Monthly Archives: July 2019

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: DAN LE BATARD, ESPN AND WHEN POLITICS/TRUMP DON’T MIX GOING FORWARD

By Tom Hoffarth
In the boiling-hot-to-quickly-evaporating news cycle of stories about sports media members — public figures who border on celebrity — last week was full of suspense over whether Dan Le Batard would be reprimanded, suspended or fired by ESPN because of comments he made on his radio show in response to politically toxic tweets from President Trump.
ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro had Le Batard meet him Thursday. The air was cleared. Those familiar with the temperament and leadership style of Pitaro, who started steering the all-sports network’s nuclear submarine in the spring of 2018, figured Le Batard would get the benefit of any doubts even though Pitaro has made it clear he’s not keen on his employees talking about anything tinged with politics.
So what does Le Batard and ESPN do going forward? We try out some idea in our latest Los Angeles Times media piece.
Meanwhile, m
ore to read on the subject: Read more

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).
 

From the Los Angeles Times files, an obituary Larry Stewart wrote for Healy’s death on July 22, 1994, followed by a report on a tribute ceremony weeks later, chronicle the historic importance of Healy’s work. In an appreciation piece by former Times columnist and sports editor Bill Dwyre on the 20th anniversary of Healy’s death in 2014, “Journalist Bill” noted that Healy’s freewheeling, one-man sports radio show “was like nothing before and certainly nothing since.”
That remains a fact.

Thanks to those L.A. Times readers who responded with letters to the editor this week as well. We also heard from Matt Vasgersian, the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man who grew up in L.A. before working for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and MLB Network.
Vasgersian said: “I channel him every day during our off-season morning talk show ‘Hot Stove’ with soundboard drops — probably over 200 of them, using them dozens of times an hour. He was a bigger influence on me than any single broadcast personality I’ve ever listened to. I even went to his Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony — of course hosted by Johnny Grant.”
Enjoy …

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: 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.