Orioles return, and Cousy graces Garden party


The TV Repairman:

We interrupt this column to inform you that the Orioles are playing on your radio (WBAL) and your television (if you subscribe to Home Team Sports) today (1 p.m.) and you are excused. But hurry back.

* Roy Firestone got the right guy in Bob Cousy to explain the wonder and majesty of the Boston Garden in his ESPN "Upclose" tribute to the soon-to-be-razed old gal atop Boston's North Station.

They called the legendary parquet playing surface "Cousy's floor," because of the stupefying things he did on it, but he debunked the legend by pointing out, "It probably wasn't a good floor at all because of the dead spots and screws always coming loose. They said these things gave us an advantage, maybe forgetting we had Bill Russell and about eight other Hall of Famers along the way."

It's not air-conditioned, the spoiled fans have been screaming for years, forgetting that the place opened in 1929 and there was no such thing then.

The locker rooms: pegs on the wall. "An open toilet (1)," said Red Auerbach. "That was back in the days when the owner of the Garden [usually the owners of the Bruins] used to try to make things miserable for us, saying, 'Hey, you don't like it, where you gonna go?' "

Bow your head, folks. America just passed by.

* Showtime has the replay of last weekend's Oliver McCall-Larry Holmes pay-per-view title fight Saturday at 9:35 p.m. Highlights of victories by champions Julio Cesar Chavez and Felix Trinidad, the knockout by and disqualification of Terry Norris, and Bruce Seldon's stumbling to the WBA crown are included, making it a better show than the original, which saw the main event go off at 12:17 a.m.

* You can take the word of the Jersey Turnpikes of the U.S. Basketball League that they did not draft Rebecca Lobo, all-everything for Connecticut's women's NCAA champs this season, as a publicity gimmick (wink). After all, Nancy Lieberman played in the summer league just a decade ago.

* What does it say about the rest of the NBA when just about all the great ratings the pro game gets on NBC and Turner Network are tied to Michael Jordan's appearances?

* Who won the Masters? All that mandolin music put me to sleep about an hour into the telecast last Sunday.

* If you flipped on ESPN yesterday afternoon, you could be excused for thinking it was a home video of a kid playing with boats in a bathtub. Both the America's Cup defender and challenger semifinal races were called off after four hours with the boats almost at anchor in a dead calm.

* How many of the crack tennis commentators on the tube insisted that Pete Sampras was an all-timer and might reign as No. 1 among the men for years if he so desired? Has a guy with a seemingly unsurmountable lead on the computer ever lost the top spot (to Andre Agassi) as rapidly as Pete has?

* Let's hear it for Home Team Sports. It's giving over three hours to the 99th Boston Marathon beginning at 11:30 a.m. next Monday. . . . Another goodie on HTS is tonight's Capital Classic from Cole Field House being shown Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

* With George Foreman and Riddick Bowe in the employ of HBO and Mike Tyson the proud possessor of a three-year, six-fight deal with Showtime, where would a unification bout be held if it ever comes to be, the Disney Channel?

* The Baseball Network, the ABC-NBC-MLB triumvirate handling network telecasts these days, says it has sold more advertising this year than last at this time. Which probably isn't praiseworthy since even Tibetan monks knew there was going to be a strike last August.

* CBS has the NCAA indoor track championships Saturday at 2 p.m., which is dumb because it was held March 10-11. . . . The Wood Memorial and the Blue Grass Stakes play ABC at 4:30 p.m. and ESPN at 3 p.m.

* The big noise on the golf front this weekend is the PGA Seniors Championship on NBC Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (noon). . . . After golf, the Spurs and Nuggets tip off at about 3 p.m., with the Knicks facing the Bulls and Michael Jordan at 5:30. One of Michael's stipulations when agreeing to return was that he have a chance to attend church on Easter Sunday.

* Just 15 more days until "Tyson" premieres on HBO at 8 p.m.

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