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Richard Deitsch
May 05, 2003
All-Star Changes, Jeers for Cheers
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May 05, 2003

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All-Star Changes, Jeers for Cheers

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?At Fox Sports' annual Major League Baseball seminar last week in New York City, Gene Orza, the players' union's No. 2 official, told the network that a ruling is coming soon on the owners' proposal to give home field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star Game. Fox officials are confident the proposal will pass. The network has rights to the game through 2006, and its executives have lobbied hard for the plan, hoping to draw more viewers. (Last year's game drew a rating of 11.4, a drop of 9% from 2001.) Another development out of the seminar was Fox's announcement that it will stop doing in-booth interviews during game coverage, which begins May 17. "Unless Casey Stengel comes back, I don't want to see any more booth interviews," Fox Sports president Ed Goren told the room. "Every time we do that, a game breaks out!"

?The roundtable of current NFL players Bill Romanowski, Deuce McAllister, Corey Chavous and Jon Jansen was the best part of ESPN's 17 hours of NFL draft coverage (page 19), which often suffers from anchor Chris Berman's failure to challenge his interview subjects. Berman's preparation and passion merit praise, but he's too much of a cheerleader when questioning general managers and coaches. Example: The Bills' high-risk selection of Willis McGahee at No. 23 ( McGahee's coming off knee surgery) was criticized by analyst Mike Golic as well as by Romanowski, who said, "There's not one team in the first round that can afford a pick like this. Are there not more pressing needs for the Buffalo Bills?" Rather than challenge Bills coach Gregg Williams, Berman said, "Wow, with that selection! Give me that last 15 minutes." Rah, rah!