A new KSPN-710 lineup to come: Another hour for Mason-Ireland, no more Tirico or Van Smelt

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You’ve heard the promos on 710-AM — “Mason and Ireland” voted best sports talk show in L.A. by the Daily News.

We could take all the credit. But that’s just not our style.

Nor do we assume our endorsement got the show an extra hour.

Yet, starting March 16, the new lineup for KSPN-AM (710) will move Steve Mason and John Ireland from its current 1 to 4 p.m. slot to 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which thankfully overlaps more of what KLAC-AM (570) is offering as alternative “Loose Cannon” pablum programming from noon to 4 p.m. each day.

The 710 lineup to be:

== 3-7 a.m.: Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic (syndicated, simulcast on ESPN2) … This adds an additional hour.
== 7-11 a.m.: The Herd with Colin Cowherd (syndicated, simulcast on ESPNU) .. Again, an additional hour.
== 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Mason & Ireland (local)
== 3-7 p.m.: Dave Denholm and Brian Long (local)
== 7-10 p.m.: ESPN Radio News Block (syndidated; but most nights from Oct. to May, interrupted by Lakers games)
== 10 p.m.-2 a.m.: “AllNight with Jason Smith” (syndicated, broadcast live from the new 710 studios across from Staples Center)
== 2-3 a.m.: SportsCenter AM (syndicated)

That’s at least eight hours of L.A.-specific programming, or eight more than the main competitor at 570-AM, and still more than the Angels’ owned KLAA-AM (830).

KSPN program director Larry Gifford said the decision was made based on many factors including the popularity of Mason and Ireland, recent changes in the marketplace, some shifting of network talent, the move to new studios at L.A. Live, and the recent acquisition of the Lakers play-by-play rights beginning in the fall.

KSPN moves into its L.A. Live studios on March 2. The facility will be also used to air ESPN’s late-night SportsCenter (11 p.m.) starting April 6.

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Will the Tennis Channel contribute to causing an international incident?

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Tennis Channel has become the Protest Channel.

The Los Angeles-based network decided not to televised as planned this weekend’s Sony Ericsson Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships in protest of the United Arab Emirates’ refusal to grant an entry visa to WTA player and Israeli citizen Shahar Peer (her official website linked here).

Said Tennis Channel chairman and CEO Ken Solomon in a statement today:

“Unfortunately the event will exclude a single player who has been blocked from entering the country due to her nationality. This is despite her having qualified for the competition via her on-court performance and current ranking. Tennis Channel recognizes that this exclusion has been made by state authorities and neither the tour nor tournament directors themselves. However we also honor the role and proud tradition that tennis has always played as a driving force for inclusion both on and off the courts. Preventing an otherwise qualified athlete from competing on the basis of anything other than merit has no place in tennis or any other sport, and has the unfortunate result of undermining the credibility of the very nature of competition itself.”

In today’s New York Times (linked here), Solomon also said: “This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong. Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent. … If the state of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision.”

Solomon said that Tennis Channel would carrying the tournament next year if Peer were granted a visa.

Organizers of the event said today (story linked here) security fears were behind the decision to bar Peer, and it could happen again when the men’s play begins next week when Israeli doubles specialist Andy Ram hopes to be in the draw on Sunday.

In a media-related story, the Wall Street Journal Europe decided to drop its sponsorship of the tournament because of the visa issue with Peer (story linked here).

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Chuckie’s back … Thursday

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Updated: Monday, 2 p.m.

What’s tougher to fix, Charles Barkley’s public image or his golf swing?

TNT announced today that Barkley will return from his leave of absence and be back on the air Thursday night during its NBA coverage.

“From the beginning, Charles recognized that he used poor judgment. He took full responsibility and apologized for his actions,” said David Levy, President of Turner Sports, in a network statement. “We look forward to having him back in the studio, where Charles will once again share his opinions, insights and humor with colleagues Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. Collectively, they entertain a huge group of loyal fans that tunes into the NBA on TNT each week.”

TNT is showing San Antonio-Phoenix (5 p.m.) and Boston-Utah (7:30 p.m.) Thursday, with the “Inside the NBA” scheduled from 10 to 11 p.m.

Barkley was arrested Dec. 31 in Scottsdale, and his leave began Jan. 9. Police said the 45-year-old NBA Hall of Famer had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit in Arizona.

The TNT studio analyst missed the network’s coverage of All-Star weekend in his hometown of Phoenix.

Meanwhile, in another Barkley-related note involving him swallowing his pride, the Golf Channel announced today that its reality show “The Haney Project” will start a seven-episode series on March 2 at 9 p.m. that involves golf instructor Hank Haney trying to work on Barkley’s golf swing.

Barkley agreed to doing the show last summer, and taping began in August.

