Monthly Archives: December 2019

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: What major moments did the 2010s decade bring us from a sports media platform?

By Tom Hoffarth
Whether it was the retirement of Vin Scully, the lagging distribution of SportsNet LA, or LeBron James’ “Decision” that launched his career as a media-content producer, the decade of 2010-’19 made some waves in Southern California, and created ripple effects elsewhere.
In addition to this Top 10 list we compiled for the Los Angeles Times, we thought of a few others worthy of note:

== Aug. 19, 2017: Jose Mota becomes the first to broadcast an MLB game as an English and Spanish play-by-play man as well as an English and Spanish analyst. His scorecard made it to Cooperstown as noted in this L.A. Times piece.

== Sept. 18, 2018: The Kings decide to leave AM radio and move their traditional audio  broadcast of games to a streaming app with iHeartRadio. Here’s the move covered in this L.A. Times piece that calls it “perhaps a sign of a changing modern media.” We added a story of the Kings appear to be the first to use streaming as their sole audio delivery. This comes at a time when the MLS’ LAFC went a bit rogue to use YouTube TV as its exclusive home TV game partner, but also with the add-on ability for more and easily dispersible content.

== November 8, 2019: Jim Rome is inducted into the national Radio Hall of Fame in New York. From humble being as a weekend sports-talk host at XTRA-AM in the early ’90s, he has 23 years of syndicated distribution of his three-hour daily CBS Radio show, also simulcast on CBSSN. The official website notes he’s “one of the leading opinion-makers of his generation.”

== November 9, 2015: Nick Nickson receives the Foster Hewitt Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to broadcasting, as he was in his 35th season calling games on radio and TV for the Kings.  A story posted by NHL.com on the event notes Nickson is one of three part of the Kings’ history to receive the honor, after Bob Miller and Jiggs McDonald.

== March 13, 2015: Joe McDonnell, unapologetic in creating a larger-than-life persona in the Los Angeles sports media for the greater part of the last four decades, died at age 58.  As we wrote at that time, L.A. sports talk was a better place with the “Joe McDonnell Experience.”

== June 27, 2016: Tom Kelly, the longtime voice of USC sports, dies at 88. We had the honor of doing a book on his career highlights,now in its third printing.

== July 24, 2015: AT&T’s purchase of El Segundo-based DirecTV is approved from the FCC and Department of Justice, a transaction of $49 billion, or $67.1 billion including debt. A CNN Business story last September notes that the company “is still paying the price for the deal.” Not in a good way.

== Dec. 10, 2016: Fox Sports offers a virtual reality option to its over-the-air coverage of the Major League Soccer championship game between Seattle and Toronto. Our review of the game, and the business, at this link.

== This qualifies as a media story:

== More highlights from the sports world  of 2019 as drawn up by Jim Thompson:

Giving you the (L.A.) business: Santa Anita’s upcoming season is already on hold … can it hold off more skepticism?

The start of the 83rd Winter/Spring season of Santa Anita won’t start as scheduled on Dec. 26 — it’s been pushed back already to Saturday, Dec. 28 because of pending rain.

Rain has been the pain of  issues at the track for the last 12 months, and is the reason why we felt it was necessary to look into how the thoroughbred race track planned to stay in business with our latest piece for the Los Angeles Business Journal, now on newstands, and also at this link. Read more

A deeper slice of Adam Sandler and ‘Uncut Gems’ … and a Kobe Bryant connection?

By Tom Hoffarth

There’s far more to spin from our latest Los Angeles Times sports media column, the monthly Sports Media Misery Index where we lead off with some perspective on the new Adam Sandler film “Uncut Gems,” already out in L.A. and New York with a national release on Christmas Day.

p17345031_v_v8_aaDirectors/writers Josh and Benny Safdie admit they never thought they’d allow an actual Celtics player to be in their project — but Kevin Garnett has a major role.

Their goal from the start was to have a player from their beloved Knicks, Amare Stoudamire, play the NBA star role. Not at all a cameo role.

Some media reports mention that Kobe Bryant was originally attached to this script.

Yeah, well. Kinda.

From our conversation with the Safdie brothers: When they were shaping the script in 2010, their agents at WME suggested they aim big when it came to casting an NBA star to fill the key role in their story. Conveniently, Bryant was also a WME client.

“The way it works is, they throw out names (as suggestions for the film),” said Benny  Safdie. “But that’s a different way of how we work. When we’re writing the script, we find out – this is the person who wants the role, and we’ll spend a ton of time making it just for them, then hand it to them.”

Which is how they imagined Sandler in the role from the start. Then waited him out.

