The TV Repairman:
John McEnroe, who will be a fixture on USA Network the next couple of weeks as the cable does 86 hours of U.S. Open coverage starting at 11 a.m. Monday, says, "I try to be positive about tennis on TV. I think being a fan should be the goal of a writer or a broadcaster."
Some fan. That having been said and since he wasn't on the air, the man known affectionately as "SuperBrat" forevermore in London took tennis apart racket by ball by net by organizing faction. Amid assurances that "tennis is a great sport" every so often, Mac took shots at:
Television (there's too much of it). Tournaments (there's too many of them). The people who run the game (they have to realize something has to be done). Matches (too long). The serve. Rackets. Balls. The changeover (it should be after every fourth game). Clay courts (make no sense). Wimbledon and the French Open (two weeks isn't enough time between these two). Young players (they're better earlier, but burn out sooner). The ATP (the players association has no strength and we got double-crossed by our first director, Hamilton Jordan).
And, of course, his constant target of opportunity, Mary Carillo (colleague working the tourney for CBS). "It's really no issue [the long-standing spat]; we've never spoken much. . . . I haven't seen her in the last 12 years. . . . Mary doing men's matches seems strange to me. You should get the best for the men's matches, people who have been there. . . . Mary knows more about tennis than most people . . . her strong suit is talking to cameras."
Barely had John put down his bows and arrows when Carillo was aboard, raring to get started on the network's 40 hours at Flushing Meadow: "I'm one of those people who thinks big changes don't have to be made in the game. All we need is some compelling personalities. It seems like we're just going through a down time [personality-wise]."
Mary apologized for the fact "John doesn't want me talking about the men players, but that's the job. Besides, in all the work I've done for ESPN, I've found the guys to be very cooperative and more aware they have a responsibility to be entertainers and businessmen as well as jocks."
Carillo concluded: "One of the gripes seems to be that 'Sweet Pete' [Sampras] doesn't aspire to be one of the 'Noisy Boys," her tag for McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, etc. "I think it's great that Pete wants to be like Rod Laver. Rod's a marvelous person and was a great player."
It seems inevitable that what Carillo calls "a one-sided feud" and McEnroe refers to as "a laughable non-issue" will go on and on. Maybe a Billie Jean King-vs.-Bobby Riggs type match is in order, McEnroe giving three points per game and Carillo playing the doubles lines. After all, John won all those "majors."
* The talk on Channel 2 during the CFL game last Saturday night at Memorial Stadium was up to standard, and the replays were a cut above. There was some difficulty keeping up with the ball, however, but this was understandable because the game doesn't move at the comfortable snail's pace of the NFL. Maybe if the camera people studied a playbook.
On Channel 45 news that night, a reporter said, "The CFLs are down by more than two touchdowns in the fourth quarter at the stadium." At least five minutes before these words, and on WMAR, the Blue and Silver had pulled to within seven points of Toronto. Hey, guys, borrow a TV if you don't have one.
Speaking of the local juggernaut, it's in Hamilton tomorrow night (Channel 2, 7 p.m.) to take on the Tiger-Cats. Hey, that's not fair, one team has two names and the other has none. Analyst Tom Matte says, "We have to win, or we're in trouble." His broadcast training consisted of watching old Vince Bagli tapes.
* Hopefully, all you Hulkamaniacs had brushed your teeth, said your prayers and were pounding the lilywhites Wednesday night by the time Hulk Hogan took on Ric Flair on TBS for the title. The big fella with the tearaway T-shirt cheated unashamedly and feigned injury throughout before Flair won the match. But wait, Hulk didn't lose his belt despite the fact Ric left Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with it, because of some silly rule made up in mid-bout.
* Talk about a free pass: Besieged Pete Pompey, appearing on "City Sports Scene" cable show this week, declares, "I can show those things [money discrepancies in Dunbar High's fund] were done the right way. . . . I have documentation," and "the important issue is to get back to working with kids and teaching." Follow-up questions were not allowed.
* Remember when the World Series of Golf was el grandioso? It's still going strong and is worth $2 million these days with USA doing the second round today (4-6 p.m.) and CBS moving in tomorrow and Sunday (4 p.m.).
Meanwhile, a women's "major," the du Maurier Classic, gets slighted, HTS being nice enough to send it along at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow and 5 p.m. Sunday. The Senior PGA gang must be home counting their loot this weekend.