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The Best of Neil's Watchdog

Cup clincher causes confusion

Did I have a problem with Jeremy Roenick crying on NBC after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, recalling his own, unfulfilled years in Chicago? I did not. I thought it was sort of cool.

The disappointing thing about the Game 6 telecast was that the confusing finish deprived Doc Emrick of the chance for a clean Cup-clinching call.

In fact, his call was a mess, understandable given the strangeness of the winning goal, which was not signaled by the referee or goal judge.

Emrick was far from the only announcer thrown.

Here is his call on NBC: "Threw one in front, save, oh, my! It rattled around and it kicked on back and it . . . score!''

And CBC in Canada: "To the net, Leighton stopped it. It came loose on the other side. Where's the puck? It's over!''

And Chicago's WGN radio: "He shoots, he scores! Oh no, that's turned wide by Leighton. Loose puck in the crease. And now it's in the net. They score!''

MLB Network rides perfect storm

"We couldn't have scripted it any better,'' MLB Network president Tony Petitti said.

The only thing the script has lacked is believability.

The network's spring has included the culminations of two perfect games and a would-be third that eclipsed the others, then expanded draft coverage, followed one night later by Stephen Strasburg's brilliant debut.

Still early in its second season, MLB Network has ridden a wave of big events to condition fans to turn to it for special occasions.

"It's something we talked about before we launched,'' Petitti said. "When something important in baseball was breaking, make sure we're covering it.''

Being known for news is nice, but the network hopes to turn casual viewers to regulars with its mix of studio coverage and an expanded slate of live games.

Strasburg's game drew MLBN's biggest audience yet, enough so that it was an easy decision to add his projected third start Friday against the White Sox. (TBS added his second, against the Indians Sunday.)

Has commissioner Bud Selig somehow encouraged perfectos to boost the league-owned channel? Said Petitti: "If he has that power, we encourage him to use it more often.''

Much to like with 'Alibi Ike'

Warner Home Video tied the June 1 DVD release of the charmingly strange 1935 movie "Alibi Ike" to the rookie season of the Mets' Ike Davis, which is a stretch. But that should not stop you from buying the movie ($19.95) if you have an interest in old movies in general and old baseball ones in particular.

This one stars Joe E. Brown, a popular comic actor of the era, briefly an announcer for the Yankees and the father of the future Pirates GM, alongside a shockingly young Olivia de Havilland.

It also features real-life jocks, including Jim Thorpe and the Yankees' Bob Meusel.

The film, based on a short story series by Ring Lardner, concerns an eccentric pitching phenom named Francis Farrell who is fond of making excuses.

There is some seriously peculiar stuff here, including a climactic scene at the first night baseball game at Wrigley Field - 53 years before the first actual night game there.

Twilight for ESPN Zones

Disney plans to close most of its ESPN Zone restaurants, including the New York branch famous as the shooting location for "The Sports Reporters'' and for plying tourists with burgers and beer.

These are tough times in the casual dining business, especially for a sprawling eatery paying massively expensive Times Square rent.

Still, this comes as a shock. I have a souvenir foam brick from the opening in 1999!

It probably was time for me to look into other dining options in Manhattan, anyway. I hear Applebee's is good.

Rodgers rips Kornheiser

Tony Kornheiser is long gone from the "Monday Night Football'' booth, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers revived the old debate about his merits with a colorful rant on ESPN Radio in Milwaukee.

"You know who was better than Tony Kornheiser? Dennis Miller was 10 times better,'' he said.

"Dennis Miller was a great comedian, but one of the worst 'Monday Night Football' guys ever. And he was 10 times better than Tony Kornheiser. His stuff was actually funny. Tony's stuff wasn't funny at all. He did no research.

"We'd sit in those production meetings and he would add absolutely nothing to the conversation. I'd be like, 'What are we doing here? This is stupid.' ''

Kornheiser responded in The Big Lead blog: "If he thinks I'm no good, he wouldn't be the first. Or the last."

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