Expansion draft fulfills a fantasyRotisserie League players...

Expansion draft fulfills a fantasy

Rotisserie League players are sort of like Vanilla Ice -- they're stuck with a bad rap.


No, wait a minute, Vanilla Ice is a bad rapper. Let's try again.

Rotisserie League players are sort of like wire hangers in Joan Crawford's house -- afraid to come out of the closet.


No, that doesn't make sense. How can hangers be afraid? All right, one more.

Rotisserie League players are sort of like marigolds -- they bloom in the spring, but disappear in the fall, when you go out, dig them up and try to toss them into the neighbor's yard without his seeing, because you're in a hurry and you'd much rather be in the house watching MTV and wondering if they could bring back Nina Blackwood now that Downtown Julie Brown is gone . . .

But I digress.

The reason for mentioning Rotisserie League -- other than a few cheap jokes (as if that weren't enough) [Reader please note: By using first a --, then parentheses, the writer has interrupted himself, then interrupted the interruption. This bracketed material is also an interruption. Just a few paragraphs old, this column already has had more interrupted sentences than an edition of "Crossfire."] -- is that ESPN on Tuesday will televise a Rotisserian's dream. No, not a big sale on pocket protectors. Tuesday is the National League expansion draft.

The Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins will be stocking their teams from scratch. Choosing from among unprotected players belonging to other major-league teams, the new clubs essentially will be doing what fantasy league players do every year.

ESPN will televise the proceedings from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The telecast's host will be Keith Olbermann, a "SportsCenter" anchor and somebody who really knows his stuff.

This week, in running down the other announcers on the telecast, he mentioned that Chris Myers would be one of the reporters. "Not the Chris Myers who's the former Orioles farmhand," Olbermann said.

Well, Mr. Big Shot TV Man, if you think you can impress me just by mentioning a pitching prospect even many Orioles fans likely have long forgotten, you're right.


Olbermann will have lots of names to keep straight. Hey, it'll be hard enough to remember the eight other sportscasters on the telecast.

"To me, it's going to look like the NFL draft, with a little quicker pace," Olbermann said. "The picks are going to come about 4 1/2 minutes apart."

Joining Olbermann on the anchor desk at draft headquarters in New York will be analysts Peter Gammons and Ray Knight. At another desk will be everyone's favorite Sunday night team, Orioles voice Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Without a desk will be Dave Campbell -- "He'll be floating the floor," Olbermann said, "I don't mean that literally" -- and Myers. Bob Carpenter will be stationed in Denver, and Andrea Kremer in Miami.

"This has been described to me as nine guys trying to talk, and 'Olbermann, you get to talk first,' " he said.

Does ESPN need all those people?

"We have to explain. We have to give background," Olbermann said, estimating that 90 percent of the selections will be players whose names are unfamiliar to most viewers. "There's no Shaquille O'Neal here."


(And even if there were, wouldn't you worry about that big strike zone?)

L "You can view every one of these picks as a reach," he said.

A "reach," for those of you unschooled in Draftspeak, is a player whose potential doesn't match his selection position. In practice, as used by NFL Draft Expert Mel Kiper Jr., a reach is anyone not on the expert's list for that round.

So, who does Olbermann think will get reached from the Orioles?

"I think Chito Martinez would be a natural for one of these teams," he said.

Olbermann himself sounds like a natural on the air. He brings a Lettermanesque humor to "SportsCenter." (I always wanted to use a word that ends in -esque.) On Tuesday, though, he might step aside more often for his colleagues.


"I'm a center man on this play," he said. "This is my one-day season. At the end, I hope to have five goals and 100 assists."

Bert, Ernie and Tim

CBS baseball analyst Tim McCarver soon will tape an episode of "Sesame Street," which will be aired in January. McCarver will cover the Worm Winter Games from Squiggleyville, France. Rumors say that Cookie Monster will dump a bag of chocolate chip cookies on McCarver after he criticizes Grover and Elmo's performance. . . . ESPN has added Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an NCAA basketball analyst.

Tide's in, Bulldogs are out

ESPN has the best of it among tomorrow's college football choices -- No. 2 Alabama at No. 16 Mississippi State (7:30 p.m.). And that's not to diminish the importance of No. 22 Penn State at No. 8 Notre Dame (1:30 p.m., channels 2, 4) to the respective alumni and subway alumni, or even to annoy my neighbor the Temple man by not mentioning his Owls going for their second win of the season at No. 1 Miami (noon, Home Team Sports). But the Mississippi State game likely will determine whether the Crimson Tide gets a shot at a national title.

Things my boss wants to know


Is it true that Joe Theismann is scheduled for an "MTV Unplugged" show in which he starts talking and someone just unplugs his microphone to wild applause? . . . Has Washington's all-sports WTEM really added two gerbils to its generator in an effort to boost power? . . . Does the "World's Toughest Rodeo" from Madison Square Garden (today, HTS, 2 p.m.) feature cab roping on Seventh Avenue?