Guess we spoke too soon: Add Lauer and that Obama guy to NBC Super Bowl pregame


Where in the heck is Matt Lauer ? He of NBC News department, which is not exclusive to “Today” show duties has orchestrated a sit-down, hows-things-goin’ chat with President Barack Obama that will air live during the network’s Super Bowl pregame show. At what point, it’s not clear. The NBC pregame starts at 9 a.m. Sunday, leading up to the 3 p.m.-ish opening kickoff from Tampa, Fla.

Meaning, the NBC pregame show grows by the hour.

Whatever doesn’t get on the air with Lauer-Obama will continue on the “Today” show Monday, Feb. 2. It’s being touted as President Obama’s first TV interview from the White House since his inauguration. That’s because ABC’s Robin Roberts (the former ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor) caught him for a few minutes at one of the inaugural balls backstage for an interview the night he was sworn in.

Whatever Lauer decides to get into, it has to be more compelling than Chris Berman doing his Obama-McCain taped tapdance thing on election night last November.

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NBC doesn’t feel sheepish about adding to the Super Bowl herd? What the flock


Volume must be the NBC buzzword in Dick Ebersol’s office.

Over the top could be another.

An NBC Super Bowl XLIII pregame show that already had Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Jerome Bettis, Tiki Barber, Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick and Peter King, then added Matt Millen, Mike Holmgren and Tony Dungy in the last couple weeks, announced today it will add …

Al DeRogatis?

Try Rodney Harrison, three-time Pro Bowl DB, played on two Super Bowl title teams with New England … all find credentials.

When does the John Madden-ness end?

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Our Daily Dread: It’s Torre’s story, he’s sticking with it

This is the first of a weekday morning feature where we hash out a sports topic that we’ve heard thrown against the wall today, trying to find some logic, illogic and blogic (is that a word?) potential for further review.


Joe Torre’s new book isn’t out yet, but press leaks are already causing a major ripple in the Big Apple.

A stunning revelation: Alex Rodriguez was a prima donna, who had a “Single White Female”-like obsession with captain Derek Jeter.

Get outta town…

The New York tabloids — OK, it’s the Post — are already using it to scream the perceived flash points of the book, then get reaction from “insiders” to whether it’s true or not (linked here). Excerpts from the former New York Yankees manager’s new book called “The Yankee Years,” with Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci (linked here), were rehashed over the weekend. The book comes out Feb. 3.

Post columnist Andrea Peyser (linked here): I’ve been saying for more than a year that Joe Torre is a Paris Hilton-style whiner. But now, the former Yankee manager has transformed into someone far less appealing.

Post columnist Mike Vaccaro (linked here): Why would you justify all the sinister things your enemies always hinted about you: that you were a champion grudge-holder, that the disparity between public pied piper and private grouch was considerable, that you were someone who’d do just about anything for a buck?

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The 2009 Shrine of the Eternals ballot: Bucky F-kn Dent, a fake minor leaguer, the first black sportscaster, and a ballpark


It seems just like a couple of months ago when the July 2008 Class of the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals had their ceremony honoring Bill Buckner, Buck O’Neal and Emmett Ashford (go to this link). That brings the induction list to 30 strong.

The 2009 ballot was sent out this weekend with its 50 candidates eligible for induction. This will be the 11th annual election for the organization that is “dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history,” according to their mission statement. The beauty of this election, versus the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., is that it’s not a closed group of sportswriters or committees, but open to public membership of the Baseball Reliquary.

The three highest percentage vote-getters make the Hall each year.

Highlights of the names on this year’s ballot:

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L.A. Sports Council vote: ‘Mannywood’ top sports moment of 2008


Manny Ramirez’s arrival in Los Angeles on July 31, and what No. 99 with the dreadlocks was able to do with his brief time — .396 average, 17 homers 53 RBI in two months — in pushing the Dodgers to the playoffs, was voted as the “top sports moment of 2008″ in the fourth annual L.A. Sports Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Sports Council on Friday.

At an awards presentation at the Beverly Hilton, Ramirez and the team was recognized for that, as was the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant – named ’08 Sportsman of the Year — and the Sparks’ Candace Parker — named ’08 Sportswoman of the Year.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was voted Sports Executive of the Year and the Lakers’ Phil Jackson was the Coach of the Year.

The highlights of Friday’s banquet will air in a one-hour special on FSN Prime Ticket on Jan. 30.

