03.25.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

Breaking news from FiveThirtyEight.com (and reissued by ABC News): “Mike Trout should have won a playoff game by now.
But is it his fault the Angels have been to only one playoff series since he joined the roster as a 19 year old in 2011  — that was getting swept out in three games by Kansas City in 2014 of the ALDS, where Trout went 1-for-12 with a solo homer.
A couple days later, FiveThirtyEight.com posted a story calling Trout “a $430 million bargain” after he signed a 10-year extension. “Now it’s up to the Angels to finally build a winner around him,” says the subheadline.
The Angels and Dodgers play two more meaningless exhibitions against each other — Monday at Angel Stadium, 7:07 p.m., and Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., both on Fox Sports West and SportsNet LA – before getting to official business of trying to get to the playoffs.
For starters:
OPENING WEEKEND SERIES:
* Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, Thursday at 1:10 p.m., Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 6:10 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ESPN has the opener, but not in L.A. All are SportsNet LA.
* Angels at Oakland, Thursday at 1:07 p.m., Friday at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 6:07 p.m., Sunday at 1:07 p.m., all on Fox Sports West.
Meanwhile, Anaheim hosts the NCAA West Region on Thursday and Saturday, featuring top-seed Gonzaga; the Clippers continue to climb up the Western Conference standings as the NBA season draws to a close; Santa Anita Park says it will reopen on Friday; and there’s a three-game UCLA-USC baseball series at Dedeaux Field. Read all about it…

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Why the Big East gets its long-distance romance with a West Coast TV home in Fox Sports

By Tom Hoffarth
Steve Lavin, Jim Jackson and Rob Stone fixated on a bank of large flat screens along the back wall of Fox Sports’ famous Avocado Room, somehow managing to keep sauce stains off their TV-ready shirts as they caught their breath between forkfuls of spaghetti and meatballs while commenting on the bevy of college basketball games playing out in various stages.
TVwallEating alongside a dozen other production crew members, this constituted a brief dinner break for the FS1 studio trio during this particular Big East doubleheader on Wednesday night, after a Seton Hall upset of No. 16 Marquette in New Jersey and rolling on with DePaul’s quick start against Georgetown in Chicago.
The wall of hardcore hoops included No. 10 Louisiana State finishing an overtime win at Florida on ESPN2, Clemson going up at Notre Dame on ESPNU, Ohio State tipping off against Northwestern on the Big Ten Network and Creighton about to head into overtime against visiting Providence on CBSSN.
TVcontrolThere’s even a special remote control box on the wall to make sure we know what games are coming from what network.
If you’re in search for the pulse of college basketball in Los Angeles this season — surprise. It starts with the second floor of the 101 Building on the Fox Lot on Pico Boulevard. It would make a Las Vegas sports book owner envious.
Here’s more at our weekly media piece for the L.A. Times. 

DID FAUX FOOTBALL CAUSE EXCITEMENT DYSFUNTION? IT’S A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES

By Tom Hoffarth
The NFL Combine is exactly what social media says it is: #UnderWearOlympics. ABC preempts its Saturday morning kids TV lineup so we can watch all 5 feet, 10 and one-eight inches of Kyler Murray look down on every other quarterback running 40-yard bursts, for Pete Carroll’s sake.
The Alliance of American Football — or AAF, not to be confused with ALF — is nothing more than a glorified pipe-fitters union. It’s the arena league without a roof. You’ve captured a look at professional football purgatory with no prayer of exiting.
But that’s what constituted televised football at a time when we should be checking our prescription levels.
Our latest sports piece for the Los Angeles Times is a rediscovery of our Post-Super Bowl Malaise and what’s proper for Big Pharma to take credit in our recovery.

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: THE LEBRON CHOICE AWARDS FILLS THE POST-GRAMMY/PRE-OSCAR ITCH … RIGHT?

