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C'mon, guys, boxers have been shafted since Athens


What, is it a big surprise to NBC and its commentators that sometimes the best man in a boxing match isn't always declared the winner?

After gold-medal favorite Eric Griffin was beaten, a little griping was in order. But it appears the network, announcer Bob Trumpy and analyst Al Bernstein won't be satisfied until this thing is taken up by the World Court.

Yesterday, they went so far as to have Griffin's agent come on the air and brand the judges of the bout in question "a gutless bunch of old men" as though he's some sort of unbiased commentator. What's so sorry about the situation is it's not about right and wrong, it's about money.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Sergio Reyes, also a controversial loser, saying, "Yeah, I was a little worried about the scoring. But I've been fighting for 16 years, I know what I have to do in the ring." Give that lad a medal.

* Lemme see if I have this straight: Michael Jordan won't go up on the victory stand to accept his gold medal if he can't be eating a McDonald's quarter-pounder, swigging on Gatorade, carrying a box of Wheaties with Nike sneakers hanging around his neck and showing several samples of his kid's clothing line?

* Hey, NBC, what is it with all this diving? Is this country suddenly the springboard and 10-meter tower capital of the universe?

At the very least, after the event finally ends, Michele Mitchell should be made to go out and perform a half-dozen dives with the competitors being given the chance to comment on her efforts.

* Talk about irony. Yesterday, while announcers Trumpy and Bernstein were posted at the boxing matches, and Marv Albert and Mike Fratello had another dreary romp by the Dream Team to report, a side trip to the Nostalgia Channel proved the equal of a visit to Camelot.

The show "Distant Replay" first had Dick Enberg "oh-mying" his way through the fabled UCLA-Houston, Elvin Hayes-Lew Alcindor dream game in the Astrodome (circa 1968) followed by Rocky Graziano vs. Gene Burton duking it out in Chicago Stadium (circa 1951).

Astounding the way ring commentary has changed over the years. Trumpy and Bernstein just wouldn't stop talking even if they had nothing to say. While calling the Graziano bout, the broadcaster, working alone, spoke every 20 seconds or so, allowing the audience to watch and formulate some of its own conclusions. Rocky won the bout, dropping Burton for the count with a straight right to the chops in the seventh round.

* See, the brouhaha about Carl Lewis being included on the 4X100-meter relay team was so much wasted sound and fury as Mark Witherspoon saw his duty and ruptured an Achilles' tendon, leaving an open spot.

* Does anyone have the slightest idea what Bud Collins is talking about from over at the tennis venue?

* American athletes can complain all they want about being bothered by the public during their off hours, but, really, what does 6-foot-7 Scottie Pippen expect when he strolls down a Barcelona thoroughfare in mid-afternoon wearing a "USA Basketball" shirt?

* NBC's pro football information guy Will McDonough seemed slightly out of place doing a report from the archery competition. I kept waiting for him to say, "I talked to Robin Hood this morning and he told me . . ."

* Is there some sort of contest going on between the Dream Team and its female counterpart to see which can win a game by the most points? If there is, it should be called off posthaste.

* In case you're wondering why team handball hasn't shown up on the tube yet, not even on the TripleCast, be advised the U.S. squad didn't qualify for the tournament.

* Now that Mike Stulce and Jim Doehring have finished 1-2 in the shot put after sitting out drug suspensions, bet they'll be tested hourly for the next three weeks.

* Sometimes you have to wonder about researchers who write the copy for television's on-air talent. Joel Meyers, in his opening for the rowing at Lake Banyoles, said, "The lake was recognized by the Romans as a place to settle near." Imagine a conqueror, looking to stretch the limits of the known world, deciding to settle next to a water supply.

* The only problem in this you-have-to-have-a-slogan society is the inevitable backfire. The men's gymnastics team advertised itself as the "Now Boys," but 19th-, 34th- and 35th-place finishes in a field of 36 in the all-around hints at a time warp.

* Why is it when anchor Bob Costas introduces gymnastics, host John Tesh doesn't do the usual welcoming spiel? Instead, there's a shot of a balance beam in half light and Tesh intones, "It is a haunting piece of apparatus." John's words and music work fine until the listener gets the idea he'd attempt to elicit high drama out of someone wringing out a pair of socks.

* Frank Shorter was a great marathoner, but he sometimes misses the point by a kilometer or two when discussing the distance event. Saturday, during the women's marathon, Yuko Arumori of Japan pulled up alongside Valentina Yegorova after a long chase. The play was to press her advantage and break her Russian rival, who appeared about to call a cab. Arumori didn't, ended up getting beat and Shorter just let the whole thing slide.

* Before the finals of both the men's and women's 100-meter races Saturday night, NBC ran lengthy features about race favorites Leroy Burrell and Gwen Torrence. Both finished out of the medals. While this is the network's way of making its taped show plausibly live (seemingly true), it could be termed a waste of time, too.

* Thank goodness gymnastics is over. One more extended look at the exceedingly depressed face of once-bubbly Kim Zmeskal and suicide hotlines would have been ablaze across the country. Maybe Bela Karolyi can be talked into going over to Greco-Roman wrestling, where he can hug people his own size after they're through competing.

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