It wasn't that long ago that John McEnroe was a top performer at Wimbledon. With NBC, he is once again.
McEnroe sounds more confident in the broadcast booth with each telecast. He's still not far removed from the game as a competitor, and he's not afraid to share a competitor's view of the players.
On Wednesday, McEnroe addressed Boris Becker's burgeoning reputation as someone who stretches the rules.
"The bottom line is that Boris Becker's been using gamesmanship to his advantage, and now he's been caught," McEnroe said. "And he's pretending like, 'I didn't know about any of this.' . . .
"Boris used to cough all the time, seemingly always at the big points. It got to a stage where I played him once where I started imitating his cough just to show that I felt like he was really doing it in order to gain an advantage.
"He said, 'Hey, John, I got a cold.' I said, 'You've had it for four years. What's going on?' And now the same thing with holding up play."
And then there's my favorite part, when McEnroe calls for more enforcement from his pals, the officials.
"That's up to the umpire," he said. "That's not really something the players have any control over. . . .
"All it takes is some enforcement, a warning, a point penalty, and, believe me, the players will start playing faster if he feels like he's going to get defaulted."
Now, if we just could do something about McEnroe's Neanderthal views on women's tennis . . .
Step right up
There's so much to like about ESPN's coverage of the World Cup. For example, where else can you order a $15.95 T-shirt or a $60 replica jersey from the comfort of your couch? I mean, other than on Home Shopping Network or QVC?
The "Stadium Store" segment is fine, but why doesn't ESPN offer something World Cup fans really would want? A Carlos Valderrama hair-care kit, a "Learn to Dance with the Brazilians" tape and a financial-advice book by the Cameroon team, "No Money Down." . . . That fellow who provides the distinctive "goooooooooooaaaaaaalllllllll" call during World Cup games on Univision and who has become a star of Cup highlights everywhere is Andres Cantor. And as emotionally involved as he seems to be, Cantor actually is calling the games from a studio in Miami.
To do all that play-by-play, he can't travel to the sites, so he's just doing what you and I often do at home: yelling at a TV.
On the Canadian front
On Monday night, only one local newscast led with the court decision that stripped Baltimore's CFL team of its name. That station was Channel 2, which -- this must be just a coincidence -- will carry five CFL games this season. Every other station led with the Nation of Islam meeting held in Baltimore. . . .
Baltimore's CFL opener at Toronto on Thursday will be carried by ESPN2, but not every cable system in the area has ESPN2. Comcast of Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties, Jones and TCI of Anne Arundel County and Prestige of Carroll County have ESPN2. United of Baltimore plans to add ESPN2 in September. . . .
When the Orioles departed Channel 2, it seemed we were free of those horrible, faux-music-video promos featuring WMAR's news and sports personalities. But with CFL games, the promos are back, complete with jiggling cheerleaders.
Mel would've had it right
On Wednesday night's NBA draft show on TNT, host Bob Neal got his Dunbar Highs confused. After the selection of Providence's Michael Smith, who went to Washington's Dunbar, Neal said that Smith came from the same high school as Muggsy Bogues and Reggie Lewis. . . .
NBC presents baseball's All-Star teams tomorrow at 5 p.m. (channels 2, 4). Bob Costas is host, joined by Greg Gumbel at Yankee Stadium, Joe Morgan at Jacobs Field, Bob Uecker at Comiskey Park and Steve Zabriskie at Joe Robbie Stadium. . . .
Does anyone in management at WWLG listen to Nestor Aparicio's sports talk show? Last week, Aparicio and two of his cohorts engaged in a discussion of the Simpson murder case that amounted to this: Hey, that Nicole Brown Simpson sure looked hot in a bathing suit, huh? Then again, maybe management is afraid to listen.
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