In most years, the story of the U.S. Open is told on television as a parable of a man against an unforgiving golf course, but the first two rounds of this year's tournament may very well be a man and his cart against a course and tradition.
After he challenged the PGA Tour in court for the right to ride in a cart around a course as he competed, then qualified for the U.S. Open, you had to figure that Casey Martin would become a centerpiece of coverage.
You won't be disappointed.
"We'll cover his opening shot [today]," NBC analyst Johnny Miller said yesterday. "It's a special occasion, it's newsworthy. We want the viewing public to see what's happening."
Miller, who has never been afraid to express an opinion, and his NBC colleagues Gary Koch and Roger Maltbie, were surprisingly noncommittal on one of the most explosive and divisive issues to hit golf in years: whether Martin, who suffers from an ailment that makes it difficult for him to walk long distances, should be permitted to use a cart during tournaments.
"It's one of those things that's que sera sera," Miller said. "I don't think it's going to hurt the game, but how disabled do you have to be to get the Casey Martin rules? I'm open to Casey's plight and for where the tour stands. The hardest part is when you put it in the gray area."
Oddly enough, the NBC trio said Martin's cart should be a minimal factor this week at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, where the course's slopes are gradual.
"The hardest walk on the course is from the 18th green back to the clubhouse. It's not a tough walk at all," Maltbie said.
NBC (Channel 11) kicks off 16 hours of coverage of the tournament this afternoon at 3 p.m. (sorry Jerry Springer fans), with two more hours tomorrow, same time, same station. The network attacks the tournament with a vengeance this weekend, with six hours of coverage on both Saturday and Sunday, starting each day at 2 p.m.
ESPN, meanwhile, will air 11 hours of coverage today and tomorrow, going on the air at 5 p.m. both days, with one-hour wrap-up shows at 12: 30 a.m. each day.
And the winners are
Congrats are in order for some local TV and radio types who have received kudos from their peers.
For instance, producer Joel Kitay and videographer Adam Oberfeld received Capital Region Emmys over the weekend for their work in audio engineering on the "Wired" segment of "Ravens Report," in which they turned the cameras and microphones loose in behind-the-scenes situations, and Channel 11's Jimmy Mathis earned an Emmy for his work in cinematography and videography for a feature on peewee football.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press has given the nod to Channel 45 as outstanding local sports operation, and to weekend anchor Steve Davis for a feature he did on Maryland student assistant football coach Tim Strachan, who was paralyzed in a 1994 accident.
Finally, the AP bestowed honors on WBAL Radio reporter John Patti for his work during last year's Orioles' postseason run.
The prospect is delicious with irony. See, NBC officials, after passing on the NFL, have been casting public and private doubts about CBS' ability to make money on its new NFL deal in the advertising community, while hinting at starting a new football league that might have NBA backing.
While all that is going on, CBS may take the NBA players that NBC has made into stars and show them at a dramatically reduced cost, while NBC, which is obligated to pay the NBA even during a lockout, stews on the sideline.
Ah, big-time network intrigue. It doesn't get any better than this.
Give it thumbs down
If the United States wins its World Cup match against Iran on Sunday, they may have Oscar-winning actress Sally Field to thank for it.
It seems that a French television station aired Field's movie, "Not Without My Daughter," earlier this week, and that has the Iranians in an uproar.
The plot of the movie has Field attempting to escape Iran with her daughter against the wishes of her Iranian ex-husband, whose countrymen are portrayed as dirty, boorish, cruel and obsessed with their Islamic religion.
"Out of 365 days in a year, why was this film shown now?" said HTC star striker Khodadad Azizi. "I think that the showing was not without reason, and it has hurt morale."
Imagine the uproar if the French had shown a Pauly Shore flick.
Here are the ratings for the 10-most watched sporting events on Baltimore broadcast television last weekend:
Event .. .. .. ..Day .. .. ..Ch. .. .. ..R/S
Bulls-Jazz .. .. Fri. .. .. .11 .. .. 16.7/28
Bulls-Jazz .. .. Sun. .. .. .11 .. .. 15.0/23
NBA pre-game ... Fri. .. .. .11 .. .. 10.2/17
NBA pre-game ... Sun. .. .. .11 .. .. 8.8/16
O's-Blue Jays .. Sat. .. .. .54 .. .. 6.5/15
O's-Blue Jays .. Fri. .. .. .54 .. .. 6.3/11
Golf .. .. .. .. Sun. .. .. .13 .. .. 3.5/9
NASCAR .. .. ... Sun. .. .. .13 .. .. 3.0/9
WNBA .. .. .. .. Sat. .. .. .11 .. .. 2.7/7
Soccer .. .. ... Sun. .. .. . 2 .. .. 2.3/6
Pub Date: 6/18/98