Tag Archives: Featured


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.

The responses hold form to how both over the years remain tone deaf to this situation. And there we see the latest status of shallow disconnect, on many levels.
(That line above was in the original L.A. Times column. It didn’t make it in.)

There is plenty more nuance and read-between-the-lines elements to this story, as evidenced on social media when it was promoted, commented upon, debated, etc.
It’s an emotional subject in Los Angeles that has one winner — the Dodgers, who accepted a truckload of cash for owning this channel and getting a lucrative distribution deal that was unreasonably penciled out by Time Warner at the time — and a lot more losers.
As an example, DirecTV somehow is introduced into this headline. It’s never mentioned in the story. DirecTV is the AT&T-owned distributor that refused from the start six years ago to take on the Dodgers’ SNLA channel — as well as the Pac-12 Networks — with a domino effect resulting in other cable systems not named Charter to follow suit and refrain. Lawsuits have occurred and been squashed. Politicians have yelled and gone unheard. The Dodgers have finally been told to stop talking in the media because it could affect Charter’s deft ability to distribute the channel even less than it already has done.
At least we didn’t see the stat — 70 percent of people in L.A. can’t get SNLA. A portion of Southern California may choose not to receive it, sticking with a dish or Internet provider for their TV service. But they have access to it if they want it for a majority of the region. It’s as simple as looking at the Charter distribution map when it bought out Time Warner and finally dropped the toxic name.


Here are a few things to follow if you’re really into what’s behind this story — other than the fact we simply wanted to point out the benefits of YouTube streaming.
+ On Twitter, follow @MoneyballToo and Tom Wilson get access to his documentary. Here’s also an interview he did with KROQ in ’16.
+ Also on Twitter, follow @DodgerGameNotes. The curator is a former DTV employ who knows from the inside what happened there with the distribution talks.

+ Here are links to several stories we did on this way back when we called the “Dodger Hostage Crisis” when writing for the L.A. Daily News (and if you don’t have a subscription to this, bless you):

== The latest on the Dodgers and their TV fiasco” from April, 2018, which includes this (sound familiar?)

Hulu CEO Randy Freer, on the job since October after spending more than 20 years in charge of the Fox Sports Media Group – which included overseeing the two regional channels in L.A. – was talking to a room full of hundreds of smart business executives at the CAA World Congress of Sports last week at LA Live. Freer went from broad strokes of how sports programming rights remains strong to a very specific example about how “dynamic pricing” for customers can change the paradigm.

These days, when you yank out your cable cord or dismantle the roof-top dish and subscribe to a device on your Internet-ready TV – like Hulu or YouTube TV or Amazon Prime – you still need a new way to get to the local sports nets. A generation of today’s TV viewers have figured out end-around plays. But when that happens, the teams and channels lose the opportunity to cash in.

“How do you create an opportunity in baseball where, either through MLB.tv or with ESPN’s app, you can buy a Yankees-Red Sox game for $10 or $20 or whatever is the right price?” Freer asked. “To me, one of the bedrocks of why I think live sports is important to the business is because it has great value and you can start to offer it in a different way – reprice things, re-create value, give people an opportunity to come in and out across the board.

“Honestly I’m a little surprised in L.A., where you have some distribution channel issues, the Dodgers haven’t been more aggressive and more innovative in figuring out a way to get outside of the geography and the parameters that they’re stuck in and get out.

“Say, the Dodgers and Cubs have a series … (they can) figure out how to get it to you at the right price. Regular-season pricing could be valuable to the Dodger fan who watches 20 games.”

Internally, the Dodgers may be all for parceling out games to customers, but when asked in this instance for a comment, the team deferred to its business partners at Spectrum, which issued a blanket statement: “We are proud to deliver Dodgers fans quality broadcasts and exclusive, in-depth programming on SportsNet LA. Last season, Dodgers telecasts recorded the highest-ever season ratings on SportsNet LA and we look forward to another exciting season of 24/7 coverage celebrating the Los Angeles Dodgers 60th anniversary season.”

First, Freer is very freed-up from his previous position to make such a suggestion that would ultimately benefit Hulu and others. Were he still at Fox, it’s doubtful he’d support such a business model that would amount to just a very small percentage of income and, more importantly, would damage the exclusive nature Spectrum customers currently have in accessing the Dodgers games.

Honestly, we’re a little surprised he even brought that up as a viable option.

== Fifth season of Dodgers’ SportsNet LA merges old issues with new concerns”  from Feb., 2018
Media intervention needed in Dodgers, SportsNet LA mess” from 2016
Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. launch has a ways to go before everyone’s satisfied” from 2014

One more thing about the YouTube coverage of the Dodgers, Angels and 13 games this season, from a consumer who checked in on that Dodgers-Phillies game last Wednesday afternoon:
“I was at work and couldn’t watch the Dodger game on YouTube live, but I knew it would be there to watch when I got home. Of course I didn’t want to know the outcome and spoil the suspense. So I bring up the game, start watching and then had to hit pause to take a phone call. But on pause, big letters came on the right side of the screen: Up next: Martin walks it off with a single in the 9th RECAP. Ruined it for me.”
Not every platform is perfect.

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Jim Healy, 25 years after his departure, and if he still influences today’s radio landscape

By Tom Hoffarth
Is is true: Jim Healy left us 25 years ago — on his current gravemarker at Forrest Lawn Cemetery near Lakeside Country Club, Jim asks the question he made famous. And then his wife,  Pat, who passed away three years later, provides the answer above.
For our July 22 piece for the L.A. Times, we mark the occasion with a couple of interviews from his son and KNBC-Chanel 4 longtime reporter, Patrick Healy, KLAC’s Petros Papadakis, and former Healy sound-clip providers Ted Sobel and Paul Olden (the later of whom got the answer from Lasorda about a simple question some 40 years ago, with this clip below).

