C'mon, Tim, it didn't take a genius to see La Russa wasn't one

The TV repairman:

The virtue of Tim McCarver as a television baseball analyst has been touted for so long, the Repairman feels like a misanthrope pointing out that the former catcher had the equivalent of an 0-for-5 with a throwing error and two passed balls the other night.


Or maybe it's just that we've heard so much about the genius of Tony La Russa that McCarver couldn't imagine the Oakland manager being guilty of such questionable strategy as his team was falling behind Cincinnati, 2-0, in World Series play . . . on CBS.

The situation: Athletics lead, 4-3, in the eighth inning and the Reds have Billy Hatcher leading off against Bob Welch. Hatcher has three hits in the game, six in the Series, hasn't made an out since Labor Day and La Russa lets his pitcher stay . . . on CBS.


Whack! Hatcher hammers a ball to rightfield. Jose Canseco looks like a wide receiver running a pass route going after it and Hatcher ends up on the third hassock. A replay shows Canseco is obviously hurting (bad back), but neither McCarver nor play-by-play man Jack Buck chooses to explore the idea that it probably would have been a good idea to have a defensive replacement out there this late in the game with a one-run lead . . . on CBS.

After a walk, there's a fly to medium rightfield and, in an arguable decision, Hatcher decides not to chance a -- for the dish and the tying run. This sets McCarver off. Meanwhile, a replay shows a fairly weak (for him) throw with bad direction from Canseco, which reminds us that the guy has a bum middle finger (important) on his throwing hand.

Yikes, another reason why Jose probably should have been excused from late-inning defensive duties. McCarver rails on about Hatcher's failure to tag up even after he scores to tie the game.

It's now the 10th inning. Strangely, Dennis Eckersley, who could have been brought in 15 minutes earlier in a save situation, is handed the ball with the score tied. The A's haven't scored a run in a couple of hours and Cincy still has a couple of ace relievers in its bullpen. Zeros figure for a while, so (speculating) what does Oakland counter with after Eck flings two scoreless frames and has to depart?

Men, women and even some household pets are asking themselves: What's La Russa doing ? McCarver is still preoccupied with why Rick Honeycutt made so many pickoff throws to first base earlier. The game ends quickly. It is fortunate for the guys in the booth. They seemed to have missed enough of it already . . . on CBS.

While on CBS' case, Pat O'Brien, front and center. Listen, fella, there is such a thing as being too relaxed. Be tuned in as O'Brien comes on as host of Game 3 of the World Series tonight (8 o'clock) and you'll see a guy so understated (bored?), you figure nothing of importance is going on and you might opt to clean the oven.

Sure, baseball's a snooze sometimes, but not in mid-October in the Fall Classic with Oakland's back against the wall, blah-blah-blah.

One saving grace of The Eye's World Series coverage has been no features on Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott and her dog . . . yet. Now, if they will only get rid of those Greg Gumbel-Terry Bradshaw promos suggesting you tune into a half-hour talk show prior to NFL games Sunday afternoons.


* Sugar Ray Leonard leaves HBO as a boxing analyst. Oh, is that what he was doing, you're probably saying to yourself.

* With the Sunshine Bowl now to be known as the Blockbuster Classic, can Erol's Bluebonnet Bowl be far behind?

* For some unfathomable reason, George Steinbrenner is going to host "Saturday Night Live" tomorrow (11:30). Uh, you don't suppose Georgie Podgy misses the back page of the New York tabloids, do you?

* With no pay-per-view in Baltimore, the Arena will be the place to be next Thursday night if the Buster Douglas-Evander Holyfield fight interests you. Tickets are $25. The title bout will have the biggest PPV system ever created and seems assured of beating the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks take of $22.5 million. Now if the champ will only lose enough weight so he doesn't have to wear a shirt on those TV ads.

* Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger, an interesting and seemingly forthright guest on WBAL's Sports Line the other night, says he has to get rid of the "siege mentality" that exists in the Terps' athletic department: "Athletics and academics don't have to be dichotomous."

* One thing the passage of years will never do to Reggie Jackson is cause him to devalue his self-worth or increase his humility. On a World Series preview on ESPN the other night, he never allowed the subject to stray from him and he made his home run barrage in the 1978 Autumnal Romp appear the equal of the Emancipation Proclamation.


* "This is the NFL" Sunday (noon, Ch. 2) has a show entitled "Cult Players" and one of the subjects is the old Colts' famed Captain Who, Alex Hawkins.