A sign of the (L.A.) Times: How did the Clippers come to find Ralph Lawler’s replacement? He was there all along.

By Tom Hoffarth
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made one big splash for the Clippers this summer.
But the thing that could have a ripple effect for the franchise’s long-term success was how they went forward with the broadcasting roster following the retirement of Ralph Lawler.
Brian Sieman was there all along, having done a dozen years on radio. And the team looked high and low for a “bigger name.” Then decided he was the guy.
It’s an awkward process we try to explain in the latest L.A. Times sports media column with much more between the lines that we could explore.
Could Spero Dedes have gotten this Clippers job? Sure, but he’s also committed to national NFL and college basketball assignments. Like many broadcasters today who want to be more nimble than a symbol of the team’s narrative.
Sieman could have left. He didn’t. And the Clippers are lucky to have him, as we pointed out a while back in the revival of our best-and-worst of L.A. sports broadcasting lists.
The Clippers made the hiring of Sieman as well as Chauncey Billups and Noah Eagle official on Monday with their own press release.
We attempted to ask questions of Gillian Zucker, the Clippers head of business operations who somehow was the point person for this process. She wasn’t available.
So here are some of the things you won’t find in the Clippers release here in the LA Times.  Fasten your seatbelts.
More:
= ClipsNation.com has Sieman on its latest podcast.

 

ESPN at 40: Another list for the aged

By Tom Hoffarth
Is this where ESPN suffers a mid-life crisis like the rest of us when we hit 40?
The network’s launch on Sept. 7, 1979 was likely before many today were even born. And they will remind us of that.
For us, it landed three months after our high school graduation and pretty much at the time college started. Right in our wheelhouse, right?
We didn’t get it. Literally, figuratively or whatever other way you want to frame it.
The network plans all sorts of ways to mark this ruby anniversary. One of them is a Sept. 10 episode of “E:60” where they found the first live event the network ever telecast — a professional slo-pitch softball game between the Kentucky Bourbons and the Milwaukee Schlitzes that aired that night, has not aired since, and the video that somehow had gone missing was recently found.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our 20th high school reunion, and try to remember what really was the most compelling sports shows of 1979 — and incredulous at how Fran Tarkenton got to be a co-host of “That’s Incredible!” — this is an opportunity to list the 40 things that pop into our head about ESPN’s run to this point.

Our personal Top 40 list: Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: There’s more from the Mort

By Tom Hoffarth
Among the things we learned with our latest check-in with ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that didn’t make it into the lead item in the latest Los Angeles Times sports media column was an exchange he said he had last weekend with Duke head coach David Cutcliffe.

Cutcliffe and Mortensen go way back. Cutcliffe was the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning at Tennessee and Eli Manning at Ole Miss, and still believes rookie Daniel Jones will be the real deal with the New York Giants:

NFL Live - January 31, 2019“I’m in Atlanta for the Alabama-Duke game — my son, Alex, is one of Nick Saban’s offensive analysts — and I know ‘Cut’ will be there. He’s a great human being. I left him a long-winded message on his cellphone telling him I was coming to  the game, Alex is on the other side, maybe I could say hi before kickoff. It turns out I get to this airport hotel and there’s a big sign welcoming the Duke team. He’s staying at my same hotel. So it’s seven hours before kickoff, they’re at the morning team meal, and I got in there and spent a half hour just visiting.
“He says to me, ‘Promise me one thing, Mort. Someday, you’ll write a book with 32 chapters, and each one will be about all the things you know about that NFL team that you’ve never talked about or written about. You need to tell those stories. It’ll be a magnificent book, because every time we talk, I find out something new I never knew about.’
“The truth is, I probably on disclose about five percent of what I know,” Mortensen added. “But when you’ve been in the business 50 years, that’s a pretty big slice. It’s all relative.” Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: How 50 years ago, The Baseball Encyclopedia arrived at six pounds, some 2,300 pages, and a statistical revolution was born

By Tom Hoffarth
The summer of ’69 had its lunar steps and its “Bad Moon Rising” at Woodstock.
With all that, David Neft, the first editor in chief of The Baseball Encyclopedia, is over the moon to be here today at age 82 and witness the marking of the publication’s 50th anniversary milestone.
As he says in our latest L.A. Times piece: “I realized two things from the start — one, I better damn well get it right, and two, whatever else I did professionally in my life, I figured that 50 years later, when I’m dead and buried, if anyone remembers me for anything, it’ll be for this book.”
We’re thankful to have made it out to San Diego for the annual SABR convention and see all the attention given to Neft and his project, as we are for the time Neft gave us to explain more about how it came about.

In addition to all we got into the story by way of notes, quotes and anecdotes, we offer even more tidbits: Read more

LET’S (LONG BEACH) POST IT: PATRICK CANTLAY AND THE $15 MILLION PURSUIT

By Tom Hoffarth

For those accountants keeping track of Patrick Cantlay’s spreadsheets, the Long Beach native made $487,000 this past weekend in Atlanta at the PGA Tour Championship, a tie for 21st place in a 30-man field. The 27-year-old opened with an even-par 70 in the first round to keep his pre-weighted eight-shot advantage into a fifth-place positioning. Three more rounds of 71, 75 and 73 during rain delays eventually pushed him down behind the eventual winner Rory McIlroy, who had the $15 million take-home for winning the FedEx Cup playoff format.
Going into the event, we caught up with Cantlay to get his feel on how those at the Virginia Country Club in Long Beach were in his corner and where his heart and mind was centered, also based on observations by his coach, Jamie Mulligan. It’s here and posted on the Long Beach Post website.

The Return: Rocky Bleier, Vietnam, and a doc worthy of Oscar consideration

This is an extended piece from an item in the Aug. 19 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

By Tom Hoffarth

Producer Jon Fish said he got a call about a month ago from ESPN execs to see if he could possibly speed up the editing process of his “SC Featured” documentary called “The Return,” based on former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and Army veteran Rocky Bleier agreeing to come revisit the Vietnam site where he was injured and earned a Purple Heart.

The network wanted to see if the piece could be entered into the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival last month. Fish obliged with a rough cut for the organization, without really knowing the ramifications.

Surprise: The festival not only requested a final version, but the 27-minute piece won Best Documentary. Read more

A SIGN OF THE TIMES: THE DODGERS, YOUTUBE, VIDEO STREAMING … START SCREAMING

By Tom Hoffarth
The premise started rather simple in what ended up as this week’s version of the L.A. Times sports media column:
A) YouTube does a swell job at streaming free MLB games.
Which reminds us …
B) The Angels stream their Fox Sports West games on the Fox Go App.
But …
C) The Dodgers do not stream SportsNet L.A. games on the Spectrum App. Even if you subscribe to a service that gets SNLA.
That’s kinda strange, isn’t it?
D) Would the Dodgers considering taking the channel they actually own and making it available for streaming, a service that more in the younger demographic are comfortable with, and even those older can learn how to use via this YouTube template?
The Dodgers declined to comment, and Charter/Spectrum, which is in charge of the distribution, dismissed it. Read more

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