Don’t be a slimeball — Slamball blowing up all over

The sport of trampolines and jumping out of one’s shoes, created at the turn of the century by Mason Gordon in cahoots with Mike Tollin’s Toluca Lake-based production company, has had a nice run on the Versus network as a Sunday programming staple.

It’ll get a major blast on CBS (Sunday, Channel 2, 3 p.m.) during NFL programming, so at least TiVo it.

(It’s already seen some major TV exposure: The CW series, “One Tree Hill,” produced by Tollin-Robins, has used a Slamball story arch in five eposides, including one coming up Monday. Coincidence? Of course not. Also you may remember seeing it on CBS’ “King of Queens” before).

And there’s another excuse to run some video of it, straight off the Slamball web site (www.slamball.net).

We did a big media story about the sport in 2002 when it was first becoming a TV show, first on TNN (former The Nashville Network, then Spike TV), and some local kids were some of the first Slamball participants. Last summer, they held an actual eight-team league, taped it all at Universal Studios, then parceled it out, leading to today’s final.

More on the background of the TV side in today’s USA Today (linked here) after the part where Chris Berman stuff where he puffs his chest out about given the assignment to interview Obama and McCain on Monday.

We’ll get far more indepth about the future of this human video game in a Sunday column — it’s heading to China, for example, and looks to find a lot of growth overseas as it continues to grow organically in this country. So give us a little hangtime to catch up.

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The World Series (Nervous) Breakdown

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The obituary for the 2008 World Series must include, in the lead paragraph, that it was the least-watched crowning of baseball’s champions since Neilsen began its attempt to measure TV viewing audiences 40 years ago. The 8.4 national rating and 14 share erases the 10.1/17 brought on by the dubious the St. Louis-Detroit Series two years ago, and this is the first without a double-digit rating ever.

Not that anyone residing in Philadelphia, which registered a 51.8 rating and ridiculous 69 share, will shed a tear over that. (Or in Tampa-St. Pete, where it was 32.4/45).

In lieu of flowers, we suggest lobbying hard to Fox and the MLB to face facts: Frigid night games, especially those weather-delayed, aren’t going away in October (or November), so, with the ratings bar already as low as it can get, go old-school.

Bring back day games.

Factor 1: People are awake in the day. They’ll find a way to watch even if they happen to be at work. They’ve become accustomed to the practice from the NCAA basketball tournament.

Factor 2: People, especially kids, are asleep at night. Many hit the sack by 10 p.m., when Game 3 finally started in the East, or the time before it ended in the West.

Factor 3: The perception that the MLB has sold its soul to TV has become reality in the minds of the viewers. Change the business model. Accept fewer hundreds of millions of dollars for the TV rights fees, with the understanding that day World Series games are part of the new strategy. If ultimately the budget-stretched fans finance the advertisers who support the prime-time TV coverage, this circles back to the fans making a stance against such spending on their behalf.

Don’t wait until Congress conducts another bogus hearing on the state of baseball to make these adjustments. Those hearings will likely be televised. And the fans will watch. No matter what time they’re aired.

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Coming Friday: The Papadakis Perpetual Media Motion Machine, in full gear (and drag)

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Between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1, Petros Papadakis (Wikipedia link here) may get about six hours of sleep. Total. With some luck.

And it’s by far his favorite time of year.

College football intersects the five-day-a-week drive-time sports-talk show he does from 4 to 7 p.m. with Matt “Money” Smith on KLAC-AM (570) with a collision that could kill a lesser man, woman or Warren Sapp.

We picked this week to corral him, in a car as he was barreling up the 405 having just left the 20th Century Fox Studios in Century City and was trying to get to the start of the radio show from the Clear Channel studios in Burbank, to figure out why he puts himself through such a hellish work schedule. That’ll be the topic of Friday’s media column.

On top of everything else this week, he’s appearing on “Jim Rome Is Burning” on ESPN (taped in Orange County). And there’s absolutely no added stress by the fact he and his fiance, Dayna, are trying to schedule a wedding for this June and get her up to speed with the Greek Orthodox way of life. It probably includes mandatory waiting of tables at the Taverna on weekends, but that’s the package deal.

Here’s a rundown of his week:

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Where ESPN intersects with who’s the next president

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Really, aside from those interviews that Stuart Scott and Bob Ley did with Barack Obama and John McCain, repectively and respectfully, earlier this year, they’ve tried their hardest to stay out of influencing who’ll be the newbie in the White House come January.

And the fact they’ve picked a Washington Redskins home game to cover on the Monday before the biggest presidental election in decades was sheer coincidence.

