In his playing days, former first baseman/outfielder Steve Lyons once dropped his pants at first base in the middle of a game to shake out loose pebbles, and he often would scratch out a tic-tac-toe board on the dirt for a friendly game with the opposition's first baseman.
Not surprisingly, Lyons was affectionately known as "Psycho," and with all that as background, Orioles fans probably should take his pronouncements with, well, a grain of sand, but the Fox studio analyst is quite high on the Orioles' chances to get into the postseason.
"Baltimore will continue to get better over the final days, and the Yankees are just going to keep fading. [Bobby] Bonilla's starting to come on, and Brady Anderson's getting another power surge," said Lyons. "The Orioles have a ton of veteran players and sooner or later, the guys in the Baltimore clubhouse will have to look in the mirror and say they're the best team and play like it."
Unfortunately, neither Lyons nor anyone else at Fox will see the Orioles this weekend, since tonight's and tomorrow's games with Detroit air on Channel 13 (both nights at 7 p.m.) and Sunday's at 1 p.m.
The Fox game here tomorrow (Channel 45, 1 p.m.) pits two of Lyons' former teams, Boston and Chicago, and Lyons will leave the studio to do color with Thom Brennaman, whose usual partner, Bob Brenly, leaves to join Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Also, Mike Mussina will be offering pitching tips for the kids on the noon pre-game show.
One final baseball note: The folks at Home Team Sports report that their Orioles-White Sox telecasts on Tuesday and Wednesday set 1996 highs for ratings, with a 10.5 rating on Tuesday and an 11.0 the next night -- which are fantastic numbers considering a third of the households in Baltimore don't receive cable.
'Gentle Ben' joins CBS
Just in time to take part in their coverage of the Presidents Cup international team competition this weekend, (Channel 13, tomorrow, approximately 3: 30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.), Ben Crenshaw has joined CBS as a golf analyst and will work at least 10 events next year.
Crenshaw, 42, a two-time Masters champion, pledged yesterday in a conference call to take a kinder approach to analysis than other golf commentators, and though he didn't mention him by name, Crenshaw seemed to be referring to NBC's Johnny Miller, who has taken more than a few swipes at linksters on the PGA Tour.
"I don't like to second-guess a player. I couldn't do that. It wouldn't be in my system to criticize [a golfer]. I'm just going to have a hard time with that," said Crenshaw. "People must understand that professional golfers are human and will miss on occasion. Golf is a game of misses and how well you can miss the ball. The professionals may make it look easy, but it's not."
On the college football front, Maryland makes its television debut tomorrow, traveling to Charlottesville to meet Virginia at noon (Channel 13).
Meanwhile, it appears that someone is missing the boat with tomorrow's ABC afternoon game at 3: 30 p.m. While a good chunk of the country, including the Washington audience (Channel 7) is getting the Michigan-Colorado showdown, Baltimoreans get Northwestern-Duke on Channel 2.
An ABC spokesman said yesterday that the network considers Baltimore to be an Atlantic Coast Conference market and must send games involving ACC teams to those markets. Of course, that doesn't exactly explain how Washington, which is closer to the Maryland campus than Baltimore, gets out of that designation, but go figure.
For the Sunday NFL pre-game shows, Hank Goldberg of ESPN's "NFL Countdown" will chat with former Miami coach Don Shula about life after football on the 11: 30 a.m. show. The Fox pre-game effort (Channel 45, noon) has Terry Bradshaw talking to Detroit quarterback Scott Mitchell, while NBC's show (Channel 11, noon) finds Cris Collinsworth sitting down with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre.
For 15 months, the U.S. women's national basketball team trained, traveled, played and lived together in preparation for the pursuit of an Olympic gold medal, and Lifetime presents a documentary on their travails, "Reach for Gold," tonight at 8, narrated by NBC's Hannah Storm. The one-hour program features footage from both their domestic and international sojourns and makes for fascinating viewing.
Fox Sports Net, the name for the venture between Fox and TCI's regional sports channels, debuts Nov. 1 across the country, the network announced yesterday.
Of course, viewers in this area await final word on the rumored movement of Fox Sports Net, with Orioles, Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals games, into this region.
Pub Date: 9/13/96