#WinForVin, during a no-Vin situation… it’s a Blue October

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

The game arrived at 6:45 p.m. The radio was flipped on. The volume on the TV was turned down.

And there was no Vin.

Of course, we had all been properly warned that this would be the reality of Friday’s Dodgers-Mets NLCS Game 1 from Dodger Stadium.

We still had to check. And then, check our pulse.

None of this was quite registering. It was as if we were in some kind of weightless state, waiting for gravity to return.

The gravity of the situation seemed to hang there in the air.

All we’ve been told on Thursday afternoon in vague terms was something about a “medical procedure” that 87-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully needed. And according to the doctor’s orders, this would mean Scully would go quiet during this postseason.

So now that this is apparently real, do we have a plan on how to navigate the rest of this playoff contest? The rest of this series? The rest of the winter?

For a quick diversion earlier in the day, we picked up the comic section of the paper. There was Kevin Fagan’s “Drabble.”

The topic was Scully. Continue reading

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Weekly media column notes version 10.08.15: A year into this, 980-AM remains in Beast mode

We’ve looked ahead to the ESPN documentary on the Pete Carroll Era at USC, and looked back on Jessica Mendoza’s run with the ESPN MLB job.
Presently, this is what’s worth submitting to the Internet machine before we focus on the Dodgers’ run in the playoffs:

== What can set KFWB-AM (980), aka “The Beast,” apart from other sports stations in Southern California?
That’s Tom Lee’s task.
thebeast980-141201The ratings for the iconic spot on the L.A. radio dial haven’t really shown much movement up in its first full year of format change, driven by CBS Sports Radio’s need to finally bestow a Southern California beach head for Jim Rome’s 9 a.m. to noon national radio show.
Rome is safe. What’s built around him here keeps shifting like it’s on an earthquake fault. To no one’s fault.
The announcement that L.A. Times sports columnist BIll Plaschke has joined the 6-to-9 a.m. with Jeanie Zelasko is the latest wake-up call by  program director Lee as he continues to put his shovel into the ground for a weekday lineup heading into the NBA season that will be very Clipper-heavy for the team’s flagship station.
“I’m looking at every possible way to make the station better,” said Lee, who came on as the PD after the original man in the position, Owen Murphy, built the first lineup prior to the Sept. 2014 launch. Murphy eventually returned to his family in Seattle last February to work as a radio consultant.

The Beast 980 program director Tom Lee

The Beast 980 PD Tom Lee

“What I ask myself every day: What’s the advantage for the L.A. sports fan? If we ask ourselves that question every time a decision is made, then we’re going to get better.”
The Plaschke hiring was necessitated to replace Marques Johnson, the former UCLA and NBA star who jumped at the chance to become the TV analyst for the Milwaukee Bucks. Johnson felt the commitment to the TV job meant he had to leave the station, but his name value was really all that carried him through during his time in that radio chair. His ties to the Clippers made him a recognizable figure. He added little otherwise. Perhaps team broadcaster Ralph Lawler‘s regular contributions may be all that’s needed in the grand scheme.
In this era of media branding, Plaschke becomes along as a potential beast of an asset for 980 as the only regular local newspaper columnist taking on a radio role. (The last? You can follow T.J. Simers reports on his wrongful termination case against the Times as it continues to play out in downtown L.A. courts. Other websites are also hopping on board with analysis.) Along with his duties on ESPN’s continually unwatchable “Around The Horn,” Plaschke only hopes to work some sleep time into his new 24/7 schedule.
Actually, the first of Lee’s first revamping jobs was to thankfully drive out the George Wrigster and Brett Winterble team in the 4-to-7 p.m. afternoon drive shift, still known as “The Drive.”
“I loved both of them, and they’re two really good people, but it wasn’t quite where we needed to be,” said Lee, who was the former PD at ESPN Sports in Dallas, WIP in Philadelphia, KJR in Seattle and Fox Sports Radio.
“Having been in this business for as long as I have, it’s a decision you make from your gut, from experience, and from ratings. They worked really hard and helped launch the station, but it’s time to raise the bar.”

