LET’S (LONG BEACH) POST UP: HOW TOM PONTAC’S THEORY TO OUT-RUN PARKINSON’S WORKS FOR HIM

By Tom Hoffarth/Edited by Steve Lowery
Our latest piece for the Long Beach Post focuses on an 83-year-old marathon enthusiast who finds himself more about how to overcome hurdles along the course of life — such as overcoming cancer and dealing today with Parkinson’s Disease.
“To tell you the truth, I’m just happy I can still move through this earth and feel special about myself,” says Tom Pontac, who has run every Long Beach Marathon — and then some, in the race’s incarnations before that 1982 launch. Even if the last few appearances have been scaled back to the 13-mile half-marathon variety. Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Oh, Darling, please believe us …

By Tom Hoffarth

For those who missed a bulk of the Dodgers’ regular season games due to a lack of SportsNet L.A. distribution, Ron Darling realizes that he can’t always keep everyone happy with trying to swoop in with a national broadcast.

“I can understand about the frustration from the fans of the local team – their announcers on radio or TV are the caretakers of the club during the summer. Then these gypsies like me come in and do the team’s games at their greatest moments,” said the TBS analyst who’ll start off with the Cardinals-Braves NL Division Series on Thursday while the Dodgers have a home game against the NL wildcard winner later that day. Read more

The lowdown on the Hi-lo: Among the 7 things to do in Long Beach this weekend is the Billie Jean King Library opening and a Sparks playoff game

After closing its doors at the beginning of the year, following a doozy of a move schlepping 300,000 books, furniture and other associated media and materials, the Long Beach Main Library, renamed the Billie Jean King Library, hosts its grand re-opening on  Saturday.

Not only will Billie Jean speak but there will be a BJK memorabilia exhibit. Library tours  start at 11:30 a.m. and go through 4 p.m.

An added bonus: The Dodgers have a Billie Jean King bobblehead night at the stadium on Saturday night to honor one of the newest members of the team’s ownership group.

Meanwhile, the WNBA Sparks have a long history in the Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus, having played several preseason and regular season games there before —the opening game of the 2016 WNBA semifinals between the Sparks and Chicago Sky was held there.  Sparks general manager is Penny Toler  happens to be one of the greatest players in Long Beach State history.

Is it just us or are the Sparks the professional team Long Beach should be pursuing?

Here’s the entire weekend laid out by Steve Lowery and the staff at LBPost.com.

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: How did the Clippers come to find Ralph Lawler’s replacement? He was there all along.

By Tom Hoffarth
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made one big splash for the Clippers this summer.
But the thing that could have a ripple effect for the franchise’s long-term success was how they went forward with the broadcasting roster following the retirement of Ralph Lawler.
Brian Sieman was there all along, having done a dozen years on radio. And the team looked high and low for a “bigger name.” Then decided he was the guy.
It’s an awkward process we try to explain in the latest L.A. Times sports media column with much more between the lines that we could explore.
Could Spero Dedes have gotten this Clippers job? Sure, but he’s also committed to national NFL and college basketball assignments. Like many broadcasters today who want to be more nimble than a symbol of the team’s narrative.
Sieman could have left. He didn’t. And the Clippers are lucky to have him, as we pointed out a while back in the revival of our best-and-worst of L.A. sports broadcasting lists.
The Clippers made the hiring of Sieman as well as Chauncey Billups and Noah Eagle official on Monday with their own press release.
We attempted to ask questions of Gillian Zucker, the Clippers head of business operations who somehow was the point person for this process. She wasn’t available.
So here are some of the things you won’t find in the Clippers release here in the LA Times.  Fasten your seatbelts.
More:
= ClipsNation.com has Sieman on its latest podcast.

 

ESPN at 40: Another list for the aged

By Tom Hoffarth
Is this where ESPN suffers a mid-life crisis like the rest of us when we hit 40?
The network’s launch on Sept. 7, 1979 was likely before many today were even born. And they will remind us of that.
For us, it landed three months after our high school graduation and pretty much at the time college started. Right in our wheelhouse, right?
We didn’t get it. Literally, figuratively or whatever other way you want to frame it.
The network plans all sorts of ways to mark this ruby anniversary. One of them is a Sept. 10 episode of “E:60” where they found the first live event the network ever telecast — a professional slo-pitch softball game between the Kentucky Bourbons and the Milwaukee Schlitzes that aired that night, has not aired since, and the video that somehow had gone missing was recently found.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our 20th high school reunion, and try to remember what really was the most compelling sports shows of 1979 — and incredulous at how Fran Tarkenton got to be a co-host of “That’s Incredible!” — this is an opportunity to list the 40 things that pop into our head about ESPN’s run to this point.