By Tom Hoffarth
In a post-Grammys/pre-Oscars prime-time Sunday night TV slot, the NBA All-Star game embraces all the trappings of self-congratulatory excess.
As much as we want to keep encouraging it, we’re doomed to soon reach a point of no returns.
Aside from the puffed-up exhibition game, this was just the latest edition of the LeBron Choice Awards. Because TNT still apparently knows its formula for drama.
Sporting a Lakers logo across his chest for the first time in this exercise, LeBron James took the court with the teammates he had picked during a televised draft. He got to dress them in black. Then, he demanded they not play defense, just defend his honor and consider joining him in L.A. ASAP.
Like the Grammys, the All-Star game had musical interludes (with necessary audio cuts). Like the Oscars, there could have been more controversy about who didn’t get enough live TV time. Unlike the Super Bowl, it promised scoring. And there was more preening than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Still, we’d have liked to see TNT sideliner Kristen Ledlow coax more barks from players and fewer clichés.
Here’s how we finished this up in Monday’s L.A. Times for the weekly sports media column …

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WAS ROMO THE SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM DURING SUPER BOWL LIII? AND THEN SOME …

By Tom Hoffarth

Predictably, Tony Romo had a broadcast full of opportunities to show off his prognostication skills during his first Super Bowl as a CBS analyst on Sunday.

But the former Dallas Cowboy’s endearing goofiness and self-deprecating nature is what ultimately gave viewers enough to digest during a championship game that was otherwise as compelling as watching Andy Warhol eat a hamburger — a record-low offensive output for the New England Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Rams.

Here’s our Super Bowl LIII media review from Sunday night.
And a follow-up notebook about Tracy Wolfson’s escape from trouble that posted Monday afternoon.

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A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHY DOES CBS NEED A RETIRED NFL REF IN THE BOOTH FOR SUPER BOWL LIII? IT’S KINDA COMPLICATED

By Tom Hoffarth
Since 2010, when Fox coaxed NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira out of the league office and into its L.A. studio team as the on-call rules explainer, no network has balked at the opportunity to bring a referee onto its roster as a code breaker.

NBC snatched up Terry McAulay for its NFL “Sunday Night” package this past season. ESPN swapped out Jeff Triplette for Gerald Austin on Monday nights. Fox bulked up with Dean Blandino, another VP of NFL rules, joining Pereira and spilling over into college football broadcasts.

But isn’t it counterproductive to have some of the sport’s best officials leave for TV jobs calling for them to scrutinize the people in jobs they just left?

Gene Steratore, who’ll be in the CBS booth for Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII, a year removed after his time as the head referee in Super Bowl LII, gave us some time to explain what approach he will take and how these rules are still in need of interpretation for the fans with our L.A. Times media column leading in.

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Why we may get choked up when Johnny Miller leaves

By Tom Hoffarth
At the end of the most recent edition of HBO’s “Real Sports” that first aired Tuesday, host Bryant Gumbel had this to say as his show-ending essay:
“Finally, tonight, a quick heartfelt send-off to a friend of mine who will be doing his final broadcast next weekend, and that’s Johnny Miller.
“After 29 years as golf’s preeminent analyst, Johnny is calling it quits, leaving his seat in the tower on the 18th hole, and leaving a television void that is irreplaceable.
“I had the pleasure of being Johnny’s TV partner on his very first broadcast back in 1990. That’s when he famously used the word ‘choke’ as a player stood over an important shot. In subsequent tournaments, he raised hackles by saying one player ‘should’ve just stayed home,’ and that another had a swing ‘that would make a great player puke.’
“That such remarks often caused a raucous speaks well of Johnny, and less so of the sad lack of candor in televised sports. In a business that is too often bland, Miller’s honesty has been unusual, his insights blunt, and his assessments smart.
“That’s been his stock and trade since Day 1, so on his last day there’s no telling just what he might say from the PGA Tour stop in Phoenix this weekend.
“Look – televised golf may not be your thing, but if you never caught Johnny Miller’s work, you should try it, because there’s no one quite like him in all of live sports broadcasting.
“Given the increasing coddling of modern athletes in general, and touring pros in particular, I doubt there ever will be.”
We completely agree. As we wrote in our piece for the L.A. Times this week that published Monday afternoon at this link.

