Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: SATURDAY, April 28, 1990                   TAG: 9004280063
SECTION: SPORTS                    PAGE: B3   EDITION: METRO 
DATELINE:                                 LENGTH: Long


ESPN's "SpeedWorld" crew has a patch-up job to do this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The network's coverage of last Sunday's First Union 400 at North Wilkesboro, N.C., was a day late - and a lot more than a dollar short. While ESPN was accepting two sports Emmys for "SpeedWorld" on Monday night, its taped show of the previous day's NASCAR Winston Cup event failed miserably to cover the major story at North Wilkesboro.

Brett Bodine took the checkered flag - his first in 79 Winston Cup starts - thanks to a scoring error by NASCAR officials, who erred during the race's 10th and final caution period on laps 321-339. Bodine pitted for four new tires during the caution, and the pace car erroneously picked up Dale Earnhardt as the race leader. Then the mistake was realized, and Bodine, with his new rubber, was placed at the front of the field.

ESPN, trying to fit the race into a three-hour time block, edited the final caution period, and the controversy was barely mentioned. If ESPN had shown the race live as usual - the cable network had a 6 1/2-hour NFL draft show - at least the "SpeedWorld" people would have had an excuse for not getting the final word on the controversy, which apparently cost Darrell Waltrip a victory.

The mistake was made 60 laps before the race's finish. But with NASCAR's decision on the winner made final 24 hours before the race was aired in prime-time Monday, the "SpeedWorld" crew should at least have done a partial voice-over, or cut into the tape from its Bristol, Conn., studio, to tell viewers the story that still has NASCAR fans talking. If ESPN can cut to its studio for newsy basketball and baseball updates, it can stop the tape of a stock-car race.

"SpeedWorld" certainly deserved its Emmys for 1989. Its racing package, featuring 20 Winston Cup events, is comprehensive, with knowledgeable reporting. But the failure to delve deeper into the North Wilkesboro controversy, much less offer critical analysis on NASCAR's handling of the situation, was a major gaffe.

ESPN will televise today's Ravenboats 150 modified race at Martinsville at 2 p.m., then air the Hanes 500 Winston Cup race live Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Anything less than a recap and analysis of last Sunday's NASCAR mistake on this week's Winston Cup show will leave viewers shortchanged.

When it could be polishing its Emmys, "SpeedWorld" will be buffing its image.

\ MORE CARS: SportsChannel America's new auto racing series begins today at 4 p.m., when the cable network airs the Grand National event at Lanier Speedway in Gainesville, Ga. The nine live SCA shows end with the Winston Classic Grand National championship at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 28. . . . Franklin County Speedway's recent reopening has been accompanied by Callaway track reports on WJLM (93.5 FM). The FCS five-minute report airs weekdays at 5:45 p.m., with the Saturday race preview from 6:30-7 p.m.

\ ON THIN ICE? The weekend visits of SportsChannel on Roanoke's cable system are welcome to watch the NHL playoffs. But there are sure to be disappointed viewers when the Stanley Cup finals arrive.

The finals are tentatively scheduled to begin Friday, May 18. Even if the finals are pushed up two days by an early finish to conference finals, local viewers will see no more than three games of the final series. The likely schedule will have Games 1, 2 and 5 on weekends, when Cox Cable Roanoke subs SCA for sister network CNBC.

\ 'HOOS ON? Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions, which produces and distributes the ACC football telecast package, expects the Clemson-Virginia game on Sept. 8 to be one of two CFA games to be aired by ESPN that day. Jimmy Rayburn, executive producer of the ACC package for Jefferson-Pilot, said the production company "fully expects" Clemson to be able to appear on live television this year, although the Tigers may be hit with NCAA probation.

The ACC TV schedule will be released soon. Jefferson-Pilot has the Clemson-UVa game on its backup schedule, and Clemson is scheduled four times on the noontime package. Virginia is penciled in twice on the primary schedule - road games against Duke and North Carolina - and twice in backup games.

The only non-conference game on the schedule is Virginia Tech's Sept. 1 visit to Maryland, the season opener. A near certainty on ESPN on Sept. 8 is Miami-Brigham Young.

The CFA's per-game payoffs for CBS and ESPN appearances in the 1990 season have risen slightly: $620,000 for a CBS national game, $550,000 for a CBS split-national game; $615,000 for an ESPN night game, and $550,000 for an ESPN daytime game.

\ NEWS AND VIEWS: Boo! Today is the first baseball regular-season Saturday without a scheduled telecast since May 31, 1953. The "Game of the Week" concept, which ended when CBS got baseball's over-the-air rights for $1.06 billion for four years, began June 6, 1953, on ABC. Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blattner were the broadcasters. CBS' next offering in its 16-telecast schedule is June 16.

Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley won't be back as a college football game analyst on ESPN. Dooley, the Bulldogs' athletic director, is no great loss to ESPN, which likely will replace him on CFA afternoon telecasts with former Pitt coach Mike Gottfried or NFL career receiving leader Steve Largent. . . . The Gator Bowl ridiculously becomes the eighth New Year's Day bowl game - with a pre-noon kickoff - because it wanted to play that day. ESPN didn't demand the switch, although the cable network isn't unhappy with the change because it has an NFL game on the expected Dec. 30 date.

It's sooner than you think: ESPN's Nov. 14 college basketball season-opening twin bill includes Marquette-Duke and Vanderbilt-Arkansas from the preseason NIT - two Final Four teams and the postseason NIT champion Commodores . . . WJPR (Channel 21) will debut its new "Area Tennis and Golf" show Friday at 11 p.m. The 13-week series will feature interviews with Roanoke-Lynchburg area players, tournament updates and highlight clips and tips from pros.

SportsChannel hockey play-by-play man Mike Emrick says the NHL should expand by 1992, and says the first three cities that should get teams should be chosen from Milwaukee, Hamilton (Ontario), San Francisco, Seattle and Vinton . . . OK, only kidding. Emrick thinks Atlanta's Omni should get another NHL shot before the LancerLot, that Camelot on ice in Vinton.

 by CNB