Thanks to playoffs, World Series isn't worth the wait

Phil Jackman

October 12, 1990|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman:

IT REALLY doesn't matter if CBS lose big dough because of the short American League Championship Series, lousy scheduling and scrawny ratings. The nets have a way of making up big losses and showing a hefty profit at the end of the year. What does matter is how baseball is marketed in this marriage of convenience ($$$) with the network.

At one time, the playoff system proved a worthy warmup act for the star, the World Series. Five games or less played quickly, then right into the best-of-seven showdown two days later. Not only was it a bad mistake taking the LCS to seven games, in effect making the playoffs equal to the World Series, but delaying the start of the latter also has ruined any continuity that existed.

If Cincinnati had closed out Pittsburgh Wednesday, the same day Oakland put the Red Sox out of their misery, we would have been waiting around nearly a week for the Fall Classic to commence next Tuesday.

When you think about it, the wonder is that CBS didn't propose the Series become a once-a-week proposition, assuring a ratings victory on Wednesday night, say.

Or how about putting the whole thing off until November, a sweeps month, and have the teams play best-of-23, skipping weekends, of course?

Or how about a half-hour break after 4 1/2 innings for the insertion of a half-hour sitcom?

* There have been instances of subdued locker room scenes before, but the Oakland clubhouse went almost morose for the CBS cameras. It was as if the Athletics were embarrassed it took them four games to get rid of the Bosox.

* Two inspiring shots of Roger Clemens during postseason play: Rocket Man cursing his way out of the final ALCS playoff game Wednesday and, in 1986, begging out of the seventh game of the World Series against the Mets wif an itty-bitty finger bwister. Oh!

* Sometimes you have to wonder where we would be without the information play-by-play man Dick Stockton imparts during a broadcast. For instance, these ALCS gems: "Ellis Burks was Boston's leadoff hitter during Game 3 of the 1988 playoffs . . . He [Oakland pitcher Mike Moore] had an impressive year five years ago when he won 17 games . . . The bright sun could prove troublesome for infielders and outfielders alike."

* Something ex-St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said about his team during the season came to mind while watching the Red Sox: "We're like a soccer team. When we're two runs down, it's over."

* ESPN will have seven guys on hand at the World Series sites grinding out specials and "SportsCenters." These will prove a good spot to hide from the weak pre-game efforts CBS has been sending our way.

* Hopefully, CBS won't go all teary-eyed when it covers the "last" of a series of football games between Penn State and Syracuse tomorrow (3:30 p.m.). Better that it tell the story of why the 68-game set ends -- State's unquenchable thirst for gate receipts. The Lions zapped the Orangemen because they wouldn't hold still for playing six of 10 games in University Park.

* Ken Burns, creator of the hugely entertaining and informative "Civil War" epic on Public Broadcasting, won't have his "History of Baseball" ready for three years.

Meanwhile, pray that you can content yourself with "Good Sports," a sitcom that will be making it onto CBS after the first of the year, Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal playing antagonistic sports anchors. It's sort of like a return to the old days at Channel 13 when Nick Charles and Andrea Kirby were in town.

* The best thing that ever happened to the "Stan White Show" on WBAL is the host's nearly losing his voice. With knowledgeable Will McDonough (NBC) as guest last Monday, White let the expert handle the questions and refrained from his usual folderol.

* Poor Sugar Ray Leonard sure misses the spotlight. How else to explain his taking on the task of being the ring announcer for the Buster Douglas-Evander Holyfield title bout Oct. 25? It was either that or carry a water bucket into the ring.

* Quickie review of Jeff Rimer and Craig Laughlin doing Washington Capitals hockey on the telly: Solid, although Craig's somewhat high and tinny voice nearly slips off the scale when he gets excited. With the Caps, though, there might not be much reason to get excited this season.

* Respect for David Robinson took a plunge after viewing the Nike ad wherein he ends up saying, "Can you say 'Contract renegotiations?' Mr. Robinson can."

* Scouting report on beleaguered Boston sportswriter Lisa Olson after numerous appearances on national TV: She must write better than she talks.

* Washington's Channel 20 is picking up "Hockey Week," a "This Week in Baseball" type show covering the doings in the NHL, this season. Mike Emrick hosts and he says he's amazed at the inventiveness and energy of the show's producer, Phoenix Communications Group.

* The guy fishing for speckled trout in Louisiana on the ESPN "Great Outdoors" show Oct. 27 is none other than QB VII himself, Bert Jones. He catches one critter and, in tossing it back, shows no touch, throws too hard -- and Raymond Chester drops it.

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