Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday Musings

While we all digest the news of Osama Bin Laden's demise ...

Is there a better time of year for the sports media than right now? This week, we've seen the NBA and NHL playoffs, major league baseball, and the NFL draft. Add some spring college football, and it's hard to drag yourself away from the television or Internet.

If you're not watching the NHL playoffs (and relatively speaking, hardly anyone does), then you're missing a real treat. In 13 days of play so far, 12 games have gone to overtime, including Sunday's win by Tampa Bay over Washington. The coverage by NBC and Versus so far has been excellent, and Ed Olczyk might be the most underrated analyst on sports television. He made a great point in the Lightning-Caps game as to how Washington tied it up with a minute to play. Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman lost his stick and was handed a replacement by one of his forwards. But because Hedman is a lefthander and the stick was for a righthander, Headman couldn't clear a puck when it came to him, and that allowed Alex Ovechkin to tie the game with 1:07 to play. Olczyk noticed it immediately; all part of his great work with partner Mike Emrick. Emrick has done his usual terrific job and is simply the best play-by-play man in hockey.

The downside of all this for the NHL is the strong possibility of another small market Stanley Cup finals. How does a Tampa Bay-San Jose (or Nashville) final grab you? It can't appeal to the NHL, which is in danger of losing Washington, Detroit and Philadelphia before the conference finals even begin. (But having Nashville in the finals would bring about one consolation--more views of coach Barry Trotz, an Edward G. Robinson look-a-like who is a nice guy, but may be the most intimidating-looking coach in pro sports).

Just about everything that could be said about the NFL Draft already has been said. The two big stories were the guys expected to be drafted early, but who had to wait until the second day--quarterback Ryan Mallett of Arkansas and defensive tackle Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson. Health and off the field issues caused both players to slide down draft boards.

We know so much about players like Mallett and Bowers; their every move is dissected, analyzed and discussed on radio, television and the Web. For some reason, it made me think of a time when we knew hardly anything about college players. Entertainer Bob Hope used to host a post-season show in which he introduced players named to the All-America football team. The player would come out in full uniform, Bob would make a corny joke, and the player would laugh nervously before heading off. For many people, this was the only time they ever saw some of these players in uniform.

Enjoy some old-timey humor from 1984. (And also check out Bruce Smith, Doug Flutie and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio).


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