Playoffs can be hair-raising

ON TELEVISION

October 07, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

It's baseball's postseason, so you know what that means for the discerning television sports viewer.

Yes, it's the annual Jeanne Zelasko Hairstyle Watch.

Hey, we kid. And welcome back to the postseason for the Fox studio host after the birth of her second child this summer.

Actually, it's time to hang on every word uttered by game announcers and then unfairly parse them in this space. Or to talk about their hair.

During Tuesday's St. Louis Cardinals-San Diego Padres game, ESPN's Joe Morgan tried to give a fresh take on the obvious point of not giving a team extra outs with shoddy defense. Morgan used a football analogy, saying it was the same idea of wanting to get your defense off the field - except it really isn't analogous, given that football wears down an entire defense in a way baseball doesn't.

During Game 1 of the Los Angeles Angels-New York Yankees series, it was noted Yankees outfielder Bubba Crosby grew up a fan of former major league center fielder Lenny Dykstra, who now owns a car wash. Fox's Joe Buck pointed out the incongruity of having Dykstra - known to dribble tobacco juice down his chin during his playing days - in the business of making things nice and clean.

Let's all agree: Interviewing a manager in the dugout during a game has jumped the shark. The managers hardly ever have anything to say after exchanging pleasantries with the announcers. (And, yes, I recognize "jump the shark" long ago jumped the shark as a pseudo-hip phrase.)

One of the many great things about hearing Jon Miller - and I'll never say a word about his hairstyle - call a game is how he never loses his sense of fun even while taking the proceedings seriously. During Game 2 of the Angels-Yankees on ESPN, he joined in the home fans' upset with his own mock outrage at a two-strike pitch from a Los Angeles pitcher that everyone in the park just knew was on the black.

Not to say that Fox's Tim McCarver might go on a bit, but I hear Joe Theismann was complaining about how McCarver just won't stop talking.

Deja vu all over again

Maybe there just aren't that many things to talk about with the Ravens.

At 10:10 yesterday morning on WJFK (1300 AM), Mark Viviano and Damon Yaffe were discussing how Tony Weaver's injury would affect the defensive line. At 10:11, I punched my radio dial over to Bob Haynie on WNST (1570 AM), and he was mentioning the very same thing.

The next station I tuned to was playing the theme music from The Twilight Zone.

You bet

The NFL has told networks not to air ads for the new movie Two for the Money during NFL programming. The film, starring Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey, concerns betting on football.

"We felt that the ad constituted affiliating with or endorsing gambling," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA Today. "And our policy dates back to the 1960s. It prohibits any kind of ads concerning gambling."

The familiar Las Vegas tourism ads - "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" - also don't run during NFL telecasts.

And, of course, the league releases an official injury report during the week strictly for informational purposes.

Hispanic focus

ESPN's SportsCenter presents a three-part series on prominent Latino athletes starting Tuesday with a piece on baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez and the San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili. ...

Perhaps you feared the Ravens' game with the Detroit Lions meant a return to Spiro Dedes and Rich Baldinger. Fear not, CBS is giving us Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

TV highlights

Horse racing: It's Maryland's second-biggest day of racing, the Maryland Million, tomorrow at 4 p.m. on WNUV/Channel 54. Think Michael Busch will be watching?

College football: Let's hear it, Nittany Lions fans. We are ... 5 and 0! No. 16 Penn State hosts No. 6 Ohio State tomorrow at 7:45 p.m. on ESPN. For your own edification (or a drinking game?), count the number of times someone says "JoePa."

Boxing: Diego Corrales defends his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization lightweight crowns against Jose Luis Castillo in a rematch of what boxing observers have raved about as one of the best bouts in recent years. The boxing card begins at 9 p.m. tomorrow on Showtime pay-per-view.

[COMPILED BY RAY FRAGER]

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Sept. 28-Oct. 4 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Date Ch. Rtg.

Ravens-Jets 10/2 13 18.1

Seahawks-Skins 10/2 45 11.2

Packers-Panthers 10/3 2 8.6

49ers-Cards 10/2 ESPN 6.1

Yanks-Angels 10/4 45 5.7

Eagles-Chiefs-a 10/2 45 4.3

UM-UVa. 10/1 54 4.0

WWE Raw-b 10/3 USA 3.3

WWE Raw-c 10/3 USA 3.3

Yanks-Red Sox 9/30 ESPN 3.1

a-7 to 7:45 p.m.; b-9 to 10 p.m.; c-10 to 11:15 p.m.

[ Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]

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