Channel 56 reboots with the Revolution
For nine years, the Revolution have had all of their games televised. That looks to be the case again this year, with a package of 22 games on Channel 56 and a pair of ESPN2 national telecasts already scheduled.
Last night, the team was finalizing the last piece of its TV puzzle: an eight-game deal, likely with FSN, which would guarantee a 10th year of having all games on the air.
"I know I'm planning to be on the air," said Brad Feldman, looking ahead to Saturday's 10 p.m. opener against the Earthquakes in San Jose, when he officially takes over the play-by-play chair. Feldman will be working alongside new analyst Greg (brother of Alexi) Lalas.
Adrian Healey, who called Revolution games for seven years, left to give priority to his dream job: calling English and other international games for ESPN.
That left Feldman, who grew up in the Boston area following the Minutemen and Tea Men in the 1970s, to get his dream job. He and Lalas also will be heard in a simulcast on either WEEI (850 AM) or sister station WRKO (680 AM).
For home games, which start a week from Saturday against the Columbus Crew, the Revolution plan to mike a player. And outspoken coach Steve Nicol has agreed to don the headphones at the 20-minute mark of each game.
"Unlike some coaches, who may or may not have something to say at halftime, Steve has plenty to say all the time, whether he's blasting the referees or his own players," said Feldman. "We're amazed the league hasn't fined him, but then we figured out they must not be able to understand his brogue."
The telecasts, as in the past, will be produced by Patriots Productions.
"We're adding player features this season," said Feldman, "and No. 1 will be Michael Parkhurst. The sky's the limit for him."
ABC also has an MLS opener coming up Saturday (Channel 5, 3 p.m.), the inaugural game of Club Deportivo Chivas USA vs. defending MLS Cup champion D.C. United with wonder kid Freddy Adu.
J.P. Dellacamera will do play-by-play, with analyst Eric Wynalda. The network plans to introduce its sideline reporter(s) today -- likely former US women's team stars Brandi Chastain and/or Heather Mitts.
ABC will use a "SkyCam" for the first time on an MLS telecast, plus "side-by-side" commercials, using a split screen to follow game action with the ad airing in the second window.
How windy was it at the TPC yesterday? Enough to shake NBC's cameras in shots from towers and cranes at Sawgrass, adding to the swaying trees, whipping flags, and slapping golf shirts. Whatever power the crowd has to will a player to victory seemed to be working for Fred Funk in the closing holes. "A golfer can feel it inside when he's going to win," said analyst Johnny Miller as Funk watched -- instead of keeping warm for a possible playoff -- while Luke Donald's potential tying putt from off the green just slid wide . . . The scheduled two-day Tavistock Cup wound up as a one-day event because of the TPC's extended play. The Golf Channel has it live from noon-5 p.m. today . . . ABC has changed Sunday's Celtics-76ers game from a regional telecast to a full national game (Channel 5, 1 p.m.). John Saunders and Dr. Jack Ramsey will have the call. That should help local ratings. Boston ranks 52d among the 56 metered markets in ABC's NBA telecasts this season. What cities rank lower? Hartford, Tampa, Minneapolis, and Providence . . . Antoine Walker will be an in-studio guest on TNT Thursday night before the Cavaliers-Bulls opener of the network doubleheader and again at halftime . . . Raef LaFrentz has a studio appearance on FSN's "New England Sports Tonight" today at 6:30 to help set up tomorrow night's Celtics-Mavericks telecast . . . Magic Johnson, speaking on NBA TV: "Boston is going to give whoever they play a lot of problems. When you try to match up with them defensively, you're going to have trouble. Who's going to match up against who? I'm just happy the Celtics are back. It's good for basketball and it's good for the NBA." . . . That was former Celtic Dee Brown doing a cartwheel in the studio after winning a year-long contract as an NBA analyst for ESPN in the final episode of the latest "Dream Job" series Sunday night.
WEEI announced yesterday that it plans to resume online streaming of its programming, starting with Monday's "Dennis and Callahan" show at 6 a.m. The station also has had a couple of awards to put on the company mantle. For the second straight year, WEEI won "Station of the Year" and Jason Wolfe was named "Best Program Director" at the Sports Radio Awards in Scottsdale, Ariz. . . . Nationally, CBS is enjoying a 14 percent increase in ratings for the men's basketball tournament, with Sunday's early game (North Carolina-Wisconsin) doing a 7.2, tying for the best mark in that window since Boston College-Florida did a 7.5 in 1994. In Boston, however, that game did only a 3.2. Boston rebounded, sort of, to a 7.3 for the Kentucky-Michigan State OT thriller in the nightcap, a game that did a 10.8 national overnight rating, a 19 percent increase over the game (Duke-Xavier) in that window last year . . . CBS's coverage of the tournament ran an hour past its scheduled 7 p.m. finish Sunday, pushing network programming back. That led to a post-12:30 a.m. start for "Sports Final." "The latest we've ever gone," said host Bob Lobel as he called for the production staff to join him on the set as he signed off at 1:15 a.m. The late hour resulted in few viewers (0.3 rating) . . .
Bill Griffith's e-mail address is email@example.com