At difficult Winged Foot, excitement will take flight

ON MEDIA

June 16, 2006|By RAY FRAGER

Those wacky NBC golf guys.

During Wednesday's conference call about the U.S. Open, host Dan Hicks mentioned how Phil Mickelson might have four drivers in use during the tournament and then said about his analyst partner: "Johnny Miller has four different makeup packs."

Speaking of wacky, another member of the NBC announcing crew, Roger Maltbie, said the setup at Winged Foot, with the narrow fairways and deep rough, makes the Open a kind of Extreme Golf.

"It's golf's version of the X Games," Maltbie said. "You know the penalties are out there."

Miller said: "If you don't stay in the fairways, you can forget about winning."

As for what helps make the U.S. Open so compelling, Miller - known for his forthright discussions of how golfers succumb to pressure - said it can be a matter of how the cookie crumbles.

OK, he didn't exactly say that.

We could see big charges Sunday, Miller said, but "it's even more possible there are going to be colossal collapses." ...

NBC is bringing out some new technical gewgaws for the network's coverage (today, 3 to 5 p.m.; tomorrow and Sunday, starting at 12:30 p.m.; WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4). "Green Grid" shows the sloping of Winged Foot's greens and NBC has put a "Bunker Cam" on the sixth hole. This is also the first Open telecast in high-definition.

Somebody can let me know how it looks.

New, old voice

If you listen to WBAL (1090 AM) or 98 Rock (WIYY, 97.9 FM) in the mornings - and if you listen to the latter, LET ME SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER - you likely noticed the departure of a familiar voice, replaced by another familiar voice.

Jerry Coleman, morning sports guy at the stations for six-plus years, has left. This week, he was replaced on an interim basis by former Channel 2 sports anchor Keith Mills, who was let go by WMAR this year in the wake of his arrest for stealing prescription painkillers from a neighbor. Mills subsequently pleaded guilty to a burglary charge and was sentenced to nine months of house arrest. (He is permitted to leave his home for employment purposes.)

Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL's station manager and vice president, called Coleman's departure "a mutual decision." Coleman said yesterday: "We left on good terms. It was a great 6 1/2 -seven-year run."

Beauchamp said Mills is a candidate to get the job as Coleman's replacement while "he's filling in, but we're still looking at other people."

Coleman wants to keep working in Baltimore, he said. And maybe he'll end up getting better treatment from a certain Sun columnist who runs on Page 2 of this section.

"Maybe if Peter Schmuck had written anything nice about me, it would have turned out differently," Coleman said jokingly.

Please note this is the first known instance of the words "Peter Schmuck" and "nice" appearing in the same sentence.

On the pitch

WNST (1570 AM) is devoting an hour at 9 each weekday morning to the World Cup, hosted by Drew Forrester. ... ESPN reports its early World Cup ratings tripled from four years ago, but none of the World Cup telecasts cracked the top 10 sports programs in Baltimore through Tuesday. The highest-rated was ABC's Mexico-Iran game Sunday, with a 3.4. ...

Tonight at 8, ESPNEWS will cover Roger Clemens' final minor league start, for the Triple-A Round Rock Express. ... On Sunday, ESPN Classic gives you more Clemens than you could possibly ever want: six hours starting at 2 p.m., edited versions of five milestone games from his career. If it's hot in your house, maybe you can get a breeze from all the whiffs shown on the screen.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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

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