The sporting weekend was filled with NHL and NBA playoff action, interleague baseball, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown and there was some NASCAR race that no one cared about.
Let’s review what I had a chance to watch over the weekend.
Saturday, May 19
Buffalo at Ottawa, NBC
This was a fun game to watch, but right at 4:30, NBC cut away from the overtime to go to the Preakness. This was a disservice to fans who had watched. As it turned out, the game ended halfway into the 1st overtime with Ottawa closing out the Sabres. Granted, NBC didn’t know that would happen, but there was no way the the network should have cut away. If the game was coming up on the race, yes, cutaway to the race, then go back to the game, but NBC should not have shoveled the game to Versus which is available in just over half of the country. Ok, ratings for the NHL don’t compare to the pre-race coverage for the Preakness, but the network could have picked up a few more fans for hockey had it remained with Buffalo-Ottawa. Dave Strader did a good job with Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. Up until NBC cutaway from the game, the network was getting an A- for the coverage. I give NBC an F for shoveling the game to Versus.
I wish Fox would put its secondary game on MLB Extra Innings. If the NHL, NBA and NFL can put other network games on its PPV service, then Fox can do the same thing with MLB. Who are they protecting? As I digress, the Foxies didn’t do a bad job with this rivalry game. Granted, I’m not a fan of interleague play, I think the novelty has worn off and it takes away from the intraleague rivalries that have already been established in both leagues. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver seemed to talk about everything except the game. McCarver and Buck talked about wearing jewelry which didn’t seem to matter except to themselves. Pictures were good, but commentary was awful. Overall grade, D-.
The Preakness Stakes, NBC
This was one of NBC’s better efforts. Tom Hammond, Gary Stevens, Bob Neumeier, Kenny Rice, Mike Battaglia and Donna Brothers make a very good team. Yes, Bob Costas was there as well, but he’s good at setting the scene and stays out of the way in a sport that he has no knowledge of. NBC covered all of the bases and had isolated cameras on Street Sense and Curlin. Replays were telling and the blimp shot that worked so well in the Kentucky Derby worked well at the Preakness as well. Even with some bad weather, the coverage was next to excellent. Unfortunately, NBC won’t cover the Belmont Stakes because ESPN bought it two years ago. It doesn’t matter as we won’t have a Triple Crown winner this year. Overall grade, A.
Sunday, May 20
Anaheim at Detroit, NBC
This game also went into overtime, but unlike the previous day, NBC didn’t have another sporting event to cover, so it stayed with its coverage and even stretched its postgame to 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. It was as if NBC wanted to make up for cutting away on Saturday. Mike Emrick is the best at hockey play-by-play and he is quick to pick up trends. Ed Olczyk did a great job at analysis and Pierre McGuire between the benches knows how to pick up nuances on ice level. Replays were telling especially of the winning goal by Teemu Selanne. This is NBC’s last game until Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. We know the ratings will be low as Ottawa will in the finals. But that’s neither here nor there right now. Overall grade, B.
A couple of links for you. USA Today’s Michael Hiestand also reviews the weekend and looks at how Fox and ESPN will cover the Barry Bonds situation as he comes closer to Hank Aaron’s home run record.
David Scott from Boston Sports Media Watch has a look into the Ron Borges “retirement” from the Boston Globe and reviews NESN’s new Sunday night sports show, “Lights Out”.
Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News has a Sunday column in which he criticizes ESPN/ABC for bringing in Jeff Van Gundy into its NBA coverage. Shut up, Bob.
And one look at the upcoming Fall TV schedule from David Bianculli, also of the Daily News.