The TV Repairman:
What does it all mean and where is sports on television heading with Disney buying ABC and Westinghouse scooping up CBS? Days of speculation will turn to months of same and still no one will really know, because sports is a very minor player when it comes to running billion-dollar enterprises.
A dynamite cartoon appearing in the New York Post covered the Disney/ABC caper expertly. It shows Goofy and Donald Duck on split screen behind Ted Koppel in the studio and he's saying, "Joining 'Nightline' to discuss the murder of Bambi's mother is our panel of experts. Let me start with you, Goofy, why should this case be re-opened?"
How bad had things become at CBS before Lawrence Tisch finally decided to unload the network on Westinghouse? The Eye finished behind Fox and in fourth position in the so-called all-important 18-49 age group during the spring ratings sweep. Wall Streeters are amazed the net didn't wait until it got back to No. 1 before selling because CBS reportedly has a very solid prime time lineup slated for the fall.
Also, it seems strange the net didn't wait to see if its coverage of harness racing tomorrow (3-4 p.m.), the Cadillac Hambletonian mile, was going to lift it out of the ratings doldrums.
* Sign of the times: Similar to the instructions a referee gives fighters before a boxing match, a production person informed tennis players Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova prior to their exhibition match, "TV wants extra time for commercials; it's going to be quite a while on changeovers."
Sign of the times II: The Nashville Network (TNN) will do a live call-in show on motor sports come next February. At least it affords the opportunity to think up a good question.
* Judging from the names who put off qualifying for tomorrow's Brickyard 400 on ABC at 1 p.m. -- Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Geoff Bodine, Kyle Petty, etc. -- the run around the Indianapolis 500 for $4.5 million should be a hoot.
* Did anyone notice there was no "Baseball Night in America" last weekend? I didn't think so. Maybe it was because there were a half-dozen games on. The Orioles-Brewers game at 8 p.m. tomorrow (note the time change) is part of ABC's setup of picking up all local commercial and cable coverage of teams and sending it out as theirs.
* The Islanders are said to be after Kenny Albert to broadcast their games, but he's still under contract with the Washington Capitals. Kenny just keeps getting bigger and bigger in sports broadcasting. His Fox Network partner doing NFL games this fall will be Anthony Munoz, 6-feet-6 and 280 pounds.
* A third of the 650,000 people who purchased DirecTV last year signed up for the NFL package, which means an awful lot of people spent Sunday afternoons trying to make sense of a half-dozen games running simultaneously via remote control.
* Word is that Tommy Morrison might be Mike Tyson's opponent Nov. 4 in the battle of HBO-Showtime pay-per-view shows on that date. This assumes, of course, Tyson gets by Peter McNeeley Aug. 19 (snicker). Don King has to find a popular or competitive opponent for Tyson because his show, if it comes off, will be taking on Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield III, and I and II were terrific.
* You have to love Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda's thinking on baseball's efforts to speed up games: "Why? Who's complaining except for the sportswriters? Never have I gotten one letter complaining about the length of the game." They don't complain in Los Angeles for a couple of reasons: First, folks show up late; second, they leave early. Cutting two innings off at either end makes for a nice compact game.
* You say you want football, Biff? Boy, have we got it this weekend. Tomorrow, the Redskins and Chiefs are on Channel 7 at 8 p.m. and, when that one drags, along comes the Niners and Broncos playing a game in Tokyo at 10 p.m. on ESPN. Sunday it's the Giants vs. Browns on NBC at 4 p.m. and, Monday, Al, Dan and Frank check out the Vikings and Chargers on ABC at 8 p.m. If the stereotypical NFL game wears thin, give the Baltimore-Calgary CFL game on Channel 54 at 4:30 p.m. Sunday a peek only if it's to watch Doug Flutie go ga-ga.
* Mike Schmidt didn't even check out of his hotel room in Cooperstown, N.Y., following his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame when he was on a shoppers network peddling his signed (and dated) baseballs for $82 apiece. His acceptance speech included lots of railing about how greed is ruining the game.
* Camden Follies: Channel 13's John Buren was doing the 6 o'clock sports from Oriole Park the other night and things were in disarray. He had video but no audio back to the studio, so there was the sportscaster shouting his script into a telephone. Scratchy, mighty scratchy. Finally and in amazement, Buren yelped, "And we [Channel 13 owner Westinghouse] bought CBS?"
* After making him twirl on a string for months, the Washington Capitals finally did the right thing and invited Ron Weber back to do their radio broadcasts for the next two seasons. Weber has been the voice of the club since its inception in 1974 and has witnessed all 1,766 games the team has played whether they were broadcast or not.