Dancing on job

The Baltimore Sun

Presenting this week's sports media notes while assuring you, dear reader, that at those rates, I was not Client 8:

Your boss doesn't want you watching the NCAA basketball tournament at work. I know this because USA Today featured the news - use of computer blocking technology - on its front page yesterday. Blame CBS for making the games even more available.

For the first time, every game - no blackouts - is available for free via March Madness on Demand (cbssports.com/mmod). And you could sign up (also free) for a "VIP Pass" that enables you to go to the front of the line when you log on, rather than waiting with all the other schlubs queued up to watch games on their computers. (By the time you read this, though, there might not be many passes left - it was 75 percent full by late yesterday afternoon.)

And just like all roads lead to Rome, all Web sites - some big ones, anyway - are leading to CBSSports.com. ESPN.com, SI.com, Yahoo, YouTube and Facebook are installing links to March Madness on Demand.

DirecTV customers get expanded coverage - four NCAA tournament channels. For highlights, cable TV subscribers can go to On Demand, which will be updated throughout the tournament.

Oh, and you can watch games on CBS television.

Sunday's NCAA selection show airs on CBS (WJZ/Channel 13 and WUSA/Channel 9) at 6 p.m., with the usual suspects. But just think how much more interesting it might be to make that The Usual Suspects, with Kevin Spacey debating Villanova's fate with Clark Kellogg and Billy Packer.

Bob Knight's initial appearance on ESPN Wednesday didn't create any headlines. His deskmates - Digger Phelps and Rece Davis - were deferential, and Knight often spoke in general terms about getting teams ready for the postseason. The Hall of Fame coach is no fan of conference tournaments, and in one segment he talked about giving bench players a lot of playing time in a first-round tournament game. (The Big Ten had a tournament during only his last three years at Indiana.)

Knight said (according to highlights from ESPN): "I voted against [a Big Ten tournament] every year that we had it, so maybe that's why we didn't play very well in it. I've never been in favor of the postseason tournaments because I've always felt that the conference championship over whatever it is - 16 or 18 games - is a tremendous accomplishment for a team, and why put them through something else?"

I'm not suggesting Knight go back to his plaid sport coats of yesteryear, but he was the only guy on the set not wearing a coat and tie. Now, that's not like disrespecting the Bing (a momentary pause to recall the late, great Sopranos), but it is disrespecting the SportsCenter.

ESPN baseball analyst (and former Orioles pitcher) Rick Sutcliffe has colon cancer, the network announced. A news release called his condition "treatable and curable" and said he hopes to return to the microphone later in the season after undergoing treatment.

The Ravens didn't make the playoffs, but they could win an Emmy. Among the NFL Network's 15 Sports Emmy nominations was its Mic'd Up production of the Ravens-San Francisco 49ers game in October.

The just-discontinued Inside the NFL from HBO tied with the channel's Real Sports for most nominations for a single series with five.

Among the nominees for on-air talent, one could quibble - or perhaps react by throwing one's shoe at the TV set - about the inclusion of Fox's Tim McCarver in the event analyst category.

One man's opinion on the winners in the announcing categories:

Studio host: Ernie Johnson, TNT, TBS (other nominees: James Brown, CBS; Bob Costas, NBC/HBO; Bryant Gumbel, HBO; Al Trautwig, Versus)

Play-by-play: Al Michaels, NBC (Marv Albert, TNT; Joe Buck, Fox; Mike Emrick, NBC; Jim Lampley, HBO; Jim Nantz, CBS)

Studio analyst: Charles Barkley, TNT (barely beating ESPN's Jay Bilas; others: Terry Bradshaw, Fox; Cris Carter, HBO; Cris Collinsworth, NBC/HBO; Tom Jackson, ESPN)

Event analyst: Phil Simms, CBS (Troy Aikman, Fox; Doug Collins, TNT; Gary Danielson, CBS; John Madden, NBC; McCarver)

If you heard Tony Stewart complaining about his tires after Sunday's NASCAR race, you know he's not about to get a ride in the Goodyear blimp. But Fox analyst Jeff Hammond backs Stewart: "He was probably the spokesperson for 42 other guys. People don't understand what it's like to run over 180 mph thinking you are going to crash every lap."

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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