Cooke conspiracy theory regarding CFLs half-baked


To the folks out there who really believe that Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke had something to do with HTS' decision not to run Sunday's Baltimore-Saskatchewan CFL game out of a desire to eliminate 4 p.m. television competition, we offer a three-word, eight-letter proposal:

Get a life!

Mike Gathagan, media and public relations director for the CFLs, said the team and HTS had agreed on a seven-game telecast plan, but the regional pay-cable channel picked up an Aug. 10 contest against Hamilton that was not originally on the schedule.

To compensate for the extra game, Gathagan said, another had to be dropped, and the two sides agreed that Sunday's game in Saskatchewan would be the date. Both sides say HTS will carry the three remaining games on its CFLs menu.

By the way, the cancellation probably made good business sense, since HTS might not have been able to get enough advertising revenue to cover what would likely have been exorbitant production costs from far-flung Regina, Saskatchewan.

As for the Redskins, their clash with the New York Giants on Channel 45 was the ratings winner, drawing a 10.3 rating and a 20 share of the audience, according to this week's "On the Air" official ratings supplier, Andre "Dr. Dre" DeVerneil, research director at Channel 13.

In case you were interested, Sunday's Redskins game had no other football competition at 4 p.m. and its ratings were slightly higher than last Sunday's Houston-Dallas game (9.9/19), which ran at 4 p.m. on Channel 2 against a Washington-New Orleans contest that did a paltry 3.6/7 on Channel 45.

And so, for all you folks who see Redskins telecasts as part of some grand conspiracy against the Baltimore football fan, we humbly advise you to get out, take some walks, smell some flowers and pay attention to the world around you.

Oh, and one more thing: Take it easy on the Oliver Stone movies for a while, huh?

So long, Tony

Buried within the transaction column the other day was a simple, one-paragraph note saying that Tony Kubek had announced the end of his baseball broadcasting career.

Kubek deserved a more glorious send-off than that, since he, along with partners Joe Garagiola and Bob Costas, helped etch the late, lamented NBC "Game of the Week" into the nation's consciousness.

When NBC lost baseball after the 1989 season, Kubek, a former New York Yankees shortstop, joined the Madison Square Garden network as a Yankees analyst, and further distinguished himself by his willingness to criticize New York owner George Steinbrenner on the many occasions he deserved it.

To be sure, Steinbrenner didn't like Kubek's candor, but if The Boss were half as good an owner as Kubek was a baseball announcer, the Yankees wouldn't have been out of the postseason for the past 13 years.

Soundtrack advice

At a little more than 58 minutes, the soundtrack to Ken Burns' "Baseball" PBS miniseries is a decidedly shorter and more pleasant ride than the often overblown and overwrought television program.

Of course, you do have to wade through six different versions of the noxious "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but the last rendition, from Carly Simon, is the best. Natalie Cole's "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit that Ball?" is a bouncy and clever Big Band-style romp.

But the clear highlight of the album is the final track, the last of three takes on "The Star-Spangled Banner," offered by Branford Marsalis and Bruce Hornsby.

They first collaborated on this arrangement at the 1991 NBA All-Star Game, and their moving, reflective version of the national anthem is the definitive recorded performance. With any luck, you'll be hearing this at a ballpark near you next season.

That is, if there is a next season.

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