Rory’s the story; Tiger’s a ‘sideshow’.

New era or error in golf coverage?

New era or error in golf coverage?

I was so glad to hear Golfchannel’s Rich Lerner say on Sunday what I was thinking on Wednesday: that the Tiger Woods cameo appearance at this year’s PGA Championship was a “sideshow”.

That’s exactly what it was, though I don’t think Lerner was trying to suggest that his own network (among others) made it the sideshow that it was. Again, it was Wednesday evening when I tuned in to Golfchannel and all I saw was Tiger hitting chip shots and putting on the practice green – for an extended sequence which once again made the viewer feel like a creepy stalker. No other players shown. I mean, even though I’m a Tom Watson fan, when I go to a Champions Tour event and Watson is warming up, I do occasionally turn my head and watch other players practicing.

It was then that I thought, “this is a sideshow” and also that Rory McIlroy was clearly the story coming into this event. But the networks are so fixated on Tiger that he still trumps the guy who is now playing like Tiger used to – something many declared “we’d never see again”.

I suppose they were right in one regard, even if a player can accomplish what Tiger has, we apparently won’t “see it again” the way it was covered when Tiger was doing it. When we should’ve been focused on Rory, we were still seeing Tiger. The result of the tournament then validated what we should’ve been seeing on Wednesday: Rory, not Tiger.

Sportscasting bi-coastal buffoonery

Oh Mama is Papa a buffoon.

Mama mia, it’s Papa!

You have to have a bicoastal background like I do – or for some other odd reason, you’d have to be a fan of the New York Yankees and the Oakland Raiders – to see the analogy of Yankee radio man John Sterling and Raider radio man Greg Papa; both turn out to be equally buffoonish in their approaches to sports broadcasting.

During the preseason, Papa does simulcast radio-TV play-by-play announcing of Oakland Raider games. In the first preseason game, I was reminded of all his buffoonish tendencies.

Most notable is his steadfast ability to definitively tell us precisely what would’ve happened if something else hadn’t happened instead. Here are three examples from Raider preseason game one in Minnesota:

  1. Tight end Jonathan Murphy drops a pass on about the two yard line, surrounded by three Viking defenders. Papa declares that Murphy, “dropped a touchdown”. Well, it might have been a touchdown had he made the catch. He might have made it the additional two yards, or he might’ve been stood up by any or all of the Viking defenders that were around him. We’ll never know, but Papa somehow knew.
  2. A Raider defensive lineman came within about a yard of the Vikings quarterback before the quarterback threw a pass. Papa told us that the Raider defender, “almost had a ‘strip sack’.” Huh? Not just a sack, mind you; but a more specific “strip sack”? How could he possibly know precisely that – had the defender gotten there a second sooner, that he not only would’ve tackled the quarterback, but the ball would’ve come loose?
  3. Soon after, a raider cornerback dropped an interception, and Papa couldn’t just leave it at that, he had to go with the more specific, “he dropped a ‘pick six’.” Again, Papa knew that the cornerback not only would’ve caught the interception but would’ve proceeded to ramble about 40 yards for a touchdown.

Now that’s buffoonery. The key also is that there’s a tinge of hyperbole that’s always part of the mix – i.e., it’s always something “big” that almost happened. Papa also has the annoying tendency to make premature calls, his favorite being that a ball is “caught!” and then dropped by a receiver. Basically, as soon as a thrown football hits the hands of a receiver, he declares it is caught, many times to discover that in fact the ball was not caught. Someone needs to tell him that a reception actually occurs after a ball is handled by a receiver with two feet down in bounds; not as soon as it hits his hands. In other words, a ball, by definition, can’t be caught and then dropped – or if it is, that would be a fumble after a catch, not an incomplete pass.

Papa is also one of those football announcers who – as Phil Mushnick often cites – can’t see correlations between penalties and results. In this game, the Raiders completed a 16-yard pass for what would’ve been a first down, but the raider left tackle was called for holding. Papa told us that the holding call wiped out the first down, not understanding that – and I have to caution about knowing what would’ve happened because we don’t – if the Raider player had not held the Viking defender, we have no idea if the quarterback would’ve been able to complete the pass in the first place. So yes, if everything had happened the same way and the referee hadn’t thrown the flag, then it would’ve been a Raider first down. But you can’t definitely say that the Raider player guilty of the infraction was the reason the first down was erased.