Jim Rome remains the foundation to the 980-AM existence as a sports-talk format one year into the process for the former all-news station.

Jim Rome remains the foundation to the 980-AM existence as a sports-talk format one year into the process for the former all-news station.

Lee has been trying out mix-and-match combinations of Wes Clements, Dave Denholm, Dave Smith, Brian Webber and others, to some degrees of success, until he decides on what could work. All are viable candidates.
But all that may be simply to see who fills the noon-to-3 p.m. slot. Fred Roggin, the KNBC-Channel 4 sportscaster who has been on that shift, is in discussions of being moved to drive-time and have his show emanate from the Channel 4 Universal Studios offices.
A strong lead-in will be needed once the Clippers regular season begins later this month. Sam Farber, Isaac Lowenkron and Brian Siemen will handle the Clippers pre- and post-game shows.
As this market has shown, the interest in the Clippers has a strange attachment to how the Lakers’ float. Without the Lakers driving viewers, the Clippers often stay stagnant or even submerge more. No matter what 980 does, it, in some strange ways, has to hope rival ESPN-AM (710) does well with its Lakers ratings.
“I’m excited about the potential now with what we have in place,” said Lee. “I know potential doesn’t mean we have it done yet, but with the options that L.A. sports listeners have, we’re building a station for the real L.A. sports fan. It’s a process that’s done with a lot of evaluation and internal discussion and brain storming and it feels like we’re on the brink of really doing something good. I love the energy in the building.”

== OK, one more New York Times story that posted today about Mendoza.

GettyImages-83340125.0== On the MLB postseason:
For the Dodgers-Mets NLDS, TBS will have Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, Cal Ripken Jr. and Sam Ryan on each game starting Friday at 6:30 p.m.
On the Cardinals-Cubs series, TBS sends out Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Simpson and Matt Winer starting with Friday’s Game 1 at 3:30 p.m.
When the two American League Division Series begin tonight, Fox Sports 1 has Kenny Albert, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci doing the Texas-Toronto series, with Game 1 at 12:30 p.m., followed by FS1’s Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz, A.J. Pierzynski and Jon Paul Morosi doing the Houston-Kansas City series, with Game 1 at 4:30 p.m.
The MLB Network jumps in for two games: It sends Bob Costas and Jim Kaat to call Game 2 of the Rangers-Blue Jays series on Friday (9:45 a.m.) and for Game 3 of the Astros-Royals series on Sunday (1 p.m.), it will stick with the Vasgersian-Smoltz-Morosi crew.

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A twisted tale of the tape: Dodgers vs. Mets expands beyond basic fruit (sorry, Rally Banana)

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

This N.Y.-L.A. culture clash that starts Friday at Dodger Stadium is more than just comparing apples to oranges.
1435861826-dodgers_mets_ticketsThink more of people with orange hair and Rally Bananas.
Depending on how you drink in this Dodgers-Mets best-of-five 2015 National League Division Series, the side you pick could come down to a simple choice of preferring the original Bloody Mary from the King Cole Bar & Salon at the St. Regis in New York or a classic (don’t call me Kirk) Gibson martini from Musso & Frank in Hollywood.
Hey, it’s 6 o’clock somewhere. Here’s our tale of the tape with a twist of irony:

A-pile-of-money-wallpaper-721**Roster payroll:
$99.6 million (ranks 20th out of 30 teams)
L.A.: $227.3 million (ranks first)
Advantage: N.Y.
The Mets could get swept but they’ll still have advanced farther than New York’s other team (which was second at $214.2 million)

** Who has the Donald Trump bump:
Trump was born in Queens (just like the Mets) and raised by his father to buy as much New York skyline hotels, office building and luxury condos as possible. Insists he was once approached by Mets owner Fred Wilpon to buy a share of the team but declined because he didn’t want just a minority piece, but a majority. (As if the MLB would approve that anyway considering Trump’s ties to the gaming industry). Got into a minor controversy this season when Mets pitcher Matt Harvey thanked Trump for letting him and some teammate play on his Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point. The New York Daily News ran a story about it with an appropriately N.Y. headline.

