NBC strains to get every splish, splash

Laying up more sports media notes while being thankful that no one tries to throttle me while I'm typing the way opposing players do to LeBron James when he drives to the basket:

NBC really, really wants to see someone hit the ball into the water this weekend at The Players Championship (tomorrow and Sunday, 2 p.m., on WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4). How much?


At a typical hole, the network would deploy four microphones. For No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass, with its famous island green, NBC has installed 21 microphones, including 15 designated as "Splash Mics," along with 10 cameras.

Chances are, NBC will be rewarded. About 120,000 balls end up in the water over a year.


The network's lead golf analyst, Johnny Miller, said of the hole: "It makes me nervous. You've got to get some scar tissue on that hole.

"It never goes away. You'll never forget when you miss that green in that water. Never," Miller said, according to highlights from a conference call.

NBC's Roger Maltbie said: "I used to make it a habit on Wednesday [during a practice round], I'd fire one or two of them in there just to get it done. I figured I'd serve the Terrible Water God at 17 and I'd be done for the week."

In some corners, NBC drew heavy criticism for not focusing enough on Eight Belles' death at Saturday's Kentucky Derby. The question was how to balance the triumph of Big Brown with the tragedy of the filly.

Producer Sam Flood told the Associated Press: "You're making instant decisions on documenting a story and making the audience aware of what happened without sensationalizing it."

The pictures of Eight Belles' breakdown after the race came from the blimp camera.

"You don't want to show anything visually that makes you ill, that you inside say, 'I don't want my wife or child to see that,' " Flood said.

I wouldn't pile on NBC too heavily - after all, this wasn't analogous to what happened to Barbaro in the Preakness - but I would fault the network for reacting too slowly immediately after the race.


HBO's Real Sports (10 p.m. Monday) reports on the practice of selling used-up thoroughbreds for overseas slaughter and packaging of horsemeat in countries where it is normal fare for people. HBO used hidden cameras to track the horses to auctions in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The first two rounds of the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament are being carried exclusively by ESPNU, featuring every game. That's great news for lacrosse fans - if they have satellite television. Otherwise, they're out of luck. Comcast systems don't carry ESPNU, so no lacrosse for you. Your Quint Kessenich fix will have to wait until the semifinals, which are on ESPN2.

Pete Medhurst of the Navy Radio Network reports he'll be a busy guy tomorrow. He's calling the Atlantic 10 softball championship for CBS College Sports at noon from Charlotte, N.C., then Navy at North Carolina in the NCAA lacrosse tournament at 7:30 p.m. on WNAV (1430 AM). Meanwhile, he'll cross his fingers that he doesn't get an emergency call from his wife, who is eight months pregnant.

It turns out another set of jobs has been outsourced to India - ticket scalping. On ESPN's E:60 at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the segments include a report of how brokers are gobbling up sports tickets. One practice is to employ workers in India to flood ticket-selling Web sites immediately when a sale begins.

Carnac opens the envelope. "Sis boom bah," he says. Ed repeats, "Sis boom bah." Carnac says: "Describe the sound a sheep makes when it explodes."

Why recall that Johnny Carson routine? Because at 8 tonight on E!, THS Investigates blows the lid off cheerleading. The program reports on risks and abuses associated with cheerleading, "to reveal what really goes on behind the pompoms and ponytails."


According to an E! news release, Dr. Frederick Mueller, director of the National Center For Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, said: "Cheerleading, among female sports, especially at the high school, it's the No. 1 source of catastrophic injuries."

But will the investigation cover wardrobe malfunctions as detailed in the cult classic movie Hollywood Knights? OK, it's not really a cult classic, but it does feature a scene with a cheerleader wardrobe malfunction - along with Robert Wuhl singing a Lawrence of Arabia song.

But I digress. And at the end of the column, no less.