Monthly Archives: May 2019


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.


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

What’s your hurry, summer?
This weekend’s triple threat of motorsport madness – the Indianapolis 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Monaco Grand Prix – starts the new season with a Memorial Day weekend of fumes and likely some fuming at those who cut drivers off.
The 103rd Indy 500 (Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 4; prerace at 6 a.m., NBCSN) has Simon Pagenaud on the pole, three-time winner Helio Castroneves on the fourth row,  defending champion Will Power in the second row and Pippa Mann, the only woman in the field, in row 10. NBC also has this for the first time after ABC established this as a Wide World of Sports staple since the mid 1960s.
Before this comes the F1 Monaco Grand Prix (Sunday, 6 .m., ESPN). After it comes NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, N.C. (Sunday, 3 p.m., Channel 11).
More about this, the NBA’s conference final conclusions, the Angels’ attempt to rally fans with Star Wars gear and more at this link.

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.”
When Schulian eventually moved to L.A., he became a fan of the L.A. Herald Examiner, the latest incarnation of the Hearst newspaper in Southern California, with the shrine of a building on Broadway and 11th Street. It shut down for good in 1989.
“I couldn’t live without it,” said Schulian, who still holds that the old Red Smith-led New York Herald Tribune was “for my money the greatest sports section ever.”
The L.A. Her-Ex was the constant underdog to the neighboring L.A. Times, which made you want to root for it’s survival in the journalism business.
“They didn’t have nearly the resources as the Times but they knew how to marshall their forces and go after that one really great story every day that the Times didn’t have,” said Schulian. “That wacky sports section — Doug Krikorian, Mel Durslag, Alan Malamud, great beat writers who were real tough and on the prowl. There’s always a place in my heart for papers either thread-barren or struggling to exist. In some of those papers were some great sports sections.”

schulian_sports_page_260x410Schulian admitted he also had to cut about 100 pages from GASP — should we really abbreviate “Great American Sports Page” when that’s what we’re left with? — which forced him to pull a piece he enjoyed by Johnette Howard (formerly of N.Y. Newsday and the Washington Post, now with The Athletic) and Jason Gay (currently with the Wall Street Journal).
“I really wanted a cross section of the country, include women like Diane K. Shah, Sally Jenkins, Jane Leavy … and African-Americans needed to be represented,” said Schulian. “With Sally Jenkins, nothing gets past her. Her father (Dan Jenkins) would rile up a college town with one sentence, and both are great at what they do. But the apple bounced in a different direction when it fell off that tree.
“We had to be diverse as well geographically. There was a time back in the day when the goldmine was the Boston-Washington corridor. So many great sports writers came from that piece of real estate. But you can’t be New York centric and have to realize all the work done in other cities.
“L.A. was one of the few places that could compete with that East Coast juggernaut.”

We asked what he subscribes to these days — he said that in addition to the L.A. Times and N.Y. Times landing in his driveway, he gets to check in on the Washington Post, New Yorker magazine (“it’s mandatory,” he added), Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Magazine, Esquire, Sports Illustrated … and Garden and Gun.

Yep, it’s a real thing.
“It’s actually very classy,” said Schulian of the Southern culture magazine out of Charleston, S.C. “The name is just for shock value.”

More to read on this:
== Schulian’s book is reviewed by The Daily Beast (subscription needed).
== Schulian has a Q&A with the Library of America, the non-profit that published his book.
== Our 2010 story about Schulian’s book, “The John Lardner Reader: A Press Box Legend’s Classic Sportswriting” (done mostly for magazines, not newspapers)

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, 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.”

The 62-year-old took a leap of faith to open up on his show last Thursday about his battle with PRM, the side effects of a prescription medication that led to many dark psychological moments, and how a new chemotherapy treatment has been effective but comes with headaches and memory loss that affected his ability to do his job. Had he not done that, this week’s journey likely wouldn’t have happened.
In addition to what he told us in the Times story, here are more snippets of what Patrick said about his condition, what he’s been through, and what he hopes to do going forward: Read more

No more little girls in pretty boxes: You be the judge on how HBO doc handles this Larry Nassar remix

By Tom Hoffarth

One thing that kind of jumped out at us about the new HBO documentaryAt the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal,” which debuts Friday at 8 p.m., is that it doesn’t reference the 1995 bestseller by Joan Ryan, “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnastics and Figure Skaters,” which focused on psychological trauma and eating disorders. It even has its own Wikipedia page.

220px-Little_Girls_in_Pretty_Boxes_(Ryan,_1995)The book was reissued last summer and included a new forward by 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher. The 36-year-old UCLA grad from San Dimas High went unnamed in a 2106 Indianapolis Star story that corroborated allegations by gymnast Rachael Denhollander, who went on the record to document Nassar abuse. Dantzcher also talked about her abuse during a February 2017 “60 Minutes” episode.

71jzA6q4UULDantzscher writes in the update:

“People often ask now Larry Nassar could get away for this for so long. ‘Little Girls in Pretty Boxes’ answers this question back in 1995. It’s all here on these pages … Joan Ryan asked two decades ago.” Read more