Easy-chair Einstein trans-Zens cable karma from remote location


January 01, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

At the last convention of the TV Sports Critics Association, held in the console television section of the Macy's at Livingston (N.J.) Mall -- I'm pushing hard to get the convention for Maryland next year; this could mean tens of dollars for our state, particularly at the food court -- the gathering agreed on goals for 1991:

* Personal growth. Most of us achieved this, but I'm going to try cutting down on those snacks.

* Fewer but better adjectives. I, for one, didn't use "punctilious" once all year.

* Remote ambidexterity. I can switch channels from the left and right. Before, I really favored my right.

* Achieving Oneness. As prescribed by our leader, this can take many directions, depending on your faith. There are the teachings of Maharisi Mahesh Rudy, Pope John Paul Rudy, Rev. Billy Rudy, Rabbi Rudy and the Dalai Rudy. The key is the mantra, "You are looking live. . . . "

So I didn't become One with the Television Universe. Broadcast sports didn't achieve Oneness, either, in 1991, though that was about the size of the audience for most WLAF games. With that in mind, let's look back at the year that wasn't in sports broadcasting (remember, this is a highlights package, so place no calls when you hear phone numbers):


* Air Force commanders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, watching the Super Bowl are startled to find that several fighter jets they thought to be patrolling the Persian Gulf have taken off for Tampa Stadium and become part of the pre-game show.

* Music industry commanders in Los Angeles watching the Super Bowl are startled to find that Hammer has shown up ABC's pre-game show despite little discernible musical talent.

* Mr. Lucky, radio talk host Phil Wood, loses yet another show to a change at his station. He's forced to cancel a planned summer vacation in Yugoslavia.


* Del Ballard loses a PBA tournament at Fair Lanes Kings Point when he rolls a gutter ball on his last shot. ABC's Nelson Burton Jr. stomps off the set when partner Chris Schenkel starts laughing uncontrollably at Ballard's misfortune. Burton returns with a duckpin ball and stuffs it in Schenkel's mouth.

* The Liberty Basketball Association preview on ESPN nearly doesn't come off. The players for the proposed women's league, whose publicity prominently mentions their "form-fitting uniforms," balk at wearing high heels during the game. The women don't buy the promoters' line about the shoes feeling like sneakers.

* East Tennessee State's basketball team, ranked No. 10 at the time, plays a game on ESPN at midnight. East Tennessee later drops in the rankings and is forced to play at 3 a.m. in the ESPN parking lot in Bristol, Conn., in order to get on television.


* Ken Levine debuts as an Orioles announcer. Radio repair business picks up all over Baltimore before listeners discover he really does sound like that.

* A flood of phone calls to Baltimore County's Comcast Cablevision overloads a computer system, resulting in free telecasts of the Mike Tyson-Donovan "Razor" Ruddock pay-

per-view heavyweight title fight. By strange coincidence, a similar flood of calls to Domino's results in free pizzas for everyone in the county.

* USA Network debuts the Helmet Cam during WLAF telecasts. The camera, placed inside a quarterback's helmet, is wildly successful until one player neglects to take off his helmet when he visits the bathroom at halftime.


* During ESPN's NFL draft show, expert Mel Kiper announces this is his last program, because he's leaving the business to become a full-time spokesman for Hair Club for Men.

* CBS opens its second season of baseball, showing few signs of the $100 million loss it took in Year 1. Analyst Tim McCarver doesn't seem to mind having to operate the center-field camera.

* ABC celebrates 30 years of "Wide World of Sports." That fellow who crashed off the ski jump shows up on the program, but he's wearing a cast on his hand. It seems he slammed his hand in a car door.

* Channel 13 gives sports guy John Buren a five-year contract. A clause forbids Buren from wearing any white jumpsuits with capes.


* Radio talkmeister Stan "The Fan" Charles, trying to help the slumping Orioles, suggests yet another new lineup for the club. In this one, Cal Ripken bats third, then also bats seventh by putting on a fake mustache and taping part of his jersey so it appears he's a player named "ken."

* Bob Costas says he'll do just three more years of "NFL Live." It's not as much fun anymore, he says, plus O.J. Simpson last year kept stealing the phone books Costas usually sits on.


* CNN moves "Sports Tonight" a half-hour earlier to 11, allowing anchors Fred Hickman and Nick Charles time to work the late show at a local Chippendale's.

* Home Team Sports' Tom Davis criticizes Ken Levine, saying he can't take the Orioles announcer's voice for more than about 10 minutes at a time. Heeding Davis' advice, WBAL Radio goes silent whenever any of Levine's innings last more than 10 minutes.

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