Weekly sports media notes version 07.28.16

A week out from the 2016 Rio Games, trying to set our body clocks to NBC’s delayed broadcasts starting with the Opening Ceremonies, we’ve got these media notes worth posting at this point in real time:

Former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason appears with his son Rivers in a scene from the documentary "Gleason." The film follows Gleason and his wife, Michel, into the maelstrom of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, as the couple adjusts to their fluctuating reality and makes way for their son, Rivers. (Open Road Films via AP)

Former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason appears with his son Rivers in a scene from the documentary “Gleason.” The film follows Gleason and his wife, Michel, into the maelstrom of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, as the couple adjusts to their fluctuating reality and makes way for their son, Rivers. (Open Road Films via AP)

== Two interesting takes on the new documentary “Gleason,” about former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason and his post-career battle with ALS since he retired in 2008, from the Associated Press’ film critic Jake Coyle and another by the AP’s Mark Kennedy, who gives it four stars out of four. The doc made a splash at the recent Sundance Film Festival.
The Landmark (10850 W. Pico, near Westwood Blvd) is the lone L.A. theater showing this, starting Thursday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. It also has a brief opening in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and New Orleans. The doc opens nationwide on Aug. 12.

== “Last Chance U,” a Netflix streaming six-part series that debuts Friday, focuses on the East Mississippi Community College football team, one that, like many JCs, focuses on Division I players who either burn out or are trying to make it as a possible transfer. All while the program is putting together an impressive unbeaten streak. A SBNation.com review. And one more from The Onion’s AV Club.

== Then there’s “Killer Coach,” a Lifetime Channel movie (Saturday, 8 p.m.), that’s all about … well, it’s taken directly from the website: “Butting heads with her head coach and mother, swimming phenom Samantha Morgan is being pushed to the brink. When her mom brings in new Assistant Coach Bryce to ensure her daughter wins trials, Samantha connects with him instantly. Their athlete/coach relationship suddenly crosses the line, though, when Bryce seduces Samantha. She tries to end things before anyone finds out, but what Samantha doesn’t realize is that Bryce has other ideas—and she may have just put everyone she loves in danger. Keesha Sharp, Javicia Leslie, Tom Maden, Cameron Jebo, Madison Iseman, Zak Henri star.” A spicy clip, if needed.

== ESPN has the MLS All-Star game — an MLS team including the Galaxy’s Giovani Dos Santos and Jelle Van Damme facing the EPL’s Arsenal — from Avaya Stadium in San Jose on Thursday at 5 p.m. with Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman and Monica Gonzalez. Max Bretos is in the stadium studio with Alejandro Moreno and Kasey Keller doing a pregame show at 4:30 p.m.

== This week in Vin Scully-related news:
= Kings Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller pays a visit to the Dodger Stadium press box with a special jersey in hand as the video shows. But Scully says he’s afraid to wear it to a game.
Here’s what the Kings tweeted out about the meeting:

= As a story by our SCNG Dodgers beatman Bill Plunkett got circulated, Yasiel Puig’s Scully-adorned shoes can be worn again, but there’s a price to pay.
== Fangraphs.com did a ranking of MLB broadcasting teams in June, breaking it down on format, charisma and analysis. The Dodgers’ home TV team — a team of one — tied for the highest ranking with the San Francisco Giants’ TV team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow (the Dodgers’ radio team ranked No. 12 and their road TV team, which will eventually be put in place on a regular basis when Scully retires, was ranked No. 38. The Angels’ TV and radio teams were ranked 30th and 51st from the list of 62).
It leads to AwfulAnnouncing.com do its first local MLB broadcaster rating since 2014. Its survey (rating a grade of A-F) of the NL West broadcasters is up until noon Thursday. After the first 1,400-some votes, the Dodgers’ home TV man has an overwhelming A-rating, while the TV road team (Joe Davis, Charley Steiner, Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciapara) is in the B range.
= We don’t believe what we just read: A Richmond, Va., political writer tries to sum up the Republican National Convention by attributing a quote to Scully. Which Jack Buck actually said, but who’s really paying attention?
= And this post we put up Wednesday from the Dodgers-Rays telecast.
tomjunod== ESPN, meanwhile, has added prize-winning and -worthy journalist Tom Junod to its magazine and online staff as a new senior writer. Junod last worked at Esquire and is a two-time winner of the National Magazine Award.
“No matter what subject I’m writing about, I’ve always liked to use my stories to ask larger questions that are of interest to me,” said Junod. “Right now, in America 2016, there’s no subject more suited to the asking of provocative, challenging questions than sports. I’m honored to have the opportunity to ask them for ESPN.”

