ESPN, Fox hot on McGwire’s home run trail

Local b'casting taking back seat

NEW YORK — As Mark McGwire of the Cardinals gets closer to Roger Maris’ home run record, ESPN has scrapped today’s planned boxing match between Mark Johnson and Jose Laureano to cablecast the Cincinnati at St. Louis game at 5 p.m. Pacific time.

Similarly, on Sunday at 1 p.m. in 80% of the country, the Fox Network will blow out local programming on its O&O and affiliated TV stations to telecast the Cincinnati-St. Louis game. In the other 20% of the country, the Fox stations will run the programming already scheduled: a National Football League game between Dallas and Arizona.

Fox has also reaffirmed that if McGwire or the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa is at either 60 or 61 homers as of Tuesday, the Fox network will preempt its primetime lineup to telecast the Cubs-Cardinals game, even though the network would have to reschedule the season premiere of “King of the Hill” at 8, the premiere of the new sitcom “Costello” at 8:30 and an original hourlong episode of “Guinness World Records” at 9.

But if McGwire has broken the record by Tuesday, Fox won’t run the game, leaving it to the FX cable network, which had already scheduled it.

ESPN had previously said that it will cablecast the Labor Day game between the Cubs and the Cardinals at 11 a.m. PT Monday. And ESPN has also tentatively scheduled the St. Louis-Cincinnati game in its Wednesday primetime slot.

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