Credit Olbermann for viewpoint

ON THE AIR

September 05, 1995|By MILTON KENT

You have to give ESPN's Keith Olbermann credit for sticking to his guns about Cal Ripken's pursuit of Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record.

Olbermann, who returned to "SportsCenter" Sunday night from vacation, quipped after noting the Orioles' loss to Seattle that the argument that Ripken should continue to play past tying Gehrig's mark of 2,130 games because the team needs him for the pennant race has vanished.

"Which pennant race would that be?" intoned Olbermann.

Olbermann, who along with talk show host Larry King and New York Times columnist Robert Lipsyte have furthered the notion that Ripken should share the record with Gehrig, clarified his position in a Prodigy column last week.

Olbermann wrote that, though he means no criticism or diminution of Ripken or his achievement, he believes that the Baltimore shortstop would "elevate his performance" by sitting out game 2,131, offering "a gift" to the memory of Gehrig, who left the Yankees' lineup in May 1939 and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a month later.

While we here at "On the Air" don't subscribe to that theory, we respect the right of Olbermann, King and Lipsyte to have that thought, which is a lot more than can be said for some others.

King, for instance, has been heavily criticized for his stand, some even going so far to say that his view is part of some liberal-minded conspiracy that seeks to make everyone equal by keeping their achievements to a minimum.

Whoa, there! Politics aside -- and they really don't belong in a discussion of this sort -- have we reached a point in this country where we can't disagree with a person's heartfelt and rationally formed opinion, even on something as innocuous as a baseball record, without casting aspersions on his character?

Cracking the lineup

Guess we're supposed to shout huzzahs and hosannas for Comcast's pending addition of the Golf Channel, a lightly watched pay-cable service that shows golf and related programming all day and night (yawn).

Well, pardon us, but we'd much prefer if Comcast were to give Baltimore, Harford and Howard countians Channel 50 out of Washington, so that they can see Washington Bullets and Capitals games on an outlet where they don't have to pay additional charges, a la Home Team Sports.

From a programming standpoint, the additional bonus for adding Channel 50 is that it is an affiliate for the WB network, which is largely lost to most Baltimoreans, whose local affiliate is the low-power Towson State University channel. Of course, adding Comedy Central would be nice, too.

And with college football here and college basketball on the way, how about ESPN2 for city residents, United Artists?

CBS personnel moves

David Kenin, president of CBS Sports, has made a few senior management tweaks, the most pertinent one for the public being the addition of Robert Correa as vice president of programming.

Correa, a Georgetown graduate who worked with Kenin at USA Network, will be in charge of strategic planning for virtually everything except college basketball and football, which remain in the province of vice president Len DeLuca.

One of the most immediate things Kenin and Correa will have to deal with is whether to re-up with the United States Tennis Association for a U.S. Open deal. The USTA is said to want a five-year contract for $38 million, twice what the network paid for its current contract, which ends after this year's tournament, with Fox reportedly ready to sweep in if CBS falters.

Kenin is publicly hemming and hawing about the price, but with all the losses the network has suffered recently, it seems CBS really needs to nail down the Open.

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