Tag Archives: Featured

The Top 30 sports shows of all time? From SportsCenter to Garbage Time, we helped shape this list … any objections are welcome

By Tom Hoffarth
When Barrett Sports Media floated the idea to mirror this week’s NBA Draft 30 choices with an exercise that might be entertaining in trying to identify and justify the best sports shows in TV’s existence, we had the time and an appreciation of the attempt to join in.
Jason Barrett even provided a list of about 70 shows that were acceptable, and the list was limited to studio shows: No scripted shows, docs, reality shows or sitcoms.
First, not everyone was asked, apparently:

John is as good as it gets in today’s sports media journalism field.
Ahem …
We were assigned the 24th pick, but we created our own Top 30 list to see how it could compare before hand. In order of the shows we felt carried the most importance, impact and created a legacy:
1. ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”
2. ESPN “Sports Center”
3. HBO’s “Real Sports”
4. TNT’s “Inside the NBA”
5. CBS’ “NFL Today”
6. ESPN’s “College GameDay”
7. ESPN’s “Up Close”
8. ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption”
9. The syndicated “This Week in Baseball”
10. The Jim Rome array of shows from “Talk2” to the current “Jim Rome Show.”
The final BSM list is at this link.
Really. … Will Leitch took “Garbage Time” …
We wanted to add to the list, but …
* “Monday Night Football” in its initial version was really more of a sports variety show that happened to have a game attached to it. Where else do you get the halftime highlights idea spun into a SportsCenter format?
DRqN6p6V4AAzCZf* We could not get enough of the Saturday airings of the Dick Enberg-hosted “Sports Challenge” and “The Way It Was,” but doubt many others didn’t remember this game show and a history lesson that spun off into a talk show.
* “The Superstars” on ABC … then “The Super Teams.” Glorious.
* “Battle of the Network Stars” anyone? Just a kid from the ’70s who wanted to see Adrienne Barbeau, Linda Carter and Farrah Fawcett get interviewed by Don Drysdale.
* We adored Chick Hearn on “Bowling For Dollars.” Wasn’t that something worth considering?
* Remember when Norman Chad and Jeff Cesario would sit in a theater and talk about an old sports movie that ran on ESPN Classic? Those were “Reel Classics.” Revive that immediately.

Whatever the verdict, here is the blurb we submitted at Pick No. 24, before it was edited down for space reasons:

On my personal Top 30 list, this Roy Firestone “Up Close” staple was No. 7, and I figured it would be long gone before my 24th pick. I was expecting, and actually hoping, to snag the Jim Rome franchise of shows – from “Talk2” in the early ‘90s all the way to “The Jim Rome Show” today, spanning ESPN2, ESPN, Fox Sports, ESPN again, CBS Sports Net and a stop in there on Showtime. Rome and I go way back to his San Diego radio days and I have a lot to document about his importance to the medium.
But there’s the rub: Rome was once a guest on “Up Close,” when his syndicated radio career was getting launched, because Firestone targeted him as a compelling guest. And even threw out a question about his late father that tried to make Rome do the quintessential “Firestone cry.”
Some quick history: “SportsLook” is the original title of the show that started in 1980 on the USA Network, then moved to ESPN as “Up Close,” with Firestone, a former sportscaster at the local CBS affiliate in L.A., as the host for 13 years. It was taped in L.A. so he had access to everyone coming and going. It was a simple premise: Firestone sits on the right, the guest is on the left, and they talk about all sorts of things about their sporting life. It relied on Firestone’s curiosity and research and what buttons to push.
Many tried to replicate the template to other shows with other hosts – there’s maybe no Bob Costas’ “On the Record” or even a version Rome was asked to launch with ESPN2 in the early ‘90s. It all connects to the importance of Firestone creating a trustworthy space to show emotions – important especially with strong male athletes – knowing Firestone would calmly talk you through it and expose a side of yourself that wasn’t readily available in pre-social media times.
If you need any sort of cultural reference, go to 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” where Cameron Crowe knows enough to bring Roy Firestone as himself, with the “Up Close” set, and “interview” Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and create the climactic scene. Yes, Gooding won an Oscar for that. Assist to Firestone. Here’s the clip:

“Up Close” stayed for a couple of years after Firestone left – most notably, Chris Myers did a sit-down with O.J. Simpson in 1995 after his murder acquittal. The “O.J.: Made in America” Oscar-winning documentary included an interview Firestone did with Simpson on “Up Close” just two years before the murder that became an example of how the media had become so apologetic for Simpson’s previous domestic abuse charges. Chris Connelly took it over the show in the late ‘90s before he milked his own show out of it.
“SportsLook” and “Up Close” were so important that the L.A. 84 Amateur Athletic Foundation kept a videotaped library of every show for researchers to access. Take a tour of YouTube today to find the history and see people like Muhammad Ali, Pete Maravich … look ‘em up.
David J. Halberstam, the sports media historian, did a nice followup on with Firestone on his career, during a 2018 interview, that also best explains the importance of where this show started and what it begat.