== Waiting word on whether William Rhoden, who wrote his last sports column for the New York Times on Monday after a 35-year run, will next be heading to do work on ESPN’s TheUndefeated.com.
“I took control of the narrative … I simply decided … that this has got to end at some point.” Rhoden wrote. “What I have appreciated more than anything has been the interaction with readers. … I’m grateful to all who over the years have taken time to read, respond and, of course, critique … There are more games to play. Rather than say goodbye, let me simply say: ‘To be continued’.”
Back when Jason Whitlock was heading TheUndefeated.com project, he had illustrations on the wall of his office of journalists he admired most. Rhoden’s portrait was up there.
TheUndefeated.com did announce this week the addition of former NFL cornerback and NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth, plus journliasts LZ Granderson and Mark W. Wright to the staff.

== And there’s more speculation about Tom Jackson’s future with ESPN, and the NFL Sunday coverage.

== And finally:
If only Richard Lewis really was hosting the TBS coverage of the new eSports E-League championship this weekend. While playing Pokemon Go.
Instead of the comedian’s take on what the heck is going on, this Richard Lewis, a British e-Sports journalist (featured in the video above), will be there with analyst Duncan “Thorin” Shields for the semifinals on Friday (7-to-10 p.m.) and the championship on Saturday (1-to-4 p.m.) from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta as teams face off in the Counter-Strike Global Offensive game. More info: http://www.e-league.com/finals/.
Spoiler alert: A team owned by former Lakers star Rick Fox, called Echo Fox, did not make the Final Four.

Getty Images

Getty Images

From the piece we did on the launch of this made-for-TV league last September, to updated versions of the story headlined “Geeks Playing Video Games Are Coming to Your TV” in the New York Post, the league’s launch in May came with generally positive reviews — enough to where a writer for Forbes.com said other pro sports leagues best pay attention.
Craig Barry, the exec VP and chief content office for Turner Sports, said it Wednesday to a group of reporters on the momentum about the E-League to this point: “We look at the aggregate, the collective metrics of all platforms to gauge the success.  Whether that’s the 800 million gross minutes of video consumption across digital and linear platforms, the 18 million video streams on Twitch, 16 million total viewers on TBS or over 47 million social impressions.
“The most important thing has ultimately been to be authentic – we can’t use that word enough – to make sure we have the support of the community and then ultimately produce a higher level of the product that tells a richer narrative.  I think the community has rallied around us and supported us and the return has been this great level of engagement.  Engagement, as a metric, is probably the most important metric in our industry going forward: Are fans watching, following, sharing, commenting?  When we look at the aggregate of the metrics on all platforms, we feel pretty comfortable where we sit right now.”

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Another priceless (and telling) moment from Vin Scully during Wednesday’s broadcast

FullSizeRenderThere was this moment before the fourth inning of Wednesday’s SportsNet LA telecast of the Dodgers-Rays game — as the simulcast was over, and the TV coverage resumed with a photo of Walter Alston, Walter O’Malley and Pee-Wee Reese as Vin Scully did the commercial reads over it, as happens on a regular basis.
But this year, SportsNet LA has been putting archival photos to jog Scully’s memory on times and dates and stories.
“Celebrating after the Dodgers clinched the pennant back in 1956 …” Scully began with this one, and then paused.
“And I say that and it just rolls off the tongue, right? And then it hits me — that’s 60 years ago. And you were there, dummy. You were right amongst them. Sixty years … I have nothing to say about yesterday. It’s incredible, everything now that I begin to talk about is 50 and 60 years ago. So it’s time to throw the net and bring ’em in.”

