The TV Repairman:
OK, so you're feeling pretty good about Baltimore getting an NFL expansion franchise after management and labor came to a collective bargaining agreement after just five years right?
Better not get around to picking a team nickname, colors and who the club is going to pick first in the 1995 college draft just yet, though.
The owners, the guys who will be saying aye to two of five competing cities, have just learned they will be pulling in $2 million less TV money than originally planned in the last year of the current contract with the networks and cable. Then, at the end of the 1993 season, they'll be facing what promises to be a much larger annual cut as they negotiate the next four-year pact.
What this could mean is that the league owners will put another hold on proposed expansion until the results of TV negotiations are known. If that happens, then, of course, they would have another year or so to come up with still another excuse to delay it. Suggestion: adopt a healthy que-sera-sera attitude.
A pretty good bet is, in the near future, the NFL will be starting a week later to avoid the poor late-summer ratings, will add four more teams to the playoffs to fill January (and the cable networks) with games and nudge the Super Bowl into February, the major sweeps month as far as ratings are concerned. Suggestion II: Again don't worry about it, TV will act in the best interests of all of us as it always does.
As expected, the Sugar Bowl national championship game between Alabama and Miami did quite well (getting the No. 6 spot for the week). Still, a "Monday Night Football" mismatch pitting San Francisco and Detroit did better (No. 4), strictly because of the return of Joe Montana.
Strange how so many people can be pro football fans, bypassing the collegians, when the college games have so much more going, including about 10 more plays per team per game while not running the same old stereotyped offenses.
If the bowl coalition, lousy TV ratings and dwindling crowds in the stadiums doesn't lead to a national playoff system, nothing will.
* Randy Cross rides one of the studio chairs for CBS tomorrow, before the Redskins-49ers game at 4 p.m., having spent the last few days preparing an essay on the chances of the Washington defense hornswoggling the San Francisco offense. Cross says the three things the Skins have to do is (1) resist the temptation to play Jerry Rice one on one, (2) run the ball somewhat effectively (natch), and (3) pray it doesn't rain because the Niners have long since mastered playing on wet turf at Candlestick Park.
The first game tomorrow (NBC, 12:30 p.m.) has Buffalo at Pittsburgh. "NFL Live" (noon) will have Bob Costas and Will McDonough treating studio guest Mike Ditka as if he's the Wizard of Oz. Sunday, the Peacock has assigned O.J. Simpson and Todd Christensen to sideline duty at the Chargers-Dolphins game. Why not have them fight, Roman Colosseum fashion, instead?
The Sunday twin bill sees CBS going first at 12:30 with Philadelphia at Dallas, then NBC checking in at 4 with San Diego at Miami. All four home teams are favored.
* The new voice in the golf booth covering the Tournament of Champions for ESPN and ABC this weekend is Peter Jacobsen, who's good for a guy still involved heavily as a player and policy maker. He's partnered with Brent Musburger, who has great appeal among public park golfers, whom, he says, number among his closest friends.
Musburger and his old buddies at CBS, led by golf producer-director Frank Chirkinian, are back at it sniping at each other, as the royale and ancient game gets a bit of the old rassling treatment to spark controversy and boost ratings.
Musburger told USA Today CBS set golfer John Daly up to take shots at him, but his old network denies it, of course, Chirkinian actually making a peace offering by saying, "Brent had to learn the language of golf and he's doing that." The "language" of golf on CBS is usually delivered with an extended yawn (i.e. Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi).
NBC is trying to figure out how it can get involved in this inter-fraternity brawl.
* TNT's eight-game package of NBA games on Sunday (8 p.m.) continues with the Celtics visiting the Knicks. Accompanying the game is an interview with New York coach Pat Riley, during which he provides an interesting insight into college coaching: "I doubt I'll ever do it. I think there's two things in hoops, winning and misery. And I don't think there's enough misery in college hoops."
Last week's Suns-Spurs game had a 2.1 rating, well ahead of the net's usual 1.8 for its Friday night games. . . . It was 22 years ago next Monday that the NBA Silver Anniversary team was announced and chances are Bob Cousy, Bob Davies, Paul Arizin, Joe Fulks, Sam Jones, George Mikan, Bill Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman and Bob Pettit won't even get honorable mention when the Golden Anniversary cast is announced in three more years.
* Maybe a good subject for ESPN's "Inside the Lines" investigative reporting series would be yet another look into the baseball Hall of Fame voting process: Some 27 of 423 voters saw fit not to vote for Reggie Jackson and, after recording 318 victories over 24 seasons, Phil Niekro garnered just 65 percent of the votes and fell a whopping 43 votes shy of the required 75 percent. Perhaps if he had won 320.
* Channel 45 has Maryland-North Carolina hoops tomorrow (4 p.m.). Channel 2 is aboard for the ACC weekend package put out by Raycom/Jefferson Pilot, but after carrying the Bills-Steelers game at 12:30, it has decided to go with local programming at 4 p.m.
* Scratch the Islanders-Sabres game (aw, gee) on ESPN this evening (8:30) and substitute the Kings-Jets game. No. 99's back. . . . The ever-popular Japan Bowl shows up from Yokohama on ESPN Saturday night at 10. You figure out what sport is involved. . . . The "NBA Inside Stuff" program tomorrow (Channel 2, 11:30 a.m.) pays tribute to the late, great Boston Celtics announcer Johnny Most. . . . ABC checks in with the $225,000 Delco Classic bowling tourney tomorrow (3 p.m.) extending TV's longest-running series record to 35 years. Warm up those pipes, Chris Schenkel. . . .