“Charles’ swing is so recognizable, but for all the wrong reasons,” said Haney. “He’s a great athlete and extremely dedicated to working hard to get better. But I’ve taught more than 50,000 golf lessons, and this will be the biggest project.”

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Our Daily Dread: The pluses and minus of the NBA’s use of the +/- stat

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It’s been in the NBA game summaries now on nearly all Internet sports sites for some time now — on each player’s line of minutes played, FTA-M, rebounds, assists, etc., is a category for plus/minus, just like in the NHL. It measures how effective the team is performing when that player is on the court. A high plus number doesn’t necessarily mean he’s scoring a lot of points. It’s just that the team is playing better than the other team — maybe because of his passing ability, his defense, his chemistry with those on the court. The larger the minus number, the bigger the liability. In theory.

Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game boxscore (linked here) may be a bit of a skewed look at how this stat worked, but Kobe Bryant, for example, had a +24 during the game when he scored 27 points in 29 minutes. Shaquille O’Neal, off the bench, and starting guard Chris Paul had a +21. Maybe the three of them could have shared the MVP instead just the first two.

Starting West center Yao Ming had a -2 in his 12 minutes — the only West player with a minus number in the 146-119 victory, which seems nearly impossible to achieve.

The interesting part is to see who, on the other team, did the West exploit the most. Not starting guard Dwayne Wade had a +8 in 27 minutes, pretty incredible for a game that ended with his team losing 27 points. Allen Iverson had a +1 in 16 minutes, and he only scored 2 points. Kevin Garnett had a 0 in 19 minutes, meaning the 12 points he scored were offset by 12 by the West.

The other two East starters — LeBron James (-14) and Dwight Howard (-16) were a combined -30 with a combined 55 minutes. That’s kind of strange considering Howard had three blocks and nine rebounds.

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The biggest holes in the East defense — reserve point guard Devin Harris, a -31 in just 17 minutes. And that includes his six points, plus an awkward landing on Maria Shriver when he went after a loose ball (pictured here). Compare that to another reserve East point guard, Mo Williams, who had a +1, also in 17 minutes. See the difference?

Shooting guard Joe Johnson had a -28 in 22 minutes, which explains 0 points, 5 turnovers, 0 steals, 0 assists and 0 rebounds. You’d have thought that East power forward Rashard Lewis would have been worse than a -11, since O’Neal exploited his size advantage to pick and roll on him for a lot of the second and fourth quarters. But in his 21 minutes, Lewis also had 8 points. Paul Pierce’s -19 was also pretty glaring.

Yes, it was only an exhibition. A closer test to how a player performs statistically for his team on a regular basis can be used with an ESPN-created formula (linked here) that goes — PTS + REB + 1.4*AST + STL + 1.4*BLK -.7*TO + FGM + .5*TGM -.8*(FGA-FGM) + .25*FTM – .8*(FTA-FTM). It equals to James leading the league (49.8) by a larger margin (3.5) over second place Wade than they are in simply the points category (where James currently leads by 0.2 a game). The NBA.com page also has a ranking of player efficiency (linked here) that also shows James leading.

Continue reading

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The Media Learning Curve: Feb. 6-13

We probably did more homework on the Internet this week, turning in term papers and taking an endless amount of pop quizzes at the Media Learning Center (soon to be an Annex if we get the right funding).

Among that is:

== A look back at all the bad stuff we wrote about KTLA’s Damon Andrews (linked here), and that was before we found out Thursday that he leaving town to work for Comcast in the Bay Area.

== SI’s Jeff Pearlman is creeped out by this year’s SI Swimsuit Issue (linked here).

== SI’s Jeff Pearlman also has a problem with Peter Gammons not defending Selena Roberts in the A-Rod story, and it goes back to when Gammons didn’t defend him while interviewing John Rocker (linked here). The blog entry’s headline: “Peter Gammons is the Larry King of sports” … says it all. Gammons responds to Deadspin.com (linked here). New York’s Newsday Philip Bondy also has a problem with Gammons’ lack of defending Roberts (linked here). Roberts defended herself on Dan Patrick’s radio show (linked here).

== The New York Times claims it was about to break open the A-Rod story as well before Roberts, its former employee who happens to be working on a book about the Yankees star, cracked the case (linked here).

== ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt had to sit out a show because of his five-minute rant against MLB commissioner Bud Selig, and we hate reporting this because it makes him sound like he’s been wronged and First Amendent, etc. But the self-proclaimed SVP has to answer to someone. He apparently apologized directly to Selig for his diatribe (it’s above) and now we find out that ESPN and MLB.com had a big announcement to make this week as well, so his commentary was completely ill-timed. (linked here)

== Another Oklahoma State coach has a problem with what he’s saying on TV … this time, it’s caught on audio, and he’s sorry (linked here).