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Sunday media: Those little things Vin Scully says, and Mark Langill remembers

Photo by John McCoy/Southern California News Group

Photo by John McCoy/Southern California News Group

All those years of listening to Vin Scully tell stories — over the air, and to him personally — has given Dodgers team historian Mark Langill his own qualified story-telling set of skills.
Langill told about a dozen Scully-related stories to a group of library visitors last Tuesday in Sierra Madre, some of which we touched on in the story on him in Sunday’s editions, and some may be ones you’ve heard before.
But we’ll let Langill tell them again.

== “One of the things that I think are telling about what made him a success is the story he tells about when he was Fordham Prep school in New York, and Larry Miggins, a classmate who was a couple of years ahead of him, were sitting around one time talking about their futures. Vin knew he wanted to be a sportcaster. Miggins was one of the school’s best athletes. Would it be something, Vin said to him, if you were in the major leagues? And wouldn’t that be something, Miggins said, if you were an announcer and I hit a home run when you were behind the microphone.
“Now it’s 1952. Miggins was with Cardinals in 1948, but Vin didn’t join the Dodgers until 1950. The Cardinals and Dodgers meet in May of ’52. Miggins is a reserve outfielder, and Vin is only calling two innings a game on the radio. So the chances are things aren’t going to happen as they once talked about. In the fourth inning, Larry comes into the game, and Vin happens to be behind the mike. And guess what happens?
“As Miggins is circling the bases on his home run, Vin says it’s the only time he had difficulty keeping his composure as it all comes back. He called Larson’s pefect game (in the 1956 World Series), Kirk Gibson’s home run (to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series), but he’s always had that Larry Miggins moment. Just try to plan that.”
And here’s the box score.

Mark Langill, right with Spanish broadcaster Jorge Jarrin, left, and manager Dave Roberts during a Jackie Robinson presentation in Pasadena last January. Photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Mark Langill, right with Spanish broadcaster Jorge Jarrin, left, and manager Dave Roberts during a Jackie Robinson presentation in Pasadena last January. Photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

== Before anyone could bring it up, Langill told the audience: “People always ask: Who’s going to replace him? You won’t, because the format will not exist any more. As far as one person talking on the air, which goes back to Red Barber, we were lucky when (Walter) O’Malley was trying to sell baseball to the West Coast and he asked Scully if maybe he could cheer a little more for the Dodgers on the air. He tactfully said: ‘I was taught to be neutral as a reporter,’ and O’Malley was OK with that. You don’t see Vin making appearances on all kinds of TV shows, you’re not sure what his political slants is, he doesn’t tip his hand too much — because he wants you to enjoy the broadcast, to think of the game and of baseball. That’s the amazing thing about him.”

== On whether Scully should or shouldn’t have been involved in Fox’s All-Star Game broadcast: “It’s important to let him end this on his terms. Earlier this season, there was talk of ‘Let’s have Vin do the All-Star game,’ and there were petitions signed. But what people don’t realize is that had Vinny been on the Fox telecast, it would have been Vinny. He’s a soloist. To ask him to be part of an ensemble wouldn’t have been fair. It’s not not him to be another talking head.
“Plus, he’s 88 years old. Maybe he wanted that time with his grandkids, be at home and rest. I don’t know any other 88-year-old who can do nine innings and sound wonderful and still have amazing recall on the air. The other day, he was asked to do a lunch that was planned for the upcoming Notre Dame-USC football game, the Friday after Thanksgiving. He couldn’t make it, but as he was thinking, he started a story about taking a flight to Dallas … and USC was playing Notre Dame, and USC was losing so badly early, but when the plane landed, the pilot announced to everyone that the Trojans had won, ‘but we thought he made a mistake.’ It turned out to be the 1964 game.”

Mark Langill, right, appears with the Dodgers' Andre Ethier during an appearance at Dodger Stadium.

Mark Langill, right, appears with the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier during an appearance at Dodger Stadium.

