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Tom Jones: Shooting from the lip

tom jones' two cents



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

Most interesting thought

Hmm, maybe the Bucs' problems aren't all the fault of coach Greg Schiano.

Fox NFL Sunday analyst Jimmy Johnson looked at Thursday's Bucs-Panthers game and said if the teams could swap quarterbacks, the Bucs would be fine.

"This was a perfect example of why this is a quarterback-driven league," Johnson said. "You look at Carolina … and it's all because Cam Newton is playing team football; he's utilizing a strong defense, he's converting on third down, he's scoring touchdowns. On the other side, you look at Tampa's roster. They've got a lot of talented players, but they're struggling. Greg Schiano's going to take a lot of the blame, and deservedly so, but if Cam Newton was playing for Tampa Bay, they'd have a winning record, and they wouldn't be 0-7."

Worst postgame

Saturday's Game 3 of the World Series had, most likely, the most controversial ending in the history of the Fall Classic as the Cardinals benefited from a rare obstruction call. The Cardinals were awarded the winning run when umpire Jim Joyce ruled that Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks impeded Allen Craig from scoring in the bottom of the ninth.

Fox had to quickly wrap up its broadcast, so viewers who wanted more had two traditional options: ESPN and MLB Network. Both networks had postgame reaction, including the news conference featuring the umpires and Joe Torre, now MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations.

Torre joined MLB Network's set, which included host Greg Amsinger and analysts Harold Reynolds and Kevin Millar. Instead of pressing Torre on one of the most controversial calls in baseball history, the three only seemed interested in being in Torre's good graces. They practically tripped over themselves supporting the call.

Now, certainly, if the three thought it was a good call, that's fine. But that's not their role while Torre is on the set. Their role is to push, prod and challenge Torre. Their role is to think like the viewers and ask any and all questions, not to act like shills for MLB. This was one of the biggest moments in baseball history. That's not an overstatement. And these three failed miserably to do their jobs.

Worst decisions

Okay, I'm officially at a loss for what the heck ESPN/ABC is doing with its NBA coverage.

First, the NBA Countdown show is jumping all over the place. Michael Wilbon is out so he can concentrate on Pardon The Interruption. Then Magic Johnson abruptly quit just as this season is about to get under way. Doug Collins was brought it to join Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose. Doris Burke and Avery Johnson will occasionally be on the panel, but the show was one person short.

So the latest to join the cast is SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele.

Before, the show essentially had no host. It was just four panelists talking, and that's what made the show so interesting. It was just four people sitting around a desk talking hoops.

Steele, at left, is a solid anchor, and it will be interesting to see if ESPN will flip this show to a more traditional one with her being the host and setting up the analysts. That would be fine, except now it's going to turn into every pregame show on television. Then again, things are moving so fast, I wonder if ESPN even knows what it is going to do.

Meantime, ESPN is moving one of its best analysts, Jon Barry, to radio to replace longtime analyst Jack Ramsay. To me, taking away television time from Barry is a huge mistake.

Worst suspension

The University of Alabama suspended block-seating privileges for several of its student groups because football coach Nick Saban was annoyed that the students were showing up late and leaving early.

On his radio show, Dictator Saban said: "My sense of it is, I always say the fans are a part of the team. Everybody else should have the same sort of commitment. You don't have to do the work all week, you don't have to practice, you don't have to come in at 7 in the morning and leave at 11 at night, you don't have to do any of that stuff."

Yeah, they also aren't on scholarship either. So, let's be fair, Nick. You start giving the students free tuition, room and board and then you can tell them when they can show up to watch your football team. In the meantime, shut your yap and coach football.

Best call

During ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, analyst Cris Carter said there isn't even an argument about who is the best receiver in the NFL.

"Calvin Johnson," Carter said. "We have never seen anyone in the history of the NFL with the size and speed and what he does. … Right now, it's not even close. Everyone else is fighting for second, third and fourth."

The Lions receiver then caught 14 passes for 329 yards, the second-highest one-game total in NFL history and only 7 yards off Flipper Anderson's record 336 for the Los Angeles Rams in 1989.

Worst discussion

CBS's NFL Today had a quick discussion about Greg Schiano's rocky tenure as Bucs coach.

I would point out the interesting points that were made, but I couldn't find any. It was all scratch-the-surface stuff. The panelists acted like they knew what they were talking about, but I quickly realized there wasn't much depth to their conversation and a lot of it seemed based on the general information that's out there that might not even be true.

Example: Dan Marino said players don't trust Schiano because of "what he's done with (QB Josh) Freeman and some of the other players on that team." Who is he talking about? Aqib Talib? Brian Price? Kellen Winslow Jr.? Really, who's crying about those guys?

It's true that we in these parts are much more familiar with what is going on with the Bucs, but that discussion seemed to lack so much that I started to wonder about the discussions they have about other teams, too.

Worst choice of words

Oh, goodness. NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin told Browns QB Jason Campbell to lead his team to a "scalping" of the Chiefs. Yep, he actually used that word. Maybe the NFL Network should use a seven-second delay whenever Irvin speaks. They certainly could have used it Sunday.

Three things that popped into my head

1. So, this week, No. 3 FSU hosts No. 7 Miami. I truly believe FSU is the third-best team in the country. But I don't believe Miami is the seventh-best team.

2. For all those who said Bucs coach Greg Schiano absolutely would be fired after the loss to Carolina: That was your one prediction on this, and you were wrong. As soon as Sunday's Bucs-Seahawks game kicks off, you can never again say, "I called it," if and when Schiano is fired.

3. The best part about umpire Jim Joyce's controversial call that ended Game 3 of the World Series? It took everyone's mind off just how awful plate umpire Dana DeMuth's strike zone was. DeMuth, who blew a call at second base in Game 1, is not having a good World Series.

Tom Jones: Shooting from the lip 10/27/13 [Last modified: Sunday, October 27, 2013 10:58pm]

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