Fox goes back to drawing board with NASCAR; Gammons criticized

The Baltimore Sun

Digging up this week's sports media notes while wondering whether they don't do drug testing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show because they don't want to mess up the carpets:

* In the proud tradition of Peter Puck, Fox will feature "The Adventures of Digger and Friends" during its NASCAR telecasts this season. The first segment debuts Sunday during the Daytona 500 preview show (2 p.m., chs. 45, 5). Digger has accompanied Fox's in-track Gopher Cam, but now he's being upgraded to his own little show with a cast of characters, including the sure-to-be-hissable security guard badger, Lumpy Wheels.

No, I didn't make any of that up.

* Beyond Digger, Fox's Daytona race telecast features the equally animated Darrell Waltrip, along with fellow analyst Larry McReynolds and race caller Mike Joy. Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum are in the pits.

* ESPN's Peter Gammons has come under fire in some quarters (not to mention some nickels and dimes) for not being tough enough in questioning Alex Rodriguez. In particular, Gammons left unchallenged Rodriguez's assertions that Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts was "stalking" him. Gammons acknowledged his mistake, e-mailing deadspin.com: "I think in retrospect, I should have interrupted the A-Rod rant."

Credit Newsday's Neil Best with an alternative idea for the best interviewer for Rodriguez's people to have chosen: Jim Gray. Just remember Gray's badgering interview of Pete Rose several years ago that made Rose - for the moment at least - a sympathetic character.

* So I'm watching SportsCenter yesterday afternoon and I see Chris McKendry using the studio's big television touch screen, and all I can think of is that she's doing a turn as a Vanna White who gets to talk.

* Starting on Thursday at 2:30 p.m., the NFL Network has 25 hours of live programming from the scouting combine in Indianapolis. In addition to news conferences, you can watch workouts as NFL talent evaluators find ways to undervalue what they've seen players do in actual football games.

* The more I hear Bruce Cunningham on his 105.7 The Fan talk show, the more I believe he - not Ryan Seacrest - is a worthy successor to Casey Kasem as host of American Top 40. Bruce, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

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