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Two Cents: Blocking-the-plate rant; Redskins name controversy

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

Most outspoken

Sun Sports' top-notch Rays analyst Brian Anderson was adamant in his criticism of Major League Baseball's new rule of catchers not being able to block home plate. The play came up in the top of the 10th inning Sunday when the Rays' Logan Forsythe was thrown out at home though it appeared that Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro was blocking home plate.

Rays manager Joe Maddon asked for a video replay and while the play was being reviewed, Anderson went on to call the rule, among other things, "stupid,'' "bad'' and "horrible.'' He added that if a catcher wants to put himself in harm's way, "he has what's coming to him.''

Surprisingly, Forsythe was still called out and at that point, Anderson complained about the inconsistency of the interpretation of the rule. He's right. You get the feeling MLB isn't even clear on how to call the new rule.

The name game

Last week, a couple of high profile NFL announcers said they do not intend to use the name "Redskins'' because they believe it is a derogatory term. CBS's Phil Simms and NBC's Tony Dungy both said they will not use the name. Meantime, ESPN's Tom Jackson also said he is considering not using the name. NBC's Al Michaels said he plans to continue using the name because, for now, that is what the team is called.

ESPN said it won't have a companywide policy on the name, but it will leave it up to individual announcers.

"Our consistent company policy will continue: Using official names and marks as presented by the teams, leagues and conferences we cover,'' ESPN said in a statement. "We do, however, recognize the debate over the use of 'Washington Redskins' and have afforded individuals the opportunity to decide how they will use those words when reporting on the team."

Biggest switch

Know why the Emmy Awards are on tonight instead of its traditional Sunday night? Because NBC didn't want to mess with Sunday Night Football, even in the preseason. NBC aired the Bengals-Cardinals — think about that: Bengals-Cardinals! — on Sunday and moved the Emmys to Monday for the first time in 40 years.

Most hypocritical

ESPN NFL analyst Mike Ditka is the latest to weigh in on the Redskins nickname controversy. Talking to a Redskins website last week, Ditka said, quite candidly and vehemently, that he didn't have an issue with the nickname. When questioned by the Chicago Sun-Times about it, Ditka said:

"If an American Indian says it's offensive, that's fine — I'm all for changing it. But I don't want some liberal to come out and say, 'This is wrong.' I don't think it's derogatory. A lot of people might think it's derogatory. I don't. Now, that's my opinion.''

So, wait, Ditka can give his opinion about it, but no one else, such as "some liberal,'' can speak up?

Most interesting comment

Former Buc Ronde Barber has taken large strides as an announcer. He is calling Bucs preseason games to get ready for his second season on Fox, and he's much more relaxed and efficient with his analysis. His most interesting comment during Saturday's Bucs-Bills game was that the Bucs have a lot of good players but only two great players: defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

Best athlete

My position on televising Little League is pretty clear, and it hasn't changed. I think it's exploitation and shouldn't be shown. However, one cannot ignore the impact and inspiration of two stories in this LLWS. One was the all-black team from Chicago, and the other was, of course, 13-year-old girl Mo'ne Davis of Pennsylvania.

Thankfully, Davis handled the attention, which included being the first Little Leaguer ever on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with maturity and poise even when her team was eliminated. Still, it took a special kid to handle the attention that bordered on abuse.

Media tidbits

Bill Simmons is leaving NBA Countdown and to start up a new basketball program on ESPN called The Grantland Basketball Program. Simmons is the editor-in-chief of the website, Grantland, which falls under the ESPN umbrella. No word on who might replace Simmons on NBA Countdown.

Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik has been hired as an analyst by the SEC Network.

ESPN anchor Linda Cohn is suing the owners of an ice rink in Connecticut after a large coin-change machine fell on her arm in March, causing a 25-stitch gash. Cohn was getting ready to practice to be a goalie in a charity game when she claimed kids knocked over the machine.

Best bit

President Obama has been criticized recently for playing golf and taking a family vacation with so many issues going on in the country and the world in recent weeks.

Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon poked Obama by showing a video of golfer Rory McIlroy hitting a tee shot with fans yelling.

"They're yelling: 'Get in the hole!' " Fallon said.

Then he showed Obama hitting a shot with dubbed in voices yelling, "Get back to work. Get back to the White House!"

Three things that popped into my head

1. Never thought I would say these words, but thank goodness for the NCAA. It told USF football coach Willie Taggart that he could not replace players' names on the back of their jerseys with the words "The Team.'' That was an awful idea and, thankfully, the NCAA told him he couldn't do it.

2. Rams defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player, sacked Browns QB Johnny Manziel twice on Saturday and, after the first sack, taunted Manziel with Manziel's show-me-the-money gesture. Hmm, if Sam wants to taunt another player, that's his business. I just found it a bit surprising that he would do so.

3. Tennis' U.S. Open starts today and if you can find an American male with a snowball's chance, let me know. And don't come to me with No. 13 seed John Isner. The part-time Tampa resident never has gone past the quarterfinals in a major. The last American male to win a major? Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open.

tom jones' two cents

Two Cents: Blocking-the-plate rant; Redskins name controversy 08/24/14 [Last modified: Sunday, August 24, 2014 10:41pm]

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