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The Best of Neil's WatchDog

Tiger Woods: TV or not TV?

Don't be surprised if Tiger Woods kicks off his Masters week with a "60 Minutes" sitdown April 4. Then the big fun starts when he hits the links the following Thursday. But wait . . .

The frustrating reality of Woods' comeback is that much of its early stages will not be on television.

Barring an unexpected shift by Masters poobahs, the schedule calls for ESPN to be on live only from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

In 2009, Woods teed off at 1:52 p.m. on Thursday and 10:45 a.m. Friday.

The Masters could follow a similar schedule this year, allowing at least a good chunk of his first round to be on TV. Or it could have him tee off early Thursday, just to mess with us.

Several holes are to be shown live on the Internet. The Masters at least should add to its online offerings out of respect for the massive interest in Woods' return.

 

3D TV at MSG

In 1939, TV sports pioneers broadcast baseball and football games on an experimental basis, even though sets in New York numbered only in the hundreds.

The evolution of 3D-compatible sets for home use is at a comparably primitive stage today, but that is not stopping MSG from a TV experiment for the 21st century.

The network plans to televise Wednesday's Islanders-Rangers game at the Garden in 3D - the first hockey game shot with the technology and the first live 3D sports event sent directly to homes.

"It's an enormous learning experience for us,'' said Mike Bair, president of MSG Media. "We wanted to get in front of this.''

The telecast, which also will be shown to a paying audience at the Theater at the Garden, will require an entirely separate production using five special 3D cameras.

Those cameras will be placed at lower angles than for a traditional TV game, because the 3D impact is enhanced at or near ground level, where there is depth of field. The effect is limited from a traditional, higher angle.

The director will hold shots longer than usual because 3D can be "a little disorienting until you get used to it,'' Bair said.

Squeegee-armed personnel will keep the glass above the boards clean to avoid three-dimensional smudges.

The game is to be seen for now only on Cablevision, but MSG has offered it to other providers.

The Dolan family owns a controlling interest in Cablevision and the Rangers. Cablevision owns Newsday.

Is Duke CBS' BFF?

What with Duke being a big TV draw and the world full of powerful Duke alumni - from Jay Bilas to Seth Davis to Barack Obama's assistant, Reggie Love, to Mrs. WatchDog - conspiracy theorists often speculate that the Blue Devils get special treatment in NCAA seeding and scheduling.

For example: Many believe Duke did not deserve to be the No. 3 overall seed, nor did it deserve to play the winner of the play-in game.

So, how about it, CBS Sports president Sean McManus: Does the network exert influence on Duke's behalf given its value as a TV property?

Not so, he said, calling CBS' influence on the selection committee "slightly less than zero."

Oops, forgot to mention: McManus graduated from Duke in 1977.

 

Carter: No catch; it's Yogi

I attended a launch party Thursday at Mickey Mantle's for "The Lineup: New York's All-Time Best Baseball Players,'' a 10-part MSG series that premieres at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The mission of the five-man judging panel is to select the best player at each position in New York baseball history.

Did one of the panelists, Gary Carter, have to recuse himself from the catcher discussion?

"I was in the top five, so of course I didn't talk about myself," he said. But he indicated the discussion mostly was a moot point.

That's what happens when your position features one of the most beloved figures in New York sports history, one who happened to win 10 World Series and three MVP awards.

"As long as he's there, it's kind of a no-brainer,'' Carter said, referring to Yogi Berra.

There are other clear choices, such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but Carter said, "You'll be surprised by several others.''

 

Opportunity knocking for Jets?

Under Eric Mangini, the Jets might have been the least likely team in the NFL to become the subject of HBO's "Hard Knocks.''

(Well, maybe the second least, after Tom Coughlin's Giants.)

But Rex Ryan's Jets would appear to be a perfect fit for the training camp mini-series, which thrives on colorful characters. So, how about it, HBO?

"Ross Greenburg and Steve Sabol have had discussions with the Jets,'' was all an HBO spokesman would say, referring to the presidents of HBO Sports and NFL Films. Hmm.

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