The top 10 moments of the year, according to online voting:

1. Dodgers Get Manny: Manny Ramirez turns Los Angeles into “Mannywood” and leads the Dodgers to the National League Championship Series. (July 31)

2. Kobe nets MVP: Kobe Bryant wins his first NBA Most Valuable Player award. (May 6)

3. Lezak’s golden touch: Irvine ‘s Jason Lezak swims the anchor leg of the men’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay, leading the U.S. team to gold and thereby preserving the second of Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals. (August 11)

4. Lakers return to finals: The Lakers defeat San Antonio in five games to win the Western Conference championship and advance to the NBA Finals. (May 29)

5. Dodgers advance to NLCS: The Dodgers defeat the Cubs in a three-game sweep of their Division Series to advance to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1988. (October 4)

6. UCLA earns third consecutive Final Four trip: The Bruins’ men’s basketball team swept through the West Regional to earn its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Final Four. (March 29)

7. USC football wins Pac-10 again: The Trojans defeat UCLA, 28-7, to earn an unprecedented seventh straight Pac-10 championship. (December 6)

8. Walsh and May-Treanor repeat in beach volleyball: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor win their second consecutive Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball at the Beijing Games. (August 21)

9. Angels reach 100 wins: On the last day of the regular season the Angels set a club record with their 100th victory in a win over Texas. (September 28)

10. Parker shines in rookie season: Candace Parker becomes the first player in WNBA history to win the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year. (October 5)

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Phil Jackson to Magic: Outta here in ’10


An interview that Magic Johnson conducted on behalf of ABC with Phil Jackson at the Lakers’ team headquarters in El Segundo this afternoon produced a bit of news — the coach says he’ll be gone after his contract comes up in 2010.

Johnson, now a working member of the ABC NBA studio crew, asked the 63-year-old Jackson how long he’d be staying as coach.

Remember, Jackson is struggling with two hip replacements and was brought back by owner Jerry Buss only to help fix the team’s chemistry problems after he left and was replaced by Rudy Tomjanovich and then Frank Hamblen during the 2004-05 season. Jackson told Magic he’d coach this season, and one more after that. Then, it’s over.

Magic, of course, has an ownership stake in the Lakers, since 1994.

A clip of that interview aired on KSPN-AM (710). ESPN also ran it during halftime of tonight’s Dallas-Detroit telecast. The interview in full airs at halftime of the Lakers-Spurs contest, which KABC Channel 7 airs at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

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Countdown, two weeks: Best/worst of L.A. Sports Media 2009


The plan is to launch the 17th edition of the Daily News Best and Worst of L.A. Sports Media polls from Friday, Feb. 6 on four consecutive weeks through Friday, Feb. 27, beginning with the local radio sports-talk show hosts (whomever is left), then local TV sports anchors/personalities, colormen/analysts and play-by-play guys.

By that time, the Dodgers should have picked out their new play-by-play person — could it be Jeanne Zelasko? — and the L.A. sports-talk market, now full of syndicated pablum, may shake itself out a bit more.

Whilst you ponder on this — and please, start emailing your suggestions, pros and cons, to me at or post comments here — we reflect, in passing and wonder, how more than 30,000 folks made their votes heard on a USA Today sports poll of favorite football-related national broadcasters.

The results (linked here) included:

== Favorite game announcers: 1. NBC’s John Madden and Al Michaels (39 percent), 2. Fox’s Troy Aikman and Joe Buck (27 percent); 3, CBS’ Phil Simms and Jim Nantz (21 percent); 4. NFL Network’s Cris Collinsworth and Bob Papa (7 percent); 5. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico (6 percent).

== Best analyst: 1. Troy Aikman and John Madden (23 percent); 3. Cris Collinsworth (22 percent).

== Best play-by-play: 1. Al Michaels (42 percent), 2. Joe Buck (25 percent).

== Best pre-game show: 1. Fox (45 percent), 2. ESPN (24 percent).

== Best “insider”: 1. NFL Network’s Adam Schefter (39 percent); 2. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (31 percent). Somehow, not Fox’s Jay Glazer?

== Best sideline reporter: 1. Fox’s Tony Siragusa (29 percent); 2. Fox’s Pam Oliver (28 percent).

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The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 16-23


Going through the change?

Like the feel of hope in the palm of your hand?

Open your wallet, and it’s still full of expired Pizza Hut coupons?

Live and learn. We do it ever week. We live, we learn, we move forward at the Media Learning Center (sponsored this week by TNT: It Knows Drama … and NBA hoops).

After hanging out with Marv Albert and his homeboys, we also had time to pick up these vibes from around medialand:

== We know all about the changes at KLAC-AM (570), but so far, aren’t thrilled about it (linked here) and (linked here). Neither is she, and she practices law (part time) (linked here). Seriously, Chris Myers? We’d rather drink homogonized armadillo milk.

== The shrinkage problem has been addressed in by Arash Markazi, a USC journalism grad who still has a job (linked here).

== Something we need when we turn on Lakers games on KCAL Channel 9 or FSN West (linked here), but that’ll just take us back to 570-AM, right? Are we even sure they still do Lakers’ games?

== A local TV station in Vegas has decided to drop sports from its nightly newscast … what are the odds of that going over well? (linked here)


== When someone did the research, they proved beyond a shadow of a woman eating a sub sandwich that if you put photos of Erin Andrews on your blog, traffic really jumps (linked here). Even Playboy knows it (linked here). Apparently, so do we.

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The Media Learning Curve: All Stapled together before the Super Bowl hype starts


Andy Holzman/Daily News Staff Photographer
TNT crewmembers meet outside the mobile production trucks as the sun begins to set Monday behind Staples Center before the Lakers-Cavs MLK Day game telecast.

