For 50 years, CBS and the Masters have made sweet music together

ON MEDIA

April 08, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

IT WAS 50 years ago today

CBS was showing Masters play ...

OK, it wasn't exactly 50 years ago that CBS started televising the Masters, but this is the network's 50th time carrying the event, first telecast in 1956. In any case, the Masters and Sgt. Pepper's just don't go together.

Even though CBS Sports president Sean McManus said this week, "We never go into any Masters with [the] idea we're going to be reverential," that word almost always applies to the coverage. So we associate Augusta National with tinkling piano (certainly not with Ringo singing "With a Little Help From My Friends").

The network plans no special commemoration of the 50th year, said CBS' coordinating producer of golf, Lance Barrow.

"We will have our vignettes [on past Masters] like we've always done. ... Basically, the vignettes will speak for our 50 years," Barrow said during a conference call earlier this week.

He hardly seems like an old-timer, but Jim Nantz will be working his 20th Masters this weekend. The Final Four one weekend, Augusta the next. How many sportscasters would give their last can of hairspray for such an opportunity?

"I think about this week all year long," Nantz said. "I'm blown away that I get to do this."

Nantz said the golf event is what resonates most with people he meets.

"I hear about [the Masters] everywhere I go every day of the year," he said.

With the Martha Burk-Augusta National controversy seeming a lot older than just two years ago, CBS will carry four minutes of commercials per hour. Tomorrow's coverage runs from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. (WJZ/Channel 13 and WUSA/Channel 9) and Sunday's from 2:30 to 7. USA Network goes from 4 to 7 this afternoon. ...

In a slight nod to its 50th year at Augusta, CBS has brought back Pat Summerall to do voice-overs on its breaks. ...

Will CBS deal with surging rumors about Phil Mickelson's supposed gambling problems? "I have never in a telecast engaged in rumor," Nantz said, "and never will."

Tonight, Comcast SportsNet begins a feature called "Bird's Eye View" on its 6:30 and 10 SportsNite with a Sammy Sosa interview. ... Comcast SportsNet also is giving Sosa a video camera to record his first visit to Yankee Stadium this weekend. The results likely will appear on SportsNite on Tuesday. ... Comcast SportsNet (I could type that with eyes closed now) airs newly discovered footage shot by Washington Senator Mickey Vernon during his playing and coaching career in segments during the early and late SportsNite programs Monday through Wednesday. The film includes first pitches by several presidents and Babe Ruth's farewell.

XM Satellite Radio announced a multiyear marketing deal this week with the Orioles, which means fans will be seeing signs at Camden Yards promoting the subscription service. XM has a deal with Major League Baseball to carry radio play-by-play of every team - which may be a good thing for Orioles fans living beyond the reach of WBAL Radio and its baseball network, but basically puts WBAL in the position of supplying a competitor with a product and receiving no compensation. ...

Speaking of XM, longtime local sports radio chatter - and noted baseball maven - Phil Wood hosts two daily shows on the network, a program focusing on fantasy baseball at 2 p.m. and a preview show at 6 p.m. ... Rob Dibble, exiled from ESPN, returns to television on Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period starting Monday.

If you miss the days of The Superstars or Battle of the Network Stars, you're in luck. Starting Tuesday at 9 p.m., ESPN brings us Battle of the Gridiron Stars for six consecutive weeks. Viewers who can't find anything better on another channel will be treated to the sight of two teams of NFL players competing in non-football events such as tug-of-war, dodge ball and tire toss.

Daunte Culpepper and Peyton Manning are among the contestants. Ravens fans, breathe a sigh of relief; no Ravens are competing.

Announcers Joe Theismann, Kirk Herbstreit, Harold Reynolds and Sam Ryan work the event while remembering to read the fine print in their ESPN contracts.

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