Ken Levine is returning to our fair city this weekend. It's enough to make a guy want to sing:
Worked the microphone in Baltimore, Jack,
Did the O's for a year, but I didn't come back.
Wrote some TV, spent time at my abode,
Hooked up with Seattle, now I'm back on the road.
Everybody's got some play-by-play.
Everybody's got some play-by-play.
Charm City to Seattle is a mighty long way,
But everybody's got some play-by-play.
(To be included on Mr. Frager's new double release, "Inhuman Touch" and "Unlucky Town," available at most record stores, right next to the eight-tracks and Lipps Inc. compilation albums.)
Levine, who replaced Joe Angel last year on WBAL Radio Orioles games, joined the Seattle Mariners announcing crew, teaming with Dave Niehaus, before the season. Levine resigned his Orioles job in October, citing a desire to return to his family and television writing in California. And though he again finds himself on the road, Levine said Seattle's relative proximity to his Los Angeles home has worked out well for him. "I've had the time to be with my family," he said Wednesday.
And he's had time to write as well, Levine said. Last night's and next week's "Cheers" episodes were written by Levine and his partner.
Though he's adjusting to another team and new announcing partner, Levine said, "It's a lot easier having been in the league a year."
He'll renew some acquaintances this weekend. "I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot of people again," said Levine, who is expecting to pop in on a WBAL (1090 AM) broadcast.
He's also eager to see Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- known as OPACY, the name doctors trust.
"If I had known about the new stadium, I might not have left," he said. (He's kidding. Sorry, no laugh track with this column.)
Levine also is finishing up a book on his season with the Orioles. One supposes he might mention how his announcing in Baltimore was received in the newspapers. One also supposes that he might not write favorably about someone who didn't write favorably about him. One further supposes that it might not be too late to make amends, right, Ken, old pal? Hey, let's do lunch.
Down the stretch they come: Kentucky Derby Day will bring 3 1/2 hours of combined coverage on ESPN and ABC (channels 13, 7). From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, ESPN will carry a preview show from Churchill Downs, including the running of six races.
ABC's show begins at 4:30, about an hour before Derby post time. Jim McKay and Al Michaels are hosts, joined by Charlsie Cantey, Dave Johnson and Jack Whitaker. ABC plans features on favorite Arazi, Dance Floor (owned by rapper Hammer) and on the foreign contingent, which includes Arazi, Dr Devious and Thyer).
Our No. 1 pick: Mel Kiper likes to cite numbers. It's just fair, then, that the ESPN draft expert be measured by them. Kiper has said he did a pretty good job; his predicted first round in USA Today last week included 22 of the 28 players selected on that round. Not bad, Mel. But we at The Sun have better.
Vito Stellino, our pro football writer, named 25 of the 28 first-rounders in his mock draft for Sunday's paper. In fact, as the accompanying chart indicates, Stellino also outperformed Kiper in matching players with teams, placing selections in order and predicting for what position teams would draft.
So, who's the real expert?
Stellino closely guards his methods for divining draft picks, but the word is he has a pipeline to every NFL coach's barber.
The choice is yours, ESPN: stick with the guy who goes to scouting combines, or the one in constant contact with the fellow applying Jimmy Johnson's hair spray.
A message to you, Rudy: "Boss, we need to talk," I said. "My profile around here is too low."
"Where are you?" the boss said. "I can't see you."
Ignoring him, I continued: "The other night on Home Team Sports' draft show, they had Rudy Martzke. What's the deal? He writes TV sports. I write TV sports. But HTS didn't ask me to review the draft."
"You know anything about the draft?" the boss replied.
"Of course not, but that's not the point," I said. "Rudy's nationwide. Me, I can't get on community college shows after trigonometry lectures."
"Don't worry," the boss said. "We're going to start promoting you big-time. How'd you like to see your face on the side of buses all over town?"
"Great," I said.
"OK, then," the boss said, handing me a Magic Marker. "Get to it."
Things My Boss Wants To Know: If you have ESPN in your face, is it necessary to see a dermatologist? . . . Why don't NBA teams just gather around Hubie Brown during timeouts? . . . Do you think Mel Kiper likes to pick up "Dragnet" reruns on his satellite dish?
Vito vs. Mel
How Sun pro football writer Vito Stellino's first round compared with the predictions by ESPN's Mel Kiper in number of players named as first-round picks, players matched with teams, players placed in correct order and teams matched with the positions they drafted for:
Players......... Teams... Order... Pos.
Kiper......22...... 6....... 5....... 6
Stellino...25...... 7....... 6....... 14