Our personal Top 40 list: Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: There’s more from the Mort

By Tom Hoffarth
Among the things we learned with our latest check-in with ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that didn’t make it into the lead item in the latest Los Angeles Times sports media column was an exchange he said he had last weekend with Duke head coach David Cutcliffe.

Cutcliffe and Mortensen go way back. Cutcliffe was the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning at Tennessee and Eli Manning at Ole Miss, and still believes rookie Daniel Jones will be the real deal with the New York Giants:

NFL Live - January 31, 2019“I’m in Atlanta for the Alabama-Duke game — my son, Alex, is one of Nick Saban’s offensive analysts — and I know ‘Cut’ will be there. He’s a great human being. I left him a long-winded message on his cellphone telling him I was coming to  the game, Alex is on the other side, maybe I could say hi before kickoff. It turns out I get to this airport hotel and there’s a big sign welcoming the Duke team. He’s staying at my same hotel. So it’s seven hours before kickoff, they’re at the morning team meal, and I got in there and spent a half hour just visiting.
“He says to me, ‘Promise me one thing, Mort. Someday, you’ll write a book with 32 chapters, and each one will be about all the things you know about that NFL team that you’ve never talked about or written about. You need to tell those stories. It’ll be a magnificent book, because every time we talk, I find out something new I never knew about.’
“The truth is, I probably on disclose about five percent of what I know,” Mortensen added. “But when you’ve been in the business 50 years, that’s a pretty big slice. It’s all relative.” Read more

LET’S (LONG BEACH) POST IT: PATRICK CANTLAY AND THE $15 MILLION PURSUIT

By Tom Hoffarth

For those accountants keeping track of Patrick Cantlay’s spreadsheets, the Long Beach native made $487,000 this past weekend in Atlanta at the PGA Tour Championship, a tie for 21st place in a 30-man field. The 27-year-old opened with an even-par 70 in the first round to keep his pre-weighted eight-shot advantage into a fifth-place positioning. Three more rounds of 71, 75 and 73 during rain delays eventually pushed him down behind the eventual winner Rory McIlroy, who had the $15 million take-home for winning the FedEx Cup playoff format.
Going into the event, we caught up with Cantlay to get his feel on how those at the Virginia Country Club in Long Beach were in his corner and where his heart and mind was centered, also based on observations by his coach, Jamie Mulligan. It’s here and posted on the Long Beach Post website.

The Return: Rocky Bleier, Vietnam, and a doc worthy of Oscar consideration

This is an extended piece from an item in the Aug. 19 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

By Tom Hoffarth

Producer Jon Fish said he got a call about a month ago from ESPN execs to see if he could possibly speed up the editing process of his “SC Featured” documentary called “The Return,” based on former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and Army veteran Rocky Bleier agreeing to come revisit the Vietnam site where he was injured and earned a Purple Heart.

The network wanted to see if the piece could be entered into the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival last month. Fish obliged with a rough cut for the organization, without really knowing the ramifications.

Surprise: The festival not only requested a final version, but the 27-minute piece won Best Documentary. Read more

A SIGN OF THE TIMES: THE DODGERS, YOUTUBE, VIDEO STREAMING … START SCREAMING

By Tom Hoffarth
The premise started rather simple in what ended up as this week’s version of the L.A. Times sports media column:
A) YouTube does a swell job at streaming free MLB games.
Which reminds us …
B) The Angels stream their Fox Sports West games on the Fox Go App.
But …
C) The Dodgers do not stream SportsNet L.A. games on the Spectrum App. Even if you subscribe to a service that gets SNLA.
That’s kinda strange, isn’t it?
D) Would the Dodgers considering taking the channel they actually own and making it available for streaming, a service that more in the younger demographic are comfortable with, and even those older can learn how to use via this YouTube template?
The Dodgers declined to comment, and Charter/Spectrum, which is in charge of the distribution, dismissed it. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHAT DAN FOUTS LEARNED FROM HIS FATHER, BOB, TO SHARPEN HIS BROADCAST SKILLS FOR CHARGERS, CBS