 

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: What chance does the XFL have in 2020? Depends on who you’re betting on … (bet on Joe Cohen)

By Tom Hoffarth
In last weekend’s ESPN.com story post about the perceived viability of the XFL relaunching in the spring of 2020, USC professor of sports business and principal of The Sports Group David Carter offers up a quote:
“Anybody that thinks that there’s an unquestionable market for spring football is delusional. There have been some credible people throwing time and resources at it without the result they anticipated. While you can step back and say that XFL 2.0 — with all of its changes, all of the learnings and the takeaways from over the years to include their own missteps — is positioned far more favorably than anyone else, it’s certainly not a guarantee.”
No one is guaranteeing anything. But with Vince McMahon’s second shot at this, 18 years after his first try with NBC as its partner and now using ABC/ESPN and Fox as his wingment, we asked the same sort of questions to cable industry pioneer and McMahon longtime business partner Joe Cohen in our latest Los Angeles Times sports media column.

 

A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHEN CLAYTON KERSHAW WANTS TO EXPOSE CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING, ESPN BECOMES EMBEDDED

By Tom Hoffarth
It might not be the ideal time or place to look into the window of Major League Baseball’s soul. But if a lugubrious subject like children sex trafficking fits into a conversation on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast, would everything be cool if Clayton Kershaw and his wife Ellen were the driving force behind it?
When the Dodgers face the Chicago Cubs on the upcoming Father’s Day national telecast from Dodger Stadium, there’s a decent chance this topic will come up.
Please don’t balk.
ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza found herself embedded on a trip to the Dominican Republic in January with Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, a learning tour about what actually happens in this lurid criminal world far beyond a baseball diamond.
The result is this video and our account of it in the weekly L.A. Times media piece:

 

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

Up in smoke: The dos, don’ts and more doobie etiquette on #420Day (pay attention kids)

By Steve Lowery

You do your best as your parent. You try to keep your kids safe and smart… and then they grow up and pay you back by laughing at your laughable attempts at smoking a joint when all you were trying to do is get into their world. Oh, the kids and their weeds.

Fortunately, I had access to the wonderful Mskindness Ramirez, a cannabis advocate and educator, who’s made a name and reputation by talking about the subject and substance without “demonizing or glamorizing.”

I sat down with her, and my daughter Madison, and she showed us how to roll, safely light and efficiently smoke a joint. We also found out that she thinks Nickelback is just horrible, so you know she’s all right.

Watch the exclusive video at LBPost.com.

Need a sports angle to this fine Saturday? Mike Tyson is lit:

Read into this: 30 baseball book reviews in the 30 days of April, ’19 comes with some revisionist history

By Tom Hoffarth
First off, behold a shelf of baseball books above from the magnificent Austin Public Library, on Cesar Chavez Blvd., right along the Colorado River in Austin, Tex.
1280px-Austin_public_library_opened_October_28_2017We were there on business recently and did the tour of this famed book depository to see what it had stocked. Aside from the architectural beauty of it, there was a beauty of a baseball book collection on the sixth floor (learn your Dewey Decimal system, folks … or at least Google it).
Seriously, as cool as Austin is, the library is one of its best secrets.
So …
What’s old is often new in baseball’s annual rite of literary passage each spring. It’s never shy of more rewrites.
To get a clear read on why book publishers put on their straw hat and usher back Major League Baseball with dozens of new titles, note that all sorts of revisionist history, personality-driven essays or bios that exhume new previously untold info resonate best with those who’ve endured a long, cold winter. Same with anything that takes good-natured digs to keep America’s Pastime part of the pop culture conversation.

NEW.Thompson.books

Our weekly L.A. Times sports media column starts off April 1 without trying to fool anyone: We’ve got some quick-hit reviews on more than a half-dozen new baseball books out this spring (and coming up).

During the entire month of April on FartherOffTheWall.com, we revive our annual baseball book review, one a day, and will update this post with the growing list.

