Sharing a table with Rose, mustering all his self-control to keep quiet until it is his turn to talk, is Artie Donovan. Art, says Hornung, what's the deal with all those ESPN commercials? "They nearly killed me," says Donovan. "Four days in Yonkers! I'd never do it again! The director kept saying, 'Good, good, that was good—let's do it again.' "
Unafraid of appearing crass, Hornung asks the ex-Baltimore Colt how much ESPN paid him. "I made more money doing those commercials than I did in my first five years playing football," says Donovan.
The sight of Donovan reminds me that I haven't seen SportsCenter since the dish went up. I haven't needed to. In one of our many arguments over whether the dish stays or goes, Laura says, "Nobody needs all those games. It seems to me that before we got this, you were perfectly content with highlights on ESPN."
DirecTV spokesperson Linda Brill offers this supermarket metaphor. "I compare it to going to the grocery store," she says. "Of course you don't buy everything every time you go. But it's nice to know it's there if you need it."
Goodbye, Art. So long, Bettina. No more talk shows, no more fringe sports. The real reason you get DirecTV is to mainline mainstream sports. The weekend is upon us; it's time to tie off.
The best of the early college hoops games is Temple at Wisconsin, on channel 309. Who needs a game clock? When Temple is on the court, you can tell how much time is left in the game by the degree of Owl coach John Chaney's dishevelment. By the time Temple loses, 57-54 in overtime, the knot of Chaney's tie has been pulled halfway down his sternum; his half-untucked shirt looks as if it has been slept in.
Click. Trailing Penn State by 10 points with 28 seconds left, Tennessee takes a timeout. "They're hoping for a miracle, but it's going to take more than that, I'm afraid," says the announcer, providing a definition of a truly hopeless situation, which may be what they have in—click—Philadelphia, where the 76ers have lost nine straight going into Saturday night's game against the New York Knicks. In a pregame intro new 76er Derrick Coleman is booed by Philadelphia fans, who would boo a blind child at an Easter-egg hunt and who now boo as the Sixers, after leading by 11 points, lose their 10th game in a row. Meanwhile—click—Coleman's old teammates, the New Jersey Nets, are storming back from a 15-point halftime deficit against the Cleveland Cavaliers, whom they go on to beat 79-78.
To check in on another team famished for a victory, I click over to channel 302, where the Rangers are trailing the Ottawa Senators 1-0. (The Senators will collapse and lose 4-2.) I prick up my ears when John Davidson makes some mention of "the Constantine thing." San Jose Shark coach Kevin Constantine, it turns out, got the ax earlier in the day.
Constantine can commiserate with Islander general manager Don Maloney, who was also fired today. Clicking up to channel 369, I see that Maloney's former team is leading the Devils 4-1. Starting at 7:30 on—click—channel 384 I can watch as Constantine's old team takes on the Washington Capitals.