Posted on: June 5, 2009 1:20 pm

Dear NBC & Tennis Channel:

Knock it off!
Today was the French Open Men's semi-final, and what do the genius programmers do?  Well, let's see:
TENNIS CHANNEL:  Chooses to show reruns of yesterday's women's semis, even though the men had already started one match.  (ESPN is off the hook since NBC had rights for today.)  Even though NBC was NOT showing both semis, Tennis ran another rerun of the Champions Series.  GRADE:  F
NBC:  After making people suffer through a 3rd hour of the Today Show (but mercifully not presenting the unpleasant pair of Gifford-Kotb), they finally showed the Soderling-Gonzalez semi (which was in progress). Once that was done, the "day" ended.  GRADE: D-
OH COME ON!  It's bad enough that there was a delay in showing the games, BUT no one thought that in a Nadal-less year it might be fun, interesting and compelling to see Federer - who has never won a French Open title, but could this year - play someone who has never even reached the semis?  This might not be historic?  This might not be a ratings grabber?  Federer fans don't care?  Did they miss the memo showing that Days of Our Lives has sinking ratings?
What is wrong with you people?!  CBS has the decency to devote whole afternoons of programming during the US Open. In other words, they fully commit.  I shudder to think how that will change now that "We'll-Show-Anything-But" Tennis Channel is involved, but I know what I'll be doing: checking matches on the internet.  Again.
What are your thoughts?
Posted on: June 3, 2009 1:06 pm

They Did It Again!

ESPN and Tennis Channel are really dropping the ball here.  Tennis Channel started its coverage at 8 and showed both the Williams v Kunetsova and Federer v Monfils matches live.  This is good.  However, matches didn't end at noon EDT.  There was still the Del Potro v Robredo match to watch.  So, what does ESPN do?  They replay the Williams v Kuznetsova match which finished not two hours earlier!  And this match will be replayed ad nauseum all day.
Good grief, ESPN!  As the premier sports network, I expect exhaustive coverage, not repetitive coverage.  The fans deserve so much better and more than what these networks are offering, and it's especially disappointing that the Tennis channel doesn't get it when it's supposedly founded by people who disdained the regular networks' coverage.  MLB Network does it sooooo much better: morning updates, reviews of games, historical analyses....  Tennis Channel gives us Murphy Jensen.  ESPN gives us repeats.  Why can't we have 15-30 minute morning newscasts at Tennis Channel?  Why can't we have better productions, too?  Tennis Channel has been around long enough to figure out how to do this.  It has chosen not to do so.
In the meantime, the fan suffers from boredom by being shown matches over and over again, as if live coverage isn't available.  I expect that from ESPN because it covers a lot of sports, but NOT when ESPN claims to be "picking up" coverage from the other channel.  I certainly DO NOT expect it from Tennis Channel, when tennis is supposedly all it's supposed to do.
What are your thoughts?
Posted on: June 2, 2009 2:29 pm

Sports Networks Can Be Whack

Yes, I've been away for a while.  My apologies.  Looking for a job makes you hate being on a computer for any longer than you have to be.
Anyway, I love tennis.  So, it should be no surprise that I watch every match I can.  I'm partial to the men's game because it's much faster, the play and athletics really are superior, and I can do without the shrieks as if the girl is having her first sexual experience.  And except for Serena, very few women are willing to put in the work and actually work on the court.
However, I digress.  My main issues with the broadcasters of the French Open:
1.  The Tennis Channel/NBC/ESPN:  Is it necessary to speak ALL THE TIME?  I don't want to hear about hair products, cars players drive, issues from 20 years ago, or anything that does not relate to the match at hand.  Save the other commentary for post-match.2.  "Home of the Slams"?  Tennis Channel can claim this title once it can show the events live without deferring to NBC which will nonetheless show a match on delay (e.g., Nadal v Soderling) when there is no reason to do so.  NBC decided to show 3 hours of filler programming ranging from paid programming to local affiliate programming.  As a result, fans had to hear about the final score way before the NBC broadcast (which was truncated) and on French Open radio.  Good job there, Guys.3.  Dead Wood:  It's bad enough that Tennis Channel kept Gimelstob, who adds as much value to the sport and to sports broadcasting in general as Tony Kornheiser did, but the worst is the interview period on the women's side.  It's un-watchable.  The girl with the deer in the headlights look (whose name I have never bothered to learn) is awful.  Does she have any credentials that merit her being on TV at all?  She doesn't know what to ask.  She has not done research.  She seems to be waiting for the director to feed her questions.  This is the channel that boasted having Martina and Johnnie Mac.  They are getting Jimmy Connors to do commentary during the US Open.  And this is the best you can do?4.  Priorities:  What is the point of breaking away from a major match or NOT showing it all (as they did with Federer and Nadal matches) to stay watching non-entities?  Last week I wanted to throttle someone.  Djockovic is playing for his life, and we had to hear about it.  It was shown in highlights later.5.  Post Match Interviews:  Why do we get snippets?  Why doesn't Tennis Channel provide a feed on it's website to show the interviews?  They can get these rights.  It's annoying to hear the broadcasters talk about the interview and maybe show a highlight.  I also love how they flub the quotes.  Nice that.
In short, UGH.
Slowly but surely, the broadcasters are hurting these games more and forcing people to go to the internet.  I don't mind paying a few dollars to watch a match without the inane commentary.  I especially like seeing the match I want to see and not having to wait until NBC deems it appropriate to show.
How do you feel?
Category: Tennis
Posted on: May 8, 2009 3:15 pm

Manny? Really? You Didn't Think To Check?

OK, let me first go on the record stating that I am not a fan of Manny Ramirez,but one has to admit that the guy can play.  Manny is a pain in the butt.  He's had the reputation of being a bad teammate, difficult to manage, moody, drama-queen like, etc.  In short, he can be a spoiled brat.  Regardless, people were willing to overlook that as long as he kept playing well.  He finally spent all of Boston's patience, and they let him go, but the worst problem he had was that he has an award-winning level bad personality.  What surprises me is how he has behaved this week after his suspension.
He says that he went to a doctor who prescribed meds which the doctor believed would be acceptable under the MLB guidelines.  Unfortunately, he neglected to double check with the league, and now he is paying the price.  You know what, though? He didn't whine.  He didn't make a plethora of excuses.  He simply said, "Bummer.  OK."  I really expected a tantrum or denials a mile long. I even thought he'd do the A-Fraud route and make the combo of explanations, excuses and blames. ("My cousin made me do it," is a classic.)  Yet, Manny simply accepted it with little comment, and said his lawyers would handle it.  Of course, he did make a swipe at people when he said that he relied on the non-MLB doc to properly inform him, and under the MLB's rules it's his responsibility to follow up with them.  The sad thing is that if it is as he says that he sought legitimate treatment for a legitimate illness, then he is penalized for being dumb and not dishonest.  He failed to follow up and guarantee that everything was OK.  He misunderstood the level of a professional's knowledge when he assumed that the doctor who is not part of the league - and therefore not privy to all of the drug regulations - would be aware of MLB's medical restrictions.  Yes, he complained about the fact that the MLB places the responsibility on players to keep the league abreast, but he also said he should have been more thorough and followed up.  Wow.  Simple.
If things keep going the way they are, I may have to cut Manny some slack.  Yes, he is seeking some payback from the doctor who treated him, but he is not hiring teams of PR people to argue his case.  He isn't calling SI, and he isn't seeking time on 60 minutes like A-Fraud and Clemens.  He's taking his hits now, and later he'll be back to hit again.  Yet, he deserves some credit for taking all of this like a man.
What do you think?
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or