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Networks mostly solid on Posada adventure

New York Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada (20)

New York Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada (20) during batting practice prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (May 15, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Folks in the hinterlands south and west of Fort Lee forever are complaining about television's obsession with the Yankees and Red Sox, but let's face it: With the baseball dog days threatening to creep in several months early around here, we needed a good old-fashioned Bronx brouhaha over the weekend, just in time for prime-time national showcases.

So how did the networks do with the Posada Saga? Pretty well, mostly.

Fox was on top of the unfolding news Saturday, including a controversial in-game interview with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. ESPN weighed in Sunday with Curt Schilling accurately blaming Cashman and manager Joe Girardi for failing to defuse the situation and Bobby Valentine accurately blaming Posada for acting unprofessionally.

YES was on the story, too, but it got caught in an awkward position not of its making Saturday when it carried Girardi's news conference live, followed by Posada on tape, even though the player spoke first. Alas, the Yankees do not allow interviews in the clubhouse to be carried live during the regular season.

More interesting will be how YES deals with the Sore Core moving forward, what with ESPN reporting yesterday that ownership wasn't thrilled with Mr. Almost 3,000 for supporting Posada.

Should be a fun summer for Yankee-ologists!

The weekend's lowest media moment had nothing to do with Posada. It came Saturday when Fox inexplicably invited comedian Sarah Silverman into the booth to represent Red Sox Nation. I am a fan of both Joe Buck and Ms. Silverman, but their forced banter was excruciating. Kudos to Tim McCarver for remaining silent.

Silverman apparently saw the train wreck coming. Before the game, she posted this on Twitter: "Get ready to be the opposite of dazzled.''

Hoops over hardball

TNT averaged 11.1 million viewers for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday, which it said was the largest NBA audience in the history of cable TV. The rating for Heat-Bulls surpassed Red Sox-Yankees in the New York market: 6.8 percent of homes for hoops versus 6.7 for hardball.

The Western Conference figures to be more of a ratings challenge. Unfortunately for ESPN, its turn covering the West came up in a non-Lakers year. Analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson agreed the new blood in the conference finals is good for the league in the long run, but they disagreed on how it will impact interest.

"I think the Lakers losing in the manner that they did takes away a huge part of the casual fan base,'' Van Gundy said.

Jackson was more hopeful, and less realistic.

"For the casual fan it says, 'Who are these guys? Who are these new teams?' '' he said. "It's intriguing and interesting.''

Bristol braces for book

A nervous pall looms over Bristol, Conn., as the sprawling ESPN campus awaits next Tuesday's release of perhaps the most anticipated book in sports media history.

"Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,'' by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, is a copiously researched work expected to reveal the good and bad about the network's rise. The contents have been closely guarded, but we got our first peek with an excerpt in GQ that portrays Keith Olbermann as ESPN's evil genius of the 1990s.

Rece Davis recalls a rumor a few years back that Olbermann might return, prompting a producer to say he was all for it, as long as he "first has to stand in the reception area, and everybody who wants to gets to come up and punch him in the stomach."


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