== A 48-year-old sportswriter in Grand Rapids, Mich., had a high electric bill because it seemed to spike every 12 hours. Now we know why: He didn’t use enough weed killer on his, ahem, lawn (linked here)

== Why did J.A. Adande give up his “Around the Horn” spot to Lil’ Wayne? To show more of his street cred, and ensure he’d win for a change:

== Charles Barkley’s return to TNT … not this weekend (linked here) And more on TNT’s coverage from Phoenix (linked here)

== Fox has a new cartoon. About a gopher. It’s related to NASCAR. Your kids should not be allowed to watch it. (linked here).

== ESPN has all summer to figure out whether Jamal Anderson will come back to its “First Take” studio show (linked here). And does the time that the former Atlanta Falcons’ running back spent at ESPN really define his career? (linked here)

== KFWB has its Angels deal; Prime Ticket has its Dodgers’ schedule figured out (linked here).

== The play “McGuire,” written by Dick Enberg, finally arrives in Southern California — April 9-12 in North Hollywood (linked here)

AND FINALLY:

== KNBC Channel 4′s Fred Roggin has issues with the music used during commercial breaks (linked here).

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Our Daily Dread: Erin Andrews … there, that just gave us 15 more visitors

The next important question she asks a coach on the sidelines, courtside or in the dugout at a Little League game will be the first.

Yet, as a cultural media icon, Erin Andrews’ stock continues to soar despite all natural checks and balances in the system of good taste and fine dining. The only disappointment is her Wikipedia entry is hardly worthy of her achievements in cyberspace (linked here).

ESPN’s mam-nificent microphone holder won her second consecutive Playboy Sexiest Sportscaster of the Year award in reader online voting this week (linked here). If she ever decided to pose for the men’s entertainment periodical, the Internet could very well crash under its own URL. Porn sites would be shut down for three days, and eBay would be auctioning off 8×10 signed photos of the stuff from the editor’s cut.

Then there’s a piece circulating about what Erin would like for Valentine’s Day — not candy, you stupid stalker, but flowers (linked here).

A year ago, Andrews won The Big Lead’s 2008 third annual Cultural Tournament (linked here) — that’s taking 64 culturally important things from that point, from “God” to “Mike Lupica’s ego” to “Barry Obama” to the “Cloverfield Monster” and having them play off in a bracket. Andrews was an eighth seed before she beat “The Office” in the semifinals and outlasted Jessica Simpson in the final. For ’09, let’s see if she’s got the goods to defeat Michael Phelps’ bong, planes that land in the Hudson River and Blagojevich’s bangs.

The Power of an Erin Andrews Mention on Any Sports Blog feels like the days when Cindy Margolis claimed to be the Queen of the Internet, the most searched and downloaded and uplinked and … whatever … woman on the planet. And, in the grand scheme of our creator’s sense of humor, Andrews is falling into that Margolis rabbit hole. It’s an upside down world of seeing just how many pictures you can find of her eating a submarine sandwich on the sidelines, wearing a tight pair of pants at Pauley Pavilion, or giving some little wide-eyed kid a chance to brag to his friends that he talked to someone on TV who his dad really thinks is hotter than mom by a bazillion.

If Andrews approachs you during a game to snatch a bite of pizza and “share the sugar,” your life could be complete:

We’ll see where this train wreck takes us. For that, we keep linking and thinking there’ll be an end to this in a very ugly manner. Where have you gone, Jill Arrington? She won the first Playboy Sexiest Sportscaster Poll in 2000, which SI called the season’s second-most discussed survey, after the presidental election.

Think about where Arrington’s career went when you surmise where Erin’s will be in eight years.

Don’t be a boob. Respond here or at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

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You make the call: Vote for the L.A. best/worst TV anchor/reporter/pretty boy

Reading today’s media column to see our picks for the Top 10 and Bottom 5 (linked here) is not mandatory before making your own selections …

Just don’t vote Michael Eaves the best, OK?

And if you want to write in Newy Scruggs … sorry…



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The Media Learning Curve: Stuff you won’t find on the 11 o’clock news

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The follow-up to today’s Part II of the 17th annual Best and Worst of L.A. Sports Media/the TV anchors (linked here) and a feature on KTLA’s Damon Andrews come these media notes that are worth something to someone:

== Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg call CBS’ coverage of the UCLA-Arizona basketball game from Tucson on Saturday (10 a.m., Channel 2).

== “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) comes back with a profile on skier Bode Miller by Jon Frankel, a sit-down with former U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding by Bernard Goldberg some 15 years after her famous “incident,” and a story on the Dec. 31, 2008 death of Robbie Tolan, the son of former big leager Bobby Tolan, who watched his son shot by police in Bellaire, Tex., after he was wrongly suspected of stealing his own car. Gumbel does that last story himself.

