These voices don't mince words
By: JOHN MAFFEI - Staff Writer Mary Carillo isn't afraid to speak her mind.
That's what separates her from the norm and makes her one of the top analysts in sports.
Carillo and the ESPN2 tennis crew of Dick Enberg, Cliff Drysdale, Tim Ryan, Patrick McEnroe, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Pam Shriver will take center court starting Monday for more than 119 hours of coverage from Wimbledon.
Carillo listened with interest last Sunday as NBC's Johnny Miller ripped Phil Mickelson during Mickelson's meltdown on the 18th hole of golf's U.S. Open.
Miller's frank and honest commentary of Mickelson's collapse was the highlight of the network's coverage.
But announcers like Miller and Carillo, announcers who are loved by TV critics, often draw the wrath of the players, who mistake honest, open and professional commentary for personal attacks.
"I've been in more penalty boxes than anyone," Carillo said. "As thoughts leave my mouth, I often realize, 'That will cost me a year with that person.'"
Carillo said Andre Agassi doesn't talk to her. She has gone years without speaking to Venus Williams. Serena Williams isn't happy with her. And Maria Sharapova also isn't pleased with Carillo because of things said at the Nasdaq-100.
"I just wish players looked over the body of work, rather than one or two comments," Carillo said. "My job is to take the information I have and back it up with opinions. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Criticism from players and coaches is just part of the business."
As captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, McEnroe finds himself in a unique position.
"There are times where what I say (hacks off) my guys," McEnroe said. "I think they respect my honesty on the air. And if they have a problem, we'll sit down and talk. I don't comment on what happens off the court, but what happens on the court. I'll tell the viewers if I think a player is using the right strategy."
While McEnroe admires Miller's work, he said tennis commentary is different from golf.
"In golf, one shot, one bad decision, one bad club choice can make all the difference," McEnroe said. "And the commentator has some time to think and talk about it.
"In tennis, unless someone tries a shot between his legs, you concentrate a player's strategy. I try and focus on strategy because that's what the viewers want."
What the viewer really wants is good, honest commentary. In Carillo and Miller, they get it.
> ESPN2's coverage from Wimbledon will start at 5 a.m. most days and run until about 2 p.m. A "Wake Up to Wimbledon" pre-match show starts at 4 a.m. ESPN2 has coverage through the July 6-7 women's and men's semifinals. NBC has the finals.
> ESPN2 has become the home of professional tennis. Len DeLuca, senior vice president of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, said all tennis has moved to ESPN2 because the network doesn't have to program around "SportsCenter." Plus, with ESPN2 there is flexibility to stay on the air past a cutoff point if a match merits.
> With Wimbledon, World Cup soccer, Major League Baseball, and the College World Series playing and with the NBA Finals recently completed, there was some fear ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC were spread too thin. But Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer of remote production, said each event has its own crew and equipment.
"With all these events, plus the French Open and the Belmont Stakes just completed, and the All-Star Home Run Derby coming up, we're in an alignment of the planets never seen before in television history," Drake said. "And we put tennis right at the top of what we do."
> Lee Hamilton's "Hacksaw's Hottest Headlines" segments will now be featured at 15 and 45 minutes after each hour from 5-9 a.m. weekdays on KOGO (600). Plus, Hamilton can be heard at the same times from 3-6 p.m. on KOGO. Hamilton still has a weekend talk show on KSPA (570) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
> Brian Wilson, assistant program director and "Mr. Versatile" at Double X Sports Radio 1090, has left the station and taken a position at Clear Channel, where he'll work on sales and programming on Chargers broadcasts. With Wilson gone, look for Josh Rosenberg and Jack Cronin to get more air time at 1090.
> With the Padres in first place in the NL West, interest in the team is way up and 1090 is reaping the benefits. On the Arbitrends released earlier this week, 1090 checked in with a 2.6 rating, the station's best since last summer's 2.8 when the Padres were making their charge to the NL West title.
