May 22, 2024

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The Sports Fanatics

Over-hyping only adding to big sports broadcasting problem

When’s the last time you turned on a game to do something other than watch it?

Never? Same here. Yet, that practical sensible reality has been totally lost to, of all people, TV people.

Saturday at Fenway, Boston’s Bobby Dalbec hit one to deep right. Aaron Judge ranged back, reached up and caught it. Nothing special, a good catch but not a difficult one. At 6-foot-7, Judge didn’t even have to leave his feet.

But on YES, Michael Kay went wild, hysterically hollering as if he’d been shocked by a cattle prod:

“Going back is Judge. At the track, at the wall … and he makes the play! … What a play by Judge, taking a two-run home run away from Dalbec! Wow! What a play!”

Viewers immediately knew better. David Cone provided more reasonable levity, highlighting Judge’s large stature along with, “He made it look easy.” What Judge should have caught, he did.

Why Kay would do this to himself, let alone us, is mystifying. But this is the fake-it-or-leave-it TV world we’ve been granted. Don’t believe your lying eyes, believe what you’re told you saw.

Sunday on Fox, the Giants led the Falcons 14-7 in the fourth when a full-screen graphic appeared: 0-2 Atlanta had been “Outscored, 38-0, in the fourth quarter.”

“You can’t win games that way,” analyst Jonathan Vilma said.

But moments later, after Kenny Albert told that Atlanta QB Matt Ryan said he spent little time with his two prior defensive-minded head coaches but has spent more time with new, offensive-minded head coach Arthur Smith, Vilma piped that the two “have really jelled.”

Yes, if they jelled any better they might have scored three points in the fourth. To paraphrase Fred Flintstone, “Vilma!”

Saturday, Fox’s lead, say-anything college football analyst, Joel Klatt, passed on a good opportunity to say nothing.

Notre Dame
Jack Coan

Notre Dame-Wisconsin began with a Notre Dame punt. QB Jack Coan, who transferred from Wisconsin, threw one pass, incomplete, on the series.

Three minutes later, Coan’s second pass was caught. Klatt praised Coan’s throw with, “His best of the day.” The Fox tech who inserts laugh tracks must’ve dozed off.

Throughout NBC’s coverage of the Ryder Cup, we were told about the new “Jack Nicklaus-Tony Jacklin Award” for good sportsmanship during the event. In 1969 Nicklaus famously conceded a putt to Jacklin to end the event in a tie, though the U.S. retained the Cup.

NBC’s voices spoke their full and fond approval of such a gracious act as representing the best intent of the event.

Then it was back to live coverage, where hundreds in the pro-American crowd, and some players, were acting as if they were at a three-day salute to Vince McMahon — cheering the Europe team’s shots that landed in the water, buried in the rough and lipped out of the hole.

And even if the pandering, gutless NBC voices hated it, as they almost surely did, they either indulged it with silence or claimed they were delighted by it.

But that, too, now comes with turning on any game. Commentators never want to offend the most offensive. So those who know and practice right from wrong will be devalued as our sports enter Ancient Rome.

Sunday night, ESPN did what it does best. It begged subscribers to watch then prevented them from watching.

If this particular Sunday night version of Yankees-Red Sox was of added, late-September importance, ESPN seemed unaware.

Midway through a close game, it was sacrificed to a back-slapping, memory lane chat between twice-nailed drug cheat Alex Rodriguez and accused drug cheat and suspicious character, David Ortiz.

The game was relegated to split-screen status so Matt Vasgersian could ask “Big Papi” what he’s selling these days.

And all you wanted to do, as always, was just watch the game.

PSLs just another bill for Bills fans

The Bills plan to sell Roger “Good Investments” Goodell PSLs to fund a new stadium. That means those who can afford to buy them can fund their own exclusion.

Consider: When the Bills are decent-to-good, some home games in November and December could be “flexed” by TV money, from kicking off in the afternoon cold to even colder and more perilous travel conditions in the darkness of night to play in prime time.

PSLs to Bills games will become worse than those expensive bait-and-switch grabs sold by the Giants and Jets. Only because both teams are 0-3, more Giants and Jets home games will be played at “customer-friendly” 1 p.m.

It’s the Goodell sucker method: Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.

Bills fans cheer during a game against the Steelers this season.

Our Sports Culture Game of the Week: Saturday against Buffalo, Old Dominion made a sensational comeback from down, 35-7 to make it 35-34 with a late touchdown.

As a tying PAT was about to be kicked, ODU was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for excessive celebration. Fifteen yards made the PAT a 35-yarder. The kick missed by an inch. Game over.

Ohio State has announced that despite being tossed from the football team for rotten behavior, including the since-deleted tweet, “fucc Ohio State,” linebacker K’Vaughan Pope will be allowed to remain in school to continue “his progress toward graduation.”

Graduation? He doesn’t even seem able to spell.

For Notre Dame football partner NBC to excitedly report that Brian Kelly has surpassed Knut Rockne as the school’s winningest football coach was to ignore significant context.

For starters, Rockne’s teams played nine or 10 games per season. Kelly’s have played 13.

But plenty more of those types of extra games coming from TV during MLB’s postseason.

Brokers make fans go broke

Though the NFL was unable to explain why hundreds of tickets allocated to the Packers for Super Bowl 31 between the Patriots-Packers in 1997 wound up directly in the hands of a Dallas ticket broker, tickets to the Jan. 28 Henrik Lundqvist number-retirement game in the Garden immediately landed in the hands of brokers selling them for many times over face values.

If there’s a record for being pulled after entering the game then striking out the side, it belongs to Yankees reliever Clay Holmes, on orders of Aaron Boone.

With Falcons-Giants over, Fox on Sunday cut to the end of the Cardinals’ win over the Jaguars. Good. We could see how Urban Meyer looked at 0-3. But when the game ended, Fox showed Cards players dancing.

Urban Meyer
Getty Images

Here’s my offer: If Drew Brees, now shamelessly shilling for an NBC-partnered sports gambling operation in TV ads, truly believes that parlay bets are good wagers, I’ll book all of his — at the same odds offered by his guys.

It’s all so tired, so mindlessly repetitive. TV has replaced the worthwhile with the worthless, no end in sight. Sunday, after Atlanta defensive end Grady Jarrett sacked Daniel Jones, Fox was less focused on how he did it than showing slow-motion replays of Jarrett in full, post-tackle, self-love mode.

Based on what was heard from the field before a snap Sunday, the Giants have replaced “Omaha! Omaha!” with, “What’s the play!? What’s the play!?”