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McCourt Spoke a Bit Too Soon

On Jan. 29, at the news conference announcing that Frank McCourt was the new owner of the Dodgers (his wife Jamie is co-owner) McCourt said every game would be televised.

It was part of the deal he had made in buying the team from News Corp., the parent company of Fox, which owns the cable rights to the Dodgers.

The impression given at the time was that Fox had agreed to televise 20 more games than it did last year, going from 80 to 100. The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported that Fox had agreed to pay $10 million more for rights than the $15 million it was paying.

So it was puzzling when news releases from the Dodgers and Fox Sports Net arrived this week, saying that Fox Sports Net 2 was again scheduled to carry 80 games.

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It was also announced that Channel 13 would again televise 50 games, with an additional 15 or so set for national telecasts on the Fox network or ESPN.

You don’t need a degree from Harvard to know that 80 plus 50 plus 15 do not equal 162.

So was McCourt misleading Dodger fans?

That remains to be seen. The Dodgers and Fox Sports Net say the rest of the television schedule will be determined later.

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Fox Sports Net has agreed to produce all Dodger games not televised nationally, including those on Channel 13.

The way it stands now, Fox Sports Net is obligated to produce at least 147 games, and 17 of those currently don’t have an outlet. A few may be added to Fox Sports Net 2’s schedule, but making sure every game is televised, as promised by McCourt, won’t be easy.

For one thing, major league baseball’s national television contract does not permit a local telecast to conflict with a national telecast.

So, when the Dodgers play a day game at Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 18, it can’t be televised locally unless it is changed to a night game. Without a time change, a local telecast would conflict with Fox’s national telecast that day.

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There may be a lesson here for McCourt: Don’t make promises that can’t be fulfilled. If he had said, “We want to televise as many games as possible,” then he would have been OK.

But for him to say all of his team’s games would be televised this season, well, that may not happen.

Meanwhile on Radio

It was announced recently that CBS/Infinity radio stations KNX (1070) and KFWB (980) had instituted a delay, reportedly seven seconds, on all live broadcasts. So does that mean Dodger broadcasts on KFWB will be on a slight delay?

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No, said Derrick Hall, Dodger senior vice president. Game broadcasts will be live. Only pregame and postgame programs will be subjected to the delay, thank goodness.

Hockey Faceoff

The Kings and Mighty Ducks meet in consecutive games this weekend. Saturday’s game at Staples Center will be televised by Fox Sports Net, and Sunday’s game at the Arrowhead Pond will be televised by ESPN.

Former Chicago Blackhawk goalie Darren Pang, the ESPN commentator who will be working Sunday’s game with Steve Levy, thinks it’s great the two L.A. teams are playing consecutive games.

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“When I was playing, I loved it,” he said.

“You always played the second game a little stronger. And here we have two teams that know each other, don’t like each other and both have to win. I think we are in store for a couple of really good games.”

Shaken, Not Stirred

Magic Johnson got quite a jolt Thursday. The private plane taking him to Atlanta for his TNT assignment slid off the runway because of icy conditions at Peachtree De Kalb Airport.

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A TNT spokesman said the plane ended up stuck in the mud but no one was injured.

Short Waves

Fox Sports Net has canceled “The Paper Boys,” featuring Times columnists J.A. Adande and Bill Plaschke. General Manager Steve Simpson said the show had simply run its course and the cancellation was not a reflection on Adande and Plaschke.

Fox Sports Net’s Michael Eaves has taped an interview with USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett that will be shown on Sunday’s 10 p.m. edition of the “Southern California Sports Report” as part of Black History Month. Garrett, one of the few black athletic directors at the Division I level, talks about running USC’s athletic department, the changes in college athletics, and dealing with the departure of Mike Williams to the NFL.

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The Wooden Award is in good hands. A sponsorship deal with Allstate led to CBS’ agreeing to the televise the award ceremony April 10 from the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The CBS deal puts the Wooden Award on a level with the Heisman.

NASCAR has shown more ratings growth in L.A. this year than in any other major market. Ratings here are up 86% after the Daytona 500 and last weekend’s race at Rockingham, N.C., which is a good sign for Fontana’s California Speedway, where NASCAR will race May 2 and Sept. 5. Daytona went from a 4.0 last year to a 6.9, and Rockingham went from a 2.1 to a 3.2.

Preceding the Arena League game on NBC on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. will be taped coverage of the Pepsi Major League All-Star softball game, held last month at the Big League Dreams complex in Cathedral City. A highlight is softball sensation Jennie Finch striking out six major leaguers, including Mike Piazza and Albert Pujols.

Al Michaels is the host of the Sports Legends Awards dinner Saturday night at the Omni hotel. ESPN’s Chris Lincoln will provide a tribute to Bill Shoemaker.

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Radio Daze

The addition of Steve Mason and John Ireland to KSPN (710) gives the station a strong mid-day lineup. Beginning March 22 it will be Dan Patrick at 10 a.m., followed at 1 p.m. by Mason and Ireland, and then Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian from 4-7 p.m.

“Joe and Doug remain the cornerstones of this station, but this will give them a very strong local lead-in,” program director Ray Kalusa said.

Kalusa also singled out Suzy Shuster, Shelley Smith and Gary Miller for their fill-in roles and said that they, along with Dave Stone, would continue to have a presence on KSPN.

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Also at KSPN a new national ESPN morning show with Colin Cowherd starts March 29. Cowherd, a Portland, Ore., sports talk show host, is taking over for Tony Kornheiser, whose workload led him to give up his show.

With the addition of Cowherd’s show, Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg’s national morning show, which KSPN now broadcasts delayed, will be aired live from 3-6 a.m.

Petros Papadakis may be off the wall at times but he showed he could go after a story and stay on it with all the reporting he did for KMPC (1540) on Williams’ decision to make himself eligible for the NFL draft. Papadakis first broke the news last Friday that Williams was considering making the move, and he was on the air continuously from 10:45 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday after Williams had made his decision. Papadakis and producer Craig Larson did quite a job.

In Closing

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Fox Sports Net held a contest Wednesday in Irvine in which 20 aspiring sportscasters tried their skills at calling highlights. The good news is Fox Sports Net is not planning to turn the contest into a reality series.


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