Miller goes beyond superficial, to delight of Oriole fans


One of the joys of listening to Jon Miller broadcast a baseball game is knowing you're getting a complete picture. You might be able to name a TV station hereabouts that, despite the advantage of cameras, doesn't always provide the same service.

Wednesday afternoon, the Orioles were playing in Boston and, with the score tied in the sixth inning, the Red Sox had runners at the corners with none out. Bam, the batter slashed a hot grounder to third where Leo Gomez was playing even with the bag.

Miller's voice shot up about an octave when Gomez shunned the double play and started chasing the lead runner toward home plate. Sure, the assured twin killing would have given the Sox a run and the lead, but in all probability the inning would have been over with no further damage.

Instead, it took about a week to retire the runner in a "pickle" and the other baserunners advanced to second and third. An intentional walk was followed by a sacrifice fly, then a double and, suddenly, a 2-1 deficit read 4-1.

"It could have been just a one-run inning; it's now three runs and counting," Miller reminded. He knows that the way the Birds played it could have worked out to their advantage. But, at the same time and after having announced hundreds of games in Beantown, he's aware it's foolhardy to sweat one run in friendly Fenway.

The thing is, Jon jumped on the situation, explored it and let the listener in on the subtleties of the game that often mean the difference between victory and defeat. Oh, the Orioles ended up losing by the couple of runs they appeared to treat the Sox to in the sixth inning.

* Just in time to record the Detroit Tigers dropping out of the American League East division race, CBS has discovered baseball again and will be in town tomorrow (1 p.m.) to begin its 10 percent coverage of the game (alias its 16-game schedule) with the Orioles hosting the Bengals. The Eye unveils its own youth movement, Sean McDonough, 29, moving into the booth replacing Jack Buck, 70, to clear more air space for Tim "Windy" McCarver.

* ABC sends along the World Gymnastics Championships from TC Paris Sunday (1:30 p.m.), providing a good look at the best Americans who will be competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Baltimore in June. Channel 13 is picking up the 90-minute show a half-hour late in order to carry the meaningful "Rich and Famous 1992 World's Best" in its entirety.

* The best of Saturday channel-switching includes the PGA Senior Championship at 1 p.m. on NBC; baseball on CBS at the same time; pro hoops, Lakers vs. Blazers at 3 on NBC; a quick check of the bowlers on ABC at 3:05; back to golf, baseball and hoops until "Wide World of Sports" shows up on ABC; watch one event of the Superstars competition before tuning in bowling before 4:30 and the PGA event after on CBS. The Wood Memorial on ABC shortly after 5:30 caps the all-sports afternoon . . . and sets up an evening to include the Bullets vs. 76ers at 7:30 (Ch. 20), World League football at 8 (USA), midget car racing on ESPN at 9, kick-boxing at 9:35 on Showtime and the Braves and Dodgers at 10 on TBS.

* With the preceding in mind, be advised several cable outfits, including ESPN, TBS, WGN, WOR, TNT, USA, Nashville, etc., doing well with their sports programming, are looking into branching out and, on the glut of channels that will be provided by fiber optics, giving viewers even more sports choices. Of course, the networks will have to do the same thing to protect themselves. All of which prompts the query, does the American public really need any more choices?

* Everyone pretty well agrees that Arthur Ashe's right to privacy was violated badly under the old "peoples' right to know" dodge with the breaking of his having AIDS story. Just as bad and serving to propagate the story are the righteous editorialists (both print and broadcast) who insist on commenting on the situation endlessly.

* The new all-sports station in Washington, WTEM, begins practice runs this weekend, meaning it will probably be on the air full time in early May. Nothing official yet, but Phil Wood will be in the mix of hosts.

* Jeff Rimer, certainly no stand-up comic as you know, nevertheless delivered a good line during a Washington Capitals telecast the other night. His analyst partner, Craig (Quack-Quack) Laughlin said, "The players have started their playoff beards and I got my playoff haircut today. Jeff, what do you plan on doing?" Rimer replied, "Try to grow some hair."

* After weeks of what appeared to be pick-up racing, the challenger/defender finals of the America's Cup commences Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN and rages until the end of the month unless a couple of boats can close out the best-of-seven competition early. The cup itself isn't up for grabs until May 10-19, which should make what happened in March and April a faint memory.

* Watching the New Jersey Devils' effort against the New York Islanders in the NHL season finale for both -- no goals for, seven against -- it became clear Jersey preferred playing the New York Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs beginning Sunday. If you're not too busy, John Ziegler (commissioner), check it out, huh?

The Washington Capitals begin a best-of-seven with the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday (7:05 p.m.) and are home again Tuesday (7:35 p.m.), Home Team Sports doing the honors. HTS does all home playoff games, Channel 20 all the road games. The Penguins are pay-per-viewing at home, charging $20 for one game or $17 per for an entire playoff round.

* Here's a TV event that will no doubt prompt thousands to set up Super Bowl-like parties all over: CBS is carrying the first American Kennel Club National Invitational Championships April 26.

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