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News » Shooting from the lip Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

Shooting from the lip Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

Shooting from the lip Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.
Best criticism

ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball crew questioned (as well it should have) Joe Maddon's decision to rest first baseman Carlos Pe?a, below, on Sunday night. It really is difficult to question anything Maddon does, but unless Pe?a had some sort of health issue or specifically asked Maddon for the night off, it's hard to understand Maddon's reasoning, and the ESPN boys called him out.

First, this is Rays -Red Sox. These are big games. You want your best lineup, don't you? On top of that, we're only 33 games into the season and the Rays were off Monday. It's not like it was a steamy August afternoon. It was a cool New England evening. Pe?a has struggled against Boston starter Josh Beckett (3-for-22 with 13 strikeouts in his career), but ESPN analyst Steve Phillips pointed out that Beckett hasn't been quite the same Beckett for much of this season. And Pe?a, who grew up in Boston, plays well at Fenway Park.

ESPN analyst Joe Morgan made a great point when he mentioned how Evan Longoria is about the hottest hitter going right now and you would want Pe?a batting behind him for protection. It just seemed like an odd call on Maddon's part. One final thing. It's not like the Rays are cruising these days. The big standings on the Green Monster at Fenway on Sunday showed the Rays still below .500 and in fourth place in the American League East.

Worst use of replay

The most annoying thing, by far, about ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball coverage is its habit of picking on one play and beating it to death with overanalysis and a slew of replays. Often the play's impact on the game isn't equal to the time broadcasters spend dissecting it. It happened again Sunday night when the Rays' Carl Crawford scored from first base on Pat Burrell's single off the Green Monster in the first inning.

The interesting part was how Crawford seemed to let up going around second base even though there were two outs and he should have been running at full speed. But the whole thing ceased to be interesting when Crawford scored anyway. Now if Crawford had been thrown out at home, ESPN would have been on to something.

Yet the network showed no fewer than five replays of Crawford running the bases while Steve Phillips, Joe Morgan and Jon Miller (especially Morgan and Miller) droned on and on and on. The blame goes to Miller and Morgan, not the production crew. The crew is merely following the lead of Miller and Morgan, who often are under the belief that the more times they repeat themselves on the same point, the more right they are.

One would rather have the analyst make his point then move on. The more he repeats it, the more he talks down to the viewers, who are brighter than announcers often realize.

Instead of listening and thinking, "That's a good point," viewers are left screaming at the television: "Enough! I get it!"

Rumor of the day

The New York Post - Page Six, no less - is reporting that ESPN is blackballing Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts, who wrote the controversial book A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez. The reason, the Post says, is because Roberts gave her first interviews about the book to Bob Costas on the MLB Network and to the Today show. The Post added that Roberts took a job at Sports Illustrated after turning down an offer from ESPN nearly two years ago.

ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys told the Post: "By the time we had a chance to put her on, the story was four days old."

Not to stick up for ESPN, but it's hard to imagine it would purposefully blackball any newsmaker because its feelings were hurt, especially when you consider that Roberts is in the rotation of sportswriters who appear on ESPN's Sports Reporters roundtable show.

Search of the day

The Women's Tennis Association will choose a search committee at its board meeting in Madrid to find a replacement for chief executive Larry Scott, who leaves at the end of next month to become commissioner of the Pac-10. The WTA's headquarters is in St. Petersburg.

Sports Business Daily reports that the front-runner is Stacey Allaster, the No. 2 executive at the tour. But Sports Business Daily's Daniel Kaplan makes a good point when he writes: " ?though the hiring of a search firm has been interpreted in some circles as bad news for her. Others paint it as the tour abiding by its fiduciary duty, but that the top pro sport for women could not bypass a capable No. 2 exec who is female."

Cancellation of the day

For the first time in 26 years, there will be no golf Skins Game. There are several factors. For starters, the Thanksgiving weekend event is a victim of the economy and the search for a new title sponsor. A bigger one is television ratings, which have continued to trend down as the event struggled to attract big-name stars. The first Skins Game in 1983 had a star-studded field with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson. For years, the field included some of the most recognizable names in golf, until recently. Tiger Woods hasn't played in the event since 2005. Last year's field included K.J. Choi, Stephen Ames, Phil Mickelson and Rocco Mediate.

Three things that popped into my head

1 Considering the officiating blunder that cost the Red Wings a chance to send Game 3 into overtime, you have to wonder if the NHL isn't breathing a sigh of relief after the Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead against Anaheim on Sunday.

2 The Magic can still win its series with the Celtics, but to win in Boston, it has to do it in Game 5. If the series goes seven games, the Celtics will win the deciding game.

3 How can the Lakers lose by 12 to a Rockets team missing Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady? Having said that, the Lakers will win the next two games to take the series. Number of the day

26 Rank of the Bucs in the power rankings by Sports Illustrated senior NFL writer Peter King, who writes:

"Rebuilding year. Big-time. Whether Byron Leftwich wins the quarterback job, which I expect him to do and then keep the QB seat warm for Josh Freeman (above) 'til 2010, this is a team more focused on next year than this one."

King's top five teams:

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 12, 2009

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