By SHARON GINN
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 1, 2001
Keith Olbermann's departure from Fox this month provided the opportunity of a lifetime for Jeanne Zelasko.
Fox has snatched Zelasko out of the NASCAR pits and elevated her to Olbermann's old job as the network's major-league baseball host. Zelasko will do pregame and post-game coverage alongside Kevin Kennedy, the former Rangers and Red Sox manager. Kennedy will provide analysis and deliver breaking news.
Zelasko has been an NFL sideline reporter and in February took over as one of Fox's pit reporters at Winston Cup races.
"Whatever was thrown at her, she's done extremely well," Fox Sports president Ed Goren said. "There had never been a female working the Daytona 500 on television. By the time we left Daytona, Jeanne had earned her stripes."
Zelasko, 34, is the first woman in more than a decade to host major-league baseball for a network. (Gayle Gardner did it for NBC in 1989.) "I have a special place in my heart for baseball, so I couldn't be happier," she said. "I don't look at it like I'm carrying some kind of torch (for female announcers). ... I don't approach the job that way. I just kind of do my thing."
Fox, which is in its first season as MLB's sole broadcast network, begins its weekly game coverage Saturday.
TELETHON ALERT: WFLA-Ch. 8 is pre-empting network programing Saturday night and most of Sunday for the All Children's Telethon (affiliated with the Children's Miracle Network). That means French Open play (noon to 3) and the final round of the U.S. Women's Open (3-6) have been moved to Pax (WXPX-Ch. 66). If Game 7 is needed in the NBA's Eastern Conference final, however, it will be aired on Ch. 8 as scheduled at 7:30.
HOCKEY REVOLUTION: It looked great at the Super Bowl, not so great at the Final Four. Now the digital, rotating replay system called EyeVision that CBS created with two technology companies is appearing in ABC's Stanley Cup final coverage from the Meadowlands. ABC is renting the system (renamed Scanvision for its purposes) and promises it will deliver better video resolution than in its first two appearances. Scanvision debuted Thursday night and will appear in telecasts Saturday and Thursday (if Game 6 is necessary).
COLLEGES ON SUNSHINE: Sunshine Network will air NCAA baseball Super Region action live this weekend, starting with tonight's Florida State vs. Georgia game at 7. The network will carry two games Saturday (FSU at Georgia, 2; and Clemson at Miami, 7). If play continues Sunday for both teams, Sunshine will air Florida State's game at 2; otherwise the network would show Miami at 1 (if necessary).
Also, the network will begin replaying the 2000 Florida and Florida State football games this weekend. FSU games will run Saturdays at noon, and Florida games Sundays at 9 a.m.
FINE TUNING: ESPN Classic will air 19 straight hours of Michael Jordan's greatest NBA Finals moments, beginning at noon Saturday. ... ABC's Indianapolis 500 coverage edged Fox's Coca-Cola 600 in the overnight ratings Sunday, but locally NASCAR was a big winner. The Coca-Cola 600 got a 6.1 rating, 30 percent better than the Indy 500's 4.7. One ratings point equals 1 percent of Tampa Bay area households with televisions (about 15,000 homes). ... ESPN's 2-Minute Drill sports trivia game show returns Tuesday with back-to-back episodes at 7 p.m. Viewers can play along in real time by visiting www.espn.com. ... Former WDAE-AM 620 host Dan Sileo, now on the Fox Sports Radio Network, can be heard with co-host Craig Shemon weeknights from 11-2 on his old station starting Monday.