The NFL Draft blitz ESPN stages each spring is down to 5 1/2 hours Sunday (11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). But anyone who has heard host Chris Berman rattle when he has a lot to report is aware the thing will be covered completely . . . and then some.
The cable is going with a 4-3 defense: four guys in the studio and three on the floor of the draft in the ballroom of a New York hotel. Five correspondents, defensive backs as it were, will have reports from across the country.
As usual, Baltimore's Mel Kiper figures to be the best versed of the crew.
"This is the strongest and deepest draft ever and an interesting team to watch will be Dallas," Kiper said. "It has two picks in each of the first three rounds, giving them great room to maneuver, and they could go from being a playoff team to a Super Bowl team easily."
Prediction: Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will step to the microphone and intone, "The Indianapolis Colts select Washington defensive lineman Steve Emtman." Remember, you read it here first.
* Showtime's Championship Boxing show Wednesday night was not without its excitement, drama and, yes, the inevitable snappy patter of the Ring Doctor, Ferdie Pacheco.
It was after Steve Collins, who lost to Reggie Johnson for the WBA middleweight title, had hit the winner with two vicious elbows when Ferdie yelped, "You can't do that [Detroit Piston Bill] Laimbeer stuff around here."
It was an excellent card. Heavyweights Francesco Damiani and Tony Tucker scored knockout wins and unbeaten Washington fighter Sharmba Mitchell pummeled former contender Rocky Lockridge while winning a unanimous decision.
* Baseball commentator Joe Morgan has this to say about the constantly burgeoning disabled lists in the Grand Old Game: "To play baseball, a certain type of muscle tone is required and I don't think players are getting it. Many of them use machines that isolate muscles and forgo exercise that will be useful during game situations. Riding a stationary bike is no substitute for jogging, which is no substitute for sprinting, which is what you do during a game. Pitchers don't throw enough between appearances to keep their muscles toned."
Adds colleague Dave Campbell: "It is interesting that the guys who don't look like Greek gods don't go on the DL as much." In 1970, only 52 baseball players were placed on the DL. Last season, the number was in the hundreds.
* The eagerly awaited American Kennel Club National Invitational Championship, staged at the Baltimore Arena a couple of weeks ago, makes it to CBS Sunday (2-3 p.m.). One of the stars of the show is Champion Black Watch "Sophie Tucker," who has Bill Cosby as a co-owner.
The comedian explains he was in the service back in 1959 when he needed treatment for a sore shoulder. His therapist was a Navy lieutenant named Jean Heath, who became a show dog breeder. A couple of years ago, she was a spectator at a celebrity tennis tournament in which Cosby was competing. One thing led to another, as they say, and. . . .
* Two of the top guns on the PGA Senior Tour the last year or so have been Lee Trevino and Mike Hill. So what chance will the rest of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf field have this weekend when these two team up in a best ball event to be carried by ABC (Saturday, 1-3 p.m.; Sunday, 4-6 p.m.)?
"Lots," answers Trevino, "because there's some terrific teams after us. Al Geiberger and Dave Stockton will be good. So will Chi Chi [Rodriguez] and Dave Hill. Charlie Coody and Dale Douglas won it a couple of years ago."
Hill, who joined Trevino as a million-dollar winner last year, says the reason the team is so good is, "We pretty much hit the same shots. It's hard to help a partner when he consistently outhits you by 40 yards. Since we hit so many shots similarly, we've gotten pretty good at analyzing what shot to hit."
"Another thing," says Trevino. "We really don't care who makes all the birdies, just so we end up with a 63 or better."
* The PGA Tour stop on CBS this weekend is the Greensboro Open with Chip Beck, winner in New Orleans and second at the Heritage Classic last week, one of the leading contenders. While at the University of Georgia, Beck's roommate was four-time MSA champion Joe Walter of Poly.
* Strange that while introducing its new No. 1 baseball announcer, Sean McDonough, CBS shipped him off to a game in St. Louis when the alternate game was at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and fans nationwide had been reading about the new ballpark for months. Just as weird was the fact last Saturday's O's-Tigers game went to less than a third of the country.
* One would think with all that is at stake, huge salaries and countless perks, college basketball coaches such as Bobby Cremins, Jim Boeheim, Lou Campanelli and John Calipari would take time to learn the NCAA rules that state they can't appear on broadcasts of high school all-star games. Wouldn't one?
* Opening Day baseball note lost between the cushions concerns Ralph Kiner waxing poetic on a New York Mets telecast on WOR: "As the umpires wait for the opening of the throwing out of the first Opening Day in Shea Stadium . . ." And someone started singing the national anthem.
* The way it works out, the Orioles wrench more media revenue ($23 million) out of Baltimore's 21st market ranking than teams in markets ranked 5-7-10-12-13-14 and 17. The Yankees lead the way, hauling in an estimated $60 million.
* The soon to start all-sports radio station in Washington, WTEM, is going to have a reporter with the Orioles home and away. Hey, these guys are serious . . . Did the World Cup people ever get around to picking a network (CBS or ABC) for coverage in 1994? . . . If you see Billy Packer kicking around, ask him if he was serious when he said "This season proves Jerry Tarkanian is one of the greatest coaches ever."