By Tom Hoffarth
Dan Fouts spend last weekend in Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies, which included the usual group photo op (above).
His week ahead includes flying from his home in central Oregon to visit the Chargers’ Costa Mesa practice facility Tuesday, then joining the TV broadcast booth in Arizona on Thursday night as the team opens its exhibition season.
Friday morning, the former San Diego Chargers great and a color commentator on CBS NFL broadcasts will head to San Francisco. It’s time to say goodbye to his father during a funeral at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Bob Fouts died July July 9 at 97. The elder Fouts had logged two decades calling San Francisco 49ers TV and radio games when the team joined the NFL in 1950 and was a legendary Bay Area broadcaster whose work included college basketball, the NBA and local TV sportscasts.
What Dan Fouts learned from Bob Fouts does deep in the DNA for broadcasting, play-by-play or analysis. Here’s our weekly L.A. Times sports media piece, taking to Dan Fouts after his return from the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Jim Healy, 25 years after his departure, and if he still influences today’s radio landscape

By Tom Hoffarth
Is is true: Jim Healy left us 25 years ago — on his current gravemarker at Forrest Lawn Cemetery near Lakeside Country Club, Jim asks the question he made famous. And then his wife,  Pat, who passed away three years later, provides the answer above.
hollywood-ca-december-06-jim-healy-star-on-the-hollywood-walk-of-fame-KHRHA9
For our July 22 piece for the L.A. Times, we mark the occasion with a couple of interviews from his son and KNBC-Chanel 4 longtime reporter, Patrick Healy, KLAC’s Petros Papadakis, and former Healy sound-clip providers Ted Sobel and Paul Olden (the later of whom got the answer from Lasorda about a simple question some 40 years ago, with this clip below). Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: An appreciation of Jim Bouton, smokin’ ’em inside decade after decade

By Tom Hoffarth
The passing of Jim Bouton last week at age 80 was pause to reflect on his career not so much as a major-league pitcher, but for what he delivered to journalism in the form of “Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues.”
IMG_6791We are thankful we have a place to express our own reflections and cherished personal encounters in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece.
We’ve done pieces on Bouton in the past, and enjoyed every moment, from paragraph to end quote.
A 2003 piece on his book, “Foul Ball,” gave us a chance to even challenge our own bosses at the time. We are thankful he posted it on his own official website.
In 2010, we caught up with Bouton in Burbank, for another treat, also with old friend Greg Goossen, Bouton’s former Seattle Pilots teammate who became a memorable character in “Ball Four.”
In 2017, we wrote about how the notes and recordings Bouton did for “Ball Four” were up for public auction. The collection never met the required minimum, and never sold. Which is fine, since it found its way to the Library of Congress, although money from that sale could have helped with Bouton’s medical expenses. Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Bob Ley retires … what now, ESPN?

Bob Ley was the one guy we envisioned during his 40-year run at ESPN who didn’t “have all the fun,” like the book title said.

While self-inflicted, self-centered chaos broke out around him, he was the one who had to ask those around his cubical to please hold it down because he couldn’t hear his phone conversation with Arthur Ashe.

Oral histories of the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports have documented a cacophonous collection of egos and attention seekers, crossing lines of decorum. In more recent times, ESPN has devolved into SportsCenter personalities unable to get out of their own way in Twitter feuds with the sitting U.S. president.

Ley was known as the General for the leeway he had in navigating through the corporate business relationship landmines, reinforcing that his way was most often the right way.

Here is our Los Angeles Times part essay/part exit interview with the 64-year-old who retired from ESPN last week, from an “Outside The Lines” show that included his name in the title, and what’s in the future for it all.

Let’s (Long Beach) Post it: Why “Ballpark” author/architect critic Paul Goldberger endorses the LBC over the Big A on the Angels’ future landscape

By Tom Hoffarth

There’s a lot to be said for the Elephant Lot.

That’s the 13 acres on Shoreline Drive that has been proposed as the beachhead for the Angels’ new home, should the franchise take Long Beach up on an offer to relocate it from its current Anaheim digs. While we’re waiting for things to happen, or not, imagine what a new Big A in the LBC could look like; Paul Goldberger has.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic with the New York Times and now The New Yorker, Goldberger has some archetypal guidelines for any major league-seeking city to aspire to and believes Long Beach is well-situated to achieve them.

