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Let’s Call A Foul On This ‘Showdown’

If you ever needed proof of how phony the world of pay-per-view television is, consider Saturday’s Shaquille O’Neal-Hakeem Olajuwon one-on-one “Showdown.”

Three impressive names in basketball broadcasting - Los Angeles Lakers play-by-play man Chick Hearn , CBS college analyst Billy Packer and NBC’s NBA man Bill Walton - have signed on to announce the event and presumably give it an air of legitimacy.

The three men took turns during a conference call proclaiming the merits of Saturday’s card, making sure to stress that the three-game event was not a “trash sport” telecast.

Sorry, guys. You can dress a pig up in fancy clothing, but it’s still a pig. And like most pay-per-view telecasts, Saturday’s event, where willing dupes lay out anywhere from $20 to $30 to watch garbage programming that no network executive would touch, is one hog of a fraud.

Quit whining, Cleveland

Here’s a point that a lot of broadcasters have missed in their desire to bash in the brains of the Lords of Baseball over the playoff system: Home-field advantage never has applied in baseball.

We’ve heard much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on “SportsCenter” and the Fabulous Sports Babe’s radio show that the Cleveland Indians, who have baseball’s best record, may not get three home games in the new best-of-five divisional series, which start next week.

Baltimoreans may recall that in both 1969 and 1971, Orioles teams that had better records than their Western Division opponents did not have what we’ve come to know as home-field advantage, meaning the ability to win a series strictly by winning home games.

Because 10 of 28 major-league teams share their stadiums with NFL clubs who play in October, a rotation of home-field advantage between divisions and leagues for the World Series has been necessary all along. The truly deserving teams, like those Orioles teams that swept those series, find a way to win. If the Indians are deserving, they will too.

ESPN2 to add coverage

Major league baseball could wind up on ESPN2 for the first time on the final day of the season Sunday, ESPN said Wednesday when it announced the rest of its baseball schedule.

ESPN generally does its Sunday games at night, but there are no night games on closing day. That means, if ESPN picks a later afternoon game, it’ll be on ESPN. If it’s an earlier game, it’ll be on the Deuce, since ESPN is committed to a NASCAR event. If there is a one-game playoff Monday in either league, ESPN will show it, the network said.