Posted on: July 3, 2009 11:29 am

Great Wimbledon - Terrible Coverage

Has anyone else been watching this awful coverage of Week 2 of Wimbledon? Let me start off by saying that I absolutely hate not seeing a match live. Especially since during Week 1 ESPN2 did a great job and showed every match live that they possibly could. They started up at 7AM and finished up at something like 6PM, even re-showing some of the early matches for those who weren't awake. Then starting last Saturday, NBC came in and screwed everything up.

As I write this, I am forced to listen to the Murray v. Roddick semifinal on Wimbledon Radio because it's not on TV anywhere. The same thing happened with the Venus v. Safina match yesterday. Same with the quarterfinal matches. So this is what is happening here. ESPN buys the rights to cover a certain time period, and NBC buys the rights to a certain match. NBC can't cover the Murray v. Roddick match until noon today (its 11:22 AM) which is already into the second set. Since the Federer match only took 3 sets, ESPN is stuck showing last year's final set of the championship because NBC has the rights to the Murray v. Roddick match. Over the weekend, ESPN had full-day coverage and commented on the fact that they couldn't even give you score updates of the Roddick match because NBC had the rights to it.

Granted, tennis scheduling is tough to program because matches aren't based on time and the following match will start immediately following the first. Even still, they have to figure out a system to show these matches live. By the time the match is shown on NBC today, the second set will most likely be over, and the only reason I'd want to watch it is to actually see what i'm hearing on Wimbledon Radio. My reason for saying that NBC is ruining the coverage is because ESPN2 did such a great job over the first week.

All I'm asking is to see a quarterfinal and semifinal match live. For a Grand Slam that shouldn't be too much to ask, should it?

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: June 2, 2009 12:22 am
Edited on: June 2, 2009 3:26 pm

Federer - Still Got It?

Today at the French Open was pretty interesting. It is evident that the players are feeling the round of 16 and are stepping up their game accordingly. The match that stood out to me was the Federer/Haas match today, which found the number 2 ranked player in the world down 2 sets to 0 and down 4-3 in the third set. I don't see why people think that Federer is a done deal. This guy has shown countless times that he has what it takes to be the best and today this proves it once more.

In the same type of scenario yesterday, Rafael Nadal folded under the pressure of trailing 2-1 and lost his match. Next day what does Federer do? He comes back to win the match in 5 sets after being 2 games away from losing the match. See, this is the stuff champions are made of. It's not about how you deal with the pressures of winning, its how you deal with the adversity of being almost down and out, and how you can come back from that. It's simply great stuff to watch, and if you are a tennis fan and aren't spending each day from 12-6 in front of ESPN2 at the very least, then you are certainly missing out.

Federer is the clear favorite to win on the men's side, but I'm going to be interested to see how he deals with Gael Monfils, who absolutely obliterated Roddick today in straight sets. Speaking of that match, can I tell you how annoyed I am at the favoritism of the American players by the ESPN announcing crew? Let's be honest about that match. Everything pointed to Monfils taking that match. I didn't think he'd take it straight, but I did think he would take it, as did a few of the announcers, and here we have Brad Gilbert giving the "match advantages." He gave Monfils checks for Backhand, Forehand, and he said 9 checks for speed, and gave Roddick the check for serve, and for intangibles. Let's look at the intangibles. Gael Monfils is French. They are playing on clay (Monfils is 2-0 vs. Roddick on clay). The entire crowd was chanting his name as he walked out for goodness sakes. But nope, Brad Gilbert "just has a feeling about this one" and once again proves himself wrong for picking with his nation over his brain. Yes, Roddick has been playing better, but for goodness sakes he is at the French Open and has watched Monfils play! I don't really get it.

On the women's side, Safina is absolutely crushing her way into the quarterfinals. She has played 5 matches and has only dropped 5 games. Not 5 sets, 5 games. She is just running away with this thing. I'm really excited for this weekend to see how the final matches end up.

If you're not watching this, you really are missing out. Check it out, I promise you won't be disappointed.

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.

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