USA isn't exactly giving the pride of Lutherville, Pam Shriver, combat pay for her two weeks of work as an analyst on its U.S. Open coverage, but for working with the cantankerous John McEnroe, there ought to be a little extra in the envelope.
What McEnroe possesses in tennis insight is more than matched by his lack of tact and diplomacy. But Shriver, in her first extended television analysis duty since she retired from playing after last season, isn't cowed by USA sports and production vice president Gordon Beck's bad boy.
"I played mixed doubles with John, and he was unbelievably supportive as a partner. I know him well enough to be able to respond to him," said Shriver of McEnroe, adding that he has come to Baltimore to play in her charity exhibition matches.
Shriver went toe-to-toe with McEnroe last week on a pre-Open conference call, where she took exception to his assertion that women's tennis was in trouble because its top-ranked player, Martina Hingis, is 16 years old.
"I didn't understand where that was coming from. He's way off base on that. He could never come up with specifics," said Shriver, whose best Grand Slam result was runner-up in the 1978 Open. "Chris Evert and Steffi Graf had success at young ages, and women, at a pretty early age, can mature and play well."
In his first day at the Open yesterday, McEnroe called New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani "lame" for missing last night's opening ceremony of the new Arthur Ashe Stadium, proving that Big Mac is apparently always on attack.
Shriver, who, at 35, could now qualify for the seniors competition at Flushing Meadow, is going with Hingis and men's top seed Pete Sampras as her choices to win this year's Open, which airs at 11 a.m. and 7: 30 p.m. daily on USA.
No big surprise, there, but Shriver's picks of Goran Ivanisevic and Lindsey Davenport to possibly get through the draw might raise a few eyebrows, considering neither has won a Grand Slam event. "I look for players who have never won, and these two fit the bill. They've been physically capable, but mentally unable to put it together," said Shriver, before Ivanisevic was upset in the first round by No. 91-ranked Dinu Pescariu of Romania. "I look for [PGA championship winner] Davis Love types, who are the best players never to win the big one."
Choose your words carefully
There are, no doubt, more than a few baseball fans in Baltimore who, like WBAL (1090 AM) talk show host Greg Sher, believe that umpire John Hirschbeck is a "nut case," has "mental problems," is "clearly disturbed" and "should see a shrink."
But that doesn't mean that a person in Sher's position should blithely toss around terms like those, as he did Saturday afternoon in a discussion of Hirschbeck's behavior last week in a game in which it was alleged that the umpire made racial slurs toward New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu.
The weekend ratings, listed below, speak for themselves, and the loudest statement comes from the fact that four Orioles games outpaced all other sports shows.
But while the Ravens exhibition finale against Buffalo lagged far behind Orioles baseball, there was some good news for Baltimore football fans. The locals' 5.2 rating was 53 percent better than the Cowboys-Rams game that aired in the same time slot at the same time against an Orioles game the week before.
Tell the whole story
While ESPN was congratulating itself for getting the scoop on former center Robert Parish's retirement, not to mention celebrating his longevity, the network conveniently left out a couple of things.
Unmentioned were Parish's brushes with the law for marijuana use, and worse yet, published accusations that he beat his ex-wife and pushed her down stairs while she was pregnant.
Parish was able to tell how he felt that fans in Boston, where he spent most of his career, seemed to hold him to a higher standard than his teammates Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, presumably on racial grounds, and that's fair. But viewers are entitled to get the story on all facets of a player's career, not just the ones that make him or her appear heroic.
Pub Date: 8/26/97
The ratings for the 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore last weekend:
Event .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Day .. ..Ch. .. .. .. ..R/S
Orioles-Twins .. .. .. ...Fri. .. .13 .. .. ..13.2/24
Orioles-Twins .. .. .. ...Sun. .. .13 .. .. ..11.2/29
Orioles-Royals .. .. .. ..Thu. .. .54 .. .. ..10.8/17
Orioles-Twins .. .. .. ...Sat. .. .54 .. .. ...9.0/17
Ravens-Bills .. .. .. .. .Fri. .. .45 .. .. .. .5.2/9
W. Series of Golf .. .. ..Sun. .. .13 .. .. ...4.4/11
Yanks-Mariners .. .. .. ..Sat. .. .45 .. .. ...4.2/10
W. Series of Golf .. .. ..Sat. .. .13 .. .. ...3.3/10
49ers-Broncos .. .. .. ...Sat. .. .45 .. .. .. .3.1/6
Ravens rerun .. .. .. .. .Sat. .. .54 .. .. .. .2.4/8
Okla.-N'western .. .. .. .Sat. .. ..2 .. .. ...2.4/8