Despite his abbreviated work schedule at ABC, comprising horse racing and golf, there will always be one event carried by the network that veteran Jim McKay will volunteer to work: The New York City Marathon (Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Ch. 13).
"Most of our viewers probably won't even know who the favorites are," McKay said, "but that doesn't matter. This has become a national occasion people look forward to more than a sports event.
"It's not only a spectacle, it's a great coming together for a city that often presents itself as being very divided. Marathon Sunday, it seems, is the one day everyone behaves."
ABC, when it isn't with the male leaders and doing its customary bang-up job with the people back in the 25,000-runner pack, figures to lean heavily on Joan Benoit Samuelson as the United States' hope for victory. As race director Fred Lebow points out, "American men have virtually no chance of winning. They could get as high as fourth or fifth."
Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic champion, is as confident as she has been in years: "Lately, I've been able to do the old workouts I was able to do when successful."
* An obvious remedy for burgeoning complaints that the World Series is cheating its public with games raging until the wee hours would be for games to start precisely at 8 p.m. (when prime time commences), no ifs, ands or buts.
The rights fees being what they are, television requires huge time gaps at the inning and half-inning to sell its wares, but the game is still full of time-wasting rituals that could be tightened up.
With Series games grabbing the first five spots in the Nielsens, giving CBS a huge victory over the other guys in the weekly ratings, chances of even one afternoon game occurring in this millennium are negligible.
My constant memory of the Braves-Twins debacle probably will be the Kirby Puckett home run winning Game 6 Saturday night -- viewed in not-so-instant replay about Sunday noon. Of course, a Braves' videotape entitled "The Miracle Season" is in production and will be available in two weeks.
Forget about it being the climactic moment in the sixth game of the World Series, imagine Atlanta owner Ted Turner dozing off while seated next to Jane Fonda. It must be over, folks.
Why does a Series always have to have an epilogue? In lieu of anyone accusing the imminently beatable Braves and Twins of being dynasties in the making, talk of this being the greatest Fall Classic ever filled the airwaves and public prints. Rubbish. It's like arguing which is the best color.
* Ol' Mushmouth, Stan White, decided to rewrite World Series history while sitting in on WBAL's Sportsline the other night, informing the listening audience it was Bobby Doerr who held the ball as Enos Slaughter streaked around from first base with the winning run in the 1946 classic.
* Poor Dick Enberg. The classy all-around sportscaster at NBC is penciled in for the ho-hum Notre Dame-Navy bloodlet tomorrow (4 p.m.) instead of his beloved Breeders' Cup extravaganza beginning at noon from Churchill Downs . . . Nebraska (5-1) and Colorado (4-2) on ESPN tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) is probably the best game among the collegians . . . The noon Atlantic Coast Conference game on Channel 45 is North Carolina vs. our lovable, bungling Terps.
* Yes, the Bullets' season opener (vs. the Indiana Pacers) is on Channel 20 this evening (7:30). For identification purposes, they'll be the guys in the red uniforms with the fewest points on the scoreboard . . . TNT has a twin bill: 76ers vs. Bulls and Suns vs. Sonics . . . The Bullets radio network, Charlie Slowes at the mike, contains 17 stations, including WBAL quite often.
* Riddick Bowe is just about set to sign one of those lucrative rights packages with HBO . . . Word is Jack Buck won't be back as CBS's main baseball play-by-play guy. Here's hoping the net won't say heck with it and just move Dick Stockton up . . . The TVKO card Dec. 13 has a goodie on top: Mike McCallum vs. James Toney . . . All-sports radio stations are now in seven cities.
* Golf diehards have ESPN to thank for the World Cup of Golf from Italy today (2 p.m.), tomorrow (midnight, obviously with fluorescent balls) and Sunday (5 p.m.) plus the second round of the PGA Tour Championship today (4 p.m.). ABC moves in for the last two rounds of the latter tomorrow (1:30 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.).
* ABC college grid analyst Dick Vermeil had a strange defense for officials not throwing flags for obvious leg-whipping infractions during a recent telecast: "You see it [leg-whipping] so seldom, it's not in the mindset of the official to even be thinking for something like that." Oh!
Meanwhile, back in the studio, commentator Bo Schembechler is defying gravity by actually getting worse from week to week. The guy has shown absolutely no recall of anything that went on during his years of coaching in the big time.
* The soon-to-start ESPN weekend radio network will feature snappy sports briefs hourly with Chris Berman, Frank Deford and Dick Schapp lined up as commentators . . . The American Sportscasters Association has named Bob Costas its 'caster of the year, which begs the question, why? Yes, he's a knowledgeable, introspective and entertaining guy, but the last year all Costas has done is sit in the studio and kibitz.