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Scully Loses Voice, Costas Fills In

NBC came up with a new announcing team Thurday night, Bob Costas and Tom Seaver.

Costas had to replace Vin Scully, who called in sick with laryngitis Thursday morning.

Costas, who is doing the American League playoffs with Tony Kubek, was in Toronto, where that series between Oakland and the Blue Jays will resume today. He took a midday flight to Chicago to work Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between San Francisco and the Cubs.

After arriving in Chicago, Costas said: “It was an emergency. Somebody once said 80% of success is showing up. I was close by, and I showed up.”

Shortly after coming on the air, Costas explained the situation to viewers. “I feel like I’m coming out of the bullpen to relieve Sandy Koufax,” he said.

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Scully, who saw a doctor Thursday, spent the night resting in his hotel room. He is expected back when the series resumes Saturday in San Francisco.

The quality of the television coverage of the baseball playoffs has been better than the quality of the games.

Scores of 9-5, 11-3, 7-3 and 6-3 don’t add up to a lot of excitement.

But NBC’s coverage has been outstanding, from the announcing to the camera work to the information culled by the statisticians.

When Chicago pitcher Mike Bielecki came to the plate with the bases loaded in the first inning Thursday night, Costas, courtesty of statistician Elliott Kalb, was ready with some trivia.

Seaver tried to cut him off, but Costas continued.

“We can’t leave the viewers hanging,” he said. “The last Cub pitcher to hit a grand slam was Burt Hooton in 1972. Who did he hit it off?”

The answer: Seaver.

It was Seaver who offered the key statistic during Game 1 of this series. He said the Giants’ Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell had only two homers between them against the Cubs all season, but had combined for 68 against the rest of the league.

Clark and Mitchell had three against the Cubs Wednesday night, and Mitchell added another Thursday night.

Costas, all things considered, did a commendable job Thursday night, although he seemed to have trouble with his timing. Twice leading into commercial breaks he could be heard talking to his producer, once saying, “It’s my fault . . . “

Maybe Costas’ greatest achievement came when he signed off the air for good. “For Tom Seaver, I’m Bob Costas,” he said, managing to avoid saying, “For Tony Kubek . . . “

During Wednesday’s telecast, Scully came up with this one: Mitchell, when he has a cold, doesn’t rub on Vick’s VapoRub, he eats it. “Says it makes him feel good,” Scully said.

Maybe Scully should try it.

Kudos to Johnny Bench, who is working the American League playoffs for CBS Radio. Not only is he an excellent commentator, but when he switches chairs with play-by-play man Brent Musburger for a couple of innings, he also does a good job.

Bench offers solid insight. For example, he said that when he was catching, he didn’t believe in taking a pitchout when a baserunner was threatening to steal.

“Some catchers prefer a pitchout,” he said. “But, for me, a high strike worked just as well and you didn’t waste a pitch.”

Musburger and Bench came up with a good idea on Wednesday’s pregame show, calling Jose Canseco’s 900 number. One thing they learned was that the A’s slugger had a migraine headache and wouldn’t start.

ABC originally planned to televise Notre Dame at Stanford to most of the country Saturday, but because of USC’s exciting 18-17 victory over Washington State and Stanford’s 40-33 loss to San Jose State last weekend, ABC instead chose the Trojans’ game with Washington.

Now an ABC affiliate, WSJV in Elkhart, Ind., will be the only station in the country showing Notre Dame-Stanford live. WSJV will pick up SportsChannel America’s feed. SportsChannel is covering the game so that it can be shown tape-delayed Sunday at 10 a.m.

SportsChannel can’t show Notre Dame-Stanford live because ABC’s contract with the Pacific 10 Conference won’t permit a competing telecast at the same time.

SportsChannel asked Stanford to change the time of game so that it could be shown live, but was told it was too late.