THE MLB NET AT 10: IT’S IN A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN

By Tom Hoffarth
We had the pleasure of reminiscing with Tony Petitti and Rob McGlarry about the first 10 years of the MLB Network’s existence — it launched on Jan. 1, 2009, with a record 50 million homes that could access it. The result is a post this week at The Hollywood Reporter.
There was no crying in their baseball remembrances. Only a lot of laughs and memories of the many highs that came from becoming the fourth of the four major sports leagues to put up their own 24/7 cable channel.

Petitti was the first MLB Net president and CEO, and McGlarry was the Senior VP of Programming and Business Affairs. Eventually, Petitti turned the reins over to McGlarry in late 2014, when Petitti joined the MLB Commissioner’s Office.
One of the interesting sidebars to the MLB Network launch, and its first year on the air, was brought up again in a one-hour special that the net has been airing in celebration of its anniversary. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: A RALPH LAWLER BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CAMPAIGN? FASTEN YOUR … YOU KNOW THE REST

By Tom Hoffarth
A few more points to consider after the posting of our L.A. Times media piece that makes a case for Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler to be considered for the Curt Gowdy Media Award by the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 — which would be a classy way to top off Lawler’s 40-year run with the team after his retirement this summer:

BHOF_3C_800x580== As we pointed out, there are some not-so-obvious hurdles that need to be cleared for anyone to be considered for this lifetime achievement award. One is how to stand out from a broad range of candidates — those who’ve worked in the NBA and college, play-by-play and color, sideline reporters, local and national. The other is there isn’t a lot known about who is on the committee that ultimately decides who gets nominated and voted upon.
David J. Halberstam, a longtime sports media observer and historian, and one of the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fames’ annual broadcaster award, said he has discussions recently with John Doleva, the organization’s president and CEO, about how to frame this award so the public might be more aware of what it represents.

Read more

It’s boxing day: A state of the sport, its heavyweight division, and how movies still love it, from one who lives for it

By Tom Hoffarth
The Deonatay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight unification bout at Staples Center on Saturday is said to be the most influential of its class held in the U.S. since Mike Tyson took on Lennox Lewis in 2002, an event held in Memphis because Tyson couldn’t get a licence in Nevada in the aftermath of biting Lewis on his leg during a press conference mess in the months before. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES:THE HOW THE LANGUAGE OF HOCKEY TRANSLATES INTO SPANISH

Not much gets lost in translation during a Kings Spanish-language radio broadcast.

Especially on a call like the one Francisco X. Rivera delivered on KWKW-AM (1330) during the second period of last Thursday’s Kings-Philadelphia Flyers game from Staples Center:

“Kovalchuk con el pase, el disparo que es interceptado, una vez mas Carter, otra vez Carter y el gol! Gol … Gooooool … Gooooool … anotado por Jeff Carter … Y que bonito se siente cantar el gol de los Kings!”

Got it? In the span of a couple of seconds, Ilya Kovalchuk takes a pass, a shot is blocked, Jeff Carter shoots again, then another shot, and Carter … puts the biscuit in the basket, right?

So there’s no confusion, Rivera holds that final note in an extended primal punctuation that mirrors Andres Cantor during a World Cup soccer match.

Listen to the full call here, and then read how Rivera explains the thinking behind it with our latest L.A. Times sports media column story. 

 

We love L.A., too … but when do the visuals become too cliche? Fox figures it out during the World Series ‘equinox’

At some point, even the Hollywood sign sighs.
C’mon, do we have to spell this out for you — the nine giant white letters propped up in the Santa Monica Mountains don’t define Southern California. Nor does a glamour shot of Rodeo Drive. Nor something edgy like a Venice Beach skateboard park/tattoo parlor adjacent to an outdoor basketball court.
Sunday played out under the headline of Los Angeles’ “Sports Equinox”, and a lot of people across the country saw a lot of L.A. cultural touchstones if they were paying attention on TV.
Fox Sports, based in Century City, also stepped up its game.
For all it could control with its coverage of World Series Game 5 from Dodger Stadium, following its Rams-Packers NFL game from the Coliseum, the hometown network looked as if it wanted to flip the script for all those other cliché-laden visuals that others recycle in setting the stage for what they believe conveys L.A.
“Obviously, with people who live and work here knowing the ins and outs, we can show off this city in its true environment and not what a TripAdvisor might tell you about the top 10 spots to visit,” said Judy Boyd, Fox Sports’ senior vice president of production. “It’s not the Hollywood Walk of Fame or pop culture celebrities or what others may think.”
Here’s more from our L.A. Times piece in coordination with the conclusion of the World Series media coverage …

