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Penner guests on a run of bad luck

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 26, 2002

Even Sandy Penner of WDAE-AM 620 couldn't stop Tanyon Sturtze from pitching well Thursday afternoon at the Trop.

Not that he didn't try, of course -- by having him as a regular on his show.

For listeners of Penner (heard 6-8 a.m. weekdays), the host's luck with guests recently is approaching outlandish proportions.

Consider that Darek Sharp, who does updates and contributes to Penner's show, was hardpressed to name a recent guest who hasn't either gotten injured, knocked out or traded shortly after their radio appearance.

"Hmmm, guys he has on a regular basis? ... No ... I'm trying to think. ... I think he ... no. . .," stammered Sharp.

Penner's luck, or lack thereof for his guests, has been well-documented. Of his Lightning regulars (players who call in a certain day each week), Steve Martins was traded within a month of doing Penner's show, Ryan Johnson finished out the final two weeks last season and was traded in the offseason, Matthew Barnaby appeared then disappeared via trade, and Martin St. Louis broke his leg after his second interview.

The Lightning never got back to Penner when it came to replacing St. Louis. "They kind of blew it off," he said.

Listeners have even started calling in, joking that Sturtze, the lone survivor so far, should just go ahead and schedule rotator cuff surgery for May 1, Penner said.

And no, Greg Vaughn hasn't been on the show recently.

In a three-day span last week, Sturtze was hit in the back by a batted ball Thursday, guest China Smith was knocked out and saw his undefeated record tarnished Friday, and Storm quarterback John Kaleo tore his ACL with just five seconds remaining in the season opener Saturday.

"I like talking about it because it's funny, but I don't want anyone to get hurt," Penner said. "Getting traded (or losing) is one thing."

The curse, by the way, lives on -- Sturtze is still winless after Thursday's great outing.

Which begs the question: Penner curse and Esteban Yan as your closer: coincidence?

GOLDEN GUEST: Marie-Reine Le Gougne, the French figure skating judge who caused the Olympics' biggest scandal with her suspect scoring, will do her first U.S. television interview Sunday when she talks with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes (Ch. 10, 7-8 p.m.).

GOLDEN VOICE: Al Michaels, one of sports broadcasting's legends, has called some of the biggest events ever. But his career accomplishments weren't enough to impress his nephews until he signed on with Electronic Arts to join John Madden in doing the play calling for the Madden 2003 football video game.

He will replace Pat Summerall in providing the voices for the ultra-popular game, which sold 4-million copies last year.

AROUND THE DIAL: NASCAR continues to pay huge dividends for Fox. Last week's Aaron's 499 at Talladega drew the network's best NASCAR ratings since Rockingham last year (the first race after Dale Earnhardt's death). Fox said its coverage beat the marquee Lakers-Trailblazers NBA playoff matchup and had significant gains in key markets such as Chicago and St. Louis. In Tampa/St. Petersburg, viewership of the race was up 29 percent. ... Sunshine Network will televise game four of the Orlando-Charlotte NBA playoff series at 7 p.m. Tuesday. ... Fox won 11 Sports Emmys at the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awards presentation Tuesday, while ESPN took home six. It was the first time in the 23-year-history of the Sports Emmys that ABC, CBS and NBC did not place in the top two, USA Today reported. HBO continues to show its journalistic strengths, capturing three awards, including Outstanding Documentary and Outstanding Sports Journalism. ... The Women's Professional Soccer League drew an XFL-like 0.095 rating for the season opener on PAX. ... ESPN's NFL draft coverage rating was up seven percent this year as 25-million or so viewers tuned in. ... ESPN's Robin Roberts signed this week to become the news anchor on ABC's Good Morning America. ... if you missed Thursday's Bob Costas interview with Gary Sheffield on On The Record, the show replays at midnight Saturday and at 9 a.m. Sunday.

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