If we're truthful, some of us will admit that we've been watching the U.S. Open these past two weekends as much to see the anticipated battle between John McEnroe and Mary Carillo as for the ones between Steffi Graf and Monica Seles or Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Weren't you?
That was certainly the hope of CBS, which paired Carillo and McEnroe for the tournament despite his unseemly previous comments about her ability to comment on men's tennis.
To their credit, neither rose to the bait. The childhood friends appeared, as Carillo suggested in a pre-tournament conference call, to remember what it was that used to make them laugh as kids and young adults.
McEnroe and Carillo, who worked with Tim Ryan, laughed together quite a bit, but also played off each other well, feeding off the other's points and setting the strategy scene, especially during yesterday's Sampras-Agassi match. One wonders now if McEnroe, having worked alongside Carillo, will be brave enough to admit that she really does know men's tennis.
On the women's side, Martina Navratilova continues to serve notice that she could be just as accomplished an analyst as she was a player. Navratilova, who teamed with Carillo and Jim Nantz for Saturday's memorable women's final, was astute and self-deprecatory, immediately spotting Seles' third-set weariness after chiding herself for giving a noncommittal answer to Nantz's question about whether the match could go three sets.
By the way, we're still waiting for NBC, the network of two Grand Slam tournaments, to note Sampras' four-set win yesterday.
The Deion derby
Deion Sanders has been called this country's best two-sport star, but that's not entirely accurate, for Sanders is a master at playing a third sport: the media.
ESPN, Fox and NBC drooled all over themselves to capture not only the story of the signing of Sanders to Dallas, but also its historical relevance and significance.
If there was a winner, it probably was NBC, which dispatched Jim Gray to Chicago to interview Sanders before batting practice. Fox's Pam Oliver got a more lengthy interview, but for some strange reason, the network aired it about five minutes after NBC's.
Let us all pray that we can get a rest from the incredibly overexposed Sanders and his follies for at least a few weeks, though, as long as "The Sports Reporters" exists, there will always be at least five minutes of him each week.
The SI jinx
At the risk of sounding provincial, let's just say that the Cal Ripken cover story in the current Sports Illustrated was a pretty nasty piece of work turned in by Baltimore native Richard Ben Cramer, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former Sun reporter.
The story, timed to humiliate Ripken during his week of triumph, followed what seems to be the now-predictable media pattern of building up an athlete, as SI had done recently with Ripken, then slicing him to shreds in the name of balance. Following that logic, this week's story on the Camden Yards celebration will be sweet and flowery.
By the way, Cramer took an uncalled-for shot at Channel 11, implying that its series of promos billing the station as "hard-working" was timed to ride the Ripken gravy train. The station has been airing those spots for at least a year and has hardly run them at all this season. Maybe Cramer missed that through all his apparent bitterness at his hometown, one of its native sons and the game of baseball.
On a slightly different subject, it's also worth mentioning that though Channel 11 officials apologized profusely for erroneously grabbing Home Team Sports' feed of the Ripken post-game ceremonies Wednesday, it hasn't stopped them from using audio from the proceedings on promos, heard yesterday during football coverage.