ABC finds fair way to cover golf

Phil Jackman

June 14, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman:

As ABC Sports producer Terry Jastrow says, "People might not even notice or care that much," but it might be interesting to note the difference in the way his network does golf during weekend coverage of the U.S. Open.

"In most sports, we're fairly similar in our approach due to the constrictions of the field or court," Jastrow explained. "But, with golf, we decided long ago that there was a better way than just putting our announcers in towers at the back of greens."

Not only did ABC put a guy/gal on the scene (on-course reporters), it pioneered hand-held cameras, which provides a player's-eye view of the situation. "It's significant that come the last day of the tournament, with four on-course people, we can go with the last four twosomes," said Jastrow.

What the net is most proud of, however, is its innovation of covering all 18 holes. "The story can happen anywhere," he said, "so we feel we should be there. Especially at the majors."

ABC moves in tomorrow and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. after yeoman work by ESPN yesterday and today with marathon performances running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.

* During the week's preparation, Jastrow ticked off about a hundred well-known names, calling each "a great story" that the network would love to cover as the Open moved forward. Yet, when faced with a truly interesting story during the PGA Seniors tourney it covered last weekend, Long Island club pro Jim Albus coming out of nowhere to win, it did nothing but gloss over the situation.

"I played over my head, no question," Albus was to say. "After a bad start, I thought I might shoot 90. I played better than I know how, but except for [Jack] Nicklaus and [Lee] Trevino, I think that's the case with everyone who wins out here." The net missed all this.

* Despite the brevity of the NBA finale between the Bulls and Lakers, we got the full complement of cliches from NBC sideline reporters. While Ahmad Rashad was telling us "Michael Jordan is trying to do too much," sidekick Steve Jones asked Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy repeatedly, "Can you get your frontcourt involved in the second half?" Fortunately, the announcing team of Marv Albert and Mike Fratello came through. The same cannot be said for Bob Costas, whose post-game victorious locker room work was parody worthy of Mad magazine.

* NBC's opening segment for last Sunday's NBA playoff game was one of those bits showing neighborhood youngsters hanging up a milk crate and imitating Michael Jordan with a miniature basketball. For shame. This fosters the notion that yes, kids, you too can find fame and fortune by the simple expedient of spending hours on the playground hooping 'em up, which, of course, is criminally counterproductive.

* One of the things that makes the PBA Tour on ABC great is Chris Schenkel whispering, "He's wired for sound; let's see if he says anything."

* Move over Cal Ripken: Spanish announcer Juan Vene, who does the narration for "This Week in Baseball," which in its 15th season is dispatched to stations throughout Central and northern South America, not only has never missed a taping, he's never been late. TWIB has a bit on Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson talking about how, as a high school baseball player in North Dakota, he once got a hit off Satchel Paige.

* My faith in wrassling wavered ever so slightly Wednesday night when the ring announcer of a WCW show said the length of a match for Ric Flair's coveted heavyweight title was dependent upon the "TV time remaining" on the WTBS show.

* Lots of grasscourt tennis on ESPN to get you ready for Wimbledon the next few days. The U.S. team hosts Spain in a Davis Cup matchup in Newport, R.I., with singles today (3 p.m.) ** and Sunday (4 p.m.) and doubles tomorrow (3 p.m.) . . . Sunday (9 a.m.), the finals of the Stella Artois tourney from England will be shown.

While on tennis, Jimmy Connors, commenting on Boris Becker's losing to Andre Agassi in the semis of the French Open, said, "I'm dumbfounded by the way Becker played. He didn't go to the net." Here we have a case of the pot calling the kettle black because Jimbo has played his same, one-dimensional game for the last two decades.

* If you can tear yourself away from golf, NBC has track and field (live) and gymnastics (taped) tomorrow (2:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4 p.m.) while CBS has baseball (live, Cubs vs. Padres) tomorrow (3 p.m.) and track Sunday (4 p.m.). Isn't it always the way, track gets on about twice a year and it's jammed into one weekend?

* Showtime, which gets away with selling itself as a premium cable channel because it doesn't run ads, is running ads anyway. What else would you call a Tyson-Ruddock II "special" when it's involved in the pay-per-view of the June 28 event?

* ABC is missing the boat not doing a retrospective on the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, the 0-10 WLAF entry that no doubt will grab a spot in the all-time worst teams in professional sport.

* The fight of the month for August on TVKO will be Olympian Ray Mercer (17-0) taking on Tommy Morrison (27-0) for the WBO heavyweight title on the 9th . . . This month's offering, due up tonight (10), has Edwin Rosario taking on Loreto Garza and Jorge Paez jazzing it up against Tracy Spann. Knockouts figure . . . USA Network visits the Washington Convention Center next Tuesday (9 p.m.) for the Andrew Maynard-Ed Mack bout.

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