That was Dick Stockton, Reggie Miller, Mike Fratello and Cheryl Miller working the TNT coverage of the Lakers-Wizards snoozefest from Staples Center on Thursday night. Marv Albert was probably just as happy being on the road with the New Jersey Nets, his home-team employer, since he took the Thursday off from the TNT crew. He instead did Monday’s Lakers-Cavs game, with Doug Collins and Craig Sager, in a “Wife Swap” sort of arrangement that we were privy to behind-the-scenes, hanging out with the TNT NBA crew at Staples Center that afternoon and evening and using it to fill almost two full pages of today’s sports section (read on at this link), there are notes that didn’t make it to tipoff. So they must belong here:

== Magic Johnson has a planned sit-down with Phil Jackson that’ll air during halftime of the Lakers-Spurs telecast on Sunday (12:30 p.m., Channel 7) from Staples Center. Mike Breen has the call with Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Lisa Salters. The ABC doubleheader starts with Boston-Dallas at 10 a.m. with Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown and Heather Cox.

== Staples Center is also the site for Saturday’s Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley welterweight championship bout, which HBO carries live (Saturday, 7 p.m.) with Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Emanuel Stewart.

== More Staples Center: It’ll be the site for the World Figure Skating Championships in March. Leading into that is NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships from Cleveland this weekend — find the pairs and women’s events on Channel 4 on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. (live) and 9 to 11 p.m., then the men on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. The Olympic figure skating broadcast team of Tom Hammond , Scott Hamilton , Sandra Bezic, Tracy Wilson and Andrea Joyce.


== Major League Soccer, played locally at the Home Depot Center — owned by the same folks who run Staples Center — apparently doesn’t have enough juice to carry its own TV night, as ESPN2 decided to cancel its regular Thursday night game this coming season. Instead, it’ll spread things out, with Thursday the predominent night (10 times) but also on Saturday (eight times), Wednesday (six times) and Friday (three times).
“We didn’t see the kind of ratings climb we’d like to, so we’re trying something different,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN vice president of programming, in the Sports Business Daily.
MLS games averaged 0.2 rating on ESPN2 in both ’07 and ’08. The only bump it received was David Beckham’s second game with the Galaxy in Aug., ’07 — a 0.6 rating.
ESPN starts the third year of an eight-year rights deal that pays the league $8 million a year.
What could be more distrubing to those who run the MLS is that ESPN is more interested now in getting the U.S. TV rights to the English Premiere League, which outdraw MLS games nearly five to one in American homes, according to a report in Soccer America magazine. Fox Sports Channel and Setana have those U.S. rights currently.

==GolTV, which bills itself as “the only live bilingual channel for 24/7 soccer,” announced a new deal for the U.S. and Canada broadcast rights to Brazil’s most prominent soccer league, Campeonato Brasileiro, starting in April.

== The NFL Network has Bob Papa, Mike Mayock, Charles Davis, Lindsay Soto and Paul Burmeister covering Saturday’s Senior Bowl from Mobile, Alabama (4 p.m.). Go here (at this link) to see Soto interview USC coach Pete Carroll, who showed up to watch practice where six of his former Trojans are competing — but not Mark Sanchez, of course.

== Versus trots out Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Bob Harwood and Brian Enblom for the NHL All-Star game in Montreal (Sunday, 3 p.m.), followed up by a special edition of “Sports Soup” at 6 p.m. Saturday’s skills competition airs at 4 p.m.
Do it all outdoors, and we’ll reconsider.

== Versus hopes to hold its NHL audience with coverage of a live World Extreme Cagefighting event between Urijah Faber and Jens Pulver at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. When these two battled in June, ’08, nearly four million viewers watched on Versus — more than tuned into the MTV Movie Awards (in the men 18-34 age category at least).

==Reaction to the news that ESPN will add former Mets GM Steve Phillips to its Jon Miller-Joe Morgan “Sunday Night Baseball” crew starting this summer was more interesting than the actual announcement. Maybe it was done to give Morgan a chance to figure out what he’s really saying makes no sense (go to this link for more on that). Maybe it helps pull Peter Gammons off the road and make it easier on him in the studio. Perhaps, an effort by ESPN to bulk up its baseball coverage now that it has the MLB Network to contend with? Phillips has the content to carry a baseball broadcast, which is interesting considering his background. He has a feel, particularly, for current players that Morgan, alas, seems not so interested in.

== The San Diego Padres hired Mark Neely as their new TV play-by-play man. His previous broadcast experience: In the minor leagues, at Boise, Springfield, Salem, Tulsa and Louisville. So it appears you can replace Matt Vasgersian with high-caliber substance.


== And if you needed one more thing to watch on Sunday without the NFL: The last round of the Pro Bowling Association’s H&R Block Tournament of Champions from Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas airs live at 10 a.m. on ESPN, when most are in the $3.99 breakfast buffet. Rob Stone and Randy Pederson call the pin action. Or, just pop in the “Kingpin” DVD and laugh it up, Murray-style.
Why isn’t Bill playing at the Bob Hope event in Palm Desert this weekend?

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