Let’s (Long Beach) Post it: How Tampa Bay Rays’ veteran scout R.J. Harrison keeps his baseball roots relevant

scoutsBy Tom Hoffarth and Steve Lowery
Our latest for the Long Beach Post celebrates the baseball life of Tampa Bay Rays senior advisor for scouting and baseball operations R.J. Harrison, who has had 44 years in the  business, 30 years as a scout and the last 25 years with the American League East team that he helped stockpile for a run to the 2008 World Series.
The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation will honor him at their annual fundraising gala at the Beverly Hilton, amidst many baseball luminaries. If you want to rub some elbows, it’s not too late to crash this big-time party. We have connections.

 

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. Read more

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.”

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

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Our November Sports Media Misery Index: #AngerWatkins #SkipAngry

By Tom Hoffarth
Our latest sports media piece for the Los Angeles Times has our consernational compass pointed at Stephen A. Smith and ESPN’s plans to keep him gainfully employed, Jessica Mendoza’s confusion over a gray area in what kind of access she can get as an ESPN employee, stories that try to keep normalizing gambling, and a new Lindsey Vonn HBO documentary.
And one more thing while we’re thinking about it:
* If you’re going to be honest in advertising, David Feherty’s “Brilliantly Stupid Not So Special Year End Special” (Golf Channel, Tuesday, 6 p.m. with several replays) does a swell job when compared to other programming on the network that has one believing his golf game will actually improve by investing an hour into an infomercial/how to improve your short game.

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHEN ‘FORD V FERRARI’ SPINS AWAY FROM HOLLYWOOD’S FAST-N-FURIOUS WAYS OF DEALING FACT VS. FICTION

By Tom Hoffarth

As the cover story for the March 25, 1957 edition of  Sports Illustrated, Carroll Shelby is called “The Gentle Leadfoot,” and referred to as “America’s hottest driver” as he headed into a big race at Sebring.

ShelbySI“You know, when I’m driving a race car I feel like I don’t have a problem in the world,” Shelby says in the piece. “I haven’t even tried to analyze why I do it. I guess there is just something there — a certain challenge.”
All the while, he wore these bibbed, striped carpenters’ overalls he says he bought for $3 at J.C.Penney’s “when I was in the chicken business.”
The beauty of the story is writer Kenneth Rudeen allows Shelby to talk through most of it, in his voice. That’s part of the Shelby sales pitch charm, playing up his Texas-bred stereotypes that followed him to a car designer, salesman and legend.

(Just for some context in that 1957 SI issue, the magazine also has a piece about the new Major League Baseball rookies who were likely to do well in the upcoming season. That included Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson and Cleveland’s Roger Maris. In its preview of the NCAA basketball final four — Kansas, San Francisco, North Carolina and Michigan State — there’s a story about how Kansas sophomore Wilt Chamberlain has become a “magnetic obsession.”)

In an expansion of our piece in Monday’s Los Angeles Times about how the new box-office hit “Ford v Ferrari” has been viewed by those who like to separate fact from fiction — it is a “based on a true story” about how Shelby and driver Ken Miles battled with Ford executives trying to beat Ferrari at the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s, finally coming through at the end of the decade with four straight wins — we had a conversation with Shelby’s 48-year-old grandson, Aaron, about this. Read more

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