I so old that I remember clearly a nationally-televised game on a November late afternoon in 1968, a game once voted by several groups as the most memorable regular season game in pro football history.
In what has been dubbed “the Heidi Bowl,” NBC broke away in the eastern part of the country from a New York Jets game in Oakland with the Jets holding a 32-29 lead with 1:01 left to play in the game in order to show the highly-advertised tv movie “Heidi,” a film about a little girl in Switzerland that was to begin at 7 p.m. EST on November 17.
But the Raiders scored a touchdown on two plays covering 78 yards with :42 left, then returned a Jets fumble nine seconds later for another TD and an improbable 43-32 win, a surprising ending not seen by millions of viewers in the East.
Back in 1968, television viewers had a choice of three networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). There were no sports networks, no DVRs, no saturation; neither were there DVDs nor movies available for rent, so many people looked forward to special events like “Heidi,” which under its contract had to begin promptly at 7 p.m.
NBC executives had decided to delay the start of the movie and continue to air the exciting game, but couldn’t get through to the network switchboards, that were jammed with callers who wanted the network to keep with the game and others who wanted the family film to air on time.
The mess it created forced a change in the way pro football is shown on network television, with contests now shown to their conclusion before regularly-scheduled programming begins.
Too bad it didn’t affect the way Root Sports handled a Pirates game last Saturday whose ending overlapped the Penguins’ final regular season hockey match.
The Pens’ game was totally meaningless, with the only outcome in question being whether the team could finish the game without losing any more skaters to injury. Nothing that happened would change anything for the first round of the playoffs, no matter which team won.
Still, with fans having invested more than three hours and 30 minutes in the baseball game that would eventually move the Bucs to within one-half game of first place, Root Sports opted to switch to the Pens’ insignificant meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes,
Would all those on the hockey bandwagon have been traumatized had they missed the first 11:08 of the first period, while the Pirates were squeaking out a 5-3 win?
It’s not as though Root Sports didn’t have options.
The network did an excellent job of handling the simultaneous game times of the Pirates and Penguins in April by airing hockey on the regular channel, while broadcasting the Bucs on an alternate channel for four of the five conflicts.
If they didn’t or couldn’t do this last Saturday when all but 18 percent of the hockey game was affected, the network should have carried the complete baseball game and then began the hockey broadcast on a delayed basis. Cutting out the filler between the first and second period would have allowed the second and third periods to be shown live.
A Root Sports spokeswoman told me Monday afternoon that the Pirates’ games on Friday and Tuesday would not be aired, so that the second and fourth games of the Pens opening round of playoffs could be shown — they would not be shown on the alternate channel. (Both teams will be shown today: Pirates at 1 p.m., Pens at 7:30 p.m., while NBC will air Sunday’s game.)
If the Pens don’t sweep, a game five on May 8 would be aired instead of the Pirates game, as would the May 11 game if there is a time conflict; Information about a game seven was not announced, she said.
After the first round, there is no conflict as all additional playoffs will not be aired on Root Sports.
Heidi and I will be pleased.
Jim Sankey writes this baseball column weekly for The Allied News.
Sailors make 1st PIAA playoff start
While Saturday will serve as his Sailors’ first foray into the PIAA playoffs, Lakeview High head football coach Dan York is going along for the ride, taking it all in stride.
Stopping shy of stifling a yawn, York calmly said, “We consider the playoffs the playoffs. When you make the playoffs out of our region (1-A), you’ve already gone up against some of the better teams in the state. So whether it’s the districts or state, it’s still the playoffs.”
Lakeview wins 1st ever D-10 football title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
While Sharpsville’s program has the pedigree — 8 championships and 14 title tilt appearances, plus the 1997 PIAA plateau — Lakeview launched its 1st crown since the district football playoffs’ 1985 inception.
EXTRA INNINGS: St. Louis shuffles the Cards, stacks the deck?
WHILE THE rest of the National League Central Division sits back and watches, St. Louis has shuffled the Cards with two trades, stacking the deck to become the favorite to repeat in 2014.
Although St. Louis won both its division and league pennant in 2013, outfield defense and shortstop offense worried the Cardinals throughout the season.
Last Thursday, the Cards shipped third baseman David Freese to the Angels for center fielder Peter Bourjos, considered by more than a few experts to be the best defensive centerfielder in baseball.
NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U
Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).
NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return
Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.
IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life
Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.
NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2
The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.
NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh
A breakdown of the National Hockey League game Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Montreal Canadiens.
High School Highlights: Oct. 19, 2011
A look at the last few days in local high school fall sports action.
Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011
News and notes from the local, regional and national sports scene.
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- Sailors make 1st PIAA playoff start