Hendrick Motorsports Renewing AARP, MAC Tools Rockets-Thunder Leads Weekend Ratings Sources: Marlins Using Jeter To Elicit Interest In Team Braves' First SunTrust Park Homestand Goes Smoothly USA Swimming's Chuck Wielgus Dies NFL Draft In Philly Requires Extensive Set Up MLB Stars Appear In New Sheraton Campaign NBC's Lead NHL Team Earning Kudos Tobacco Still Being Used In Some MLB Clubhouses Sabres Have No Timetable To Hire New Leadership
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TNT airs "Before They Were Pros" tonight at 8:00pm ET. The 90-minute show from TNT & NFL Films features the careers of NFL players, Brett Favre, Marcus Allen, John Elway, Wayne Chrebet and Troy Aikman (TNT). In N.Y., David Bianculli gives the program two stars, noting, "Some stories are every bit as inspirational as intended. In particular, those of Allen ... and Chrebet" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/30). GENERAL: B&C reports that ESPN Internet Ventures will soon use its GameTracker technology to track NFL games on ESPN SportsZone. No official word on when the service will kick off, but "expect to see it debut" when ESPN takes over the Sunday night NFL game next month (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 9/29 issue)....The "Fabulous Sports Babe" has been dropped be all-sports WEEI-AM in Boston (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30).
ABC and Finland-based telecom company Nokia "are closing in on the first major sponsorship deal for the network's new College Football Championship Series," set to start in January '99, according to Langdon Brockinton of MEDIAWEEK. The deal, "said to be worth" $40M over four years, would allow Nokia to retain its title sponsorship of the Sugar Bowl and would also get commercial time on ABC's three other major games in the series -- the Rose, Orange and Fiesta Bowls -- as well as spots on ABC and ESPN's other bowl game telecasts (MEDIAWEEK, 9/29 issue).
MLB's postseason begins today at 1:00pm ET with the Astros-Braves on ESPN, which will be followed by the Giants- Marlins at 4:00pm ET. ESPN will broadcast the same two games, at the same times, tomorrow. Fox will telecast the Indians-Yankees tonight at 8:00pm ET, while NBC makes its postseason debut Wednesday night for Game One of the Orioles-Mariners series. Fox will also telecast Game Two of the Indians-Yankees series on Thursday, while ESPN has Game Two of the Orioles-Mariners beginning at 4:00pm ET (MLB). The most postseason games ESPN could show is 12 (ESPN). CLICK AND HIT: MLB, MSNBC and NBC Sports have joined to create the official Web site of the MLB postseason at www. mlbworldseries.com. The site will provide daily postseason coverage, pre- and post-game audio coverage of all press conferences, video highlights after each game and chat sessions with MLB players and NBC Sports broadcasters. In addition, a player, not yet announced, will host a live, in- game cybercast from each World Series game (MLB). MLB NOTES: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes the "only negative" of the postseason TV format is the "starting time of some games will put us to sleep." He notes that Game Four of the Marlins-Giants series will start at 11:00pm ET on Saturday. Jackson adds that "as usual," Fox and ESPN will superimpose the score, inning and count "most of the time," but that NBC won't "because of concerns it might hurt ratings" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/30)....A cable TV movie based on the life of Joe Torre, "Joe Torre: Curveballs Along The Way," will premiere on Showtime on October 17, on "the eve of the World Series" (USA TODAY, 9/30).