91wiqBL3m9LWhy trust Goldberger? His new book, “Ballpark: Baseball in the American City,” (Knopf/Penguin Random House, 384 pages, $35) is about as good as it gets in retelling the history of the facilities used for the MLB (and even some references to the old Wrigley Field in L.A., as we noted in a book review in April).

Also there’s a 1990 during a Playboy interview where Donald Trump was asked:

Q: Let’s talk about your main interest: Buildings. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger of The New York Times hasn’t been kind to Trump buildings, panning them as garish and egotistical.
A: 
Paul Goldberger has extraordinarily bad taste. He reviews buildings that are failures and loves them. Paul suffers from one malady that I don’t believe is curable. As an architecture critic, you can’t afford the luxury of having bad taste. The fact that he works for the Times, unfortunately, makes his taste important. And that’s why you see some monster buildings going up. If Paul left the Times or the Times left him, you would find that his opinion meant nothing.

We just found another reason to appreciate Goldberger even more for something that holds up even more 30 years later. Read more

The Top 30 sports shows of all time? From SportsCenter to Garbage Time, we helped shape this list … any objections are welcome

By Tom Hoffarth
When Barrett Sports Media floated the idea to mirror this week’s NBA Draft 30 choices with an exercise that might be entertaining in trying to identify and justify the best sports shows in TV’s existence, we had the time and an appreciation of the attempt to join in.
Jason Barrett even provided a list of about 70 shows that were acceptable, and the list was limited to studio shows: No scripted shows, docs, reality shows or sitcoms.
First, not everyone was asked, apparently: Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: What chance does the XFL have in 2020? Depends on who you’re betting on … (bet on Joe Cohen)

By Tom Hoffarth
In last weekend’s ESPN.com story post about the perceived viability of the XFL relaunching in the spring of 2020, USC professor of sports business and principal of The Sports Group David Carter offers up a quote:
“Anybody that thinks that there’s an unquestionable market for spring football is delusional. There have been some credible people throwing time and resources at it without the result they anticipated. While you can step back and say that XFL 2.0 — with all of its changes, all of the learnings and the takeaways from over the years to include their own missteps — is positioned far more favorably than anyone else, it’s certainly not a guarantee.”
No one is guaranteeing anything. But with Vince McMahon’s second shot at this, 18 years after his first try with NBC as its partner and now using ABC/ESPN and Fox as his wingment, we asked the same sort of questions to cable industry pioneer and McMahon longtime business partner Joe Cohen in our latest Los Angeles Times sports media column.

 

Can you hear me, Long Beach? Episode 2 of the podcast on this weekend’s Dew Tour, a qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics and why Long Beach is Skate City USA.

That’s Steve Lowery, second from left, with Tim Scanlan (Long Beach Skate Co.),  Mark Hibdon (Dew Tour creative director) and Adam Cozens (Dew Tour General Manager) as they get ready to talk on the Long Beach Post’s podcast at this link, gearing up for this weekend’s Dew Tour. Here’s the event schedule.
Local band Asi Fui also stops by to talk about the release of their first album, a Friday night show at Alex’s Bar, their connection with Ikey Owens and what was going on in those giant paper machete bear heads? Listen to more with Lowery,  Tim Grobaty and Asia Morris.

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHEN CLAYTON KERSHAW WANTS TO EXPOSE CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING, ESPN BECOMES EMBEDDED

By Tom Hoffarth
It might not be the ideal time or place to look into the window of Major League Baseball’s soul. But if a lugubrious subject like children sex trafficking fits into a conversation on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast, would everything be cool if Clayton Kershaw and his wife Ellen were the driving force behind it?
When the Dodgers face the Chicago Cubs on the upcoming Father’s Day national telecast from Dodger Stadium, there’s a decent chance this topic will come up.
Please don’t balk.
ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza found herself embedded on a trip to the Dominican Republic in January with Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, a learning tour about what actually happens in this lurid criminal world far beyond a baseball diamond.
The result is this video and our account of it in the weekly L.A. Times media piece:

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times … and N.Y. Times … and the Washington Post … who reads their sports sections, and why, compared to 20th Century consumption?

