It always seemed inevitable that Orel Hershiser would end up in broadcasting. Smart, glib, confident--he had all the attributes.
About the only person who wasn't sure about what Hershiser would do after his playing career was over was Hershiser.
He thought about possibly a front-office job in baseball, or maybe an on-field job. Broadcasting was third.
"There are two or three things you can do after your playing days are over," Hershiser said. "Broadcasting was my last choice."
After 17 years in the major leagues, he retired in June 2000. The 204-game winner had returned to the Dodgers and was 1-5 with a 13.14 earned-run average when it became apparent his playing days were over. The Dodgers retained him as a player-personnel consultant.
But that job didn't last long.
"I went down to triple-A Albuquerque for five days as a volunteer pitching instructor and scout," he said. "There really wasn't much for me to do. Things just didn't work out."
Hershiser filed one report. And that was that.
Hershiser and the Dodgers agreed to talk during the off-season. Surely, there was a job for him.
But ABC hired Hershiser to work as a commentator with Brent Musburger on last year's Little League World Series and the broadcasting bug bit. Then came an offer from ESPN, Hershiser's current employer.
He says he has a one-year contract with a one-year option.
Will he stay in broadcasting?
"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "I'm enjoying this and leaving my options open."
Hershiser, who lives near Orlando, Fla., was back at Dodger Stadium Sunday night, working in the ESPN2 booth with Musburger on the Dodgers' 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs.
"I loved seeing everybody," he said. "That's the part I miss the most, the people. I don't miss getting my ears pinned back."
Hershiser moved to Windermere, Fla., after signing with the Cleveland Indians in 1995.
"It's only 45 minutes from where the Indians train in Winter Haven, so it gave me six more weeks to be with my family."
Hershiser and his wife of 20 years, Jamie, have two sons, Quinton, 16, and Jordan, 12. Jordan is a Little League all-star, while Quinton is more studious.
"He takes after Jamie," Hershiser said, pointing out his wife graduated summa cum laude from Iowa.
As for Hershiser, he's doing exactly what many people thought he would be doing. And he still has a good delivery, only now it's coming from the booth.
You talk to someone like Hershiser and feel pretty good about the human race. Then you turn on sports talk radio and wonder if the empire is crumbling.
What is it about putting a microphone in front of someone and giving them a free rein for three or four hours? Why does it make sane people go nuts?
Take, for example, the Sporting News network's Papa Joe Chevalier, who is heard on KMPC (1540). He seems to be a nice enough guy off the air, but put him near a microphone and it sounds as if someone has taken an air pump and inflated his ego.
On Wednesday, he said John Dowd, the baseball attorney who gathered evidence against Pete Rose, was a liar. Why? Because Dowd, a guest Tuesday morning with the Sporting News network's Jay Mariotti and Jim Litke, said that was the only show he was going to do. Then Papa Joe heard him on another show that evening.
From that, Papa Joe concluded that nothing Dowd said could be believed. A caller tried to point out Papa Joe's thinking was flawed, that Dowd simply had a change of heart. Papa Joe, as usual, threw a tantrum and wouldn't let the caller get in a word edgewise.
The Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners played an incredible game Sunday night, when the Indians became the first team since 1925 to overcome a 12-run deficit and win.
For those who missed the game, ESPN Classic will replay it Monday at 6 p.m. and also show highlights of other memorable sports comebacks.
Speaking of comebacks, HBO's new reality series, "Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Baltimore Ravens," had a big one this week. The first of the six shows last week was a little dry, but the worst thing was the timing. The show, featuring training camp frivolity, was already in the can when it was learned that the Minnesota Vikings' Korey Stringer had died.
This week's show was riveting throughout. It included a segment in which viewers got to see firsthand what former Arizona and Long Beach Jordan quarterback Ortege Jenkins had to go through when he got cut. Jenkins fortunately handled it well, calling it "a learning experience."
Short shrift: ESPN2's weekday coverage of the world track and field championships has been delayed and because of that, Sunday night's men's 100-meter final wasn't shown until Monday. ABC's coverage this weekend, also delayed, will include highlights from the week. . . . This probably didn't help ESPN's tenuous relationship with baseball: The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions last weekend were televised on ESPN2, which reaches 77.6 million homes. Baseball's Hall of Fame inductions were on ESPN Classic, which reaches only 37 million homes. . . . There's is no coverage of Saturday's college football Hall of Fame inductions in South Bend, Ind. However, inductees Terry Donahue and Marcus Allen will be interviewed by Sam Marchiano on Fox Sports Net's "Southern California Sports Report" tonight at 10.
