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TV-RADIO LARRY STEWART

Dodgers Keep Porter Guessing About Future

September 17, 2004|LARRY STEWART

Ross Porter is concerned. His contract with the Dodgers is up, the team has been bringing in guest analysts for tryouts, and he has heard that he would be replaced.

Rick Monday's contract is up as well, but Porter, 65, seems to be the focus of most rumors.

Porter, a Dodger announcer since 1977, would like to know if he figures in the Dodgers' plans.

"I feel that after 28 years, I'm entitled to know before the season is over," he said.

According to one rumor, the Dodgers would like to sign Matt Vasgersian, a 1989 USC graduate in his third season with the San Diego Padres. He is in the second of three option years in a five-year contract, so conceivably is available.

Vasgersian, who covered baseball and softball at the Olympics for NBC, said the Dodgers had not contacted him.

The Dodgers also have an eye on Don Sutton, Atlanta Braves' announcer and Hall of Fame Dodger pitcher. He is in the first of two option years in a four-year contract. Sutton would like to return to the West Coast, but a salary in the $1-million range may put him out of reach.

Decisions on the Dodger announcing team will be made in conjunction with the team's broadcast partners. The lead man for the Dodgers is Lon Rosen, new executive vice president.

"We have had no discussions with any play-by-play people," he said. "The only discussions we have had have been with the guest analysts we have brought in. At the end of the season, we will be evaluating everything."

Guest appearances on radio broadcasts have been made by Tommy Davis, Eric Davis and Eric Karros. Karros seemed most comfortable behind a microphone.

Yet to come are Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Al Downing, the most experienced broadcaster of the group.

One of those six probably will join the announcing team next season. Whether Porter, or even Monday, also will stay remains to be seen.

Young and Hip

If the Dodgers are interested in Vasgersian, they must like his hip style.

He's known for working in a little pop culture. For example, the Padres had an outfielder named Eugene Kingsale in 2002, and once, when Kingsale smashed a key hit up the middle, Vasgersian said, "Careful with that ax, Eugene."

It was a reference to a Pink Floyd song, and probably something you'd never hear from Vin Scully.

However, Vasgersian, 36, who was NBC's lead announcer during the one-year, failed XFL experiment, is a solid baseball announcer. He did his time in the minor leagues in Huntington, W.Va.; Adelanto, Calif.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Tucson and El Paso before spending five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Tight Squeeze

It's bad enough that television dictates college football game times, making it impossible for season-ticket holders to plan ahead.

TV also tries to fit games into tight time slots. Such is the case with a doubleheader on ESPN Saturday. There's Notre Dame-Michigan State at 4 p.m. and Brigham Young-USC at 7.

So what happens if the first game runs long? An ESPN spokesman said the network would probably leave the first game in the L.A. market so that Trojan fans wouldn't miss any plays.

But if the first game is close ...

Boxing Beat

There are two intriguing fights on tap in a five-day span.

Some experts are saying Saturday night's HBO Pay Per View bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins could be the fight of the year.

And Thursday night's heavyweight title fight between James Toney and Rydell Booker at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula figures to be another good one. It is being televised as part of that night's FSN's "Best Damn Sports Show Period."

Short Waves

Fox Sports Net has officially changed its name to FSN. FSN West and FSN West 2 are now the official names of the two L.A. networks.... On FSN West 2 tonight, after high school football, is the second edition of the high school wrap-up show with Lindsay Soto and Sean Farnham.... The FSN West 2 high school classic Sunday night at 8 is the 1998 game between Concord De La Salle and Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Ratings for the U.S. Open women's final were off 12% from a year ago, and the ratings for the men's final was off 29%.... The USA Network and NBC are offering 26 hours of Ryder Cup coverage today through Sunday.

Oops department: Those listening to Sunday's Philadelphia Eagle-New York Giant game on KMPC (1540) got a jolt in the middle of the fourth quarter when the game was cut off. KMPC General Manger John Ryan said it was a switching problem at the Sporting News Radio network master control facility in Northbrook, Ill. In other words, someone hit the wrong switch at the wrong time.

In Closing

As Scully has noted, there is nothing that quite matches the excitement of Eric Gagne coming in from the bullpen to save the day.

Since mid-August, FSN West 2 has shown Gagne's entrance without commercial interruption. Channel 13 should do the same.

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