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SHOOTING FROM THE LIP

St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of sports on the air.

Biggest local story

In a twisted sort of way, the Dan Sileo controversy might have been the best thing that could have happened to bay area sports-talk radio.

If you missed it, Sileo, below, went on his WDAE-AM 620 morning show Thursday and said he had a friend who claimed the Bucs' owners were in financial trouble because of dealings with imprisoned Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and were desperate to sell the team. The Glazers responded by saying it wasn't true. WDAE suspended Sileo and ran a retraction of the story on its Web site, saying the story was "factually incorrect."

Perhaps this will be a cautionary tale for sports-talk radio hosts, reminding them that their words are not spoken in a vacuum. People are listening, and if you make claims as facts, you better be right.

This isn't meant to wag a holier-than-thou finger at talk radio. All media outlets need to be held to the same journalistic standards. But if radio hosts are going to assume the role of news-breaker, as Sileo did, then the news must be accurate.

Here's the problem: Hosts often feel the need to be outrageous with their opinions and often speak without a filter. Their opinions often dictate the success of their show, and many hosts carry it too far, thinking the more uncensored their words, the better the show is. They push the envelope to make a name for themselves. They want the guy in the diner or barbershop to say, "Hey, did you hear what so-and-so said today on his show?''

It's not a case of speaking first and dealing with the consequences later. It's speaking first and not even considering the consequences. That's what happened last week. There's a difference between saying, "I think the Glazers are cheap, and I wonder about their finances'' and what Sileo claimed.

Perhaps now all talk-show hosts in town will think about Sileo the next time they're about to open their mouths and say something controversial or that they claim is fact. And if more people are thinking before speaking, that's good, isn't it?

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Biggest decision

Dan Sileo remains suspended indefinitely while Clear Channel Communications, which owns WDAE, figures out its next step. Complicating this case is that WDAE is the flagship station of the Bucs. You wonder how much that will play into the decision about whether Sileo keeps his job. If WDAE is afraid of losing the Bucs contract, it might feel the need to fire Sileo. And it was interesting just how quickly WDAE suspended Sileo and retracted the story.

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Best feature

ESPN's Outside the Lines had a chilling piece Sunday on Raiders coach Tom Cable. A former wife and a former girlfriend said Cable was physically abusive to them. Raiders assistant coach Randy Hanson had accused Cable of breaking his jaw during an altercation in August, but the Napa County (Calif.) district attorney said he would not pursue charges, saying the facts didn't merit them. Another one of Cable's former wives said she was never a victim of violence by Cable. After the report, Cable admitted once slapping his ex-wife but denied hitting his former girlfriend. The report again shows that OTL remains the gold standard of sports investigative journalism.

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Strangest quote

During Fox NFL Sunday, analyst Howie Long, while talking about Green Bay's decision to part ways with Brett Favre, said, "There's no question they made the right choice.'' Really? No question? Let's review. The Packers went 6-10 last season without Favre and missed the playoffs. When Long said what he did, Favre's Vikings were 6-1, and the Packers were 4-2. Maybe Aaron Rodgers will turn into an elite quarterback, but it's still too early to say - and so far, facts suggest otherwise - that it was the right choice.

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Most disappointing interview

All last week, Fox drummed up excitement for Terry Bradshaw's interview with Brett Favre on Fox NFL Sunday. The interview turned out to be a whole lot of sizzle and no steak. There were no revelations and no tough questions, and more frustrating than anything, viewers heard more from Bradshaw, who too often interrupted Favre, than they did from Favre. It could've been one of the most interesting interviews of the year - Fox advertised it as so - but Bradshaw dropped the ball.

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Worst graphic

Do we really need a graphics box taking up space to tell World Series viewers where the Series stands? For example, Saturday night it read, "Series tied 1-1.'' Put the graphic up along with the score coming in and out of commercial break, but we don't need something else crowding the screen during the game.

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Three things that popped into my head

1. No disrespect to the Gators, but Florida's easy victory over Georgia said more about Georgia than it did about the Gators.

2. How do you think Indians fans feel watching the World Series and seeing former Indians CC Sabathia pitching for the Yankees and Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies while they're licking their wounds from a 97-loss season?

3. Funniest quote of the weekend goes to ESPN's John Saunders, talking about Cavs center Shaquille O'Neal, right: "If fans or management are expecting 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds), they better count on getting change.''

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Most disappointing pregame

Fox's game coverage of the World Series is outstanding, but am I the only one disappointed by the yawn-inducing pregame show? This is the World Series, for crying out loud. But the pregame show doesn't have a special feel. Host Chris Rose seems more interested in cracking lame jokes at the expense of the analysts. Eric Karros gives some decent analysis, and Mark Grace and Ozzie Guillen have had a few moments, but it's mostly scratch-the-surface, obvious stuff. There's little depth, no must-see features, and at times it has the feel that they're just winging it.

Saturday night's Game 3 broadcast turned into a fiasco because of a long rain delay that it seemed Fox wasn't prepared for.

The panel bumbled its way through shallow chatter, and there were a couple of interviews about the weather, but then Fox ran out of content and was reduced to showing a replay of the ninth inning of Game 2. When that didn't fill the time, Fox put on an episode of The Cleveland Show.

Are you kidding? Fox had two full days before the Series started knowing the Yankees were going to play the Phillies. It knew for nearly a week that the Phillies were going to be in the World Series. And it can't put together enough content to fill time during a rain delay?

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Strongest comment

On ESPN's Sports Reporters on Sunday, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan took a sledgehammer to the Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa for hiring Mark McGwire as hitting coach. With McGwire's murky past regarding steroids and his infamous "I'm not hear to talk about the past'' testimony to Congress, Ryan is shocked that he would be welcomed back by the Cardinals and commissioner Bud Selig, who said he was "delighted'' by McGwire's return to baseball.

"It's sad to see this great manager in denial,'' Ryan said, "but it's worse to have the commissioner say, 'Everything is okay with this guy.' It's not okay. Mark McGwire has no business being in a Major League Baseball uniform.''

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