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The Inside Track | Mike Penner SOUND AND VISION

It Was Nearly Time to Throw In the Towel

June 14, 2003|Mike Penner

They were talking dung on ESPN Friday.

Those who have ever sat through five minutes of "Around The Horn" will say that's no news flash, but this was during the second round of the U.S. Open.

Vijay Singh was on the 18th fairway when Chris Berman broke in with this bulletin:

"There's a clarification on 17 with the brush-away of -- dare I say it, David Fay -- the dung."

During his tenure as executive director of the U.S. Golf Assn., it's unlikely Fay has ever had an introduction quite like that.

"Well, it is confirmed that it is dung," Fay said.

"And it's only because that it was dung that was allowed to be done by towel. Now the decision doesn't [specify] that exception. But the dung was of such a size that in the opinion of the [course] official, there was no other way to remove it."

For those tuning in late, the U.S. Open still was being played at Olympia Fields, not inside the Ringling Brothers' elephant tent. Berman and Fay were referring to a bird dropping on the 17th green confronting a putt by Bernhard Langer. Moments earlier, an unfortunate TV cameraman had been instructed to zoom in on a glob of bird excrement while Langer and a tournament official huddled over it, wondering what to do about it.

Eventually, officials brought out a black towel and swept the obstacle away, prompting Fay, who's up on the rules, to observe that "you cannot use a towel to brush away a loose impediment, and that's what dung is."

And then Fay, like any good reporter, sought clarification. Upon further review, the towel was ruled legal, Langer's path was cleared, and maybe this weekend golf fans won't be grossed out as NBC takes over live U.S. Open television coverage and we can all get back to birdies dropping scores and nothing more.

Also upon further review: Considering the potential hazards overhead, this might be a good weekend to stay inside and consider:

TODAY

* Dodgers at Cleveland

(Channel 11, noon)

Some interleague matchups are more intriguing than others. Dodgers-Indians? The fabled rivalry? Believe it or not, Jacobs Field is overflowing with story lines this weekend. Two teams that haven't been back to the World Series since Orel Hershiser left them. Two cities that lost the Rams. Two cities with NBA teams that didn't know what to do with Andre Miller.

* New York Mets at Angels

(Fox Sports Net, 7 p.m.)

Mo Vaughn is on the disabled list, which Angel fans will find as amusing as Mo's infamous "There ain't no flags hanging over Edison Field" line of early 2002. The flags are flying now, won shortly after Mo took his act to New York. And what was that act again? Right. Mo sees fired people. Angel manager Terry Collins in Anaheim, Met general manager Steve Phillips, just the other day, in New York.

* Sparks at New York

(Channel 7, 1 p.m.)

For fans who have been watching the NBA Finals and want to reacquaint themselves with the concept of the successful jump shot.

* NFL Europe World Bowl

(Channel 11, 9 a.m.)

The Galaxy and the Fire meet for the championship, trying to sell a strange sport to a skeptical foreign audience confused by the rules, the equipment and the long stretches without action while wondering what it is millions of overseas fanatics see in this activity. Yes, it's the Frankfurt Galaxy versus the Rhein Fire in an all-Germany showdown for the championship of the NFL's European developmental league. Some of these players, if they are very lucky, will one day play in the NFL, where none of the players have half the world fame of David Beckham and Ronaldo.

SUNDAY

* College World Series

(ESPN2, 4 p.m.)

More ping. Less bling. No cork, too. You have to love the College World Series, where the coaches are named Augie and Smoke, the players run out every ground ball and Cal State Fullerton is capable of winning championships every decade. Already the Titans have won the title in 1979, 1984 and 1995. Is 2003 on deck? Fullerton has the pitching, and the incentive. Possibly awaiting the Titans in the final, if and when: Texas, coached by the man who choreographed the Titans' first three titles, Augie Garrido.

* NBA Finals, Game 6

(Channel 7, 5:30 p.m.)

So, Joe Piscopo introducing KC and the Sunshine Band during halftime of Game 4 of the NBA Finals was a themed concept: Three once-popular sources of entertainment that have seen better days. Then, with all the subtlety of the brick-layers wearing New Jersey white and San Antonio black, ABC airs grainy clips of George Gervin driving, Dr. J dunking and Connie Hawkins soaring while KC cranked out "That's The Way I Like It."

Shooting in these finals has been so bad that Bill Walton is wondering why more players don't use the backboard and quoting Princeton physics professors that, statistically speaking, the bank shot is the way to go.

Despite shooting 28% from the field, San Antonio lost Game 4 by a point, 77-76. ABC analyst Tom Tolbert went on Jim Rome's radio show Friday and quipped, "Seventy-seven points shouldn't win an Arena Football game, let alone a game in the NBA Finals." Tolbert also agreed when Rome called these finals "unwatchable." Unfortunately for Tolbert, he has to watch at least one more installment. The rest of us, we have remote control.

* "A Break in the Reign"

(Fox Sports Net, 9:30 p.m.)

Fox takes a look at what happened to the Lakers. Or: "Kobe Had His Surgery Four Weeks After The Lakers' Last Playoff Game And If Shaq Had Done The Same Last Year We'd Only Have Had To Watch The Nets Brick Shots For Four Games In The 2003 Finals."

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