To new Orioles television analyst Rick Cerone, the most important part of the job is preparation, and he is already prepared for the two worst words Orioles fans will likely throw at him.
Cerone, who comes to the Orioles' booth from his most recent stint analyzing the Yankees for the Madison Square Garden network, grew up in Newark, N.J., as a Yankees fan and wore the dreaded pinstripes in seven of his 17 major-league seasons.
It would seem, then, that it would be impossible to run away from or hide his New York credentials, and Cerone, 43, doesn't even try. In his defense, he says some of the same questions were raised in New York last year when MSG hired former Oriole Ken Singleton.
"After two weeks, people liked listening to him. He's a good listen. We had a good time working together. So, I've seen it from the other side," said Cerone. "I did play seven years for the Yankees, but I played 17 total, so it's not just the Yankees. This was an opportunity that I could not turn down."
Cerone, who has also done games on the Baseball Network, FX cable, Major League Baseball International and on CBS Radio with Orioles radio voice Jim Hunter, said HTS officials listened to a tape of his work on the 1996 World Series for MLB International and were impressed with his ability to remain neutral.
"I don't think it's too much of an issue at all. People are going to listen to him and like him right away. He's that kind of a personality and that kind of a professional analyst," said Orioles public relations director John Maroon.
Cerone, a career .245 hitter who played for Cleveland, Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto, Atlanta, Montreal and the Mets, will make his debut on March 20 as commentator on most Orioles telecasts on Home Team Sports and Channels 13 and 54, alongside play-by-play man Michael Reghi.
Gumbel, Simms top CBS duo
In its first personnel announcement since getting the NFL earlier this month and to the surprise of few, CBS yesterday tapped Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms as its lead game announcers for the next five years, while naming Jim Nantz as host of "The NFL Today".
Gumbel, who will also host the network's NCAA basketball tournament coverage, will leave NBC after Sunday's NBA telecast, at the request of NBC, five months before his contract expires. He left CBS after it lost the NFL in 1994.
Simms, who worked Sunday's Super Bowl for NBC, was briefly courted by Fox until it re-signed John Madden. The former New York Giants quarterback said he'll need time to adjust to working with just one other person, rather than sharing the booth with two others, as he did at NBC with Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire.
Around the dial
The latest edition of ESPN's "Outside the Lines," airing tonight at 8: 30, is the highlight of this weekend's offerings. Tonight's program, called "The Weight Debate: Sports by the Pound," examines issues surrounding athletes and weight loss, with planned pieces on high school wrestlers and jockeys. In one feature, reporter Jeremy Schaap follows three of the Orioles' top prospects, pitchers Rocky Coppinger and Sidney Ponson and first baseman Calvin Pickering, as they spend time enrolled at the sports performance program at Duke's Diet and Fitness Center.
Secret microphones have been all the rage in Washington recently, and they'll be all over sports television this weekend. Fox plans to wire up the coaches of the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers for tomorrow's game (Channel 45, 3 p.m.), while ESPN will have linesmen Dan McCourt and Dan Schachte wear microphones during Sunday's Chicago-Anaheim telecast at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, Texas Tech women's basketball coach Marsha Sharp is expected to be miked as her Lady Raiders host Stanford tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the second game of a Big 12-Pac 10 doubleheader that follows the Arizona-Kansas tilt at 4 p.m.
It's a big weekend for some locals to get national exposure. First, the Navy men's basketball team gets a rare network appearance today when CBS (Channel 13) carries its meeting at Army at 1 p.m. Racers Michael Defontas and Chuck Lorenzo will attempt to qualify for the 24 Hours of Daytona, and will carry an ESPN2 camera onboard. Qualifying heats air today at 1: 30 p.m., with the race airing tomorrow at 1 p.m. and concluding Sunday at 7 a.m.
CBS kicks off its extensive 1998 golf schedule with third- and final-round coverage of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tomorrow and Sunday at 3 p.m on Channel 13. Finally, this year's ABC telecast of the normally meaningless NFL Pro Bowl (Channel 2, 6 p.m.) takes on some manner of significance as Frank Gifford works his final game from the booth before he is herded off to the studio next season, ending a string of 588 straight games.
Pub Date: 1/30/98