Monthly Archives: March 2019

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

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.
Sneak a peek, too, at what ESPN was doing with the women’s tournament — particularly Tennessee’s loss to UCLA on Saturday — as the former Lady Vol sweats out her men’s bracket, where she picked the Tennessee Volunteers to win it all.
It began with play-in games Tuesday and Wednesday, ramped up to the full throttle of 12-hour stretches Thursday and Friday, then transitioned to the Saturday-Sunday demand of whittling things down to a Sweet 16. Through it all, Parker has shown an endearing endurance for someone who says she’s still trying to figure this thing out.
“It’s cool,” she says. “Only two days that are really long. The other days aren’t so bad. There are obviously worse things to be doing, right?”
Read more here from our weekly L.A. Times sports media column about how Parker has set the stage for a post-playing career with Turner at this link …

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: 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.

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. 

The 2019 Best and Worst of the L.A. Sports Media: It’s ugly head has been reared

best.worst.thompson

Illustration by Jim Thompson/@jimmysporttunes

By Tom Hoffarth
There was a good 20-year run when we presented the “Best and Worst of the L.A. Sports Media” rankings, at several Southern California media publications, during the 1990s and 2000s. It likely reached it shark-jump moment/let’s give it a breather decision at least five years ago. I could look it all up, but there’s no need to be specific.
Specifically, there has been enough changes – additions and subtractions, with teams and broadcasters and media outlets – to revive it.
Who do you believe the top play-by-play person is in Los Angeles? The worst game analyst? The most effective studio host/sideline reporter? Does anyone watch local TV sports updates any more to have an opinion? And, what often draws the most attention because it leads to immediate debate, what’s left to listen to on local sports talk radio, aside from some national shows that seem to make up half the programming wheels?
We’ve collected input from readers, insiders, and the voices themselves, and come up with this — a lists that continues to a work in progress. The lists were posted last week, one each day, but here is the album of the greatest hits, along with new artwork from Jim Thompson:
* The Sports Talk Radio Hosts: No. 1 – Petros Papadakis
* The Local TV Anchors/Reporters: No. 1 — Curt Sandoval
* The Team-Related Cable TV Anchors/Reporters: No. 1 — Patrick O’Neal
* The Play-by-Play Voices: No. 1 — Brian Sieman
* The Game Analysts:  No. 1 — Jim Fox
Go ahead and post your comments … paying particular attention to those who bottomed out and the reasons why. Thanks to those who have made comments already.

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.