A season under its belt, CBS returns to baseball McCarver builds on last season

RADIO-TV

April 19, 1991|By RAY FRAGER

A year wiser and at least $100 million poorer, CBS returns to covering major-league baseball tomorrow (Detroit Tigers-Chicago White Sox, 1 p.m., channels 11 and 9).

Tim McCarver also returns, along with play-by-play partner Jack Buck, and, though he may admit to the wiser part, McCarver won't get into a discussion of CBS' loss on the first year of its four-season, $1.1 billion baseball contract.

"Not my department," McCarver said this week. "That has nothing to do with the production. Our job is to produce the best possible game."

As for his department, McCarver said CBS' broadcasts should build on last season's efforts.

"Rather than itemize the good and the bad, I would say we laid a good foundation, and we're off and running," McCarver said. "It should be considerably better because we're used to each other."

And being accustomed to his colleagues is important to McCarver, he said, because so much of what he says on the air is unrehearsed.

"A lot of people don't understand that there's a lot of spontaneity involved," McCarver said. "I'm very prepared, but I can't tell what I'm going to say beforehand.

"From Jack's and my standpoint, it's more a natural interaction."

Which is something that wasn't necessarily there during the inaugural season.

"Twenty years ago, it was hard for Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek to work together. . . . It's difficult for everybody in the first season," McCarver said.

Difficulties aside, the McCarver-Buck pairing was the best part of CBS' telecasts last year. In fact, the only real fault with the network's coverage was its lack thereof -- 16 regular-season telecasts.

*

The National Football League draft has stopped being the province of draftniks, and ESPN is responsible. For the 12th straight year, ESPN is carrying the draft live Sunday (noon-6:30 p.m.).

If that sounds like a lot of air time to fill, you haven't been watching in recent years. ESPN has assembled a group of first-round talkers -- Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Joe Theismann and Mel Kiper -- just for its main anchor desk. Of course, one desk is not enough, so Robin Roberts will anchor another, joined by Mike Gottfried and, rumor has it, Fred Edelstein.

In addition, ESPN will be reporting from remote sites, tracking down the players coming to an NFL field near you this fall.

*

Most of us probably have been celebrating National Cable Month in our own, quiet way. Mine came Monday night.

Where would we be without cable? On Monday, the choices were dizzying. Pro basketball on TNT, World League of American Football on USA, National Hockey League playoffs on SportsChannel America (via Home Team Sports), baseball on WWOR and TBS and women's pro beach volleyball on ESPN.

Is this a great country, or what?

There was Doug Collins on TNT, saying of the Chicago Bulls: "Chicago is like sharks in a feeding frenzy; they want more points."

Over on TBS, the Atlanta Braves' Deion Sanders was standing at the outfield wall, watching a home run sail over his head. How many times do you get to see the first major-league homer by the Houston Astros' Jeff Bagwell?

Boomer Esiason was lamenting the fate of the Birmingham Fire quarterbacks, who kept getting nailed by London Monarchs defenders, saying something about "child abuse." Well, Boomer, at least you have a real job.

Gary Thorne surveyed the scene before the New Jersey Devils-Pittsburgh Penguins game and informed us: "There are no more tomorrows. Somebody wins; somebody goes home."

It may be small consolation to the Devils, but they can watch women's volleyball now that they're home.

*

CBS/Fox Video recently released a video called "NBA Comic Relief: The Great Blooper Caper." Sales of the video will benefit Comic Relief, an organization that helps the homeless. . . . TBS has won the rights to this year's Gator Bowl. . . . Talk about comprehensive: ESPN's Sunday night game featured a replay of the Oakland Athletics' Terry Steinbach in which he busted his belt. . . . Sugar Ray Leonard is lending his expertise to ESPN's coverage of the Evander Holyfield-George Foreman fight. . . . Phil Wood update: The former radio talk show host still doesn't have a broadcasting job on the horizon.

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