Category Archives: Featured

Giving you the (L.A.) Business: Six months into 2020 COVID-19, what’s the dollars and sense of L.A. sports business? LABJ looks into it

By Tom Hoffarth

In trying to piece this story together for the Los Angeles Business Journal for its Sports and Business issue that lands today, we reached out to Roy Weinstein, the managing director of Micronomics, the L.A.-based research and consulting firm that often does work for the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission.

IMG_1270The question here: Is there a way to quantify the economic impact that Los Angeles sports is having from the current COVID-19 pandemic? It’s a broad ask, but Weinstein gave it a far more direct response that we anticipated:

“Although the economic impacts are having devastating effects on people’s lives, I believe that for now, the focus must be on containing the pandemic rather than the economy. Should we really be concerned about economic impact of cancelled sporting events in the face of a pandemic producing unimaginable death counts and debilitating illness?
Until the case count declines, and reliable, rapid testing becomes accessible to all, and a commercially and medically successful vaccine arrives, and treatments are available for those who don’t receive or choose to take the vaccine, the community will be unable to get out from under, and children will be unable to safely return to school — let alone Dodger games.

“The choices we face are not binary, i.e. 1) open up to help the economy or 2) shelter in place and take preventive measures to contain the virus. Since without containment, the economy will never reach its full potential, for the moment, I’m not thinking about sports, ticket sales, sponsorships and TV rights. I’m thinking about testing, vaccines and treatment so as to protect both athletes and attendees. Until investments in these areas bear fruit, we need to keep the focus on protecting the citizenry (stay at home orders, social distancing, masks, etc.). There will be plenty of time down the road to assess the impacts.
“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help for now. Take care and stay safe.”

Weinstein said what goes beyond charts, number crunching and recovery plans.
In talking to leadership at major L.A. sports franchises — the Lakers’ Tim Harris, the Dodgers’ Stan Kasten and the Rams’ Kevin Demoff — we still measured their take on what they can, can’t and are hopeful to try to accomplish in these times, all careful to mirror if not repeat what Weinstein was saying as well.
With that, here are links to the two cover stories (you get a few free looks per month at LABJ until the paywall comes up, and why the heck not get a subscription while you’re in this journalism business model):

== The state of L.A. sports as the Lakers, Dodgers, Rams, Chargers and Clippers are in Forbes.com’s latest World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams for 2020
== How LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment media company can increase its impact with the Lakers’ latest NBA title run all the way in Orlando, Fla.

Also: Last March, we had an extended conversation with Rams owner Stan Kroenke about the state of SoFi Stadium and everything else. If you want to revisit that, it’s at this LABJ link.

New baseball reads for 2020: A safe place to find book recommendations — 50 and counting

bca420371def8d13bff3052aee412a74By Tom Hoffarth

(Updated 10.9.20)

When will there be good news?

(We’re just looking at the title of the book that “Master of Horror” author Stephen King is reading while attending a game at Fenway Park. … from the guy who wrote “Misery”)

Last spring, our 2020 baseball book review series — 30 baseball book reviews posted during the 30 days of April — went sideways, as did most of life. We decided that we would be springing forward. 

We’d like to alleviate some pandemic misery.

As the reviews continue on fartheroffthewall.com we also update the complete list here.

*Day 1 (March 17): “State of Play: The Old School Guide to New School Baseball,” by Bill Ripken

xe4uGf6Q*Day 2 (March 19): “The Incredible Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League,” by Anika Orrock

*Day 3 (March 20):  “The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign-Stealing Having Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime,” by Paul Dickson

*Day 4 (March 23): “Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Washington Nationals Won the World Series,” by Jesse Dougherty

STEALING HOME2*Day 5 (March 24): “Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between,” by Eric Nusbaum

*Day 6 (March 25): “The Cactus League,” by Emily Nemens

*Day 7 (March 26): “The Baseball Book of Why: The Answers to Questions You’ve Always Wondered About from America’s National Pastime,” by the late John C. McCollister

*Day 8 (March 31): “Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution,” by Jared Diamond

91bQ7s2k28L*Day 9 (April 1): “The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife,” by Brad Balukjian

*Day 10 (April 2): “The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and their Brush with Baseball History,” by Jacob Kornhauser

*Day 11 (April 3): “Sixty-One in ’61: Roger Maris Home Runs Game by Game,” by Robert M. Gorman

*Day 12 (April 6): “Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask,” by Jon Pessah

9781629377964*Day 13 (April 7): “S Is For Slugger: The Ultimate Baseball Alphabet,” by James Littlejohn, illustrated by Matthew Shipley

