The TV Repairman:
The European Broadcast Union will be providing the pictures (world feed) for the World Cup beginning today (3:05 p.m., defending champ Germany vs. Bolivia on ESPN) with the U.S. carriers (ABC and ESPN) utilizing extra cameras to put its stamp on the show.
Mainly, what this means is the wide shot of the action (favored in Europe) will prevail and the American networks' fascination with the close-up of the athlete spitting, cursing, scratching or whatever kept within reason. Hooray!
ABC coordinating producer Bob Goodrich says, "We're hoping to Americanize the game so it will be a great scene like 'Monday Night Football.' "
Oh-oh. Network analyst Seamus Malin says his approach will be as if half the audience knows nothing about the game, which while fairly accurate could be a disaster since soccer isn't fourth-year Calculus but just another goal game.
Signals off on Channel 13's stated intention of not picking up ABC's coverage, particularly the U.S. opener against Switzerland tomorrow (11:30 a.m.). This is the game that figures to determine if the Americans are going anywhere in the 24-team, month-long tourney and once it was explained to one of those with-it executives at WJZ, he realized the folly of his decision.
So, a lineup of "Thunder in Paradise," "It's Academic," "Animal Adventures" and an informercial is being scrubbed for soccer. Network clearance for the game, prior to Channel 13 changing its mind, was 99.1 percent, meaning Baltimore, once considered a hotbed of the sport, would have been the lone traitor among ABC affiliates.
The U.S. Open follows at 1:30 p.m. and that's on, too. Someone up there must play golf.
What a day to bag work. Besides the temperature (97) and humidity (212 percent), ESPN has a lineup that just won't quit: Nearly 4 1/2 hours of the U.S. Open starting at 10:30 a.m., followed by Germany-Bolivia soccer at 3, followed by two more hours of golf at 5 p.m., followed by a three-hour taped show on the Open at 7:30 and Spain vs. South Korea in the World Cup at 12:30 a.m. At 9 p.m., Game 5 of the Knicks vs. the Rockets is on NBC.
Remember when sports were never on the tube during the week?
* The Fox Network has done itself proud with a series of 10-, 15-and 30-second spots touring its involvement with the NFL this fall. The theme is "NFL on Fox -- Same Game, New Attitude." Of course, it helps having camera naturals such as John Madden, Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw doing the ads.
* A good way to get ready for HBO's daytime coverage of Wimbledon beginning Monday (9 a.m.) is to check out the half-hour special "The Hallowed Ground," playing on the premium channel Sunday evening, June 23, 24 and 27. It's terrific, this 20-year commemorative of HBO's involvement with the tourney.
* The guy you love to hate, Macho Camacho, headlines "Tuesday Night Fights" next week (9 p.m.) taking on Steve Manfredo. The co-feature should be good, too: Sharmba Mitchell, who has built most of his 31-1 record in this area, taking on a slugger, Steve Johnston (11-0).
* A recent Gallup Poll uncovered that 61 percent of Americans vowed that they don't plan on watching even a single minute of the World Cup, which is bull because every male worth his salt constantly clicks that remote. And who is going to keep on going when he catches a glimpse of a goal and 80,000 people going absolutely bananas, waving flags and the whole bit. Of course, this assumes a goal is scored.
By the way, Jim McKay's claim, "This is the last chance for soccer to become a major sport in this country" is ridiculous unless he has information about when the world is going to end.
The World Cup games on ESPN tomorrow are Italy (4) vs. Ireland (14) at 3:55 p.m. and Columbia (17) vs. Romania (7) at 7:25 p.m. The numbers in parenthesis are the FIFA world rankings and the latter pair together with Switzerland (12) are the favored teams in the U.S. (23) round-robin group.
* This year marks the 30th anniversary of CBS analyst Ken Venturi winning the U.S. Open at Congressional in Potomac. Back then, the tourney concluded with 36 holes on Saturday. Venturi probably doesn't remember the afternoon round so dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion was he. I know, because I was a kid in shape, a veteran caddy and I was zonked after following him every step of the way.
ABC's coverage begins at 1:30 tomorrow and 1 p.m. Sunday and totals 10 hours with Brent Musburger and Jack Nicklaus (if he fades after an impressive first round) the main voices.
* Randy Savage, who will be a commentator on tomorrow's pay-per-view "King of the Ring" show from the Baltimore Arena, says, "You can't blink around here [the World Wrestling Federation]; otherwise, you'll miss about seven things."
* The Stanley Cup finals on ESPN mustered a rating of about 2.0 (about a million households), which isn't bad considering its baseball is doing a 1.9 this season.
Hey, only 10 teams have won the Stanley Cup since the New York Rangers prevailed back in 1940: Montreal, 20; Toronto, 10; Detroit and Edmonton, 5 apiece. There's 40 right there.
* Jorge Luis Gonzalez, who, as an amateur world champion in Cuba defeated Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Michael Moorer and Tyrell Biggs, puts an 18-0 (17 KOs) pro record on the line on the June 25 pay-per-view show featuring Roberto Duran and Vinny Pazienza. He's not an awesome figure like countrymen Teofilo Stevenson or even Felix Savon, but his lackadaisical style is obviously effective. Sugar Ray Leonard's training him.
* "Uptight Man" John Buren shares the Capital Region Emmy Award with Warner Wolf (Channel 9) while WBAL producer Marc Roberts picked up a statue for his promotion news effort entitled "O's Spring Training."
* The night the NBA Finals began, Channel 2 hustled down to one of Baltimore's outdoor courts and interviewed youngsters about Dunbar alumnus Sam Cassell making it to the big time as a rookie with the Houston Rockets. Bad and sad dangling the dream in front of kids, who are convinced if they just keep playing ball they too can attain stardom. One in millions make it.
* It's hard to fathom how a guy seeking a sentence reduction, as ex-heavyweight champ Mike Tyson was in Indiana the other day, can appear so totally disinterested. ESPN, CNN and CNBC (Geraldo Rivera) did a terrific job of covering, the latter proving best.