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Relatively Meaningless SportsCenter shows

Monday, August 26, 2002

By Rob Rossi, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

When you go home alone as often as the Angry Young Man, SportsCenter becomes more a way of life than anything on Cinemax. With that in mind ... a look back at ESPN's Sweetest Thing, with some inappropriate commentary on the side, of course:

Sept. 7, 1979 -- The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network debuts, as does a certain show -- original tag team: George Grande and Lee Leonard (?). Serious sports journalists rant in unison, "An all-sports newscast will never work." Privately, the few among them who get it begin to worry.

April 14, 1980 (7 a.m.) -- The early bird gets the worm ... and the previous day's scores and highlights live.

April 14, 1980 (8 a.m.) -- Sports editors across America begin to sweat (more than usual).

Feb. 6, 1981 -- ESPN sticks it to the Big Three by making Rhonda Glenn the first full-time female sportscaster for a national network.

Feb. 9, 1981 -- Jimmy The Greek awakes from a drunken stupor and thinks to himself, "What that H#@*!!!"

Jan. 1, 1982 -- Miss Pretties with big hair bemoan this "stupid sports show" that now airs daily at 11 p.m.

Jan. 1, 1983 -- Studies show that contraceptive sales over the past year have dramatically decreased everywhere but Alabama.

Jan. 2, 1983 -- Alabama representatives deny that their people ever cared about protection.

July 16, 1985 -- ESPN introduces "updates at 28 and 58 minutes past the hour." Life as you know it changes for the better.

July 17, 1985 -- Alabama representatives deny that their people can't tell time.

Oct. 31, 1987 -- During an exclusive interview on the show that everybody outside of Alabama is watching, Eric Dickerson announces that the Los Angeles Rams have traded him to the Indianapolis Colts. ... Pete Rose puts $15,000 down on the Colts to win the Super Bowl.

July 17, 1988 -- The "Sunday Conversation" debuts with Jack Nicklaus as the first BMOTV. Some kid in California watches and tells his father, "His records will be mine." His father replies, "Yes they will son, jut not in Alabama."

Aug. 9, 1988 -- SportsCenter leads with Wayne Gretzky's trade to the Los Angeles Kings. Penguins fans complain that Mario Lemieux gets no love from ESPN.

Later in that broadcast -- Gretzky and his wife, Janet Jones, give their thoughts on the deal. Upon seeing Jones, millions of Americans begin to understand why Gretzky is "The Great One."

Dec. 2, 1988 -- Broadcast No. 10,000 is in the books. "I'm telling you, this show will never last."

July 1989 -- A feature on Montreal Expos pitcher Tim Burke's adoption of a Guatemalan child brings an Emmy to ESPN. An executive pitches the idea of an ESPN awards show.

Feb. 9, 1990 -- Chris Berman (with hair) is named National Sportscaster of the Year by the NSSA for the first time, a first for a cable station.

Feb. 10, 1990 -- Lunch Table Losers begin working on their He ... could ... go ... all ... the ... way impersonations. Strangely, it never works out that way.

April 1990 -- Highlights of Pirates games begin showing up earlier and earlier during broadcasts. Pitt students develop a particularly dangerous drinking game centered around the number of times Barry Bonds is shown doing something great.

October 1990 -- Pitt students hit the wagon.

Aug. 20, 1990 -- Sunday Morning SportsCenter gives dudes a reason to, well, wake up before 1 p.m.

April 28, 1990 -- Grand Master G admits defeat.

Jan.-Feb. 1992 -- Mike Tyson goes on trial for rape and SportsCenter provides analysis ... legal analysis, you sick freaks.

1994 -- Welcome to the Big Show, with Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. Suddenly, Letterman and Leno seem real old.

1995 -- "It's not even a sports show anymore! Have you seen that commercial with Grant Hill playing the piano?"

July 22, 1996 -- The Television Critics Association awards SportsCenter its Outstanding Achievement honor. ESPN breaks this news at "28 and 58 past the hour."

May 17, 1998 -- Broadcast No. 20,000. The kindly people of Alabama want some answers.

April 6, 1999 -- Dudes bemoan this "stupid sports show" that now airs daily at 1 a.m. because their Miss Pretties won't come to bed until "DYK."

Jan. 21, 1999 -- SportsCenter of the Decade ... What is Stu wearing?

January 2000 -- International flava in Brazil. Can Alabama be far behind?

Sept. 11, 2001 -- "What is this ... oh, my, god!"

Last night -- Broadcast No. 25,000. (to be repeated every hour on the hour ... just in case you missed it).

Da-da-da, Da-da-da. ...names@post-gazette.com .

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