Republican presidential candidate Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in ManchesterL.A.: The Dodgers have held their annual charity event at the Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. Which isn’t in Los Angeles, but actually Palos Verdes. Last March, the PGA of American said its 2015 Grand Slam of Golf would be at Trump’s course in November. Then Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, said a few things about immigration. Then the PGA said it was not only revoked its deal with Trump but canceling the event all together. The Dodgers also decided not to hold an annual charity golf event this season rather than have it at the Trump course.
Advantage: Neither.
This is a true lose-lose situation here.

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First look: USC-top heavy ESPN ‘Trojan War’ doc doesn’t make apologies for Carroll era

Up close and personal, the USC football program during the Pete Carroll era definitely had more than just the scaffolding of Hollywood story.

imagesWithout beating down all the Tinsel town clichés and relying on a workable analogy as to how and why Carroll produced and directed things in his nine seasons as the head coach, the new ESPN documentary “Trojan War” makes no apologies for what happened between 2001 and 2010, while managing to add some new narrative.

Going into this, one must take into account that the hour-and-a-half long piece, which ESPN debuts on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m., is directed by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas. He is a former USC film student and current adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There’s also Keyshawn Johnson, the former USC All-American and ESPN NFL commentator, attached as the executive producer.

Johnson, one of more than a dozen former players who gets screen time to move along the narrative, says at one point when describing USC’s run under Carroll: “We are arrogant and we don’t care. That’s just who we are.”

That’s going to win over viewers perhaps interested in showing empathy for how USC’s national title run ended.

Thomas and Johnson also set a tone that’s fairly evident throughout and finally underlined in one final scene where the Reggie Bush mess is covered. The narrator says: “The Pete Carroll era will never be forgotten, and they’ll be no regrets.”

But there is some bitterness, and some of that comes through.

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On the Mendoza-ESPN MLB experiment: Plenty of others need to make the walk of shame

635774731307483110-cxx-mendoza-01So now that Jessica Mendoza’s September-October run as an ESPN MLB booth analyst has come to a conclusion — she did a AL wildcard game, for heaven’s sake, on top of it — those who need to tie everything up in a bow are trying to do so.
Even as an Atlanta-based sports-talk radio host got pushback for things he tweeted out and was eventually suspended — things we actually heard from some bold readers as well — Katie Rodgers of the New York Times pointed out the contrast of praise from colleagues and criticism from social media folks who still don’t get it.
From Forbes’ Alex Reimer: “The chauvinistic backlash hurled … on social media Tuesday night for having the gall of being a woman who was broadcasting a baseball game is a reminder that sexism still exists in the sports media world. But those who chose to spew hate were largely ostracized, which is a reminder that we’ve come a long way.”
In a story posted on MLB.com by Doug Miller, former Dodgers exec and current MLB senior VP of baseball operations Kim Ng responded: “Jessica was and probably still is a world-class ballplayer. There is no doubt in my mind that her ability to analyze, to break down certain aspects of the game, and to give her audience a player’s perspective surpasses the ability of some of her colleagues.”
We’ve documented our support not just for ESPN’s move to have Mendoza join the Monday night MLB crew before this Sunday night opening came, but also for Mendoza’s ability to seize the opportunity. For some, it’s still too jarring to hear a female voice heard in the context of a baritone male-dominated broadcast booth.
Are there other former MLB players qualified to have taken Curt Schilling’s spot when it became open by his own stupidity? Absolutely. But ESPN, and Mendoza, took at it a chance to try something new and interesting.
The satisfaction continues here in seeing more in the national media get on board.
ESPN says Mendoza, the former Camarillo High standout who lives in Moorpark, will continue to have her voice heard as the network’s “Baseball Tonight” shows continue through the playoffs.
The network also reported that Tuesday’s AL Houston-N.Y. Yankees game was the largest MLB wildcard TV audience ever, according to Nielsen. It averaged 7.6 million viewers and peaked at 8.6 million from 7:30 to 8 p.m. PDT. The 4.9 rating made it ESPN’s most watched MLB game since 2003.
And then there’s this:

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