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: SORRY CHARLEY

By Tom Hoffarth
We’ve had plenty of interesting feedback to our L.A. Times’ piece on Dodgers radio/TV play-by-play man Charley Steiner, with a generous amount of support in his favor.
Great.
We’ve also had plenty more examples submitted about things he’s flat-out misinformed listeners to from his past.
As we also do daily stories on the World Series coverage for the Times, we wanted to revisit this Steiner story because, frankly, he’s not in the equation when we assess how we’ll consume a game, with the Fox TV feed, the ESPN Radio audio and even a live computer recreation.
That said… One more Steiner story from a reader:
A few years ago I recall a game when Travis Shaw was playing for the Red Sox, and the Dodgers were playing them in an interleague game. Charley, clearly reading from the media guide, says: ‘Travis Show hails from Washington Courthouse, Ohio.’ Then after one of those long silences, he says, ‘If I’m not mistaken, that’s the same hometown as former Dodgers closer Jeff Shaw.’ The emphasis wasn’t on the last name — leading me to believe it didn’t even dawn on him they had the same last name. He certainly had no idea that Travis Shaw was Jeff’s son! A little basic research would be nice in that spot.

So it goes …
And then there’s his bizarre reaction:

 

WE’VE HAVEN’T BEEN TALKING BEHIND YOUR BACK … BUT WE CAN BE UP FRONT ABOUT THIS …

In addition to a series of vodcasts that we’ve been doing, lately with special guests such as Petros Papadakis and Jeff Pearlman –going all the way back to our first episode seven months ago, all archived on YouTube for those who have subscribed — Tom Hoffarth and Steve Lowery have also been test driving a “The Drill L.A. Morning Briefing” podcast on a new phone app and website called GameTakes.
It’s not a big secret — we’ve been tweeting them out every morning. Or every morning we do one. We consistently had produced one every weekday by about 8 a.m., and after a couple days off, we’ve rebooted this morning (Oct. 8) with a 30-minute production that we will again be attempting to consistently post early enough for those driving to work to hear our conversation about the headlines from the night before, a deep dive into a subject, and then a recommendation for the day. You can follow us on the GameTakes app, or perhaps the website is a way to search it out.
Check out this newest episode where we talk about the Rams’ 5-0 start, the Dodgers’ playoff situation and the LeBron James effect on the Lakers’ exhibition season. And check our tweets each day — @stevelowery12 and @tomhoffarth — for the latest editions.
Post script: Here’s Tom on with Doug McIntyre and LeeAnn Tweeden on “McIntyre In the Morning” on KABC-AM (790) earlier Monday …

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: CAN YOU GET INTO THE CONVERSATION WITH WOMEN ON NFL GAMES?

By Tom Hoffarth
Andrea Kremer
has a grasp of best practices when it comes to the art of a conversation.
“We all know there’s a language and code of football — Cover 1, RPOs, jet sweep,” she said. “But as Al Michaels said to me, 99% of the people probably don’t know what it all means.
“I’ve always fancied myself as an Xs and Os geek. But during my career, where I’ve done reporting and storytelling, a lot of it is really just conversation. Read more

HOW RANDOM: LOVED OR HATED, ‘ARLI$$’ RECALLS THE B.S. OF THE TRUMP DEAL ALL THESE YEARS LATER

By Tom Hoffarth
Robert Wuhl
wasn’t making a true confession over a plate of eggs benedict and a side of oatmeal at John O’Groats Restaurant. But, yes, since it was brought up, it can now be told: Donald Trump inspired the comedic framework of his HBO show, “Arli$$.”
“If you remember the opening credits, and I say, ‘My name is Arliss Michaels, I represent athletes, these are my stories,’ and this book spins into the picture,” Wuhl says.
The book is a mocked-up cover of Wuhl, as Arliss Michaels, titled The Art of the Sport Super Agent.
Sound familiar?

