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Albert, Laker Rumors Swirl

June 18, 2004|LARRY STEWART

As if the Lakers didn't have enough to worry about, there were rumors coming out of New York that Marv Albert may become their new television play-by-play announcer.

Albert, besides his work with TNT, for years has been doing about 60 New York Knick games a season for MSG Network. He quit that job this week and said he'd like to hook up with another NBA team.

Then sports talk radio host Mike Francesa of New York's WFAN said the Lakers were interested in Albert's services, and the tabloids jumped on it. Soon other media outlets were reporting it.

One problem, though. It wasn't true.

Frank Mariani, Laker executive vice president who negotiates the team's broadcast deals, said he got a call from "a friend of a friend" of Albert, but there was "no interest" on the Lakers' part.

"We are set for next year," Mariani said. "We are happy with our broadcasters."

Another thing: Albert reportedly was making roughly $2 million a year with MSG, which is more than six times what Laker TV announcer Paul Sunderland makes.

Calls to Albert's cellphone were not returned.

Consolation Prize

The Lakers and Pistons dropped out of the sports spotlight sooner than expected, so now, besides the U.S. Open, the focus is on the New York Yankee-Dodger series at Dodger Stadium this weekend.

The Yankees and Dodgers, who met in 11 World Series over a 40-year span, haven't faced each other since the 1981 Series.

Tonight's game will be televised on Channel 13, Saturday's game will be shown in 82% of the country by Fox, and Sunday's 5 p.m. game is on ESPN.

An added plus is that Vin Scully will work at least six innings of the Saturday and Sunday games on radio. He'll do the first three innings and the final three, with Ross Porter handling the middle three Saturday and Rick Monday the middle three Sunday.

ESPN Classic is devoting a 34-hour block of programming, which began Thursday night and concludes Sunday at 9 a.m., to the Yankees and Dodgers.

Besides replays of classic World Series games, it includes a number of replays of "SportsCentury" segments on such people as Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson and Reggie Jackson, plus old "Up Close" interviews with Don Drysdale and Tom Lasorda.

Also included will be "One-on-One" interviews the late Dick Schaap did with Duke Snider, Lasorda and Steve Garvey. And former Yankee Tommy Heinrich will be on hand to discuss some of the Yankee-Dodger Series meetings.

Meanwhile on ESPN, today's "SportsCenter" segments, beginning at 3 p.m., will review 10 memorable Dodger-Yankee moments and also offer a feature on closers Eric Gagne and Mariano Rivera.

What Was He Thinking?

Those listening to an Angel pregame show on KSPN (710) on Saturday might have been astounded to hear what host Jerry Gardner was saying. Instead of talking baseball, Gardner decided to go on a rant about President Reagan, who was buried a day earlier.

Gardner not only criticized Reagan as a president, he referred to his funeral as "a ring around the casket." After several callers complained that his rant was inappropriate, Gardner said anyone who disagreed with him was a Nazi.

One listener said it was the worst thing he'd ever heard on radio, which covers a lot of ground.

Angel Vice President Tim Mead said team officials voiced their displeasure with Gardner to station executives.

KSPN program director Ray Kalusa said, "We realize it was inappropriate for our early edition Angel pregame show and we are dealing with it internally."

A Winning Idea

There are times when sports talk radio is responsible for good things. One of those is what XTRA (690, 1150) is planning for July 11 at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

It's a Winning Ways extravaganza featuring some of the biggest names in sports. There was a similar Winning Ways event in 1999 at Staples Center.

"This one is different," XTRA program director Don Martin said. "That was a seminar, with a lot a speeches. We're calling this a concert."

Besides such people as Donald Trump, Hulk Hogan, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, John Wooden, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman and many more, there also will be 50 Olympians along with 50 Special Olympic athletes taking part.

There will be picture and autograph sessions before and after the four-hour program that begins at 12:30 p.m.

The event, a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, complete with a torch lighting by Rafer Johnson, will benefit Special Olympics.

Short Circuited

ABC angered viewers outside the Pacific time zone by leaving the final round of the Buick Classic after the first of three playoff holes Sunday to air "America's Funniest Home Videos." On the West Coast, ABC left before Sergio Garcia made the winning putt on the third playoff hole.

ESPN was supposed to show highlights of the finish, but that didn't work out too well, because ESPN was in the middle of airing "Baseball Tonight." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said on CNBC that the contingency plan "wasn't executed."

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