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 17, 2009 12:49 am

Grunting - Part of the Game?

Less than a week away from the Championships at Wimbledon, the International Tennis Federation is contemplating a crackdown on grunting in the game of tennis.


This clearly does not refer to grunting as much as it does the screaming and shreiking exhibited mostly by the female competitors. If you have watched Sharapova or the Williams sisters play, then you surely know what I am talking about. The current rule says that the player may have to forfeit a point at the umpire's discretion. Under potential new rules, a player may have to forfeit sets or even matches at the decision of the officials.

So is this really necessary? I think it is. I have never understood why players feel the need to scream at the top of their lungs every time they hit a point. It is distracting to the audience, and I can imagine it is distracting to the players facing them. A number of players have come out and complained about it, but until now no such talk of a change has happened. Now I understand that a grunt here and there is a way of exerting energy into the ball and everything, but at this point I think it has become so much of a habit for those players that they might not be able to stop if they try, and that could pose huge problems for them in the future.

My big issue is the fact that tennis is one of the only sports where the crowd is required to sit in silence during the point while the players shreik their lungs out as they hit the ball. If it is really something that helps your performance then why don't we see baseball players or golfers doing the same thing when they swing? I think it just provides a mental lift to the player because they think it is helping them to hit the ball better, and is really unnecessary.

The problem with instituting a rule like this is the fine line that the officials are going to have to draw between grunting and screaming. Rafael Nadal poses an interesting case, as he is one of the players who make sound when they hit the ball. His is more of a moan then a scream, but would that count? And how would they be able to decide what level of penalty to hand down? Are the umpires going to have a decibel meter installed in their chair? Something like that sounds quite ridiculous to me.

These are all the tough decisions that the ITF will have to face when deciding whether to institute a rule like that. We will see in time if this move pays off, but like I said before they are really going to have to be careful and deliberate in their choices regarding the screaming in tennis. No matter what they decide, I still think that something needs to be done.

Posted on: May 29, 2009 1:45 am

French Open

If you are not a tennis fan, now is probably a great time to get into the sport with the French Open.

Live coverage starts each morning at 5AM EST on the Tennis channel and moves over to ESPN2 at 12 PM EST, and any critical matches you missed during the morning hours, ESPN will show from aboutu 3-6 because by that time live play has concluded in France.

Here are men and women who don't get paid by the season, they get paid by their performance. This is why I think from a competitive level tennis is better than the four major sports (yes hockey is a major sport contrary to most people's beliefs). Here you have people fighting for every last point because if they don't they'll be bounced from the tournament. If you saw the match between 20 Marat Safin and Josselin Quanna you know what I'm talking about. Ouanna wins the match 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 3-6, 10-8 in a match lasting 4 hours and 30 minutes. The last set of this one was absolutely incredible, each player making these sick nasty shots from all angles of the court. Both players held on serve until the last game where Ouanna broke Safin on a double match point to finally take it after 79 minutes in the 5th set. There's no video replay like the other 4 majors and there's no teammates to blame or anything. Just straight up 1v1, where after 5 sets the best player will come out.

Comebacks happen pretty often too. Take the match between 3 Venus Williams and Lucie Safarova on the women's side today. Venus wins the match 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-5 after being down 5-3 in the 3rd and final set. She just took Safarova to town after saving match point.

Tell you what, even if my descriptions don't sound too appetizing, just watch the matches. I can almost guarantee you'll at least not flip the channel when you see tennis is on. It may not get the hype that the NBA playoffs are getting, but I'm telling you right now you'll see more competition in one match at the French Open than you'll see the whole NBA playoffs.

Quick Hits:

- I think the NBA is getting way too wrapped up in technical fouls. It's getting to the point of ridiculousness. Oh, and also: stop reviewing foul calls and crap after the game. If the referee deems the play a flagrant foul or a technical foul let the damn thing stand. It's like saying "oh well that wasn't actually a homerun, we're going to change that call and take away the run" after the game. Or something like that.

- Carlos Zambrano really made me laugh with his little tirade but you know what, I am glad he's manning up to what he did and coming out and saying "I'm not going to appeal this suspension because I know I was wrong." Too many athletes don't take responsibility for their actions, and most players would try to appeal a 6-game suspension, because they can't go 6 days without pay from their multi-million dollar contract as a penalty for doing something wrong. For example: how many times do you hear an athlete go "Yes, I took steroids, and yes it was wrong and now I am going to pay the penalty" BEFORE they deny it to reporters and get found out later? You just don't hear it anymore. Athletes are the biggest role models there are and I'm glad to see that one of them is finally owning up to what they did wrong.

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