Networks put golf quantity on tee

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The TV Repairman:

TBS continues its saturation bombing of PGA Championship golf today (1:30-7:30 p.m.) and doubles back with lead-ins to CBS coverage tomorrow (noon-2 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.). The net goes 2:30-7 p.m. both days. That's a minimum of 25 hours total and you have to wonder.

Golf produces the demographics advertisers are seeking, but with every net but Fox and three cable outfits contributing to the glut, one-upsmanship takes over and that translates to quantity, not much else.

One of the interesting sidebars of the tourney is that Ryder Cup captain Lanny Wadkins will name his two wild-card picks to join the 10 golfers who qualify under a point system and John Daly is in the chase for one of these.

The British Open champ says, "If I make the team, I'd like to line up all my teammates and shave their heads, too, for team unity. That would be awesome." Right.

The announcing team numbers in the hundreds and, besides, does anyone care? Darn tootin,' Mary Bryan's parents. Mary is said to be making broadcast history this weekend as the first female analyst to cover a major men's golf championship. Talk about specious, women have been on the course for years as reporters (Judy Rankin, for instance). What's the diff, walking or pontificating while seated atop a tower behind the 14th hole? By the way, during her playing days, Bryan, when she was 23, lost the New Mexico state amateur title to a 12-year-old. Of course that sub-teen was Nancy Lopez.

* Snappy line from Jay Leno of the "Tonight" show: "Winds were so strong from Hurricane Erin they actually blew a University of Miami football player into a classroom."

* The man in the middle of the deal which saw Disney absorb ABC/Cap Cities for a stupifying $19 billion, Tom Murphy of the latter, puts the value of ESPN, seemingly an afterthought in the caper, at upwards of $5 billion. Which isn't too far underneath what Westinghouse paid to purchase CBS ($5.4 billion).

Think back to ESPN's startup in 1980. Would anyone have even dared to include the all-sports cable and the network of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Bill Paley in the same one-hour lecture?

* Ex-NFL great and now Fox studio ham Howie Long's in a movie called "Broken Arrow" and he says, "We're blowing things up from the beginning to the end. You name it, we blow it up." Just when the four networks announced a $2 million fund to help development of viewer-discretion technology, too.

Regarding the V-chip, sooner or later people might have to start ordering it not only to protect children from the gratuitous violence which is so much a part of numerous shows, but to control their pay-per-view urges.

During July alone, a I-can't-help-myself sports fan could have gone for $271 ordering up two boxing cards, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a WWF presentation and all the games available from Copa America '95 soccer. And dead ahead (Aug. 19) is former ring champ Mike Tyson picking on Peter McNeeley for $50.

* Don't forget the Vincent Pettway-Paul Vaden scrap for the Baltimorean's IBF junior-middleweight title is on Showtime tomorrow at 10 p.m. The co-feature is a goody, too, Derrell Coley of Washington taking on Oba Carr.

* After doing the semifinals of the USGA Women's Amateur at THE Country Club (sniff) outside Boston tomorrow (3-5 p.m.), ESPN will do a tape delay of the match-play final tomorrow at 5 p.m. It's right after the semis of ATP Championship tennis from a gorgeous setting outside Cincinnati. The net final goes 5:30-7 p.m. Sunday.

* Whew, that has to be a load off everyone's mind, Monica Seles finally letting us know that she's returning to the women's tennis wars at the Canadian Open next week. This leaves us free to worry about the condition of Carl Lewis' leg and its effect on his Olympic aspirations both next year and in the year 2000.

And by suggesting a "rusty" Seles won't be a contender for the women's U.S. Open tennis title, what is NBC's Chris Evert saying, that it's Steffi Graf in a walkover with Conchita Martinez as a slight threat?

* The big guys smacking into each other (a.k.a. pro football) has the Speros Stallions hosting the Memphis Mad Dogs tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) on ESPN2, then the Oilers and Redskins a half-hour later on Channel 7. Which means Baltimore City cableites, who ** don't get either, head for Buffalo and Dallas on Fox (8 p.m.) or the Orioles and Red Sox on ABC's "Baseball Night America." Yes, the Birds are going to play out the schedule out of deference to the shortstop.

Sunday sees the Packers and Steelers at 1 p.m. on NBC, and the 49ers and Chargers at 8 p.m. on TNT.

* Brent Musburger is in Goteborg, Sweden, this weekend, which lends significant credence to the World Championships of track and field: 3-6 p.m. tomorrow and 1-3 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Brent indicates track is not that big in America but that the top U.S. athletes are heroes on the European circuit. Gee, no one has ever heard that before.

* The boxing match on ESPN tonight (9) has Dana Rosenblatt in the co-feature. He's the lad who fought his first half-dozen fights at Martin's West and he is probably closing in on a shot at one of the myriad titles floating around. He will trade haymakers with Troy Watson and any finessing from Dana will be totally unintended.

* After describing his stock car as a dream vehicle during a pre-Brickyard 400 interview, last year's winner, Jeff Gordon, ended up calling the wheels "junk" to his pit crew once the rain-delayed race was under way. Fans down south were upset and ringing up television stations when the carrier, ABC, cut away after more than four hours of rain delay. You want a definition of fanaticism, you got it.

* It goes without saying that pro hockey would be greatly enhanced if the stars of the NHL competed for their respective countries in the 1998 Winter Games in Japan. But, surprise, surprise, the NHL players association is up at arms and threatening all sorts of disruption. CBS, which can't seem to catch a break, is the carrier and there are still 29 more months in which additional things can go wrong.

* Do you think the universities of Connecticut and Massachusetts switching their football game to Bermuda in November has anything to do with television, or is it answering a plea from all the alumni of the schools living in the island's main stop, Hamilton?

* The $5 million Frito-Lay is coming up with as title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl -- it's now the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- assures that if the game in Arizona gets a potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup New Year's Day (for a payout of $27 million, incidentally), it will decide which potato chip outfit is Numero Uno. In the advertising world, that's all that matters.

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