Getting bubbly over the big dance


March 11, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

At this time of year, it seems that everyone is either on the bubble or going to the big dance. Way back when, before the NCAA basketball tournament expanded to 64 teams and March Madness could have been nothing more than an unhealthy obsession with Sousa music, life wasn't this complicated.

If you went around screaming that you were headed to the big dance, it just meant that Kay Griffith had agreed to be your date for the senior prom. OK, not your date, my date. So what if it was our last date? I did look resplendent in a white-on-white tux with ruffled shirt. The theme was "Stairway to Heaven," as I recall. "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold. . . ."

But I digress. (Did I mention how good I looked in that tux, though?)

Anyway, Sunday night at 6:30 on CBS (channels 11, 9), the bubbles pop and the brackets are set for the NCAA tournament.

James Brown, perhaps having fired his agent after being stuck with freestyle skiing at the Winter Olympics, will be the host at the tournament unveiling in Kansas City, Mo. Back in New York, Jim Nantz, Billy Packer and Bill Raftery will be in studio for instant analysis.

Michael Jackson's chimp, Bubbles, was unable to make it.

CBS will preview the tournament twice before the selections are announced -- tomorrow at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m., both with Pat O'Brien, who's still looking for somebody to hold that hot dog he picked up on the main drag in Lillehammer.

ESPN will carry the women's tournament announcement Sunday 12:30 p.m., with Tracy Warren and Mimi Griffin. ESPN also has its own men's tournament show Sunday at 6:30 p.m., with John pTC Saunders, Dick "Don't I Look Better As a Cartoon?" Vitale and Digger Phelps.

Listen up

Here's the problem: You're stuck at work, and your favorite college basketball team is playing in the NCAA tournament. You can't watch on TV, and you can't listen on the radio.

Here's the solution: Call Teamline at (800) 846-4700 to hear live radio play-by-play from your team's flagship station. You pay using Visa or MasterCard. A two-hour game costs $36, the Teamline people say.

The tricky part is convincing the boss that you're talking to a client the whole time.

Waiting for Brooks

Home Team Sports, which will produce all Orioles local telecasts this season, yesterday officially named its announcing team. Mel Proctor is the play-by-play man, working with three analysts -- John Lowenstein, Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan -- who will rotate, though probably not during the game, because they might get dizzy. Lowenstein will work about 110 games, Palmer 35 and Flanagan 20.

And what of Brooks Robinson?

"Right now, we're just announcing the three guys," HTS producer Bill Brown said.

"I imagine we'll eventually add [Robinson] to the team. We have talked to Brooks, and we'll continue to talk to Brooks."

Talk is cheap

As Dennis Rodman was being interviewed by Roy Firestone this week on ESPN, I had this thought:

We're not in "Kiner's Korner" anymore, Toto.

Among other things, Firestone asked Rodman about his sexual practices and whether there was anything to rumors linking Rodman to Madonna. Rodman said he hadn't met the noted song stylist, Thespian and author, but said something about possibly "getting solid" with her.

Hooo, boy. Whatever happened to asking, "Was that a fastball or a curve you hit for the homer?"

Talk is cheap, the sequel

Earlier this week, ESPN2 talk show host Jim Rome thought it appropriate to make an unfunny joke about what then was considered just a groin injury to the Phillies' John Kruk. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Kruk had lost a testicle to cancer. Really funny stuff, Romey.

Eye yi yi

On April 17, CBS will launch an anthology series, "Eye on Sports," that will run 15 consecutive Sundays.

The hosts are Greg Gumbel and Andrea Joyce. The series will include heavy doses of bicycle racing, volleyball and track. And look for "General Tire Wildlife Adventures." I'm guessing that features sportsmen braving the wilds of suburban shopping strips searching for radials.

You bet

On Monday at 8, ESPN presents another in its worthwhile "Outside the Lines" series, "Gambling With Our Games." . . . "One on One with Magic Johnson" airs Tuesday at 8 on Fox (Channel 45). Johnson will go one-on-one in the interview sense with Whoopi Goldberg, Garth Brooks (he'd beat him inside pretty easily anyway), Shaquille O'Neal and Roseanne and Tom Arnold (which is really two-on-one). The program was put together by a production company run by Johnson's pal, Arsenio Hall.

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