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Downing, Lyons Join Dodger Broadcast Team

The Dodgers and their broadcast partners have finally settled on the team’s two new commentators. It will be announced today that one is Al Downing, as expected, and the other is Steve Lyons, somewhat of a surprise.

They will work the 40 to 45 road games that Vin Scully will miss. On those occasions, newcomer Charley Steiner, handling the play-by-play, will team with Lyons on television, and Rick Monday will team with Downing on radio.

When Scully is there for the 110 or so other local telecasts, Steiner and Monday will be the radio team, although for the first three innings, Scully’s call will again be simulcast on TV and radio. When Monday works with Steiner, he’ll be the commentator. When he works with Downing, he’ll do the play-by-play.

Lyons’ hiring is surprising because he never played for the Dodgers during his nine-year major league career. It figured that the new commentating spots would be filled by former Dodgers, particularly after the team auditioned six of its former players, including Downing, on radio broadcasts last season.

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Downing’s experience was evident during his audition, while the inexperience of some of the others showed, particularly when they referred to the Dodgers as “we.” Downing went into broadcasting almost immediately after retiring as a Dodger pitcher in 1977.

“I did games with Rick on Dodgervision back in the 1980s,” Downing said. “I’m looking forward to working with him again.”

Said Lyons: “I think my selling point was that I am not a former player who dabbles in broadcasting. I’m a full-time broadcaster.”

Lyons has been with Fox since 1996, and he also worked games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003. His job with Fox will remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, former Dodger broadcaster Ross Porter has been hired to do radio commercials and other promotions for the Jan. 29-Feb. 6 boat show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Chick Hearn at one time filled that role.

What’s He Thinking?

Scully rarely makes guest appearances on sports talk radio, but he has agreed to be on the show Times sports columnist T.J. Simers does with his daughter Tracy on XTRA (690/1150) Sunday at 9 a.m.

Why would Scully subject himself to such a thing?

“A lot of people may not realize this, but as the father of three married daughters, I was T.J.'s secret advisor when his other daughter [Kelly] got married,” Scully said. “The big question was, should he spend the extra money on covered chairs or go with uncovered chairs. I told T.J., ‘If you don’t cover the chairs you will hear about it for the rest of your time on this mortal coil.’ ”

But, really, why would Scully subject himself to a double team from Simers and his daughter?

“Well, if it doesn’t go like I hope it will go, there’s always phone failure,” Scully said.

Short Waves

USC’s “March to the Championship Celebration,” held today on campus, will be televised by FSN West at 3:30 p.m. Lindsay Soto, John Jackson and Petros Papadakis will work the two-hour telecast, which will be replayed on FSN West 2 tonight at 11. Mike Garrett will be among the guests.... “College GameDay” for football has been a success for ESPN, and Saturday the network launches a basketball version. The first of eight consecutive weekly installments will originate from Storrs, Conn., the site of Connecticut’s game against Pittsburgh. Rece Davis will be the host the first four weeks, Chris Fowler the second four. The commentators for all eight weeks will be Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps. Each week, there will be three one-hour segments, at 9 a.m. and 5 and 9 p.m.

Recommended viewing: “Race Across America,” a 3,000-mile cross-country bicycle race, returns to network television after a 20-year absence when NBC televises last June’s event as a two-hour special Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Jim Lampley is the narrator and co-executive producer of the special.... Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS will be another endurance test, the “Subaru Primal Quest,” which involves such disciplines as running, biking, river rafting, kayaking and mountain climbing. The narrator is actor Liam Neeson.

TVG, the horse-racing network, is offering two hours of live coverage of the Eclipse Awards on Monday at 6 p.m. from the Beverly Wilshire. Jerry O’Connell, who plays detective Woody Hoyt on NBC’s “Crossing Jordan,” will serve as the host. Larry King will be among the presenters.

Kobe Bryant will be on FSN West’s Laker pregame show tonight.... “NBA Inside Stuff” on Channel 7 on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. will profile Laker center Vlade Divac, following him back home to Serbia.... At 4 p.m. on Channel 7 will be a half-hour special that examines the popularity of basketball in China.... Channel 5 will offer high-definition coverage of Wednesday’s Laker-Clipper game. Even viewers who do not have HD sets should notice a difference.

The lure of fishing seems to have captivated sports television. ESPN is big into the sport, as evidenced by all those promos with the two obnoxious talking bass. FSN will launch a bass fishing show Feb. 6. Also, former San Diego Padre pitcher Randy Jones is the host of a new fishing show, “Strike Zone,” which airs on the Outdoor Channel, not to be confused with Outdoor Life. The Outdoor Channel, which reaches 26 million homes, is based in Temecula. Jones’ show is televised Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and repeated Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

NBC and the USA Network, now operating as partners under the Vivendi Universal umbrella, will be involved in the coverage of 48 golf tournaments this year. This week, USA has the first two rounds of the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines; ABC has the final two rounds.... The syndicated radio show “Tee It Up,” heard Sundays at 6 a.m. on KSPN (710), will originate this weekend from the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu.


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