MAYBE WE HAVE a few lumps of coal, but today we offer up some stocking stuffers:
Here's one thing to like about the way ESPN's Steve "Snapper" Jones calls NBA games: He's having a good time. Listen to his analysis. He frequently sounds on the verge of breaking out laughing. At a time when so many in the league seem to be taking themselves too seriously, Jones brings a joie de vivre to the telecasts. Joie de vivre, of course, is French for "nice hair on Steve Nash."
Speaking of Jones, during Wednesday's Golden State Warriors-Memphis Grizzlies game, he made an observation that might be translated into: It's good to be the Czar - and a lot more restful. Jones noted how Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello, the erstwhile Czar of the Telestrator while an NBA television analyst, had bags under his eyes that weren't there when Fratello was doing TV.
It sounds so existential. It sounds like you're saying something. It sounds as if it's coming out of some coach or player's mouth every few minutes. What is it? The phrase, "It is what it is" or some derivation thereof. Yes, it's a favorite of Ravens coach Brian Billick, but listen closely. He's not the only one. What can be done about it? Folks, I'm afraid it is what it is.
Suppose you hinted and hinted and hinted that what you really wanted for Christmas was a new driver, one that would put you in a league with those long knockers at the country club. But you didn't get one. Here's what you do: Tomorrow at 3 p.m., turn on the World Long Drive Championship on ESPN. Make sure the rest of the family is in the room. Occasionally let out a big sigh. With any luck, the guilt should kick in and you're all set for your birthday.
I have nothing against commerce, but do you think someone could do something about all those commercials during games on Ravens radio? It's not the ones during timeouts; it's those constant reminders during play that a first down means another dollar off an oil change or that Todd Heap drives a certain big car or that you can get great coverage of the Ravens in this newspaper. OK, we like that last one. The others, though, interrupt Scott Garceau's play-by-play and Tom Matte's cheerleading.
Remember when the ESPNEWS channel was a largely catch-phrase-free zone? Yeah, I'm having troubling remembering that, too.
Let's put this one in the Misused Sportscasting Word Hall of Shame: ironic. When you hear somebody using the word, he probably thinks he's playing off this definition: "Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs." Irony is not coincidence. So, is it ironic that Terrell Owens comes to Baltimore, a city he rejected, to have surgery on his leg? Perhaps. But would it be ironic for Ronde Barber to tackle Tiki Barber a yard short of a touchdown? Uh, no. It's not incongruous for a defensive back to tackle a running back. It just would be coincidental that they are twins. Is it ironic that I probably wrote about this 15 years ago? No, that would just be a sign that no one listens to me.
Afraid to get back on the roof to take down the Christmas lights? Tomorrow night on OLN (8 to 10), it's an evening of Fearless, profiling outdoors adventurers. Maybe you'll feel braver.
Steve Lavin poked fun at fellow ESPN college basketball analyst Digger Phelps during the Wednesday telecast of Illinois-Missouri. A graphic appeared on the screen relating to Lavin's coaching career, and Lavin said it was relevant to the game, "unlike Digger Phelps, who puts up those graphics on his wins whether they're relevant or not." Later, Lavin added: "[Phelps] always does work those wins over John Wooden's UCLA teams into the discussion." (Speaking of irrelevant, Phelps and a certain sports TV columnist share an alma mater, Rider College - now a university, thank you very much - or Princeton South, as nobody calls it. And that was in lieu of an alumni contribution.)
Contact Ray Frager at ray.frager @baltsun.com.