To Fox, Mota, Beisbol Is Baseball

Baseball has so many Latino players, yet so few Latino announcers. At least in English-speaking booths.

Fox is doing something about that. It is teaming Jose Mota with play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert on Saturday's Dodger-Colorado telecast.

Mota, the son of Dodger coach Manny Mota and the second baseman on Cal State Fullerton's 1984 national championship team, has been doing Fox baseball in Spanish for five years.

Now he's crossing over, becoming the first announcer from Spanish-language broadcasting to work an English-language baseball telecast on a major network.

Gracias, Fox. Muy bien hecho.

Mota, 36, who lives in Glendora with his wife and two children, grew up in the Dominican Republic, although he spent summers in the United States watching his father play baseball. Manny Mota holds the record for most major league pinch-hits.

Jose came to Southern California for college. He was a communications major at Fullerton.

"My English was pretty choppy," he said.

Now, it's nearly flawless.

Before he finished college, he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and spent 12 years in baseball. He made two brief major league stops--in 1991 with the San Diego Padres and 1995 with the Kansas City Royals.

He also went back to school and he got his degree from Fullerton in 1993.

Besides doing Fox's game-of-the-week Spanish-language telecasts with Ruben Valentin, he also does Spanish-language baseball for DirecTV and Spanish features and commentaries for http://mlb.com radio.

Of Saturday's assignment, Mota said: "I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to represent the international flavor that is on the field in the booth."

New Climate

Sports television is changing. Rights fees are continuing to climb, along with salaries, while sports ratings continue to decline. So sports networks are creating their own programming.

ESPN will spend more than $25 million developing original programming, including made-for-TV movies and several reality-based series that will make their debuts next year. One show, "Beg, Borrow and B.S.," will features contestants racing across the country on foot with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Fox Sports Net, meanwhile, has a show making its debut Monday, although the network for the time being is downplaying it and putting it on at midnight, at least in Los Angeles.

The show is called "The Best Damn Sports Show Period." Steve Lyons will be the host Monday through Wednesday, and Chris Myers Thursday and Friday. Other cast members will be Deacon Jones, John Kruk, actor Tom Arnold, Reggie Theus and Lisa Guerrero.

Charity Event

The third Michael Douglas and Friends celebrity golf tournament, taped July 7 at Ocean Trails in Rancho Palos Verdes, will be televised as a two-hour show on ABC Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Besides Douglas, the field includes Kenny G, Andy Garcia, James Garner, Thomas Gibson, Greg Kinnear, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Adam Sandler, Martin Sheen, Kyle MacLachlan, and child star Haley Joel Osment, who hits it pretty well.

Highlights include Kirk Douglas hitting the ceremonial first tee shot and Michael Douglas' wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, giving him a kiss.

The show, produced by Terry Jastrow, benefits the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which provides relief for those in the film industry who have fallen on hard times. The event already has raised $500,000.

Boxing Beat

Does afternoon boxing work? It didn't on HBO, which tried "KO Nation" in the afternoons. Showtime will give it a go with "ShoBox: the New Generation," which makes its debut Saturday at 2 p.m.

"You create new boxing fans by giving them great fights with great new fighters and not necessarily special effects and sound and light shows," said Jay Larkin, Showtime senior vice president.

The announcers on the series will be Nick Charles, formerly of CNN, and Steve Farhood, former editor of Ring magazine.

Showtime also will offer one of its regular 10 p.m. delayed boxing shows Saturday on Showtime Too, which is available to all cable subscribers this weekend during a free preview promotion.

But HBO has the big fight of the weekend--Shane Mosley versus Adrian Stone at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Also on the live 6 p.m. card is Michael Grant versus Jameel McCline. Jim Lampley, who had hip-replacement surgery June 26, will call the fight with Larry Merchant and George Foreman.

The fight also is being televised nationally, with David Arroyos of Whittier and Dave Bontempo calling the action.

One other boxing note: A&E;'s "Biography" series features boxers all next week. The profiles in order, beginning Monday, will be Oscar De La Hoya, Foreman, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis. The show's host, Harry Smith, will be on Rich Marotta's "Neutral Corner" show tonight on KXTA (1150) after Dodger baseball.

Tour de Confusion

With ESPN out of the picture and CBS providing only weekend coverage, it has been difficult getting weekday Tour de France coverage. The Outdoor Life Network (OLN) has been presenting early-morning live coverage, repeating it at noon and showing two hours of highlights seven days a week at 10 p.m. But only 36 million homes nationally get Outdoor Life.