== On his approach to calling baseball, a sport he played in college: “Once he was scheduled to do a tennis match, so he went out and took lessons. He wasn’t a natural tennis player. He could do a golf broadcast, because he was a golfer. As for football, he didn’t play it, but he hired Jack Faulkner, an assistant coach with the Rams (defensive line, 1971-’79, then became the general manager) who taught him the fundamentals. John Madden became Vin’s partner in the CBS booth, and people thought that Vin could then yield to John when it came to football questions. But part of Vin’s genius was he knew it was easier to ask a question if you already knew the answer. He wanted to know as much about the game so that when he set Madden up with a question, it wasn’t a blind question.”

== Two more snap shots that revealed something:
“I remember one time when someone bright in an index card that had been signed by Red Barbar, and they asked Vin to sign it. He was particular about signing his name always below Barber, never above it.
“Another time, I remember him doing all the booming introductions to an Old Timers’ Game. And afterward he was about to leave. I asked him, ‘You aren’t going to watch the game?’ He replied with something that wasn’t stern but it was direct: ‘I prefer to remember them the way they were.’ That’s just a special way of thinking. He saw players in the bigger context. It was never about the stats.”

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Weekly sports media notes version 07.21.16

Also covering what we missed from the week of vacation from 07.15.16 with some catching up to do:

kellytom30== USC announced Thursday afternoon that a funeral Mass for USC broadcaster Tom Kelly will be held on Friday, Aug. 12 at 1:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles (555 W. Temple St.) with a reception afterward at the adjacent Center at Cathedral Plaza.
Kellyy, the signature voice of USC sports starting in the early 1960s and spanning five decades, died June 27 at his home in Encino after a long battle with cancer. He was 88.

== Vin Scully-related news of note:
= ESPN’s “E:60” has a beautiful 13-minute profile on Scully, via an interview conducted by Jeremy Schaap, airing today at 7 p.m. with an eventual posting on the ESPN.com site.
Bring a Kleenex and note this Tweet we posted on Wednesday for a preview clip:

For those who weren’t able to set the DVR, the show repeats on ESPN2 tonight at 10:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 a.m. and 9 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.
And here is one more clip to preview at this link.
= If you didn’t get one of the special invites to the Dodgers’ “Blue Diamond Gala” set for July 28 (a Thursday night off day in the schedule coming up), where Scully is receiving “special recognition” in a 7:45 p.m. ceremony in center field, followed by a benefit concert by Fleetwood Mac, don’t get all blue in the face. A single ticket to get in will run $1,500, and it’s with very limited access to anything. Packages packages go all the way up to $100,000 for 20 tickets in the “preferred seating” and a meet and greet with Fleetwood Mac (but there is nothing planned with Scully that gives anyone any greater access). As usual, Scully says this event has nothing to do with him, but more about raising funds for the foundation. More info: dodgers.com/gala
speaker= The very worthwhile Distinguished Speakers Series (www.speakersla.com) has added Scully to its upcoming six-guest roster as he participates in an interview/Q&A on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, followed by the same format at Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium (Monday, March 20), the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (Tuesday, March 21) and the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center (Wednesday, March 22). The other three are at 8 p.m.
But the deal is, tickets aren’t just sold to individual events, but can only be purchased for the series, at the specific venue. The least-expensive way to get in the door is buying a four-event package at $260 (for back of the balcony open seating). Otherwise tickets range from $660 to $340 for the series that starts with General David Petraeus (Oct. 23) and includes Diana Nyad (Nov. 6), Steve Martin (Jan. 8, ’17) and astronaut Scott Kelly (May 7, ’17).
The other key element to this is who is chosen as the moderator. That can make or break an enjoyable evening.
= What might you bid on a blue Dodgers’ blue Majestic jersey with the No. 67 on it and Scully’s signature embroidered on the shirt tail? There’s one on eBay in the $120 range.
= We appreciate the response to the recent column about how the Dodgers’ booth with Scully, stage manager Boyd Robertson, cameraman Rob Menschel, statistician Brian Hagan and audio man Dave Wolcott. Daily Variety (the major competitor to the Hollywood Reporter, owned by Guggenheim president and Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly) put out its own mini version of the story shortly thereafter.
= A piece by Thomas Gase of the Vallejo Times-Herald.
= For those who may have caught wind of the Scully-decorated shoes that Yasiel Puig wore during the Dodgers’ recent series in Arizona, here’s a closer look.