No Los Angeles radio station will carry Notre Dame-Stanford live, since Notre Dame affiliate KORG (1190) is obligated to carry Cal State Long Beach’s noon game against New Mexico State.

But powerful XTRA (690) in San Diego, a Stanford affiliate that can be heard in the Los Angeles area, will carry Notre Dame-Stanford live.

UCLA’s home game with Arizona State Saturday night will be shown live at 7:30 by ESPN, with Mike Patrick and Gene Washington reporting.

The game will also be shown on Prime Ticket Sunday at 10:30 p.m.

Now that the baseball’s regular season is over and SportsChannel has no Dodger or Angel telecasts to offer, the pay-cable service is a tough sell.

Are subscribers willing to pay extra for Clipper telecasts, hockey games involving teams other than the Kings and mostly delayed Notre Dame football?

Only two Notre Dame games, Nov. 4 against Navy and Nov. 11 against SMU--talk about a blowout!--will be televised live by SportsChannel.

John Figueroa, SportsChannel’s vice president in charge of marketing, said, “We’re looking to appeal to sports fans who can’t get enough.”

Also, Figueroa is trying to get cable operators to group Sports- Channel with other services in a premium package at a reduced fee.

But most companies are still charging a separate monthly fee for SportsChannel, as much as $9.95.

You have to be a pretty big sports fan to accept that when you can get the Lakers and Kings and Pac-10 football on Prime Ticket as part of your basic service.

One company, Multivision of Anaheim, recently dropped SportsChannel.

“We’re trying to work something out with Multivision,” Figueroa said. “We got about 125 complaint calls from subscribers, and that’s a significant number.”

TV-Radio Notes

Sunday’s pro football: Buffalo vs. Indianapolis on Channel 4 at 10 a.m., with Dick Enberg and Bill Walsh reporting, and San Francisco vs. New Orleans on Channel 2 at 1 p.m., with Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw. . . . NBC football commentator Bob Trumpy will try his hand at calling a fight Saturday, doing the blow by blow of Tony Lopez vs. John-John Molina on the 1 p.m. “SportsWorld” show. Trumpy is filling in for Marv Albert, who will be busy with NBC’s baseball pregame shows this weekend.

How much more popular is pro football than college football among television watchers? The Rams’ game at San Francisco Sunday drew a 16.9 rating in Los Angeles, and Cleveland-Denver got a 12.2. USC’s nail-biter with Washington State Saturday drew only a 6.5.

Among the features on SportsChannel’s “Rams ’89" show today at 4:30 p.m. will be a one entitled the “Wacky World of the Wackiest Ram.” It’s on kicker Mike Lansford. . . . Speaking of wacky Rams, linebacker Kevin Greene sure looked a lot better on ESPN’s “Sports Look” Wednesday than he did on Channel 7’s “Monday Night Live” a few weeks ago. Greene not only looked sharp, he also sounded sharp during an interview with fill-in host Keith Olbermann. Regular host Roy Firestone is on a two-week vacation.

A one-hour special, which will preview the Oct. 14 Oak Tree Invitational and also take a look at Bill Shoemaker’s achievements during Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meeting, will be televised on Channel 18, KSCI, next Thursday at 6:30 p.m., before the regularly scheduled “Racing From Oak Tree” program. Gil Stratton is the host of the special.

ESPN has confirmed that Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, as reported earlier, will make up its No. 1 broadcasting team on baseball next season. . . . Joe Torre, hired by ESPN to appear with Chris Berman on “SportsCenter” as a special analyst during this year’s National League championship series, has been very good. Wednesday night he wasn’t afraid to criticize Cub Manager Don Zimmer, particularly for walking Brett Butler and then letting Greg Maddux pitch to Will Clark, who hit a grand slam.

Wayne Gretzky will be a guest on “The Arsenio Hall Show” tonight at 11 on Channel 13. . . . Evander Holyfield will appear on “After Hours,” a new syndicated magazine show, tonight at 11:30 on Channel 11.


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