Dennis Miller: a good sport, tooWhat's the statute of...


February 26, 1993|By RAY FRAGER

Dennis Miller: a good sport, too

What's the statute of limitations on sneaking into a World Series game?

Dennis Miller had better hope it's 20 years or less.

During a news conference this week to discuss his role as host of Thursday's American Sports Awards show (ESPN, 9 p.m.), Miller was recalling some of the sports memories of his youth. And that's where he got nailed.

Miller told of the time in 1971 when he and some friends from hihometown of Pittsburgh sneaked into Memorial Stadium on the morning of a World Series game, hid in bathrooms by standing on toilets to avoid detection by guards and then watched a game without having a ticket.

But Orioles fans probably aren't surprised to hear that Pittsburgh cheated.

Miller made this revelation apparently having forgotten about the presence of a civic-minded journalist representing the wronged municipality. Book him, Danno.

But wait until after the ESPYs -- as these awards are being called -- to slap on the cuffs.

Unless you're cable-challenged (to use the politically correct terminology), you've seen ESPN's endless commercials for these awards. Callers to 900 numbers are selecting 1992's most exciting video sports moments in several categories. Proceeds from the 900 calls benefit the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.

In addition, a panel of sports experts will select awards for outstanding athletes, team and coach or manager.

Among the presenters will be: Bill Murray, Dennis Hopper, Mariel Hemingway, Ahmad Rashad, Tim McCarver and Mary Lou Retton. Among those representing ESPN will be Orioles voice Jon Miller and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Dustin Hoffman will

present a tribute to Ashe.

And running the show, in the hip, postgrad, wise-guy style you either loved or hated during his stint on the "Saturday Night Live" "Weekend Update" segment, will be Dennis Miller. As viewers of his short-lived late-night talk show -- and the ratings indicated there must be two or three of you out there -- know, Miller is quite a sports fan. In fact, he's far from a casual one. Like a lot of sports nuts, he has information floating around in his head that is of little use in the real world.

During the news conference, he recited the University of Houston starting lineup that ended UCLA's winning streak in a nationally televised game at the Astrodome, and also named the other starters on the Jacksonville State team during Artis Gilmore's senior year.

Miller said he grew up as a sports fan, though he couldn't actually play the games.

"I was completely inept, like many sportswriters, I assume," he said.

Let the record show, Mr. Chairman, that many sportswriters are not completely inept at sports. Many are just plain inept, and some, I have heard, even approach being ept.

So this sports knowledge plus the mental agility he's demonstrated while serving as co-host of the Emmy Awards are what got him the ESPYs slot, right? Maybe not.

5l "A hideous mistake was made, and I fell through a cosmic window and it was too late to do anything about it," he said.

More seriously, Miller said of being a sports fan: "I watch sports daily because the world has gone mad. I watch sports because there's resolution, and very rarely does it involve anyone's demise."

And what award is Miller most looking forward to? "The Irving Thalberg Award," he said.

Spanning the dial

On Sunday at 8 p.m., ESPN's "Outside the Lines" presents "Shaq: Sudden Impact," and if you don't know that Shaq means Shaquille O'Neal, you've somehow escaped that sudden impact. . . NBC's prime-time NBA All-Star Game drew a national rating of 14.3. The previous prime-time NBA All-Star Game, on CBS in 1976, drew a 9.3. . . . USA Network will rebroadcast NBC's Mike Tyson documentary on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Things my boss wants to know

At the end of next week's Newsweek Champion Cup tennis tournament, do players have to renew if want to be back next year? . . . Will an ESPY go to Chris Berman for Worst Singing Voice for his performance of Jim Croce's "Operator" during the ++ ads for the 900 number? . . . Is it too late to get Hot Rod Hundley's 15-foot hook shot during the NBA Legends game entered in the ESPY category of Kids, Don't Try This At Home?

top-rated sports

The highest-rated sports programs for the Baltimore market during Feb. 15-21, according to Nielsen, with ratings and shares (national ratings not available):

RF Show ...... ...... ...... ...... Day ... Ch. ... Rating ... Share

NBA All-Star Game ... ...... ...... Sun. ... 2 ..... 15.1 ..... 19

NBA Showtime ........ ...... ...... Sun. ... 2 ..... 14.7 ..... 20

Wide World (figure skating) ....... Sat. .. 13 ...... 7.9 ..... 17

Olympic Winterfest (bobsled, luge). Sun. .. 11 ...... 6.5 ..... 10

College basketball (Duke-N.C. State)Sun. .. 13 ...... 6.3 ..... 10

Sports Machine ...... ...... ...... Sun. .. 13 ...... 5.9 ..... 14

Sports Unlimited .... ...... ...... Sun. .. 45 ...... 5.9 ...... 9

NBA Stay in School .. ...... ...... Sun. ... 2 ...... 5.6 ..... 11

World Cup Skiing .... ...... ...... Sun. ... 2 ...... 5.4 ..... 12

College basketball (Clemson-Fla. State) Sat. 2 ...... 4.3 ...... 9

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