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Shooting from the lip – Tampa Bay Times

tom jones’ two centsThe latest from the world of sports.Personality of the dayWhen you think of the new breed of sports analysts, the two names that come up most often as the pioneers are John Madden and Tim McCarver. Fox Sports chair David Hill wants to add another name to that list: Fox NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip, above.”I knew it was going to work as soon as I sat down with him (in 2001),” Hill said about Waltrip. “He had this incredible knowledge of the sport. He had knowledge of the strategy of the sport. But more than anything, he had this boyish enthusiasm for NASCAR. “When you look at people who have a boyish enthusiasm for the sport and great communication skills, the ones who immediately come to mind are those like John Madden in football and Tim McCarver in baseball. From that very first night, I knew DW was going to be one of the greats. He had the ability to look within the sport and communicate to the world what was going on.”The induction of NASCAR’s third Hall of Fame class will be televised at 6 p.m. Sunday on Speed, and that includes the induction of Waltrip.Schedule of the dayNext week will be the final one for Jim Rome on ESPN2. His last Jim Rome Is Burning airs Friday. So what will ESPN2 do after Rome’s departure?Starting Jan. 30, it will expand its Best of Mike & Mike from a half-hour to 60 minutes and run it from 2 to 3 p.m. That will be followed by Outside the Lines at 3 p.m., Best of First Take at 3:30, Numbers Never Lie at 4, Dan LeBetard is Highly Questionable at 4:30 and SportsNation at 5. NASCAR Now will move into the 3 p.m. slot when NASCAR season begins Feb. 13.Team of the dayIt’s hard to remember four more evenly matched teams playing in the NFL’s conference championships. Would you be surprised if any of the four teams — Patriots, Ravens, 49ers and Giants — won the Super Bowl? So which team is the best? Fox analyst Troy Aikman believes it might be the 49ers “Of all the teams I’ve seen this season, I’d say the 49ers are the most complete,” Aikman said. “They run the ball well, are excellent on defense and their special teams plays well. There aren’t many holes in San Francisco. They aren’t as explosive offensively as the Giants or Packers, but they are a well-coached, tough team. The 49ers need to keep up the formula that’s worked; playing great defense, not giving up points, being physical.”Media tidbits• A new Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel debuts at 10 p.m Tuesday on HBO. One of the segments will be about Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and his brother, Jeff, an analyst for ABC/ESPN.• Packers receiver Greg Jennings will be a guest analyst on Sunday’s Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN.• NBA TV averaged 756,000 viewers for the Jan. 14 Lakers-Clippers game, giving the network its largest audience ever for a regular-season telecast. The previous record was 722,000, set Dec. 30 for a Bulls-Clippers game.• Look for Jim Rome to make his CBS debut Sunday. The soon-to-be-former ESPN host will have a commentary during Sunday’s NFL Today pregame show. Three things that popped into my head1. For those getting nervous the Bucs still don’t have a coach, wouldn’t you rather they get a really good coach in two weeks instead of just any old coach now?2. Carlos Peña was such a popular player in these parts that I’m guessing most Rays fans had the same reaction when he re-signed with Tampa Bay on Friday: Yessss!3. It really is depressing to think about how much fun the Stanley Cup playoffs are then realize the Lightning is not going to be a part of them. Not this season, anyway.Series of the dayA new six-episode documentary series about boxing trainer Freddie Roach made its debut Friday night on HBO. And so far, it has the makings of being an all-time classic. On Freddie Roach follows the daily life of the trainer as he heads to Las Vegas for a fight and continues his battle with Parkinson’s disease. Unlike most HBO documentaries narrated by Liev Schreiber and heavily scored, this series has no narration and minimal music. It concentrates on the normal activities of a very normal man, and the result is incredibly satisfying for the viewer.The show is directed by Peter Berg, who directed films such as Friday Night Lights and Hancock as well as starred as Dr. Billy Kronk on the CBS medical drama Chicago Hope. If the Roach series turns out to be a success, there’s talk Berg could take his six-part formula to concentrate on other sports personalties. Berg recently spent a week filming new Washington State football coach Mike Leach for another such documentary.

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