Fans ready for their close-ups - but far from interested

Bailing you out with sports media notes while thinking about how hearing about letting John McCain be John McCain makes me think of Manny being Manny:

* Add me to the list of observers who have noted how TBS has emulated Fox's habit of cutting to close-ups of fans in order to accentuate the drama in the baseball postseason. However, given the way some of these games have gone, the close-ups could easily just be of people packing up to leave the ballpark before the ninth inning.


* So not only does Baltimore really like to watch the debates (as ratings reflect), but we also really like to watch NBC's Sunday Night Football. At an average rating of 15.7, Baltimore ranks sixth in the country's markets for the late NFL game. What makes our market's ranking more notable is that the Ravens haven't played on Sunday night, while teams from the first through fifth cities have played at least once on NBC. In fact, Baltimore's Sunday Night rating ranks ahead of eight cities whose teams have played in the game.

* Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Football is King ratings world, ESPN's Monday Night telecast of the Cleveland Browns-New York Giants drew a bigger rating than Fox's National League Championship Series game at the same time. I'm sure it made Bud Selig's day to know a postseason game, featuring a team from Los Angeles, got 5.0 percent of the national audience while a regular-season NFL game got an 8.4.


* Comcast SportsNet has live coverage of Maryland Madness from College Park tonight at 9. SportsNet's Chick Hernandez and Terps radio analyst Chris Knoche host the telecast, which is certain to feature a dramatic entrance by men's coach Gary Williams. My suggestion: He flies into Comcast Center inside the Iron Man suit.

* Speaking of Terps basketball, MASN will carry the BB&T; Classic doubleheader on Dec. 7 (5 p.m.) - Navy vs. Virginia Tech, followed by Maryland vs. George Washington.

* Magic Johnson, who has been a studio analyst for seven years for Turner Sports, is joining ESPN, where he will fill the same role on ABC's NBA studio show. In addition, former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson also has signed on to be an analyst on ESPN's studio show. ESPN also announced that NBA game analyst Jeff Van Gundy - a good-humored presence on every telecast - has agreed to a multiyear contract with the network.

What we need now is a telecast featuring the ex-Dallas coach, Washington Capitals analyst Craig Laughlin and MASN's Buck Martinez. Can you imagine? Avery Johnson's squeaks, Laughlin's animation-ready voice and Martinez's Columbia School of Broadcasting intonations.

* It's not fair to judge Versus' Sports Soup on only its debut show, but I wasn't feeling most of the hilarity heard in the background to accompany the clips and host Matt Iseman's commentary. Let's give it time. However, I did chuckle at the spliced-together tape of CBS' James Brown constantly saying, "Thank you so very much" on The NFL Today.

* Ravens fans who recall some of the receiving combinations during Brian Billick's tenure as coach might find his comments about the Dallas Cowboys' acquisition of Roy Williams interesting. Billick, now a Fox analyst, said via a news release: "Talent always makes you better, but wide receiver is the singular position where it's hard to have two really good guys under contract at the same time. They are in competition with one another. Defensive ends aren't in competition, and you can have all the good linemen you want. But from a contractual standpoint, receivers are constantly in competition with one another to be the No. 1 guy, because that No. 1 guy means No. 1 receiver money on the team. Having Terrell Owens and Roy Williams there together is going to be interesting."

* Press Box, the free sports tabloid run by veteran Baltimore sports personality Stan "The Fan" Charles, is going from a weekly to a monthly, starting with an edition Nov. 15.

* My Baltimore Sun colleague Peter Schmuck was roasted Wednesday night in an event to benefit the Cool Kids Campaign. Word is one of the best lines about the Hawaiian-shirted wonder came from our former colleague Roch Kubatko, now blogging for MASN. Speaking of Schmuck's physique, Kubatko said: "Pete was the only guy on his high school baseball team to test positive for caramel."