The TV Repairman:
No big secret what the story line will be for the 127th running of the Belmont Stakes on ABC tomorrow (4:30-6 p.m.): Which of his steeds, Thunder Gulch or Timber Country, winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, respectively, will master trainer D. Wayne Lukas be pulling for? In a couple of words, who cares?
While it's true horses aren't very quotable, it always seems as if entirely too much attention is paid to the trainers of these beauties. Basically, all trainers work pretty much the same and the ones with the owners who spend the most when it comes to breeding are the ones who are going to be successful.
You have to love what jockey Gary Stevens said of his mount, Thunder Gulch: "On his best day, he's five lengths better than Timber Country." Go ahead, Lukas, deny it and get a good squabble going.
Please, please, please, NBC, before winding Ahmad Rashad up again and loosing him on an event, have someone write out at least one question to get him started when he's acting as a reporter. "It was nice out today" just doesn't cut it.
WWLG (1360AM) and WASA (1330AM) are carrying the NBA Finals. . . . Countries tuned in to the Houston-Orlando showdown now number 164, up from 117 last year, and the action is being described in 40 languages. Name 40 languages.
* The track and field show on CBS last Sunday was sensational, particularly the hour-long special on Steve Prefontaine, a fantastic middle distance runner who was killed in a car accident 20 years ago. "Pre" was unbeaten as a collegian, which tied into the NCAA championships, and was on his way to becoming an Olympic star, which tied into the running of a meet named in his honor. Commentator Craig Masbach said it best: "Here it is 20 years later and runners are still drawing inspiration from 'Pre.' "
* Fred Lynn, former All-Star who spent a couple of years fishing the bay here as an Oriole, has been covering the NCAA World Series for ESPN for four years and the things that have impressed him most this time around are the improved defense and the effect aluminum bats have had on strategy:
"I saw wonderful defensive play right from the outset, and it's usually the thing that won here. As for the move away from wooden bats, we used to play for one run at a time 20 years ago. Now they go for bunches as the team batting averages have risen from something like .230 to .265."
The title game goes tomorrow at 1 p.m. on CBS.
* Once your ears stop ringing from the aluminum bats driving the ball around Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, CBS heads for Avenel in Potomac with Round 3 of the Kemper Open (4:30-6 p.m.). Sunday's starting time is 3 p.m.
* One of the joys of watching NHL games go overtime on ESPN is the extra time we get to tune in on studio analysts Mike Milbury and Barry Melrose shooting the breeze with John Saunders. They're terrific and Saunders always seems to know what to say to get them going.
* John McEnroe, a relative newcomer when it comes to analyzing tennis on TV, showed up knowing the most basic rule: Don't talk when points are in progress. John lets you know what he's thinking with plenty of time to spare and the key to his incisiveness is his blunt manner. Why beat around the bush?
For example, McEnroe can look at the best of players and not bore you to death with constant adulation as NBC announcer Dick Enberg tends to do. Everyone has a weakness somewhere and John knows it and points it out. Michael Chang's terrific on clay, winning the French Open as a teen-ager, but Mac noted, "Sometimes he gets stubborn and stands closer than he should to prove he's the macho guy. His tendency is to be overanxious and confused about when to attack."
* Tommy Morrison, who looked rather ordinary in a fight shown on ESPN recently, takes on Razor Ruddock on Kansas City tomorrow for the International Boxing Commission heavyweight title. The IBC was formed last week sometime.
Add boxing: Three cheers for TCI Cablevision, the outfit that services Ocean City. The parent company told Don King what he could do with a Mike Tyson pay-per-view show in August with an asking price of $46 to $55. Stick to your guns.
* From the things are not as they seem department, compliments of Larry King's column in USA Today: "The audiences on those informercial tapings are all from the Screen Actors Guild and are all paid for their unbridled enthusiasm."
* Hopefully, someone hereabouts will pick up the show "Pete Rose Live!" on cable channel NewSporton for two hours Friday evenings sooner or later.
* For the umpteenth time, what do ratings for sporting events currently being conducted have to do with similar events staged previously? The networks always say this year's Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference final beat Game 3, etc. by 11 percent, knowing full well no one is going to check into the differences in the situation -- midweek prime time as opposed to a Sunday afternoon game in 1991.