Friday, June 25, 2010

Sports on the Air: NHL Awards Were a Bad Joke

This is what I’m thinking:

* The NHL Awards from Las Vegas Wednesday were a pathetic, cheap attempt by the league to use musical acts like the Goo Goo Dolls and celebrity presenters to enhance the entertainment value of the telecast.

The celebrity presenters made a bad joke out of the two awards given to the Buffalo Sabres.

Presenter Mark Wahlberg said that Tie Domi was named rookie of the year instead of Tyler Myers and presenter Jamie Kennedy mispronounced the name of the goalie trophy (Vezina) won by Ryan Miller. Kennedy’s “mistake” seemed part of a painful comic bit with co-presenter D. B. Sweeney. If Wahlberg was trying to be funny, it didn't play that way.

There was one amusing filmed piece about two Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, who played for gold medal winning Team Canada and silver medal winning Team USA, respectively, in the Vancouver Olympics. The joke was that Bobby Ryan has been paying for USA’s loss all season long, even being nicknamed Silver by Getzlaf.

It was a funny bit. Otherwise, the NHL would have been better off playing it straight and giving the ceremonies a touch of class.

* I haven’t been a big fan of British play-by-play man Ian Darke during the World Cup because of his low enthusiasm level. But he had a strong game when the United States beat Algeria and raised his enthusiasm on Landon Donovan’s goal in the 91st minute so high that one wonders if ESPN officials asked him to amp the energy level. He also noted that even Hollywood wouldn't have written a script like that.

I still would have preferred having Mike Tirico or Chris Fowler doing play-by-play and Alexi Lalas doing game analysis. Lalas is ESPN’s star of the Cup, balancing praise and criticism and not giving in to the hype about what the U.S. win would mean to soccer's future in the States.

On Jim Rome’s radio show Friday heard locally on WGR-AM, Lalas said that even if the U.S. won the World Cup, it wouldn’t mean soccer would be viewed as a major sport in the country. He said that still would take some time.

* The historic Wimbledon fifth set that American John Isner won over France’s Nicolas Mahut, 70-68, cried out for somebody to tell ESPN announcers Hannah Storm, Patrick McEnroe and Brad Gilbert to shut up once in a while and allow some dead air. They never stopped talking about all the history being made amid mountains of statistics.

In his post-match interview, Mahut called it the greatest match ever.

Not really. It was the longest match ever, but the play validated every complaint there is about grass court tennis.

It wasn’t serve-and-volley tennis. It was serve and stay on the baseline tennis. Neither Isner or Mahut went to the net much, which undoubtedly prolonged the match.

I was a little confused when watching the match on ESPN because the time difference between England and the East Coast in the States was only a few hours. Turns out I was watching a replay and didn’t immediately realize it. Viewers should realize if the word “live” isn’t in the corner of the screen, then it isn’t live.

NBC's Wimbledon coverage often can be confusing when it comes to "live" and tape-delayed. The network carries tennis from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. However, there are no matches on Sunday at Wimbledon so that coverage will certainly be taped.

From Monday through Wednesday, NBC carries a combination of live and taped coverage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The coverage of the ladies semifinals at noon Thursday and the men's semifinals at noon Friday also will combine live and taped matches.

The ladies final at 9 a.m. July 3 and the men's final at 9 a.m. on July 4 during "Breakfast at Wimbledon will be live as usual .

* The best way to watch the NBA draft is to save close to four hours and DVR it to watch later to hear the opinions about the selection of players a viewer is interested in.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas has apparently never seen a player he doesn’t like or doesn’t think will make it in the NBA. He was effusive in his praise of former Syracuse star Wesley Johnson, who will finally get to play with former SU guard Jonny Flynn in Minnesota. Johnson sat out a year in Syracuse and never played with Flynn there.

ESPN host Stuart Scott called Flynn "Nostradamus" because the former Niagara Falls star predicted weeks ago that Johnson would land with the T-Wolves after they qualified for the fourth pick.

Bilas also praised former Traditional star Lazar Hayward after he was selected with the last pick of the first round by the Washington Wizards (he was traded to Minnesota Friday). And host Stuart Scott amusingly noted that Hayward – who played at the Big East’s Marquette – was offered a scholarship at Syracuse “for rowing.”

The New York Knicks’ pick of former Syracuse star Andy Rautins early in the second round was a surprise only to those who hadn’t seen Rautins play in his senior season. Bilas called Rautins a player with NBA shooting skills, but questioned his defense and tendency to commit turnovers. Johnson probably will be a future NBA star, but Rautins was the Orange’s best all-around player and leader last season.

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