Check out our entrance velocity:
9781598536126* April 1: “Great American Baseball Stories,” edited by Jeff Silverman; “The Great American Sports Page: A Century of Classic Columns from Ring Lardner to Sally Jenkins,” edited by John Schulian, and “No Place I Would Rather Be: Roger Angell and a Life in Baseball Writing,” by Joe Bonomo
81H2vsGIA+L* April 2: “Game Faces: Early Baseball Cards from Library of Congress” by Peter Devereaux and “Baseball Card Vandals: Over 200 Decent Jokes on Worthless Cards!” by brothers Beau and Bryan Abbott of
* April 3: “Now Taking The Field: Baseball’s All Time Dream Teams for All 30 Franchises,” by Tom Stone.
* April 4: “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar, by Jay Paris
* April 5: “Here’s the Pitch: The Amazing, True, New, and Improved Story of Baseball and Advertising,” by Roberta J. Newman
* April 6: “Mrs. Morhard and The Boys: One Mother’s Vision … The First Boys’ Baseball League … A Nation Inspired,” by Ruth Hansford Morhard
71iNKCsPGeL* April 7:  “Scouting And Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball,” by Christopher J. Phillips
* April 8: “They Bled Blue: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem, and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seen: The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers,” by Jason Turnbow (you’ll have to wait until June)
* April 9: “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game,” by Ron Darling, with Daniel Paisner
81XIRP5mUML* April 10: “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches,” by Tyler Kepner
* April 11: “Pastime Lost: The Humble, Original and Now Completely Forgotten Game of English Baseball,” by David Block
613+BarriSL* April 12: “Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball” by Richard Hershberger
* April 13: “Unwritten: Bat Flips, the Fun Police and Baseball’s New Future,” by Danny Knobler
* April 14: “Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks” by Ron Rapoport  and “Let’s Play Two: The Life and Times of Ernie Banks” by Doug Wilson
* April 15: “Reclaiming 42: Public Memory and the Reframing of Jackie Robinson’s Radical Legacy” by David Naze

A break in between all this to get in some TV exposure via Spectrum News 1’s “L.A. Times Today” show with Lisa McRee:

* April 16: “The Untold Story: Fidel Castro and Baseball” by Peter C. Bjarkman and “Last Seasons in Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba” by Cesar Brioso
91N0IF5NGPL* April 17: “The Game of Eating Smart: Nourishing Recipes for Peak Performance Inspired by MLB Superstars” by Julia Loria and Allen Campbell
* April 18: “Edgar: An Autobiography” by Edgar Martinez, with Larry Stone
51biS4hqVaL* April 19: “Baseball Epic: Famous and Forgotten Lives of the Dead Ball Era” with words and pictures by Jason Novak
* April 20: “They Played The Game: Memories from 47 Major Leaguers” by Norman L. Macht
* April 21: “Ballpark: Baseball in the American City” by Paul Goldberger
* April 22: “Inside the Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees” by Bob Klapish and Paul Solotaroff (along with “Chumps to Champs: How the Worst Teams in Yankees History Led to the ‘90s Dynasty,” by Bill Pennington; “Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of,” by J. David Herman; “Mantle: The Best There Ever Was,” by Tony Castro; “My Dad, Yogi: A Memoir of Family and Baseball by Dale Berra; and “Doc, Donnie, the Kid, and Billy Brawl: How the 1985 Mets and Yankees Fought for New York’s Baseball Soul” by Chris Donnelly
91TCtdnavnL* April 23: “Ten Innings at Wrigley: The Wildest Ballgame Ever, with Baseball on the Brink” by Kevin Cook
71e5kd7-O0L* April 24: “The Legendary Harry Caray: Baseball’s Greatest Salesman” by Don Zmida
* April 25: “They Said It Couldn’t Be Done: The ’69 Mets, New York City, and the Most Astounding Season in Baseball History” by Wayne Coffey; “After the Miracle: The Lasting Brotherhood of the ’69 Mets” by Art Shamsky with Erik Sherman; “Here’s the Catch: A Memoir of the Miracle Mets and More” by Ron Swoboda; “The Miracle of 1969: How the New York Mets Went from Lovable Losers to World Series Champions” by Coutinho Rich
* April 26: “Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher” by David Cone with Jack Curry
* April 27: “Left on Base in the Bush Leagues: Legends, Near Greats and Unknowns in the Minors” by Gaylon H. White
* April 28: “For the Good of the Game: The Inside story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball” by Bud Selig with Phil Rogers and “Play Hungry: The Making of a Baseball Player” by Pete Rose
9780190928186_p0_v1_s600x595* April 29: “When the Crowd Didn’t Roar: How Baseball’s Strangest Game Ever Gave a Broken City Hope” by Kevin Cowherd
* April 30: “Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark” by Alva Noe

The 2019 Best and Worst of the L.A. Sports Media: It’s ugly head has been reared

best.worst.thompson

Illustration by Jim Thompson/@jimmysporttunes

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.

« Older Entries