From the Los Angeles Times files, an obituary Larry Stewart wrote for Healy’s death on July 22, 1994, followed by a report on a tribute ceremony weeks later, chronicle the historic importance of Healy’s work. In an appreciation piece by former Times columnist and sports editor Bill Dwyre on the 20th anniversary of Healy’s death in 2014, “Journalist Bill” noted that Healy’s freewheeling, one-man sports radio show “was like nothing before and certainly nothing since.”
That remains a fact.

Thanks to those L.A. Times readers who responded with letters to the editor this week as well. We also heard from Matt Vasgersian, the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man who grew up in L.A. before working for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and MLB Network.
Vasgersian said: “I channel him every day during our off-season morning talk show ‘Hot Stove’ with soundboard drops — probably over 200 of them, using them dozens of times an hour. He was a bigger influence on me than any single broadcast personality I’ve ever listened to. I even went to his Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony — of course hosted by Johnny Grant.”
Enjoy …

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: An appreciation of Jim Bouton, smokin’ ’em inside decade after decade

By Tom Hoffarth
The passing of Jim Bouton last week at age 80 was pause to reflect on his career not so much as a major-league pitcher, but for what he delivered to journalism in the form of “Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues.”
IMG_6791We are thankful we have a place to express our own reflections and cherished personal encounters in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece.
We’ve done pieces on Bouton in the past, and enjoyed every moment, from paragraph to end quote.
A 2003 piece on his book, “Foul Ball,” gave us a chance to even challenge our own bosses at the time. We are thankful he posted it on his own official website.
In 2010, we caught up with Bouton in Burbank, for another treat, also with old friend Greg Goossen, Bouton’s former Seattle Pilots teammate who became a memorable character in “Ball Four.”
In 2017, we wrote about how the notes and recordings Bouton did for “Ball Four” were up for public auction. The collection never met the required minimum, and never sold. Which is fine, since it found its way to the Library of Congress, although money from that sale could have helped with Bouton’s medical expenses.

We even kind of remember, for all the lines that “Ball Four” provided, a rather appropo line given to Bouton when he decided to give Hollywood a try and was given the role off Terry Lennox in the 1973 Robert Altman film “The Long Goodbye,” which starring Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe in the definitive portrayal of shallow L.A. evil based on the Raymond Chandler novel.
At one point, Bouton’s character as asked by Marlowe if he could recall the three DiMaggio brothers.
“Vince, Dom and, uh … Joe?” Lennox says.
With Bouton knowing full well that he had just smoked Joe DiMaggio inside with that act of reverence to the Yankee Clipper.

Upon Bouton’s passing, author Jane Leavy tweeted out:

Mark Armour, author and new president of Society of American Baseball Researchers (SABR), who engineered a biographic piece on Bouton for the group, added this:

Armour’s SABR.org bio on Bouton is linked here.
A complete Retrosheet.org list of Bouton’s game by game career is at this link.
Reflections on Bouton’s life and times are also available by John Feinstein for the Washington Post, Tyler Kempner for the New York Times and Jay Jaffe for FanGraphs.com.
Sunday AM came a sweet remembrance collection as well from Wendy Parker at SportsBiblio.
If you feel like re-reading “Ball Four” for a fourth or fifth or 20th time this summer, it would be fitting. Do it while pounding a Budweiser, for shitfuck’s sake.

Let’s (Long Beach) Post it: Why “Ballpark” author/architect critic Paul Goldberger endorses the LBC over the Big A on the Angels’ future landscape

By Tom Hoffarth

There’s a lot to be said for the Elephant Lot.

That’s the 13 acres on Shoreline Drive that has been proposed as the beachhead for the Angels’ new home, should the franchise take Long Beach up on an offer to relocate it from its current Anaheim digs. While we’re waiting for things to happen, or not, imagine what a new Big A in the LBC could look like; Paul Goldberger has.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic with the New York Times and now The New Yorker, Goldberger has some archetypal guidelines for any major league-seeking city to aspire to and believes Long Beach is well-situated to achieve them.

91wiqBL3m9LWhy trust Goldberger? His new book, “Ballpark: Baseball in the American City,” (Knopf/Penguin Random House, 384 pages, $35) is about as good as it gets in retelling the history of the facilities used for the MLB (and even some references to the old Wrigley Field in L.A., as we noted in a book review in April).

Also there’s a 1990 during a Playboy interview where Donald Trump was asked:

Q: Let’s talk about your main interest: Buildings. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger of The New York Times hasn’t been kind to Trump buildings, panning them as garish and egotistical.
Paul Goldberger has extraordinarily bad taste. He reviews buildings that are failures and loves them. Paul suffers from one malady that I don’t believe is curable. As an architecture critic, you can’t afford the luxury of having bad taste. The fact that he works for the Times, unfortunately, makes his taste important. And that’s why you see some monster buildings going up. If Paul left the Times or the Times left him, you would find that his opinion meant nothing.

We just found another reason to appreciate Goldberger even more for something that holds up even more 30 years later.

In addition to our Q&A with him now on the LBPost.com site, focused on the Angels’ potential move to Long Beach, here are some other things we discussed:


From your experience in how these things happen, coastal commissions and urban planners come into play with all sorts of things that need to be signed off, which can cause adjustments and compromises. Is that just part of the process? Read more

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.

= 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.


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

« Older Entries