Wimbledon serves up some special fare

Phil Jackman

July 05, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman:

Breakfast at Wimbledon followed by the Midsummer Night's Classic. Cliches aside, not bad viewing considering a holiday just passed and we head for the dog days of summer.

After today's semifinal action among the men on NBC and HBO, the network sends along the women's final of The Championships (sniff) tomorrow at 9 a.m. with the men's final going at the same time Sunday.

Strangely, CBS is not doing a ballgame this weekend to get fans revved up for Tuesday night's All-Star Game from Toronto (8 p.m.). But then, considering the ratings of the "Game of the Month," an embarrassing 4.0, it probably doesn't matter.

Announcers Jack Buck and Tim McCarver will be at the mikes, letting their National League bias shine through, an excellent reason to pull for the Americans.

* One of the features of CBS Radio's coverage of the 62nd meeting will be an interview with Ted Williams, who, in Tiger Stadium 50 years ago, belted a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to give the AL a thrilling victory. Of the clout Teddy Ballgame says, "It had an impact on me that no other hit I ever had can match."

* Jim McKay, who as pointman for ABC's "Wide World of Sports" has been to places not even named yet, has a zillion memories. And right up near the top is an assignment he drew recently: A quickie trip to Cuba and a talk with Fidel Castro.

The 2 p.m. interview commenced after a slight delay of eight hours, but then the Cuban leader rambled on for 4 1/2 hours. "We covered everything," said McKay. "Sports, politics, economics, hostilities, you name it. He even hung around afterward and signed baseballs for our crew."

Despite tough economic times for years, Castro told McKay his island nation is going to make it because of its strong education and health programs. "We have the brains," he said. He also said something about having 100,000 trained oxen to do the work. Ponder that one for a minute or two.

The Wall Street Journal reports food is being hoarded until the Games to give visitors the impression conditions are OK in Havana, but McKay says he got that impression anyway.

ABC isn't sure how it will use the material, McKay thinking it would fly as an hour special, as a segment on "20/20" or being cut up and interspersed throughout the network's coverage of the Pan American Games in Havana Aug. 2-18.

* Don't forget, Home Box Office unveils "When It Was A Game" Monday (8 p.m.) and among the 50 hours of vintage old color film are visits to five long-gone ballparks . . . That same night, at 9:30 p.m., ESPN will send along an old-timers game with Brooks Robinson manning his old station for the Americans.

* Enough already, on the links. The next two days, no fewer than four events will be on, CBS covering the PGA Western Open, ESPN doing the Seniors Tour, NBC handling a celebrity championship and Home Team Sports flipping on a tape of the French Open (golf) from a couple of weeks ago. Uncle!

* If you missed the tape of last week's Mike Tyson-Razor Ruddock fight a couple of nights ago, it's doing a return engagement on Showtime Monday at 10 p.m. Ruddock hits with both hands this time, but one thing becomes abundantly clear early: the guy can't fight very well.

* The TVKO announcing team of Len Berman and Joe Goossen have come miles since their first call of a fight (Holyfield vs. Foreman), so that you actually look forward to them doing a card these days. Next up is a Tony Lopez (36-2)-Lupe Gutierrez (25-3), Lennox Lewis (15-0)-Mike Weaver (35-15), Mark Breland (29-2)-TBA triple-header July 12 for $20.

* The folks at the LPGA Championship were too polite to say anything, but they had to be bristling at NBC's opening up last Sunday's dramatic final-round, two-hour telecast with a nauseating interview with the abused homemaker Judy Nelson (of Martina Navratilova fame). Do two shames make a right?

* The Tour de France kicks off Sunday in Lyon, France, and ABC will be there for the first of its weekend reports, pushing Greg LeMond's attempt for a third straight victory. LeMond is still struggling, following up a 12th-place finish in the Tour Du Pont with a DNF at a race in Italy two weeks ago. The network is using just half the manpower and equipment on this year's coverage, so it named 26-year-old Nancy Stern to produce the show. She should sue.

* This happened at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, televised by NBC. I had a question about coverage, ratings or something and got in touch with the publicist about getting NBC Sports president Arthur Watson on the phone for a few minutes. About 20 minutes later, a guy walked up to me in the media center, stuck out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Watson, what can I do for you?" He died last week at age 61 after retiring in 1989 and the net has had problems since.

* All athletic trainers and football coaches should get a tape of Lyle Alzado's being interviewed on NBC's "First Person with Maria Shriver" and keep replaying the part where he says, "You know that big massive guy I was -- it was all phony." The ex-pro lineman says steroid use caused his brain tumor.

* Program note: Pete Rose is one of the guests on "Real Life With Jane Pauley" July 14, where he figures to divulge his plan for world peace.

* ESPN is doing 48 college football games this fall, commencing with that long-standing intersectional gem of Illinois vs. East Carolina Aug. 31.

* Any doubts you might have had concerning Florida State's being accepted into the ACC should be dispelled now that it has been announced the conference's football network Jefferson-Pilot just added 10 new markets, most in Florida.

* Overheard during a Mets telecast on WWOR, Ralph Kiner speaking: "Some of the ballplayers make statements that make no sense." This from the master of the malaprop.

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