The Media Learning Curve: Spare the ‘Rod,’ save the Laker audience

More from Hot Rod Hundley, who we featured in today’s media column (linked here) as he sits in for Stu Lantz on the Lakers’ TV coverage this week:

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== First a few “did you know” facts about him:

a) He has a 3-0 record as “coach” of the Lakers.
During his playing days with the team — the 1957 No. 1 overall draft pick out of West Virginia was taken by the Rochester Royals but then dealt to the Minneapolis Lakers in a six-player deal on draft day — he had to take over coaching duties when regular coach Fred Schaus was ejected. Schaus was his coach at West Virginia and trusted Hundley with the team. They won each time Schaus was kicked out — “but all those games were on the road,” Hundley wrote in his autobiography. “I always wanted Schaus to get kicked out at home once so I could have the L.A. crowd cheering me on.”

b) Hundley’s No. 33 has been retired by the Lakers – after it was worn by Kareem Abdul Jabbar. After ’63 season he refused a trade to San Francisco because he’d just bought a house in Malibu and his first daughter was born. He would have got a bigger pension if he extended his career a couple more years but he gets a pension now that’s more than when he got playing.
“I still remember that address: 2151 Seahorn Drive in Malibu, right off Sunset Terrace,” said Hundley. “Bought it for $45,000. I wrote letters back to West Virginia with that Malibu address just so they knew I was doin’ OK.”
When Hundley first moved to L.A., he had a one bedroom apartment that he shared in the MacArthur Park area of towndown with teammate Rudy LaRusso.
“We had just the one room, with a bunkbed on San Marino Street,” said Hundley. “That saved us money.”

c) On working with Chick Hearn: “When the Jazz moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City, Chick visited me and said, ‘I got friends in Salt Lake City and they’re telling me you’re stealing some of my lines.’ I told him, ‘Not some of ‘em, all of ‘em.’ I used everyone of ‘em. Even putting the game in the refrigerator. He was the best, the master.”

And from the rest of the sports media world this week:

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== More from Stephen Colbert during his appearance on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show Wednesday:

*On where he’d like his image to be placed among US Olympic speed skaters: “I would love to have my picture on Apolo Ohno’s butt cheek. Wouldn’t that be nice? You can snap a pool cue over that thing. That would make a great cover of Sports Illustrated, me snapping a pool cue over Apolo Ohno’s butt.”

*On what advice he’d give Tiger Woods: “Destroying his life? I think that’s a bold strategy. I’m down on Accenture and Gillette for dropping him. I can understand Gillette because if you look at some of the women that he slept with, that may not be the best a man can get. But Accenture, they’re a consulting firm. Tiger was just taking risks. You’ve got to be able to play from the rough. And clearly he’s been playing rough. … I would advise him to come on my show to talk about it. Wouldn’t you advise him to come on your show to talk about it?”

*On what he thinks of Keith Olbermann, Patrick’s former ESPN “SportsCenter” partner and current MSNBC left-wing pundit: “Keith’s insane. Like really-dangerous-to-himself insane. Save-his-urine-in-a-jar insane. But I watch him. I watch him every night. He’s hide-under-your-desk kind of crazy. That being said, I’m a big fan. I don’t want him to take that the wrong way….The nice thing is he doesn’t have an overblown sense of himself. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, so that’s what’s nice. He doesn’t feel like he’s changing the world. That’s what’s nice. You know, it’s the humility he brings to his job, that’s what I love.”

*On what he think of Glenn Beck, the Fox News Channel pundit: “Every day Glenn Beck climbs the genius tree, puts that rope around his neck and jumps right off.”

== The San Diego Chargers say enough tickets have been sold to lift the TV blackout for Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, meaning it will be the 46th consecutive regular-season and postseason Chargers game to be televised live in the market — the longest streak in team history.
As for the game (Channel 2, 1 p.m.), CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason wonders how the Bengals will be affected by the death of receiver Chris Henry: “Can they once again find the strength, in unity, as one of their family has passed away? They did it already once this year versus Baltimore when Mike Zimmer, the defensive coordinator, lost his wife. His defensive unit probably played their best game. What will be telling here will be whether or not the Bengals come out and play an inspired first quarter? It would be understandable if they came out flat after dealing with the death of a teammate. They’re going against a team in my estimation that is presently playing the best overall football in the AFC.”

== ESPN is touting its Michigan-Kansas college basketball game on Saturday (9 a.m.) as a “green” contest — there will be a bunch of recycled on-air graphics about conservation, stories about how each school is using alternative energy sources (Kansas, by the way, is using elliptical machines to generate energy for campus power and creating bio diesel fuel from the cooking fat used in dining halls), ESPN is using LED lights for lighting the on-air personalities during segments and rechargeable batteries in various equipment … it’s all pretty minor stuff, but it adds up. It beats normal ESPN treatment of a game — where they can suck the electricity out of it for the sake of overpromotion.

== ESPN has also declared that, for its upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup race coverage in 2010, Dr. Jerry Punch will return to pit reporting and Marty Reid will replace him as the main race caller with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree.

== Chris McGee, Mike Pawalawski and Courtney Jones will call the Prime Ticket coverage tonight of the CIF state small-school division title game (Francis Parker vs. Modesto Christian) at 4 p.m., followed by the Division I championship (Oceanside vs. Bellamine Prep) at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, those three do the Division III title game (Serra vs. Marin Catholic) at noon, while Jim Kozimor, Petros Papadakis and Christine Nubla do the Division II title game (Servite vs. Rocklin, 4 p.m.) and the Open Division championship (Crenshaw vs. De La Salle, 8 p.m.)

== AND FINALLY:

== How to end the year?

HBO’s “Real Sports” has a roundtable for Edition No. 153, