`SportsNite' serves up local flavor, mostly of light and fluffy variety


July 22, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

FIRST, IT SPELLS "night" wrong. Then, it takes two words and smashes them together as one. Despite the show's crimes against English, I took in Comcast SportsNet's SportsNite, armed only with pen and paper.

(OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also had a soft drink. To the best of my recollection, your honor, there were no snack foods involved.)

Here's a rundown highlighting the Wednesday 10 p.m. program:

Your anchors, perky Sage Steele and just as perky Dave Branch, welcome you to the hourlong show. The 60 minutes is a point of emphasis.

First, a report on D.C. United's game against the Kansas City Wizards, which just aired on Comcast SportsNet. The Post Game Live segment offers two instructive examples of deficiencies in Freddy Adu's game that help keep him from more playing time.

Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies, featuring a Tim Russert-James Carville sighting. We drop in on Nats manager Frank Robinson's post-game news conference for a couple of questions.

Atlanta Braves-San Francisco Giants highlights. As a homer flies over the wall, Branch advises us, "You can say hasta la vista to that one." Or sayonara, shalom or au revoir, for that matter.

Orioles-Minnesota Twins from the afternoon. Rodrigo Lopez gets nailed by a shot to the mound. "The comebacker is literally a comebacker," Steele says. No, I don't know what that means.

Washington Capitals and Wizards news. The NBA report includes a chart showing former Comcast SportsNet analysts who are now on pro coaching staffs. Hey, you won't see that on SportsCenter.

Tour de France report just before halftime.

Recap to open the second half of the program, including more Orioles, Nats and United.

Finally, the fairly significant NFL news that the New England Patriots will be without linebacker Tedy Bruschi this season.

A feature from the Ripken baseball camp for kids. Hey, it's Steve Garvey!

United players meet and greet fans. Breaking news: Every player interviewed says the United fans are great. Steele recently went to a United game. She concurs.

Near the end of the show, real breaking news. During a rambling post-game talk with reporters, Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez has said he might miss the rest of the season.

SportsNite is charged with covering the region's teams, so a viewer doesn't expect the show to lead with the Bruschi news or a Larry Brown update. Still, one would think Bruschi would get a mention before the program was half over. For comparison's sake, on the same night, SportsCenter went Bruschi, two baseball games and Brown at the top of the show.

And though ESPN had a Field of Dreams segment as part of its visit to Iowa, where was the supposed Worldwide Leader on the big United-loves-its-fans story?

Baltimore, you certainly like your wrasslin'. In fact, you apparently like it more than you like your Tiger Woods. The past week's ratings reveal two wrestling shows drew higher ratings than the last round of the British Open.

ABC got a 4.6 national rating - measuring the percentage of all households watching a program - for Sunday's golf telecast, its highest mark for the British since 2000, the previous time Woods won the event.

Here, the last round of the British Open got a 3.2, lower than WWE Raw Zone and WWE Raw. You can factor in the early Sunday time slot for golf vs. prime time for wrestling, but ... Was it something Tiger said about Baltimore?

Maryland is scheduled for two football appearances on ESPN this fall - Sept. 10 against Clemson and a Thursday night game, Oct. 20 against Virginia Tech. ... Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith, a weekday sports news and shout show, debuts Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The program will be presented before a studio audience. (No, I'm not calling it a "live" studio audience. If ESPN had been planning to do it with a dead audience, we're talking another version of CSI.)

Contact Ray Frager at ray.frager@baltsun.com.

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