At least L.A. will have NFL games on TV


Leave it to Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis to, once again, send the sports world into a tizzy with yet another rumored move -- this time back to Oakland -- with shock waves reverberating over the NFL's broadcasters.

If Davis indeed packs up his vagabonds and ships them back north from Los Angeles, as was reported by an L.A. radio station yesterday, the league would have no team in the nation's second-largest television market, a fact that would not be looked upon as good news, in the short term, by NFL officials.

Or by extension, NBC, which figured to have Los Angeles all to itself after the Rams headed east to St. Louis. An NBC spokesman said the network would have no comment until the move became official.

One interesting development from a Raiders move is that the Sunday afternoon networks, Fox and NBC, would be able to telecast Rams and Raiders home games into Los Angeles, a possibility that, thanks to blackout rules, hasn't existed since the Raiders moved south in 1982, effectively splitting an indifferent market in half.

The only problem, from a league standpoint, is that the home games would originate from cities other than Los Angeles.

Ratings wrap

Father's Day cookouts and the like apparently sent viewers scurrying from their sets, and away from the Orioles, whose Sunday game with Detroit drew one of the smallest ratings in recent memory.

According to numbers furnished by Chris Mecci, ratings researcher at channels 45 and 54 and this week's sole and official "On the Air" ratings provider, Sunday's telecast on Channel 54 drew a paltry 5.4 rating and 15 share of the audience. That was good enough to win the day, but was among the lowest numbers posted by an Orioles telecast.

Last Friday's Orioles-Tigers game on Channel 13 also was off the normal double-digit performance, getting only a 9.1/18, but Tuesday's Orioles-Yankees game on Channel 13 bounced back to a more normal 14.4/24.

The final basketball telecast of the season, last Wednesday's fourth game of the Orlando-Houston championship series, did an impressive 12.1/20 for Channel 11, though it was doubled by the Michael Jackson interview on Channel 2, which pulled a whopping 24.5/39.

Brothers in arms

ESPN producer Tom McNeely, who heads up the network's coverage of the Stanley Cup finals, has more than a few things on his mind these days.

You see, his brother, Peter, is a heavyweight boxer and he's got a fight in August against a fellow you might have heard of.

A fellow named Mike Tyson.

"Pete's doing all right, but the media crunch has overwhelmed him. He's being pulled in a lot of different directions," said Tom McNeely. "He's got to put the kibosh on the interviews for a while and get back to training."

Most of the world thinks that Tom McNeely's brother hasn't a ghost of a chance, even considering that Tyson has been in prison for three years and hasn't fought in four.

But the mark of a good brother is that he keeps believing when the rest of the world doesn't and Tom McNeely is nothing, if not a good brother.

"He's feeling pretty good. He's a puncher and he's got a puncher's chance," said Tom McNeely. "One of these guys is going down and I don't see it [the fight] going more than three rounds."

Back to basic?

Thought you'd like to know that Home Team Sports will become a full-time, basic-tiered channel on the Comcast-operated system in Dover, Del., at the end of the month.

Why is that important to Baltimoreans, you ask? Hopefully, with every new system that brings HTS on-line as a basic channel, Comcast, currently in talks with HTS on this subject, will move closer to doing the same here in this area.

Well, we can hope, can't we?

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