A SIDEWAYS GLANCE : HE`S THE SEINFELD OF SPORTS TALK.
As captivating as CBS' coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament has been this month, there's no getting around the fact that it has missed a certain Hollywood flair without our neighbor Pat O'Brien in the studio-host chair.
Greg Gumbel might know the nuts and bolts. But O'Brien knows when to wax and polish.
A book he wrote due out next week admits as much. ``Talkin' Sports: A B.S.-er's Guide'' (Villard, 236 pgs., $10) is O'Brien's way of telling everyone you can shoot the bull with any member of the Chicago Bulls if you just know enough to make them think you're a) knowledgeable, b) interested, and c) can do something for them in return. Call it a self-help guide for the chronically sports-deficient enthusiast.
O'Brien's message in the introduction is straightforward: ``Take the time you don't have anyway to fill up your mind with meaningless facts and figures. It won't improve your life, but it'll make people think you're smarter than you are . . . and hey, what's wrong with that?''
After all, Seinfeld made a living off nothing for nine years. O'Brien has done it longer.
The South Dakota-bred O'Brien all but admits he's pulled off this innocent scam as one of many L.A.-based sportscasters who can talk a good game when his paycheck depends on it.
We know feel-good O'Brien knows something about sports. He's just managed to avoid the Ahmad Rashad trappings and make it work for him. Give him credit for that.
And pat Pat on the head for even coming forth with this self-revealing piece of info (page 27): ``Many announcers have toupees. Many don't and should. . . . And many, maybe including me, have through the years tried various colors.''
In this flimsy paperback, O'Brien seems to show his true color. He can be a professional B.S.-er when he needs to be. And there's no B.S.-ing a B.S.-er.