Ch. 2 blows news lid with talkative Ripken

RADIO-TV

November 22, 1991|By RAY FRAGER

The MVP embargo sat on the wall.

But the MVP answered the call.

And all the sportscasters, starting from then,

couldn't put the embargo back together again.

The American League Most Valuable Player Award was announced at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Unless you happened to be watching Channel 2's 5 p.m. newscast.

Channel 2 broke the embargo on the announcement -- an arrangement in which news organizations agree to withhold information until a certain time set by the source. The source, in this instance, was the Baseball Writers Association of America. But Channel 2 had a better one -- the MVP himself, Cal Ripken.

WMAR sports anchor Scott Garceau said Ripken told Channel 2 of the news at about 5:15, which it reported about 15 minutes later. Ripken was interviewed on the air at about 5:40.

So, did Channel 2 break the embargo? And, if the station did, so what?

Channel 11's Vince Bagli will tell you so what.

"I just don't think they should break that thing," the sports anchor said. "We've never done that. We've always hoped other people would honor it, too.

"I've never seen anything quite so blatant. We're all supposed to have ethics."

This was not an ethical question at all, Garceau said.

"The understanding from top management [at Channel 2] was, if we got the information before the embargo from other than the wire services, that we go with it," Garceau said.

Quite a conundrum, eh? If an embargo falls in the forest and there's no one there, does it make a sound?

It certainly made a sound over at Channel 11, where Bagli did not disguise his displeasure.

"I guess I made it pretty obvious [on the air] I was annoyed," Bagli said.

Bagli's station, though, didn't even have a chance to break the embargo, because Channel 11 has no evening newscast until 6.

"I didn't have the opportunity, but I wouldn't have used it if I had," Bagli said.

This isn't the first embargo to be broken. Newspapers have been known to break some now and then.

But you make the call: Ripken -- not the BBWAA -- tells you he is MVP. At that point, Ripken has broken the embargo. Hey, he's even willing to go on camera before 6 to talk about the award.

The answer? You go with it. If the BBWAA wants to protect its embargo, it should stop informing players before the announcement.

And an earlier newscast does have its advantages.

When Frank Sinatra isn't singing, when the big band horns are silent, WITH enters sports talk. WITH (1230 AM) has launched "Sports Forum" weekdays at 5 p.m.-7 p.m. with hosts Joe Croghan and Kenny Albert. Charlie Eckman also appears on the show, and Albert sometimes will miss broadcasts to call Baltimore Skipjacks play-by-play.

Bennie the Fan, who had teamed with Croghan, was dropped by the station, WITH general manager Jim Davis said.

"Nobody was happy with the show [with Bennie]," Davis said.

How could they tell? No one could understand what Bennie was sayinganyway.

"For the quality of the show, it was good to team Joe, who could talk about old Baltimore sports, with Kenny, who could talk about new Baltimore sports," Davis said.

From the early efforts, Albert is proving himself a capable host, confirming what his Skipjacks work has shown -- that he is a fine young broadcaster. Croghan, however, could work to bring himself up to date. For example, this week he was discussing Gold Gloves and referred to last year's choice for American League shortstop as being from Toronto. The 1990 Gold Glove for AL shortstops actually went to the Chicago White Sox's Ozzie Guillen.

*

Hoops du jour: "Hoops," with Stan "The Fan" Charles and Paul Baker, returns Mondays at 10 p.m. on WCAO (600 AM) starting next week. Maryland coach Gary Williams and Alexander Wolff of Sports Illustrated will be guests Monday. . . . It's not reporting, it's TV: Channel 45's Tuesday night report on Ripken's MVP award featured reaction from fans. Guess what? Baltimoreans seemed happy that Ripken had won the award. . . . NFL, which stands for Not For Long: I'm thinking of canceling my

Sports Illustrated subscription unless the magazine stops those constant commercials promoting its offer featuring an NFL Films video. . . . Yet another sign that the '60s are over: The music in an American Express ad run during weekend sports telecasts was from one-hit wonder Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky."

*

The boss loves college basketball. I found him nearly buried behind a stack of media guides. "Gonzaga seems to have a real go-to guy this season," he said, a Vitalean grin on his face. "And Stetson is planning to shoot lots of threes." Normally, I would have taken advantage of his distraction, but he needed help. So I solicited his questions. Geez, he was about to show me Wimp Sanderson's top 10 sports coats.

Things My Boss Wants to Know: Where do you stand on CNN's Van Earl Wright? (Usually out of earshot.) . . . What does Bo Schembechler add to ABC's college football coverage? (Oh, I'd guess about 200 or so pounds.) . . . Which ESPN show burns more calories, "Getting Fit with Denise Austin" or "Body Shaping"? ("Body Shaping." I usually walk to the kitchen for a Twinkie when it's on.)

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