My favorite thing about the World Cup -- even better than injury time -- is the one-word names used by the Brazilians. Romario, Bebeto, Rai, Branco, Joringho, Cafu.
It all sounds so exotic. Sort of like having a guy named after a Middle American beef dish sing the national anthem at the All-Star Game.
Anyway, why not extend the single names to the ABC and ESPN Cup announcers? Roger Twibell could be Annoyingho. Seamus Malin could be Droneto. Ty Keough, Excitablerio. Desmond Armstrong, Shouldabeenontheteamo.
Hey, we could go beyond World Cup announcers. Dick Vitale, Noiseto. Chris Berman, Nicknamerio. Marv Albert, Si. (All those who get that last one, please hold on the line, and we'll take down your name and address and mail out your prizes.) Chris Schenkel, Gutterballu. Al Michaels, Miraclo. John Madden, Bammo.
I suppose this one-name deal even could apply to TV sports columnists. But I have a feeling I wouldn't enjoy that as much.
Starry, starry night
Who was happier to have Bob Costas back doing baseball, fans or Costas himself?
During NBC's Tuesday All-Star Game telecast, Costas practically was bubbling over. So let's excuse him if he talked a bit too much.
If he'd kept talking whenever it was Bob Uecker's turn, though, that would have been OK. Costas' new partner didn't add much to the telecast. There was hardly any analysis of note -- that came from the always-informative Joe Morgan, third man in the booth for one night -- and Uecker's trademark, his humor, fell flat. For example, there was that bit about Uecker's giving Stan Musial tips -- whenever he went into Musial's restaurant. Budda-bing, budda-boom.
Better to let Costas handle the jokes. Noting the overall All-Star vote totals, Costas said: "[Ken] Griffey won the popular vote, but I understand that [Cal] Ripken hopes to prevail in the electoral college."
This was NBC's first telecast as part of The Baseball Network, but the production certainly didn't show any signs of rust. Two shots in particular stood out: Barry Bonds's stop-in-the-middle swing at a pitch he hit deep into the outfield, seen in super slow motion, and the replay of Tony Gwynn's slide to the plate with the winning run (though the best replay angle wasn't the first one shown). . . .
NBC's NFL promos highlighted studio analyst Mike Ditka and new host Greg Gumbel. One featured Ditka giving a pep talk, and another showed Ditka and Gumbel having a catch with a football while Gumbel mentioned, though not by name, his former partner at CBS, Terry Bradshaw. . . . Late-breaking NFL TV rumor: That Chris Columbia guy from the MCI commercials is said to be leaving the phone company for Fox.
Oh, Denise, scooby doo
You watch TV hour after hour, and perhaps you think you're wasting your time. Then comes a singular moment that crystallizes the watching experience. And you realize that you keep watching not because it's less taxing mentally than reading, not because it allows you to withdraw from family and friends, not because it affords a perfect opportunity to gorge on artery-clogging snacks . . .
No, you watch because you one day might come upon ESPN and see terminally perky exercise czarina Denise Austin and she's doing some kind of stomach-crunching routine that looks so excruciating that in Singapore it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment and then she says -- and these are words that will stay with you for the rest of your life -- "People come up to me and want to feel my tummy."
7+ Hey, Denise, I've got the same problem.
The name we dare not speak
Bad enough Channel 2 had to do those cheesy CFL promos with its sportscasters dancing and pretending to play instruments while cheerleaders gyrated, but did you see how the station has solved the problem of not being able to call Baltimore's team the Colts?
Whenever "Colts" comes up in the jingle, a high-pitched beep is heard. Wherever the name is supposed to be on screen, the letters are blurred over. Of course, you still basically can hear what the singer is singing, the blurring doesn't completely work and the effect on the cheerleaders, who wear "Colts" across their chests, gives the spot a sleazy quality, as if this had been filmed in a topless bar.
If Baltimore CFLs owner Jim Speros wins in court, let's hope these promos figure in the damages. . . .
In addition to tomorrow's live telecast of the Baltimore-Calgary CFL game on ESPN2 (7:30 p.m.), the game will be rerun Tuesday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2. Gus Johnson and Mike Gottfried are the announcers.