Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
I hope local baseball fans realize how lucky we are to have Brian Anderson calling Rays games on Sun Sports. There can't be many baseball color commentators better than BA. Loaded with personality, Anderson is funny, open and engaging, and best of all, he has a high baseball IQ with the ability to share what he knows with the viewer.
Here's his latest gem, from Sunday's Rays-Rangers game. After scoring a run on three hits in the first inning, the Rays had Rangers pitcher Yovani Gallardo scrambling in the second. Desmond Jennings led off with a triple and Kevin Kiermaier followed with a double. Then catcher Curt Casali, either on his own or under instructions from the bench, laid down a bunt. Casali was retired, but Kiermaier did advance to third. So, good play, right? Wrong.
"Just the eye test tells you Gallardo is ripe for the picking,'' Anderson said. "You've got a runner in scoring position already. Swing the bat! Try to have a big inning. Don't play small ball in the second inning in what could be a back-and-forth affair.''
Anderson was right, considering that the Rays' pitcher was Drew Smyly, who was returning from injury after being out since early May and had allowed two runs in the first. The game was setting up to be a slugfest.
"If this was the eighth inning, okay (to bunt),'' Anderson said. "If you've got some superstar on the mound (for the other team) and runs are going to be tough to come by, okay. But not here.''
That's outstanding analysis.
Fox Sports 1 is building around Colin Cowherd. It was announced a while ago that Cowherd (below) was leaving ESPN for Fox, but now we have more details. Cowherd will host a daily radio show based out of Los Angeles that will be simulcast on Fox Sports 1 from noon to 3 p.m. Cowherd will debut with Fox's coverage of the Michigan-Utah football game on Sept. 3.
In addition, Cowherd also will appear on Fox NFL Kickoff, a Sunday pregame show that is moving from Fox Sports 1 to Fox. That show will air just before Fox NFL Sunday. There also is talk of him getting a nightly show sometime in 2016.
Cowherd is being reunited with Jamie Horowitz, Fox Sports National Networks' president who used to be a high-ranking executive at ESPN.
It remains to be seen if Fox Sports 1, which has been on the air two years now, can become a real competitor to ESPN, but the presence of Horowitz and Cowherd gives it the best shot so far. Horowitz is a talented TV strategist, and Cowherd is the type of polarizing yet intelligent personality that can move needles.
Next up for Horowitz is to add pieces around his franchise player and put on programs that will make people want to watch Fox Sports 1 all day. Horowitz helped start the debate shows that are so popular on ESPN, and it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to try a show or two like that on FS1.
Oh, Cowherd's arrival at FS1 likely means Mike Francesa's radio show, which occasionally was simulcast on FS1, likely will head over to Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports Go. I personally enjoy watching Francesa's show, but I know it's not everyone's cup of tea because he talks almost exclusively about New York sports.
Out of the mix
When Fox Sports Live debuted on Fox Sports 1 two years ago, one of the featured personalities was former tennis star Andy Roddick (right). He was a part of a panel that often debated the sports topics of the day. But Roddick announced on Twitter last week that he is leaving Fox Sports. It isn't clear whose decision it was.
The whole panel thing seemed awkward, and no one, including Roddick, found their rhythm. But Roddick has a charisma that translates well on television, and I think he might make a good tennis analyst if that's what he wants to do.
HBO's 2015 version of Hard Knocks debuted this past week, and while we didn't see anything different from previous versions, it's still highly entertaining to get a behind-the-curtain look at an NFL training camp. The Houston Texans are this year's team. Through one episode, the star is head coach Bill O'Brien. He seems like a likeable guy, and his proficient use of the trump card of curse words was beyond impressive. Although his mom might not think so.
O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle, "I called my parents, and I asked them not to watch it … especially my mother. She's Irish Catholic, and she goes to Mass, I think, every day. She's not going to be very happy with me."
Most viewed teams
The NBA television schedule came out last week, and there's no surprise which teams will be on TV the most. The Warriors and Cavaliers — the teams that met in last season's NBA Finals — will appear on ESPN, ABC and TNT 25 times each. Meantime, apparently the Lakers and Kobe Bryant (left) remain a big draw because the Lakers, who went 21-61 last season, are scheduled to appear 19 times.
Good news for soccer fans as NBC outbid Fox and beIN sports to keep English Premier League games through the 2021-22 season. I say good news because NBC's coverage and dedication to the EPL is top-notch. NBC will continue to show games as well as air games on the other networks it owns — NBCSN, USA Network and Spanish-language Telemundo.
I'm not a huge fan of CBS's golf coverage because it's a little too meat-and-potatoes. But its coverage of the PGA Championship was fine. Nothing exciting, nothing new, but professional and encompassing. Sunday's coverage was a bit of a letdown because you never had the feeling that Jordan Spieth, in second place for most of the day, was going to catch Jason Day and win his third major of the year. However, the final few moments with Day breaking down after winning his first major was one of the more touching sports moments of the year.
Mike Mayock will not return as analyst on NBC's Notre Dame football broadcasts this fall. He's not happy about it. Mayock told Sports Illustrated that he "disagreed'' with the decision to yank him from the booth. Doug Flutie will take Mayock's spot.
I've never cared for Mayock because he is a little too technical for my tastes. Mayock addressed that criticism with SI.
"The important thing is to recognize the intelligence of the audience and try to help them learn why a play worked or did not work,'' Mayock said. "The jargon thing, I understand that any analyst had to speak to a level where even a person that doesn't understand much abut football can understand. … I know I talk too much sometimes."
Three things that popped into my head
1 Of course IK Enemkpali should not have broken the jaw of then-teammate Geno Smith, the Jets QB, with a punch. But the more I hear about that story, the less I like Smith. Wonder if some of the Jets feel the same.
2 Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna told the Miami Herald that being in Triple-A New Orleans was like being in jail. Either New Orleans is a really horrible place or jail isn't as bad as it's supposed to be.
3 Sports Business Daily reports that former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will call Little League World Series games this week on ESPN. I like Nomar, but as usual, you won't find me watching the Series. I still wish the games weren't televised.
tom jones' two cents