Josh Safdie said when their agency suggested Bryant, it led him to “read as much as I could about him, find every candid interview and video piece, because I’m trying to understand who he is.” Read more

The 2019 holiday sports book guide: We’ve got more good reads if you’ve got the time

By Tom Hoffarth
We managed to get in about a half-dozen titles in our holiday season Los Angeles Times’ media piece. But there are, of course, more worthy of consideration:

Bookcover.Upset.Chaminade== “The Greatest Upset Never Seen: Virginia, Chaminade and the Game That Changed College Basketball,” by Jack Danilewicz (University of Nebraska Press, 232 pages, $27.95)
As we watched UCLA’s recent trip to the Maui Classic, which found them in a 22-22 tie with Chaminade early in the second half, we couldn’t help but think: Wonder if anyone remembers the time when …
Seems our memory was a bit fuzzy as well.
We were in college ourselves and heard about No. 1 Virginia getting taken down 77-72 by this tiny NAIA Catholic school right before Christmas, 1982. We had always thought it was in the Maui Tournament (or the Hawaii Rainbow Tournament as it was called), but it wasn’t — Ralph Sampson’s Cavaliers were coming back on a stop in Hawaii after a trip to Japan for this one-and-done deal. It became a global story at a time when we had to wait for the news to catch up to us as the game ended past 3 a.m. on the East Coast and wasn’t televised.
Now, it’s more than a Wikipedia entry. Read more

Let’s (Long Beach) Post up: The power of the Pyramid at 25 years young

By Tom Hoffarth/Steve Lowery
Our latest for the Long Beach Post sizes up how far the Long Beach State campus Walter Pyramid has come a quarter century after its open — a Top 25 list of events we’ve decided to rank based on hindsight and proper context.
(With apologies to Kobe Bryant, slipping from No. 1 to No. 2 based on how this really has to be a Long Beach State-heavy-duty list).
Considering how many centuries other pyramids have survived, it has a lot of history to catch up on.
Jordan Lance. Pyramid. 2015As an inspiration for artistic interpretation, illustrator Jordan Lance, who graduated from the CSULB art program in 2015, feels it belongs with a series he was once commissioned to do on city’s prominent touchstones along with the Breakers Hotel, Villa Riviera, the International Tower and the Queen Mary.
Jordan.Pyramid. illustration2“I know the Walter Pyramid well from my long walk from lower campus parking to the upper campus where all the art building are located,” Lance says.
“I think it’s a great symbol for such a unique place as Long Beach. Of course, the other landmarks are great because they also feel incorporated into the city’s character as buildings people know and encounter every day and have affinity for beyond just their architectural qualities.
“But I’ve lived and worked in Long Beach for a long time and felt happy to include it in a city I was born in and call home.”

Among the things we’d also like to spotlight:

THE SUCCESS OF THE PYRAMID
Height: 18 stories
Perimeter: Each of the three sides is 345 feet wide
Weight: 81 tons
Square footage: 38,000
Seats around the main court: 4,200
Uniqueness: Believed to be the largest space-frame structure in North America, its infrastructure utilizes 18,000 steel tubes and connection modules, joined by more than 160,000 three-quarter inch bolts. If the tubes were laid end-to-end, they would form a pipe span 26 miles long. Its cantilever system lowers seating into place using hydraulics.
Address: 6000 E. Atherton St., Long Beach 90815
Exterior: Dark blue corrugated aluminum
Designed: Don Gibbs
Construction: Neilson Construction of San Diego
Cost: $22 million

IMG_7991

It’s not just a recycling bin. It’s one shaped like a pyramid, of course.

Other comparable “true” pyramid-style structures in the U.S.:
= Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tenn., former home University of Memphis, from 1991 to 2004. The NBA’s Grizzles were to play in it but it needed significant upgrades after a flood. Reopened in 2015 as a Bass Pro Shops megastore. It stands 321 feet on each side.
= The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas opened in 1993. Includes inclined elevators that travel at a 39-degree angle. It stands 350 feet on each side.
= The San Diego Innovation Center opened in 1992 (cost: $45 million) as a six-story glass office building 150-feet high

IMG_7983RETIRED NUMBERS IN THE RAFTERS
Long Beach State men’s basketball
42 == Ed Ratleff, 1969-73
20 == Glenn McDonald, 1970-74
30 == Lucious Ware, 1989-93
32 == Byron Russell, 1990-93
Long Beach State women’s basketball
4 == Penny Toler, 1986-89
15 == LaTaunya Pollard, 1980-83
53 ==Cindy Brown, 1983-87
Long Beach State women’s volleyball
5 == Misty May, 1995-98
14 == Tara Cross, 1986-89
7 == Antoinnette White, 1989-91
2 == Danielle Scott, 1990-93
Long Beach State men’s volleyball
15 == Brett Winslow, 1988-91
7 == Brett Hilliard, 1990-93

CHAMPIONSHIP BANNERS
49ers women’s volleyball: AIAW Champions 1972, ’73. NCAA champions 1989, ’93, ‘98
49ers men’s volleyball: NCAA champions 1991, 2018