07.15.19: Five things to plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

The 148th version of The Open golf tournament, from Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 in the seaside town of Portrush, puts the magnificent scenery in the sunlight more than anything else. All other 146 versions of this event have been in England or Scotland, so it’s far overdue. Defending champ Francesco Molinari won at Carnoustie in Scotland a year ago, but Northern Ireland native Rory McIlroy will be the real looker, having set the record at the Portrush Royal Golf Club with a round of 61 in 2005, when he was 16. The course has been rerouted a bit since then. Graeme McDowell is another countryman proud to be here, getting an entry because he won the RBC Canadian Open recently. Tiger Woods has three Open championships among his 15 majors.
This things actually starts Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. on Golf Channel, then the final two rounds are on at 4 a.m. on Channel 4. It’s worth waking up for.
The rest of this week also involves El Trafico-Galaxy/LAFC meeting up in Carson on Friday, the Dodgers finishing four in Philly before coming home, the reset of racing at Del Mar for the rest of the summer, and Fox asking for $74.95 to see Manny Pacquaio, age 40, fight.
It’s at this link … 

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: When a Women’s World Cup starts the wave for Copa America and Gold Cup pitch-perfect-palooza

By Tom Hoffarth
Kick this idea around: Find a 15-hour time frame on a scorching summer Sunday when we can connect the final plot lines of three major soccer tournaments, on three different continents, and create a pitch-perfect-palooza viewing party.
It also happens to fall on America’s Fourth of July extended weekend.
Where do the TV networks sign up?

wwc liberty

From Jim Thompson/@jimmysporttoons

Fox led the charge, partnering with the FIFA Women’s World Cup from France that launched in the morning for U.S. viewers. Then it circled back for an evening affair with the CONCACAF Gold Cup. If as much by wishful thinking as by design, it had both the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams on center stage in each of those merriments.
Wedged between, a Copa America title bout that boasts the best of South America, something ESPN+ could frame as pay wall-worthy if one wasn’t inclined to listen to Andres Cantor call it aloud for Telemundo’s Spanish-language viewers.
Not everyone, of course, shared the amicable spirit of this cable-ready mash-up.
But it worked. The U.S. women won. The U.S. men didn’t, but a 1-0 loss to Mexico wasn’t unwatchable.
We write more about that triple combo situation and the viewership that came with it in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece linked here posted Sunday.
Bonus coverage: As far as how many watched, and how the Gold Cup added to the mix, here’s more from another Los Angeles Times media piece posted Monday.

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.

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: On Darrell Waltrip’s long boogity goodbye, Joe Tessitore’s putt-putt career and Charley Steiner’s latest #Steinered are all noted

Pulling out as many stops as possible to answer the sports media sphere’s most pressing questions:

  1. What’ll be our lasting memory of Darrell Waltrip on Fox’s NASCAR telecasts?
  2. Which play-by-play role is Joe Tessitore best suited for: ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” or ABC’s new summer game show “Holey Moley”?
  3. HBO’s “Real Sports” will devote a segment on media company Barstool Sports, but the editors of the website say they expect a “full-blown hit piece” on their controversial operation. Would HBO do that?
  4. Dick Vitale just signed a new contract to stay at ESPN through 2022?
  5. What’s the takeaway from Jim Rome’s 25th edition of the Smackoff, which was held Friday?
  6. After LaVar Ball’s last appearance on one of ESPN’s highbrow-debate morning shows, the network declared it does not plan to ever have the gentleman back on its airways. Believe it or not?
    Find some answers at this link with the weekly edition of the L.A. Times’ media column and …. documenting the latest Charley Steiner miscall of a walk-off home run with this soundbite.

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:

John is as good as it gets in today’s sports media journalism field.
Ahem …
We were assigned the 24th pick, but we created our own Top 30 list to see how it could compare before hand. In order of the shows we felt carried the most importance, impact and created a legacy:
1. ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”
2. ESPN “Sports Center”
3. HBO’s “Real Sports”
4. TNT’s “Inside the NBA”
5. CBS’ “NFL Today”
6. ESPN’s “College GameDay”
7. ESPN’s “Up Close”
8. ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption”
9. The syndicated “This Week in Baseball”
10. The Jim Rome array of shows from “Talk2” to the current “Jim Rome Show.”
The final BSM list is at this link.
Really. … Will Leitch took “Garbage Time” …
We wanted to add to the list, but … 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.

The Aly Wagner Way: Fox Sports soccer analyst reflects on making history in Russia, watching more happen in Paris, and future of the U.S. women’s game … back in L.A.?

By Tom Hoffarth

No matter what trajectory the favored U.S. team might take during the Women’s World Cup, the smart investment is on Aly Wagner soccer stock the next four weeks.
The Fox Sports analyst will call her fifth global soccer event since 2015, this time with JP Dellacamera. It started with France’s 4-0 win over South Korea on Friday and continues with all U.S. games and others of importance heading toward the July 7 final in Lyon, France.
In our weekly Los Angeles Times sports media piece, we used Wagner, the former USWNT midfielder from Santa Clara, as the entry point into how Fox and Spanish-language Telemundo plans to cover this.

Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHEN MEDIA COMPANIES MARRY UP WITH MONEY/GAMBLING/VEGAS … ESPN CROSSES THE LINE AGAIN

By Tom Hoffarth

Some day, someone will try to convince us that John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success has been actualized by the iconic Luxor Hotel and Casino sitting proudly on the Las Vegas Strip. Where sports and money and the sports media now seem to have a more-than-normalized relationships.
That’s what happens when you put all your frogs in a kettle of luke-warm water and just keep the flame going.
This week’s Los Angeles Times sports media rant goes at the core of why ESPN is all in with Caesars Entertainment and will put a studio inside the Linq Hotel and Casino in the Vegas Strip just in time for the NFL’s prison transfer of the Raiders to Vegas.
It continues a troubling relationship that, not so long ago, all shied away from but now embrace like a crazy ex-wife. You already know why. But why sacrifice credibility and trust? The power of the green-tainted pool.

 

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

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: CURSES — WHY GEORGE BRETT’S BROADCASTING CAREER ISN’T HAPPENING … IT’S SO ‘BROCKMIRE’

Spoiler alert: Wednesday’s episode of “Brockmire” (IFC, 10 p.m.) exquisitely captures Bob Costas spewing a few choice expletives. Inexplicably, not a single curse word comes out of George Brett.
Apparently, we’ve been too spoiled at this point of Season 3, Episode 2 of the 
series that began as a mockumentary video on FunnyOrDie.com nine years ago before launching as a web series picked up by IFC.
We are conditioned to hear all sort of vulgarities that surround the plight of the recovering alcoholic play-by-play man played loud and proud by Hank Azaria.
Now a side story centers on the Baseball Hall of Famer Brett angling for the MLB Network to hire him to do a show with Costas.

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: 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. 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: 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

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

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

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