Ruth steps up to NBC plate

Phil Jackman

October 04, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman: Stephen Lang brings pretty decent credentials to the made-for-TV movie "Babe Ruth" Sunday (9 p.m.) on NBC. Of course, playing Henry V, Hamlet and Willie Loman could be considered child's play next to attempting to capture the essence of the Bambino. Pete Rose has a cameo as Ty Cobb; meanwhile, it's mind-boggling to ponder Bruce Weitz (Belker on "Hill Street Blues") as Miller Huggins.

* The American League playoffs commence Tuesday with Toronto and Minnesota kicking off the "Battle of the Carpets" at 8:30 p.m. . . . CBS is losing so much on its baseball package it

isn't bothering to have a pre-game show, for which it is to be commended. A spokeswoman said it wasn't because they couldn't sell the ad time, but had to do with getting on the net's entertainment programming. Yeah, right.

Game 2 of the ALCS starts at 3 p.m. Wednesday and the National League showdown, Pirates vs. TBA, follows at 8:30. The Nationals get the first-team announcers, Jack Buck and Tim McCarver.

* And even more baseball: for what seems like the skatey-eighth year in a row, WBAL Radio will be in the market for an announcer to hold Jon Miller's coat as Ken Levine heads back to more familiar territory, alias Sam, Norm, Cliff, Carla and the gang. More Liluth, writer.

* Al Davis of the Raiders during a quickie TV interview: "I'd rathebe feared than respected." Uh, Al, where does despised stand on your list?

* HBO has a goodie tomorrow (10 p.m.), Pernell Whitaker (26-1putting his undisputed lightweight title within reach of the world's biggest hotdog and ring showman, Jorge Paez (38-3). The world awaits the message Jorge will have shaved on the back of his head.

* NFL Films has a tribute to a gent who qualifies as one of the great men of professional football history this weekend on "This is the NFL." He's John Facenda and to your question who(?), this reply "The Voice of God." Facenda, the voice on more than 250 films -- his first line ever was, "It starts with a whistle, and ends with a gun" -- died earlier this year.

* Monday (9 p.m.) sees the start of Bud Greenspan's Olympiad series, 22 one-hour shows that are positive gems. As long as there is a Greenspan, Olympianism lives despite what the IOC, television, commercialism and self-serving promoters do. "The Marathon" goes first.

* No matter what happens this weekend, you have to feel great about the Atlanta Braves and the season they've had. A laughingstock and the brunt of a series of lousy one-liners by owner Ted Turner for years, the club's attendance will reach 2.1 million (up from 800,000) and that's with three sellouts washed away.

Perhaps more importantly, the ratings at superstation TBS for the season are up to 2.0, a 15 percent increase, meaning Baltimorean and general manager John Schuerholz will have a few bucks to spend in the free-agent market.

* NBC has the "Million Dollar Mile" from Jakarta, Indonesiatomorrow (4 p.m.) and if Said Aouita, Peter Elliott, Wilfred Kirochi and Steve Cram are too quick for you, stick around for the next half hour which will have triathletes slogging along in the "Escape from Alcatraz" triathlon.

* No, Murgatroyd, that's no misprint, the TNT game Sunday night has those never-say-die Colts from Indianapolis (0-5) going against the Steelers. Who picks these games for Turner, the Marquis de Sade or ESPN?

* CBS grabbed the Braves-Astros game tomorrow away froTBS and will double up with the Dodgers-Giants contest, making for what could be an ultra-dramatic afternoon of ball. You don't suppose the Giants have another "Bobby Thomson Shot Heard Around the World" surprise up their sleeve 40 years later, do you?

* Johnny Miller, NBC's chief analyst for the Ryder Cup last weekend, caught some flak for his work, both from critics and a player or two. These ears found him to be entertaining, enlightening, completely fair and the answer to a prayer after month after month of Ken Venturi.

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