Consider yourself lucky if, as a non-TripleCast subscriber, you didn't check out the latest pitch to get you interested.
The telethon conducted last night for four hours (6-10 p.m.) stooped to an all-time low as all three transmission channels of the pay-per-view service were put up on the CNBC screen with no audio provided.
Instead, what we got was a guy hawking the product in Ginsu knife fashion and, further adding to the embarrassment, was the fact it was taped action. An immediate impression is that NBC has taken an unsuccessful but quiet experiment and turned it into a public catastrophe.
* One thing to be agreed upon after watching the exciting all-around competition of women's gymnastics last night is that host Bob Costas avoided all math courses while taking his degree at Syracuse University.
Many pixies were in the running for the medals, so NBC decided to break up the action into four segments and spread them out by time zones. At 9:02, Costas informed us, "We'll be going back to the gymnastics in 15 minutes or so," which just so happened to turn into a half hour plus.
Even though Shannon Miller ended up with a silver medal, viewers were made to feel as though the U.S. effort was a failure as Kim Zmeskal fell out of contention early with a low score on her opening floor exercise. That's not the way to present it, guys.
Making the constant cutaways bearable if not welcomed was the fact that all trips over to the swimming pool found American splashers performing up to the highest standard. The medal count for the evening was three golds, three silvers and two bronze, which of course was played down by the network.
After a week of fine work at the gymnastics, it's just about time to close the lid on John Tesh and the spectacularly overwritten text he poured over us nightly since last Sunday. As for his analysts, Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel, someone should have slipped them a wad of dough days ago and told them to have a good time seeing Barcelona.
Easily their equal in the horrible commentary department were Mike O'Brien and Mary Wayte doing swimming, or maybe it was a case of familiarity breeding contempt. As far as Michele Mitchell on diving is concerned, there can be no mistake . . . she was the pits.
Bring on the track and field, boxing and the medal rounds of the team sports, the time-grabbers on NBC for the next 10 days. And just when I learned how to say Svetlana Boginskaya's name properly, too -- accent on the second syllable of the second name.
* A couple of Olympics ago, while talking to John Naber (pssst, it's called name-dropping), the ex-Olympic champion revealed why our supposedly potent women's swimming team had such a poor showing at the 1976 Games in Montreal.
It was simple. As usual, 90 percent of the team members were just kids, 15- and 16-year-olds and away from home for an extended period for the first time, probably.
Previously, Naber pointed out, the men's and women's teams had trained together and functioned as one big happy family at the Olympic site.
Traditionally, this led to a teen-age girl adopting one of the male swimmers, usually a collegian and 21 or 22 years old, as a big brother, and vice-versa. The loneliness was kept under control, everyone was relatively happy and, usually, performed close to potential. The mistake was realized and rectified.
The situation came to mind while reading Mike Littwin's column in The Sun yesterday. He told of how local swimmer Anita Nall and teammates are being shuttled around with obvious effort being made to keep them separated from family and friends. The kid couldn't even consult with her coach after a race. She couldn't even celebrate with the family for a short while after capturing a silver medal.
A coach's explanations are always the same: The athletes have to get their rest; they have to get focused or "in the zone;" they cannot be distracted. And that's why it's not uncommon to see teary-eyed little pixies (gymnasts) and young swimmers walking around with dolls and working overtime on a hunk of gum.
* Olympics watchers, check out this guy Michael Bates competing in the 200 meters somewhere behind Michael Johnson next week. He's a wide receiver from Arizona drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and if he can medal, he'll be the 19th NFLer to go to the Games and pick up hardware.
* WBAL Radio has hoisted itself up on the Washington Redskins bandwagon and, beginning tomorrow night with an exhibition game against the Miami Dolphins (7 p.m.), will be part of the network carrying the games of the defending Super Bowl champs this fall. Two of the five preseason games will be picked up and, once the regular season starts, there will be just two conflicts with Orioles baseball. Guess which sport will take precedence when that happens. If you haven't caught Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen and Frank Herzog calling a Skins game, your (( sports education has been sadly lacking.