Nation Gets McGwire, L.A. Gets Angels

Ready for another dose of Mark McGwire?

Well, don't get too excited.

Fox is televising the St. Louis Cardinals' game Saturday at Houston, with the Astros' Randy Johnson pitching against McGwire, to 69% of the country, but not Los Angeles.

We get the Angels at Baltimore at 10 a.m. instead.

You can't really fault Fox this time. Let's not forget, the Angels are in a division race.

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Everyone is talking about the resurgence of baseball, but "Monday Night Football" on ABC still got a better national rating than McGwire's record-breaking performance Tuesday night on Fox, 14.8 to 12.9.

What else can baseball do?

And a 14.8 is only a mediocre football rating.

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For Joe Buck, the Fox play-by-play announcer who called McGwire's record home run, things didn't quite work out as planned.

"While in bed looking at the ceiling I pretty much figured out what I was going to say," he said.

He said he planned to say something like: "There it goes, here it is. Your new single-season home run champion Mark McGwire with 62 as he floats around the bases and into the history books!"

So what happens?

"He hits his shortest home run of the season, and it's all over so fast," Buck said. "It was a script buster. Everything went down the drain."

Buck settled for: "Down the left-field line, is it enough? Gone! There it is, 62. Touch first, Mark, you are the new single-season home run king!"

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It was good to hear Ernie Banks, who knows a lot about the topic, talking about sportsmanship on ABC's "Nightline" and Fox Sports Net's "The Last Word." He and McGwire make great ambassadors for baseball.

Channel 4's Fred Roggin on Tuesday night had a nice interview with Rod Dedeaux, McGwire's coach at USC, and dug up a 1989 interview he did with a much- younger-looking McGwire.

Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa was on "Up Close" Wednesday with Chris Myers and talked about flying to Florida for his 84-year-old mother Oliva's funeral after Monday's game and hustling back for Tuesday's game. La Russa wasn't going to return that soon, but his father encouraged him to go.

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Did you notice that ESPN, for its highlights of McGwire's feat on "SportsCenter" Tuesday night, used WGN footage instead of Fox?

The ESPN-Fox rivalry is heating up.

ESPN this week noted that in some markets, such as San Francisco and Arizona, "Fox Sports News" could not cover the postgame ceremony in St. Louis live because of local telecasts on Fox regional networks.

"We showed that we are the true national voice of sports news," ESPN executive editor John Walsh told Associated Press. "Our competition showed last night that they are not a national service."

THESE ICONS STILL TICKING

Stu Nahan, 72, retired from doing weeknight sports for Channel 5 a year ago and now does only weekend commentaries for the station, but he says anyone who thinks he has hung up his microphone is mistaken.

"I had worked five nights a week in television for 42 years," Nahan said. "I figured that was enough. But that doesn't mean I've retired."

Nahan, who lives in Studio City with wife Sandy, a psychotherapist with clinics in Encino and Beverly Hills, was an L.A. sports anchor for three decades, 1968-98. He still knows just about everyone in the L.A. sports scene and he knows hockey, the sport he once played, as well as anyone.

Surely, he'd make a nice fit somewhere.

Another L.A. sports icon is Bud Furillo, who turned 73 on Aug. 19 and has been doing a daily 4-6 p.m. sports radio talk show for KPSI in Palm Springs for 5 1/2 years. "I love it here," Furillo said. "I've never been happier."

This year marks Furillo's 50th in sports. He started at the old Los Angeles Herald Express in 1948, was sports editor of the Herald Examiner from 1964 to '74, and did talk radio in the '70s and '80s for KABC and KIIS.

Furillo, who lives in Palm Desert with his dog, Rip, does his KPSI show with partner Steve Kelly from Big League Dreams in Cathedral City, one of the finest youth sports complexes in the country. Co-owner Rick Odekirk said he is tentatively planning a bash for this fall to mark Furillo's 50 years in sports.

If even a fraction of the people Furillo knows show up, it would be quite an affair.

