Rome's place in talk-show rankings gives pause; Traber gets a mention

The Baltimore Sun

Presenting another column in the same week when I was hit with the sports media notes franchise tag, which works out to be enough to pay for just basic cable - no Cathouse on HBO! - for about six months:

* Talkers magazine, a radio trade publication, ranked the top 250 talk show hosts in the country. Jim Rome, whose long pauses and almost incomprehensible self-references are heard locally on Fox Sports 1370, was the highest-rated of the sports variety at No. 29.

No Baltimore sports types made the list. However, former Oriole (and Wilde Lake graduate) Jim Traber made the unnumbered part of the rankings between 101 and 250 for his show on Oklahoma City's WWLS.

* She certainly deserves credit for getting Chris McAlister on the radio shortly after he was cut by the Ravens on Monday, but the tone of Anita Marks' interview with him on 105.7 The Fan was almost funereal.

We understand the desire to sound somewhat sympathetic to McAlister's situation and to be respectful, but, come on, nobody died.

* CBS' Jim Nantz has won his fourth National Sportscaster of the Year award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

* Jon Gruden, recently deposed as Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, has joined the NFL Network for its coverage of the NFL scouting combine this weekend. But it might be hard to pick him out among the huge cast of commentators the network has assembled: Brian Billick, Paul Burmeister, Charley Casserly, Fran Charles, Charles Davis, Jamie Dukes, Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Scott Hanson, Kara Henderson, Steve Mariucci, Mike Mayock, Deion Sanders, Warren Sapp, Adam Schefter, Solomon Wilcots, Regis Philbin, Pauly Shore and Carrot Top.

Yeah, I added a few to that list.

* Charles Barkley returned to TNT last night after his leave that followed his drunken-driving arrest. In a Q&A; with his studio partner Ernie Johnson, posted at NBA.com, Barkley was extremely apologetic, saying: "This is just my bad, no excuses, it was unacceptable. I think that a DUI is unacceptable. ... It's really, really embarrassing for myself and my family. ... It's not just about me. I embarrassed a lot of people in this situation."

Barkley said he could have to serve some jail time and undergo alcohol counseling. Asked whether he would be able to stop drinking if that's what a counselor tells him he needs to do, Barkley said: "I feel I can do anything that I put my mind to."

Meanwhile, Barkley not only is returning to the air with TNT, but his cell-phone commercials with Miami Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade also are back on and he soon will be featured in a Golf Channel series with famous instructor Hank Haney, who will try to fix Barkley's awkward golf game.

Alex Rodriguez is not the only one rehabbing his image.

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