In so many ways Papa is exactly like Yankee radio man John Sterling. Sterling is also gifted with premature home run calls as well as “caught-then-dropped” declarations (his eyes very often deceive him but his mouth rarely seems to wait until his eyes are sure of what happened).

Sterling is also adept (or inept) at the definitive “what would’ve happened if something else didn’t happen instead” proclamations. For example, “If the pitcher doesn’t touch that ground ball, that’s a double play.”

Yes, it doesn’t matter that the Yankee infield has struggled defensively all season long; Sterling still knows that a ball would’ve been cleanly fielded and thrown to second and then cleanly fielded again and thrown successfully to first – if the pitcher hadn’t touched it instead.

He also is guilty of telling us, for example, after a baserunner is caught stealing and the batter then hits a home run, that it would’ve scored 2 runs had not the baserunner been caught stealing first. Really? How does he know the pitcher would’ve thrown the same pitch with no runners on base? Or, a player is picked off third base and then the batter hits a flyball to the outfield; Sterling tells us it would’ve been a sac fly. Again, how does he know the pitcher would’ve thrown the same pitch he threw once he knew it was okay to give up a flyball with no one on third base?

He says these things which are dichotomous to his often-used adage, “You never know in baseball.” (Again, a Phil Mushnick reference.)

But one thing we do know is sportscasting buffoonery is rampant enough to see from East to West – and yet somehow the bicoastal buffoons manage to keep their jobs.

NBC is the news.

It's back, therefore it's news?

It’s back, therefore it’s news?

Last weekend, my local NBC affiliate teased a “news” story that was this: Sunday Night Football is back! (Showing on the screen was what looked like a behind-the-scenes clip of Carrie Underwood recording the Sunday Night Football theme song.)

Yep, Sunday Night Football is back, evidently of its own volition, and hence it is making news by being back. You might say, as so many network anchors do of their self-fulfilling prophecy news items, “It’s the story that won’t go away.”

Now, one would think that if something is actually news that it would be predominant on all newscasts, right?

But do you think, given that Sunday Night Football is on NBC that ABC, CBS or FOX newscasts ran stories about Sunday Night Football returning this year?

Exactly. So it’s not news. It’s a promo thinly disguised as news and it’s especially irritating to those who tuned in to receive actual news.

Full disclosure, just as I am critical of ABC-ESPN yet I still on occasion frequent Disneyland, I also recently visited Universal Studios (part of NBC-Universal). Needless to say, the famous Universal Studio tour was loaded with plugs of all-things NBC-Universal. They even listed on the monitor every single TV channel that is part of the “incestuous” family of NBC networks.

For whatever reason, I didn’t get to see the mechanical shark or the live Norman Bates character – both of whom I saw when Last Comic Standing did an episode solely to promote Universal Studios (as Jimmy Fallon did a few weeks prior) – but I did get to see the set of a home improvement show on the Hallmark channel, followed by a TV promo for that series on the tour bus monitor. Great!

You’ve heard of “jump the shark” – well this was apparently “bump the shark” but stick with Hallmark. Because shameless promoting is a mission that’s sadly Universal in today’s media.

Creepy stalker Tiger coverage

He can, but I can't... take it anymore.

He can, but I can’t… take it anymore.

Every breath you take.
Every move you make.
Every bond you break.
Every step you take.

I’ll be watching you.

That song by the Police was known for its dark nature, and that’s how Golfchannel and all other sports networks make me feel as they cover the apple of their eye and the subject of their stalking, Tiger Woods.

On Wednesday afternoon, we’re watching Tiger walking, chipping, walking, putting. Stalker coverage. We’re watching no one else because we’re being shown no one else. The effect is positively eerie.

No one was looking forward to a Tigerless PGA Championship more than I was. Now it’s, once again, all about Him. Every move he makes, every step he takes, we’ll be watching him and only him.

Beck should denounce inflammatory FreedomWorks ad.

Wouldn't we be better off without this rhetoric?

Wouldn’t we be better off without this rhetoric?