SHORT WAVES

Let's not be too harsh on CBS' "The NFL Today" cast after one Sunday. When the nerves calm down, this group should be all right. The show's host, Jim Nantz, adds dignity, something that is often missing in sportscasting these days. . . . It's also too early to judge Channel 2's "Sports Central" NFL pregame and postgame shows, but it appears the station has found winners in broadcasting rookies Stan Humphries and Lisa Guerrero. . . . Jim Hill can now also be heard Fridays at 7:35 a.m. on K-EARTH 101.1 with Charlie Van Dyke. . . . Rory Markas, let go by the Clippers, has found another radio play-by-play job. He and Jim Hefner will do USC basketball for XTRA 690. Markas, who replaces Larry Kahn, still does sports for KNX radio and has been doing fill-in work at Channel 11. Hefner is a former USC assistant coach (1966-78) and assistant athletic director (1979-88). . . . Because of NFL pregame programming, Monday editions of ESPN's "Up Close" are now on at 1:30 p.m.

IN CLOSING

How dumb is this? XTRA 1150's Steve Mason agreed to box a 52-year-old reverend from Long Beach, a former boxer, in Ontario last Friday. Before the bout, Mason pulled the reverend aside to inform him this was a joke. Didn't matter. The reverend pounded the defenseless Mason until station executive Tom Boman stepped in to break up the fight, and Boman, who has a tongue stud, ended up with a bloody mouth. Only in talk radio.

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What Los Angeles Is Watching

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for Sept. 5-6, including sports on cable networks:

SATURDAY*--*

Over-the-air Channel Rating Share College football: Michigan at Notre Dame 4 6.1 16 Baseball: San Francisco at Dodgers 11 4.0 10 Tennis: U.S. Open (daytime) 2 3.6 10 College football: Ohio State at West Virginia 2 3.4 8 College football: Michigan State at Oregon 7 1.0 3 Golf: Greater Milwaukee Open 7 1.0 3 Soccer: Galaxy at Miami 5 0.7 2

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Cable Network Rating Share College football: Tennessee at Syracuse ESPN 2.2 6 College football: Washington at Arizona State FSW 1.6 3 Tennis: U.S. Open (evening) USA 1.5 4 College football: Brigham Young at Alabama ESPN 1.2 3 College football: Colorado State at Colorado ESPN 1.1 2 College football: Illinois at Washington State FSW 0.5 1 College football: Vanderbilt at Mississippi State ESPN2 0.4 1 Baseball: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh WGN 0.6 2 Horse racing: Del Mar 'Cap; Hopeful Stakes ESPN 0.4 1 SUNDAY Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Pro football: New York Jets at San Francisco 2 9.6 3 Pro football: Detroit at Green Bay 11 7.4 19 Baseball: Cincinnati at St. Louis 11 7.4 8 Pro football: Pittsburgh at Baltimore 2 5.3 14 Golf: Greater Milwaukee Open 7 0.8 2 Soccer: MLS, N.Y./New Jersey at Columbus 34 0.7 2 Cable Network Rating Share Pro football: Oakland at Kansas City ESPN 4.4 10 Tennis: U.S. Open (daytime) USA 2.0 5 Tennis: U.S. Open (evening) USA 1.7 4 Auto racing: CART Molson Indy Vancouver ESPN 1.2 3 Auto racing: NASCAR Pepsi Southern 500 ESPN 1.1 3 Baseball: Atlanta at New York Mets TBS 0.5 1 Baseball: New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox WGN 0.4 1

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WEEKDAY RATINGS: Monday--Pro football, New England at Denver, Ch. 7, 14.8, 27; Tennis, U.S. Open, Ch. 2, 4.1, 9.

Tuesday--Baseball, Chicago at St. Louis, Ch. 11, 15.0, 27.

Note: Each rating point represents 50,092 L.A. households. Cable ratings reflect the entire market, even though cable is in only 63% of L.A. households.

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