In World Series, Costas and Michaels excelled with the baseball, but flopped as journalists

Media Watch

October 30, 1995|By MILTON KENT

A few final World Series thoughts:

* Bob Costas and Al Michaels are, to be sure, two of the best announcers in the business, and their work over the past week was exemplary.

But, even granting the disjointed nature of the telecast of the Series and their hesitancy not to repeat story lines, both men and their respective networks should be chagrined for not once mentioning the protests of Native Americans over the repulsive nicknames and logos of the two teams.

If you fancy yourself -- as both men rightfully do -- a journalist, then you have to make the call on tough subjects. ABC's Michaels and NBC's Costas took called strikes on this one.

* It goes without saying that the commissioner's office must fine and also suspend Cleveland's Albert Belle for his inexcusable tantrum in the dugout before Game 3, in which he let loose a torrent of profanities, knocked down camera equipment and swung a bat near reporters, who were perfectly within their rights to be where they were.

But there should also be a fine levied against Eddie Murray for blowing off NBC's Jim Gray after Game 3 and for his surliness toward the media.

If the individual clubs don't want to police their clubhouses during the regular season, that's one thing, though it's hardly preferred. But the postseason belongs to the leagues and the central office, who have to be concerned about the image of the game, which takes yet another black eye when a recalcitrant player deems himself too important to talk to the public. If the NBA can order Michael Jordan to talk, Major League Baseball can make Eddie Murray speak as well.

* The move to 7 p.m. weekend starts through the postseason was a good one, but don't hold your breath waiting for earlier starts during the week. Network affiliates simply make too much money on local news and their syndicated shows ("Wheel of Fortune," "Jeopardy!") to give those up.

But the networks can help us all by skipping the needless pre-game features and getting the first pitch to us no later than 15 minutes past the hour for games other than 1 and 3, when the rosters are introduced in each city.

* The best postgame moment Saturday was when Atlanta owner Ted Turner tweaked NBC for placing the obligatory presidential congratulatory phone call on hold after it couldn't reach President Clinton on the first try.

"That wasn't me," brayed the Mouth of the South. "I wouldn't have had the commercial break then." First class all the way, Ted.

* Have there ever been a lamer collection of national anthem performers as we heard during the Series? After hearing Joe Walsh croak before Game 5, we now know why Glenn Frey and Don Henley did most of the singing for the Eagles. And who let the Rembrandts, who sing the ubiquitous theme from "Friends", into the city of Atlanta, much less the stadium?

* The overnight ratings from Game 6 are in, and they show a continued downward trend for baseball.

The game did a 19.8 in the 33-market Nielsen overnight survey, down from a 20.2 in 1993, a 22.5 in 1992 and a 24.0 in 1991. Atlanta did a 46.4/65, while Cleveland got a whopping 52.2/74.

Who's got the call?

For the first time in 12 years of NBA cable coverage, Turner Sports will go with set announcing teams for the season, which begins this weekend.

On Tuesday nights, Verne Lundquist and newcomer Danny Ainge will work games on TNT, with Ernie Johnson anchoring in the studio. Dick Stockton, who called the NBA on CBS, will be paired with Chuck Daly on Wednesdays on TBS, with Vince Cellini and Dick Versace in the Atlanta studio. For TNT's Friday broadcasts, Bob Neal and Hubie Brown will call games with Johnson in the studio.

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