what happened and being gratuitous with replays of a violent and, potentially, gruesome injury. The production crew also has to be careful about how much to show viewers. As cameras are trying to get a good shot of the fallen player, there is always a danger that viewers might unexpectedly catch a glimpse of just how serious the injury is, such as a broken bone or lots of blood. • On Saturday, Sun Sports did a respectful job of showing shots of Cobb being tended to, while cutting to the looks of concern on various players from both teams. Announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson said little, which always feels like the best route to go in that situation. • During the time between when Cobb was hit and the end of the inning after Cobb was carried by stretcher off the field, Sun Sports elected to show just one replay of the incident. Personally, I would have shown another replay or two from another angle or two, but it's hard to find fault with anything Sun Sports did. When dealing with a serious injury such as this, it's probably better to show too little than too much.
I'm starting to worry that we might be losing three of our best sports analysts. And all three are on display at the moment and on top of their games.
There are rumors that both NBC NHL analyst Ed Olczyk (top) and ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy could put their microphones down to return to coaching. Rumors have died down a bit about Van Gundy, but I do believe that, eventually, the 51-year-old will return to the sideline.
Meantime, Olczyk, 46, admitted to the Chicago Tribune that he has some "unfinished business" in hockey after he was let go as coach of the Penguins in 2005. Many believe Olczyk will soon go back to coaching or, perhaps, get involved in the front office.
Oh, NBC NHL analyst, Pierre McGuire, 51, has interviewed for several front-office openings in recent years, including the general manager job that Steve Yzerman ended up getting with the Lightning.
The point of all this? Enjoy these three while you can because who knows how much longer they will be calling games.
During Saturday's coverage of the Angels-Yankees and Fox's baseball Game of the Week, analyst Tim McCarver did what a good analyst should do, and that is spark thought and debate. McCarver pointed out how so many baseball players are bigger, stronger and more fit today than, say, 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, yet you're seeing muscle injuries that you rarely saw before: pulled hamstrings, strained groins and stretched obliques.
McCarver said that sometimes the more you bulk up, the more damage you can do.
Just okay coverage
Typically, NBC's golf coverage is outstanding and far more preferable than what you will find on any of the other networks. Yet, it felt like there was something missing from the weekend coverage of the U.S. Open. Overall, it just wasn't up to NBC's standards. The production was fine. In fact, the replays were outstanding, especially the slow-motion shots of ball-striking. And it was especially smart to show the radar as rain began to fall late in Sunday's round. But, ultimately, this weekend, and much of any golf coverage, comes down to the announcing, and it felt like analyst Johnny Miller and, a few times Gary Koch, were the only ones who said anything interesting. They seemed to be the only ones to say anything that wasn't obvious. Speaking of golf announcing, it was great to hear Dottie Pepper again. Pepper is semiretired from television, now calling just the majors for ESPN. Too bad because she remains one of the best sports announcers in television. And, you know, NBC could have used her on Saturday and Sunday.
Three things that popped into my head
1. After watching the Royals up close for the past four days, I'm left to wonder how in the world this team is a game under .500?
2. Pitchers getting hit in the head with line drives is incredibly rare at the major-league level, so that might keep baseball from requiring protective covering. But after seeing what happened to Alex Cobb and Toronto's J.A. Happ at the Trop, you have to believe someone could come up with something lightweight that would offer just a bit of protection.
3. New rule: Any fan who yells, "Get in the hole" at a golf course is immediately ejected and is forced to get a forehead tattoo that says, "I'm a goof."
tom jones' two cents
Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.