'Skins Game' is an effective approach shot


November 16, 1990|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman:

MODERN DAY philosophers have been debating why or how the "Skins Game" ends up as the second highest-rated golf show on television for years (about two). To Curtis Strange, defending champ in the show scheduled for Nov. 25 (3:30 to 6 p.m. on ABC), the answer is simple: "The viewers want something different from time to time.

"Think back. Shell's Wonderful World of Golf was very popular. Then there was that match-play tournament CBS conducted for years."

Joining Strange in the charge for $450,000 in prize money are Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus, "not a comedian in the bunch," reminds Curtis, "and we're going live this time. Funny thing is, I didn't know until last year that the show wasn't live."

The former two-time U.S. Open champ half suggests he's a lucky man indeed to be included in the foursome considering the year he has had (or hasn't had). He described his effort the last six months as "going through the motions . . . but as the defending champ they had to have me back [sly giggle]."

Despite his efforts to prevent it, disappointing performances while shooting for his third straight Open title here and at the British Open caused the bottom to fall out for Strange. It's why immediately after "Skins" he's taking leave of the links for six weeks.

"At the same time, I'm looking forward to having some heat [pressure] on me these two days. I'm looking forward to having to make a 10-footer. A good showing won't salvage my year, nothing could do that, but it will help ending up the year with a good positive attitude."

* One of the top shows of the pro football season figures to be the three-part 25th anniversary tribute NFL Films is preparing for "This is the NFL" for Dec. 2, 9 and 16. "It will have it all," promises honcho Steve Sabol, "best interview, most thrilling touchdown, craziest player, biggest blunder."

* The dean of college football broadcasters Keith ("Fummmmmmmmmble") Jackson has the annual Heisman Trophy rhubarb in perspective: "I plan to ignore it until a linebacker or a tight end wins it."

* Best advertisement for a pre-game show is Chris Berman of ESPN stating, simply, "We like pro football; we cover both conferences."

* Due to the expert camera work Home Team Sports has provided doing Orioles telecasts, the Stadium With No Name downtown will have four extra camera locations designed mainly to aid pitchers and hitters ply their trade.

* Hot off the presses is ESPN's Sunday night baseball slate for 1991, which, at this point, probably only interests Jon Miller since it's his "beat." Jon, you don't have to pack a bag June 9, the assignment being Toronto at Baltimore.

* The Major Soccer League's series of Sunday games on SportsChannel America doesn't begin until Feb. 3 (Wichita at Kansas City). And Ye Olde Beloved Blasters don't get the cue until March 10, a taped game in San Diego.

* Is it my imagination or does Eagles coach Buddy Ryan look like a guy who couldn't find his way to the men's room when the networks train a camera on him on the sidelines?

* Obviously, sports news around the clock was an idea whose time had not come. Sports News Network reportedly just unloaded about 40 percent of its people and is down to broadcasting about three hours a day.

* Please, please, please, Saturday network scoreboard shows, douse the chatter about the game we're watching and feed us more scores. And make them finals. A first-quarter score from Pullman, Wash., just doesn't get it.

* Tapped into a feature on former Houston kick return star Billy Johnson on cable just in time to hear old "White Shoes" take a cliche to the next dimension. Johnson said, "The end zone dance was a challenge to me. My teammates wanted to see what I was going to do after a touchdown." Talk about pressure.

* Hey, cutting down the number of times TBS can subject the viewing public to the Atlanta Hawks (20) is an act of mercy. But it's no less than Un-American the NBA ordering Michael Jordan off the WGN airwaves five games.

* SportsBeat, the Tom Davis-produced show on Channel 45, cuts back to a half-hour now, which should take considerable pressure off Charlie Eckman's vocal chords. Speaking of "The Coach," Charlie didn't have it so easy with knee surgery and he'd probably appreciate a card or two while recuperating at Kernan Hospital.

* Memo to a certain weekend radio sportsguy: Weber State is not within the friendly confines of Maryland. Navy, a federal reservation, is nonetheless surrounded by Maryland. Therefore, give a Middies score preference. That is all.

* It's hard to believe not one New York city outlet is among the 400 stations that listen to the warm, humorous bleatings of Howard Cosell twice daily on the ABC radio network.

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