Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bob Costas....

Bob Costas has a tough job. He has to basically direct traffic so to speak on the NBC broadcast keep people up-to-date on all the happenings in Beijing. The hard part is he is having to bounce between live events and stuff that happened the night before in Beijing.

And while we pretty much know what happens, Costas' job is to keep you interested and attempt to hold the suspense before they show an event that might be more than 12 hours old.

In a society that has become results in real-time and on-demand, Costas is facing the challenge of reporting half-day old news as if it is fresh. It is a job I don't envy. Not to mention he had to sit next to Bela Karolyi and pretend to understand what Bela was saying.

You could see him at times just shaking his head in agreement and you knew damn good and well he didn't understand a word that was being said.

We sometimes criticize sports broadcasters for hyperbole and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. If they had time to digest everything that happened and then talk about it, the thinking is they might be able to lend a little bit better commentary to the event.

Costas however might be proving that may not be true. He has had a few interesting one-liners the past few nights, but tonight was the worst. I don't know if Costas has a bad pun writer or if he just sits up at night thinking this stuff up himself.

After showing the replays of the two US sprint teams drop the baton in the relay, Costas drops this gem on the American viewers, "So the American men's and women's teams go out and lay an egg at the Birds Nest."

Really Bob? That is the best you can do?

Al Michaels gets "Do you believe in miracles?" and that is what you are coming with?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hits and misses with the Olympics

There are a few things every two years that always seem to grab my attention when it comes to the Olympics. The first is just the novelty of the sports. We don't get to see swimming that often, so when it is on I naturally tune in just because it is something different.

The second is I am a sucker for live sporting events. There is just something about not knowing what is about to happen and getting to see it at the same time as everyone else. I have found myself sitting up a 2 in the morning watching Champions League soccer from Russia simply because it was live.

That is where the biggest hits and misses of this year's Olympics come into play.

I think NBC hit a home run this year by getting the swimming finals early in the morning Beijing time allowing us to watch them live in prime time. I was glued to the TV watching not just Michael Phelps but all of the finals as the Americans dominated the pool.

I am also not a big gymnastics fan, but have found myself sitting and watching the events, simply because it was live. Had the gymnastics been taped like the individual events were, I probably would not watch, or at the very least not stay tuned in 100 percent.

But it seems my undivided attention to NBC in prime time ends there. The track and field has been very hard to watch because the results start moving across the wire at 9 a.m. It is hard to go the day with out know the results all day. Between constant work on the computer and 45 minutes of talk radio on the way home, there was no way to avoid hearing about Bolt obliterating the field in the 100.

I had NBC on that night just to see the race but it obviously didn't hold the same excitement as it would have seeing it live. Because there are just certain events that can't be held in the morning, a good bit of the Olympics has been hard to watch because it it taking place at 4 in the morning.

The exception has been in soccer where I had to set the alarm clock to watch the US play just because I am a huge soccer fan. I got up at 4 a.m. to watch the US and Japan play and the other two matches fortunately came on mornings I didn't have to go to work so I recorded them and watched in the morning.

Soccer has been the only "mainstream" sport I have really watched however (I know soccer isn't considered a mainstream sport by most, but on a world stage it is). Baseball, basketball and tennis, sports I generally watch on a regular basis has seen very little time on my TV. Part of it is because of the time it is on, but the other part goes back to the novelty of the sports in the Olympics.

The baseball is just not that great to watch from what I have seen and I really have no interest in the USA basketball team. As for the tennis, I don't think the players even care about the Olympics, so why should we? Federer lost to Blake and just shrugged his shoulders and congratulated his opponent. It barely even got a mention on the bottom line. If this were Wimbledon or the US Open, it would be huge news.

So the interest level in some of these sports is already down, and putting them on TV at 3, 4 and 5 in the morning definitely kills the buzz.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

You don't leave games early

I don't leave games early. I just don't do it. When you pay for a ticket, you pay for the game, not the first three-fourths of a game. It is like going to the movies. If you pay for a ticket, you watch the whole movie.

The same applies to sports. When you buy that ticket, you should stay to see how it ends. I hate the argument people make about wanting to beat the traffic. What a load of crap. If that is all you are concerned about, then stay home.

It always kills me to see people getting up to leave a game, especially baseball, in the seventh or eighth inning. That is the best thing about baseball is it doesn't have a clock. A team can be down by nine and down to their last out, and still come back to win.

That is why you don't leave, you never know what you might miss. Not that I needed any reinforcement of this, but I got it two weeks ago at the Astros game. They were playing the Pirates on a Monday night.

Houston was up 3-2 heading into the ninth and they brought in Jose Valverde to close out the game. Some people must have thought he was a lock and started to head out before the ninth even started. Are you kidding me?

After he got an out to start the inning, Jason Bay hit a solo shot to tie the game. A single by Xavier Nady followed by a home run by Adam LaRoche put the Pirates up 5-3 -- and the exodus began. Over the next five minutes an announced crowd of 34,624 had dwindled to about 4,000 people.

What the other 30,000 people missed was something that doesn't happen very often in baseball. Freddy Sanchez hit a ball off the right field wall angle of the Astros' bull pen, just out of the reach of Hunter Pence. The ball then kicked back toward the right field line, rolling along the warning track. Sanchez never broke stride and beat the relay throw home for an inside-the-park home run.

I have been to more than 200 MLB games and seen one other inside-the-park home run. Even if you consider the all the games I played in and the countless high school and college games I have watched over the years, I have seen just a handful of true inside-the-park home runs (mine being one of them).

The Pirates went on to win the game 9-3 and the shame of it is, most of the people who left probably saw the final score and are glad they left when they did. Which means they won't hesitate to do it again.

So I will continue to go watch a baseball game while everyone else will just be there to see some baseball, and next time when something else special happens in the ninth, I'll be in even more select company than when the game started.