For Preakness show, an hourly wage seems fair

MEDIA WATCH

May 11, 1999|By Milton Kent

A little Tuesday morning scattershooting:

* Just wondering, but since Channel 2 is willing to pay viewers $1,000 to watch the 11 p.m. news during the May sweeps, do you think they'd slip a media critic $1.95 to watch their Preakness telethon Saturday.

Just kidding.

Tomorrow's post-position draw for Saturday's race will air live from Charm City, with elements originating from both Pimlico and the ESPN Zone. Post time, er, air time is 5 p.m.

* Shame on ABC for wading hip deep into the toxic goo that Tiger Woods, David Duval and their agent, IMG, are creating with a made-for-prime-time August match-play situation.

The two greedy golfers and their representatives apparently weren't content to let time and real competition forge a true rivalry, so they had to go contrive this hokum, and ABC was all too willing to go along.

Newly crowned ABC Sports president Howard Katz said yesterday that the match will hopefully draw higher ratings than the summer reruns that it will replace. What a pity!

With any luck, a nice long August thunderstorm will wash this nonsense out. Unfortunately, the stench of the match would linger long after the rains clear and then we'd probably get stuck having to watch some taped figure skating exhibition.

* You'd think the technical guys at ESPN would know enough to keep their private conversations from going out on the air. Late in Sunday's Toronto-Texas major-league game, Jon Miller was reading a promo for the re-air of the "SportsCentury" profile of Mickey Mantle, ranked No. 37 in the countdown, when Joe Morgan said he wanted to know who was ranked higher.

Just then, an unidentified voice could clearly be heard saying the No. 35 figure was going to be Secretariat, roughly five days before the announcement was to be made, saving us all the trouble of watching Friday's late "SportsCenter" to hear the official notice. For the record, Oscar Robertson will be unveiled this Friday at No. 36.

Oh, by the way, you don't think that Secretariat's selection, coming during the middle of the Triple Crown series, isn't timed to drum up interest in the races, do you?

* Between Noah, unicorn killers and trains carrying atomic bombs, don't you find yourself wondering when the NBC promos end and the NBA coverage begins?

* An observation about the ESPN/MLB flap: Baseball is on the verge of making a huge mistake if it continues to pursue this nonsensical fight with the outlet that has been its best friend during the past nine years.

Neither Fox, USA, nor Turner, all rumored to be interested in taking over regular-season cable telecasts, can give baseball the combination of promotional opportunities and time that ESPN can.

Baseball is understandably upset that it is not reaping the financial booty that the NFL, NBA and even the NHL are, but maybe its negotiators should do a better job of shopping the product around to drive up its price.

Likewise, it seems from this perspective that if baseball made itself more essential to the public, it wouldn't have to face the sad specter of seeing its September Sunday pennant-race games draw audiences two, three or four times lower than what early season football games bring, thus making it impossible for ESPN to shift contests to ESPN2.

* Channel 11's Mark Viviano deserves much better than the weekend dawn patrol.

* What does it say that the most interesting commercial involving baseball players, the one that started airing this weekend with Atlanta pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux trying to impress actress Heather Locklear, was made by a shoe company?

* You get the sense that lead NBC analyst Doug Collins thinks teamwork is missing from the NBA.

When asked last week what one on-court change he would institute to make the NBA better, Collins said he would get rid of the illegal-defense rule to slow the game's de-evolution into a contest where one or two guys stand around while the other three or four actually play.

"We've become a league that shoots way too many three-point shots. Instead of team vs. team, it's become player vs. player," Collins said.

Off the court, Collins said he would discourage the league's marketing emphasis on the individual, and turn it toward identifying the best teams.

"We always look around for the heir apparent to Michael Jordan. Instead, let's let these players find their own space and then jump out on their own," Collins said. "When they do, we'll take off."

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