Still hot

ON MEDIA

Orioles' losing decade doesn't curb fans' interest

January 25, 2008|By RAY FRAGER

Throwing some sports media notes on the fire to stay warm after shivering through the NFC championship game in Green Bay:

You might think Baltimore fans have grown indifferent to the Orioles, their interest diminished by a decade of losing baseball. But people clearly still care a lot.

At The Sun, we can see how any shred of Orioles news piles up page views at baltimoresun.com, often outpacing Ravens news. And listening to sports talk shows Tuesday night, I could hear that passion. Callers were lined up to talk baseball on Amber Theoharis' WHFS (105.7 FM) program and Steve Davis' WBAL (1090 AM) show.

Theoharis had the Orioles' Kevin Millar on with her, and lots of people were calling in to express an opinion not on any potential trade, but just on what should become the team's new music when the players take the field. Meanwhile, Davis and my colleague Peter Schmuck were getting calls from fans who just wanted to be able to reconnect with the Orioles with something as simple as getting autographs.

It seems that interest - along with hope - springs eternal.

Will Dana Jacobson be in even more trouble? The co-host of ESPN2's First Take has been suspended for a week in the wake of reports of her apparently drunken, profane exclamations during the recent roast for ESPN Radio's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg. She has apologized, but no apology might be enough if her reported comments gain any traction. Comedian Kathy Griffin once got into a similar kind of hot water when she crudely invoked Jesus' name while accepting an award, but she could weather the controversy because it fit in with her shtick. And that's a lot different from having to fit into a sports network.

By the way, former Comcast SportsNet reporter/anchor Sage Steele has subbed for Jacobson.

Earlier this week on his ESPN Radio 1300 show, Mark Viviano read Jay Glazer's list of worst NFL coaching hires. Viviano's sidekick, Damon "Bulldog" Yaffe, sarcastically dismissed the list from Fox's NFL "insider," saying how Glazer must have really dug deep to include someone obvious like the Atlanta Falcons' Bobby Petrino. (But shouldn't such a list include the obvious? Would you leave Kirk Gibson's home run off your list of great World Series moments because it's too obvious?)

Yaffe completed his critique by saying he'd like to see Glazer try to coach a team - which is the most ridiculous kind of criticism. Hey, I know I would be an awful talk show host, but that doesn't mean I don't know foolishness when I hear it.

Glazer had the season's biggest scoop among the network NFL reporters, getting his hands on part of the Spygate tape produced by the New England Patriots, and he was out front in reporting on Brian Billick's imminent firing.

Just in case you feel deprived because you don't have NFL tickets, check out a segment in the current HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on binge drinking by fans at NFL games. What you're missing: sidestepping puddles of vomit in the parking lots, enduring harassment from inebriated fans in the stands and driving home among people who have no business being behind the wheel of a car. Makes your seat on the couch sound that much nicer.

The Orioles haven't won a game yet this year, but their regional sports network has. The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network recently came out on top in a dispute with Time Warner Cable in North Carolina. An arbitrator appointed by the Federal Communications Commission ruled Time Warner must carry MASN, at a rate to be determined by the arbitrator.

The ruling - if upheld on an expected appeal by the cable company - would send Orioles and Washington Nationals games along with other MASN programming to more than 1 million households served by Time Warner. Arbitrator Jerome Sussman said: "Time Warner deliberately discriminated against MASN" in favor of its own regional sports network.

NBC has assembled quite an announcing cast for this weekend's coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, from host Bob Costas to analyst Scott Hamilton to those Olympic skating sweethearts Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, but the star of the show will undoubtedly be Dick Button. He glories in a skater's successes, but let someone come up short, and he's just as curmudgeonly as Billy Packer watching someone mess up a three-on-one break with a behind-the-back pass.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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