Hockey deserves more than 1 medal for 2 weeks' work


Don't things seem slightly out of whack when a guy skates around in a tight circle against three other guys for about a minute and a half and comes away with the same medal an entire hockey team, busting its gut for two weeks, does?

Speaking of short-track speed skating, its inclusion as a medal sport along with freestyle skiing moguls has added three medals to the U.S. count. Yes indeed, George Steinbrenner and his commission, named at the 1988 Games in Calgary, have done yeoman work improving our team.

* There's something monumentally fishy about the "Lost Hockey Team" feature CBS ran last night, detailing how a plane carrying a Russian hockey team went down in 1950 with all aboard perishing. The Stalin government made no announcements and the men were buried in a mass grave, but even without publicity, how could 19 men vanish from the face of the earth with millions of Russians breathing not one word of it over the next few decades?

Actually, it was a big night for features and previews on this off-competition night at the Olympics and several of both hit the spot.

For instance, presently we can't get enough of the Team USA hockey team, which faced the Unified Team (alias the Big Red Machine) in the semifinals this morning, and throughout the fortnight audiences have been a sucker for anything to do with figure skating. The women's long program final will be shown nearly in its entirety tonight with the United States a big choice to grab two medals.

Several times, the network has tacked a new and interesting twist on some of the winter sports that are all but anonymous, and the whimsical, cartoon-like treatment of bobsledding was no exception.

The bottom of the barrel certainly was in sight, though, when a reporter and cameraman hustled over to the rink to show commentators and pro skaters Katarina Witt, Brian Boitano and Brian Orser getting a late-night workout to keep their show talents sharp.

While CBS pulled rank and was live with the Team USA-Unified Team match today, TNT was OK with the other semi, Canada vs. Czechoslovakia at 3 p.m. Today's losers meet for the bronze tomorrow at 3 p.m. with the gold-medal game at 8:15 a.m. Sunday. CBS is coming on an hour earlier than its scheduled starting time of 9 a.m. Sunday to get the opening faceoff.

After the four-hour show Sunday morning, the network will come back with 4:30-6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. wrapup shows and the closing ceremonies. With only two years until the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway, maybe they'll sneak a preview in, too.

* It certainly is time for the Games to end when one considers CBS lost the ratings battle Wednesday night to ABC's lineup of "Dinosaurs," "Wonder Years" and a movie, no matter how good "When Harry Met Sally" was.

* The current issue of TV Guide has CBS Sports president Neal Pilson extolling Tim McCarver to the heavens, the boss going so far as to say Tim's performance in Albertville will vault him into TV's upper echelon (presumably with Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, people like that). Suffice it to say the assessment of McCarver's work and future might be a tad premature if sitting in a studio and introducing station breaks is all we have to go on. Meanwhile, in the National Enquirer, a red-hot, five-year-old scoop says Tim passed up a chance to star opposite Bo Derek in a movie that no doubt had Academy Award potential entitled "A Fish Story." He says he backed off to stick with announcing baseball, but the least he could have done is tested.

* About the only flaw as far as the studio is concerned in TNT's afternoon coverage has been the tenseness in some of the big-name expert guests -- Jill Trenary, Tamara McKinney and Lane McDonald. Loosen up, gang, you're on cable.

* I don't know about you, but I've had it up to here with Mary Docter drug and alcohol stories. Especially in view of the fact about 99 percent of the U.S. participants are and have been clean probably forever . . . and isn't that the idea?

Leaving Albertville for a few moments . . .

* Believe it or not, Chris Schenkel, who has been guiding the Professional Bowlers Tour on ABC along for, what, half a century, missed the three 300 games bowled on the show.

"A strike and my being away doing the Olympics and a boxing match are my reason," explained Schenkel, in town to do the Fair Lanes Open show in Woodlawn tomorrow (3 p.m.).

Two shots over the last 30 years Chris says he'll never forget is the time Don Johnson left the last pin standing for "the most famous 299 of all time," and, of course, Del Ballard's gutter ball at the end, handing Pete Weber the title here last year.

Right after the bowling on ABC, "Wide World of Sports" has Terry Norris (30-3) defending his WBC super-welterweight title against Carl Daniels (26-0). Norris, incidentally, is one of the guys Baltimorean Vince Pettway is after following his annexation of the USBA 154-pound crown at the Pikesville Armory Wednesday night.

* Heck, no, that's not a publicity stunt by NBC, signing Magic Johnson as a commentator on NBA games. That was Magic's major at Michigan State: Charisma.

* Only seven more days until Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tiny Archibald and George Gervin and Connie Hawkins and Rick Barry hook up in one-on-one hoops on pay-per-view out of Atlantic City. You coolish dudes will be ecstatic to learn Pat O'Brien will be the easy-glide host. Zounds.

* USA Network is running a tape of the recent upset of Ray Mercer by Larry Holmes next Tuesday (9 p.m.) and the victor will be on hand to help out with the commentary. Larry has mellowed with age (42); he might do a good job.

* Home Team Sports, alias the first team, will have the very first game played downtown (OPACY for short), the Orioles vs. Mets exhibition at 3 p.m. April 3.

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