Monthly Archives: October 2012

Back off the owner reactions


The presence of owners and front office members at NFL games is a given. They will be in attendance, but they stay out of the spotlight by sitting in luxury suites and far away from the action.

It is expected for these members of the organization to react to the action, but it is not necessary to make a big deal about every small reaction.

This became evident while watching the telecast of the Browns-Chargers game this past Sunday on CBS.

The game was filled with poor performances on both sides of the ball for both teams, which drew frustrated reactions.

Networks often key in on these fan, player, coach and owners reactions to poor plays. The same held true for new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III.

When the players for the Browns made bad plays, such as dropping passes or fumbling the ball, Haslam reacted how any owner or even fan would react. He was visibly frustrated.

It is acceptable to show Haslam once or twice throughout the game, but it seemed every single time there was a bad play on the field, the camera was instantly focused on Haslam — waiting for some type of reaction.

Fans should want to see a reaction out of the owner.

But an owner who cares about his team should not be something broadcast crews focus on in a negative light. A reaction shows commitment to bettering the on-the-field product, along with a commitment to consistent success.

The same goes for coaches in similar situations.  The head coach should be upset, because if not it would show a lack of caring about his team, which he is held accountable for.

Showing reactions from coaches and owners/front office members is done to try and dramatize games, but hopefully fans can realize that this dramatization is taking place, and not look into the issue too much.

Numbers Never Lie: A Talk Show with a Twist


“Numbers Never Lie” is a debate show on ESPN2 featuring Michael Smith, Hugh Douglas, and Jalen Rose. The tagline “one host, two athletes, three opinions, but the analytics will end the debate” perfectly sums up the plot of the show. The men each voice their opinion on a current sport topic, and then a winner is determined using statistics. The show provides a unique format by settling debates quantifiably. As Smith noted, “We have a number for everything.”

The show has been on for over a year, but it recently revealed a new look. In the center of the set is a desk, from which a paper emerges containing a numerical fact. Smith, the host, will ask a question, and all three men will argue their point. The winner is determined by the numerical fact that emerges. For example, the question was asked “Are the Chicago Bears the best team in the NFC North following their Monday Night Football victory?” After the debate, it was revealed Chicago’s odds to win the division dropped by 1.7 because Green Bay and Minnesota also won. From this fact they concluded the Bears were not the best team.

Smith, Douglas, and Rose are a very charismatic panel and have good chemistry with one another. Smith provides the knowledge of being a veteran sports reporter, while Douglas and Rose are experienced athletes and media personalities. All three are very passionate, which means they sometimes get a little carried away. When they disagree, however, they typically do not get mad or yell like on some similar debate shows. They also keep the mood lighter than those shows by frequently teasing and laughing at one another. Sometimes, however, their joking distracts from the issue they are talking about.

One cool aspect of the show is when they use numbers to headline a story. “9” was the headline in this episode, referring to the San Francisco Giants 9-0 victory to clinch a World Series berth. They also have a segment called “A Number You Can’t Debate,” which is a recent record set in sports. Focusing on the numbers is a fun way to talk about headlines, unique from other similar shows.

A-Rod’s ALCS Woes ‘Blown out of Proportion’


The New York Yankees bowed out of the ALCS last Thursday, but they still seem to dominate the media, both in print and on television.

The story throughout the postseason regarding the Yankees had to do with the struggles of Alex Rodriguez.  This was especially the case during the ALCS, when he went 1 for 9 in three games, as he was held out of the starting lineup for games three and four.

What the media ignored is that A-Rod was not the only Yankee to struggle against the Tigers in the ALCS. Robinson Cano went 1 for 18, Curtis Granderson went 0 for 11, and Mark Teixeira went 3-15. The entire lineup only accounted for 22 hits and 6 runs in four games against the Tigers.

While this offensive stagnation was occurring, it was made out to look like A-Rod was the sole reason for the decline. The coverage got worse once he was held out of the starting lineup for the third game of the series.

Upon the news that Rodriguez was being held out of the lineup, Curt Schilling of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight went on to say that he had a hard time seeing A-Rod return to the Yankees next season.  He questioned his ability to play in regular season games since he did not finish out the ALCS.

This point made sense, but he forgot to note that coaches make decisions based on who is playing well at the time. If A-Rod is struggling for a period of time, then it is nothing personal when he is held out of the lineup. It is simply done to give the offense a spark, especially when the entire team is struggling to hit. If there were valid replacements for each player, then Yankee manager Joe Girardi may have tried to make a few more changes.

Schilling echoed the thoughts of many, but those can quickly be put to rest by looking at the contract A-Rod is signed to in New York. He still has 5 years and $114 million left on the deal, along with incentives if he is to pass those ahead of him on the all-time home run list.

The World Series begins on Wednesday, and that should finally begin the transition from talk about A-Rod to talk about the Giants and the Tigers. That is, until the series is over and A-Rod again dominates offseason talks.

‘Dream Team’ documentary a ‘must see’


The new documentary about the 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball Olympic Team is a must see for any sports fan.

