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Sanders' Gunga Din act is all wet McCarver calls dousing deliberate


It turns out that Deion Sanders isn't just pulling a football-baseball double; this guy also wants to be a water carrier. But don't ask Tim McCarver for a review of Sanders' Gunga Din act.

Wednesday night, while CBS' McCarver was in the Atlanta Braves locker room conducting post-game interviews, Sanders dumped ice water on him three times.

Apparently, this wasn't just Sanders' way of celebrating the Braves' National League pennant.

"I thought it was a deliberate, cowardly act," McCarver said yesterday.

On Saturday's playoff telecast, McCarver and play-by-play man Sean McDonough had criticized Sanders' two-sports-in-one-day stunt that would take place the next day -- Sanders played cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons by day and sat on the Braves bench by night.

McDonough said on Saturday: "I think Deion is doing a rather self-centered thing, Tim. . . ."

McCarver said: ". . . You know, there's been a lot of talk that he's a consummate team player for the Atlanta Braves. Well, if he's that, how can he leave in the playoffs and go play in a football game? . . ."

Yesterday, McCarver said Sanders doused him right after he'd gone off-camera, and the first time was such a shock that he pulled a muscle in the right side of his back.

When McCarver was done for the night, he went looking for Sanders.

"I didn't know what I was going to do or what I was going to say," McCarver said.

Sanders threw more water at him, but missed this time.

McCarver said he told Sanders: " 'You know, Deion, you're a real man, you are a real man.' "

Sanders told TNT last night: "How can you be a coward for throwing water on someone? This guy didn't want us to win, and we did. We were throwing water on everybody. He just got wetter than anybody else. . . . He's more of a coward."

CBS Sports senior vice president Rick Gentile has spoken to NL president Bill White about the incident, and McCarver also plans speak to White.

You don't have to be an expert on Sanders -- and I'm certainly not -- to see that he sort of underlined McDonough and McCarver's point. What would you call someone who takes time out of a joyous team moment to exact revenge for criticism? "Self-centered" doesn't sound too far off the mark.

The producers

CBS has made a last-minute switch at producer for the World Series. Ric LaCivita, who produced the National League playoffs, is being replaced by Bob Dekas, who produced the American League series. LaCivita apparently wasn't getting along well with his colleagues. (Good thing that The Sun doesn't care about such things, or I'd be gone.)

"We just weren't happy with the direction of the broadcasts," Gentile said. "We weren't happy with some of the interpersonal relationships that were going on."

Ratings bar lower now

Like Chubby Checker's "Limbo Rock," CBS' League Championship Series ratings ask the musical question, "How low can you go?"

The prime-time playoff telecasts averaged a 12.7 rating, down from last year's prime-time mark of 13.7. The NL drew 13.0 in prime time, down from 15.8 last year. However, the AL's 11.4 prime-time average is up from 1991's 10.3.

You might have wondered if CBS was rooting for the Oakland Athletics to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, hoping for better ratings without a Canadian team in the World Series. Or you might have wondered if Dick Stockton's new, swept-back hairstyle was inspired by Steven Seagal.

Hair aside (or parted to the side), CBS' stance is that it doesn't matter.

"When it comes to the World Series, it depends on the kind of baseball," spokesman Lou D'Ermilio said. "If you get compelling games, people are going to watch."

But do viewers in the United States not want to see the Blue Jays? Check the numbers: CBS' regular-season games averaged a 3.4 rating. Games involving the Blue Jays averaged 2.8. Is that significant? Or is it more significant that Toronto is not measured by the Nielsens?

For those of you not in Canada, a rating measures the percentage of television households watching a program.

Stop the world and Mel with you

Be careful when you tune in Washington's all-sports WTEM (570 AM). Mel Kiper Jr. might be on.

Kiper, NFL draft expert and head of the Committee to Preserve the Pompadour (ooh, I do love those hair jokes), drops more names than Liz Smith, Larry King and Jeff Rimer combined. Yesterday, he was asked for an early favorite for NFL Rookie of the Year. About 20 names later, I still wasn't sure whom he liked.

Monday, Monday

On Monday, as the Redskins made the Broncos increasingly glad that they play in the AFC, it occurred to me that what was happening on the field once was incidental to "Monday Night Football." With Howard Cosell and Don Meredith, a rout was no reason to turn off the game. The announcers then often were at their idiosyncratic best.

Now, though, "MNF" is just another NFL game. ABC's current announcing crew has a large advantage at one position -- Al Michaels at play-at-play. Michaels ranks near the top of his profession. But Frank Gifford, once upon a time the play-by-play man, adds little to the telecast unless you're toting up announcing boo-boos. And Dan Dierdorf, once the equal of any NFL analyst, has trimmed down on Slim-Fast, but he's making extra trips to the Self-Importance Salad Bar.

Our own Ralph Kiner


This week, WCBM (680 AM) talk-show host Stan "The Fan" Charles was speaking of the Pirates' Bob Walk and referred to him as a "grisly veteran." I think he meant to say "grizzled %J veteran." Or maybe it was "grizzly veteran." Or was it Grizzly Adams? Lewis Grizzard? Jerry Lewis? Dean Martin? Wink Martindale? Chip 'n' Dale?

Whoa, hold on there. Sorry, I was free associating.

Things my boss wants to know

Didn't Tuesday's vice presidential debates seem a bit like those World Wrestling Federation interviews? . . . Speaking of the WWF, doesn't Sen. Al Gore sort of resemble wrestling impresario Vince McMahon? . . . Because he got better ratings, will Ross Perot replace Pat O'Brien on CBS' Series pre-game show?

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