Winning calls

The Baltimore Sun

Whipping out the sports media notebook - metaphorically, that is; no need to duck - and wondering whether Brian Billick has secluded himself in a windowless room where he constantly works on pronouncing Osi Umenyiora's name:

This season has meant more chances for Joe Angel to put more games in the win! column. So how has it been so far for the Orioles' radio voice?

"The team has certainly been a lot more fun to broadcast," Angel said from Camden Yards on Wednesday. " ... I think every time the game starts, the Orioles think they can win. That always hasn't been the case in recent years."

As a big source of the Orioles' "never give up" approach, Angel cites the overhauled bullpen.

"When the skipper has gone to the bullpen, the game hasn't gotten away," he said. "It's a whole different attitude when the bullpen gets the job done."

As for the current state of affairs with the formerly lowly Tampa Bay Rays on top of the American League East, Angel said: "There's no reason Tampa Bay can't keep playing like they have."

Unlike in past years, he said, the American League has only two elite teams - the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels - leaving room for lots of other teams to stay in contention.

So you want to be a sportscaster? Are you up for interviewing some guy in a funny costume who doesn't want to buy into the fact that he's sitting there in a funny costume and supposed to engage in some lighthearted banter?

Between innings of Wednesday night's Orioles game, MASN's Amber Theoharis had to talk with the fellow playing a caveman character from the insurance company commercials. He had thrown out the first pitch. When Theoharis understandably tried to joke with him, he wouldn't really go along. Finally, after she said something about the caveguy's trying the fare at Boog's Barbecue, he responded he is a vegetarian and "meat is murder." Maybe that was the comedy portion of the interview.

Probably feeling as though she would have liked to club him over the head, Theoharis turned it back to the broadcast booth. Play-by-play man Gary Thorne sympathetically said to her: "Sometimes you really earn your money."

Yesterday, Theoharis said of the experience: "It just seemed like he was in character, then not in character. ... He just didn't go with it the way I thought he would. He was just a bad actor."

You would have thought a little bit of shtick would have been so easy a caveman could do it.

During Monday's NCAA lacrosse final on ESPN, analyst Quint Kessenich mentioned Major League Lacrosse enough times that it stuck out like a sore, uh, promotion. MLL games are carried on ESPN2.

Speaking of the NCAA and lacrosse, the media mentions of how many titles Syracuse has won points to an issue of the limits of NCAA sanctions. Though the organization took away the Orange's 1990 national championship for violations, you could hear or read of Syracuse's victory Monday being its 10th crown, no matter what the NCAA says.

It's sort of the same way the "vacated" Final Four appearance for Massachusetts in 1996 didn't stop anyone from referring to Memphis' trip this year as coach John Calipari's second time in the national semifinals.

Flip through your iPod to that Lipps Inc track. Won't you take me to ... Hockeytown.

Wednesday's Detroit Red Wings-Pittsburgh Penguins game drew the biggest national rating for a Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals in six years, with 2.3 percent of the audience for NBC. However, it still didn't beat ESPN's NBA playoff game between the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, which got a 5.3 rating.

In Detroit, though, hockey beat basketball, 18.2-15.9.

Sports talk host Mark Madden was booted off the air this week by ESPN for his remarks about Sen. Edward Kennedy on the network's radio affiliate in Pittsburgh, the Associated Press reported. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Madden said last week he hoped Kennedy - who has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor - "would live long enough to be assassinated."

ESPN has added a stat line to its top-of-the-picture graphic. Below the score, it will flash information on a batter's performance at a particular count, showing his batting average, homers and RBIs when facing 1-0 or 1-2, etc. I could be a curmudgeon and complain of too many graphics crowding the screen, but this is an enhancement for a viewer's inner seamhead.

ESPN2 is carrying the first round of baseball's amateur draft Thursday at 2 p.m. Karl Ravech hosts with analysts Steve Phillips and Chris Singleton. Phillips has been dispatched to Mel Kiper Jr.'s hairstylist.

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