The launch of the Fox baseball "Game of the Week" is still more than two months away, but the network continues to move forward in assembling its on-air team.
Former San Francisco Giants catcher and coach Bob Brenly was brought on yesterday as Fox's first booth analyst when coverage begins June 1.
Brenly, who spent nine years in the majors and was named to the National League All-Star squad in 1984, was an analyst for Chicago Cubs broadcasts on WGN radio, and does a morning sportscast on San Francisco's KNBR radio.
Brenly joins Dave Winfield, who was tapped last week as a studio analyst for the network's weekly pre-game show, and play-by-play men Thom Brennaman, Joe Buck and Chip Caray.
Fox executive producer Ed Goren said the network expects to name three other booth analysts, as well as an additional play-by-play man and studio analyst after the NCAA tournament.
Former Orioles Ken Singleton and Rick Dempsey, as well as former ABC and CBS analyst Tim McCarver, are rumored to be under consideration for the other booth jobs, but Goren says Fox has a number of directions in which it can go.
"We feel like a manager who finds he has six starting pitchers [in spring training] and can only go north with five," said Goren.
The ratings game
Stripped of any compelling local stories and without the presence of a subregional tournament in the area, first- and second-round NCAA tournament ratings took a nose dive from last year.
Through the first 15 telecasts of the 1996 tournament, ratings on Channel 13 averaged a 5.2, sharply lower than the 7.5 for the same period last year, a 44 percent drop, according to numbers furnished by Chris Mecchi, Channel 13's ratings researcher and the tournament's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider.
Last year, the area viewer not only had games at the Baltimore Arena to stoke interest, but also Maryland and Mount St. Mary's to prime the pump. This season, with the Mount missing the tournament and Maryland taking an early exit, the ratings took a not-so-unexpected beating.
Though the ratings for six of the seven weekend games were down from last year, the folks at Channel 13 can take solace in two developments.
The first is that the tournament's ratings are dramatically higher than those of the regular season, lending credibility to the oft-expressed notion that the number of regular-season games tends to water down CBS' ratings. The second is that, without the return of Michael Jordan, which clubbed the tournament last year, the NCAA's Sunday ratings handily beat those of the NBA game, Phoenix-Charlotte, on Channel 11.
Virtual reality of it all
There's a flood of sports-related activity this week in cyberspace.
For instance, former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison will be a guest in an ESPNET SportsZone chat room today at 3 p.m., and will field questions about his HIV-positive status and his future.
Meanwhile, NBC has opened an Olympic site, humbly titled "NBC Presents the Games of the XXVI Olympiad," with a number of features connected to the Atlanta competition.
Included among them are historical, biographical and statistical looks at 30 different Olympic sports; first-person accounts from American hopefuls; a nightly on-line chat with an Olympic athlete, coach or official; and a look at some of the greatest moments in the history of the Games, through the eyes of Bud Greenspan, an award-winning Olympic historian.
The site can be reached either through the World Wide Web at http: //www.olympic.nbc.com, or through the network's location on the Microsoft Network (go word: NBC).
Meanwhile, CBS continues to have an NCAA tournament site at http: //www.cbs.com, with a trivia quiz, a fan poll and the latest information on the network's coverage of the tournament.
Pub Date: 3/20/96