Sunday should be day of rest for 'net' baseball

Phil Jackman

July 19, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman: Sometimes, you have to wonder about the folks calling the shots at the network. With virtually no advance publicity, they toss a couple of baseball games into the Sunday afternoon cauldron when they're stripped of exclusivity and going against local cable deals and some commercial telecasts coast to coast, then seem surprised when they get lousy ratings.

* Pssst, the CBS Game of the Month tomorrow (1 p.m.) is the Dodgers vs. the Mets. Pass it on.

* ABC moves in for the final two rounds of the British Open tomorrow (10 a.m.) and Sunday (9:30 a.m.) and, hopefully, it will give English commentator Peter Alliss as much to do as ESPN has while sending along the first two rounds.

The Brit's like a cooling shower on a sweltering day when he assumes the anchor's chair from Roger Twibell, who is just too heavy and jingoistic for the job.

* The two injections of the Tour de France by the same network this weekend arrive at 4:30 p.m. each day, and with Greg LeMond falling out of first place, perhaps we'll have a race after all. Greg is 2:35 behind, but of leader Luc Leblanc and third-place Charly Mottet he says, "They need 10 minutes [advantage] over me to be dangerous." Aha, some ego.

* It's been so long since CBS did horse racing, it is calling on baseball analyst Jim Kaat to describe and explain the Caesars International Handicap to viewers Sunday (2:30 p.m.). Kaat's credentials are that he owned a thoroughbred in the '70s. The guy who finished second in the search rode the hobby-horses at an amusement park when he was a kid.

The race is being combined with a fight, WBO 154-pound champ John David Jackson and Tyrone Trice setting up shop right next to the winner's circle at the Atlantic City Race Course. If past duo-sports ventures at the track are any indication, the railbirds won't enjoy the intrusion one bit.

* Say what you want about Kevin Hickey as a pitcher, but the ex-Oriole showed a ready wit when pressed into service during an Orioles telecast. Checking the avoirdupois of a home plate umpire, the lefty mused, "Hmm, seems like so-and-so has spent quite a bit of time behind plates lately."

A guy (Bob Milacki) pitches the first six innings of what turns out to be a no-hitter by the Orioles staff and Jim Palmer's greeting to him in a post-game interview is, "Nice haircut."

* So far, Channel 45 hasn't lived up to its promise of giving viewers more than the usual late-night sportscast during its 10 o'clock news. Some of the highlight packages from early-finishing baseball games have been ragged to the point of incoherence and when the big feature of the day is a piece on lady body-builders with no discernible angle, it's time to check out Channel 5's 10 o'clock sports show for pointers.

* "When It Was A Game" has been such a success on HBO, producer Ross Greenburg is gathering up momentum for a sequel. "We just got hold of a lot of color film of the Yankees in the late '50s and early '60s. Tell me you don't want to see that." Ross, I don't want to see that. Keep it devoted to the entire spectrum of baseball, not just the stuff that appeals to New Yorkers.

* Blast owner Ed Hale's old girlfriend, network-jumping Kathleen Sullivan, is back doing sports, joining the NBC cast covering the LPGA tourney stop this weekend. Channel 2 is skipping Saturday's round, but will pick up the final Sunday after doing the Orioles-Mariners game (1:30).

* Any credibility wrestling promoter and admitted steroid-user Vince McMahon might have had went right out the window when, before the cameras and notepads, he said, "Large bodies is not what the WWF is all about. Charisma and performance is what we're all about." Right.

Bruno Sammartino, the man who put the WWF on the map 25 years ago, scoffs at McMahon's suggestion that 'roids aren't at epidemic proportions among his behemoths. He told the New York Post, "I despise what the WWF has become. It promotes these unnatural muscle freaks, they're on killer drugs and this is how we entertain our children. It's insane."

Fortunately, for all those little Hulkamaniacs, we have Hulk Hogan's word, via the Arsenio Hall Show, that the old T-shirt-ripper never used drugs for body enhancement, but strictly for medicinal purposes. The empire's safe.

* Next Wednesday you can laugh at the memory of summer heat and humidity while watching the Redskins and Steelers scrimmage on Channel 5. Just how soon a D.C. outlet gets around to doing two-a-days live isn't quite clear at this point.

* Home Team Sports has the semifinals tomorrow (1 and 7 p.m.), then the final Sunday (1 p.m.) from the Sovran Tennis Classic in Washington . . . USA Network will carry the Riddick Bowe (24-0)-Phil Brown (30-7) heavyweight bash next Tuesday (9 p.m).

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