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THE INSIDE TRACK | Morning Briefing

Victoria's Secret Wasn't Even Show's Sponsor

September 17, 1998|HELENE ELLIOTT

Proving the public appetite for scandals--and those involved in them--is never satiated, ratings for the Madison Square Garden Network's nightly sports show went up 57% for Marv Albert's first night back on the air after his resignation from MSG and firing by NBC nearly a year ago.

Albert, the longtime voice of the New York Knicks and Rangers and the lead announcer on NBC's NBA telecasts, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge last year after a former girlfriend accused him of throwing her on a hotel room bed, biting her on the back repeatedly and forcing her to perform oral sex. Before his plea, the case was notable for its lurid testimony about his sex life and cross-dressing habits.

The show Albert anchors, "MSG Sports Desk," had a rating of 0.43, meaning about 427,000 cable customers in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area watched his return. The show averaged a 0.27 rating during the previous six weeks.

Albert has been going to therapy regularly and recently married his longtime fiancee, Heather Faulkiner. He made no mention of his yearlong absence from the airwaves except to sign off by saying, "Great to be back. I'm Marv Albert, thanks for tuning in."

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Trivia time: Only six players in major league baseball history have scored 2,000 runs. Who are they?

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Lot of hot air: The Carolina Hurricanes, whose attendance was dismal last season, will section off the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum to reduce the arena's capacity for hockey from 21,000 to 11,500.

Hurricane owner Peter Karmanos told the Greensboro News and Record he wants to create demand by limiting supply. "If you know that, no matter what, you can always get a ticket, that makes it hard for us to do business," he said. "You want people to understand that tickets are something you need to plan for in advance."

Arena officials are unhappy because they get a cut of parking revenues.

"I asked the Hurricanes which member of their staff would be at the Ranger game to tell 75 angry New Yorkers that they couldn't get in, even though there are seats available," said Matt Brown, the arena's managing director. "They didn't have an answer for me."

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Jolt of Joe: Joe DiMaggio didn't take androstenedione, the muscle-building substance many people believe helped Mark McGwire bulk up enough to break Roger Maris' home run record. But DiMaggio acknowledged he had a bit of help.

"All I ever did was ask [equipment manager] Pete Sheehy for half a cup of coffee when I got in the clubhouse," DiMaggio told the New York Times. "But there were a lot of half-cups. It stayed hot that way."

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Trivia answer: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson.

And finally: Synchronized swimming is scorned by many skeptics who consider it more theatrical than athletic. Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno is among the unconverted, even after watching Canadian swimmer Valerie Hould-Marchand win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games with a routine that had a "Romeo and Juliet" theme.

Wrote DiManno, "So young, so tragic. So much makeup."

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