Tip it off or tee it up: Weekend looks great


The TV Repairman:

Pity the poor fan whose preferences are golf and the NBA playoffs the next two afternoons. Amidst hoop doubleheaders beginning at 1 and 3:30 p.m. each day on NBC, there are the McDonald's LPGA Championship (a major) on CBS, the PGA men playing the Byron Nelson Classic on ABC and the PGA Seniors hacking away on ESPN.

The men and women go head-to-head Sunday at 4 p.m. while a basketball game is raging, so the ladies can forget a good rating.

* Please keep it up, Indiana Pacers. If these upstarts, who had won 12 in a row until last night, continue to be successful, the networks will be inclined to show their games, which are basketball and not that hack-a-rama the Knicks and Bulls insist on foisting on the public every May.

* The double dose of hype completed, the first touting four championship bouts and the controversial aftermath of the main event being the second, Showtime's showing of "Revenge: The Rematches" should do big business tomorrow and Sunday at 10 p.m.

Two good boxing matches, Terry Norris beating Simon Brown and Jesse James Leija besting Azumah Nelson, both over 12 rounds, will appeal to purists tomorrow. The Sunday show has Gerald McClellan disposing of Julian Jackson in just 83 seconds, then the Julio Cesar Chavez-Frankie Randall brouhaha. This is the one where an unintentional head butt ends the bout and, magically, promoter Don King's man, Chavez, ends up with his title back.

* ABC and ESPN will be all over the time trials for the Indianapolis 500 this weekend, the network doing shows tomorrow (noon) and Sunday (2 p.m.) with its cable partner stepping in at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Here's how the trials work (and this will be explained only once): tomorrow, the field runs for the pole and the two other positions in the front row and they cannot be unseated. Sunday, the other 30 spots in the field for the May 29 extravaganza will be known, but the competitors can come back next weekend seeking to improve their position or bump earlier qualifiers out.

* The Suns have been such a success since being provided with a state-of-the-art arena by Arizona and Phoenix, they celebrated the fact they made zillions last season by taking games off commercial TV and charging $15 on pay-per-view.

* Kenny Albert, son of Marv and the Washington Capitals announcer on HTS after working Baltimore Skipjacks games, is in the running for an NFL play-by-play job with the Fox Network.

* You missed a slab of excellent coverage of the Kentucky Derby if you didn't hear Don Chevrier and our own Fred Manfra working the Run for the Roses on ABC Radio. Manfra was everywhere after the race, seemingly interviewing every jockey involved. By the way, Chevrier would be a terrific hire to do the CFL Colts on Channel 2 if the station's looking.

Speaking of calls, I caught Ernie Harwell and Al Downing doing the Phillies-Marlins game on CBS Radio the other night and Ernie's as masterful as ever.

* Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Daly of the New Jersey Nets dropped a great line on Dennis Rodman to USA Today: "I'm concerned about him. He's a terrific player and a great kid, but his exuberance has crossed the line. There are laws; the country has laws."

* Given its way, ESPN2 would probably elevate pitching pennies, mumbletypeg and skimming rocks across a pond to full sports status in the Olympic Games. Listen to the events it has lined up for "X-Treme Energy," a show that had its debut Wednesday: seven-person bungy jumping, running the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and elephant soccer.

* Maybe, just maybe, the networks are leaning on the popularity of figure skating a bit too heavily. "Wide World of Sports" tomorrow (4:30 p.m.) has a show taped five months ago in Toronto and it has been on a few times already. It will serve as a lead-in to ABC's coverage of the Pimlico Special from Pimlico.

* Best thing that happened to Mike Fratello as an NBA analyst (for NBC) was quitting and getting back into coaching (Cleveland). He worked a game for TNT Tuesday night and was first-class.

* John McEnroe is calling the tennis matches at the French Open on USA Network beginning May 23 (3-5 p.m. daily), which will be like a shot of caffeine after listening to fellow broadcasters Barry McKay, Bill Macatee, Virginia Wade, James Brown and Betsy Nagelson.

* A total of 15 sports staffers got let go by CBS as a result of the net losing a couple of big contracts (baseball and pro football) and a spokeswoman describes it as "personnel adjustments." She must be a distant relative of Joan "Mommy Dearest" Crawford.

* Some of the players TNT has dragged into the studio to comment on the NBA playoffs have been weak. Isiah Thomas, for example, was expected to be pretty good, but flopped badly. But don't expect TV to stick with broadcast pros, who may not be able to pull off a 360-degree dunk but can add something to the telecast. Example: Look at Jimmy Johnson landing lucrative jobs with HBO and Fox as though he's the second coming of Edward R. Murrow (or Barbara Walters).

Incidentally, Johnson says he's not only going to coach again but he'll "win a third ring [Super Bowl]." Naw, the guy doesn't lack for confidence.

* Who is the toughest man alive? The alleged answer will be coming our way May 20 on pay-per-view when the World Toughman Championship is staged in Las Vegas. Former tough guy winners include Mr. T and boxers Tommy Morrison and Greg Haugen.

* Fear not, hockey fans, ESPN isn't forgetting about the Eastern Conference final beginning Sunday night in Madison Square Garden. After the Blue Jays-Red Sox game ends (barring extra innings), the puck-sters will materialize at midnight (on tape).

* A newspaper ad for a baseball game on cable in the Big Apple the other day said "New Yawk vs. Bahstin." Folks from Beantown don't talk that way, do they?

* Here's an interesting casting call. HBO is going to do a movie on the life and times of Mike Tyson and has launched a search to find someone with the "muscle, attitude and acting ability" to portray the incarcerated former heavyweight champ. Acting ability, no sweat; the physical makeup and attitude could prove a problem.

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