In rather strange stroke, women's skins game pulls TV rank on LPGA major

The TV Repairman:

May 22, 1992|By Phil Jackman

Talk about the weird world of sports television. Last weekend, the LPGA Championship, one of the "majors" on the women's golf tour, was being waged with NBC providing a couple of early afternoon snippets from Bethesda.

The situation was made even more ridiculous on Sunday when the net requested the leaders be sent off in the dawn's early light so the winner could be determined by 1:30 p.m., thus allowing it to head off for an NBA playoff doubleheader.

Tomorrow and Sunday, for a total of more than four hours and in the desired late afternoon slot, ABC is covering the JC Penney LPGA Skins Game. Sure, Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Jan Stephenson and Meg Mallon squaring off in a cutthroat $450,000 competition will be interesting; still, it's just a putting contest, not a major championship.

Going against a couple of Hall of Famers and the defending champ Stephenson, "rookie" Mallon says, "All I want to do is keep from getting goose-egged like my fellow Buckeye [Jack Nicklaus]. I'd be happy with just one skin." Sure.

The way Mallon, who won the LPGA and Women's Open last year, sees it, "there's no feeling your way into the competition as you do in a regular tour stop. You have to come out with a Sunday attitude, looking to birdie every hole. All three of my opponents beat me at Bethesda last week."

Stephenson took honors last year in the simplest way imaginable. Jan picked up six skins and $200,000 on the 17th hole by rolling in a par putt of less than two feet.

* For Baltimoreans, at least, the short shrift given the women golfers and the drama of back-to-back seventh games in the NBA playoffs (plus the Shaquille O'Neal lottery) didn't matter since Channel 2 was off in its own little world with another one of those endless (3:28) Orioles games.

While a game from Chicago on a Sunday afternoon in May probably looks inviting when WMAR is making up its schedule months ahead of time, it is an NBC affiliate, the net blankets the NBA during postseason play and May weekends are when pro hoops action finally becomes meaningful.

A check of the Oriole TV schedule reveals that WMAR obviously is aware this is an Olympic year, because there are no Birds games slated to knock out telecasts from the Barcelona Games. Phew!

Despite losing viewers in the nation's 22nd-largest market, the Bulls and Knicks did a 15.3 rating and the early afternoon blowout of the Celtics by the Cavaliers a 9.0, which thrashed the Preakness (7.4). At the same time, the Trail Blazers and Jazz did only a 4.5 Saturday. You figure it.

* In this week's edition of "This Week in Baseball," Channel 2, tomorrow noon, Eddie Murray explains, "Having 11 brothers and sisters, it was always a 'we' and an 'us,' so therefore, 'I' becomes a little bit tough sometimes to keep saying. Baseball is a 'we' game, not an 'I' game." This amounts to a commencement speech for Eddie; he must have been exhausted afterward.

* As expected, just as ABC discovered Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee and filled us to the brim with stuff about him, his trainer and owner in the pre-Preakness coverage, Pine Bluff scores and, to date, we haven't heard enough about him.

On the other hand, its feature on the diary being kept by Casual Lies' owner and trainer Shelley Riley was exceptional, and the call by Dave Johnson and pictures and replays of the race were flawless.

For once, there was a touch of humor during the post-race banter, host Jim McKay pointing out mud-caked winning jockey Chris McCarron certainly had need for a shower and Chris answering, "Why, do I smell?"

* McKay has an interesting answer when asked to choose between two of ABC's signature events he's been covering for lo these many years: "All the excitement at the Indianapolis 500 is at the beginning of the race. I like my excitement at the end of an event, like happens at the Kentucky Derby."

* The guess here is that Mary Carillo is going to carry her fine work as a tennis commentator for CBS over to other assignments. She did a good job handling the NCAA women's gymnastics last weekend and added spice to a skiing event a couple months ago . . . ESPN begins daily coverage of the French Open at 9 a.m. Monday, going at least four hours each day through June 5. NBC moves in on the weekends.

* ESPN has an "Outside the Lines" special coming next Wednesday that will no doubt go over big with our role model athletes: It's entitled "Men & Women -- Sex and Sports." Managing editor Steve Anderson says, "We feel it's time to examine male athletes' lifestyles in relation to women and sex because incidents ranging from sexual promiscuity to sexual assault have dominated the headlines over the past year."

* Please, please, ABC, find Charlsie Cantey's strength at the racetrack (if one exists) and stick with it. Cantey's race wrapup last Saturday was something about another favorite not winning the Preakness, which was wrong on two counts: Pine Bluff did and Derby victor Lil E. Tee was not the favorite.

* Warner Wolf's 16-year career in New York concluded Wednesday night and he'll next be seen on Washington's Channel 9 in a couple of weeks. The guy hasn't lost any of his old-time pizazz and it'll be fun having him back.

* You know there's a huge void in your life when, at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday, a replay of a World League football game comes on USA Network and you watch a couple of series. During a game on ABC last weekend, a replay showed officials missed an apparent penalty and announcer Tim Brant crowed, "This is the type of play that takes credibility away from the World League." He seemed serious.

* A fight on network TV, what will they think of next? ABC is doing the Ray Mercer (18-1)-Bruce Seldon (20-2) slugging match June 13.

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