*Day 14 (April 8): “The Babe,” by SABR, edited by Bill Nowlin and Glen Sparks

*Day 15 (April 9): “Lou Gehrig: The Lost Memoir,” extracted and edited by Alan D. Gaff

*Day 16 (April 12): “Hall of Name: Baseball’s Most Magnificent Monikers from ‘The Only Nolan’ to ‘Van Lingle Mungo’ and More,” by DB Firstman

**Posted on April 13: Our piece for the Sports Business Journal about how the Pandemic Baseball Book Club of authors have bonded to promote their own new publications during this 2020 lock down. (subscription required … and encouraged)

IMG_0278

61f3UEAkZnL*Day 17 (April 14): Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player” by Jeremy Beer

*Day 18 (April 15): “The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend’s Battle For Civil Rights during World War II” by Lt. Col. Michael Lee Lanning

*Day 19 (April 17): “Future Value: The Battle for Baseball’s Soul and How Teams Will Find the Next Superstar” by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel

*Day 20 (April 19):  “Billy Ball: Billy Martin and the
Resurrection of the Oakland A’s” by Dale Tafoya

81TgstpiOzL*Day 21 (April 21):  “The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves, and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us About Ourselves” by Keith Law, which takes the lead from Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 New York Times’ best-selling book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

*Day 22 (April 22): “Ballparks Then and Now” by Eric Enders; “Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of all Major League & Negro League Ballparks” by Philip J. Lowery for SABR.

*Day 23 (April 23): “The Official Rules of Baseball Illustrated: An Irreverent Look at the Rules of Baseball and how they Came to be What They Are Today” by David Nemec

819Jk6f27YL*Day 24 (April 24): “24: Life Stories and Lessons from The Say Hey Kid,” by Willie Mays and John Shea

*Day 25 (April 25): “Wits, Flakes, and Clowns:
The Colorful Characters of Baseball” by Wayne Stewart

*Day 26 (April 26): “The Resisters,” a novel by Gish Jen

*Day 27 (April 27): “Summer Baseball Nation: Nine Days in the Wood Bat League” by Will Geoghegan (and Summer9Nation)

*Day 28 (April 28): “Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry,” by Joan Ryan

911c8hBWIWL
*Day 29 (April 29):
“One Tough Out: Fighting Off Life’s Curveballs,” by Rod Carew, with Jaime Aron

*Day 30 (April 30): “Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original,” by Mitchell Nathanson

Bonus panels:

9781419740374_s3*Day 31 (May 4): “Issei Baseball: The Story of the
First Japanese American Ballplayers” by Robert K. Fitts

*Day 32 (May 5): “Buddha Takes the Mound:
Enlightenment in 9 innings” by Donald S. Lopez Jr., Ph.D.

*Day 33 (May 11):  “The Final Game at Ebbets Field” by Noel Hynd

*Day 34 (May 18): “A High Five for Glenn Burke,” a middle-school age novel by Phil Bildner

*Day 35 (May 19): “Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay,” by Todd Zolecki

*Day 36 (May 28): “Big Sexy: Bartolo Colon In His Own Words” by Bartolo Colon and Michael Stahl

81LBEOl7yaL*Day 37 (June 5): “A Fan’s Guide to Baseball Analytics: Why WAR, WHIP, wOBA, and Other Advanced Sabermetrics Are Essential to Understanding Modern Baseball” by Anthony Castrovince

*Day 38 (June 13): “Cleveland Rocked: The Personalities, Sluggers and Magic of the 1995 Indians,” by Zack Meisel

*Day 39 (June 14): “The New Baseball Bible: Notes, Nuggets, Lists and Legends From Our National Pastime,” updated, by Dan Schlossberg

*Day 40 (June 15): “Baseball Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Baseball,” updated, by Matthew Silverman

IMG_1006*Day 41 (June 20): “Ancient Baseball” by Mikhail Horowitz

*Day 42 (June 22): “Hidden Ball Trick: The Baseball Stats You Never Thought To Look For: Vol 1: 1876-1919 and Vol 2: 1920-1969, by Jeremy Frank and Jim Passon Jr.

