Kornheiser shows colleagues at ESPN that he can take a hit

The Baltimore Sun

Grabbing a rake and making a neat pile of scattered thoughts and notes:

In a Washington Post column this week, Tony Kornheiser said he was sorry for not being his sarcastic self on ESPN's Monday Night Football. In fact, this past Monday, he was serving as a bit of a pincushion for partners Mike Tirico and Joe Theismann.

After Tirico mentioned some of Philadelphia's history, in particular as the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Theismann chimed in: "What was that like, Tony?" And when Kornheiser said he wasn't wearing one of Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones' designer bow ties because it would make him look like "a dopey college professor," Tirico retorted between guffaws, "As opposed to the intelligent guy you look like now."

On the other hand, Kornheiser did jab Theismann for his proclivity to flash his Super Bowl ring excessively.

According to published reports - apparently first in the New York Post - Cal Ripken could be joining TBS when the superstation moves beyond televising just Atlanta Braves games. However, it's not a done deal.

"We are in preliminary discussions with Cal, as we are with several analysts," Turner Sports spokesman Jeff Pomeroy said.

Ripken spokesman John Maroon said the former Oriole and TBS were in "exploratory talks."

"TBS contacted 16W [Sports Marketing, which represents Ripken for endorsements], and 16W brought it up to Cal," Maroon said. "Cal is gauging his interest."

This isn't the first time a broadcaster has sought Ripken's services, Maroon said, and "to date, the interest hasn't been high on his end."

In any case, it could take Ripken a while to decide. "He's not one to say yea or nay at the snap of a finger," Maroon said.

Next year, TBS will be home to baseball's Division Series, and it will televise a Sunday game of the week starting in 2008.

The MNF crew interviewed Ravens quarterback Steve McNair during Monday's game. The most surprising thing - the only surprising thing, really - to come out of the interview was McNair's assertion that Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre still has three or four more good seasons left in him.

In case you were wondering, Ray Lewis and Derrick Mason will be doing the Ravens' lineup introductions that will run during their game Monday in Denver. Lewis is the subject of ESPN's Sunday Conversation, interviewed by Rachel Nichols.

Speaking once more of MNF, all the game announcers have to remember is that every word they speak Monday will be parsed by the Baltimore audience for any hint of bias against the Ravens. But remember, folks, when Kornheiser calls coach Brian Billick "a preening schmo," it's for comic effect. Plus, that was the old Billick.

Look who wants on the Ravens bandwagon. This week, Regis Philbin mentioned on Live with Regis and Kelly that he had been vacillating before the season whether to latch onto the Ravens or Arizona Cardinals as a breakthrough team before settling on the Cardinals. Philbin said he wanted to switch now, but co-host Kelly Ripa told him he had to stick with his original choice. And, I know, next you expect me to tell you I'm a big fan of those movies on Lifetime.

The 22.7 rating for Sunday's Ravens-Chargers telecast on WJZ/Channel 13 ranked 17th for games in NFL markets. Indianapolis was No. 1, at 38.2, for the Colts-New York Jets game.

High-definition fans, rejoice. After four weeks of low-fi Ravens telecasts, you get HD two weeks in a row. In addition to Monday's game on ESPN, Fox will be broadcasting the Carolina Panthers-Ravens on Oct. 15 in HD as well. (Fox carries more NFL games in HD than CBS - up to six per Sunday to CBS' three or four.) Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan - the former Chicago Bears defensive lineman, not the veteran sportscaster - will call the game.

I would probably have been able to pay more attention to what ex-Oriole Eric Byrnes had to say on ESPN's Baseball Tonight if he didn't have that wild, just-got-out-of-gym-class hairstyle.

You'll hear Pat Summerall calling a football game again on New Year's Day. Fox is bringing the retired play-by-play man back to call the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Summerall, 76, lives in the area.


Read Ray Frager's sports media blog at www.baltimoresun.com/mediumwell.

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Sept. 27-Oct. 3 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program ............. Date Channel Rating

Ravens-Chargers 10/1 13 22.7

Redskins-Jaguars 10/1 13 15.3

Packers-Eagles 10/2 ESPN 11.8

Bears-Seahawks 10/1 11 10.0

Sports Unlimited 10/1 45 5.5

NFL pre-game-a 10/1 11 5.1

Tigers-Yankees 10/3 45 5.1

NFL Today 10/1 13 4.8

Lions-Rams 10/1 45 3.8

SportsCenter-b 10/2 ESPN 3.2

a-7:30 to 8 p.m. b-midnight to 1:30 a.m.

[ Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]

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