At least for night, Ravens move from wings to center stage nationally


October 01, 2004|By RAY FRAGER

SOME FOLKS around here - maybe you, your brother-in-law or that chatty hairstylist who always sets the water too hot for your shampoo - hold to the idea that the Ravens don't get their due outside of Baltimore.

As producer of ABC's Monday Night Football - which comes to Baltimore next week for the Ravens' game with the Kansas City Chiefs (9 p.m., WMAR/Channel 2) - Fred Gaudelli might be seen as part of the cabal working against the Ravens.

But, no, he agrees with you. (Not sure about the hairstylist, though.)

"I do think they fly under the radar a little bit," Gaudelli said yesterday.

"It's a bit perplexing when you take out the pieces and look at them," he added, citing the Ravens' marquee players, Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and Jonathan Ogden. "[National respect] is usually about winning."

The woman who has put respect back in the Monday Night sideline reporter's job, Michele Tafoya, also agrees the Ravens don't get the spotlight.

"I'm not really sure what it is ... given that they're pretty loaded," she said.

Gaudelli offered that perhaps the Ravens aren't a glamour team because their stars aren't in positions where they throw or catch touchdowns or record lots of sacks.

But still ...

"When people talk about great running backs, you don't hear a lot about Jamal Lewis," said Tafoya, who covered Lewis in college but hasn't seen him in person in the NFL.

ABC will make Ray Lewis a highlight of its broadcast Monday. The linebacker will be "miked up," so viewers will hear what he has to say on the field several times during the game. Perhaps we'll hear him ask the musical question, "Are my dogs in the house?"

Lewis also will be part of the halftime "You've Been Sacked" piece, the Punk'd-like practical joke feature in which he and Deion Sanders will pull Gary Baxter's leg. Metaphorically, that is. The Ravens can't afford to lose another defensive back.

Michele, go long

This weekend, if you happen to pass a bus that looks like the Maddencruiser and you happen to see what looks like John Madden running drills and you happen to see what looks like Al Michaels and Tafoya catching passes, well ... As it so happens, your eyes won't be deceiving you.

Tafoya said about six of the Monday Night crew - including her and play-by-play man Michaels - usually get together and toss the football around under the direction of MNF's analyst the weekend before a game. Wonder if Madden has any of that old Fred Biletnikoff stickum to pass out?

Down to the wire

ESPN carries baseball's postseason races down to the last day, with two games scheduled for ESPN2 on Sunday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., matchups to be determined by where the races stand. ... Fox, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise the Division Series games, starting Tuesday.

Announcer sidelined

Allen Bestwick, NASCAR play-by-play man for NBC and TNT, suffered a broken leg playing hockey and will be replaced by pit reporter Bill Weber on NBC's Nextel Cup race telecast Sunday from Talladega, Ala.

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Sept. 22-28 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Day Ch. Rtg.

Ravens-Cin. 9/26 13 22.8

Dal.-Wash. 9/27 2 12.1

G.B.-Ind. 9/26 45 10.3

T.B.-Oak. 9/26 ESPN 5.3

NFL Today 9/26 13 4.7

O's-Det. 9/25 54 3.8

Fox NFL 9/26 45 2.8

Phi.-Det. 9/26 45 2.7

SptsCenter-a 9/27 ESPN 2.3

SptsCenter-b 9/27 ESPN 1.8

a-6 a.m. b-6 p.m. Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV.

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