McNeeley's best work is with mouth

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The TV Repairman:

One thing you have to give Peter McNeeley, the man who should be putting his degree in political science to better use, he's done a terrific job of planting hope in people's minds that the referee won't be reciting numbers over his supine body about 90 seconds after the opening bell of the fight tomorrow night.

What fight? Obviously you've been watching the Weather Channel and the reports on Hurricane Felix around the clock.

The Irish lad, who ran up a 36-1 record against "fighters" with a combined record of 148-406-10, will be the guy standing at the other end of Mike Tyson's left hook, which is supposed to validate that the former champ is indeed back.

Tyson has been the subject of numerous specials hyping the pay-per-view fight (9 p.m.) and allegedly is a changed man after three years behind bars. This obviously points out how short the memories of some people who are peddling the notion on the man's word alone are.

While McNeeley was doing 200 radio and TV shows plus countless press interviews, Tyson did "Larry King Live" and a few other things besides his usual petulant number with the press on rare occasion.

The folks at SET (Showtime Entertainment Television), the carrier, are predicting a million buys, no doubt getting their information from a fortune cookie. Three title bouts are on the undercard, including Bruce Seldon defending his WBA belt against the toughest guy in Browning, Mont., Joe Hipp.

The Tyson extravaganza actually starts with the Luis Santana-Terry Norris fight on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" at 4:30 p.m. These guys have met twice before, Norris twice being disqualified for flagrant fouls. And he gets a third chance? Terrific.

* The Baseball Network's confirmation the other day that NBC and ABC are out as partners (two months after the networks had announced they were gone) recalls what NBC sports head Dick Ebersol said acting commissioner Bud Selig whispered to him months ago: "He said unsolicited, 'You guys are the best partners baseball's ever had. Don't worry, we won't let this situation [the strike] get in the way of The Baseball Network.' "

* Last week's embarrassing rating: The taped "Quarterback Challenge" show, NFL passers heaving balls at golf carts, dwarfed coverage of the final round of the PGA Championship and beat out a couple of NFL preseason games. Bring back "Superstars."

* How in the world could the British Boxing Board of Control keep a straight face ruling on a "bringing boxing into disrepute" charge against WBC heavyweight champ Oliver McCall for saying what every fighter says, "I'm gonna beat the tar out of so-and-so." Hey, Nigel, we're not talking about cricket, badminton or polo here. McCall gets it on, as Mills Lane might say, with Frank Bruno Sept. 2, Jimmy Connors' birthday.

* Great move by "Suzy Sellout" (Susan O'Malley), who's making the decision for both the Bullets and Capitals now, taking the hockey team off WMAL in Washington and hopping over to WTEM: It's not tough to get "The Team" sports talk station north of Laurel, it's impossible. Then, too, the Bullets and Caps play simultaneously on 22 occasions, wiping out more than 25 percent of the Caps' radio season.

* The first hole at Castle Pines Golf Club, site of the Sprint International tourney being covered by ESPN and CBS this weekend, is 644 yards. What do you think, a drive and 3-iron for Goldilocks Daly?

* Nick Faldo, while estimating that he had hit 7 million golf balls since he started out as a kid, added, "and that doesn't include putts. You can putt all night on a carpet, especially when you've got American TV on and there's nothing to watch." This is funny coming from a guy from England. You should see the telly there: A guy cooking omelets was the most interesting show I saw during a two-week stay in London.

* Wow, Bob Costas went for 40 minutes in a eulogy to Mickey Mantle? Please, future eulogizers, don't do likewise. . . . CBS will be doing more than 40 percent more college hoops this winter via regionalization and ESPN will send along about 400 games via pay-per-view. Uh, did anyone notice a scarcity of games on the telly last season?

* It's getting dangerously close to the college football season, where they don't play exhibition games, remember. Next Thursday, Boston College takes on Ohio State in the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands. The Eagles were only 7-4-1 in the Big East last year, but thumped Kansas State in the Aloha Bowl. Buckeyes coach John Cooper says, "If you don't have respect for Boston College, you just have to put on last year's tapes. I am impressed. Those games we looked at were extremely physical. They are a big strong football team." Memorize these lines, you will hear them from every coach in Division I-A and I-AA.

* It wasn't the worst jobbing a fighter ever received in Las Vegas, but perhaps Derrell Coley losing his NABF welterweight title to Oba Carr on Showtime last week was in the top dozen. Carr, who is now handled by Tyson's people (read Don King), got a huge break by not being hit with a point penalty by repeated low blows, but this paled in the face of the two judges who favored the challenger.

* Luke Jensen, working the Volvo tennis tourney in New Haven on ESPN this week, adds a lot to the telecast, but he shouldn't strain so to be cutesey-wutesey.

* Hey, what can you expect from a guy who attempted to hold up the Green Bay Packers on the eve of the team's opener last year? Sterling Sharpe, now working for ESPN ("Prime Monday"), seemed to be acting the part of agent for Natrone Means during a recent show, pooh-poohing the San Diego fullback's long holdout and demand for a $4 million signing bonus with the Chargers. The Primer goes to 90 minutes prior to "ABC Monday Night Football." Just think, a Super Bowl pre-game show every week. Oh joy!

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