Nearly 17 million households were tuned in to watch the Chicago Bulls win the NBA championship over the Phoenix Suns last Sunday night and, get this, the postgame show drew a better rating than the game itself. Players pouring champagne over Bob Costas' head is that exciting?
Overall, the six-game final did a better rating/share than "Monday Night Football" and the World Series, which has to be unsettling for the marketing departments of those two games.
TNT, which did its usual fine job during the preliminary rounds (NBC, please take notes), also was rewarded by cable-ites, racking up a 17 percent rise in viewership.
* Yes, Arnie Kleiner, the longtime general manager of Channel 2 who is stepping down to take a similar post in San Diego, has a fine reputation as a guy who knew what he was doing on the news side and in programming, but it didn't carry over into sports.
WMAR, it seems, always led local network affiliates in jettisoning network sports programming for movies, telethons and "Wonder Woman" reruns. Arnie once explained, "I'm just about sportsed out."
* ESPN's latest "finds" in the constantly expanding world of unneeded sports are Fast Masters and the World Roller Hockey League.
The latter proved semi-watchable, although how can folks be expected to flock to it considering they have consistently rejected people named Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux playing ice hockey? (ESPN's final rating for hockey was a dreary 0.8, which translates to just 750,000 homes.)
Yes, senior golf has made it big, but older guys playing tennis hasn't, and a bunch of geezers over 50 racing too-expensive cars (Jaguars) doesn't figure to either. Fact is, auto racing does not want for exposure.
* What the first week of tennis from Wimbledon has proven is that the media relishes practicing tabloid journalism every chance it gets, although it vehemently denies same. What have been the two biggest stories coming out of the Big W? A heckler getting on Steffi Graf and the fact Andre Agassi shaves off body hair, just like swimmers do.
NBC takes over the next two days and will continue to do what all networks do when it comes to tennis, showing only the matches of a selected high-profile few.
Yesterday, for example, the stadium and grandstand matches from London involved Stefan Edberg, Gabriela Sabatini, Goran Ivanisevic, Ivan Lendl, Martina Navratilova and Jim Courier in early-round matches they figured to dominate. Actually, the scheduling committee is in a Catch-22 because TV and the live crowd want to see the names on the glamour courts and to blazes with competitive matches.
* Let's hear it for Channel 13's John Buren, winner of a Capital Region Emmy Award in the Sports Programming: Sportscast category. Goes to prove that sharing billing with Elvis really works, doesn't it?
* It's hard to believe it took the NFL Hall of Fame until now to get around to naming Curt Gowdy winner of the Pete Rozelle Radio-TV Award. Curt and Paul Christman were probably the first outstanding national announcing team.
* It doesn't figure to be a fight for the ages, but tomorrow night's Evander Holyfield-Alex Stewart bout on pay-per-view is the best heavyweight matchup since Holyfield lost his title to Riddick Bowe last November. And always-exciting Vinny Pazienza (vs. Lloyd Honeyghan) on the undercard doesn't hurt either.
* The best interviewer on golf telecasts, hands down, is ABC rules expert Frank Hannigan. But he makes a mistake when he refers to viewers who call in when they think they've seen a rules infraction during a telecast "vidiots." They're showing intense interest in the game and shouldn't be told to go stand in the corner for it.
Wasn't that a terrific line from Tom Watson, describing putts inside 20 feet as his "ga-ga zone."
* Home Team Sports has a strong golf-tennis lineup to complement Orioles telecasts during July, including the NCAA links championship and the Hall of Fame and Washington Tennis Classic tournaments.
* Pardon me for asking, but was that the same Tom Chambers, who used to be such a good player, playing for the Phoenix Suns against Chicago in the NBA Finals?
* Didn't the NBA play right into the hands of that royal pain and Washington Bullets fan Robin Ficker by putting him on national TV after he had been asked to leave his seat immediately behind the Chicago bench during a game in Phoenix?
* TNT is carrying the NBA draft next Wednesday night at 7:30 and, hopefully, some team picking near the top will throw a wrench into the works so the order of selection isn't so predictable: Chris Webber, Shawn Bradley, Jamal Mashburn, Anfernee Hardaway and Rodney Rogers.
* Judging from the inaction in the ring during the "Tuesday Night Fights" the other evening, USA could have used a good fight in the stands to turn its cameras on. Next week, Roberto Duran returns (at age 42) to go against Jacques LeBlanc, who probably will show up wearing skates.
* Prediction: Just about the time the FCC-ordered reduction in cable rates finally goes into effect, companies will be there with a charge (or added charge) for carrying the local network affiliate stations. The locals insist they belong on cable because of the public service they provide while looking to get reimbursed, too.