Produced by NBA TV, the film focuses on how superstars with huge competitive egos like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson can co-exist on the same team. More importantly, this film shows what it took for this Olympic team to be the best team in the history of team sports.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this documentary was how they focused on the internal competitive battles within the team.  It was Jordan versus Johnson or Barkley versus Malone to find out who was the best. The practice footage that was used to show these battles was brilliant. Viewers were able to really see how intense every practice was.

The documentary also went in-depth as to how the team’s head coach, Chuck Daly, then the Piston’s head coach, managed all the different personalities on this team. More interviews with assistant coaches, some of them Hall of Famers, would have strengthened the documentary.

The production of this film was excellent.  It gave the audience an in-depth look at the “Dream Team” through many interviews with a lot of perspective.

NBA TV is known for quality NBA programming because that network is operated by Turner Sports, which is the home to the best studio show in sports “Inside the NBA.”

ALCS Announcers Biased Toward Yankees


Game one of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers was called by play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson and analysts Ron Darling and John Smoltz. The dramatic game was filled with fair comments about both teams early on, but as the Yankees struggled, battled back, and eventually lost, the announcers’ comments swayed in favor and in defense of New York.

During the beginning of the game, I was impressed the commentators were equally talking about both teams. They would give a compliment to one team, calling the Yankees’ defense “Fort Knox in the infield,” and seconds later praising the “lumber hitters” of the Tigers. Favorable comments were also made about both starting pitchers, Andy Pettitte and Doug Fister. More examples of equitable coverage included video montages of both teams’ seasons and conversations with a member of both teams’ coaching staff in between innings.

The game was fairly quiet through the first few innings, but as play progressed biases became evident. The Yankees failed to produce a run after loading the bases in three separate innings, which turned the focus to the struggles of the Yankees players in the postseason. The announcers talked at length about their poor performance, discredited the good plays made by the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta and Fister. While the announcers did mention Fister and Peralta, they seemed to be more concerned with the Yankees lack of production.

A topic that was revisited many times throughout the game was the postseason woes of Yankee Alex Rodriguez. He was benched the previous day against the Baltimore Orioles, and the announcers discussed his situation at seemingly every available moment. The camera frequently followed and zoomed in on him, even while the Tigers were batting and had men on base. Rodriguez seemed to be used as the scapegoat for the Yankees’ problems in the postseason.

Those problems continued as the Tigers took a four run lead, but the announcers kept expecting the Yankees to strike back, saying “this is when the Yankees do their best work against the Tigers.” The Yankees did exactly that, in dramatic fashion, in the bottom of the 9th inning. Tigers’ pitcher Jose Valverde gave up two home runs which tied the game. With the Yankees resurgence, more of the announcers’ biases came out, evident in their excitement. Raul Ibanez’s game-tying home run was even praised by one of the announcers as “the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.” They seemed to think the Yankees then had it in the bag, but the Tigers came back in extra innings to win game one of the ALCS by a score of 6-4.

An interesting note for the rest of the series involves Derek Jeter’s injury in the 12th inning. A broken ankle on a diving play ended Jeter’s postseason, and the announcers seemed very upset by this news. As the series continues, it will be interesting to see the stance the media takes on Jeter and the Yankees. If the Yankees lose, it could easily be blamed on the loss of Jeter. If they win, the team could be celebrated for winning without Jeter’s experience and leadership. Whatever the results may be, the remainder of the ALCS will be worth watching.

New TBS Digital Strike Zone Tracker Distracting and Unfair


The new strike zone tracker is distracting and possibly unfair to umpires even though it provides information to fans.

For the Major League Baseball Divisional Series on TBS, the whole game there is a picture of the strike zone showing where each pitch was and the total pitch count.

While this may provide some statistical information to the viewers, this broadcast feature has greater setbacks. 

In the past broadcasts for baseball stations have only used a digital strike zone tracker for big pitches or balls they thought were close.  This change to have a strike zone tracker on the screen the whole game changes some things for the viewer and is something the commentators constantly reference.

Those familiar with baseball know, more than most sports, baseball has a large human element to it.  The strike zone is included in that.  The strike zone is completely up to the umpire. To make balls and strikes so concrete by having a digital strike zone tracker on the side of the broadcast the whole game belittles the umpire.  The strike zone is always changing based on the batter and type of pitches being thrown.


According to the strike zone is defined as:


Rule 2.00: The Strike Zone

The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.

This rule allows for some judgment by the umpire based on many factors.  The digital strike zone tries to make balls and strikes more concrete.

Not only does this digital strike zone make things hard for the umpire it makes the viewing experience worse for the fan.  While watching an intense game between the Nationals and Cardinals almost a fourth of the screen is being taken up by this strike zone tracker.  This takes away from seeing the beautiful ballpark, clutters the screen and detracts from the viewing experience.

The digital strike zone tracker may be appropriate for big pitches that are close or to show during replays, but the whole game is too much.  Having it on the whole game could hurt the perception of the umpires.  It would be far more effective for breaks in play and replays.