Sunday, June 03, 2001

Sports on TV-Radio

Bowden uses media to his disadvantage

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This is a media column. The fact that it's about Jim Bowden says something about Jim Bowden. Bowden's troubles — and they are many — are largely because he can't stop himself when it comes to publicity. He craves it more than any other executive in baseball.

        The latest episode, in which Bowden dropped the word “misdiagnosis” on the team's medical director, came on the general manager's radio show. Bowden is paid by WLW-AM (700) to do the show.

        How many other GMs have radio shows?

        Can you imagine Dick Wagner doing gags with Gary Burbank? Can you imagine Mike Brown chatting with the Two Angry Guys twice a week?

        It's not the money that motivates Bowden. He regularly makes trips downtown to appear on Channel 12's Sports Authority on Sunday nights. He does not get paid for it.

        Bowden was at it again Thursday on WLW. Every time Burbank asked him about a player's injury, Bowden would give a terse: “No comment.”

        The joke was supposed to be on chief operating officer John Allen, who barred Bowden from talking about Ken Griffey Jr.'s injury after the Dr. Tim Kremchek blowup.

        But the joke is going to be on Bowden unless he learns to keep his mouth shut.

        The Kremchek incident would have been forgotten quickly had Bowden just been quiet about it.

        WLW loves to fan the flame of controversy. That's how the Kremchek-Bowden deal got started.

        “I heard it,” said WLW SportsTalk host Andy Furman. “I don't often get a chance to dig my claws into someone. Basically, he put his foot in his mouth. He attacked someone's medical practice.

        “I went ballistic. I said Kremchek should sue.”

        Furman's show comes on shortly after Bowden's, so by gametime, things were roaring.

        A meeting between Bowden, Allen and Kremchek followed. Then came a press conference where Bowden ate a little crow.

        The next day, Kremchek backed off a little bit himself.

        By Thursday, it should have been nearly forgotten, but there was Bowden having his fun on his radio show.

        Eventually, all this is likely to do him in. That's a shame, because you can't argue with the job Bowden has done as GM. He put together a pretty good team for $40 million before injuries blew it up. Signing Ruben Rivera looks pretty smart. Two players he got in trades — Chris Reitsma and Brian Reith — could be in the rotation for the next five to 10 years.

        But unless Bowden withdraws from the media spotlight, he probably won't be around to see the fruits of his trades.

        YET MORE: Channels 12 and 19 were there to catch the Bowden-Kremchek press conference. It made for great video. Channels 5 and 9 had to tell the story without fresh pictures.

        Fox Sports Net also had the video. FSN led its regional report with the press conference.

        ANOTHER CHANCE: Dan Hoard, the Channel 19 weekend anchor, will get another shot doing baseball play-by-play. Hoard will do his third fill-in stint for WFAN. He'll do two New York Mets games next week.

        HARVEY RE-UPS: Channel 12 weekend anchor Harvey Smilovitz has signed a new two-year contract with the station.

        COOL NEW STUFF: Fox Sports Net's new pitch-track computer is an interesting twist. Showing where each pitch is is particularly interesting, because swinging at bad pitches is one of the things Reds manager Bob Boone has been harping on lately.

        It would be nice to see FSN add a dead-center-field camera like ESPN.

        NETWORK SHOT: The hope here is someone from Fox Sports notices Chris Welsh's work on the St.Louis-Reds game today. Welsh isn't a big-name former player, but he does a great job analyzing games on FSN. In fact, he's as good as almost any baseball analyst working for the networks.



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