- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2001

WTEM commits a big error by keeping Phil Wood off air

Fans who attended yesterday's Bowie Baysox game got an extra added attraction: The chance to hear sportscaster Phil Wood play bass and sing with the Phil Brothers Band. That's fine, as far as it goes, but area fans no longer have the opportunity to hear him talking baseball on the radio something he does better than just about anyone else we know.
Wood, a world-class horsehide historian and collector, has not appeared on WTEM-AM since January, although the all-sports station continues to pay his salary. His absence is especially puzzling because the station this season obtained Washington area rights to games of the Baltimore Orioles.
"If I'm still on the payroll, they must have plans for me down the road," Wood says. "But I'm not privy to those plans. If they're going to carry the Orioles, I'm puzzled why they wouldn't want to have peripheral baseball programming."
Calls by The Washington Times to top executives at the station were not returned. One of Wood's loyal listeners, Glenn Bucek of Chevy Chase, said he has called and written the station regarding Wood's absence and didn't get a reply either.
How about this theory: Wood is well known as a fervent booster of baseball for Washington, so might Orioles owner Peter Angelos have demanded that WTEM muzzle him? It sounds farfetched, but we all know that King Peter's mind works in strange, often illogical, ways.
In any case, Wood belongs on the air somewhere, because what he doesn't know about baseball probably isn't worth knowing. He has broadcast locally since 1979, when he began a sports talk program six nights a week on WTOP-AM, and his carefully reasoned opinions have been a breath of fresh air in that bombastic genre.
Whoever at WTEM has relegated Wood to the sideline, and for whatever reason, is playing a fool's game when it comes to serving the station's listeners. Listening to the likes of John Thompson, "Smokin' " Al Koken, Doc Walker, Andy Pollin, et al, is fine if that's your thing, but some of us still care about intelligent discussion of baseball matters.

Keeping chess in check

One does not associate the playing of chess with hooligans. Or at least, one did not until recently when the Minneapolis Public Library temporarily banned the game there after several cases of spectators reportedly using abusive language toward security guards.
"It wasn't the people playing, but some of the people watching," library spokeswoman Kristi Gibson said. "It was boisterous language, not anything destructive. But this is a library, so boisterous language is not appropriate."
Moncena Rowley, who manages a copy center near the tables where players gathered, said he and other workers bought chess sets and began lending them to players as the popularity of the venue grew.
"On any afternoon, we would have five or six tables going up here, with little groups standing around watching the players," Rowley said. "They even started organizing their own tournaments. The boys, especially, would check out old books on chess and use them to borrow moves from the past."
The players, according to Rowley, were a diverse bunch all ages, all races. Many were poor and some disabled, he said.
"I hope something can be worked out, because chess is a wonderful thing," Rowley said. "It's the kind of thing that should happen in a library."
Say what? We always thought libraries were for reading.

Pete and Paris

Tennis superstar Pete Sampras has never won the French Open, and he doesn't exactly sound like he's brimming over with confidence for this year's edition, which starts next week.
The 29-year-old American has a record 13 Grand Slam titles seven at Wimbledon, four at the U.S. Open and two at the Australian Open. But he has found nothing to love about Paris in the springtime.
"My wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open came quite easily, but here I've always struggled," Sampras said. "Luck plays a big part. And unlike Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, I've never won a match at Roland Garros playing badly."
Which, of course, usually is part of a winning equation. Hang in there, Pete.

Eminently quotable

Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal, on losing the NBA's MVP vote to Philadelphia's Allen Iverson: "It doesn't bother me you suits [reporters] don't know what you're talking about. Individual accolades really don't mean much at this time in my life." …
Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown, on Iverson, a frequent antagonist before this season: "I think the student taught the teacher a lot about life, and I'm grateful for that. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to coach Allen, and I never thought I'd say that." …
Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell, on his reaction when his grandson asked him at a family gathering if he was as good as Michael Jordan: "I laughed harder than anyone else. Then I got up from the table and immediately took him out of my will."

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