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The Inside Track | Mike Penner SOUND AND VISION

These Tigers' Lowest Shot Deserves Highest Profile

September 27, 2003|Mike Penner

One of baseball's most storied and cherished records is in jeopardy this weekend, and national television has no plans to do anything about it.

The Detroit Tigers have their eyes on the all-time mark for most defeats in one season, 120, and if things fall the wrong (right?) way for them today and Sunday against Minnesota, the 1962 New York Mets will no longer reign as the losingest team in major league history.

Certainly, the prize is well within the Tigers' grasp.

They have the talent.

They have the momentum.

But if they succeed in chasing down the Mets and a record that has lasted on the books longer than Roger Maris' so-called "invincible" home run record, the Tigers will do so without live TV coverage.

What has happened to the news judgment at Fox and ESPN?

(OK. You know the answer to that. I know the answer to that. But let's throw it out to, say, the NFL pregame teams at both networks and have them discuss it among themselves. We'll check back and see how they're doing with it on Super Bowl Sunday.)

Fox won't be showing the Twins at Tigers today. ESPN2 is devoting 5 1/2 hours Sunday to "pennant race coverage," with plans to cut back and forth among several games -- none of them Twins at Tigers.

What pennant races are we talking about? Five of baseball's six divisional championships have been clinched. Boston has clinched the American League's wild-card berth, and Florida has clinched the National League's. All that's left is figuring out whether the Chicago Cubs or Houston Astros win the NL Central title.

Where are the Tigers?

I scanned the weekend TV listings.

What's this? Saturday at 3 p.m. on Galavision -- Tigres vs. UNAM.

Sorry. Mexican league soccer.

What about this? Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 -- The seventh-ranked Tigers do battle.

Seventh-ranked? Can't be Detroit. Only five teams in the AL Central. Of course. It's the seventh-ranked Louisiana State Tigers visiting Mississippi State in college football.

Where are the Tigers?

ESPN2 is planning to check in on Sunday's Giant-Dodger game, presumably to see if Eric Gagne can set the major league single-season save record. Or if Barry Bonds can catch Willie Mays in home runs.

Not much drama with Bonds. He is going to catch Mays. If not this weekend, then early next April. That's as inevitable as Bonds blowing off the media. Or the Dodgers not making the playoffs.

These are the '62 Mets we're talking about. Choo Choo Coleman and Casey Stengel and Marvelous Marv Throneberry. The worst of the worst. The legendary yin to the '27 Yankees' yang. "Can't anybody here play this game?"

It has taken 41 years for someone to challenge those Mets, but here are the Tigers, knocking on the door.

This is history.

This is for the ages.

National TV should be there.

Remember the Tigers!

Meanwhile, the following programs are available for viewing this weekend:

TODAY

* USC at California

(Fox Sports Net, 3:30 p.m.)

The Trojans open Pac-10 play, and not a minute too soon. Take a week off and look what happens -- Oregon beats Michigan, all the West Coast buzz suddenly zooms to the north. Out of sight, out of mind, off the cover of Sports Illustrated.

* San Diego State at UCLA

(Fox Sports Net 2, 7 p.m.)

San Diego State comes in 3-1, but what to make of that 37-17 victory over Samford? Samford played the Aztecs short-handed. Son was unavailable for action.

* Tulane at Texas

(TBS, 4 p.m.)

Tulane has been on the offensive all season, cranking up the "We want in!" din outside the locked doors of the BCS old boys' club. Bulletin board material for Tulane: It's put up or shut up time.

* Argentina vs. Germany

(ESPN2, 12:25 p.m.)

Two of the greatest soccer-playing nations meet in a Group C match in the Women's World Cup while media pundits pose a question that has never been asked before an Argentina-Germany match in the men's World Cup: Will the stadium be more than half full?

SUNDAY

* San Francisco 49ers at

Minnesota Vikings

(Channel 11, 10 a.m.)

According to an ESPN.com fan poll, the Lambeau Leap was voted "best touchdown celebration ever," edging out Terrell Owens' 2002 end-zone autograph session. Initial reaction: Sharpie must have had employees stuffing the ballot box all week. Secondary reaction: Warren Sapp's "wiggle" came in fifth. There is no accounting for tastes. Inevitable reaction: Today, Owens or Randy Moss, one or the other, will probably think of something better.

* United States vs. North Korea

(Channel 7, 12:30 p.m.)

Another Women's World Cup game for Team USA and Mia Hamm, who is due to be married soon to Nomar Garciaparra. Will they also exchange championship rings while they're at it? Let's see: Hamm probably has to get through North Korea, Norway, Germany and China. Garciaparra probably has to get through the Oakland A's, the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants. Let's just say this: The curse of the Bambino has nothing to do with an Italian midfielder.

* San Diego Chargers at

Oakland Raiders

(Channel 2, 1 p.m.)

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the NFL, desperate for anything that might possibly persuade Maurice Clarett to drop his lawsuit against the league. Then came the 0-3 Chargers, on national TV, riding to the rescue.

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