The TV Repairman:
After nine months of mostly repetitive golf telecasting -- see the ball fly high in the air; see it land on the green; see man (or woman) line putt up; see ball slither by the hole on the right; listen to broadcaster bemoan fates -- viewers get a real treat next weekend as NBC and USA move in to blanket the Ryder Cup matches.
The cable will be doing the first two sets of pairings, foursomes and four-ball, Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Barbazon Course, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England (sniff). The network moves in Saturday (noon-6 p.m.) and Sunday (8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) for the two-man teams play, alternate shot and 12 singles matches.
Recall, four years ago at the Belfry, a loaded U.S. team had a solid lead late in the head-to-head matches at the end when the water hole at 18 proved disastrous and the contest ended in a tie, the European squad retaining the Cup.
After playing even through the first few years of the competition, the United States went on a tear, winning 20 of the next 21 confrontations. Since 1979, however, it has been a horse race, as it became the United States vs. Europe, not just Britain. It has been 12 years since the Americans won on British soil and, with a lead gang of Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sandy Lyle, the challengers are given a pretty good chance of extending the run.
Besides the drama and the building tension throughout the three days, one other thing the event has going is the course. The Belfry not only has mounds, but also features trees, a rarity in the Brit courses we usually see on television here. NBC has a preview of the matches tomorrow at 5 p.m.
* Jon Miller provided an absolutely incredible call the other night when Mo Vaughn of the Red Sox stood at home plate admiring what he thought was a home run. The way it turned out, it bounded off the right-field fence and Vaughn was life and death to get two bases. He lumbered into second with a strange, off-balance lunge and fall, and Channel 2's play-by-play man broke up: "Big Mo fall down and go boom!"
* Audacious Al Albert, voice of "Tuesday Night Fights" on USA, has his top 10 list why the Julio Cesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker bout ended in a draw: It's those judges' new easy-to-use pre-filled out score cards. It's difficult to get to a 100-0 (for Chavez) with a loss on your record. One judge was heard asking, "Which one is Whitaker?" This is boxing, why start doing it right now? In adding up the cards, judges weren't allowed to use their fingers. You never know what to expect from Don King on those bad hair days. Six out of 10 ain't bad, Al.
Yes, they have found (dug up?) an opponent for Larry Holmes on USA Sept. 28. He's Jose Ribalta, who's first dozen fights were during the bare knuckle era.
Incidentally, Showtime has the controversial Chavez-Whitaker draw a couple of times this weekend: tomorrow at 10 p.m., Sunday at noon.
* If some folks in baseball really want something to boycott, it should be ESPN, which has been handed an exclusive season-opening game on Sunday night. Next season, it lands on Easter Sunday night. After losing all that dough the last four years, the game did owe the cable something for signing on for six more years at 80 games per, obviously.
* Jeff Rimer is taking drastic steps to get away from Craig Laughlin as his analyst on NHL games, adding Florida Panthers games to his repertoire, isn't he? The WBAL talk show host is down for 30-plus games with the expansion team in addition to his 20-game deal for Washington Caps games on Channel 20, which means he won't be around a lot for nightly "SportsLine" duty here. All in favor, signify in the customary manner.
* ESPN has the best college football matchups tomorrow, Boston College and Northwestern meeting at noon, Florida State and North Carolina clashing at 7:30 p.m. and Colorado and Stanford Bfollowing at 10:30. The Fightin' Irish and Michigan State are on N (D)BC at 1:30 p.m., and Tennessee-Florida is an SEC biggie on ABC at 3:30 p.m. Home Team Sports will have a delayed telecast of Maryland's 7 o'clock scoring contest against West Virginia at 11:30 p.m.
* CBS and viewers are being stung by the fact the network has to pick its baseball games so far in advance. Tomorrow's brace of games (at 3 p.m.) have the Red Sox and Yankees, which has pennant implications, but the National League game is the Mets and Braves, which really doesn't. A goodie that goes by the wayside is Montreal, closing fast on the faltering Phillies, playing host to Philadelphia.
* There should be a limit on how many times the network, cable and local stations can run replays of a guy getting hurt during a football game. Maybe a hundred or so. A conservative estimate is that's how many times we've seen Mark Rypien of the Redskins getting rolled over by Eric Swann of the Cardinals last Sunday, and it's ridiculous. It's to the point where I'd even welcome Joe Theismann getting his leg mutilated by Lawrence Taylor again.
Along these lines, Hall of Famer Walter Payton is traveling around giving talks for a "Food for Thought" literacy program,and he's urging parents to get rid of TV sets.
The ex-Bear running back says, in his home, his kids can watch either sporting events or something their mother picks out. Sporting events: Wrassling, Gladiators, Demolition Derbies, Don King fight cards?
* An outfit called TRZ Sports Services is providing 800-number telephone broadcasts of no fewer than 93 college coaches shows at 50 cents per minute. Mark Duffner of Maryland is on there Thursday evenings at 6:30 extolling the virtues of his point-a-minute (allowed) defense.
* Everyone is aware that ESPN is 80 percent owned by Cap Cities/ABC, but for the cable to not even counter-program against "Monday Night Football" is ridiculous. . . . Three cheers for Mike Ditka and his strong opinions on NBC. He's a worthy adversary for Terry Bradshaw on CBS if what you're looking for is some inside information, not Will McDonough's hand-me-downs from his beloved owners. . . . The two female reporters on ESPN's "GameDay" have it all over the woman on CBS. . . . Bob pTC Golic was a terrific addition to TNT's "Stadium Show" last Sunday. Its game Sunday night is part III of the demise of the Cowboys at Phoenix.