The media learning curve: More on ‘Rinkside,’ ManRam, Hazel Mae, MMA and closeted fiction

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We got more than just cranky Kings and Ducks fans complaining about “Rinkside View” (today’s column linked here). We got Jim Fox and Bob Miller also suggesting ways it can be improved (linked here).

And as a matter of background: We started inquiring about “Rinkside View” on Tuesday and were basically told that execs at FSN weren’t going to be available to talk. The plan was to write about it anyway. Suddenly, executive producer Tom Feuer and GM Steve Simpson became available, not just to the Daily News, but also the L.A. Times and Orange County Register. And the New York Times: We have Stu Hackel, a former VP of broadcasting for the NHL who now blogs on the sport for the New York Times, also checking in with the FSN West leadership to discover what all the fuss has been about (linked here).
The damage-control train rolls on…

And spinning forward, we know that:

== ESPN’s Sunday Outside the Lines (6 a.m., replayed at 9 a.m. on ESPNEWS) looks at Manny Ramirez’ upcoming free agency, especially at how his final days in Boston played out before he was traded to the Dodgers. Pedro Gomez reports. A quote from Red Sox shortstop Alex Cora: “Every question was about Manny Ramirez. We lost a game — it was ‘Why Manny didn’t run a ball out?’ We win a game – ‘Is Manny going to show up tomorrow and play?’ So it got to the point that, I don’t want to say it got to us, but it was this dark cloud over the team.”

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== In addition to Matt Vasgersian on the set for the MLB Network’s new studio show when it launches in January, former big-leaguers Harold Reynolds and Al Leiter will be studio analysts, and Trenni Kusnierek and Hazel Mae will be reporters.
Reynolds and Leiter, you probably know.
Kusnierek worked at FSN Wisconsin in 2008 as a member of the Brewers broadcast team, after four years with FSN Pittsburgh. Mae was anchor for SportsDesk on the New England Sports Network (NESN) from 2004-08.

== A radiothon to raise funds for the Paralyzed Veterans of America continues on KLAC-AM (570), where donations can be made on the station’s web site (linked here). Among the auction items: A pitching session with Mark Gubicza, starting at $350 with the bidding.

==Major League Baseball’s 2009 opener, with the World Champion Philadephia Phillies hosting the Atlanta Braves (April 5, 5 p.m.) will be on ESPN2 on a Sunday night. The rest of the MLB schedule will come out later this winter.

== A reminder for those USC football fans going to the Bay Area for Saturday’s game against Stanford — they can also watch Saturday afternoon’s USC men’s basketball contest against UC Irvine (12:30 p.m.) on your laptop at Trojan AllAccess at USCTrojans.com (linked here). It’s the first of nine games in a row streaming online, since there is no TV or cable for them.

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== Saturday’s UFC 91, headlined by Randy Couture and former WWE star Brock Lesnar, could top 1.2 million buys, even at $44.95 a pop, says UFC president Dana White. That would make it the biggest draw in pay-per-view history for mixed martial arts. How has the UFC become recession proof? SI.com’s Nicki Jhabvala has a piece on just that element (linked here).

== The first installment of “De La Hoya-Pacquiao 24/7″ hits HBO Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., going from the two fighters’ opening press conference at the Statue of Liberty to downtown L.A. on a six-city tour to promote their Dec. 6 HBO PPV bout in Las Vegas.

== The ESPN.com ombusdsman, Le Anne Schreiber, writes in her latest column (linked here) that most of the media perpetuated an inaccuracy when it tried to report about how studio analyst Lou Holtz compared Hitler to Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.

== To honor the memory of sports journalist Jim McKay, the NCAA has created a new postgraduate scholarship in his name in the field of sports communications. With the Jim McKay Scholarship program, one male and one female student-athlete will be selected annually to receive a $10,000 postgraduate scholarship in recognition of their outstanding academic achievement and potential to contribute to the sports communications industry.
McKay, who died in June at the age of 86, “would have been tremendously honored to be associated with this scholarship program which supports outstanding student-athletes,” said Sean McManus, President CBS News and Sports, and McKay’s son. “It is a great tribute to a man who always recognized the best in athletics and always understood the unlimited opportunities in education.”
Applications have to be postmarked not later than January 15, 2009. For more information about the McKay Scholarship or to obtain an application: (Go to this link)

== Steve Williams, more famously known as Tiger Woods’ caddy, makes his broadcast debut when NBC carries the two-day Kiwi Challenge (on tape) from New Zealand (Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m.). What makes it an interesting TV feat is that the two rounds were played 356 miles apart on consecutive days. “When it came down to it, we had a big thing to do,” producer Jim Walton said. “It would be like televising an event in California where you play Riviera on one day, then play Pebble Beach the next day. Now, do that in a foreign country. We had everything we needed: power sources, camera cranes, lifts. … ” Dan Hicks, Roger Maltbie and Mark Rolfing are also along for the ride.

==ESPN says its ratings for the World Series of Poker final table on Tuesday was up about 50 percent from a year ago, in part because the show aired on the same day rather than three months later. As 22-year-old Peter Eastgate won the $9.15 million prize, some 1.9 million homes were watching, compared to 1.25 million in ’07.

AND THE CLOSING ARGUMENT:

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== Associated Press sports writer Bill Konigsberg will read from his novel, “Out of the Pocket” at A Different Light Bookstore (8853 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The book is about the fictional coming out story of Bobby Framingham, a 17-year-old star quarterback living in Orange County whose sexual preference becomes public when he’s outed by a student newspaper reporter. It has received the accolade of inclusion in the Fall 2008 “Indie Next List” by the American Booksellers Association.
Konigsberg, while working as an assistant editor at ESPN.com, came out on the front page of the website in an article entitled “Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays” in May, 2001. That article won him a GLAAD Media Award. More info on the author at his website (linked here)

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