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Published Oct. 22, 2008

There's plenty of talk that this could be the least-watched World Series in years, maybe ever, mostly because the Rays are in it. Though Tampa Bay features young, exciting players who are the talk of Tampa Bay, those players aren't well-known outside of this market. And the Rays have no tradition, not like the Red Sox or Yankees or Cubs. But Fox Sports president Ed Goren, whose network will televise the games, said it's not about which teams are playing, but how many games they play. "I've said this year in and year out: It's not so much the matchups - and I think this is a wonderful matchup - as the number of games played in the series or volume,'' Goren said. Goren pointed to the 1997 World Series between a small-market team (Cleveland) and one with no tradition (Florida). The TV ratings went through the roof as the series went to seven games. "That's what I mean by volume,'' Goren said. "These things build. It's watercooler talk. It becomes must-see TV.'' Meantime, maybe the rest of the country doesn't know the Rays, but it will be Fox's job to introduce them. "These kids are the future of baseball,'' Goren said. "If we do our job and have exciting games, then we are going to do just fine. There are people who are Cubs fans, Red Sox fans, Yankees fans, Dodgers fans, but there are also a lot of people who are baseball fans. If you're a baseball fan, you have to watch the World Series. I don't care what the matchups are. If you call yourself a baseball fan, you have to be watching the World Series."

Staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

Insurance of the day

TBS suffered an embarrassing gaffe when the first 19 minutes of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series were not seen because of a router problem. We were stuck watching what surely was the highest-rated Steve Harvey Show ever. In layman's terms, something broke at the station's headquarters in Atlanta, and there was no sufficient backup plan. It's virtually impossible for that to happen to Fox during the World Series, Fox Sports president Ed Goren said.

"We have a facility in Houston that, if anything happens in Los Angeles, which is our main transmission center, we can instantly switch to Houston and pick up the coverage within minutes," Goren said. "Yes, you worry about it. Yes, it is a nightmare. And five minutes can feel like a lifetime when you're down. It's happened to others before, and hopefully it doesn't happen to us."

Fox's announcing team

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will handle the World Series broadcast for Fox. Buck, left, will call his 11th World Series; McCarver will call his 19th, more than any television announcer in the history of the World Series.

Both are just fine with a new team such as the Rays playing in the World Series, especially if this is the beginning of several World Series appearances.

"From a national perspective, I can't think of a time when Tim and I had a chance to cover a team filled with as much young talent as what the Tampa Bay Rays have,'' Buck said. "This could be the beginning of a tremendous run by an organization that seems to have figured out how to compete through the draft, by adding key players and by not overpaying for free agents. We get a chance to put the spotlight on a group of kids that really enjoy playing this game."

Best line

"A real Renaissance man. ... one of the real innovative, contemporary managers of our time.''

- Fox's Tim McCarver on Rays manager Joe Maddon

Pregame and postgame shows

Once again, Bright House Sports Network and FSN Florida will have pre- and postgame World Series shows.

BHSN will air its pregame show from 6:30 to 7 p.m. each game night. Rock Riley and Tom Buehring will host live from the Trop with analysts Fred McGriff and Frank Viola. Immediately after the game, BHSN will air its postgame show with Buehring and Viola in the studio and Riley at the Trop.

FSN's pregame show will air each game night from 7-8 p.m. (with the exception of a possible Game 6, when it would move to 7:30 because of Barack Obama's television appearance). Whit Watson will serve as host with the Rays announcing team of Dewayne Staats, Joe Magrane and Todd Kalas. Unlike the ALCS, FSN is making the smart move by sending Staats, Magrane and Kalas to Philadelphia for Games 3, 4 and, if needed, 5.

FSN's postgame show will air immediately following the game.

He wrote it

The New York Times'Richard Sandomir spent Sunday on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown set, and the most interesting part of his piece about it was a paragraph on host Chris Berman, above.

Sandomir wrote, "Berman is the same on and off the air. He is big and boisterous, sensitive to criticism that he is too riotous and that his on-air approach needs updating. He is irked that he is not appreciated by critics the way he feels he is by fans. He says he has no plans to change.''

Local connections

Both Fox announcers for the World Series have Tampa Bay connections. Joe Buck was born in St. Petersburg, but he was raised in St. Louis. He's the son of legendary announcer Jack Buck, who used to call spring training games for the Cardinals at Al Lang Stadium. Color analyst Tim McCarver makes his home in Sarasota.

Whatever happened to ...

Remember former NFL coach Dennis Green, left? He has begun teaching a strategic management course at San Diego State's College of Business Administration. Think if a kid gets a C on a test, Green will yell, "You had an A, and you let it off the hook!''?

Taking the high road

If you're keeping score at home, columnist Jemele Hill made an Adolf Hitler reference in a column and was suspended. ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz made a Hitler reference and was not suspended. How did Hill feel about that? She answered the question - well, addressed it is more accurate - on her Web site's blog.

"The last couple days I've been inundated with calls and e-mails because of the Lou Holtz controversy. He made an inappropriate Hitler reference. I made an inappropriate Hitler reference. We both apologized, but only I was suspended.

"A lot has been written about this. Many have said that ESPN treated me unfairly. The 64,000 (dollar) question: How do I really feel?

"My initial answer is a story, or rather, a moment. A couple years ago, I was visiting the Poynter Institute, one of the foremost journalism think tanks in the country (Two Cents' note: and it owns the St. Petersburg Times), and I sat in on a session taught by one of my favorite columnists and people, the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins.

"A student asked her if she ever got upset when other writers (were) rewarded - particularly if she knew they weren't as good. And Sally said - and I'm paraphrasing here - that she always prided herself on keeping her eyes on her own career. That's my answer. That's how I feel.''

Hill won't say it, so I will. Holtz should've been suspended, too, and that he wasn't makes you question the double standard.