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Shooting from the lip

Angry letter of the day

By TOM JONES
Published May 21, 2007


Angry letter of the day

A maddening loss by the Devil Rays on Sunday! Get rid of manager Joe Maddon. He has taken away too many wins from Rays starting pitchers.

Jack McCorkle

Redington Beach

 

Goofoff of the day

Quincy Carter, the former Cowboys quarterback who is trying to make his way back to the NFL after allegations and an arrest on drug charges, has been suspended by the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings of the af2 (the Arena League minors) for two games after missing position meetings.

 

Juicy gossip of the day

This is an actual item in Sunday's New York Post:

Sources say New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress insulted female patrons at the Bliss Club in Clifton, N.J. and "left the club without paying his $2, 000 tab." It seemed that Burress was upset because "no women were paying any attention to him."

What Lightning player is reportedly on the trading block? Did former Ohio State center Greg Oden really fight in World War II? And what in the heck is wrong with the Yankees? Times staff writer Tom Jones answers these questions and more as he looks back at a weekend of televised sports.

Funniest line

 

On his ESPN Sunday Conversation, former Ohio State center Greg Oden joked about those who say he looks much older than 19. (The guy does look like he's 44.) Anyway, Oden said the best heckler came from Michigan State. "Someone asked me how World War II was, " Oden said with a laugh. "That was the greatest thing ever."

 

 

Best graphic

 

It's the little touches that set Fox's coverage of anything in sports ahead of the pack. Take its baseball coverage. In key situations, not only does Fox show you who is on deck, but they display that player's batting average. One thought: why not add that player's homers and RBIs, as well?

 

 

Newest show

 

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel gives HBO the best sports journalism show on television, but now ESPN is gearing up to produce a magazine-style news show. Considering its talent and resources, this move is long overdue. Right now, the working title of the show is ESPN Reports and it's scheduled to debut Oct. 16. The main reporters will be Tom Farrey, Rachel Nichols, Lisa Salters, Jeremy Schaap and Michael Smith. In addition, Bill Simmons, who writes The Sports Guy column for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com, is expected to offer commentary.

 

Best analogy

 

Talking about Tim Duncan on ESPN's The Sports Reporters, Dan Le Batard said, "He is the Pete Sampras of basketball. Boring, droning excellence."

 

Worst timing

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I pointed out how NBC lucked out and didn't have an overtime hockey game just before its Kentucky Derby coverage. Well, the luck ran out Saturday. Buffalo and Ottawa went to overtime of Game 5 and, before the first overtime, NBC decided to ship the game over to Versus so it could begin its coverage of the Preakness even though the race was still more than an hour from starting. NBC easily could've squeezed in the first overtime, then switched to racing. As it turned out, the Sens-Sabres game ended only 9:32 into the first overtime.

If there was a silver lining, maybe all those casual hockey fans out there who wanted to see the end of the game were finally forced to find where Versus is on their televisions.

 

Best insight

 

I love Barry Melrose. (Well, not really because that would be, well, weird.) But my point is he's an excellent hockey analyst and it's a shame he's relegated to a few moments here and there a half-hour into SportsCenter and at 1:30 in the morning on ESPNews now that the NHL is no longer on ESPN. He's more fun than anyone on the little-too-serious Versus studio show.

Anyway, this isn't entertaining, but it is interesting. He wondered if Ottawa won its series against Buffalo a little too quickly.

"Ottawa is going to have some time off, " said Melrose, above. "Maybe too much time."

The way it looks, the Senators will be off a full week between their Game 5 victory on Saturday and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

 

Speaking of hockey

 

The Senators look awesome, but history is working against them. They are the fourth Canadian team to make the final since 1994 and the previous three lost the final in a seven-game series: Vancouver (to the Rangers) in 1994, Calgary (to the Lightning) in 2004 and Edmonton (to the Hurricanes) in 2006.

Most interesting comment

 

Early during Saturday's Yankees-Mets game, Fox's Tim McCarver put the Yankees' woes into his perspective: "They're playing like they're afraid to make a mistake. That's not their style. That's the not the style of anyone who plays winning baseball."

Don't shoot the messenger

 

I'm not buying any of this, but is interesting enough to pass along this item from Sunday's New York Post, which, to be honest, doesn't have a great batting average when it comes to rumors coming true. Anyway, this is what hockey writer Larry Brooks wrote:

Sources have told Slap Shots that Tampa Bay is exploring the market for Brad Richards, whom the Lightning signed without duress last summer to a five-year max contract of $7.8 million per.

GM Jay Feaster, who's shown no expertise whatsoever in dealing with the cap and has an owner crying poor again, is likely to have as much success as Ponce de Leon did in his exploration for the Fountain of Youth.

There will be no market for Richards, a very good player who owns the worst contract in NHL history, as there seems no match even with teams that have their own onerous contracts to unload.

Not to stick up for Feaster, but the Lightning's biggest cap problem has been finding a cap for the goal - meaning, goaltending. Feaster has navigated the salary cap well enough to make the playoffs in the first two seasons of the cap era and his team nearly won its division this season. And while Richards didn't have a Richards-like season, to call it the "worst contract in NHL history" is out of line, especially when the Islanders' Alexei Yashin plays about 35 miles from the N.Y. Post's offices. As the team cap continues to increase, Richards' deal might look like more and more of a bargain.

Best radio moment

 

While it's easy to jump on the Devil Rays bullpen again after they blew yet another lead Sunday, Rays radio announcer Dave Wills made a strong point, saying the "Rays hitters need to take some blame. They had no hits after the third inning."

 

Best question

 

Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger deserved to be suspended (and was for one game) for his dirty hit on Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom. But then Pronger gave a radio interview in which he harshly criticized the suspension and was even more critical on officiating in general, especially in the playoffs.

During Sunday's NHL Radio coverage of the Ducks-Wings' Game 5, analyst Darren Pang said, "Why would you want to get in the kitchen of the officials like that? Why now? What's the reward? You paid the fiddler, now move on."

 

Biggest loser

 

The Belmont Stakes on June 9. Seriously, other than horse racing fanatics, who is going to watch now that another Triple Crown has been dashed?

 

Final thought

 

The Ducks are one game from the Stanley Cup final. And remember this: their ping-pong ball came up second to Pittsburgh in the lottery for Sidney Crosby, left. My goodness, how good would the Ducks be with Sid the Kid?

Most entertaining coverage

 

Once again, HBO Boxing showed why it might be the most entertaining sports-event coverage on television. Saturday night's Jermain Taylor-Cory Spinks fight was a dog. An absolute dog. In fact, one of the more boring fights in recent memory. Yet listening to the team of Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Lennox Lewis was well worth the time invested.

Lampley was at his sarcastic best. Check out these shots after Taylor's split decision victory:

- "How it is that you dance around the ring celebrating after landing 85 of 542 punches and running like a deer in the 12th round, I'm not really sure."

- "Let's look at power punches - and we use that term advisedly."

- And after judge Richard Flaherty scored the fight 117-111 for Spinks, Lampley said, "On the basis of that, I would say that he should never judge a major championship fight again. It's a complete travesty."

HBO could cover two frogs fighting for a lily pad and I would watch if Lampley and Merchant were calling it.