Two points to ponder, provided by the crack ESPN PR crew (mostly Bill Hofheimer):

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==Steve Hirdt of Elias Sports Bureau and a longtime member of the “Monday Night Football” production crew introduced the “Redskins Rule” during the Titans-Redskins MNF game on ABC Sports on October 30, 2000.
The Rule has remarkably predicted the results of U.S. presidential election — 17 times in the 17 elections since the Redskins played their first game in DC in 1937 (having moved from Boston). Nothing else out there is as perfect.
The Rule states: If the Redskins win their last home game prior to a U.S. presidential election, then the party that won the popular vote in the previous election will win the White House in the upcoming election. Conversly, if the Redskins lose their last home game before the election, the party that lost the popular vote in the previous election will win the White House.
Obama is then pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Monday. McCain has become a Redskins fan.

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==In the summer of 2004, the Illinois senate race was up in the air.
The Republicans searched for a candidate to face a then-unknown Democrat state senator named Barack Obama. Legendary Chicago Bears coach and current ESPN NFL analyst Mike Ditka was the choice of the Illinois Republicans. Ditka seriously considered the offer. Ultimately decided to remain a football analyst.
On Sunday’s “NFL Countdown” (8 to 10 a.m.), reporter Greg Garber will explore what if Ditka ran against Obama in 2004? How would history be different? Could 2008 could have ended up the crowning moment for…..President Ditka.

UPDATE THURSDAY AM:

This just in from ESPN:

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==Chris Berman will do a one-on-one interview with both Obama and McCain on Monday that will air at halftime.
They’ll do the interviews on tape, “pending last-minute schedule changes, via satellite” with Berman in Bristol, Conn. They’ll air at about 7:15 p.m.
==Also, ESPN says its networks on Tuesday nigth will alter the “bottom line” scroll with updated election results as reported by ABC News. So next to “NBA” or “NHL,” look for a trivialized logo that says “ELECTION” to give you the final scoreboard on Obama vs. McCain.

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Hall of Fame material … does the TV work help get inducted?

Entrance into the Canton, Ohio, shrine of the eternals — pro football’s Hall of Fame — may look good on the TV resume when a network has to decide who to keep and who to let go each year.
Emmitt Smith, step aside. You’re skewing this argument.
Today, the list of the 133 players, coaches and contributors who made the preliminary cut for the Class of 2009 came out (linked here) — it’ll be cut down to 25 candidates (announced later this month) and then down to 15 finalists.
Those that jump out from a media side of things, whose career behind the mike probably hasn’t hurt their credibility and visibility in the eyes of those mysterious voters:

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==Randy Cross, the former Crespi High and UCLA center who starred with the San Francisco 49ers and now works at CBS. And look at his NFL rookie card — always ready to talk.

==Cris Carter, the former Minnesota Vikings star now with ESPN’s NFL Countdown after a run at HBO’s Inside the NFL.

==Todd Christensen, the former Raiders tight end working for the MTN channel on Mountain West college football, after a run at ESPN.

==Boomer Esiason, the former Bengals and Jets QB who’s in CBS’ studio (with Hall of Famer Dan Marino) and also a former ABC “Monday Night Football” analyst who still does games for Westwood One.

==Tom Jackson, the former Denver Broncos linebacker well
entrenched in ESPN’s NFL programming studio shows.

==Jimmy Johnson, for what he did as coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, part of the Fox NFL studio set that already has Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long.

==Ed and Steve Sabol, founders of NFL Films — why they’re not in already is ridiculous.

==Shannon Sharpe, former Broncos and Ravens tight end, part of the CBS NFL studio crew.

==Phil Simms, former New York Giants quarterback, and main game analyst for CBS.

==Steve Tasker, former Buffalo Bills receiver, who works CBS’ regional NFL games.

==Joe Theismann, former Washington Redskins QB, who works for …. no one, really, since ESPN let him go from the “MNF” crew. Maybe it’s good he’s laying low right now.

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Doris Burke … quick, do a Google search

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We know her name is Doris, rare for anyone walking the earth these days.
Someone made a Wikipedia page for her (linked here) that notes she was born on … that’s just impolite … attended Providence … A former all-Big East basketball player who blew out her knee in 1987 and stayed on as an assistant coach … her husband is the Rhode Island athletic department.

And because she has no baby issues, she’ll replace Michele Tafoya as a sideline reporter on the NBA games show on ABC this season.

Michele said the workload of the NBA, along with the NFL and the weekly pops on ESPN Radio, gave her little time for her family in Minnesota. So she’s backing away.

Burke, meanwhile, is only adding to her workload. She’ll also continue doing games for some ESPN NBA telecasts. She’ll also keep doing analysis for some ESPN men’s college games. And the WNBA. And the women’s basketball stuff. …

When did she become the new Anne Meyers?

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TV college hoops: Ready or not, and we’re probably not

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We barely have room in our cerebral cortext for the content of baseball, football, hockey and pro rodeo. Throw in basketball, it’s circular overload.

Especially the colleges, the one sports where it seems not only every single game is televised by someone, but every school seems to have a team. Three-hundred plus, right? That would mean there’s about … 3,600 cheerleaders across the D-I landscape? Conservatively…

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We can’t begin to decipher the latest schedule released by FSN of its college basketball bombardment, so we’ll simply cut and paste below and allow you to sift through it.

