Replacement broadcasts an unreasonable facsimile


More and more broadcast outlets are turning away from the stench of baseball replacement player games.

Cincinnati's WLWT-TV has announced that it does not want to carry tomorrow's Reds exhibition game, thanks to lack of interest from advertisers. WLW-AM, the longtime radio home of the Reds, is still waiting to hear from team owner Marge Schott about its desire to drop weekday coverage of Reds replacement games, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

KRON-TV in the San Francisco area will reduce the number of Oakland A's games it will carry. It reportedly placed a clause in its contract with the A's that a certain number of players had to be of "major-league caliber" to keep the deal in effect, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

KTVT-TV in Dallas is mulling the prospect of declaring its contract with the Texas Rangers null and void over a similar clause. And, in Houston, KTXH-TV, the Astros' carrier, is reporting that baseball ad sales are off 90 percent.

Meanwhile, as you've already heard, WABC radio in New York is suing the Yankees for $10 million to get out of carrying their replacement games, though there are rumors that the station, which has lost money on baseball broadcasts, is looking to get out of its contract before it expires after next season.

Also, the Madison Square Garden cable network is looking to get a rebate on the estimated $44 million it will pay the Yankees in rights fees. While owner "Gorgeous" George Steinbrenner has announced a half-price policy for ticket buyers, he is strangely silent on the issue of a similar plan for the broadcast outlets.

Thanks to Orioles owner Peter Angelos' stance against replacement players, WBAL (1090 AM), Home Team Sports and Orioles TV are not affected, though all three will be left with huge holes in their schedule come Opening Day if the strike isn't resolved.

It's bad enough that the owners insist on attempting to pass off players one step above your local bar leagues on the public as a major-league product. But to insist that their broadcast outlets, many of whom the teams refer to as "partners," take potentially devastating financial baths to help prop up an untenable situation is nothing short of repugnant.

New home for Carquest Bowl

Turner Sports and Raycom have announced a three-year deal to air the Miami-based Carquest Bowl on TBS, beginning this season.

The game, to be played at Joe Robbie Stadium, likely will match the third-place team from the Big East against either the fourth-place team out of the Atlantic Coast Conference, or the fifth bowl team from the Southeastern Conference. A date for next season's game was not announced.

The four-year-old Carquest Bowl was formerly known as the Blockbuster Bowl and was carried on CBS and aired on New Year's Day this year. However, the game lost interest for CBS after it regained the Cotton Bowl and picked up the Orange and Fiesta bowls, two-thirds of the new Bowl Alliance.

Women's semifinals on HTS

Home Team Sports will air four NCAA women's regional semifinals live, starting with an East doubleheader from Storrs, Conn., at 6 p.m, as top-ranked Connecticut meets Alabama, and Virginia takes on Louisiana Tech at approximately 8:30.

At 10:30, HTS joins the Midwest Regional game between George Washington and Colorado in progress, followed by the North Carolina-Stanford contest from the West Regional at 11:30. The GW-Colorado game will be aired in full on tape at 1:30, followed by the other Midwest game, North Carolina State-Georgia.

The Air is cleared

TNT has received permission to carry Michael Jordan's first game in Chicago since he returned to the NBA when the Bulls play host to the Orlando Magic tomorrow night at 8 at the United JTC Center. Bob Neal and Doug Collins will call the game, Ernie Johnson Jr. will host the pre-game from Chicago, and Craig Sager, Nicole Watson and Warren Moon will provide interviews and reports.

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