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Angels Not Champions of TV

The Lakers are out of the picture, but things aren’t so bad for Los Angeles sports viewers.

There are the Mighty Ducks in the Stanley Cup finals, even if the ratings indicate limited interest.

There are the Avengers, whose playoff game against Arizona will be on NBC Sunday at noon, although Arena Football League ratings have been even lower than hockey ratings.

There are the Dodgers, who begin a nine-game home stand tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers, with interleague visits from the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox to follow. The good news is, all nine games will be televised.

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And there are the World Series champion Angels in the midst of a 12-game trip.

But what’s this? Only one game during the Angels’ trip is being televised?

The Angels’ appearance on ESPN2 Thursday night was their final televised game until June 9, after they return home to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in an interleague series.

That’s one televised appearance out of 13 games.

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Considering the way the Angels are going, maybe this unforced blackout is no big deal. But viewers are creatures of habit. They may forget about the Angels by June 9.

The dry spell is the result of the four entities that carry the Angels locally and nationally -- Channel 9, Fox Sports Net, ESPN and the Fox network -- all passing on this set of games.

A case could be made that the matchups are not attractive. The opponents are Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Florida. But then the three games against Montreal Tuesday through Thursday will be played in Puerto Rico, giving them some historic significance.

Another argument is that the weekday starting times, mostly 4 and 4:30 p.m. in Los Angeles, are not desirable.

One other thing: If the Lakers were still playing, as had been expected, there would be concern about going head-to-head with them. But once the Lakers were eliminated by San Antonio, the Angels, recognizing there was a significant gap here, went to Channel 9 executives to see if any games could be added. But it is difficult adding games and selling advertising on short notice. So Channel 9 stuck to its original schedule, set in January.

“We’re committed to 42 regular-season telecasts, and we took the best 42 games we could,” said Pat McClenahan, the station manager for Channel 9 and sister station Channel 2.

In an era when so many games are televised, one Angel telecast in two weeks seems out of whack, no matter how the team is doing or whom they are playing.

NHL Woes

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ABC takes over the Stanley Cup finals, beginning with Game 3 Saturday. This can’t be something ABC is welcoming with open arms.

ABC averaged a 1.7 national Nielsen rating for its five regular-season NHL exposures this year, and is averaging a 1.7 in the playoffs after six games. Game 1 Tuesday night got a national cable rating of 1.4 on ESPN and a 2.7 in L.A.

Neither New York nor Los Angeles ranks in the top 10 in generating hockey ratings. Minnesota is No. 1 with a 6.4 average for ABC telecasts during the playoffs. Detroit is second at 5.8 and Denver third at 4.7.

New York is averaging a 1.7 during the playoffs, Los Angeles a 1.5.

This is a rare case where having teams from the nation’s top two television markets isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” said Loren Matthews, senior vice president of programming for ABC Sports. “What we like is that this is good, original programming. This time of year we mostly have repeats.”

Laker Update

The Lakers are getting closer to naming a radio announcing team, with former Laker Mychal Thompson becoming a leading candidate for the commentating job.

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Thompson has been a television commentator for the Minnesota Timberwolves the last two seasons. Thompson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he had been offered the job. A Laker spokesman would say only that Thompson is a candidate. Others include Jamaal Wilkes, who has expressed interest in radio work, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Joel Meyers remains the leading candidate for the play-by-play job. But he is also considering an offer to remain with San Antonio as a television play-by-play announcer.

If Meyers were to take the Laker job, he’d need Sundays off to work NFL Westwood One broadcasts. If that were the case, Larry Burnett would probably be the fill-in.

A decision isn’t expected until after the NBA Finals.

Also, details are still being worked out on a two-year offer for Paul Sunderland to return as the television play-by-play announcer alongside Stu Lantz.

Reality Golf

Annika Sorenstam playing against the big boys got national attention. So how about amateurs, using their handicaps, taking on John Daly and Lee Trevino?

Two hundred amateurs, divided into two age divisions, are competing this weekend at Lake Las Vegas for the right to take on either Daly or Trevino on the Golf Channel, live at 5 p.m. Monday, in a new event, “People vs. the Pros.”

The idea for the event comes from longtime golf producer Terry Jastrow.

Said Trevino, “Everything has been tried on television but this. I really see a lot of interest. Who knows? A lady might win.”

The amateur field came from a sweepstakes drawing and EBay bidding. Some of the proceeds from the bidding go to charity.

More Reality Golf

The Golf Channel will begin a 10-week series this fall, “The Big Break ... Who Will Survive?” One golfer will be eliminated each week. Rocco Mediate and Phil Mickelson will serve as co-hosts of the series.

The first in a series of tryouts will be held Sunday at Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley, beginning at 9 a.m. Details: (805) 306-3803.

Short Waves

College Sports Television (CSTV), the new network available on DirecTV (Channel 610), is offering live telecasts of this weekend’s baseball regional at Cal State Fullerton, beginning today at 3 p.m. with Arizona and Notre Dame, followed by Fullerton and San Diego. There will be three games Saturday and one or two Sunday. Brian Bedol, co-founder and chief executive of the network, said this was a prime example of the kind of programming the network can provide.

ESPN had to move Monday’s Women’s College World Series championship game between UCLA and California from live at 1:30 p.m. to delayed at 5 p.m. because the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankee game was rain-delayed. It turned out to be a good thing for ESPN. The network got a 1.57 national rating, its highest ever for softball. Also, it was initially reported in The Times that viewers weren’t informed for 45 minutes about the change. But an ESPN spokesman said viewers were informed before, at and after 1:30 p.m.

Because this is a holiday week, national ratings for last weekend’s sports events won’t be out until today. But in the overnights, the Indy 500 edged NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, 5.1 to 4.9.

Veteran Los Angeles sportscaster Jim Watson has been hired as an anchor and reporter by Fox Sports Net Northwest in Seattle.

Radio Waves

After two years at KSPN (710), Johnny Ortiz is taking his weekly boxing show to KMPC (1540). The new show, to be called “Ringside L.A. With Johnny Ortiz,” will be done in front of a live studio audience at the Commerce Casino on Fridays, 7-9 p.m., beginning June 6. The executive producer will be Chris Maroe, formerly of ESPN Radio and the producer of a nationally syndicated show, “The Gold Sheet.” ... Recommended listening: If you haven’t heard the show Dodger Manager Jim Tracy does on KMPC, usually weekdays at 3 p.m. with Fred Roggin, check it out. Tracy shows more personality than you might expect.

In Closing

Joumana Kidd, wife of Jason Kidd, says she’d love a chance to replace Melissa Stark as a sideline reporter on “Monday Night Football,” according to the Newark Star-Ledger. Stark, who is expecting her first child in September, is taking the year off. Probably a lot of people would love to replace her, some who might even be qualified. Joumana has done some television work, but that doesn’t make her qualified for that job.


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