Posted on: June 16, 2009 2:21 am

ESPN/Baseball Tonight

If you know me very well (which I'm assuming you don't) you know that I have lately gotten very annoyed at ESPN and what SportsCenter has become. It's pretty much become a show playing right into the same monotonous stories about their favorite players, such as Brett Favre, A-Rod, T.O., to name a few. I'm sick of hearing more about the NBA Finals than the Stanley Cup Finals, and then when I turn on some actual programming, I'm stuck watching some meaningless "sport" such as poker or the lumberjack whatever they call it. Since I try to keep up with sports I have to watch ESPN, and I've found a glimmer of hope in Baseball Tonight.

The more I watch Baseball Tonight and the Sunday Night Baseball telecasts, the more I love baseball. It's just a good, solid team, which is hard to find in broadcasting nowadays. They give the highlights, but the insight is really what I love to hear. Kruk and Winfield were both All-Star or Hall-of-Fame players in their day, and of course Peter Gammons, who might be the most knowledgable baseball mind there is. What I like the most about the show are the special segments they come up with, my favorite being "That's Nasty."

The thing with this group is that they don't play favorites, and they talk about what's happening on the field much more than the stuff that happens off the field. I'm done hearing about steroids and drugs and police incidents and retirement hooplah and all the other crap that SportsCenter thrives off of, and I'm ready to hear about the actual sports. I'm also sick of hearing about the made-up side stories such as the "Can Kobe with a championship without Shaq, and what does that mean for him" type of thing. It's time that ESPN got back to some good quality programming where the main focus is the game being played, not the games taking place off the field/court/etc. They've got something here going for them, but I don't know if they're smart enough to build on it.

Posted on: May 29, 2009 11:34 pm

Umpires, Hawkeye, and some NBA Playoffs

The first point I want to make tonight is about the hilarious ejections that happened in last night's Red Sox/Twins game. Now I understand when a call is pretty close or when the player touches the umpire you are going to get ejected. And I also understand that usually the calls the umpire makes are correct, so usually the player's argument is not justified anyway. The thing that I find so comical about the Varitek ejection is that the runner was absolutely out at the plate. He was out by a decent margin, and if you look at the replay it was blatantly obvious that Varitek tagged him out at the plate. This is one of the only cases where I've seen the player's argument justified. The guy throws out 4 players in a single inning. That must be some sort of record. He changed what was a pretty darn good ball game too. Varitek had two homers, and I think it was something like 11 hits in the ballgame total. Maybe it was just a bad day at the office, I'm not sure. But if you are going to start throwing players out, at least make your calls right before you do it.

In watching the French Open I've noticed that this is the only Grand Slam that doesn't use the Hawkeye system to challenge line calls. The premise behind this is good because you can actually see the ball spots in the clay, so the players can ask the Chair Umpire to come down and look at the ball mark for the official ruling. The problem with this is that I've already seen about 4 missed/wrong calls in the week that I have been watching. In the grand scheme this isn't really that big of a deal, but in a close match it could make all the difference.

For example, in the Safin/Ouanna match that I referenced in my last post, there was a point where Safin was on serve, down 1 game at a crucial point in the match where he served what looked like a good ball on the corner of the box. Ouanna challenged the call and the umpire came down and looked at the wrong spot, awarding the point to Safin. ESPN's ShotSpot showed that the ball was clearly out by a good 2 inches. Ouanna lost the next point and Safin tied the game up. Ouanna would go on to win the match, but lets say that the score was 30-30 and Ouanna was down a game, trying to break to stay in the match. This would have been crucial in the match to have this call right. the human element has been the way to go for years, but now there is technology which is better, so why not use it?

NBA Playoffs:
Why did the Nuggets not even show up tonight? They just layed down and gave the Lakers the series, which is very disappointing. Each game of the conference finals has come down to the wire and has been a real treat to watch. Normally NBA games lack enthusiasm and competition, and until this game they had proved me wrong. This one was, quite honestly, boring to watch. Don't take anything away from the Lakers, they came in and just turned it up a notch, but you would think that the Nuggets would put up more of a fight. As I type the Lakers are up 112-88 in the 4th. Come on. A 10-point game would have at least been watchable.

In Other News:
- The 76ers have offered Eddie Jordan a contract to be their next head coach. What I want to know is were the 76ers watching when Jordan and the Wizards were basement dwelling during his tenure there? I'm not sure. You can't judge a coach before he shows you what he's got the first couple of years, but I'm not really sure that this signing is going to excite the 76ers fans. It sure doesn't excite me. I hope he proves me wrong. We shall see.

- J.A. Happ went out tonight and pitched a beautiful game against the Nationals, giving up 1 run while he was on the mound and leaving the game with a 5-1 lead. It's ashame that the bullpen gave him 2 more earned runs and almost blew the game in the 6th inning there. A spot of good news for the Phillies though, Brad Lidge came out and shut down the Nats in the ninth, picking up his 10th save of the season. Granted, it is only the Nationals, but it's not exactly their lineup that is holding them back. They are definitely capable of producing runs, they just aren't that capable of holding teams to under 5.

Posted on: May 27, 2009 1:14 am

NBA Playoffs

I don't care how much or how little you like the NBA, if you haven't been watching all of the games of the conference finals you're missing the greatest professional basketball that has been around in the last decade. You have superstars one-upping each other, and each game has come down to the wire (almost).

Lets start in Orlando with Game 4 tonight. The Magic are doing a great job of putting a little tear in David Stern's perfect storyline for the year. So far in this series, all four games have been decided by single digits, one game going to overtime, and buzzer beaters all over the place. This latest game was probably the most physical of the series, and we are witnessing Dwight Howard just absolutely manhandle the Cavaliers' big men.
Oh and then there is LeBron James. Is there anything this man can not do with a basketball? He just seems to hit from everywhere, and when the jump shots aren't falling if there is an open spot in the lane he'll find it and get right up to the basket. Meanwhile Dwight Howard is leading his team to the series lead, averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds in this postseason.

In Denver, Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets are giving Kobe a run for their money. I don't see how the Lakers lose this series, but I fully expect it to go 7 games. Kobe has a big game 1, and Melo answers in game 2. Lakers steal game 3 on the road and the Nuggets come out and absolutely dominate in game 4. Call and answer. The only problem is that after game 7, there won't be an answer for one team. This is a good series, watch Anderson off the bench for the Nuggets. He'll be the hidden key if the Nuggets want to move on.

Quick Hits:
- Zack Greinke is absolutely blowing my mind with his pitching this year. Here's a guy with 5 complete games, and has only allowed 1 ER in any given game all season. His ERA is below 1 right now. Absolutely without a doubt the most dominant player in the league right now. If you aren't watching you should start.

- The Rays collapsed last night against the Indians, blowing a 10-0 lead and giving up 7 in the 9th to lost it 11-10. It is looking more and more as if the Rays are going to have been a 1-hit wonder, especially if the Blue Jays continue to be up there in the Wild Card hunt.

- If you haven't watched the video of Cornell's collapse to Syracuse in the final 5 minutes of the lacrosse national championship, you need to check that out. Insane stuff right there.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com