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CBS announcers give edge to Pirates and Jays

CBS' coverage of the baseball playoffs begins Tuesday night with Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves (8:30 p.m.). The American League series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland A's opens Wednesday night at 8. The World Series is scheduled to start Oct. 17. WTVT-Ch. 13 will carry the games locally.

CBS analyst Tim McCarver gives the Pirates the edge and says the series will be won and lost by the bullpens, which are suspect on both teams. He says the Pirates' Barry Bonds is the best player in the game and should be most valuable player in the National League, although Atlanta's Terry Pendleton is equally deserving.

Jim Kaat, who will work the Blue Jays-A's series, likes Toronto because of the Blue Jays' starting pitching. However, he won't "discount the heart and soul of Oakland." He says A's reliever Dennis Eckersley is the American League's most valuable player.

CBS Sports executive Rick Gentile says to expect fewer replays and fewer tight shots on action plays at the plate. As for the network's dwindling baseball ratings, Gentile predicts better numbers in the post-season.

"I don't think we've been in a pennant-race mode. When that happens, it's tough to drum up interest on a Saturday afternoon. If we get three seven-game series, I guarantee there will be plenty of people watching," Gentile said.

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame: A big, fat dart to NBC for overplaying Stanford's 33-16 upset victory over Notre Dame during halftime of Sunday's NFL game between the Dolphins and Bills.

Yes, the game was significant; it's not often that a visiting team exits Notre Dame Stadium with a win. But there were other big college games involving higher-ranked teams than Notre Dame: Miami over Florida State and Texas A&M over Texas Tech, for instance. Yet those games were ignored during the NFL Live halftime segment.

That wouldn't have anything to do with NBC owning the rights to Notre Dame home football games, would it? Nah.

Monday night showdown: The last time a Monday Night Football game _ other than a season opener _ received as much hype as tonight's Eagles-Cowboys pairing was in 1989, when the Giants played the 49ers. Both teams started 10-0, but each team lost the week before the prime-time contest. Philadelphia and Dallas are both 3-0.

Around the dial: WFNS-910 AM will broadcast the baseball playoffs and the World Series on the CBS radio network. Two weeks after televising Buffalo's 38-0 rout of Indianapolis, TNT got stuck with Sunday night's Patriots-Jets matchup. The teams entered the game with a combined record of 0-7. NFL GameDay analyst Tom Jackson became a member of the Broncos' Ring of Fame in Denver Sunday. ESPN begins its 25-game regular-season NHL schedule Tuesday night with Philadelphia and rookie Eric Lindros vs. two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh and superstar Mario Lemieux at 7:30. ESPN will televise the PBA Senior Open Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. live from Naples. Also on Wednesday, ESPN's Top Rank Boxing features heavyweights Ray Mercer and Mike Dixon from Augusta, Ga. Mercer's trainer, Hank Johnson, will be wearing a headset, allowing commentators the chance to discuss strategy with the cornerman during the fight.

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