Free advertising of new cereal doesn't remotely interest Belle


April 29, 1999|By MILTON KENT

If we've learned nothing about new Orioles outfielder Albert Belle, it's that he loves people, particularly those of us who carry notebooks and cameras.

In case you missed it, the previous sentence was sarcastic in nature. At any rate, Belle worked his magic on Channel 13 sports anchor John Buren on Tuesday night during a live pre-game newscast, during a time when Buren was actually doing Belle a favor.

"It was just one of those spontaneous things that happens during live television," said Buren yesterday.

On its 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, the station did segments on the launch of Belle's new cereal, including a taste test. Buren, who does his sportscasts live from Oriole Park when the team is at home, was on the air live when Belle came out of the dugout.

Buren held up a box of the cereal and tried to get Belle to wander over to say something, but Belle instead fired off an unintelligible remark to Buren and said something else, again undistinguishable, on a return trip.

"I think he said something like, `Your smart mouth,' but that was about it," Buren said. "It wasn't that big a deal, but I guess because of the personalities involved, it's got legs."

Despite his, shall we say, reluctance to promote his new cereal, there was a good-news component for Belle, even if he didn't know about it.

"All six of the people who tried the cereal liked it, so he scored a 100 on the taste test," quipped Buren.

Making plans?

In view of the recent retirements of Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, and the rumored end to John Elway's career, ABC Sports legend Jim McKay, who cuts as impressive a figure across his terrain as the above-mentioned three did across theirs, was pretty adamant about continuing a career that has spanned the globe and five decades to boot.

"I don't see that [retirement]" said McKay, 77. "My [ABC] contract goes through the end of February [2000]. If they ask me to stay, I'd stay. It's not something that I have any conscious thought about. I'm not being evasive. That's just the way it is."

Speaking of Elway, ESPN Classic is certainly figuring that the Denver quarterback is on the way out, as the nostalgia channel is airing a package called "The Magnificent 7," 24 hours of Elway-related programming beginning tonight at 8 p.m., with Bob Ley and Mike Golic hosting.

Two-minute drill

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol yesterday struck a cautious tone about the reported launch of a new summer football league, and his network's interest in said league.

NBC and Turner, which alternately leapt or fell off the NFL merry-go-round before last season, have been in discussions about a 12-team league that would run from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with all games to air in prime time, presumably in the late spring of 2001.

However, Ebersol, in speaking to a seminar at a Women's Sports Foundation meeting, said he's not ready to move forward until issues like marketing and the like can be settled.

In other developments, Ebersol told the audience that polling data indicates that, in view of the IOC bribery scandal, the public will still watch the Olympics as long as the competition itself is not tainted by the scandal.

Ebersol, whose network will carry Summer and Winter Olympics telecasts through 2008, said he expects the IOC to adopt term limits and age limits for board members, and endorsed current president Juan Antonio Samaranch as the man to help engineer the changes.

"Samaranch is a man of integrity. He's the only person who can speak to all those groups. He should be given the opportunity to get these things done," Ebersol said.

In a related item, Ebersol pledged that "virtually every second" of every United States women's basketball, softball and soccer match will be carried in their entirety during the 2000 Sydney Olympic games on either NBC or its cable outlets, CNBC or MSNBC.

Ebersol added that he expects the ratings for this year's NBA playoffs to be down from the last two years when, he said, casual viewers tuned in in large numbers, thinking they could be witnessing the end of Jordan's career.

Week's ratings

The ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore during the past week (R-Rating; S-Share):

Event Day Ch. R/S

O's-Tampa Bay Thu. 13 9.8/16

O's-Oakland Fri. 13 9.6/16

O's-Oakland Sat. 13 9.2/25

Golf Sat. 13 4.8/14

O's-Oakland Sun. 54 4.5/11

Magic-76ers Sun. 11 4.1/8

Knicks-Heat Sun. 11 3.5/9

Lakers-Spurs Sat. 11 2.5/4

"NBA Showtime" Sun. 11 2.3/6

NASCAR Sun. 2 2.2/10

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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