The TV Repairman:
Included among the selling points when cable TV leaped out of its planning stages and into our sets was the promise of a better picture, first-run movies (at a slight extra charge), service to people in the outback and NO COMMERCIALS. Ah, those were the good old days. Check out sports events on basic-plus these days and there are more breaks for ads and promos than even the networks hit us with. In other words, we're being double-charged by these pirates. Write your congressperson.
* At the rate Maryland and Florida State are losing football players to defection, ineligibility, disinterest and suspension, it's conceivable two-way football will be in vogue when they play a week from tomorrow. The Terrapin opener at Duke tomorrow is (( on Channel 7 at noon.
* At least a dozen times last season, during weekly conference calls with the Big East coaches, West Virginia mentor Don Nehlen whined "you people," meaning the media, "were the only people who put the wood to us in the polls. People who know, the coaches, put us No. 2."
The coach didn't get his way (which was to play the other unbeaten team, Nebraska, last New Year's Day), and it's a good thing he didn't. After getting wiped out by Florida, 41-7, in an awful Sugar Bowl, the Mountaineers looked just as bad getting ** smeared by Nebraska in the Kickoff Classic, 31-0. The writers list West Virginia as No. 35 currently. Perhaps we're not as stupid as we look, Don.
* Big John's "Maddenism" of the week: "When the humidity gets above 100 degrees, there's a tendency to dehydrate."
* All's fair in love, war and counter-programming: With the planes roaring over Flushing Meadow morning, noon and night and the U.S. Open in full flight on USA, rival ESPN counter-programmed Wednesday with a match from the women's Federation Cup taped more than a month ago.
Viewing the opening days of the Open are similar to watching the German retreat from Leningrad after an unsuccessful siege of nearly 1,000 days. Players are injured, burned out and performing like zombies after their lengthy, tournament-strewn seasons. It's a sorry situation for the last "major" of the year, but play will get better next week.
CBS sends along about 18 hours of coverage the next three days.
* The U.S. and Internationals teams for the President's Cup competition in Lake Manassas, Va., in a couple of weeks are all set and ESPN will do the first day of play Sept. 16 with CBS moving in on the weekend.
NB Hurt by the fact two dozen of the best players on the PGA Tour
will be in Virginia is the B.C. Open in Endicott, N.Y. You hit it if you concluded the "B.C." stands for the popular comic strip drawn by Johnny Hart.
* ESPN celebrates its 15th anniversary Wednesday and testimonials are pouring in. Forget them. When you're the best, actions speak louder than words. Only question is, did anyone think round-the-clock sports would arrive so soon? And the networks certainly did nothing to delay the arrival, did they?
"No one knew where cable was going much less us back in the fall of 1979," says the man, Chris Berman, "but both of us solidified in the '80s and we're proud of the properties we've gotten in the '90s. At the PGA [golf tournament], Ernie Els told me he watches the NFL at home. Ernie comes from South Africa. That's amazing."
For the seventh straight year, Berman has chosen Buffalo and San Francisco to meet in the Super Bowl, and he has been 50 percent correct each of the past six years.
* Actually, it was only a matter of time before CBS golf commentator Gary McCord got the hook from the Masters telecast. Recall, Jack Whitaker, one of the great historians of the game, got the pink slip for referring to the good Augusta National crowd as a "mob." McCord is flip and enjoyable by almost anyone's standards but those fossils'.
* The TNT and NFL Films show "75 Seasons," playing Sept. 13 (8 p.m. and midnight) and Sept. 14 (9 p.m.), is better than the first two weekends of NFL games unless a quarterback comes along and wins a game in the waning moments, 35-31, with a "Hail Mary" pass.
* All in favor of the Pigskin Classic remaining a former preseason game, signify in the customary fashion. Disney dumped sponsorship of the Anaheim Stadium dog after five years of snubs by fans and TV alike. No doubt, another "classic" is in the works as we inter-net.
* Whole new team of announcers for Notre Dame games on its network, sometimes referred to as NBC: Don Criqui, Jim Lampley and Randy Cross. Guess which of the three is a Golden Domer.
* Future Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor began his TNT career the other night on the net's NFL preview show and didn't lack for opinions. Among them was this on Buddy Ryan: "He's the master of the quick fix. Buddy may be his own worst enemy, but I know if I'm playing for him, I'm going to be physical. I'm going to inflict a lot of pain and I'm going to scare a lot of quarterbacks." Of course, that's how LT always played.
* ESPN's Joe Theismann, who feels it's mandatory to talk after every play: "You wanna know what I like about that throw? The throw trajectory. Rodney Peete throws it [5 yards] short and his receiver comes back and gets it."
Yeah, Joe, it was designed that way. Receiver goes deep, too deep for Peete, so he knows it's going to be short and he gains a step going back for it.
* Baltimore's Vince Pettway (36-4) gets a Showtime spotlight all to himself Sept. 17 (7 p.m.) when he takes on International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champ Gianfranco Rosi (57-3). And it's part of a freebie promotional weekend being put on by the premium channel.