With nothing but events to sell, TripleCast is welcome relief


It finally becomes clear what that fella Gray meant when he said, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

After days of being transported through the Olympics via NBC's daily segments totaling nine hours, I finally dropped in on the TripleCast yesterday.

Which brought to mind another familiar quotation: "Comparisons are odious."

For all the bad publicity the pay-per-view venture has received for failing to incite the public, etc., the TripleCast is the very definition of Olympic coverage.

As anyone who has exercised even slight interest in the direction of the network shows knows, it's been an undisguised sell-a-thon.

By Sunday, NBC will have hit us with about 1,500 spots of 30-second duration. Added to this 12 1/2 hours are promos for network shows, local advertising spots, promos for local programming, news updates and station identification breaks.

Figure all this combined with studio chit-chat and lots of not terribly interesting or relative features and you come to the conclusion that perhaps we've been robbed of perhaps two whole days on NBC's promised 161 hours of coverage.

Conversely, TripleCast cameras have been trained on live action start to finish via three cable channels, and the commentary has been far superior to that of the net works, because announcers and analysts are required to carry more expertise for the simple reason they are constantly "on."

Imagine how many more times NBC gymnastics expert Elfi Schlegel would have squealed, "She/he has to stick the dismount," if she was working TripleCast where every competitor was shown, not just the Americans and the event leaders.

Yesterday, scout's honor, a half-dozen track and field finals plus semifinals of the men's 1,500 and 5,000-meter events raged for more than four hours before anyone in a roomful of people thought to glance at a wristwatch.

Some would suggest covering most of the action from whistle to gun is too much. They are reminded that coverage of baseball doesn't mean just the odd-numbered innings or that the last two minutes constitutes complete coverage of an NBA game, although that's usually the case.

Forget the facts only about 200,000 bought into the TripleCast and that it's going to prove a big money-loser for the network and its cable partner. Ultimately, PPV is going to gain a solid place in the market among people who want their sports action first, prior to the network doing a fold, spindle and mutilating job on it.

* Those who never had the pleasure of watching Bill Russell play basketball can get some idea of what he was like by watching Craig Wilson in goal for the U.S. volleyball team.

* Congratulations! If you have been loyal to the NBC prime-time telecast to date, you've been privy to nearly a whole day's worth of commercials while snoozing, checking out the score of the ballgame, reading, hustling to the fridge, answering nature's call or just plain grumbling.

* One of the segments of Bud Greenspan's "16 Days of Glory" film commemorating these Games will deal with archery and the new head-to-head competition format. Undoubtedly, it will be as dramatic as the scene from the original "Robin Hood" wherein Errol Flynn splits the arrow of a rival to best the Sheriff of Nottingham or whomever.

* After checking out Sandra Farmer-Patrick's hair preparation, makeup and stylized uni before the 400-meter hurdles final, I'm wondering if she got the part in "Chorus Line" she was auditioning for?

* All you folks who agree there is entire ly too much emphasis put on world and Olympic records in track and field, go to the head of the class.

A thousand years from now, people will be laughing at the slow times and modest winning distances, but the name will still mean something.

* OK, so our fourth-place baseball team was too young and didn't have enough pitching, where do we go from here? Suggestion: Send all those major leaguers hiding out on the disabled lists to Atlanta '96.

* Remind me to ask TripleCast's Marty Liquori what he meant by the description "erotic pace" the next time I see him.

* NBC, to cover its mania for darting from event to event, says its research shows viewers prefer switches to several events during prime time. But every two minutes with four minutes of commercials going in and coming out, guys?

* I'm still trying to figure out what gymnastics announcer John Tesh meant when he said of Kim Zmeskal, "Are her tears locked so deep inside we cannot see them?"

* It might not be a bad idea if someone checked out O.J. Simpson's copy from time to time. Juice went so far as to call the 200-meter -- "one of the glamour events of the Games." In reality, it approaches being nearly a forgotten event in the track meet.

* The Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch Award has herewith been retired by Reebok, perpetrators of the Dan & Dave best athlete in the world campaign.

Athletes do some pretty strange things in the heat of competition -- ask Wrong Way Roy Riegels -- but decathlete Dave Johnson stopping his run-up in the javelin throw because he couldn't hear due to crowd noise enters a new dimension. Couldn't hear what, Dave?

* The 613 gold medals that will be handed out at the Games is within striking distance of the number of Super Bowl rings Eddie DeBartolo handed out the last time the 49ers were NFL champs.

* All kidding aside, wasn't that gold-medal performance by Kristen Babb-Sprague in individual synchronized swimming well worth the watch?

* Wait a minute, they don't bother putting air conditioning in the brand new condos housing the athletes before being sold to the public in stifling Barcelona, but they have a water stop in the 5,000-meter run?

* Highlights of gymnast Shannon Miller arriving home in Edmond, Okla., to a wild celebration included greetings from Lt. Gov. Jack Mildren . . . yep, the very same former Sooners wishbone quarterback who played defensive back for the Baltimore Colts.

* Before the Olympics, it was reported $8 billion was spent getting Barcelona ready. Yesterday, that figure was up to $10 billion. The Games better end soon or the tab is going to resemble the S&L; buyout.

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