== The MLB Network notes for Sunday’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony featuring the enshrinement of Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr.: Greg Amsinger and Brian Kenny host it on-site starting with a 9 a.m. pre-game followed by the 10:30 a.m. induction. Peter Gammons, Harold Reynolds (a former Griffey teammate in Seattle) and Al Leiter (a former Piazza teammate in New York) are also on hand as network analysts. The ceremony also streams on MLB.com and BaseballHall.org.
Saturday’s presentation of the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for his writing and honoring the late Graham McNamee with the Ford C. Frick Award for his radio contributions airs at 8 a.m.

== SportsNet LA reported that, as of the All-Star break, the Dodgers were getting an average of 91,381 viewers this season, a jump of 56 percent over last season (when they had an average of 58,564). Wider distribution of the channel over Charter Communications, which now owns Time Warner Cable, has a lot to do with it. More interesting is that at the same time, the Angels on Fox Sports West are drawing an average of 88,862 a game so far.

== Another Dodgers’ national TV telecast of note: Sunday, 5 p.m., ESPN, at St. Louis with Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza. Next projected national broadcast will be FS1 doing the Dodgers’ home Saturday game against Boston on Aug. 6.

== ESPN also announced this week that Mendoza will be part of the network’s Little League World Series coverage from Williamsport, Pa., a 32-game schedule spread out over ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 starting Thursday, Aug. 18 and ending Sunday, Aug. 28.
For the West and Northwest Regionals at San Bernardo beginning Sunday, Aug. 7, Trey Bender will start off doing play-by-play with former University of Arizona coach Jerry Kindall as the analyst. The championship for those regionals are Aug. 13.

== A signing and discussion with author Michael Fallon about his new book, “Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers,” happens Saturday at Pasadena’s Allendale Branch library at 2 p.m. More info at this link. Continue reading

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Sunday media: What if it wasn’t time for Dodger baseball? Scully’s right-hand man Robertson remembers

Boyd Robertson, left, has all his paperwork on the desk in the Angel Stadium press box with Vin Scully when the Dodgers met the Angels in May, 2016. (Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers)

Boyd Robertson, left, has all his paperwork on the desk in the Angel Stadium press box with Vin Scully when the Dodgers met the Angels in May, 2016. (Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers)

Boyd Robertson says he’s not really sure when Vin Scully started to use the phrase, “It’s time for Dodger baseball” as the opener to a broadcast.
“Maybe in the ’70s,” said Scully’s longtime stage manager, “possibly the early ’80s.”
But it did bring up a story.
(If it’s related to Scully, where is there not a story connected to it?)
The first year that the Dodgers games were on KTLA-Channel 5 in 1992, Robertson and Scully were going over a piece of copy that was to be read at the start of a Dodgers-Mets game.
“The copy says, ‘Live from Flushing Meadows in New York …’ and Vin looks at it and says, ‘I’m just going to say New York, you think that will be OK?
“I check with the producer and director in the truck. It’s OK.
“And then Vin says, ‘It’s not in the script, but what if I also said: It’s time for Dodger baseball. Do you think that would be OK?
“I check with the truck again. I can hear them discussing it. ‘Oh sure, oh yeah, definitely, go ahead and do it that way.’
“Vin had already been saying it for years, but he just wanted to make sure, since we had this new crew and everything. He could have maybe got upset. Actually, he just took that all in stride.”
Then imagine if Scully didn’t get that OK to continue it?
Robertson’s relationship with Scully and how he sees this final season unfolding is the topic for this week’s sports media column.
“His hard hard, dedication and loyalty to Vin Scully and the Dodgers are second to none,” said Erik Braverman, the Dodgers’ vice president of marketing and broadcasting, about Robertson. “The Dodgers organization has undergone many changes over the last 28 years that Boyd and Vin have worked together and there is no doubt in my mind that the consistency in the booth with Vin, Boyd and (lighting director/cameraman) Rob Menschel have made for the premiere broadcast in Major League Baseball.”
More on that at this link.





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