Coming Friday: ESPN’s latest high-wire act — a 3D flick

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Credit: ESPN
Skateboard legend Bob Burnquist performs during filming of “X Games Movie: 3D,” which will debut in theatres in late August.

It grinded to a start in 1995, as something ESPN was trying to figure out how to appeal to a younger demo. In Newport, R.I., it invented an event with some BMX racing, skateboarding, bungee jumping and sky surfing, and then covered it with cameras as best it could.

They lived, and learned, eventually decided it was time to also create something called the ESPN Emerging Technology team.

For these 15th edition of the X Games, again taking place in, around and above Southern California, there are more than 15 things that can be called technological innovations impacting the way the network has been able to turn this thing from a crazy kiddie carnival into a top-ranked sports-edgy telecast, with its own Mountain Dew-over coverage.

Some extreme athletes complain that TV saturation, particularily with ESPN and ABC doing much of it now live and with commercial breaks, has taken some of the soul out the events that don’t necessarily fit into the designated time windows. TV is always guilty in some way of bastardizing a pure athletic endeavor, seemingly for the greater good.
With that somewhat handicap, there’s also no doubt that ESPN has raised the bar in media coverage for those younger, older and Twittering in between.

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The latest bar (and hair)-raiser: The debut of the first 3D sports movie, giving another real-life dimension to the action sports’ founding fathers such as Shaun White, Travis Pastrana and Bob Burnquist.

“X Games 3D: The Movie” had an invite-only sneak peek tonight at the Nokia Theatre, across the street from where most of the main attractions are taking place at Staples Center. It reaches wider theatre distribution on Aug. 21, but only for one week.

We’ll head over there, and have a review of the proceedings with Friday’s media column.

Check out the trailer (linked here)

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Our Daily Dread II: About EA Sportie

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Photo: www.sidelinehotties.com

It’s a list to check out occasionally, this “powergrid” at Mediaite.com that attempts to measure who’s got the most juice in several media genres — TV, print, online.

The last time we checked out the list (linked here) for 290 TV reporters, ESPN’s Erin Andrews is atop the list. Based on its “algorithm” that “weights some metrics more than others.” Such as TV airtime, Google buzz and blog buzz.

There, this mention alone should keep her there.

In Google buzz alone, her 1.25 million hits are as ridiculous high (but actually No. 2 overall to someone named Claire Shipman, a Senior National Correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America”) but Andrews’ blog buzz and news buzz numbers are higher than anyone’s in the category. Yet, she’s only No. 45 in “network/show viewership.”

The rest of the list may put into perspective how out of wack this list really is.

No. 2: Jack Taper, the Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News. Never heard of him.
No. 3: Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC News and on “Meet the Press.” Ditto on notoriety.
Nos. 4 and 5: Morley Safer and Mike Wallace. “60 Minutes” of fame.

No. 14: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
No. 18: ESPN’s Michael Smith (ug)
No. 27: ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio

No. 108: Christiane Amanpour

No. 112: ESPN’s Shelley Smith

No. 140: Luke Russert

No. 141: ESPN’s Suzy Kolber
No. 203: Armen Keteyian

As for the list of radio hosts (linked here), Jim Rome comes in at No. 20, the highest of any sports-related shows.

What does it all mean? Can’t be certain, since we’re only sure about what it says on the side of the pool — 1 feet, 2 feet, 5 feet, 12 feet…. That’s what matters most when you’re trying to pick your lost trucks off the bottom without no one noticing.

As for Andrews, another measure of her “notice” factor was revealed on p2pnetnews.com (linked here).

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Our Daily Dread I: About Scully

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The fact that Vin Scully’s status as a future Dodger broadcaster came up on Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon’s “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN’s Wednesday afternoon show only shows how much can be made with so little information.

Trying to pin Scully down at this point on whether he’ll return for a 61st season really isn’t fair to him, or the Dodger fans who hang on his every word. Meaning that any kind of media mania that might have been stirred up by a Los Angeles Times column this week about him implying that he’s feeling good about returning for 2010 are premature, if anything, and effectively backs the Hall of Famer into an uncomfortable corner.

What if, after this season, he talks it over with his family, doctors and muses, and decides it’s really not in his best interests to return? Does that make it look as if he’s now lying?

Options could change as well – according to sources, Scully could work out a schedule where he does no traveling, only home games, which could realistically allow him to continue two more seasons.

While it may sound just peachy today that Scully wants to return next season, he has factually not committed to anything. To extract a sentence from Scully pondering his future and start running with it is a disservice to him, the team, and the fans.