Over the last several months, Glenn Beck has been advocating for less inflammatory rhetoric between Right and Left in the media as well as among politicians. That’s the only way we can ever truly work together as Americans toward the common goal of making our country a better place – he suggests.

This week, he played a clip of Left Wing MSNBC and radio commentator Ed Schultz advising the President on how to treat those obstructionist Republicans in Congress, which was to, “hit the road and let ‘em have it!”

Beck admonished this type of rhetoric and noted that this is not the type of thing we should be calling on the President to do – i.e., “Let ‘em have it!”

Fair enough. One would suspect that most people would agree with this admonition – as we typically see in post-election polling a substantial portion of voters (or registered voters who didn’t participate) that are “tired of the nasty campaigning and fighting between the candidates”.

Meanwhile, Beck’s TV network, TheBlaze is running an ad from FreedomWorks that begins as depicted above.

The ad’s purpose is to call for the impeachment of the President, but I ask you, could the wording, “Would this country be better off without President Obama?” be construed as if it suggest assassination as opposed to impeachment? About the only aspect I would concede is that the use of “President” in front of “Obama” fosters the impeachment  interpretation – whereas if it read, “Barak Obama” – well, then that would either suggest deportation out of the country (it says, “country better off without”) or the removal of his existence on Earth.

Nevertheless, it could’ve been worded much differently – though I admit that alternatives I ponder are a bit more cumbersome, such as: “Wouldn’t the country be better off if Barak Obama were no longer President?”

Not quite as pithy or eye-catching, yet certainly more to the desired purpose.

Look, the last thing a Right Wing organization needs to do is provide fodder to the Left who blame every individual act of violence like the UniBomber or Timothy McVeigh or Jared Loughner on “Right Wing hate speech”. In each such instance, Right Wing rhetoric does not have a thing to do with inciting such incidents – nonetheless, why offer such rhetoric that could be construed as an endorsement of violence?

You might thing I’m guilty of hyperbole in my analysis – i.e., surely nobody sees that opening statement and thinks anyone is advocating an assassination, but why take that chance? I’m much less concerned that anyone would see that ad and actually be inspired to conduct violence than I am by the potential to be accused of inciting such violence. FreedomWorks really ought to redo that ad – and Beck, if wants to be consistent about eliminating inflammatory rhetoric, needs to pull this ad from his network.

After brief respite, all-Tiger mode returns.

NBT coverage: Nothing-But-Tiger

NBT coverage: Nothing-But-Tiger

We should’ve known that the CBS PGA Championship promo around Rory McIlroy would be the aberration. This week’s World Golf Championship at Firestone is once again all about Tiger.

I garnered the first inkling of this yesterday evening as ESPN’s Sportscenter ran a collage of Tiger Woods highlights and then re-ran it again a half-hour later. Presumably, this was highlights from his Wednesday practice round at Firestone. Seems we only ever see highlights of his practice rounds – no one else matters. That, of course, is the all-sports channel approach to reporting on golf. Fox Sports 1 did a similar “all about Him” peace this week, a one-on-one interview with Woods. (Why not with Rory McIlroy, playing in his first tournament since his Open Championship win?)

To the all-sports networks, there is only one thing worth reporting about golf, which is Woods.

Ah, but then came the all-golf Golf Channel, at the closing of Morning Drive, when Gary Williams gave us this announcement, which I reclassify as a “warning” – “Tiger is in the afternoon window so you will see every shot from today’s round.”

Oh great! What Williams left out was that we will not only see every Woods shot, but his walks between shots, his walks to the tee box, his lining up putts, his watching other players hit shots, his eating a sandwich and/or banana. We will see it all!

As NY Post columnist Phil Mushnick often notes, all other players on the course – those we’re lucky enough to see at all – will be shown in recorded fashion. All live coverage will be of Woods.

At least this is what we are to presume because that’s what we’re accustomed to seeing.

I will offer my usual caveat that accompanies my Tiger-coverage diatribe. Of course he is still a big story; he’s still chasing the all-time win record and the all-time major championship record. He has won this tournament eight times – and no one has ever won the same tournament nine times. So that’s significant. He’s trying to play his way on to the Ryder Cup team as well.

He’s still trying to find his A-game after a miscellany of injuries and swing changes. That’s a story.

