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Cable Guys Make Pitch to Avoid Shutout

March 28, 1997|LARRY STEWART

The Dodgers' sold-out opener against Philadelphia at Dodger Stadium next Tuesday afternoon is being televised by Fox Sports West 2, which is nice, except that hardly anyone without DirecTV can get Fox Sports West 2.

As a goodwill gesture, Fox Sports West is doing what it can to make the game available to those who really want to see it. At five locations throughout the Southland, they're setting up 12-by-16-foot jumbo screens, complete with bleachers. There will be free refreshments, celebrities and giveaways and no charge for attending.

The five locations:

--Century City Entertainment Center between the Twin Towers;

--City Corp. Plaza downtown on Figueroa between 7th and 8th streets;

--Warner Center Plaza Fountain Courtyard in Woodland Hills;

--outside Planet Hollywood at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa;

--Ontario Mills, near the food court.

"We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to come out, even on their lunch hour, and have some fun watching the Dodgers on opening day," said Kitty Cohen, general manager of Fox Sports West.


Never has there been so much televised weeknight baseball as there will be this season.

FX, Fox's entertainment cable channel, will offer a Monday night game each week during the season, although this package makes its debut next Friday with a Florida-Cincinnati game. Monday telecasts won't begin until April 14.

Fox Sports Net, which includes Fox Sports West, will have a Thursday night package. It starts next week with a Chicago Cub-Florida game.

Saturday games on the Fox network begin May 31.

ESPN returns with Sunday and Wednesday night packages and opens with a tripleheader Tuesday, beginning at 10 a.m.


CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, who will be working his 12th Final Four on Saturday and Monday night, and commentator Billy Packer, who will be working his 23rd--his 16th for CBS--both said during a conference call Thursday the field has never been so evenly balanced.

"Any one of the four teams has a good shot of winning it," Packer said.

If form follows, the semifinals Saturday and the final Monday night should be thrillers. Overall, the quality of the games has been tremendous. The same can't be said for the television coverage.

Fortunately, though, CBS is done with split screens, reduced screens and all those kinds of things.

The network has a couple of new toys in Indianapolis--robotic cameras behind each backboard and a hand-held super slo-mo camera--but the hope is it will use these things judiciously.

Saturday at 1 p.m., CBS offers a 1 1/2-hour pregame show, with the games to begin at 2:30 p.m. On Monday, there will be a 15-minute pregame show at 6 p.m., with tip-off scheduled for 6:18.


ABC will devote an hour to the life of Ted Williams in a special to be shown Sunday at 2 p.m. Al Michaels interviewed Williams, 78, in February. The profile begins with Williams' childhood in San Diego, where he grew up a block from the baseball field at Hoover High, where he first became a star.

The show includes his stints as a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War. Among those interviewed about Williams is former astronaut and pilot John Glenn, who flew with Williams in Korea.

The show also deals with Williams' feuds with the press and his refusal to tip his cap after being booed by the fans at Fenway Park during his second season in Boston, although Williams doesn't address these topics in the interview with Michaels.

However, he did during a conference call with reporters this week.

"I never had any problem with radio or TV people. It was always something written that wasn't right," Williams said. "I was always being misquoted or the guy writing didn't know a damn thing about baseball.

"But you guys seem to be authentic writers. You know something about baseball and also something about Ted Williams, and I'm very happy about that."

About not tipping his cap after being booed, Williams said, "That was silly because, generally, the Boston fan was so great."


Maybe Craig Sager momentarily forgot he works for a legitimate outfit, Turner Broadcasting, and not "Hard Copy" or some other tabloid show. To get an interview with Shaquille O'Neal, Sager, trespassing on O'Neal's property, got to his Orlando home by boat, then barged in on Shaq. O'Neal, who eventually agreed to talk with Sager, told him the next time he might be targeted by one of his employees who shoot alligators on his property.

The interview was shown on TNT on Tuesday night.


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