A voice to get excited about

ON MEDIA

The Kickoff

Commentary

February 23, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

Abig thumbs-up to Mid-Atlantic Sports Network for hiring Gary Thorne as lead play-by-play announcer for Orioles television.

Here's what I'm looking forward to: bottom of the ninth, two outs, game tied, Brian Roberts on second. Miguel Tejada singles to left, Roberts tears around third, there's a play at the plate ...

Thorne expresses excitement about as well as any sportscaster I've heard. Maybe my memory is fading, but back when I used to watch hockey regularly, he yelled better than any other guy on the air.

Thorne is an accomplished professional and potentially the best dedicated-to-TV voice - not counting the great radio men Jon Miller and Chuck Thompson - for Orioles fans since Mel Proctor.

Jim Palmer, returning for his 15th season of Orioles television, worked with Thorne at ABC and said: "He's terrific. ... He loves the game and he's very enthusiastic."

Palmer said the fans' perception of Thorne - and the entire broadcast team - might well be colored by whether the Orioles can halt their skid of nine straight losing seasons.

"I think any of us in the booth will be better if the Orioles are better," Palmer said.

And, who knows, maybe a new announcer will help. "Hopefully, [Thorne will] be the good-luck charm," Palmer said.

Sidestep

Maybe you've noticed - or, like my wife, maybe you don't pay much attention to what I'm saying here week to week - but I'm not much of a fan of sideline reporters. Still, let's not pass judgment on MASN's plan to use Amber Theoharis in the sideline spot on Orioles games until we've seen it in action. MASN said she will do in-game interviews/reports from the clubhouse or quite literally on the side of the playing field. ...

MASN plans to interview manager Sam Perlozzo once during each game and mike up a player once a week for a taped feature on the studio show. ...

The high-definition matter still isn't resolved. Among the issues, a MASN spokesman said, is that carrying games in HD also would require cable systems to set aside another channel for MASN in HD. (And thanks for asking, but no HDTV has been set aside yet in the Frager home.)

Lax? Lots

You like your lacrosse from the comfort of your couch? You're in luck. Now that MASN has gotten on the stick - pause for a groan - the number of televised games has probably never been higher.

MASN's schedule (14 games) joins the WMAR/Channel 2 (12) and ESPN (37, mostly on ESPNU) packages. (There is a lot of overlap in the WMAR-ESPNU schedules.) Comcast SportsNet will carry the men's and women's Atlantic Coast Conference title games and perhaps others. That's a good number of games even for people - most of you - who don't get ESPNU.

This weekend, you can see three men's games - Albany-Johns Hopkins (tomorrow, noon on Channel 2, ESPNU), Dartmouth-Duke (tomorrow, 2 p.m. on ESPNU) and Towson-Loyola (Sunday, noon on MASN) - and one women's game - Hofstra-Loyola (Sunday at 3 p.m. on MASN).

At this rate ...

Fox's telecast of the Daytona 500 drew a 10 percent smaller audience than last year's on NBC, with 10.1 percent of the national audience, down from 11.3 in 2006. That translates to 17.5 million viewers for Sunday's race. (Baltimore was under the national average, with a 7.3 rating.)

TNT could only dream of such numbers for its NBA All-Star Game, which recorded a record-low rating - 4.2 percent of the cable audience, or 6.8 million viewers.

Drum roll, please

On Monday, WNST (1570 AM) will announce the winner of its competition to select an evening talk host. The field is down to four finalists, who filled in for vacationing Bob Haynie the week after the Super Bowl and then co-hosted with Drew Forrester this week.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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