“This is around 1995,” Wuhl continues between bites, looking at Mike Tollin, sitting next to him and working on a stack of pancakes at the Westside diner.
“I had read [Trump’s book] The Art of the Deal [from 1987] and I thought — remember, this? — I said, ‘This is total, 100 percent bullshit. You gotta read this, Mike. He’s saying stuff that I don’t believe a fuckin’ word of it. He’s telling you what happened, but I want to see what really happened.'” We can use this, as Arliss the sports agent telling you what happens, and then we prove he’s full of shit and show what really happened.”
And now there’s Trump, in the White House, dealing with much bigger issues.
“Who would have figured that?” says Wuhl.
HBO had a big-deal, seven-season, 80-episode run of Arli$$ from 1996 to 2002, feeding off the hypocritical irony of the sports world of that era, augmented with hundreds of cameo appearances by the biggest athletes of the day.
It comes back into focus more than 15 years because, after figuring out a way to re-introduce it to a new era of bingewatching and maybe as a reminder this was going on long before HBO’s “Ballers” and “Entourage,” the entire series is now available on HBO Go and HBO Now.
Our Q&A with Wuhl and Tollin appears in The Hollywood Reporter at this link.
Some more of it, of course, ended up on the cutting room floor.
Stuff like this: Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: HOW MARCELLUS WILEY WALKED THE TALK FROM ESPN TO FOX

By Tom Hoffarth
Speaking for himself, Marcellus Wiley says there are weird moments talking the talk at Fox Sports’ Century City studios after walking away from a broadcasting career in ESPN’s L.A. Live facility near Staples Center.
913PNQUiUDL“Kind of like having the ex-girlfriend living next door, isn’t it?” Wiley said with a laugh while driving from his Manhattan Beach home to do the Monday episode of the revised “Speak For Yourself” on FS1 with Jason Whitlock, a TV partnership officially formed Sept. 10.
“When I was at the Chargers-Rams game Sunday, I even went over to the ESPN radio guys and sat with a lot of my former bosses. I’m not about burning any bridges. Nothing but love and respect.”
So no evil backstory as to why the light-up-the-room 43-year-old switched allegiances. He said it’s just “pretty standard operations with an expired contract,” something he dealt with regularly over a 10-year NFL career as an All-Pro defensive end that included three seasons with the San Diego Chargers.
Read more at this link about Wiley’s move to Fox as well as how Kings fans will have to get used to a new way of listening to Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans on the audio feeds.

THOMPSON’S TAKE: WHERE THE WIND BLOWS, SERENA WILL BALK

As Jim Thompson writes on ThompsonSportsArt.com: “Serena Williams is the best to ever play women’s tennis. She’s also a diva who, when losing, tends to blame everything and everyone within a tennis ball’s throw. Remember when she threatened to stuff a ball down a linesman’s throat. I hate to break the news but great athletes can be great big jerks. …” Read more

Where do we retire Ralph Lawler among the L.A. sports play-by-play pantheon? Grab a six-pack and we’ll walk up this mountain …

By Tom Hoffarth
So you’re playing that game called “Mt. Rushmore” — commission four stone-carved faces up on the side of a mountain that represent the most important people for your (fill in the blank: team, profession, presidents of your neighborhood watch committee). Who would they be?
If the baseline was Los Angeles sports play-by-play men since the beginning of time – and L.A. really ain’t that old – the obvious first three in lineup are Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Bob Miller.
All are in their respective sports’ Hall of Fame broadcast wing. They have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They introduced their sports to an L.A. market that hadn’t seen it before, and then fell in love with it.
Now, who finishes up this foursome?
Without Dick Enberg, it seems imperfect.
Without Tom Kelly, it seems inadequate.
Without Ralph Lawler, it sorta seems incomplete.
We’re happy to be featured on the Sports Broadcast Journal website today, per the request of broadcast historian David J. Halberstam, to give our perspective of Lawler’s body of work as he’s announced this will be his 40th and final season with the team.
See more at this link …

THOMPSON’S TAKE: ‘IT HURTS WHEN I SEE EXPLOITATION FOR PRURIENT REASONS’

