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.

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Why we may get choked up when Johnny Miller leaves

By Tom Hoffarth
At the end of the most recent edition of HBO’s “Real Sports” that first aired Tuesday, host Bryant Gumbel had this to say as his show-ending essay:
“Finally, tonight, a quick heartfelt send-off to a friend of mine who will be doing his final broadcast next weekend, and that’s Johnny Miller.
“After 29 years as golf’s preeminent analyst, Johnny is calling it quits, leaving his seat in the tower on the 18th hole, and leaving a television void that is irreplaceable.

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A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: CAN WE TALK ABOUT TALKING ABOUT BASKETBALL HAS LED TO ANN MEYERS DRYSDALE IN ANOTHER HALL OF FAME?

Ann Meyers Drysdale wasn’t an accidental broadcaster when she pivoted from a ground-breaking Basketball Hall of Fame playing career in the 1970s and ’80s, looking for a meaningful way to stay involved in the sport.

Her dedication has brought more Hall of Fame recognition. The Southern California Sports Broadcasters organization, which has included three dozen men in its Hall of Fame since founder Tom Harmon was first recognized in 1992, will give Meyers Drysdale another historic embrace with her inclusion in its Jan. 28 ceremony at Lakeside Country Club in Toluca Lake.

“Honestly, I never imagined something like this, and it’s important to me to be grateful for so many who have opened doors for me, many without me even knowing about it,” Meyers Drysdale said during a break in a four-game trip she took with NBA’s Phoenix Suns as a Fox Sports Arizona analyst.

Here’s more from our weekly piece in the L.A. Times sports section at this link.

THE MLB NET AT 10: IT’S IN A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN

By Tom Hoffarth
We had the pleasure of reminiscing with Tony Petitti and Rob McGlarry about the first 10 years of the MLB Network’s existence — it launched on Jan. 1, 2009, with a record 50 million homes that could access it. The result is a post this week at The Hollywood Reporter.
There was no crying in their baseball remembrances. Only a lot of laughs and memories of the many highs that came from becoming the fourth of the four major sports leagues to put up their own 24/7 cable channel.

Petitti was the first MLB Net president and CEO, and McGlarry was the Senior VP of Programming and Business Affairs. Eventually, Petitti turned the reins over to McGlarry in late 2014, when Petitti joined the MLB Commissioner’s Office.
One of the interesting sidebars to the MLB Network launch, and its first year on the air, was brought up again in a one-hour special that the net has been airing in celebration of its anniversary. Read more

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: A RALPH LAWLER BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CAMPAIGN? FASTEN YOUR … YOU KNOW THE REST

By Tom Hoffarth
A few more points to consider after the posting of our L.A. Times media piece that makes a case for Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler to be considered for the Curt Gowdy Media Award by the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 — which would be a classy way to top off Lawler’s 40-year run with the team after his retirement this summer:

BHOF_3C_800x580== As we pointed out, there are some not-so-obvious hurdles that need to be cleared for anyone to be considered for this lifetime achievement award. One is how to stand out from a broad range of candidates — those who’ve worked in the NBA and college, play-by-play and color, sideline reporters, local and national. The other is there isn’t a lot known about who is on the committee that ultimately decides who gets nominated and voted upon.
David J. Halberstam, a longtime sports media observer and historian, and one of the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fames’ annual broadcaster award, said he has discussions recently with John Doleva, the organization’s president and CEO, about how to frame this award so the public might be more aware of what it represents.

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A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: BILL WALTON AND HIS OWN SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT

By Tom Hoffarth
Here’s an illustration of Bill Walton from the esteemed Jim Thompson, who drew it up to help set the tone for a piece we did on the former UCLA star and broadcaster in 2016  entitled “Bill Walton’s long, strange trip inside his reconstructed soul”
THOMPSON WALTONIt was right about the time his new book, “Back From The Dead” came out — if you’re wise you’ll get the audio version read by the author. He revealed how he almost ended everything because the pain in his back was too much to bear.
You see him now with photos of outstretched arms, embracing the world … like above.
“It’s because I can now do that,” he said then. “For so many years, I couldn’t even lift my arms because my spine was so bad. It is a very celebratory pose that people use when things are going great. And right now I’ve never been better or busier. Or this healthy since I was 13 years old. Both ankles are fused. Got a new knee. A new spine. I never thought I would be pain free. I’m lucky.”
We are lucky to have a pipeline into Walton’s world, and we reconnected for a story about how, whenever he’s on an ESPN or Pac-12 Network telecast, the social media world embraces him, often in very opposite ways.
Some call him insufferable.
We align with those who refer to him as a “national treasure” and example of “a sonic voyage … of cosmic exploration.”
As we talked to Walton recently, he was in the passenger seat of his car with his wife, Lori, doing the driving. We asked if he was aware of the volatile social media debate he sparks every time he’s on TV.
“Lori, do I pay attention to social media?” he asked.
Probably not a good time to ask. As they were driving from Death Valley to Westwood on Interstate 15, a dust storm was amidst and visibility was limited.
After a long pause, Bill came back on the line: “Lori says no!”
He seemed to be howling in concert with the winds whipping outside his window.
“The world we live in now .. for so long, we have had dreams, and worked hard and tried to be intelligent about them,” he continued. “Today, if you have a thought, in literally the shortest period of time, that nano second, it becomes reality and part of a larger collaborative community. I take my responsibility very serious and take pride in it.”
We could fill a whole new post with just the outtakes from that discussion. But for now, here’s the piece we had in the L.A. Times about Walton’s social media experience that we swear most times he’s just messing with us …

UPDATE 12.15.18: Five letters to the editors included in the Saturday edition of the L.A. Times as it relates to this, linked here ….

 

 

It’s boxing day: A state of the sport, its heavyweight division, and how movies still love it, from one who lives for it

By Tom Hoffarth
The Deonatay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight unification bout at Staples Center on Saturday is said to be the most influential of its class held in the U.S. since Mike Tyson took on Lennox Lewis in 2002, an event held in Memphis because Tyson couldn’t get a licence in Nevada in the aftermath of biting Lewis on his leg during a press conference mess in the months before. Read more

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