It’s great to be a sports fan in 2018. You can see just about any game you want to see.
Sometimes, however, there are games that fall through the cracks. And this weekend there are two games that are going to be difficult for area sports fans to see. Here’s a warning — you should make sure you have fresh batteries for your radio.
The first conflict takes place Saturday when the No. 1 ranked UConn women’s basketball team take on 14th-ranked California in one of the marquee games of the regular season.
Both teams are undefeated, which adds to the luster.
The game, however, is on the PAC-12 Network, which very few UConn women’s fans have on their cable lineup. On Cox Communications, the channel is offered, but subscribers would have to pay extra for it.
And UConn fans only want to watch the channel for just one day.
Normally there would be an easy solution to the problem — go to your neighborhood sports bar to watch it.
But there’s a bigger problem. The PAC-12 Network is not carried by DirecTV, the service that most sports bars use to get their out of town games.
I made a few phone calls today and none of the big sports bars are planning to carry it.
In case you’re wondering why the game is on a network that few people can get, it’s because the home team, California, has the TV rights to the game.
The game will be available on the old reliable, radio, on WUCS-FM97.9 with Bob Joyce and Randy LaVigne calling the action.
Then on Sunday, it will be the New York Giant fans who will get the shaft.
The New York Giants-Indianapolis Colts game won’t be available on local television Sunday. Of course, if the Giants had a better record, this would be a bigger story. There are still plenty of Giants fans in the area, who will be inconvenienced.
Here’s why: CBS owns the rights for the Giants-Colts game. WFSB-TV3, however, will be airing the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bill game in the Sunday 1 p.m. time slot.
Those familiar with the NFL TV policy might have noticed that the Giants are the visiting team, and the TV rights normally are handled by the visiting team’s network, which is Fox.
But there are exceptions to the rule. The NFL has decided to move the Giants game to CBS at 1 p.m. That would enable to New York market to carry both the Giants-Colts game on CBS, and the New York Jets-Green Bay Packers game on Fox.
So in order to satisfy the New York market, Connecticut New York Giant fans are shortchanged.
Because the Giants are having a rough season, complaints will probably be smaller than usual. Giant fans, however, who are used to seeing 95 percent of the games, are victims of hands to the face by the NFL — they have to go the sports bar route. And at least all sports bars will have the Giants available. And you also can call on a friend who has NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV.
But a game that should have been easy to see has become a victim of the NFL TV policy.
And there’s one more insult. Most Giant games are available on WTIC-AM1080. On Sunday, however, WTIC will be carrying the Patriots-Bills game. The game will be available, on the Giants flagship station, WFAN-AM660.
This proves it has been a tough season for the Giants, not just on TV, but also in the media.
Comedian Billy Crystal usually sits courtside for Los Angeles Clippers games.
When he attends the Clippers-Los Angeles Lakers game on Jan. 31, there will be one difference — he’ll be wearing a headset.
Crystal, a long-time Clippers fan and season ticket holder, has volunteered to be the color commentator for the Lakers-Clippers game as a tribute to the team’s TV broadcaster Ralph Lawler.
Those who hear Lawler on NBA TV or who subscribe the NBA League Pass know what a great broadcaster he is — one of the NBA funniest announcers. He’s also one of the league’s most knowledgeable commentators.
Crystal thinks he’s even better than that. He told Variety that he thinks Lawler is “Hall of Fame Worthy.”
It should be a memorable telecast — even if we probably don’t get to see it. Jan. 31 is a Thursday night, which belongs to TNT nationally. The Lawler-Crystal telecast would only be available in the Los Angeles market.
There should, however, be plenty of highlights. Crystal says he’s been a Clippers fan since 1985, so he should bring a lot to the broadcast table.
That last time a well-known comic became a sports commentator was in 2000, when Dennis Miller joined the announce team for “Monday Night Football.”
Miller, however, needed prepared scripted material to get by. Crystal’s performance should be completely ad-libbed.
The ironic part of the deal is that this is planned as a tribute to Lawler. However, he may have trouble getting a word in.