O's, and their flaws, could show up in high-def in '08

ON MEDIA

The Kickoff

October 05, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

This week's notes on sports media while wondering whether I can hook on with the new American Gladiators as a character named Lard-o:

There might be good news for Orioles fans who want to be able to tell whether manager Dave Trembley cut himself shaving before a game. Next season, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is planning to televise at least part of the schedule in high-definition, though it is contingent upon getting HD channels for MASN on the cable and satellite providers that carry the network, a MASN spokesman said. (This goes for the Washington Nationals, too.) This year, only the Orioles, Nationals and Kansas City Royals didn't broadcast regional games in HD.

(Because it has been a while, here's your update on the Frager household: still no HDTV.)

CBS' Ian Eagle, who will call play-by-play on Sunday's Ravens-San Francisco 49ers game, doesn't buy into any panic about the results for the Ravens' defense thus far. "While the Ravens' defense has lost some of its mystique, there's been a bit of an overreaction to their performance through four games," Eagle said via e-mail. "[Defensive coordinator] Rex Ryan's group is still capable of controlling a game and regaining their reputation as an intimidating unit."

TBS has added Detroit Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson as a guest analyst to its playoffs studio show for today. Anything that means less Frank Thomas sounds like a good idea.

And while we're talking about the TBS studio show, you have surely noticed how Cal Ripken Jr.'s exposure isn't limited to his analyst role. By popping up in constant commercials for Chevrolet, Comcast and TBS itself, Ripken is logging more air time than Jim Cantore during a hurricane. (Who says I never mention The Weather Channel?)

One more TBS note: My new favorite graphic feature is the little up or down arrow TBS runs with the inning on the standing score line, indicating whether it's the top or bottom of the inning.

Not to go all graphic geeky or anything, but I also like the yellow bars ESPN is using on its college football score lines, showing how many timeouts each team has.

Sunday's Outside the Lines (9:30 a.m., ESPN) presents what looks to be a fascinating report on the son and grandson of the Rev. Jim Jones, the cult leader of the Peoples Temple. Basketball literally saved Jim Jones Jr.'s life in 1978. Because Jones Jr. was off playing for the Peoples Temple's basketball team, he wasn't at the Jonestown compound in Guyana when the mass murders and suicides took the lives of more than 900 followers. Jones Jr.'s son, Rob, is a freshman basketball player at the University of San Diego.

In case you thought ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown was going to let the 50th anniversary of Sputnik's launch go unmarked, think again. Kenny Mayne interviews Green Bay Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila - nicknamed "KGB." The purpose? As ESPN puts it, "to unravel secrets of the unmanned space missions."

I think impressionist Frank Caliendo is hilarious in his short segments on Fox NFL Sunday, picking games as John Madden or Jack Nicholson. But watching the constant promos for his new TBS program, Frank TV, a late-night sketch comedy show, I'm starting to get Caliendo burnout.

Last week, much of TV's prime-time lineup debuted, but it still couldn't beat the NFL. In 24 of the league's 30 markets, NFL games ranked first in the ratings. The final score: NFL 24, CSI 4, Dancing with the Stars 1, Grey's Anatomy 1. In Baltimore, Sunday's Ravens-Cleveland Browns game drew 21.3 percent of the audience, compared with CSI's 18.9 rating for its premiere. The game that followed the Ravens on WJZ/Channel 13, Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals, ranked No. 5 overall for the week with a 15.1.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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