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Cut down the Open racket, guys


The TV Repairman (bids adieu):

Leave something to the imagination, huh? A very good example of too much of a good thing is available these days with the crush of TV coverage from U.S. Open tennis. USA's Sunday show from Flushing Meadow at 12:30 p.m., the conclusion of about 90 hours of coverage, has the women's doubles final, for instance.

Every stroke, snit, argument and changeover of matches involving headliners Monica Seles, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, al by USA and CBS could have everyone in a stupor before the stretch-run matches. The women's final and both men's semis are on the network for eight hours tomorrow beginning at 11 a.m.; the men's final Sunday is at 4 p.m. opposite the 49ers and Falcons on Fox.

Today (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) CBS has the women's semifinals and the men's doubles final. What, no juniors, no mixed, no over-35s?

Regarding the glut, it was about the 15th time that Tracy Austin, on USA, said the No. 106 player among the women was "solid but probably didn't possess the weapons to hurt [No. 3] Arantxa Sanchez Vicario" that the search for the mute button began.

* The quality of the pro football shows preceding games Sunday afternoons have reached a level of enjoyment and information that make them almost interchangeable. No matter if you're tuned to ESPN, Fox or NBC, there's very little reason to surf because all are excellent and pretty much cover the same subjects. That might be the only drawback, each insists on a weekly segment on Deion Sanders, Buddy Ryan, Al Davis and the Raiders and a few more who-cares staples.

* Chuck Neinas, executive director of the College Football Association (Division I-A schools), chirped during a nationally televised game last weekend that were there no football scholarships, 90 percent of the players would be attending college anyway. Yeah, right.

* Now that TV sports critics don't have Gary Bender to kick around anymore, Mike Gottfried steps front and center as a likely replacement. The ESPN college football commentator comes up with some doozies:

With Nebraska hammering Oklahoma State at the half, 36-7, Mike said, "[Nebraska] wants to throw in the third quarter. You don't want to throw in the fourth quarter when you're way ahead."

Another gem: "When you're behind, you have to forget about running the ball. Oklahoma State has to throw on third down [when Nebraska is expecting the pass]."

* HBO's menu of headliner fights this fall starts with Oscar De La Hoya taking on Genaro Hernandez tomorrow (9 p.m.), Roy Jones going against Tony Thornton Sept. 30, Lennox Lewis and Tommy Morrison trading haymakers Oct. 7 and Riddick Bowe opposing Evander Holyfield Nov. 4. Match that lineup, Showtime and Don King.

* With 14 months of ESPN radio experience behind her, the "Fabulous Sports Babe" moves to ESPN2 on Sept. 18 with her special brand of verbal sparring with sports fans calling in. One of her bosses says, "the day holds the anticipation of the curtain being opened in Oz revealing the previously unseen, yet revered Wizard." Say what?

* The long-anticipated "War on the Floor" one-on-one battle between Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal for the greater glory of Taco Bell on pay-per-view Sept. 30 ($20-$30) will stick with the NBA rule of not enforcing the three-second lane BTC violation. Otherwise, the show would have been ruined.

* One of the better (Joe) Morganisms uttered on ESPN: "When you walk the bases loaded, you reduce your margin for error." Dare you to argue that one.

* Get the VCR ready: Three gems from NFL Films will be showing up on TNT in the coming months beginning with "Joe Montana: The Fire Inside" next Tuesday (8 p.m.).

* Something you have to like about Phil Simms, already on NBC's No. 1 pro football announcing team despite no previous experience doing games, is he doesn't fudge. If he has an opinion, he'll state it. For example, he says, "Deion Sanders is the best defensive back I've ever seen." Seen is the operative word here, so calm down you Night Train Lane fans who know the truth.

Another glibster is the oddsmaker Danny Sheridan. Guesting on an interesting NFL preview show hosted by Bob Golic on ABC last weekend, Sheridan said, "It's crazy to have the AFC involved in the Super Bowl."

* You want to watch Maryland at home to North Carolina tomorrow noon, gas up the wheels, Bunky, and head for Waynesboro or Chambersburg, Pa., or Hagerstown and Antietam Cable. Otherwise, it's actual attendance in College Park or radio (WBAL), as Florida State vs. Clemson is the ACC TV game offered hereabouts.

* Bob Uecker, working "Baseball America Night" on NBC Fridays with Bob Costas, says, "I don't think people care what we say anyway. They just care about who's playing." Which is extremely arguable. What The Baseball Network deal with ABC and NBC has turned out to be is regional telecasts of the home team's games fans have been watching all summer. Just the commercials change.

* Ken Venturi (during a recent CBS golf telecast): "We were talking to Greg Norman about the Ryder Cup. He said he expected to be picked, but that he wouldn't be the one to decide if he played or not." The Ryder Cup, to be conducted in Rochester, N.Y., in a couple of weeks, is U.S. vs. Europe. The Shark is an Aussie.

* Why does John McEnroe keep milking this spat with tennis commentating colleague Mary Carillo? Asking Carillo publicly if she thought she knew as much about tennis as he does, John actually expected an answer. Then, chauvinistically, he said, "If she wants to make it difficult [competing], it can be difficult. If she can keep up with me, fine."

Oh, that this charmer had offered the same challenge to Bud Collins.

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