By Tom Hoffarth
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.
By Tom Hoffarth
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.
By Steve Lowery
The Long Beach Post has an exclusive piece posted about the possibility of the Angels pulling out of Anaheim and relocating to the Long Beach downtown waterfront, possibly as soon as 2021.
“We are in the early stages of our due diligence and are exploring a variety of options for this property,” Mayor Robert Garcia confirmed in a statement Monday evening. “We have approached the Angels to express our interest and discuss the possibilities of this opportunity.”
The Angels declined to respond.
There are certainly a lot of reasons to believe an Angels move will never happen. Long Beach has often been used not only by teams but all manner of other entities—Disney, Tesla—in attempts to get better deals elsewhere.
But there is one big reason to believe this time will be different. The decision as to whether the team relocates will be made by one person: Arte Moreno. And what we know of the Angels owner—though not nearly as much as we know about owners who are more comfortable chasing the spotlight—suggests some good things for Long Beach.
Read more at this LBPost.com link …
By Tom Hoffarth
Bryant Gumbel has banked enough professional equity and personal knowledge about the TV business to acknowledge that, even with the smallest trace of humor, he hesitates drawing any attention to the fact HBO’s “Real Sports” has already started its 25th season.
“The reality is HBO is considered a cutting-edge network,” said the “Real Sports” host and lead reporter as he drove to the premium channel’s New York studios Saturday morning to do voice-over work on a piece about two extreme athletes racing across Antarctica that will be part of Tuesday’s Episode No. 263.
“But there is a part of me that, I might want us to slip under the radar because someone might turn around and say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re not what we do now.’”
If HBO ever pulled the plug on this, there would be some investigative reporting done by someone to find out why. Let’s not even go there.
The weekly L.A. Times sports media piece has posted.
Here is a video clip of Tuesday’s episode Gumbel did with two extreme athletes who raced across Antarctica recently. Because they wanted to?
“It’s heartening, though worrisome, to see the some of the things people will do in the name of sports or competition,” Gumbel said. “These two guys, what they went through I wouldn’t put my worst enemy through. Truly. The idea trying to cross a continent on foot dragging everything you need for two months in 60- below weather, in howling winds, is just something that I can’t even imagine it. Yet these two independently decided to do it at the same time. What they went through is incredible.”
We also have some outtake Q&A responses worthy passing on:
Q: Are there typical timelines for stories you have done in the past? How did this one with the Antarctica racers compare to some others?
Gumbel: “I’ve had some things we worked on a year in advance, and others we basically did it the week of. It varies not only in terms of when the event happens and when they are available but when the story is ready and when it fits with our total lineup for that month.
“For this story, the one thing I didn’t realize — Antarctica has a summer that lasts only from November 3 to January 10, in that range. The rest of the time it is pitch black. So for their brief summer, it’s around-the-clock daylight, and the only opportunity to attempt something like this. They independently decided to do it this time, this year. One was trying to get into a record book, the other was trying to memorialize a friend who died attempting the same feat.
“I can’t imagine the isolation one feels in an environment like that. Not only the conditions are inclement but there’s nothing in sight. No perspective. You can’t see the tree on the horizon that you can get to tomorrow, or get to that mountain next week. It’s endless nothing. Not a branch or bush or insect or a plant. Nothing.”
Q: Do you feel any sort of brotherhood with ESPN doing an “E:60” or “Outside The Lines” doing what they do? And can you appreciate more and more the fact you aren’t under the restrictions of a CBS, NBC or CBS as far as having more autonomy with your resources?
Gumbel: “I never look to the others. I just worry about our shop and our product. I’m happy our product is unique. We don’t, for example, use any music in our storytelling. We’re not trying to influence the viewer unnecessarily. We’re just telling the story with a serious bent and look at the sociological issues that are to often a forgotten part of sports. The job we do is different and unique.
“I give a lot credit to the folks at HBO. They have been kind and generous to me from the start when we conceptualized this and what we wanted to do. They never said: Don’t do this or don’t say this. There are probably some things that have cause them some consternation. Nobody has ever once said to back off something.”
Q: Such as the commentaries you have at the end of each show. Some you did years ago still resonate.
Gumbel: “In this climate they’re increasing difficult. As a monthly show, you have to be able to say something that won’t be dated by the time it airs and won’t make you look like a fool five days down the road. For example, as we sit here today, the two main stories in sports involve Robert Kraft and Zion Willamson. I can’t really say anything about them because I can’t see the future. Three days form now, Bob may say ‘I’ll fight this in court,’ or he could say, ‘I’m guilty and apologize.’ I have no idea and I’m not judging it. I’m saying unless you can see the future you can’t do a subject like that because it’ll be dated. So you wind up looking for things aren’t being said or need to be said. In such a crowded field it becomes increasingly difficult.”
Q: You don’t have the 24 hour news cycle as you record the show a day before it airs, and then it is repeated.
Gumbel: “The others have the platform or immediacy. If you say something Tuesday and it’s wrong you come back Wednesday and say something else. Or correct it. I don’t have that liberty.”
Q: You have done plenty of L.A.-centric stories over the years. The one last year with Rams head coach Sean McVay had you amazed about his photographic memory.
Gumbel: “He was such an unusual guy — he would say is was so singularity focused. I feel bad he didn’t have his best day three weeks ago (in the Rams’ Super Bowl loss to New England). Still, I will forever blame him — I had to sit in a hotel room in London to watch that (Super Bowl) at 3:40 in the morning and I had a plane to catch at 7 a.m. It wasn’t my favorite moment. He’s a good man and I liked him very much and willing to be different and try things.”
Also: A story the L.A. Times’ Steven Battaligo did with Gumbel on the topic of “Real Sports” in 2017.
By Tom Hoffarth
In a post-Grammys/pre-Oscars prime-time Sunday night TV slot, the NBA All-Star game embraces all the trappings of self-congratulatory excess.
As much as we want to keep encouraging it, we’re doomed to soon reach a point of no returns.
Aside from the puffed-up exhibition game, this was just the latest edition of the LeBron Choice Awards. Because TNT still apparently knows its formula for drama. Read more
A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WAS ROMO THE SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM DURING SUPER BOWL LIII? AND THEN SOME …
By Tom Hoffarth
Predictably, Tony Romo had a broadcast full of opportunities to show off his prognostication skills during his first Super Bowl as a CBS analyst on Sunday.
But the former Dallas Cowboy’s endearing goofiness and self-deprecating nature is what ultimately gave viewers enough to digest during a championship game that was otherwise as compelling as watching Andy Warhol eat a hamburger — a record-low offensive output for the New England Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Rams.
A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHY DOES CBS NEED A RETIRED NFL REF IN THE BOOTH FOR SUPER BOWL LIII? IT’S KINDA COMPLICATED
By Tom Hoffarth
Since 2010, when Fox coaxed NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira out of the league office and into its L.A. studio team as the on-call rules explainer, no network has balked at the opportunity to bring a referee onto its roster as a code breaker.
NBC snatched up Terry McAulay for its NFL “Sunday Night” package this past season. ESPN swapped out Jeff Triplette for Gerald Austin on Monday nights. Fox bulked up with Dean Blandino, another VP of NFL rules, joining Pereira and spilling over into college football broadcasts.
But isn’t it counterproductive to have some of the sport’s best officials leave for TV jobs calling for them to scrutinize the people in jobs they just left?
Gene Steratore, who’ll be in the CBS booth for Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII, a year removed after his time as the head referee in Super Bowl LII, gave us some time to explain what approach he will take and how these rules are still in need of interpretation for the fans with our L.A. Times media column leading in.