Although we can pick out:

Sunday, Jan. 11, 7:30 p.m., USC vs. UCLA. at the Galen Center
The rematch on Weds., Feb. 12 at UCLA at 7:30 p.m. is scheduled for only a FSN Prime Ticket telecast.

Remember when this contest last year was the really hot ticket? Something about those Love and Mayo kids.

The ball is up …. and we haven’t changed a delicious word of the press release so you’ll have some understanding of what we have to do on our end before it filters out to everyone else with a keen interest in this kind of thing:

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Rock the NBA vote

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NBA.com has put in a new mechanism into place for drawing more fans to its NBA TV coverage of games each Tuesday night — let the viewers investing their time in the game pick which one they’ll see.

It makes far too much sense.

The promotion was mentioned on today’s TNT coverage of the Boston-Cleveland opener, sending folks to the NBA “Fan Night” website (linked here) and vote now for a game that will air on Election Night, Tues., Nov. 4, at 4:30 p.m.:

==Boston at Houston (which some think is a preview to the NBA Finals)
==Phoenix at New Jersey
==Dallas at San Antonio

Voting so far has Boston-Houston with a commanding lead. Voting goes through Wednesday and the winner is announced Wednesday night on NBA TV. To watch the game, of course, you need the channel, which is run by Turner Sports.

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Cover crazy Kobe

The start of the NBA season can be gauged on how magazines try to use Kobe Bryant to sell their wares.

(Or, even teammed up with A-Rod, Michael Phelps and Tony Hawk to sell a video guitar game that makes everyone an instant hero).

We found easily three top publications — regular ones, not special NBA preview guides — that have Kobe in a different light heading into tonight’s TNT coverage (exclusive) of the Lakers’ home opener against Portland (7:30 p.m., unless the Celtics’ game ahead of it runs long).

1. Slam: Kobe As Political Pop Art

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This dynamic, bold cover easily catches the eye with the artwork of Stephen Goggi – not just of Kobe, but also of Greg Oden, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Kevin Garnett (all linked here).
According to the note in the December, 2008 issue (yes, it’s only October when it came out), executive editor Lang Whitaker wanted a spin off from the Barack Obama campaign poster “as our inspiration” for a cover. Those “Hope” ads that are posted guerilla style all over the place are very inspiring — and extremely hard to find as well. Art director Goggi created the five as collectable covers, with the help of creative director Melissa Brennan. Whitaker notes that Slam subscribers have been mailed the Kobe cover, while newsstands across the country have the other of regional interest. Those interested in getting all five can find information on the magazine website (linked here).
But let’s give credit where it’s due.
Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey created the “Hope” Obama poster, and then was commissioned by Upper Deck to do a Kobe version (which we blogged about back in July, linked here).

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L.A.’s NFL TV Week 9: No Chargers, no Raiders, no worries … no reason not to nap away the day

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I wish they all could be California teams.
But they aren’t.
San Diego has a bye this week after its smashing success in England, and Oakland is playing host to Atlanta, which gives it to the Fox people to put on your TV this weekend, but that network is far too enamored with the Cowboys playing at the Giants.
So every game you watch this weekend on “regular” TV will be with an East Coast kickoffs.
(OK, sorry, but Tennessee is Central time, only two hours head).
Still, how regional is that to your interest?
The Titans must be special, having not lost a game so far. Or did they lose yet? We watched the World Series rain delay last night and paid no attention to the football thing, even after Joe Buck came on and said the game had been suspended.
We wanted that re-run of “Malcolm in the Middle” to resume as fast as possible.

SUNDAY:

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: New York Jets at Buffalo (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms), as CBS skips over Jacksonville-Cincinnati, Baltimore-Cleveland and Houston-Minnesota.

== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Green Bay at Tennessee (with Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa). Fox also has a warmed-over Detroit-Chicago, Tampa Bay-Kansas City and Arizona-St. Louis that it has decided to pass over, with your approval.

== 1 p.m., Channel 11: Dallas at N.Y. Giants (with, as of today, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver on the call). If the World Series runs into November, Buck will probably stay with it — probably? as if that’s an option? — and Fox would have to find someone else to step in … maybe Pat Summerall? Fox’s plan is to finish Game 5 on Wednesday, the pick up potential Games 6 and 7 on Thursday and Friday. As for the NFL, Fox also has Atlanta-Oakland and Philadelphia-Seattle in this window. CBS could have decided on Miami-Denver here as its only game in L.A. this weekend, but it passed.

== 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: New England at Indianapolis (with Al Michaels, a rested John Madden and Andrea Kremer).

MONDAY:

== 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Pittsburgh at Washington (with Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser and … that Jaworski lad)

Bye weeks: Carolina, New Orleans, San Diego and San Francisco.

COMING UP IN WEEK 10: THURSDAY, NOV. 6:
== 5 p.m., NFL Network: Denver at Cleveland (with Bob Papa and Cris Collinsworth)

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