There is a very small circle of sports illustrators left in today’s media. Especially effective ones. We’re fortunate enough to know one and have worked with him for years, supporting his craft as it remains impactful and important as a vehicle of commentary.
So when a cartoon depicting Serena Williams throwing a fit in the final of the U.S. Open started to circulate and elicit a strong reaction, we immediately asked our expert, Jim Thompson, to give us his thoughts about something creating such a buzz.
The buzz, by the way, wasn’t in a good way.
We alerted him to this USA Today story, which was followed up by this New York Times piece. Thompson went to the drawing board and collected his words for his own website piece called “Clueless DownUnder.
To highlight:
“I think this cartoon was all about the international reaction he knew he’d get. And, apparently he has an editor who backs him up. Bottom line – a tabloid got what it wanted – millions of eyes on a garbage cartoon and it sullied my profession. I don’t need to repeat the vast condemnation I’ve seen – it’s well deserved.
“I am proud of the work I do and it hurts when I see exploitation for prurient reasons.”

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: PICTURE A PHOTOGRAPHER IN THE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME … KOBE CAN

By Tom Hoffarth
We’ll admit it’s kind of cool when Kobe Bryant tweets out a story you’ve done. Even sweeter when the Hall of Famer is quoted liberally and accurately in the piece … and he’s not talking about himself. He’s giving props to Andrew Bernstein, the longtime NBA photographer who was recognized with the Curt Gowdy Award for media impact of his career. We have reaction from Bryant, Jerry West, Doc Rivers and the Basketball Hall of Fame CEO, as well as why this is an important moment for those shooters to get their recognition.
Follow the link here from this Bryant tweet to the L.A. Times story:

THE VODCAST: DAVID DAVIS IS THE O.G. OF DEEP DRILLING IN L.A.

There are few writers who know their way around Los Angeles and its history than David Davis, and fewer yet who have the full admiration of Steve Lowery and Tom Hoffarth for this longtime freelance journalist who has his hands in many things.
It has taken awhile, but we finally coordinated our schedules to have him down the Carson compound to talk about: Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: JIM ROME AND THE LOCAL ACCESS NARRATIVE

By Tom Hoffarth
Jim Rome
takes one of his trademark pronounced pauses, measuring a way to make sure the server at the high-end Costa Mesa restaurant doesn’t take offense to what he is about to say as the seared ahi salad is set in front of him.
“I think the phrase I’m looking for here is … this pisses me off,” the 53-year-old sports-talk show host says.
The server doesn’t flinch. Read more

THOMPSON’S TAKE: MORE GAVEL-TO-UNRAVEL DODGERS COVERAGE

It almost looks like something out of Charlotte’s Web.
There was the forlorn spider, spinning words into her web that trumpeted up her friend in the barn stall. Like “SOME PIG.”
That was also the T-shirt design that surfaced a couple of years ago with the graphic logo “SOME PUIG,” in reference to this rookie hot-shot who was playing right field like a wild horse broke loose from stable. Read more

GO (AWAY) BEACH: WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY DAYS AT CAL STATE LONG BEACH

Editor’s note: This essay, first posted on June 20, is available as an audio read by the author at www.gametakes.com at this link.

By Steve Lowery

This marks the 29th year since I arrived at Cal State Long Beach, the start of five of the most uneventful years of my life.

In that time, nothing much happened except that one time, I got a really good parking space and that other time, an English professor punched me. That was about it. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: THE LEBRON VS. KOBE MEDIA COMPETITION

By Tom Hoffarth
The official arrival of LeBron James in Hollywood, versus simply living in Brentwood and commuting to Cleveland, has taken on a new dynamic that we have covered in recent weeks.
Back in early July, we wondered if James would take that awful next step and remake “Space Jam,” with him in the role of Michael Jordan. But it got even a little crazier. Read more

WANTED: INDECISIVE CLIPPERS STAT-CRUNCHER NOT LOOKING FOR A COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE

By Tom Hoffarth

80718CP000__44596.1489697301It’s not like we want to keep checking what’s been posted in the want ads.
But when we come across something as highly unclassified as this — the Clippers are looking for an analyst — we first check our resume to see if things line up, then we  immediately over-analyze everything.
The franchise with 48 seasons to its tax credit and a 1,562-2,326 win-loss record seeks a well-respected yet historically-naive numbers person to make it competitive. Read more

THOMPSON’S TAKE: ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR A BUCKEYE LEADER OF MEN?

