`Bonds' no hit with ESPN staff


April 07, 2006|By RAY FRAGER

Time to share a few thoughts after losing count of how many times Billy Packer called Florida's players "long" during CBS' Final Four telecasts:

ESPN's Bonds on Bonds, in its first episode, ended up being as sympathetic toward embattled slugger Barry Bonds as one would expect of a production controlled by him.

ESPN shouldn't be giving Bonds a forum nor have a business relationship with him for this show, and many inside the network apparently feel the same way. Reports from The New York Times and New York Post indicate something of a "palace revolt" over the show during a previously scheduled seminar for ESPN personnel and management. The Times described the debate as "emotional, sometimes angry." The Post said ESPN people "let their bosses know they simply can't quietly suffer the fact that ESPN continues to jump into bed with news figures."

We got to hear Bonds dispute a new book that says his steroid use was sparked by jealousy over Mark McGwire in his homer-record year: "I'm proud of what Mark McGwire did. I'm proud of what Sammy [Sosa] did. They lifted the game."

And there was his take on the cat-and-mouse game with media people trying to catch up with him off the field: "This is like Bonnie and Clyde stuff, like you're running from the po-po."

That would be a reference to the police. Barry is so hip.

CBS is carrying its 51st consecutive Masters this weekend. Is it possible that Jim Nantz has been part of nearly half of them? Nantz is doing his 21st, the past 19 as host.

And if Nantz is becoming as much a part of the Augusta scenery as the azaleas, his love of golf shines through his commentary. In fact, check out part of an interview he did with Sports Illustrated to see just how much Nantz feels a part of the game. Speaking of how the "mainstream media" sometimes approach golf, he said:

"People outside the sports department often say, `Oh, there's a controversy brewing in golf.' It might be about Casey Martin or Martha Burk. `Let's write an editorial about those stuck-up snobs and their elitist game.' And when all the top mainstream columnists come barreling down the interstate, guns in the air, what do we in golf do? We step aside. Instead of pointing to the First Tee program and other good things about the game, instead of saying, `William Safire and Maureen Dowd, you're full of you-know-what,' we act as if we buy their idea that golf is for people who are out of touch, don't care about mankind, stuck up, elitist, racist - the horrible stereotype. We're too willing to let them sabotage the great reputation of golf."

"We in golf," he said. At the Final Four, I guess, Nantz was part of "we in college basketball."

You can argue that Nantz clearly is part of the golf establishment, so it doesn't matter whether he overtly says it or not. Perhaps. But at least he could pretend to have some distance.

While Mark Viviano and his canine sidekick Damon Yaffe discussed the Maryland women's NCAA title win through their first segment Wednesday morning on WJFK (1300 AM), over on WNST (1570 AM), Bob Haynie gave it a shot, but was talking Ravens before his first break.

Speaking of the Terps women, the local rating for their championship game on ESPN was 7.9, better than double the national number of 3.1.

NASCAR is upset at Dateline NBC. According to an Associated Press report, the program sent Muslim-looking men to a NASCAR race last weekend in Martinsville, Va., in order to film fans' reactions. The men "walked around and no one bothered them," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston told AP.

"It is outrageous that a news organization of NBC's stature would stoop to the level of going out to create news instead of reporting news," Poston said.

In a statement, NBC responded: "It's very early on in our newsgathering process, but be assured we will be visiting a number of locations across the country and are confident that our reporting team is pursuing this story in a fair manner."

It doesn't sound like the team is off to a good start.

Maybe Dateline next can work a deal with Barry Bonds for a reality show.


Read Ray Frager's blog at baltimoresun.com/mediumwell

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for March 29-April 4 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Date Ch. Rtg.

Florida-UCLA 4/3 13 10.2

Florida-G. Mason 4/1 13 9.5

Maryland-Duke 4/4 ESPN 7.9

UCLA-LSU 4/1 13 7.7

O's-Devil Rays 4/3 13 7.5

Final Four -a 4/1 13 7.2

NCAA postgame 4/3 13 7.0

Maryland-N. Carolina 4/2 ESPN 5.9

WWE Smackdown 3/31 24 4.0

NASCAR 4/2 45 3.3

a-between games [Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]


College football: Yes, college football. Tomorrow at 2 p.m., ESPN carries Oklahoma's spring game. Pretend you're Mel Kiper Jr. and grade the Sooners as you prepare for the 2007 draft.

Horse racing: Early favorite Brother Derek is scheduled to run tomorrow in an important Kentucky Derby prep, the Santa Anita Derby, on NBC (WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4) at 5 p.m. NBC analyst Gary Stevens said: "It's exactly four weeks before the Derby, and it gives a good indication of who to look for at Churchill Downs."

Auto racing: NASCAR's Nextel Cup circuit makes a stop Sunday - though they usually don't stop for long - in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 on Fox (WBFF/Channel 45 and WTTG/Channel 5), with coverage starting at 1:30 p.m.

[Compiled by Ray Frager]

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