Yellow journalism in review . . .


June 03, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

You watch sports on TV. I watch sports on TV. You eat Cheez-Its. I eat Cheez-Its. You always root against teams from New York. I always root against teams from New York.

So what's the difference? I keep a yellow legal pad and pen next to the Cheez-Its.

That said, let's digest -- so to speak -- some notes from Wednesday night:

* While on ABC's "Nightline," the father of tennis prodigy Venus Williams delivered a message about not exploiting young players for commercial gain. But he didn't help stake out high moral ground by deciding to wear logos for an energy snack and an athletic shoe manufacturer on his cap and shirt.

* Before the Orioles-Tigers game, analyst John Lowenstein said of Detroit starter Tim Belcher and his 7.14 ERA: "Those kind of numbers can make you want to rush down on the field to see what the excitement is about. But on any given night, he can shove the bats up your pants."

I would guess you'd really want to stay away from the ballpark on those nights.

* Play-by-play man Chris Berman on ESPN's Giants-Braves telecast: "I predict, by the end of the century, there will be a commissioner." Analyst Buck Martinez: "That soon?"

* Lowenstein: "The reply from hitters at the plate in the first few innings with [Mike] Mussina is usually tardy."

Coming soon, Orioles telecasts -- in English, with subtitles.

* After a woman in the stands at Camden Yards was struck on the arm by a foul line drive, play-by-play man Mel Proctor noted her companion didn't seem sympathetic enough. "Why doesn't he rub it? Big help he is," Proctor said. Lowenstein replied, "At least kiss it."

* On ESPN's "SportsCenter," as highlights showed the Pacers' Reggie Miller gesturing at Knicks courtsider Spike Lee, anchor Craig Kilborn said: "He's telling director Spike Lee, 'Hey, develop the female characters in your movies.' "

* Later, Kilborn introduced a promising major-league pitching duel this way: "Quick word association -- duel. OK, Duel, the Steven Spielberg movie starring Dennis Weaver being chased by a truck."

Now it can be told: Kilborn really wants to be Siskel or Ebert.

Next, Russian Rocket Cam

It's still hard to see the puck much of the time, but ESPN's camera work during the Stanley Cup playoffs has been outstanding. The network keeps getting closer to the action, whether it's pictures in the corners or from inside the net.

If this turns out to be a breakthrough season for the NHL, credit the league's exciting playoffs vs. the NBA's unusually lackluster postseason. But also give credit to ESPN. In addition to its entertaining production, promo spots -- for example, a goalie with a Plexiglas-covered net, a player readying for the playoffs by sharpening his skates and his teeth -- have shown a playfulness not usually associated with hockey. I love this game, indeed.

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