If idea of shopping makes you ill, doses of ESPN might be remedy


SO HERE'S the deal. It's the last weekend of shopping before Christmas. You could be the supportive type and get up early, dodge traffic, park in the outer reaches, hit the mall and serve as a pack mule for your significant other's purchases.

Or you could wake up tomorrow morning and pull the covers over your head, start moaning and coughing and say how you're really sorry, but, honey, I don't feel up to shopping today. If need be, borrow the Ferris Bueller trick of licking your palms so they'll feel clammy.

Once you hear the car pull away, grab the remote. You're spending your day watching sports.

9 a.m.-10 a.m.: SportsCenter, ESPN. Gets you set up for the day.

10 a.m.-noon: Georgia Tech vs. Stanford in the 1991 Aloha Bowl, ESPN Classic. Featuring "Touchdown" Tommy Vardell and a last-second Tech victory. OK, maybe you go back to sleep.

Noon-2 p.m.: Kentucky at Louisville basketball, ESPN. The Wildcats are ranked ninth, the Cardinals 13th. (Quick, hit the mute when your shopping better half calls to check on you.)

2 p.m.-3 p.m.: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants, WJZ/Channel 13. How long you watch may depend on how much you enjoy seeing a Manning harassed.

3 p.m.-4 p.m.: Texas at Wake Forest basketball, ESPN. Catch the second half of No. 6 Wake vs. the No. 14 Longhorns.

4 p.m.-6 p.m.: Wendy's Three Tour Challenge, WMAR/Channel 2. Three-person teams of golfers from the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours compete. Stay away from ESPN Classic. It's the 2001 Maryland-Duke game featuring the 10-point, last-minute Terps meltdown.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.: Oklahoma vs. Duke basketball, WJZ. Second half of the game from New York.

7 p.m.-8 p.m.: Washington Redskins at San Francisco 49ers, WBFF/Channel 45. That should make you feel sick enough for when your shopper returns.

8 p.m.-mall closing: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons, ESPN. If you look pathetic enough, maybe you get chicken soup in bed and can watch the game.

As part of its new college sports channel, ESPNU - and weren't you just thinking there aren't enough ESPN channels right now? - WMAR's locally produced lacrosse games will reach a nationwide audience.

ESPNU, which launches March 4, likely on the digital level of cable service, so far has scheduled nine college lacrosse games from Channel 2. (Quick thought: Is that channel name an insult? As in, hey, pal, ESPNU, too!)

For those with long memories of Saturday Night Live (or those who have watched the regular reruns on one channel or another), it was an Emily Litella moment during Sunday's Ravens-New York Giants game.

Fox analyst Brian Baldinger kept going on and on about how a catch by Ravens receiver Kevin Johnson should have been disallowed because Johnson had stepped out of bounds, making him ineligible to be the first player to touch the ball on a pass. Except, as the replays clearly showed each time, Johnson made his catch after the ball deflected off the hands of a Giants defensive back. Which, after a seemingly interminable period, Baldinger finally realized.

Oh, never mind.

It's now just "The Sports Guy" on WJFK (1300 AM). Steve Stofberg, who had teamed with Paul Mittermeier on the station's afternoon drive-time sports talk show as "Those Sports Guys," has been let go. According to the local media Web site dcrtv.com, Stofberg was among several employees at Infinity's Baltimore radio stations laid off this week. ...

OLN offers "Hunting for the Holidays," three programs on hunting hosted by NFL Hall of Famer Larry Csonka. The shows run 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, then are repeated 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. No word on whether anyone bags a reindeer.

Contact Ray Frager at ray.frager @baltsun.com.

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