In addition to the L.A. Times piece we crafted this week about John Schulian’s new book, “The Great American Sports Page: The Greatest Writers, the Greatest Games, All on Deadline,” we wanted to touch on several other things discussed that didn’t actually fit into print — yes, that happens:

Sculian admits that when he grew up in Inglewood in the late 1950s, he delivered  77 editions of the Los Angeles Herald-Express each day before heading out to baseball practice — it was an afternoon edition, which are all but non-existent now. Mr. Lockwood was his route manager.
6a00d8341c630a53ef015432135150970cBut it wasn’t until Schulian moved in 1958 to Salt Lake City with his family that he found Jim Murray, a syndicated writer who started working at the L.A. Times in 1961 after a run at Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.
“Whoever plucked him out of relative obscurity did a great service to sports writing,” said the 74-year-old Schulian the other day from his Pasadena home. “When I read him as a kid, he spun my head around. No one was doing that kind of writing in Salt Lake City.” Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Will Dan Patrick’s legacy be ESPN, the DP Show, or PMR? His wife thinks perhaps the later

By Tom Hoffarth
In our latest Los Angeles Times sports media piece, we led Dan Patrick explain how he’s engineered a new game plan for this week.
After he finishes his syndicated sports talk radio show in Connecticut on Thursday morning — heard locally from 6-to-9 a.m. on KLAC-AM (570), DirecTV’s Audience Network and BRReport.com, he and his wife, Susan, will fly cross country to LAX. He will meet up with his daughter for a SoulCycle fitness workout. He may seek out sportscaster Jim Gray to see if he can cash in a standing invitation to play a round of golf at Riviera Country Club, where Gray is a member.
Saturday, it’s a drive to Ventura to meet for the first time with a renowned homeopathic doctor to ask about new ways to combat polymyalgia rheumatic, an autoimmune disease that Patrick has been dealing with the last seven years.
“If you told me a year ago I’d be looking forward to working out, going golfing, seeing some alternative medicine doctor … there’s no way,” Patrick said Sunday night from his home. “But this is how far I’ve progressed.” Read more

Up in smoke: The dos, don’ts and more doobie etiquette on #420Day (pay attention kids)

By Steve Lowery

You do your best as your parent. You try to keep your kids safe and smart… and then they grow up and pay you back by laughing at your laughable attempts at smoking a joint when all you were trying to do is get into their world. Oh, the kids and their weeds.

Fortunately, I had access to the wonderful Mskindness Ramirez, a cannabis advocate and educator, who’s made a name and reputation by talking about the subject and substance without “demonizing or glamorizing.”

I sat down with her, and my daughter Madison, and she showed us how to roll, safely light and efficiently smoke a joint. We also found out that she thinks Nickelback is just horrible, so you know she’s all right.

Watch the exclusive video at LBPost.com.

Need a sports angle to this fine Saturday? Mike Tyson is lit:

A fast and furious Long Beach weekend: Fast cars, pocketing food and the best college volleyball one could desire

By Steve Lowery

The rich are different. They get to do stuff.

I, who am not rich — a fact made clear as I finished doing my taxes this weekend; my initial relief at getting to skip multiple steps soon tempered by the realization that all of those steps were related to the making or having or saving or investing of money — was invited to one of those things that rich people love to do: throw parties before, during and after sporting events for the purposes of community/fun/ongoing business relationships. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: DOUG GLANVILLE, AND THE JACKIE ROBINSON EXPERIENCE

By Tom Hoffarth

Imagine what Jackie Robinson could have accomplished in his messaging with modern-day media platforms.
“It would have been amazing,” Doug Glanville says. “He was a prolific letter writer to start with — but he really was viral before there was viral, even with just the traditional media outlets covering him.”The 48-year-old former MLB outfielder in his latest role at ESPN considers himself to be a media multitasker, thanks to his “crash course in every way one can express ideas.” He’s also thankful to be back as part of the network’s litany of Jackie Robinson Day remembrances on Monday — including L.A. receiving the national coverage of the Dodgers-Reds contest at Dodger Stadium that will include Rachel Robinson and two of her children.
Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) times: The TV making of Candace Parker at the Big Dance

By Tom Hoffarth
Park yourself in Candace Parker’s chair.
Six nights in a row from the Turner Sports studio in Atlanta, the Sparks’ star forward runs the wing for hours of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament coverage, launching on-the-fly commentary as required.
It’s a blur to keep up with whether a game is starting, ending or at halftime, or if it’s a hit for TBS, TNT or TruTV, not to mention paying attention to the CBS monitor. It’s about interacting with and reacting to studio cohorts Casey Stern, Seth Davis, Brendan Haywood and a rotation of current coaches.

