Behind mike, Shriver hits nothing but winners

Phil Jackman

September 06, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman:

Pam Shriver never had a great deal of success against contemporary Tracy Austin back when they were whacking tennis balls at each other. Put them in a TV booth analyzing a match, however, and it's Pam from here to the Australian Open.

They actually worked well commenting on the Martina Navratilova-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario duel the other day, providing diversity, Austin stating the obvious, Shriver going with insight.

"One thing about a champion," said Tracy, "they swing so well on the run." Huh? Or how about this one at the start of the third set? "Martina would love to hold serve while Arantxa would love to break."

Some of Pam's better offerings were, "that was definitely a nervous forehand," as Navratilova succumbed to pressure (polite for choke) on a big point, and "we all know what Jimmy Connors would have been saying," as one of the women approached the chair to question a decision.

Shriver discussed the tendencies of her longtime doubles partner Navratilova and, about Sanchez Vicario, pointed out, "she often sticks a finger up in the air [to signal an out ball] and it's awfully annoying to players on the tour." Good inside stuff.

Another keeper on the USA announcing team at Flushing Meadow is Linda Pentz. She knows the subject. The same

cannot be said for co-host Bruce Beck, who attempted a hype by saying, "It should be a heck of a match: Jim Courier, French Open singles champ, against Anders Jarryd, French Open doubles champ."

* As if the end zone celebrations aren't bad enough in football, guys now recover a fumble, as an Arkansas player did against Miami, and immediately sprint to an open spot where a camera can get a good shot of them. True emotion? Bull! Simple showing off.

* Channels 45 and 7 have the Maryland-Virginia footballers from College Park tomorrow (noon) before NBC, which has avoided college football for the last quarter-century, checks in with four hours of Notre Dame football (the Irish are playing Indiana) beginning at 1 p.m. . . . ABC's national game at 3:30 p.m. is Ohio State-Arizona . . . ESPN has Wyoming-Colorado (7:30) followed by Brigham Young-UCLA.

ABC's pre, post and in-between halves shows will feature that old cutup Bo Schembechler as analyst. Bo, recall, is president of the Detroit Tigers and CBS telecasts baseball (sporadically), but there's no conflict here. The ex-coach says he's off Saturdays, so everything's OK.

* "Monday Night Football" revisited: Dan Dierdorf said, "I'll tell you one thing . . ." And listeners across the land muttered to themselves, "Fat Chance." . . . Nielsen is measuring out-of-home MNF viewers this season to get ABC off its back about not including a significant segment of its audience. This will facilitate the net jacking up its ad rates.

* Overall, NBC did a sparkling job covering the World Championships of track and field, the talk and pictures living up to the inspiring performances of the athletes. One small flaw: who cared about the wind conditions where Bob Costas was, hosting the shows?

Oops, one other thing that left a horrible taste: Long jump record-holder Mike Powell standing on the victory stand during the playing of the national anthem with a Foot Locker hat on. Shameful.

* The Braves, far and away the hit of the TV baseball season,

have added TBS games in San Francisco Sept. 16-17 and Los Angeles Sept. 22. An indication of how some folks never get the word can be seen from the fact that the cable will have to come some to match last year's ratings despite the team's outstanding success and interesting games.

* Hopefully, Red Auerbach's book "Management by Auerbach," out this fall, will be better than the old NBA halftime show "Red on Roundball" on ABC.

* CBS is scheduled to go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the U.S. Open tomorrow. But since we're talking the women's final and both men's semis, figure Pat and Tony, Mary and whomever will be talking at you until at least 9 p.m. -- probably closer to midnight with Jimmy Connors still around, toweling off after every point. Today the women's semis begin at 11 a.m., with Sunday's men's final to start at 4 p.m., after an NFL game.

* Connors explains his obviously close ties with New York tennis fans thusly: "Every emotion in the world I go through out there. I let the fans see that and, because of it, I am a human being. They see that." The vulgarities, the gestures, the intimidation and, now that he has a job in television, the cutesey-wutesey byplay with the TV camera are all part of the act. Sad.

Add Connors: Seemingly revered, not reviled, following his petulant behavior in front of millions, Jimbo reads it as encouragement and is apt to sustain the act. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, is Stefan Edberg who, when asked how one can tell when he is mad, replied, "When I get quiet."

* The Maryland Million telecast on ESPN Sunday (5 p.m.) will have the $200,000 Bud Maryland Classic and another race live and several other of the 11 races on tape delay.

* Somebody wrote Buddy Ryan didn't smile enough on CNN's "NFL Preview" show Sunday morns at 11:30, so the ex-coach was a grinning fool last week . . . HBO's "Inside the NFL" kicked off its 15th season last night and you can catch a replay of the fine work of Len Dawson, Nick Buoniconti and Cris Collinsworth tonight (11).

* I'd like to hear David Klingler's side of the story before coming down too hard on the way Houston and coach John Jenkins run up astronomical scores on inferior competition and blame it on the Heisman Trophy candidate. It's not as though the kid can go out there and try to throw incompletions. What a rotten situation for a coach to put a player in.

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