There are those who love to say, "I never watch television." They lie. In fact, those folks probably watch more TV than the rest of us. They're the ones who read TV Guide, do TV crosswords, eat TV dinners and plunk quarters into airport-terminal TVs.
I watch a lot of television, especially sports, but I proudly admit it. Sure, I read, too -- what do you think the commercials are for? -- but when it comes down to a midseason Bullets-Cavaliers NBA game or "Crime and Punishment," I'll take Ruland over Raskolnikov every time.
Take away television, automobiles and air conditioning, and what is left of modern America? Maybe waterbeds and automatic drip coffeemakers. But life revolves around a 19-inch set and a set of wheels, and the cool air keeps you comfortable at home or on the road.
It's reached the point where if I don't watch four hours of TV a day (six on weekends and eight during peak playoff periods), I'm grumpy come bedtime. Watching all this TV, I've formed some opinions I'd like to share with you.
*Underrated Color Analysts: NBC's Reggie Rucker on NFL games, CBS' James Brown on college basketball, ESPN's Paul Maguire on college football.
*Overrated Color Analysts: NBC's Merlin Olsen on NFL games, NBC's Bud Collins on tennis, NBC's Bob Trumpy on NFL games.
*Reasons to Watch Television: Mel Proctor, smooth and professional as always doing Washington Bullets games, NBC's Vin Scully and Bob Costas on baseball, CBS' Pat Summerall and John Madden on NFL games, Chuck Thompson and Brooks Robinson chitchatting during Orioles telecasts, NBC's "great moment" highlights at the start of "NFL '85," "This Week in Baseball" with Mel Allen.
*Reasons Not to Watch Television: There are better things to do. As my Uncle Ned used to say, "Tis better to die young without television than to die old with Merv Griffin in the background."
*Why? Why? Why?: CBS' Alberto Salazar on marathons, NBC's Bruce and Linda Jenner on mixed pairs bodybuilding, ABC's "Monday Night Football" trio.
*Most Versatile Broadcaster: Marv Albert, who does NFL football, college basketball and boxing for NBC; the NBA's New York Knicks on TV and radio; the NHL's New York Rangers on radio, and 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. sportscasts on WNBC's local news (when he's in town).
*Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Do Play-by-Play: WWDC's Rich Chvotkin on Georgetown basketball, CBS' Dan Dierdorf on NFL games, WFBR's Tom Marr on Orioles baseball, CBS' Gary Bender on college sports, WMAL's Johnny Holliday on Maryland football and basketball.
*Best Made-for-TV Event: NBC's "Skins Game."
*If I Can Run the Show, I Can Also Broadcast the Show: Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt, despite complaints of conflict of interest and his lack of objectivity, is the color analyst on the Big East's basketball telecasts.
*These Teams Are So Good, I Don't Yell at The Television Screen Anymore: CBS' Pat Summerall/John Madden on the NFL, CBS' Brent Musburger/Billy Packer on college basketball, NBC's Marv Albert/Ferdie Pacheco on boxing, ABC's Al Michaels/Jim Palmer on baseball, CBS' Jack Buck/Hank Stram on the NFL, ESPN's Jim Simpson/Paul Maguire on college football, NBC's Bob Costas/Tony Kubek on baseball.
*He's a Nice Guy, But He Couldn't Coach, So What Makes Him Think He Can Broadcast?: NBC's Sam Rutigliano on NFL games.
*Can He Be Ejected, Suspended or Fired From the Booth?: Billy Martin, who might join the New York Yankees' TV team next season.
*Hey, What's a Few Ethnic Remarks on National Television?: On ABC's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament, Jack Whitaker said that T.C. Chen "snapped like a pair of chopsticks" when he bungled his lead, and Dave Marr later made reference to "pressed duck" when talking about Chen's demise.
*Best Network Sportscaster You Never Heard Of: CBS' John Tesh.
*Underused and Underappreciated: ABC's Dick Schaap.
*Steadiest Studio Host: ESPN's Gayle Gardner on "SportsCenter."
*What If These Guys Ever Went Commercial?: Hats off to Northern Virginia's public television station, WNVC-TV-56, the unlikely home to Ivy League football, Southeastern Conference basketball and scores of other college games.
*He's No Nelson Burton Jr., That's for Sure: NBC's Earl Anthony proves that Hall of Fame bowlers, like Hall of Fame quarterbacks, don't necessarily make good analysts.
*No Tiene Que Hablar Espan ol Para Mirar El Beisbol: You may not understand the play-by-play, but the cold-weather view is wonderful on SIN's Puerto Rican Winter League baseball coverage every Sunday.
*Because You Wanted It, Insisted on It and Practically Demanded It: On one edition of "The George Michael Sports Machine," Michael gave us highlights of professional water skiing championships and chuck wagon races.