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.
Breese wins 2nd straight region crown
“One more step!”
Those were the words of Lakeview heavyweight Sam Breese after winning his second straight Northwest AA Regional Championship Saturday at Sharon High School.
Of course the step he referred to was the top of the medals stand at the PIAA State AA Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center.
Breese, who won the state 285 crown last season, is seeking to join an elite group of Pa. matmen to win more than one state crown.
Mercer girls bow in D-10 title tilt; SR ousted in consys
In 1986, the Mercer Lady M’s won the school’s first and only girls basketball District 10 title at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House, but in the same gym on Saturday in 2014, the squad in blue wasn’t so lucky.
Mercer led the Gen. McLane Lady Lancers 27-19 entering the fourth quarter, but the Lancers outscored the Lady M’s 19-4 in the final frame to win the Class AA title tilt 38-31.
EXTRA INNINGS: Teams like the Pirates need to invest for the future
Rounding the bases…
FIRST BASE: If you among the very elite at your job, and your company — rolling in money — asked you to take a 50 percent pay cut, then offered a 25 percent cut instead, would you be happy?
Or might you leave for a company that offered you a chance to make 275% more than your former company?
Be serious. Would you stay with your original company?
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.
- More Sports Headlines
- Breese wins 2nd straight region crown