== CBS has its usual crew up at Pebble Beach for the PGA’s pro-am, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., (Channel 2). Gary McCord will have interviews at the 17th tee with amateurs such as Bill Murray, Huey Lewis, Ray Romano, Kevin James, George Lopez, Greg Kinnear, Andy Garcia and Peyton Manning during Saturday’s coverage. CBS heads down to the L.A. PGA Tour stop next week at Riviera.

== Fox trots out Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds for its 51st running of the Daytona 500 (Sunday, 11 a.m., Channel 11). Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond and Waltrip have the prerace coverage which includes a Fox-created cartoon, “The Advertures of Digger & Friends,” to promote its character that … we’re not even sure where that’s going. Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum patrol the pits.

== Saturday’s AMA Supercross from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego will get an hours worth of airtime Sunday on CBS (Channel 2, 9 to 10 a.m.)

== Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis handle HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” card on Saturday (10 p.m.) with Alfredo Angulo-Richardo Mayorga, Sergio Martinez-Kermit Cintron and Nate Campbell-Ali Funeka from Sunrise, Fla.

== Stuff to TiVo:
- The new HBO show, “Eastbound and Down,” on a roided out former minor leaguer with Will Ferrell, debuts Sunday at 10:30 p.m. (check this link)
- The SI Swimsuit show airs tonight, 8:30 p.m., TNT.
- The NFL Network has a 21-hour retrospective of Brett Favre’s career with five of his greatest games, starting Saturday at 6 a.m.

== From the Onion Sports:AND THE CLOSING ARGUMENT:

== Golf Channel announced this week a 10-year partnership to be the exclusive cable channel for the LPGA starting in 2010. In this time of strange economic times, the network says it has established the LPGA as “as the only stand-alone women’s professional sports association in the United States to receive a rights fee agreement for domestic broadcast coverage.” Almost every LPGA Tour event in the U.S. will have Golf Channel coverage, including the entire cable package. It will also carry one major event, international feeds of overseas events and early-round coverage of tournaments that are committed to other over-the-air networks. This year’s Golf Channel already has 12 LPGA events, including the LPGA Championship in June.

It’s a nice step forward for both the network and the league. By the way, whatever happened to an all-women’s sports channel?

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Reader poll for best/worst L.A. sports-talk guy: Shall we call it a draw again — Papadakis leads both

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When we tried this a year ago, Petros Papadakis garnered the most votes for both the best L.A. sports-talk host.

Why would that trend change?

In the poll we put up last week (linked here), Papadakis, who now does a syndicated show for Fox Sports Radio heard from 4-7 p.m. on KLAC-AM (570), drew 32 percent (174 votes) of the 543 total votes for the best host.

Runner-up Dave Smith of KLAA-AM (830) got enough friends (or perhaps himself) to vote 167 times and finish with 31 percent of the vote. A distant third was Papadakis’ co-host, Matt “Money” Smith with 50 votes (19 percent), whom he shares a billboard with around town that somehow doesn’t have PETA protesting.

On the worst poll, about half as many readers voted — 272 — with Papadakis taking 22 percent (59). That edged out Dave Denholm of KSPN-AM (710), who had 19 percent (52 votes). Smith’s morning partner at KLAA, Roger Lodge, was third worst with 11 percent (30 votes).

A year ago, Papadakis got 67 of the 395 total votes (16.9 percent) for the best sports-talk host of L.A., ahead of Joe McDonnell (60 for 15 percent) and Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton (14 percent).

You still want to keep voting? Click yourselves out.

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‘McGuire’ lands in North Hollywood in early April

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Tickets are on sale for a four-day presentation right after the NCAA basketball tournament of the Dick Enberg play, “McGuire,” a tribute to the legendary Marquette basketball coach and NBC college basketball analyst Al McGuire.

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The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood (5269 Lankershim Blvd., 818-508-0281) will host the event April 9-12, with actor Cotter Smith (pictured here) playing the part of McGuire.

Heidi Mueller-Smith directs it.

The first three nights are at 8 p.m. with the final day at 3 p.m.

The show debuted on the Marquette campus in Milwaukee in 2005 to sell-out audiences. It also has played at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Hofstra University, and North Coast Rep in Solana Beach.

McGuire, who coached Marquette to the 1977 NCAA title over North Carolina, saw a resurgence in his popularity when he teammed with Enberg and Billy Packer on NBC. McGuire died in 2001 of a blood disorder at the age of 72. (his Wikipedia bio here).

As his broadcast partner for 10 years, Enberg used his experiences with McGuire to write the inspirational play, allowing McGuire to tell his story in his style.

Tickets sell for $45 in the center and $35 on the sides at www.elportaltheatre.com.

== A review of the play from Sports Illustrated (linked here)

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