Flanagan mixes off-speed humor with sure-fire delivery in debut

Media Watch

April 03, 1996|By Milton Kent

It's often dangerous, if not downright stupid, to form judgments on just one effort, but it's safe to say that new Orioles television analyst Mike Flanagan is going to be a keeper, if yesterday's Opening Day performance is any judge.

In baseball parlance, Flanagan, a former Cy Young Award winner with the Orioles in 1979, threw lots of strikes during the Orioles-Royals telecast, and rarely missed the plate. While Flanagan, who replaces John Lowenstein for Orioles television broadcasts, didn't reveal some new truth about the game, he sported a good combination of solid information, mostly from the pitching end of things, and solid, low-key humor.

For instance, Flanagan paid close attention to the pitch counts of both teams' starters, Mike Mussina and Kevin Appier, to chart their progress throughout the day, and when play-by-play man Mel Proctor observed in the ninth that Baltimore reliever Randy Myers possessed a few eccentricities, Flanagan quipped, "He's a closer, isn't he?" Again, nothing new on either count, but indicative of Flanagan's keen eye and sharp, if understated wit.

He was helped, of course, by the presence of Proctor and former teammate Jim Palmer, both skilled broadcasters, and Flanagan, last year's Orioles' pitching coach, will need to get more inside the heads of hitters as the season unfolds, an observation he made in an interview that will appear in this space tomorrow. But the fourth-winningest pitcher in Orioles history notched the first of a long season yesterday.

Ratings ups and downs

Monday night's telecast of the Kentucky-Syracuse men's basketball final drew an 18.3 rating in the Nielsen national figures, making it the second highest rated program of any genre on CBS this year, placing it just behind the 18.9 for the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.

However, the NCAA rating is the lowest rating ever for a prime-time championship game, a full rating point below last year's UCLA-Arkansas contest, which drew a 19.3, and one-half rating point below the previous low, the 1988 game between Kansas and Oklahoma.

The entire tournament averaged a 7.5 rating, which was three percent higher than the 1995 tournament, but the average ratings for the last two years are the lowest ever.

ESPN scores big

It appears that ESPN's conquest of the women's basketball tournament paid off handsomely for the sport, which got unprecedented exposure, and for the network, which garnered good ratings.

Sunday night's championship game between Tennessee and Georgia posted a 3.7 cable rating -- the equivalent of viewership in 2.52 million homes. That not only shattered previous ESPN women's ratings records, but was the second-highest rated college basketball game in the last three years on either ESPN or ESPN2, falling behind the Connecticut-Georgetown men's Big East final (4.0) this year and the fourth-highest rated college basketball game of either gender on either network in the last five years.

In general, ESPN, in the first year of a seven-year contract to carry the tournament, did a fine job of bringing the women's game into the American consciousness, developing good stories and introducing largely unknown athletes to the audience. For next year, it would be nice if the network would bring more women to the play-by-play table, and do something to adjust the regionals schedule so that the Western winner doesn't have to play at a midnight tip-off on Monday, then play in the Final Four three days later in the Eastern time zone.

The new Fox hires

As expected, Fox named Tim McCarver as its lead baseball analyst yesterday, teaming the former ABC and CBS commentator with Joe Buck. The network also named former New York Mets and Chicago White Sox manager Jeff Torborg as a game analyst to work with Chip Caray. Previously announced analyst Bob Brenly will work with Thom Brennaman. Fox is looking for one more announcing team before its June 1 debut.

Juwan's reading riff

A clever new public service announcement, touting the virtues of reading and starring Washington Bullets forward Juwan Howard, premieres during tonight's Orlando-New York game (TBS, 8 o'clock).

Just by happenstance, Howard will appear as a studio analyst tonight with Vince Cellini and Dick Versace.

Pub Date: 4/03/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.