According to former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer was not completely honest last week when asked at Big Ten Media Day about his knowledge of a 2015 report of domestic abuse between assistant coach Zach Smith and his now ex-wife. Smith remained employed by Meyer both at Florida and OSU for almost 10 years as allegations dating back to 2008 were revealed. Meyer fired Smith 10 days ago. Read more

BREAKING NEWS: ALL-SPANISH SPECTRUM DEPORTES OUT AUG. 15, ENGLISH ALL-NEWS CHANNEL IN

By Tom Hoffarth

246x0wEl Segundo-based Spectrum Deportes, the nation’s only 24/7 Spanish-language Regional Sports Network that airs Lakers and Galaxy games as a fully-distributed channel in Southern California, will shut down Aug. 15, citing research that shows a lack of viewership, a Charter Cable network spokesperson confirmed Monday.

TheDrillLA.com broke the news of this on Twitter earlier in the day Monday.

Spectrum Deportes was launched as Time Warner Deportes in October, 2012, coinciding with the arrival of Time Warner SportsNet, now known as Spectrum Sportsnet. It has been the main regional TV home for the Lakers after the team left Fox Sports West and KCAL/Channel 9.

The timing of the move may seem strange as the Lakers have made global news with the signing of LeBron James to the roster, and the Sports Business Journal recently reported that 30-second TV ads on Spectrum SportsNet would fetch $14,000 — double the previous season, or even higher if the team’s ratings exceed expectations. Read more

Q&A: Bob Costas flies national on his trip to Cooperstown as an honoree

By Tom Hoffarth

Part of Bob Costas’ experience growing up with a radio to his ear included a few years in Redondo Beach in the early 1960s — and hearing Vin Scully.
Scully received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, from a vote of baseball historians and broadcasters, in 1982, with a speech for the ages.
Costas, 66, receives the award this weekend in the Cooperstown, N.Y., ceremony. He talked about it in a Q&A we did with him that appears today online with the Los Angeles Times at this link.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has also published it. Read more

THE DODGERS JUST WANT TO ASK A FEW QUESTIONS … YOU GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE?

By Tom Hoffarth
The email dropped in among the other spam, but with this heartwarming preamble:
“The Dodgers have the best fans in sports, which is why we want to hear from you! Please take a moment to fill out this quick survey so the Dodgers and our 2018 partners can better serve you going forward. The Dodgers and our 2018 partners thank you in advance for your time and participation.”
Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: CBS’ LEAD NCAA TOURNAMENT PRODUCER MARCHES FORWARD

By Tom Hoffarth

There’s a certain degree of repetitive madness at this time every March for CBS lead college basketball producer Mark Wolff.

Within about 15 minutes after he ties everything together for the network’s broadcast of the Big Ten Conference championship game in Chicago, the hourlong NCAA men’s tournament bracket show begins — this time with no artificially delayed gratification or an insistence on alphabetical order based on the whim of a different network partner that wants a new twist on a tried-and-true method.

But as that unnatural selection process takes place, Wolff is already en route to O’Hare Airport. He’ll check his phone as best he can for updates on the 68 chosen NCAA tournament teams, made easier by today’s technological standards than when he was promoted almost seven years ago to produce for the network’s No. 1 broadcast crew.

Yet his mind is already in fast-break focus.

“I had a pretty good idea how [the bracket] might go, but mentally, I’m already thinking about the next project,” Wolf said in the minutes before jumping on his next plane Sunday. “I’m just trying to get to the airport, get home, and know by the time I land, I can start plotting the course for the next part of the wild ride.

“I don’t know if you ever get used to it. It’s taxing, and there’s some intense preparation and production. But you’re all in. From a production perspective, every year is like Christmas morning dealing with something new and creative.”

Here’s more on this piece that appeared in the L.A. Times sports section as of Sunday night.

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