To hear Dan Dierdorf talk, you almost wonder why ABC bothers to have a three-man team in its "Monday Night Football" broadcast booth.

There's play-by-play man Al Michaels and two analysts - Dierdorf and the new guy, Boomer Esiason, who's replacing Frank Gifford."Boomer and I actually share a job," Dierdorf said. "And there are times when I'll have something to say and yet Boomer is talking. And by the time he's finished, what I wanted to say is no longer relevant. The same will happen to Boomer.

"I know I had a difficult time the first couple of years adjusting to a three-man booth. You get verbal indigestion because you have to eat a lot of thoughts."

So why bother to have two people doing the job of one? Because it's all about show biz, baby.

"If the rehearsals are any indication as to the way it's going to go, I think it's going to be fine and we're going to have a lot of fun," said Esiason. "And I'm going to take Dan to task a few times, I guess."

MIRROR IMAGE: ESPN, which will be telecasting all of the Sunday-night NFL games this coming season, is going to mimic its sister network, ABC, in the broadcast booth. In an attempt to "mirror these Sunday- and Monday-night packages," according to ESPN senior coordinating producer Bob Rauscher, Paul Maguire will join play-by-play man Mike Patrick and returning analyst Joe Theismann.

Maguire, who worked at NBC until that network lost the NFL, has worked in both two- and three-man booths before.

"Three in a booth is difficult," Maguire said. And his initial reaction to NBC pairing him with Dick Enberg and Phil Simms: "It may be entertaining, but its not doing a football game, I think, the way it should be done."

He did say, however, that eventually he, Enberg and Simms worked it out. "We realized that between three people, there can't be a star. . . . It all has to work as one. It was very difficult," he said.

Of course, trying to tell Theismann he can't be a star ought to be interesting.

MONDAY NIGHTS IN BALTIMORE: When Frank Gifford announced that he was stepping down as a "MNF" analyst to work on ABC's new pregame show, he said part of the reason was so that he could spend more time in New York with his family.

Well, fortunately, Baltimore is close to New York. Because that pregame show - dubbed "Monday Night Blast" - will originate from the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. It's a brand-new facility that's part sports bar, part theme park.

"It's a wonderful facility, which allows us both the excitement of a live audience there at the pregame show but also what we're calling our window to the game, which is a 16-foot-by-9-foot screen that allows us to go back and forth between (the game site) and the pregame," said Brian McAndrews, executive vice president of ABC Sports.

(The "Monday Night Football" kickoff has been moved up to 6:20 p.m. Mountain Time this season, and will be preceded by the 20-minute "Monday Night Blast" pregame show.)