Breckenridge/Devon O’Neil " Round and round go the TV wizards |

Breckenridge/Devon O’Neil " Round and round go the TV wizards

The relationship between television sports commentating and professional sports coaching is like a circle.

It works like this. First, the coach gets hired to lead a pro club, thus delivering credibility. Then, the coach gets fired because his coaching wasn’t good enough and, with the other option being irrelevance, he becomes a talking head on TV.

Over the course of his broadcast tenure, if he’s even a little bit good at expressing himself, the former coach makes the most of his nightly job audition and promptly wins over his audience with a lovely ability to dissect a game in hindsight.

General managers notice this, since general managers are always looking for new coaches ” and what easier way to find them than by pushing the power button on the remote control. General managers then call the ex-coaches and ask if they are interested in returning to coaching.

The coaches, having forgotten how demoralizing life in a fish bowl can be ” just as the GMs have forgotten why the coach went into TV in the first place ” eagerly say yes.

Which brings us to TNT’s Doug Collins (fired as the Bulls coach in 1989, re-hired by Chicago last week) and ESPN star Barry Melrose (career 82-103-31 record as NHL coach, reportedly set to be named Tampa Bay’s new leader this week), two of the best analysts on television.

Dismayed viewers can only hope their circular voyages resume sometime soon. …

Manu Ginobili might not be pleased, but thank heavens the NBA finally wised up to its pretty-boy image problem. No longer will theatrical flopping ” which had gotten downright out of hand on the hardwood ” be permitted as a means to garner a foul.

Starting next season, anyone caught doing so by the NBA’s in-game judges and video reviewers will be subject to punishment from the league office. …

The fact that Rafael Nadal is not the top seed at this year’s French Open ” he is No. 2 to Roger Federer’s No. 1 ” is like the folks at Roland Garros saying 2+2=3.

Nadal has won the last three French titles, beating the top-ranked Federer each time.

Not only has Nadal never lost at Roland Garros, he’s never even had to play a fifth set. …

Been watching quite a few Cubs games lately ” and not just to taste a little faraway Wrigley Field flavor, as has been the case in the past. In case you haven’t heard, Chicago’s North Siders are the best team in baseball right now, the first time that’s been the case on June 1 since 1908, the last fall they won it all.

Most of the damage has been done at home, where the baby bears are 26-8 and where the sweetest-sounding tune in Middle Americana blares over the P.A. after each Wrigley victory: “Go Cubs, Go! Go, Cubs, Gooooo! Hey Chicaaaago, whaddya say, Cubs are gonna win today.” …

Talk about a coup for ABC Sports. After its peacocked competitor, NBC, televised the first two legs of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, ABC gets the finale.

Most years the Belmont is like a consolation game in terms of must-watch appeal, but not this Saturday. When Big Brown gallops for immortality on his ever-fragile hoof, you can bet the nation will be watching ” and, if they’re smart, backing the overwhelming favorite. …

While we’re at it: Celtics in six. …

Stat of the Week: According to a story in Time magazine, a gallon of diesel fuel in the U.K. now costs $11.50 and a gallon of super unleaded in France goes for $8.67. …

Also on the list of things that make you wince: Ubaldo Jimenez. The Rockies’ fireballing young righty has followed up his scintillating stretch last autumn with an equally horrid performance this season. He’s 1-6, and Colorado ” the worst team in the major leagues at 20-37 ” is 1-11 in the games he’s pitched. …

Another quirky baseball stat: Only four of the 30 big-league teams have winning records on the road this season. This includes just one American League club, the Angels, who are 16-11 and in first place in the AL West. …

In parting, does Kimbo Slice make anyone else’s blood curdle? I know he’s not going to be knocking on my door anytime soon, but damn. The guy is like a monster: a ticket to an instant nightmare. His punches look like wrecking balls slamming into the side of a building.

I seriously believe he could knock out anyone in the history of fighting ” Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson ” anyone.

“Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at

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