Read more

HBO “REAL SPORTS” AT 25: A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES THAT HOPEFULLY STAYS REAL FOR ANOTHER 25

By Tom Hoffarth
Bryant Gumbel
has banked enough professional equity and personal knowledge about the TV business to acknowledge that, even with the smallest trace of humor, he hesitates drawing any attention to the fact HBO’s “Real Sports” has already started its 25th season.
“The reality is HBO is considered a cutting-edge network,” said the “Real Sports” host and lead reporter as he drove to the premium channel’s New York studios Saturday morning to do voice-over work on a piece about two extreme athletes racing across Antarctica that will be part of Tuesday’s Episode No. 263.
“But there is a part of me that, I might want us to slip under the radar because someone might turn around and say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re not what we do now.’”
If HBO ever pulled the plug on this, there would be some investigative reporting done by someone to find out why. Let’s not even go there.
The weekly L.A. Times sports media piece has posted.
Here is a video clip of Tuesday’s episode Gumbel did with two extreme athletes who raced across Antarctica recently. Because they wanted to? Read more

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.

Read more

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. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: BILL WALTON AND HIS OWN SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT

By Tom Hoffarth
Here’s an illustration of Bill Walton from the esteemed Jim Thompson, who drew it up to help set the tone for a piece we did on the former UCLA star and broadcaster in 2016  entitled “Bill Walton’s long, strange trip inside his reconstructed soul”
THOMPSON WALTONIt was right about the time his new book, “Back From The Dead” came out — if you’re wise you’ll get the audio version read by the author. He revealed how he almost ended everything because the pain in his back was too much to bear.
You see him now with photos of outstretched arms, embracing the world … like above.
“It’s because I can now do that,” he said then. “For so many years, I couldn’t even lift my arms because my spine was so bad. It is a very celebratory pose that people use when things are going great. And right now I’ve never been better or busier. Or this healthy since I was 13 years old. Both ankles are fused. Got a new knee. A new spine. I never thought I would be pain free. I’m lucky.”
We are lucky to have a pipeline into Walton’s world, and we reconnected for a story about how, whenever he’s on an ESPN or Pac-12 Network telecast, the social media world embraces him, often in very opposite ways.
Some call him insufferable.
We align with those who refer to him as a “national treasure” and example of “a sonic voyage … of cosmic exploration.”
As we talked to Walton recently, he was in the passenger seat of his car with his wife, Lori, doing the driving. We asked if he was aware of the volatile social media debate he sparks every time he’s on TV.
“Lori, do I pay attention to social media?” he asked.
Probably not a good time to ask. As they were driving from Death Valley to Westwood on Interstate 15, a dust storm was amidst and visibility was limited.
After a long pause, Bill came back on the line: “Lori says no!”
He seemed to be howling in concert with the winds whipping outside his window.
“The world we live in now .. for so long, we have had dreams, and worked hard and tried to be intelligent about them,” he continued. “Today, if you have a thought, in literally the shortest period of time, that nano second, it becomes reality and part of a larger collaborative community. I take my responsibility very serious and take pride in it.”
We could fill a whole new post with just the outtakes from that discussion. But for now, here’s the piece we had in the L.A. Times about Walton’s social media experience that we swear most times he’s just messing with us …

UPDATE 12.15.18: Five letters to the editors included in the Saturday edition of the L.A. Times as it relates to this, linked here ….

 

 

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: 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:

 

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

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: 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

MEASURING UP: THE TRICKY BUSINESS OF HEIGHTS AND WEIGHT

By Steve Lowery

They say that numbers don’t lie. Then again, Mark Twain, who is way smarter then They, said there are “Lies, damn lies and statistics.”
As this terrific piece by David Fleming for ESPN The Magazine makes clear, even those numbers we take as gospel — Kevin Durant is 7-feet tall, for instance — are actually completely open to interruption and general fudging. Read more

« Older Entries