Orioles' TV schedule is still cloudy, but there's plenty elsewhere on air

ON MEDIA

March 18, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

DID ANYONE take note of last week's alliteration to begin the column? Were there any really riveted readers? Or those who chortled, chuckled, chirped? More likely, it was a matter of being bored, bewildered, beyond bemused.

Let us move on, then, to Short Attention Span Theater.

If you scrolled and clicked your way through all the team sites at MLB.com, you would discover that the Orioles are in rare company. They are one of four teams yet to announce their television schedule. They join the Washington Nationals - whose schedule is being held up until the Orioles finish their compensation deal with Major League Baseball - and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels. Well, after all, Opening Day is more than two weeks away. What's the rush?

(It should be noted that I have indeed done the above scrolling and clicking, risking carpal tunnel syndrome just for your edification. And what do I ask in return? Only that you bombard Peter Schmuck with e-mails should he start picking on me again.)

Does anyone know why the SportsCenter anchors need to be taken from behind their desk and stood up on the set? Does it somehow seem more immediate? Does it make the news more exciting? Or is it just for a chance to see Linda Cohn's legs?

For whatever reason, some folks just didn't take to Bryant Gumbel. But if you're a discerning viewer of HBO's Real Sports, you know that he delivers intelligent, sometimes pointed commentary that deserves to be heard beyond the pay-cable world.

I really want to like ESPN Classic's Cheap Seats. The program is a descendant of the late, lamented Mystery Science Theatre 3000 - a true laff riot of snarky remarks during awful movies. Cheap Seats also can trace its lineage to MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head, at least the parts where the principals mocked music videos. But here's the thing: When the Sklar brothers crack wise over a tape of The Superstars or World's Strongest Man, somehow I never find myself laughing.

If you have high-definition television, you get extra choices with CBS' NCAA tournament coverage. Some of the network HDTV games available on WJZ/Channel 13 are different from the regular broadcast. Today, for example, the second afternoon game in HDTV is Connecticut vs. Central Florida and the first night game in HDTV is Louisville vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. The regular games in those slots are North Carolina-Oakland and Duke-Delaware State. And I probably don't need to remind you, but I still don't have a high-def TV.

NBC debuts its Cable Cam on golf coverage during next weekend's Players Championship. The device, familiar from its rolling overhead views on horse racing and football, will be employed at The Players Championship's signature hole, the 17th at Sawgrass with the island green. Someone must be in charge of toweling off the camera for all of those shots that land in the water.

We're coming up on another selection Sunday. NCAA hockey tournament bids are announced Sunday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2. Nothing against the icy sport, but we're guessing that this tournament won't draw quite as much bracketmania.

He just plays a sportswriter on TV. Jason Alexander, star of CBS' Listen Up, was one of the celebrities - oddly enough, all of them with CBS ties - to fill out an NCAA bracket for CBS Sportsline. Alexander picks UCLA to win it all. Maybe Bill Walton has some undiscovered eligibility?

The Orioles are scheduled for four appearances on Fox's Game of the Week. Last year, they entered the season scheduled for three. Call it the Sosa Bounce.

Local ratings for the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament declined by 47 percent from last year. When Maryland won the title in 2004, WNUV/Channel 54 drew a 6.6 rating. This year, the games averaged 3.5. (Ratings measure the percentage of households watching a program. Information courtesy of WBAL-TV's Queen of Ratings, Vickie Rose.)

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