Baseball, bikes and Becks on menu of media bites

The Baltimore Sun

We're sticking with column items in bite-sized form, but chew well. (And your mother reminds you to keep your mouth closed.)

Fox reports that its All-Star Game telecast Tuesday was the highest-rated sports programming since the last round of the Masters in April, and that the 8.4 rating was 35 percent higher than the average for the NBA Finals on ABC (6.2). The game was most watched in St. Louis (18.9), where maybe they all stayed with it to see if Albert Pujols would ever get in. Boston, Milwaukee, Detroit and Minneapolis were second through fifth, ahead of the city where the game was played, San Francisco. In Baltimore, the game got 9.2 percent of the audience, tied for 19th among major markets.

Tour de France fans without access to the Versus channel might have been looking forward to Sunday's one-hour show on the race airing on CBS. But, in Baltimore, the 2 p.m. program will be pre-empted on WJZ/Channel 13 by the Orioles vs. the Chicago White Sox. There's probably a joke there about spinning your wheels.

Today at 1 p.m., ESPNews covers David Beckham's introduction as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy - followed by a lengthy panel discussion of how everyone can't wait for NFL training camps to open. Beckham, by the way, barely lost the fan vote - by about 1.5 percent - to LaDainian Tomlinson in a round of ESPN's "Who's Now" tournament, which supposedly will determine the universe's most buzz-worthy athlete.

There's no guarantee we'll see any of them out on the course, but three quarterbacks with Ravens ties are playing in this weekend's American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Calif. - current backup Kyle Boller and former starters Trent Dilfer and Vinny Testaverde - televised by NBC (WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4) tomorrow at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Ravens tight end Todd Heap and ex-Orioles pitcher Scott Erickson also are in the field. All of them would be well-advised to watch out for the golf cart driven by fellow competitor Bruce McGill. After all, remember how he helped sabotage the parade when he played D-Day in Animal House?

In the first episode of ESPN's dramatic series The Bronx Is Burning, about the 1977 New York Yankees, the George Steinbrenner character discusses free-agent acquisitions with general manager Gabe Paul. Orioles second baseman Bobby Grich's name comes up, and the Yankees bigwigs talk about signing him for shortstop. When Grich decides to go to the California Angels, Paul says Grich didn't come to New York because Steinbrenner threatened him during negotiations. In addition to his fine acting performance, John Turturro looks like a double for Yankees manager Billy Martin.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Dan Patrick will be continuing in radio after he leaves ESPN next month, via a syndicated show from a Chicago-based company.

In announcing its NFL programming lineup, ESPN lists the Monday 4 p.m. show (featuring Trey Wingo, Mike Ditka, Merril Hoge and Mark Schlereth) as NFL PrimeTime. In addition to the common television sin of scrunching two words together for no apparent reason, ESPN tries to strip the term "prime time" of its meaning. At 4 p.m., the show is starting four hours before the accepted beginning of TV's true prime-time viewing period.

It's less than a month until the NFL preseason kicks off, with the Hall of Fame Game on the NFL Network at 8 p.m. Aug. 5. Besides eight live telecasts, the NFL Network is carrying 44 taped exhibitions. But just because you're paying the extra per month for the NFL Network, please don't feel obligated to stick through the fourth quarter of those games starting at midnight.

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