It goes back to a New York Times story last summer, as Scully went back to his alma mater at Fordham to receive an award, and told a columnist that he could retire at the end of the ’08 season, or maybe he’d come back. The fact that he said he may step down raised the same panic — created by the same L.A. Times columnist, to nearly have a meltdown and go all drama queen with a similar column a year ago.

Ease up on the caffine and let this vintage wine age more gracefully before anyone tries to uncork another half-cocked story.

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Perfect? We respectively object to the term, Buehrle man

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Perfect: \pr-fikt\
Adjective, first definition: Being entirely without fault or defect : flawless.
Source: Merriam Webster (linked here)

The performance that Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had against Tampa Bay last week, and tried to do again Minnesota on Tuesday, was pretty dang special. They’ll have to reprint the MLB record books because of it.

At one stretch, it was 45 up, 45 down, over two games. Johnny Vandemeer wishes he did that.

But let’s not call Buehrle Mr. Perfect. Aside from the fact there may be some copyright complications that factor into that equation.

Perfection has yet to be reached. So why contaminate the term with marketing-type mumbojumbo hype that serves no purpose except to explain to a non-baseball fan why something that’s far from perfect is called “perfect” in the baseball world.

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The fact Buehrle is in the same category as Cy Young, Addie Joss, Sandy Koufax and Jim Bunning — all current or future Hall of Famers — as someone who’s thrown a no-hitter and a perfect game in their career is special.

But again, it hardly makes him, or his feats, perrrrrrrrfect.

According to baseball’s rule lords, the current accepted defintion of what a “perfect game” constitutes (linked here) is when a pitcher (or pitchers) a) wins a game that goes a minimum of nine innings, b) throws a no-hitter, c) throws a shutout, d) does not allow a hit, walk, hit batsman or opposing player to reach base for any reason.

Twenty seven up. Twenty seven down.

Perfect? Not even in a perfect world.

It’s a perfect opportunity to discuss the term.

What Buehrle did was … a very, very, very good no-hitter. Add another very if you wish. But that’s all.

What, for example, would we call it if a pitcher did all of the above, and struck out all 27 batters?

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A sign from God? A point where baseball should stop existing because it can’t get any better?

Now, isn’t that much closer to perfect than the current definition of “perfect”?

Roger Clemens twice struck out 20 in a game (about 10 years apart). Once, Kerry Wood did it.

They were not just seven Ks short of perfection, but they’d also allowed some base runners.

On April 26, 1986 at Fenway Park, Clemens beat Chicago, 3-1 (linked here) and gave up three hits with no walks.

On Sept. 16, 1996 at Tiger Stadium, Clemens beat Detroit 5-0 (linked here) and gave up five hits, with no walks.

On May 6, 1996 at Wrigley Field, Wood beat Houston 2-0 (linked here) on a one-hitter, with no walks, but one hit batter.

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In our imperfect world, perfection can be achieved. It just hasn’t yet. God knows, we’re far from it. Close, but yet so far.

If you need more of a perfect structure to try to get your head around the word perfect, Thesaurus.com (linked here) tries it with substitutes: Absolute, beyond compare, defectless, faultless, pure, spotless, supreme. unblemished, unequaled, unmarred, untained, untarnished and utopian.

But it also offers up: A-OK, excellent, excelling, experienced, ideal, out-of-this-world, paradisiac, skilled, skillful, sound and splendid.

Really? Just A-OK? Maybe that’s our problem. We’ve set the bar too low on what’s really perfect and what’s kinda-perfect.

Mark Buehrle isn’t Mr. Perfect. There is no such thing. If there was, they’d stop making chick flicks.

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Our Daily Dread: A fistfull of mixed martial arts notes

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What was the quote the other day from Stephen Colbert: “Ultimate Fighting has it all, from the occasional moment of action to the 40 minutes of awkward spooning.”

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CNBC wants to knife, fork and spoon with it for a full hour tonight.

The NBC cable channel devoted, mostly, to business news but also Olympic sports when there’s too much for the mothership to handle, has stick a fork in reporter Scott Wapner to go on with an episode called “Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars.” It airs tonight at 7 and 10 p.m. (as well as Thursday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at Friday at 7 p.m.)

A little late, perhaps, to capitalize on the fact that UFC 100 has come and gone — don’t financial news channels preach a capitalizing society? But this apparently isn’t such a new idea for the network — they’re taking a documentary they did in 2007 and adding new interviews.

Thanks for the recycling efforts. We all need to pitch in.

One of Wapner’s new interviews includes Mark Cuban and Donald Trump, who are working together to present mixed martial arts events. UFC hothead boss Dana White tells Wapner that they are just another in a long list of competitors he is ready to take to the mat.

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