Shortly after ABC announcer Al Michaels arrived at Dodger Stadium for Game 2 of the National League playoffs, he knew what more than likely would be the story of the game.
It would be the sports column that appeared in Wednesday’s New York Daily News under Met pitcher David Cone’s byline, a column that took some pretty good shots at the Dodgers, particularly pitchers Orel Hershiser and Jay Howell.
“We decided not to lead off the telecast with it--that would be sensationalizing it,” Michaels said. “We knew we’d get the opportunity to talk about it.”
That opportunity occurred in the second inning, when the Dodgers began pounding Cone. Michaels and broadcast partners Tim McCarver and Jim Palmer did some pounding of their own.
Michaels, having done some research, reported that the column actually was written by Daily News sportswriter Bob Klapisch, adding that Cone did not deny saying what was printed.
Said Palmer: “He says all the right things coming into this series, that what you do during the regular season really doesn’t matter if you don’t win in the postseason--and then he writes a column like that.”
Said McCarver: “He says he wants to be a sportswriter, so I guess he was just getting an early start.”
Said Michaels, showing off his knowledge of the newspaper business: “When you get knocked out in the second inning, you make the bulldog edition.” The bulldog, for those of you not up on your newspaper lingo, is the early edition.
What didn’t make the broadcast was what Cone later told newspaper reporters, that his comments were made facetiously. “To belittle an outstanding pitcher like Jay Howell was not my intent,” Cone said.
Most perplexed by Cone’s column was Palmer, a former pitcher. “Why he would do that is beyond me,” Palmer said after the telecast. “Surely not for the money. What could they be paying him, anyway?
“If you’re a pitcher, you never do anything to fire up the opposition. You’ve got to be cool at all times.
“I remember when (Dennis) Eckersley first came up with Cleveland, he would glare and snarl at a batter after he struck him out. We (the Baltimore Orioles) had some pretty tough hitters back then, and they’d remember that. Someone like Eddie Murray would knock one out on him the next time up.”
Palmer said Met management should not have let Cone write the column. McCarver, on the other hand, said on the air that management couldn’t tell Cone he couldn’t write a column if he really wanted to.
“That’s b.s.,” Palmer said. “I didn’t want to get in an argument on the air, but of course management could tell him not to write the column, and that’s what they should have done.”
The announcing by Michaels, McCarver and Palmer has been excellent. They don’t burden viewers with too many statistics, but they do offer plenty of pertinent information.
A high point was in the ninth inning of Game 1, when McCarver said the Dodger outfield was playing too deep for Gary Carter. “They’re playing the Gary Carter of 5 years ago,” McCarver said, just before Carter dropped his game-winning hit in front of center fielder John Shelby.
McCarver later said that being a Met television announcer, a job he held for the last 6 seasons, helped him recognize the situation. “But there’s no way you can plan something like that,” he said. “I got a little lucky.”
McCarver got off a good line during Game 2, calling fastballs, “Linda Ronstadt pitches--you know, Blue Bayous.”
Off the air, McCarver said: “I’ll admit it. I didn’t make up that line, but I won’t tell you where I got it. I used it once this past season and got three letters telling me Roy Orbison was the first to sing ‘Blue Bayou.’ But I figure when you’re doing a game in California you’ve got to go with Linda Ronstadt.”
Steamer Gets Steamed: Bud Furillo, who calls himself Steamer because his newspaper column is called the “Steam Room,” blew a gasket after seeing a quote by Peter Vent, his former broadcast partner, in this space last week. Furillo chose not to comment for the record about the feud.
Vent accused the former KABC radio “Sportstalk” host of muscling him out of the sports talk show the two were doing together the last 6 months for KFOX, an FM station in Redondo Beach.
Bob Davis, a Long Beach auto dealer who is the principal investor in the show, came to Furillo’s defense, saying that, although he could see why Vent felt the way he did, he hadn’t really been muscled out.
“My partner, Allen King, and Bud and myself wanted Peter to concentrate more on selling advertising,” Davis said. “But Peter wanted to share air time with Bud, even though Bud has 14 years of broadcasting experience.
“Did Bud influence our thinking? That’s possible. He has a very strong personality.
“Peter is a good kid. I’ve known him for about 5 years. He used to sell advertising to me, and I was a sponsor on a show he did for KPZE (in Orange County). But to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have backed the show on KFOX if he hadn’t recruited Bud.”
Jim Dolce, program director at KFOX, a brokerage station that sells air time to someone who has a show complete with sponsors, said: “Both Peter and Bud are fine people, but Bud’s craft is far more developed than Peter’s.”
Ducks Shot Down: Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. USC-Oregon game will be televised, delayed, at 7 p.m. by Prime Ticket. The reason these two 4-0 teams aren’t on network television is that the Trojans have reached their quota of five appearances.
They already have been on twice, and their forthcoming games against Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame are scheduled to be televised. The real loser is Oregon, which is missing out on a TV payday of about $115,000.
Chris Schenkel, whose last college football assignment was the 1979 Liberty Bowl, will announce Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. Washington-Arizona State game for ABC with Dick Vermeil. Schenkel is filling in for Gary Bender, who is working the American League playoffs. . . . Bender’s partners for the playoffs, Joe Morgan and Reggie Jackson, are good commentators, individually, but their styles are too similar for them to work well together.
Dick Stockton and Dan Fouts will announce the Ram game Sunday at Atlanta on CBS-TV. Stockton has also been announcing the American League playoffs on CBS Radio but will take time off to do the football game. Stockton, a Red Sox announcer in 1975, is working the Boston-Oakland series with Johnny Bench. . . . Brent Musburger is working the Dodger-Met series with Jerry Coleman on CBS Radio, so Verne Lundquist will announce Saturday’s Oklahoma-Texas game with Pat Haden on CBS-TV. Game time is 11:30 a.m., PDT.
Good news: Simmons Cable of Long Beach, which earlier this year dropped Prime Ticket because of a dispute over cost, reached a new agreement with the regional sports network and began carrying the service Thursday night, just in time for the King’ opener. . . . Bad news: The national SportsChannel hockey package, offering 181 National Hockey League games, is not being carried by a Los Angeles outlet, at least not yet.
It was good to hear Hank Stram, back from open-heart surgery, working Monday night’s New Orleans-Dallas football game for CBS Radio. . . . Kevin O’Malley, a former executive producer at CBS Sports, has been hired by TBS sports as a vice president.
Channel 4’s newscasts from Seoul during the Olympics might not have gone over very well with a lot of viewers, but they were ratings successes. Channel 4’s 9 p.m. newscasts during the Games averaged a 23.4 rating. During the same time period, Channel 7 averaged a 9.7 and Channel 7 an 8.1. Channel 4 averaged a 10.0 for its late news, with Channel 7 and Channel 2 both averaging a 3.2 for the same time period. . . . Add ratings: Tuesday night’s Dodger-Met game went up against an Olympic review on NBC in the East. In New York, the baseball game got a 31.9 rating, the review show a 7.8.