*Day 43 (June 23): “I Should Have Quit This Morning: Adventures in Minor League Baseball,” by Kathy Diekroeger

51zTYMhUa0L*Day 44 (June 26): “The Hall Ball: One Fan’s Journey to Unite Cooperstown Immortals with a Single Baseball,” by Ralph Carhart

*Day 45 (July 6): “Tom Seaver and Me,” by Pat Jordan

*Day 46 (July 7): “Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope And Finding a World Championship Team,” by Tim Madigan

*Day 47 (July 9): “Dodgers vs. Yankees: The Long-Standing Rivalry Between Two of Baseball’s Greatest Teams” by Michael Schiavone

*Day 48 (July 14): “Working a ‘Perfect Game’:  Conversations with Umpires” by Bill Nowlin

*Day 49 (July 15): “Inside Pitch: Insiders Reveal How the Ill-Fated Seattle Pilots Got Played into Bankruptcy in One Year,” by Rick Allen

9781629377636*Day 50 (July 16): “The Milwaukee Brewers at 50: Celebrating a Half-Century of Brewers Baseball,” by Adam McCalvy; 
And …
51v5XNSmudL“Turning 50: The Brewers Celebrate a Half-Century in Milwaukee,” by Tom Haudricourt

* Day 51 (July 25): “Baseball in St. Louis: From Little Leagues to Major Leagues,” by Ed Whertley

* Day 52 (July 28): “Queen of the Negro Leagues; Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles,” by James Overmyer

* Day 53 (July 31): “Goodnight Em,” by Johnny Doskow

* Day 54 (Aug. 3): “Mutt’s Dream: Making The Mick,” by Howard Burman

* Day 55 (Aug. 5): “Mr. Met: How a Sports-Mad Kid from Jersey Became Like Family to Generations of Big Leaguers,” by Jay Horwitz

* Day 56 (Sept. 1): “SABR 50 at 50: The Society for American Baseball Research’s Fifth Most Essential Contributions to the Game,” edited by Bill Nowlin

* Day 57 (Sept. 2): “Baseball & Bubble Gum: The 1952 Topps Collection,” by Thomas and Ellen Zappala, with John Molori and Joe Orlando 

* Day 58 (Sept. 21): “A Year of Playing Catch: What A Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me About Life,” by Ethan D. Bryan.

* Day 59 (Sept. 25): “How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed” by Thomas W. Gilbert

* Day 60 (Oct. 9): “Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Fastest Pitcher,” by Bill Dembski, Alex Thomas and Brian Vinander

The Norman Chad column that the Washington Post didn’t run, and why Clay Travis can’t outkick the truth that you “never sling mud against people who roll in it”

By Tom Hoffarth
We have what shouldn’t be considered an abnormal admiration for Norman Chad.
His arrow-piercing accuracy in writing about sports and the media over the years for the Washington Post (he started there in the mid-’70s) continued on a short-lived run at The  National, some other time at Sports Illustrated. He wrote a book.
It wasn’t until his side gig on ESPN poker telecasts regulated his “Couch Slouch” writing to whomever he could collect in a loose network of newspapers able to afford his far-below-wholesale compensation price, just to give him ink on a Monday and let him exercise his freedom of speech. We tried to get our local employers to run it at the nomal fee he was asking. Somehow, we couldn’t break the plane of that goalline.
(This is all in addition to the fact we became neighbors in the late ’90s for awhile in the Melrose area of L.A., between Fairfax and La Brea, a short walk to Pink’s Hot Dog Stand or the Formosa Cafe. The highlight was also having Michael Buffer living in our eight-unit building on Fuller Avenue. He was quiet. His wife was nice. We came to her rescue once during a power outage and he was out of town. We rarely saw him taking his tux to the cleaners as one might expect).

In cranking out sports-based columns during the sports-starved COVID-19 Era of our existence, Chad had already found some well-found foils when he did a March 10 column about trolls who came after him for having the audacity to write: “Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy is a disease for which there is no cure.”
Barstool responded in how you’d expect Barstool to respond. Apparently they haven’t read the Wikipedia page created about him which pretty plainly explains how he operates based on his history.
Then came a column two months later, on May 10 about why we might be better off with fewer sports to digest during this serious times.  The Washington Post and others ran it in print on May 11.

Some more heck broke loose.

That column caused an uproad,” Chad emailed us in reply to us letting him know that one Internet aggregator said he was being “eviscerated” on social media for what he wrote. “It was a B- piece on my part, and I guess I’m glad those folks have never run my other stuff.”
Some figured it out. Too many didn’t. Smart folks came to his aid.

The only thing better than a Chad mis-trending piece was how he’d respond to it.
May 18 came, and we saw nothing. Same on May 25.
We reached out to Chad again on email. He explained that the Washington Post decided to kill his latest piece. Why?
“I can’t really answer that,” he wrote back. “The Post, like all my outlets, has the option to run or not run my column each week. The Post apparently felt the column was not up to its standards.
Chad-columns“Anyway, largely because of the newspaper industry cratering, the column only runs in seven outlets – down from a high of 18 several years back: The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Albany (N.Y.) Times Union, Spokane Spokesman Review, Beaumont (Tex.) Enterprise, Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette  Mail and houston.sportsmap.com (a Houston-centric sports site). All outlets other than The Post ran it.”

