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Monday, June 13, 2005


June 13, 2005 -- SPORTS TV's bird- brained application of technology should not be blamed on the technology, but on the applicator. ESPN and ABC put a radar gun on 11-year-old Little League pitchers, and TV never had trouble showing goal line plunges until this past Super Bowl, when Fox put a camera in a pylon.

Ahh, but the discriminating application of technology can be marvelous. To that end, you're not likely to see a more telling, fascinating or memorable replay the rest of the year.

Shortly after Afleet Alex ran away with the Belmont, Saturday, NBC aired tape of the stretch from a blimp, a shot from directly overhead. Minimally, it wordlessly told a story worth one thousand words. And it told a story worth a maximum of one word: Wow!

We saw Derby winner Giacomo pound to a short lead when, suddenly, very suddenly, Afleet Alex just flew past and kept going. And going.

Occasionally, sports' most worn clichés sound fresh. And the racetrack cliché for Afleet Alex's stretch run, "It was as if the other horses were standing still," could not be bettered.

This shot from directly overhead, did make it appear as if the other horses were standing still. And the judicious application of technology, compared to its usual application, can make TV look as if it's going backwards.


From the sublime to the absurd: ABC was all over an unusually ugly episode in the PGA event from Congressional yesterday. Tempestuous Rory Sabbatini, a fast player who was clearly upset with playing partner Ben Crane for slow play, showed Crane his rude side, putting out of turn, then storming off the 17th green.

Commentator Paul Azinger, shocked by what he was watching, said what all viewers were thinking: It would be interesting to see if the two shook hands after the round. But as they finished the 18th, ABC, incredibly, cut to a crowd shot, returning to the 18th green as their handshake was concluding.


Tom Seaver's weekend work on Ch. 11's Mets telecasts continues to be tough to take. He says something — anything — to sound as if he's on top of things.

Yesterday, after home plate ump Eric Cooper tossed Mike Piazza, and after admitting that he had no idea what Piazza had said to Cooper, Seaver continued to insist that Cooper was completely in the wrong. And he reasoned that Cooper's six years in the majors weren't enough to correctly respond to such situations.

Later, after David Wright scored on a tag play, Seaver dismissed the Angels' gripe, claiming that Wright had scored "easily," when the live and taped evidence showed the play to be close. And you get stuff like that from Seaver, every few minutes.


On HBO's "Costas Now," Friday, Bob Costas led a chat among Phil Simms, Tom Brokaw and Mark Cuban about how sports talk radio has elevated incivility among hosts and callers, and how, said Costas, it is predominated by a simple-mindedness that stresses "glorification or vilification."

Simms agreed, telling of how sitting in the stands at a Rutgers football game last year opened his eyes and ears to how vulgar and hateful fans had become.

But as CBS's highly respected lead NFL analyst, Simms has the clout to exact changes. He could urge CBS to stop displaying every drunken showoff in the stands, to stop promoting the biggest idiots as the best fans.

Brokaw agreed with Costas and Simms. Times have changed, and for the worse, he said. Yet, Brokaw frequently volunteers to be on Don Imus' radio show, one that, long before the proliferation of sports talk radio, relied on vulgar name-calling, vilification and defamation.

And Cuban, whose attention-starved misdeeds have made him stand out among all team owners, agreed with Costas, Simms and Brokaw.


Even the most learned sportscasters allow stats to destroy reality. Howie Rose, during Saturday's Angels-Mets on WFAN, reported that the Red Sox scored twice in the top of the ninth, but lost to the Cubs, 7-6.

After noting that closer Ryan Dempster got the save, Rose said that Dempster "has really solidified that Cub bullpen."

Pitching the ninth, Dempster had allowed three hits and two earned runs.


Reader Dom Nunziato, on the outrageously inaccurate portrayal of Max Baer as a murderous creep in the movie Cinderella Man: "I wonder how Ron Howard will feel if they make him out to be a coke-snorting whore monger, for the sake of dramatic purposes, in 'The Erin Moran Story?' "

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