The point is, however, he’s not the only story.

It does the other players in the field and the golf fan a huge disservice to make it all about Woods and hardly about anyone else. Somebody, say a Zach Johnson, might be tearing it up en route to a 62 – and we’ll see hardly any of it because we’re watching Woods, who might shoot a nondescript 71. Of course, by definition, nothing Woods does can be called “nondescript” – it will be described in detail and analyzed and over-analyzed; poor shots will be blamed on the bad luck lie he drew, etc. Once I heard Peter Kostis note that Woods was “in between yardages all day” when he shot a mediocre round. Sheesh, only Tiger could garner that type of deflection in a commentator’s analysis.

Anyway, enjoy today’s coverage if you like seeing one player 90% of the time. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see more golf from as many players possible, especially in the first two rounds of a tournament. But that’s just me, apparently.

Latest ad is a “Booking-dot-NO!”.

Booking inappropriate

Booking inappropriate

Granted, we’re living in the age of edginess, as we see with the uae of “Smurf” as a substitute for the F-word - in a movie aimed at kids. Now,booking.com has joined the edgy-party with the same usage (“Right booking now!”) in its latest ad.

Also within the last year was the Draftkings online gambling ad which got your attention with the line (volume up for emphasis),  “You could win a SHIPLOAD of money!” (The first time I heard it I was like, “What???”  - so it worked.)

I mean it’s not like we’re not supposed to realize what word is being substituted for in the use of “Right BOOKING now!” – is it? Of course not. I mean, maybe the kids watching the Smurfs movie don’t get the substitution (so why have it in there in the first place?) – but people watching the Booking.com ad are likely to get the reference.

And the beat goes on. How did that Don Henley song go? “This is the eh-eh-end of the innocence.”

Well, this is the ay-ay-age of the edginess.

Booking-dot-no, I mean Booking-dot-yeah it is!

Hell freezes over: A Tigerless golf promo

All about... Rory??

All about… Rory??

There I was, watching what little coverage we were given of the Senior British Open on ESPN, only to be dismayed when I saw that they were going to cutaway from the already-limited action to do a feature story on the 1995 Walker Cup matches held at Royal Porthcawl, the site of this year’s Senior Open. Why would they do that? Because, of course, that erstwhile event featured Tiger Woods – so, any Tiger, anytime; no excuse needed. (In ESPN’s defense, it was only a 2-minute piece and it turned out to be very good; I had never heard the story before, which was surprising given the Tiger saturation in golf coverage.)

Then along came something remarkable: CBS’ promo for the PGA Championship featured one player and one player only. Now, the only time that ever happens is when that one person is Tiger Woods. If Tiger isn’t playing, then you may see the same treatment for Phil Mickelson as the sole star of a tournament promo.

But this one was all about Rory McIlroy – the now number-two-ranked player in the world, coming off his triumph at the British Open. This marks the first sign of a potential changing of the guard, but even more striking is that this was an American network promo, so to be featuring a European player is noteworthy (Australia’s Adam Scott is the World Number 1 but has yet to achieve Greg Norman status in terms of media presentation, despite his being entirely presentable).

Am I suggesting that McIlroy is not the story going into the PGA? Heck, no. But since when does the U.S. sports media ever get things right? I’m thinking perhaps CBS learned his lesson after the Quicken Loans tournament which it promoted solely as “Tiger’s comeback tournament” – only to get burned when Woods missed the cut. You simply can’t put all your eggs in the Woods basket at this point in time; he simply isn’t playing well enough.

It’s also not uncommon for the guy who wins the British to win or contend at the PGA, simply because the these are the two majors played the closest together on the schedule – with saw Nick Price win both in 1994, we saw Justin Leonard win the ’97 British and then finish second at the ’97 PGA, and we saw Padraig Harrington win both in 2008.

So Rory is the right guy to feature in the promo if you’re going to feature one guy. Let’s remember that his win at the British puts him third only behind the two greatest ever – Nicklaus and Woods – to win his third major by age 25. He would seem to be the heir apparent.

Also worth mentioning is that CBS didn’t choose to concoct a Tiger-Rory rivalry that up until now has not manifested itself. You’ve got to think the temptation was there, but to their credit, they resisted the urge.

