Let's see if we have this straight: For the next week or so, our television sets will be filled with images of beer-soaked, loud-mouthed, obnoxious New Yorkers (a redundancy if ever there was one) exulting in their little Subway Series.
Great. What time do Niles and Daphne hook up on "Frasier"?
Whether the folks at Fox like it or not, large portions of the country will giddily take up their crocheting or discover the hidden joys of canasta, anything but watch an all-New York World Series.
And given that the ratings for the American and National League Championship Series have taken a bigger dive than a no-name wrestler, the last thing baseball needs is a Fall Classic with limited national appeal.
So, why should anyone outside the five boroughs watch this?
"I'm probably the worst guy to answer this," play-by-play man Joe Buck, a St. Louis native, said during a conference call yesterday.
"I thought `Survivor' was awful, and everybody else watched it. I believe that across the country, people will see this as a bit of a throwback, a piece of history. It has a chance of being thrilling, and if you put something thrilling on, people will watch."
If anything, the Fox people pledge to downplay the New York angle, at least in the early going. Fox Sports president Ed Goren said there will be some Gotham touches, such as Billy Crystal narrating the opening tease before Game 1 tomorrow or some memories of Subway Series past, but the games between the Mets and Yankees will be the ultimate selling point.
Let's hope so, for the sake of all of us outside the 212 and 718 area codes. Buck will be joined in the booth by Tim McCarver, with Bob Brenly doing analysis and reporting from the field.
Keith Olbermann and Steve Lyons will anchor the pre-game and post-game festivities, starting at 7:30 p.m. on weekends and 8 on weeknights, all seen locally on Channel 45.
ESPN Radio's coverage of the World Series, with Jon Miller and Dave Campbell on the call and Charley Steiner as host and roaming the dugout as a reporter, airs locally on WBAL (1090 AM).
For a guy whose schedule is already as hectic as the flight pattern around O'Hare Airport, the last thing you would think Josh Lewin would want to take on is a nightly talk show, even from the comfort of his home.
Yet, starting this week, that's precisely what Lewin will be doing, virtually each weeknight at 8 on WBAL.
"I was bored last winter after baseball season ended, and I really wanted something to do, creatively," Lewin said earlier this week. "It was great when [WBAL station manager] Jeff Beauchamp called and asked if I wanted to do this. I missed radio and I missed Baltimore."
And so, except for nights when there are Maryland basketball games or on Fridays, when Jim Hunter's winter baseball show airs, Lewin, 32, will do a two-hour program from a makeshift studio in the basement of his suburban Detroit home, which he shares with his wife and two kids.
The wonders of modern science will make it sound as though Lewin is right here in Charm City, but he said the program won't be entirely Baltimore or sports specific.
"I'd like to keep it local and topical to the extent that I can, but I'm not going to be afraid to tackle some other topics," Lewin said. "There will be times when we will be talking about `Survivor: Australian Outback' rather than the Ravens, but we'll just be keeping it real."
When it lost football four years ago, CBS needed some kind of fairly compelling fall event programming, so it got the PGA to create the Presidents Cup, a kind of Ryder Cup Lite, with American golfers meeting non-European international players in match-play competition.
Now that CBS has regained the NFL, the Presidents Cup has shifted to football-less NBC, where it will get grand treatment this weekend, with 12 hours of live coverage from Gainesville, Va., and 43 cameras, including one in a boat on Lake Manassas.
Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller will head up the NBC team, working from the tower at 18. Coverage will begin tomorrow at noon and will conclude with Sunday's 12 singles matches, commencing at 10 a.m., all on Channel 11.
TNT, meanwhile, wraps up its early round coverage today with a 10-hour marathon, beginning at 8 a.m.
Priorities in place
Three cheers to Channel 11 general manager Bill Fine for airing the presidential debate this week over the baseball playoffs. The media's job is to inform, particularly when the stakes are as high as electing a president. Baseball and NBC should have pushed Tuesday's game to 4 p.m. to accommodate the debate.
At the same time, Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning asked for media cooperation on the timing of announcing the particulars of his kidney ailment, but was rebuffed by news organizations more intent on scooping the competition than doing the right thing.
Around the dial
The good news from CBS' "The NFL Today" is that it has wisely ditched the cheerleading squad. The strange news, however, is that it has dusted off rocker Sammy Hagar for a live performance Sunday (Channel 13, noon). A suggestion to the producers: If you want to get men to watch, just do a good show.
Comedian Jay Mohr's continued appearance on Fox Sports Net's "NFL This Morning" Sunday pre-game show (Home Team Sports, 11 a.m.) must be some kind of judge-imposed corporate community service sentence that the company has to serve for inflicting his awful sitcom, "Action," on us last year. And to compound matters, loudmouth receiver Keyshawn Johnson will be on the set with Mohr on Sunday. What did we viewers do to deserve this?