Monthly Archives: October 2018

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 …

Thompson’s take: Silence of the bats

ESPN’s statistical Twitter account accounted for this tweet on Wednesday:

Jim Thompson illustrated the point even more precise:
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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.
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: What Smoltz, what chokes

By Tom Hoffarth
Maybe you don’t get enough “how the sausage is made” explanation about a sports media column.
Let’s grind a few things out for you:
One: We have deadlines. We have opinions. We have story ideas. Sometimes, in that order. It needs to mesh. With experience, it works. Occasionally, we wish we had little bit of a do-over.
simpsons-sabermetricsNot that this piece that ran in the Los Angeles Times, posting Monday night and appearing in the Tuesday print editions, leaves us with any major regrets.
It just proves that once you  get an idea out there, a conversation starts. From that, new thoughts and revisions come out.
So, if the end of this column seems a little harsh — John Smoltz seems to be more on a “bitch count” than a pitch count — it started as a place-holder paragraph, was left in because the deadline happened, but there are a few more thoughts on this subject twe have tried to share on our Twitter thread.
(Note: Not an endorsement of Twitter as the place to hold drill-deep discussions. But a starting point as the Post-It-Note for cyberspace).

So what if …
* Fox put a second analyst/third broadcaster in the booth. A manager like Terry Francona. Or Mike Scioscia. Or Buck Showalter. Someone who can give first-hand strategy of what’s going on with the decisions about defensive shifts, non-bunting, perhaps-stealing bases, vaguely moving runners over, the bullpenning theory. All the stuff Smoltz never had to think through. Smoltz’s focus as a pitcher was how to out-think the hitter, and he gets to describe that scenario nearly flawlessly every time he goes at it.
If hitters are paid to make big swings, it plays into the pitcher’s ability to get him out. If the batter is trying to make contact, it changes so much, as does a runner on base forcing a pitcher to go into a stretch, worry about balls in the dirt, etc.
But when he starts a sentence, “I hate to bring this up again, but …” Stop right there. Or go to a second voice.
All else fails, bring Alex Rodriguez in. He proved his worth on ESPN during the Sunday night package.
* Fox gave another channel — FS2, for example — and made that a Statcast-driven program. Joe Davis might be the perfect guy on play-by-play for that. Rob Neyer could be an excellent resource. Because it teaches, rather than preaches.
Check out this Wednesday post by the great Joe Posnanski about the value he found in the Statcast broadcast that ESPN did on ESPN2 during its AL wild-card game. A perfect example of what we’re saying again. Again, a day later.
* That final paragraph, the one that seemed to draw far more attention than the points made in the previous dozen paragraphs, could be adjusted:
“Because when all is said and done, Smoltz might be better off relieved by someone else not just because of a pitch count. It’s really more about the perception that he’s all about a bitch count.”
Again,  I’ve enjoyed Smoltz, especially during the regular season. But this is a different time of year. Smoltz can stay, but he needs some balance. We talked about that as well in our recent Morning Briefing podcast here.

We’ve tried to listen to the Dodgers’ radio broadcast during these playoffs from time to time. We regret the exercise because it only leads us toward the temptation to do a piece that’s probably long overdue about the Charley Steiner-Rick Monday booth. More on the former. Expect to see more soon.
Onward and upward.


By Tom Hoffarth

Angels fans may have been going nuts listening to an inconsequential late-September game in Oakland, one that would end in a 21-3 loss. Right about the eighth inning, an Angels hitter fouled a pitch off, breaking his bat, and there was a long pause as he walked back to the dugout to find a new stick.
Actually, it was. Read more


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 …

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