But, again, I ask: how often does the media get it right? This time, they did; and that’s what makes it notable.

Galactic Desperation

Guard letdown

Goons and Raccoons

As I’ve noted before, I am always very dubious whenever I see movie ads which feature comparative superlatives such as, “The Star Wars of today”.

The other day I saw two separate Guardians of the Galaxy ads which, to me, reeked of desperation. First it was an ESPN ad with hipster Kenny Mayne advising his peers that they’ve hired on some new bodyguards; he then goes on to colorfully describe each eclectic character as only he can.

Next was the prototypical ad featuring those aforementioned comparatives, including: “It’s the summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for”.

First, the now-hackneyed, “It’s Star Wars for a new generation” was offered.

Sheesh, they just used that a few months ago on Pacific Rim.

Look every movie with a spaceship can’t be the next Star Wars.

And just what, pray tell, is it about Guardians that makes it more amenable than Star Wars to a “new generation”? Star Wars had fur-bearing creatures like Chewbacca and the Ewoks too. Is Guardians edgier this gemeration, filled with smart-alecky putdowns? Star Wars had its share of this type of banter and dialogue in its own right.

The next Star Wars movie should be the one we classify as “the next Star Wars”. How about that?

Not only don’t I buy that Guardians is comparable to Star Wars, but I question the claim that it has something to offer this generation that Star Wars doesn’t.

The second ad comparison was snort-worthy; it claimed that this is, “Marvel’s best movie yet.”

Yeah right, better than The Avengers? Doubtful.

And no, by the way, I have not seen the movie. Why not? Because it looks plain stupid. One guy is a tree, another has apparently overdosed on steroids, one looks like she escaped from the set of Avatar and, for good measure, there’s a raccoon. (Even Kenny Mayne’s hipster description seemed to note the ridiculous nature of a raccoon superhero.)

I would only caution moviegoers in this fashion: if this is the summer blockbuster then this is one lousy summer of movies. I mean, don’t be tricked into dipping in to your movie budget on a movie not worth seeing, simply because there’s nothing better. Moving on – nothing to see here.

NBC = National Bizarro Channel

You say hello and I say goodbye.

You say hello and I say goodbye.

Following my earlier entry regarding NBC and its local affiliates’ ridiculously-biased coverage of the Hamas vs. Israel situation, I discovered that they doubled down their efforts last night.

My local Sacramento NBC affiliate, KCRA, did an entire segment called, “Israel War Crimes” last evening – and they must’ve used the phrase, “killed innocent civilians” half a dozen times.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends – it’s the bizarro world of newscasting. Up is down, black is white, night is day. Everything is completely upside-down at NBC News. Innocent civilians killed by Israel? You know, that is known to happen when you fire rockets into a country – killing innocent civilians – and they fight back; and, for good measure, the instigator, as former President Clinton outlined, is adept at hiding themselves among those innocent civilians because they don’t care about protecting the human life in their own territory.

So how is it that Hamas hasn’t committed any war crimes in this scenario, NBC???

In other words, how stupid or deliberately contemptuous are you, NBC?

For good measure, this morning I caught some of Glenn Beck’s radio program and they were talking about the pregnant woman in Los Angeles who had to wait in traffic because the President was in town and heading to another fundraiser.

Huge story when you consider how much attention the Chris Christie bridge incident received at the national level. That was a governor of a State; this is the President of the United States. True, the intent wasn’t quite the same, but the effect certainly was – as, in the case of Christie and the bridge we were informed of people who experienced medical crises and couldn’t get the attention they needed. Same with this lady in L.A.

Yet, when I flipped over to the Today Show, there was nary of mention of this story. They were talking about the guy who Tweeted about the airline, yada yada. But the Christie story was so big – why didn’t this story get any national attention?

Because we’re in the bizarro world of news reporting, where NBC is concerned.

I’m not one to organize or encourage boycotts, and given that the Golf Channel is owned by NBC and there’s no chance in Heck that I’ll stop watching that – I can at the very least encourage you to boycott NBC News because believe me, they are not providing an accurate depiction of what’s really happening in the world as it matters to you.

You might try a different option, like Beck or maybe Al Jazeera.