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Tucson Weekly Media Mix

NOVEMBER 16, 1998:  DISHING IT OUT: Last April, Media Mix mocked a colleague here at The Weekly who had made a minor investment in a digital satellite dish. Sure, the hardware ran about $300, the installation was $100, the monthly bill was $50, and the special baseball package was another $120--but it's now clear that was one of the smartest buys of the year.

Our friend was driven to buy the dish by his love for baseball--and, particularly, the New York Yankees. If you're a baseball fan with a primitive cable hook-up, you know how hard it is to be left to the not-so-tender mercies of ESPN and the handful of other networks that carry the occasional game. So our colleague made a leap of faith--and was richly rewarded with the Season Beyond Reason. The Boys of Summer put on a real show this year, with Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa chasing that home-run record, wild-card races that came down to the last weekend, and that unbelievable Yankees ballclub that took its place in history as one of the finest teams ever assembled.

And our Yankee fan was there for all of it--he saw the Yanks pound their opponents day after day, racking up a stunning 114 regular-season wins. He saw the mighty bats of the Bronx Bombers make mincemeat of every pitcher they faced. He saw Cuban refugee Orlando Hernandez make his first start at Yankee Stadium and David Wells hurl a perfect game on a warm Sunday afternoon. And he saw the Yanks secure their place in history by pounding the hapless San Diego Padres in a four-game sweep of the World Series.

All the action came right into our friend's home, in crystal-clear digital clarity. Think your picture is good with cable? Ha--a digital delivery system puts cable to shame.

But Direct-TV's advantages over cable are many. For starters, there's the program guide to the hundreds of channels available via satellite. If you're a cable subscriber, you've undoubtedly sat helplessly while the programs slowly scrolled along, with half the screen pushing a psychic network or a cruddy premium station. With Direct-TV, you can forget about being damned to that particular hell--you control the program guide, and you can scroll up, down, or days into the future if that's what you feel like doing. (Sure, we hear those new-fangled digital cable systems are offering the same thing--but it's too late as far as our friend is concerned. "Cable is evil," he says over and over, to anyone who will listen. "TCI dumped WOR and People's Choice dumped WPIX. I hope whoever made those decisions loses lots of money and burns in the fires of hell forever!")

And now that baseball season is finished? Well, it has left a void in our friend's life--but another $160 has assured that he has every single NFL football game on Sundays. Why, just the other weekend, he stumbled out of his bedroom and found his living room full of a gang of jumpsuit-clad quasi-acquaintances watching a Patriots game.

With satellite TV, you never have to worry about being lonely again.

POLITICAL ASYLUM: But not all is happiness in TV land--bad news came earlier this week, with the announcement that Keith Olbermann was leaving MSNBC to anchor Fox Sports News.

Olbermann's nightly broadcasts on MSNBC's The Big Show were one of the few bright spots in the coverage of the never-ending Clinton-Lewinsky investigation. Each night, Olberman would bring us the latest on the sex scandal, neatly dissecting the spin on both sides of the aisle with sly, understated humor.

Evidently, though, covering the story has left Olbermann disenchanted with Washington, which comes as no surprise to us. As he seeks political asylum over at Fox, his historical range and irreverent approach will be greatly missed. His last day hosting The Big Show will be December 4.

"I had a pact with Newt Gingrich," Olbermann told reporters, according to an account on the Fox website. "If he quit, I'd quit."

Sic transit gloria mundi...

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