Fox Sports Net has been offering half-hour highlight shows at 10 a.m. on weekdays, but they are a day behind.

Short Waves

After appearing on Fox on Saturday, the Dodgers will be on ESPN Sunday evening, as well as ESPN Desportes, which reaches 2.5 million homes in the L.A. market. . . . Although Lee Hamilton has been replaced by Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald will be back as USC's radio football commentator. The Trojans have switched from XTRA (690) to KMPC (1540). . . . There was quite a collection of NFL Hall of Famers at the ESPN Zone in Anaheim on Wednesday to make a studio appearance on ESPN Radio (1110). The group included Lynn Swann, Jack Youngblood, Ron Yary and Jackie Slater, all scheduled for induction next month.

In Closing

Channel 5's Claudia Trejos experiment has ended, and the station has gone back to Square 1, hiring a white middle-aged male, Steve Grad, as its weekend sports anchor. Wouldn't it have made more sense to keep Ed Arnold in the first place?

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What Los Angeles Is Watching

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for July 14-15.

SATURDAY

*--*

Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Auto racing: Busch Grand National 300 4 2.5 8 Baseball: San Francisco at Seattle 11 1.9 6 Golf: Greater Milwaukee Open 7 1.7 5 Pro basketball: WNBA, Sparks at Washington 4 1.7 5 Pro football: NFL Quarterback Challenge 2 1.5 4 Golf: Senior Players Championship 2 1.4 4

*--*

*

*--*

Cable Network Rating Share Baseball: Arizona at Angels FSN 1.3 3 Horse racing: Hollywood Park Today FSN2 0.7 2 Baseball: Baltimore at Atlanta TBS 0.6 2 Auto racing: NASCAR Craftman Truck Kroger 225 ESPN 0.5 1 Golf: LPGA Michelob Light Classic ESPN2 0.5 1 Horse racing: 2Day at the Races ESPN2 0.5 1 Tennis: Hall of Fame Championships, semifinal FSN2 0.3 1

*--*

*

SUNDAY

*--*

Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Golf: Greater Milwaukee Open 7 2.7 8 Auto racing: NASCAR Winston Cup Tropicana 400 4 2.7 7 Golf: Senior Players Championship 7 2.3 6 Pro football: NFL Quarterback Challenge 2 1.4 4 Cycling: Tour de France (tape) 2 0.8 2

*--*

*

*--*

Cable Network Rating Share Baseball: San Diego at Angels ESPN2 1.2 3 Baseball: Arizona at Seattle ESPN 1.0 2 Horse racing: Hollywood Park Today FSN2 0.9 2 Horse racing: Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park ESPN2 0.8 2 Baseball: Tampa Bay at Atlanta TBS 0.7 2 Tennis: Hall of Fame Championships, final FSN 0.3 1 Triathlon: Ironman California (tape) ESPN2 0.3 1

*--*

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:

Tony Gonzalez--"Up Close," today, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2

Tiger Woods--"SportsCentury," tonight, 5 and 8, ESPN Classic

Pete Rose--"Beyond the Glory," tonight, 9, Fox Sports Net

A&E;'s Harry Smith, Michael Grant--"Rich Marotta's Neutral Corner," tonight (following Dodger postgame talk), KXTA (1150)

Donovan McNabb, chess master Maurice Ashley--"The Life," Saturday, 7 a.m., ESPN

Lisa Leslie--"NBA Inside Stuff," Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Channel 4

Jack Kramer, Stan Smith, Justin Gimelstob--"Irv Kaze Show," Saturday, 6-7 p.m., KRLA (870)

Kevin Harvick--"NASCAR This Morning," Sunday, 7:30 a.m., Fox Sports Net

Henrique Bolanos, Rafael Ruelas, Ponchita Bojado, Jose Navarro--"Ringside With Johnny Ortiz," Sunday, 8-11 p.m., KSPN (1110)

Sugar Ray Leonard--"Up Close," Monday

Frank Gifford--"SportsCentury," Monday, 5 and 8 p.m., ESPN Classic

Chris Chelios, Brad Gilbert--"Last Word With Jim Rome," Monday, 5:30 and 11:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net

Davey Lopes--"Southern California Sports Report," Monday, 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net

Jim Brown--"SportsCentury," Tuesday

Bob Arum--"The Last Word," Tuesday

Fred McGriff--"Angels in the Infield," Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net

Maurice Greene--"Up Close," Wednesday

Johnny Unitas--"SportsCentury," Wednesday

Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras--"Southern California Sports Report," Wednesday

Deion Sanders--"SportsCentury," Thursday

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