By all rights, be sure to step lightly when Fox-trotting through 1993

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sad to say, this appears to be the last appearance for the sports broadcasting year in review in this space. The Sun was outbid for the rights by Fox. Next year, look for Luke Perry and Shannen Doherty to write this feature.

That's assuming, of course, that anyone still remembers who they are next year.

January

* During ABC's telecast of the Florida Citrus Bowl, Mark Jones demonstrates once and for all the value of a sideline reporter. He picks up and displays the discarded mouthpiece of an Ohio State receiver. Close examination reveals the player definitely has an overbite.

* Liberty Sports Inc., NBC Cable Holdings Inc. and Rainbow Programming Holdings Inc. merge to produce two sports channels. Batteries not inc.

* Mike Ditka, recently fired as Chicago Bears coach, makes a guest appearance on NBC's "NFL Live" and learns one of the first lessons of broadcasting: Don't chew gum unless you have enough for everybody.

* Michael Jackson's Super Bowl halftime extravaganza suffers from sloppy choreography when many of the children who are performing show up with their lawyers.

February

* During ESPN's telecast of the NHL skills competition before the league's All-Star Game, there is a dead heat for first place among three players in the removing-and-inserting-your-bridge contest.

* Some cable-TV customers have to obtain addressable converter boxes to receive Home Team Sports. A Mr. Cobain of Phoenix returns his box, however, reporting that it may be addressable, but it always gives him wise-guy back talk, too.

* An announcement is made of plans to launch a new cable service, The Golf Channel. Soon after, another announcement comes: There are plans for a new TV channel available only on those little Sony Watchmans -- The Miniature Golf Channel.

* CBS announcer Ned Jarrett roots his son, NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett, to victory in the Daytona 500. Enthusiastic about the results, the network signs several fathers of Toronto Blue Jays for work during the World Series.

March

* New Orioles radio announcer Fred Manfra debuts in spring training. Just to get it out of the way, he spends one inning reprising his big hit, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy."

* During CBS's NCAA basketball tournament selection show, Billy Packer goes insane, using the Midwest bracket to diagram sentences from John Feinstein basketball books.

April

* President Clinton appears on Channel 2's Opening Day Orioles telecast and promises Jon Miller a World Series play-by-play assignment in exchange for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

* Orioles fans concerned about the team's slow start jam the lines to radio talk shows. A caller to WBAL's Jeff Rimer suggests that the players switch to a different brand of skin moisturizer because their hands look really rough and that could be hurting their pitching and hitting. "Hmm, interesting," Rimer replies.

* During ESPN's coverage of the NFL draft, the truth is revealed about Draft Expert Mel Kiper Jr. He once was just Mel Kiper, but gave up his last year of eligibility to come out as a Jr.

May

* Following a proud Baltimore tradition, Orioles games on Channel 2 pre-empt NBA playoff telecasts from NBC. Anyone caught protesting is locked in a room for a day, held down by the Oriole Bird and forced to listen to Ken Levine's play-by-play from 1991.

* A scheduling mix-up leaves CBS without a golf tournament one weekend, and the network is forced to televise a baseball game.

* After announcing it will use tiny "lipstick" cameras during coverage of the Indianapolis 500, ABC is hit with criticism that the network is sissifying the sport. In response, ABC changes to Chap Stick cameras.

June

* During the NBA Finals, Bob Costas asks commissioner David Stern about reports of Michael Jordan's gambling. As Stern is seen saying there's no problem, Jordan's lips don't even move. Even more impressively, Jordan drinks a glass of water while Stern answers another question.

* Channel 2 drops out of the bidding for a new Orioles television contract. A new deal appears imminent.

* Channel 13's John Buren wins the Capital Region Emmy for best sportscast. . . . Hey, don't wait for a punch line. That was the joke.

July

* Indications are that a new Orioles TV deal could be announced soon.

* Baltimoreans are split into two camps: those who think Orioles third baseman Leo Gomez's first name should be pronounced "lee-o" and those who prefer the Jon Miller version, "lay-o." Miller says he once discussed the pronunciation with Gomez when the team flight had a lee-over in Chicago.

* On TNT's NBA draft show, analyst Hubie Brown reveals that the Bullets waited until the second round to pick Gheorghe Muresan, a 7-foot-7 Romanian, because he grew 2 inches between rounds.

August

* During a radio telethon to boost club-seat sales for Baltimore's proposed NFL team, WBAL receives a call from a "Paul from New York." He says: "Why don't you guys talk about baseball? You're not getting a football team anyway."

* The Orioles' television contract seems closer than ever before.

* The Bullets announce that Charlie Slowes' radio play-by-play -- will be simulcast during Channel 20 telecasts of road games. The club also indicates it's considering a different plan for home games: opening a window at USAir Arena and having Slowes talk really loud.

September

* With upsets to most of the men's top seeds in the U.S. Open tennis tournament, CBS worries about its ratings for the final weekend. The network puts David Letterman sidekick Larry "Bud" Melman into the semifinals against Pete Sampras. However, Melman must forfeit the match -- at a point where he's up a break in the second set -- when NBC dispatches Bud Collins to reclaim Melman as intellectual property.

* Mike Ditka debuts on NBC's "NFL Live" wearing a camouflage jacket and loud shirt. When his on-air colleagues and others in the studio laugh at his attire, Ditka decks all of them and ends up doing the entire show by himself.

* That Orioles TV contract could be any minute now.

October

* ESPN2 goes on the air. In an attempt to be hip, many of the sportscasters wear leather. Area cows picket the ESPN2 studios.

* NBC says it has no plans to delete the Bulls from its NBA schedule just because Michael Jordan has retired. However, whenever the Bulls are supposed to be on, the network instead (( will run one of the Jordan videos you get with a subscription to Sports Illustrated.

* If somebody just could find a pen with some ink, those guys would sign that Orioles TV deal.

* Baltimore's broadcasters mobilize to cover the NFL meetings near Chicago. There is much debate over which local station breaks the story that Charlotte is in North Carolina.

November

* WCBM sports talker Stan "The Fan" Charles launches his "No Bombers, No Bud" campaign to protest perceived preferential treatment for St. Louis' NFL bid. Beer drinkers throughout the area belch their approval. We showed them, huh?

* Just a second, that phone call could be news of the Orioles' TV contract.

* During an "NFL Today" piece on the league's decision to play shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, a conspiracy theoretician notes that none of the players who participated in those games in 1963 are still active. "Just a coincidence?" he says. "I think not."

* Baltimore gets the sad news that the NFL has passed over the city for an expansion team. TV reporters talk to long-faced folks in bars. The NFL says Baltimore might have gotten a team if it didn't have all those people in bars in the middle of the afternoon.

December

* CBS debuts its goalie cam, mounted on a goaltender's helmet, during a U.S.-Russia hockey game. At Lillehammer, the network announces, it plans to cover figure skating using a sequin cam.

* Dennis Hopper starts appearing in Nike commercials as a crazed football official. The NFL denies that Hopper will be a line judge in the Super Bowl.

* Did somebody say the Orioles were going to be on television next season?

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