Do the Dew
Carlsbad's Shaun White, the Olympic gold medalist known as "The Flying Tomato," trades his snowboard for a skateboard this weekend as NBC and USA air coverage from the Dew Action Sports Tour.
Action starts at midnight tonight on USA from the Panasonic Open in Louisville and continues at 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday on NBC and midnight Saturday on USA with more than 150 action-sports athletes competing for more than $1 million in prize money. Tonight's action on USA features BMX park and dirt competition. Saturday on NBC, it's freestyle motocross; Saturday night on USA, it's more BMX.
White is the featured performer Sunday on NBC, competing in Skate Vert.
> The six-game Dallas-Miami NBA Finals on ABC averaged an 8.5 rating. That's up from an 8.2 last season's San Antonio-Detroit final. The 8.5, however, is the third-lowest rating since the finals began airing in prime time. Still, all six games of the finals won their nights for ABC. The all-time low NBA Finals rating was a 6.5 in 2003 for San Antonio-New Jersey. Tuesday's Game 6, in which the Heat eliminated the Mavericks, did a solid 10.1 rating, up from an 8.8 last season.
> Last Saturday's World Cup soccer match between the U.S and Italy averaged a 4.3 rating for ABC, or 4.784 million households. That made it the highest-rated and most-viewed men's World Cup telecast on the network since the 1998 France-Brazil final, which did a 5.7 rating.
> ABC's three World Cup matches last weekend did a 2.2 rating, up 69 percent from 2002. ESPN2's first 18 World Cup telecasts averaged a 1.3 rating, up 117 percent from 2002.
> Game 7 of the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals on Monday pulled a 3.3 rating for NBC, down 21 percent from 2004, the last NHL season before the 2005 lockout. NBC finished with a 2.3 rating for its five finals games. ABC did a 2.6 rating for five finals contests in 2004.
> ESPN, ABC and the Big Ten Conference reached a 10-year agreement for extensive action beginning with the 2007-08 season and continuing through 2016-17. The deal will deliver 110 Big Ten events a year, including football, men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball. ABC will carry up 17 Big Ten football games each season, while ESPN and ESPN2 will carry up to 25. ESPN and ESPN2 will carry more than 40 men's basketball games, which will include Tuesday and Thursday night telecasts, plus the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the Big Ten Tournament.
> CSTV has a deal to carry 25 Mountain West Conference football games as well as 150 basketball games and more than 200 other events. Sounds great, but Cox Communications ---- the largest cable provider in San Diego ---- still doesn't have a deal with CSTV. And that's a big deal because San Diego State is a member of the MWC. Speaking of CSTV, the network has a nice 5 p.m. Sunday feature on Brett Elliott, a non-drafted, free-agent quarterback from Linfield College in Oregon, who is trying to stick with the Chargers. Oh, sorry ---- CSTV isn't available in San Diego.
Around the dial
> Winky Wright, coming off last Saturday's controversial draw against middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, will be the guest analyst on tonight's ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" bout, featuring Joachim Alcine (26-0, 18 KOs) and Javier Mamami (28-4-1, 16 KOs) in a 12-round WBA junior-middleweight eliminator bout. Airtime is 6 p.m.
> Golf fans get a bonus event ---- the ING Par-3 Shootout on Monday and Tuesday. The event, which airs at 7 p.m. Monday and 5 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2, features Andy North, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples and Craig Stadler.
> Tuesday's "Big Break All-Star Challenge" at 7:30 p.m. Monday on The Golf Channel pits Texas Rangers players Mark Teixeira, Kevin Mench, Mark DeRosa and Gerald Laird against each other. Upcoming challenges include the Chicago White Sox and members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
> There is a good chance that swimming from the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be held in the morning local time, which means they could be shown live in prime time in the U.S. If that comes to pass, it would be great to switch track and field to the mornings, too.
Staff writer John Maffei's TV/Radio Column appears every Friday. He can be reached at (760) 740-3547 or firstname.lastname@example.org