Masters nightcaps go down easy for viewers


The TV Repairman:

Maybe it tells us something about golf coverage on TV, those 15-minute Masters wrap-up shows last night and tonight (11:35-11:50) ranking among the 10 highest-rated golf shows each year. Are the masses suggesting that three-, four- and five-hour shows weekend afternoons are just too much time to spend watching? Especially when networks have been known to go away from so many tournaments due to time constraints.

CBS theorizes that the format of the late-night shows of reviewing the best shots of the day and talking to some of the leaders and signing off is the reason for the popularity. "There's very little in the way of features and teases," explains producer Bob Mansbach.

That being said, tonight's show will break from the norm and pay homage to longtime network golf anchor Pat Summerall, who is gracing the network for the last time before fleeing to do football on the Fox Network. Summerall sharing his memories of Augusta over the last 25 years, hot diggity!

CBS picks up the baton after first- and second-round coverage by USA Network, which is re-running its afternoon show today (4-6) at 9 tonight. The network shows are 3:30 to 6 p.m. tomorrow and 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, or until the champion eases into the fabled green jacket. The Masters is the only golf tourney "60 Minutes" waits for.

Everyone's saying an American will rule the field at Augusta, but foreign-borns Nick Price, Greg Norman, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo lead the list of favorites.

* The live skating show on TBS tomorrow (8-10 p.m.) should capture a nice ratings number, Oksana Baiul and Nancy Kerrigan putting on the boots to headline the NationsBank U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Salute in Richmond, Va. Viktor Petrenko, Scott Davis, the Russian silver-medal pairs (Mishkutienok and Dmitriev) and dance team (Usova and Zhulin) plus several others are included on the live show.

* "The Boomer," Chris Berman of ESPN, has an interesting theory about baseball's realignment: "I think we're about two teams and three or four years too early going to three divisions, although once we got to 15 teams per league I guess it was inevitable.

"What I find interesting is the breakup leaves the National League Central with no big gun, for instance. So I think we'll end up calling them the Norris Division in memory of the old 'black and blue' gang of the NHL. And out West in the American League, we're talking about Seattle, which rarely gets over .500, being a strong contender going against teams rebuilding, the Angels, and teams coming out of last place, the A's. They'll be the Smythe Division. So what we've done is taken hockey and moved it over to baseball."

* The way it turns out, Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson wasn't a very gracious winner as his team was taking the NCAA title last Monday. "A lot of coaches are talking on TV today, and a lot of them have never won anything," Nolan fumed.

To complain about what the announcers are saying during telecasts is an in-house thing and to make an issue of it isn't enlightening, but paints the coach as a whiner in the eyes of the audience.

Although it was funny the way Richardson hopped on CBS analyst Billy Packer and assigned him guilt by association by mixing him up with Dick Vitale and all the gibberish the ESPN commentator spews during the course of a season.

The network ended up with an overall 8.3 rating and 19 share for March Madness, tie for its worst rating ever since assuming co-control of the tournament back in 1982. What this all means, of course, is nothing since the billion-dollar contract has three more years to run.

Hopefully, during that time, CBS will contract for some good college hoops play-by-play announcers or develop a few of their own and leave their bland staff hacks home.

* Now that John Buren is rolling in dough, receiving a healthy raise for serving as co-anchor on Channel 13's 5 o'clock news, perhaps he'll begin buying shirts that have all their buttons.

* Today is the 20th anniversary of Henry Aaron smacking home run No. 715 to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time list and, to mark the occasion, "Hammerin' Hank" chewed the fat with Joe Garagiola on NBC's "Today Show" this morning.

Thing I remember most about the instant Bad Henry belted the ball over the fence against Al Downing is how many people were out at the concession stands feeding their faces at the moment of impact, maybe 6,000 or 10 percent of the crowd.

* All of a sudden I'm a Jim Everett fan. Referred to once too often as "Chris Evert" by ESPN2's Jim Rome, the quarterback turned over a table and flipped the overbearing talk show host on the floor before the camera cut away.

* Bill Walton, always a good listen, works as analyst at the Spurs-Rockets tomorrow on NBC. You can bet a few players will be upset by his calls-em-as-he-sees-em remarks.

* Every time you hear Bob Uecker rattling on about baseball on ESPN's backup game this summer, tell me you won't be thinking about him as the excuse-making announcer of the Cleveland Indians in "Major League" and "Major League II."

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