With Chad’s permission, here is that May 18 column that was not widely circulated, but perhaps it will gain some traction (and we will send him a check for $1.25 for giving us permission to re-run this: Read more

Let’s (L.B.) Post up: When Jerry Tarkanian took Long Beach State to its first Big Dance 50 years ago, the rebel life took hold

By Tom Hoffarth

There is so much to love about this main photo of Jerry Tarkanian with his arm around his son, Danny, as they celebrate an NCAA tournament victory over Weber State in Utah during the first round of the 1971 West Regionals. Just look at the sweatshirt the 9-year-old Tarkanian is wearing as the team’s ballboy.

Tarkanian-Danny-w-Dad.-Ran-SI-in-1984.credit.Don-Grayston.Deseret-NewsA year earlier, Tark took this 49ers program that just entered the Division I territory and won the PCAA, then started a series of head-to-head run-ins with UCLA in the tournament that defined them as more than just a program-on-a-shoestring. They had mined the Southern California landscape for community college talent, and more.

61cPS4-o-ELAnd, thanks to a new book out by Danny Tarkanian called “Rebel With A Cause,” we find out much more about the Hall of Fame coach’s Long Beach experience — four straight NCAA appearances before he went to UNLV — and the admission that he wonders what he could have done had he stayed in Southern California.
Our latest for the Long Beach Post celebrates the 50th anniversary of Tark’s first 49ers tournament team in 1970, and the legacy that continued. Please enjoy…

Obit Tarkanian Basketball

In this Nov. 26, 2005, file photo, former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian waves to the crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian, who built a basketball dynasty at UNLV but was defined more by his decades-long battle with the NCAA, died Wednesday in Las Vegas after several years of health issues. He was 84.

The L.A. Business Journal side of thing: When you get 45 minutes with Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and he owns up to a whole bunch of things

IMG_0061The assignment from the Los Angeles Business Journal was to come up with a Q&A that would celebrate his being named the magazine’s “Business Person of the Year” for 2020.
The emphasis would not just be on how he brought the NFL team back to its Los Angeles home, but how he did so by promising to create a $5 billion superstadium in Inglewood.

Research on Kroenke isn’t all that robust. He’s known as “Silent Stan” for a reason.

But Stan is definitely a man with a plan.

So figuring out what books he might be interested in — and pass along — and pushing that toward a series of questions about where he developed his interest in buying pro sports teams, how he modeled some of that after watching Jerry Buss buy L.A. property, buy teams and arenas, then have his children operate it, and why the current SoFi Stadium might some day accommodate flying cars — you read it here first.

Under the headline “Eyes on the Ball,” here’s our six-page spread, with a bio box and a look at his favorite books.

We also jumped on with Rich Hammond at The Athletic L.A. “11 Personnel”  to talk more about surprises that came up in the conversation that Rams’ fans may have not heard before.

stan-kroenke

From January, 2016, from Sports Illustrated, the latest Q&A we could find with any sort of substance on what made Stan Kroenke “the most powerful man in sports.” https://www.si.com/nfl/2016/01/18/stan-kroenke-owner-los-angeles-rams

Remembering Hank Gathers: A statue at LMU 30 years later, and the force of nature returns … along with the tears

It was just a moment. It came after the blousy material dropped to reveal a statue of basketball legend Hank Gathers, located just outside of Loyola Marymount’s Gersten Pavilion Feb. 29. It came after the faintest beat of a gasp was immediately followed by applause and cheers, broad smiles and — this being 2020 — selfies.

Still, there was a moment when, Chris Knight said, amid the laughter and hugs he shared with former teammates who played with Gathers, that he suddenly, in a fleeting space of silence, “could hear Hank’s mother crying above it all.”

For Angelus News, Steve Lowery walks us through the moment when the Gathers statue was unveiled 30 years after his death on the court, right before Easter, and the incredible run the Lions went on with the NCAA Tournament in his honor.

This is a tearjerker and breaks your heart all over again.

 

The side of Kobe Bryant you may not know about

EP8onAVU8AA_4ojTom Hoffarth and Steve Lowery worked hours together last week, with editor Pablo Kay in Rome, not long after reports about a helicopter crash in Calabasas, to produce this cover story for the Feb. 7 edition of Angelus News.

Bryant took his Catholic faith serious. He was at his home parish, Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Newport Beach hours before he left from John Wayne Airport in the final trip to a youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks.

Where did his faith come from? Did it help him come to terms with his rape trial in Colorado? Did it help him reconcile his marriage?