Matt Stevens is moving from the UCLA sidelines to join Chris Roberts in the radio booth for Bruin football. Billy Ray Smith has too many other broadcasting commitments to continue as the commentator. . . . Uplifting job: Jennifer Arnold, former communications director for NBC Sports, has been hired as public relations manager for the Goodyear blimp.
Channel 5 will carry two Ram exhibitions. The first is Sunday at 4:30 p.m. against Buffalo. The second will be a San Diego Charger game Aug. 25. That game is also scheduled to be shown on Fox Sports Net. . . . The Chargers' game against San Francisco Saturday at 7:30 p.m. will be on Fox Sports Net 2. . . . NBC's Brickyard 400 Sunday was seen by 20 million viewers, the race's largest audience, and the 6.2 national rating was up 68% from last year.
Claudia Trejos has landed a job that suits her. Trejos, who struggled with English while at Channel 5, is the new weekend sports anchor at Spanish-language Channel 52.
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What Los Angeles Is Watching
A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for Aug. 4-5.
Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Football: NFL exhibition, Dallas at Oakland 2 4.3 10 Baseball: Chicago Cubs at Dodgers 11 2.8 8 Track and field: IAAF World Championships 7 1.6 4 Golf: Women's British Open 7 1.4 4 Horse racing: The Hambletonian 2 1.0 3 Golf: PGA International 2 0.9 2 Basketball: WNBA, Cleveland at New York 4 0.9 2
Cable Network Rating Share Boxing: Bones Adams vs. Paulie Ayala HBO 1.9 4 Horse racing: Jim Dandy Stakes ESPN 0.9 2 Tennis: ATP Masters Series, first semifinal ESPN 0.9 2 Tennis: ATP Masters Series, second semifinal ESPN 0.8 2 Football: Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ESPN2 0.8 2 Tennis: WTA Acura Classic, second semifinal FSN 0.8 2 Golf: Women's U.S. Amateur ESPN 0.7 2 Tennis: WTA Acura Classic, first semifinal FSN 0.6 2 Arena football: playoffs, Arizona at San Jose ESPN2 0.2 1 Soccer: WUSA, Atlanta at Washington TNT 0.2 1 Soccer: MLS, Miami at New York/New Jersey ESPN2 0.1 0
Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Auto racing: NASCAR Brickyard 400 4 3.8 10 Track and field: IAAF World Championships 7 3.0 8 Baseball: Angels at New York Yankees 9 2.4 7 Golf: PGA International 2 2.2 6 Golf: Women's British Open 7 1.7 4 Tennis: WTA Acura Classic, final 11 1.5 4 Tennis: ATP Masters Series, final 2 1.1 3
Cable Network Rating Share Baseball: Chicago Cubs at Dodgers ESPN2 3.0 6 Baseball: Seattle at Cleveland ESPN 1.0 2 Drag racing: NHRA Fram Autolite Nationals ESPN2 0.7 2 Horse racing: Haskell Invitational ESPN2 0.7 2 Arena football: playoffs, Indiana at Tampa Bay ESPN 0.5 1
Weekday ratings: MONDAY--NFL Hall of Fame game, Miami-St. Louis, Ch. 7, 7.6/15.
Note: Each rating point represents 53,542 L.A. households. Cable ratings reflect the entire market, even though cable is in only 63% of L.A. households.
Look Who's Talking
Sports figures to be featured on TV and radio, today through Thursday:
Jose Canseco--"Up Close," today, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2
DeLisha Milton--"Players Journal," today, 5 p.m., Lifetime
Isiah Thomas, Jeanie Buss--"The Last Word With Jim Rome," tonight, 5:30 and 11:30, Fox Sports Net
Floyd Mayweather Jr., Marco Antonio Barrero, Larry Merchant--"Rich Marotta's Neutral Corner," tonight, 10-midnight, KXTA (1150)
High school basketball stars, Kobe Bryant, motocross champion Travis Pastrana--"The Life," Saturday, 7 a.m., ESPN
Pete Carroll, Bob Toledo--"Irv Kaze," Saturday, 6-7 p.m., KRLA (870)
Marcus Allen, Terry Donahue--"Southern California Sports Report," Saturday, 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net
Jeff Gordon, Jerry Nadeau, crew chief Tony Furr--"NASCAR This Morning," Sunday, 7:30 a.m., Fox Sports Net
Sugar Ray Leonard, Fernando Vargas, Dwain "Tyger" Williams--"Ringside With Johnny Ortiz," Sunday, 8-11 p.m., KSPN (1110)
Author Steve Delfin, Papa Joe Chevalier, director Mike Tollin--"Sports Roundtable," Monday, 9 p.m., Fox Sports Net 2
Mike Scioscia--"Up Close," Monday
Jeff Torborg--"Up Close," Tuesday
Michael Johnson--"Up Close," Wednesday