Think Skins Game is fun viewing now? How 'bout if players put up the bucks?

Phil Jackman

November 27, 1992|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

It's ba-a-a-a-aaaaack! The 10th Skins Game, alias "Putting for Payola," plays ABC tomorrow (3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) and, during a conference **call the other day, a couple of the competitors were asked if it wouldn't be more exciting if they put up some of their own dough.

U.S. Open champion Tom Kite was enthusiastic about the idea, saying, "It would be tough to get the players to agree on what to play for, but it would be exciting to see all the choking going on."

Besides Kite, who says, "it would be nice to win, but probably the most important thing as far as pride is concerned is not getting shut out," defending champ Payne Stewart, Fred Couples and Greg Norman are aboard.

In explaining the show's popularity -- the Skins Game is always among the top-rated golf events of the year -- Kite says, "Golf fans enjoy seeing the struggle, which usually comes down to the last few holes of a tournament. With Skins, you pretty much have a struggle on every hole. People want to see how we handle a 6-footer for $250,000. Mostly, it's with severely shaking knees."

* A modern day "You Are There" was played out last weekend when a gentleman called sports talk WTEM in Washington on his car phone and, while conversing with the host, was involved in a collision with another auto. No word if he had his camcorder with him to record the accident, so he could deliver it to one of the TV stations in D.C.

* With the Oilers and Lions on at 12:30 (NBC), Auburn and Alabama colliding at 1 (ABC), the Giants and Cowboys squaring off at 4 (CBS) and Texas A&M and Texas playing at 7:45 (ESPN) yesterday, there wasn't a whole lot of time to clear the table. That made the paper plates nearly impossible to wash today.

* Just about the time viewers get to the point where they begin to understand some of the homespun philosophy of John Madden ("Don't worry about the horse being blind, just hitch up the wagon"), along comes Dan Dierdorf with, "I don't know if you go to the house with any bullets left in your gun tonight." Perhaps it's code, like the messages sent across the English Channel by the BBC during World War II: "Big Ben is beginning to tick."

* ESPN is pushing its college football doubleheader tomorrow as "Heisman Saturday" with the three leading contenders for the trophy being involved as Georgia and Garrison Hearst take on Georgia Tech at 4 p.m. and Miami and Gino Torretta visit San Diego State and Marshall Faulk at 7:30 p.m.

Also on the football front, ABC has Florida State-Florida at noon and Notre Dame-Southern Cal at 8 p.m. while NBC checks in with the Bayou Classic, Grambling vs. Southern at 2:30 p.m. The teams did a commendable 3.5 rating last year.

* Why is it every time I tune in to WITH (1230) between 5 and 7 weekdays, it feels as if I'm on a roller coaster?

* ESPN has an update 900 line in operation, which makes you wonder how intense is a guy who's willing to spend 95 cents per minute to get partial scores and can't wait for the next "SportsCenter." The number is 1-900-976-ESPN (3776) and the tape is changed every 10 minutes.

* The Baltimore Spirit found itself a good commentator for the game broadcasts on WTMD in Andy Freed, a Towson State student. For openers, he pronounces all the names correctly. Next game on the wireless is Dec. 4, at Wichita (8:30 p.m.)

* On "NBA Inside Stuff" tomorrow (Ch. 2, 11:30 a.m.), Ahmad Rashad interviews Christian Laettner, and you can bet somehow he will inject himself into the conversation.

* The video "The NFL's Hottest Cheerleaders" is ready for distribution ($20) and the word sexy is used in it only about 3,000 times. In addition to the fine camera work, the writing is superb: "As we traveled up and down the West Coast looking for the hottest cheerleaders, the energy from the squads lit up our way."

* Jon Miller has been nominated for a cable Ace Award for his work on ESPN baseball, which probably comes as a shock to Baltimoreans who pine for the days of Bailey Goss and Lee Davis. . . . Speaking of baseball, Home Team Sports sends along a game pitting a U.S. all-star squad playing a team in Japan Sunday (2 p.m.). . . . That was cute on ESPN's "Schaap Talk" the other night, longtime Cowboys fan Martina Navratilova phoning in to ask guest Jimmy Johnson for a job and the Dallas coach not having the slightest idea to whom he was speaking.

* Strangely, the Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl slated for Honolulu Christmas Day doesn't have a TV contract yet, which automatically prompts inquiry if the game will even be played? And if no one's watching, will the game emit any sound?

* Pssst, the Davis Cup final pitting a juggernaut comprised of Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe against a mighty squad from Switzerland is on ESPN from Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 4-6. Pass it on.

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