In 2001, Bryant married his wife, Vanessa, herself a Catholic, at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Dana Point. Father Sallot at OLQA said that he and Kobe had chatted about his desire to receive the sacrament of confirmation in the future.

We try not to judge, but report the facts.

RIP, Kobe, Gianna and all their friends, parents, coaches and families.

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Fore more years of Trump? Rick Reilly would be lying if he said he wanted that, for golf’s sake

By Tom Hoffarth

Rick Reilly’s course of action isn’t to cheat the audience.
The former L.A. Times, Sports Illustrated and ESPN writer sized up the room of about 30 bunched into the center of an independent book store in Manhattan Beach the other night and declared: As a golfer, your president is all about unplayable lies.
“If he’s making America great, he’s made golf gross,” Reilly exclaimed.
It’s all there on the cover of the book Reilly is promoting — “Commander In Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump” (Hachette Books, $28, 244 pages), hacking its way up all sorts of bestseller lists.
Drawing upon his journalistic DNA, Reilly dedicated this book to “the truth … it’s still a thing.” In his acknowledgements, he thanks “every reporter out there who keeps pursuing the truth head-first into the worst hurricane of lies, insults and Constitution-trampling I’ve ever seen in my 40 years in the business. You inspire me.”
More at the L.A. Times website linked here.

Also: 
= Excerpts from the book in Esquire magazine.
= Reilly’s piece about the book for The Atlantic
= Reilly on CNN via RealClearPolitics.com

The vodcast: Pearlman, Dufresne, Vanderpool, the USFL … preposterous fun, ready on two …

What if we told you there was a pro football league that existed more than 30 years ago, contrived as a complimentary spring exercise to the NFL’s fall season, but then one owner in particular based in New York couldn’t help himself, drove it off the cliff at the expense of his supposed business partners, and later would be doing the same things in the White House.
Egads.
We could also tell you this particular story was already an ESPN original “30 For 30” doc  called “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL.”
51cgUKUBGuLNevertheless, we booked Jeff Pearlman on  TheDrillLA.com vodcast based on his book: “Football For A Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL.”
Crazy, sure. It’s been
 discussed on shows as diverse as NPR to ESPN’s “Outside The Lines”.  From NESN to the Peter King podcast ...
From FS1’s Colin Cowherd to DirecTV Audience Network show host Rick Eisen. Plus, it has been featured in Forbes and The Christian Science Monitor, and The Associated Press Sports podcast.
We have a different spin.
A true spiral.
One inspired by a left-handed Mormon who made the Los Angeles Express something we still look fondly back on.
The Southern California-based Pearlman, the former Sports Illustrated writer now working for The Athletic who did the incredible Lakers’ book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s in 2014, carves out some time here to spend with us.
More context: Chris Dufresne of TMG Media Sports.com, which focuses on college football coverage, was the Los Angeles Times beat writer for the L.A. Express starting with their 1982 birth up until the final courtroom drama that ended with a jury agreeing that the NFL did in fact monopolize pro football, but the USFL was owed just one dollar in damages.
Add to this: Tom Hoffarth covered the Express for several years as well for the South Bay Daily Breeze.
And … Steve Lowery and Steve Vanderpool were part of the Express public relations team and knew all the ins and outs of what went on in the offices.
They got the band back together.
Here is an hour of discussion that Pearlman said in a parting Twitter DM that “was preposterously fun” to do … hope he has the same feeling after watching it here (and where in the world is Bob Rose these days?):

In 2013, Pearlman prepped us by writing this for Sports Illustrated.
And here’s more on Pearlman’s website linked here.
And an excerpt here on Bleacher Report.

THE VODCAST: PETROS PAPADAKIS PACKS A PUNCH IN THE PROCESS

With no introduction needed — aside from that he’s the co-host of KLAC’s “Petros & Money Show,” a college football analyst at Fox Sports, and the former captain of the worst team in USC football history (before this season) — Petros Papadakis (@Theoldp) found an hour to squeeze in with us between yoga, a hair cut, prepping for UCLA-Fresno State and taking his son Fletcher to Lowe’s to look at the latest washing machines. We are grateful.
For this one, Steve Lowery (@stevelowery12), Tom Hoffarth (@tomhoffarth) and producer Jon McKelvey (@McKLVTheJon) try to keep up as we ask about: The soft L.A. sports media, his favorite curse word, what profession he’d be doing if not for this, his favorite literary figures, dealing with people who view him as too hard/too soft on USC, and why he feels it’s important to keep the art of dialogue alive (and doing so on the Clay Travis Show).
It was worth the wait to have him come by the Carson studio:

« Older Entries