Ryder Cup gets stroke of experience

The TV Repairman:

September 24, 1993|By Phil Jackman

They always talk about how important experience is in sports, and U.S. team captain Tom Watson certainly viewed it as a key ingredient when he made out his lineup for the opening foursomes of the Ryder Cup competition today (USA, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.). On the sidelines observing the tension-filled matches were the "kids" -- Lee Janzen, Jim Gallagher, Chip Beck and John Cook.

Looking at the twosomes -- Lanny Wadkins-Corey Pavin, Paul Azinger-Payne Stewart, Davis Love-Tom Kite and Ray Floyd-Fred Couples -- one might guess the United States would breeze. That's forgetting the Europeans are loaded, too, and seem to play better in head-to-head competition.

NBC moves in tomorrow (noon) and Sunday (8 a.m.), first with foursomes play, then with the 12 singles matches. USA is using all the network announcing talent save for host Jim Lampley, which is good news for Johnny Miller fans.

* Talk about big. Not one, not two, but three sets of messages rattled down from Turner Television the other day, cautioning how large a forthcoming announcement was regarding the NBA, TNT and TBS.

What, had the alter-egos of pro hoops decided to cut out the preliminaries and henceforth telecast just the last two minutes of all games?

No. It was to announce the NBA and Turner have extended their current contract by four years (yawn), with more regular-season games and virtually every game of the playoffs now being on.

The big difference is those mostly lackluster Atlanta Hawks games on TBS are being moved to a regional carrier (also owned by Turner) and that TBS will present a "glitzy" (their word) Thursday night series.

All playoff games that are not grabbed off by NBC will be on either TNT or TBS, sometimes going head-to-head. Funny, I don't recall anyone ever complaining that there isn't enough pro basketball on the tube.

The money will be much better for the league (25 percent), but, here again, I don't recall anyone not directly involved ever expressing interest in such a fact.

* Pssst, ESPN will have Davis Cup tennis action this weekend, the United States taking on the Bahamas in Charlotte -- not a bad substitute in the event the North Carolina city doesn't latch onto an NFL expansion franchise.

Andre Agassi and MaliVai Washington are the U.S. singles players competing beginning at noon today, then the doubles (Richey Reneberg and Patrick McEnroe) will be on tomorrow (5:30 p.m.) before the final singles Sunday (5 p.m.). The importance of the match is that the United States has to win to be included in the main draw of Cup play next year. Pressure.

* A pretty good indication of how badly things are going in the heavyweight division these days can be gleaned from the fact, try as he might, Larry Holmes cannot head for the rocking chair on the front porch for good.

"Since it was apparent none of the so-called champs wanted to fight me," the former titleholder said, "I decided I was done back in June. I've been in the gym two or three days a week lately, but that was just to stay in shape.

"Then I started getting calls, lots of them, about me fighting George Foreman. They talked about China, Korea and a couple of other places. That's when I decided to get in better shape just in case the bout does come off. There's been some money put DTC up, and these are guys who know what they're doing, so I figured I better get a tuneup fight."

Voila, Holmes vs. Jose Ribalta on USA next Tuesday. The cable was only too happy to set something up for Larry because, in nine appearances on the network, he has rung up an average rating of 3.2, which is better than the popular Foreman's pulling ability.

"I think me and George would be a terrific show because of the different styles," Holmes says. "They're talking $5 million apiece, but I'd even go for George getting a bigger hunk if it would seal the deal. We'll see. It's what the division has come down to: two old guys taking off the gloves and riding off into the sunset."

* ESPN2, which kicks off Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. with a irreverent, bouncy, MTV approach to sports, is trying a little too hard to let viewers know how different it is going to be. There are just so many ways to interview or featurize sports notables.

Hosts of the three-hour prime time show "Sportsnight," Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber, look to be a sharp and likable combo, but if they constantly over-trivialize the things they're reporting, why will anyone feel a compelling need to watch?

And as for the "Jock & Roll" section, box scores set to hip music at 3 o'clock in the morning, is there really a market there?

* One of the nets (or cable) is missing a dynamite show (maybe even a series) if it doesn't dissect the intrigue and political maneuvering inherent with the IOC balloting that gave Sydney, Australia, the 2000 Olympic Games.

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