With temperatures expected to be lower than last weekend's blast-furnace-like conditions and Artscape in town, it might not be a bad idea to avoid the television, because the weekend pickin's are slim.
With Maryland's own Jim McKay still on the mend from May heart surgery, the network has brought in Jack Whitaker, one of the great sports sages, to provide a presence during tomorrow (10 a.m.) and Sunday's (9:30 a.m.) telecasts. With the weekend off, Bugs Bunny, an ABC Saturday morning staple, will be looking to defend his title at the New Hebrides Open.
Home Team Sports will have semifinal coverage (tomorrow, 1:30 p.m.) of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic from Washington, with the final Sunday at 2 p.m. ABC and CBS have dueling auto races Sunday, with Channel 2 airing the Cleveland Grand Prix at 3 p.m., and Channel 13 going with the DieHard 500 NASCAR race at 1 p.m.
All over the nation, baseball ratings are taking their lumps. For instance, Saturday's debut of The Baseball Network on ABC was the eighth-most-watched program of the evening. Trouble is, there were nine shows on. Only a rerun of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," who, by the way, won the 1953 American League home run title, did worse.
But Baltimore viewers heartily embraced baseball, according to Pat Barranger, Channel 2's sales and marketing manager and this week's sole and official "On the Air" ratings supplier.
Last Thursday's Orioles-Royals game did a 15.5 rating and 26 share on Channel 13, the highest rating of the year for any Orioles contest. Subsequent games performed in a range from a low of 10.5/19 for Friday night's Royals game on Channel 54 to Monday's game at Texas, which pulled in a 13.6/24 for Channel 2. Tuesday's Texas game got a 12.0 rating on Channel 54, the best number to date for WNUV broadcasts.
If the numbers continue to be this strong, the news can only be good for almost everybody in town, save for Channel 45, thanks to The Baseball Network, which will bring Orioles telecasts to channels 2 and 11, through their respective affiliations with ABC and NBC.
Stockton goes to Turner
Stockton, who is Fox's No. 2 play-by-play man for football as well as the television voice of the Oakland Athletics, was the lead play-by-play announcer for CBS' NBA coverage from 1982 to 1990, when the network lost the contract to NBC.
During the past few seasons at CBS, Stockton, who has done speed skating and skiing at the last two Winter Olympics, was paired on NBA telecasts with Hubie Brown, who is a TNT analyst. A Turner spokesman said it was not clear if or when the two would be teamed. Stockton is married to Lesley Visser of ABC and ESPN.
Thumbs down for Johnny Mac
Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova dismissed comments from John McEnroe during NBC's French Open telecast that Navratilova might tank next Saturday's exhibition that marks Seles' return to competitive tennis after being stabbed more than two years ago in Hamburg, Germany.
"I think it's a bunch of baloney," Seles said on a nationwide conference call. "I have never been told to win or lose a match, and it's not going to start in this match. That's a very ridiculous thing for him to say. I was laughing at him."
Said Navratilova: "John has taken that comment back since he was talking off the top of his head. There was nothing to back that up."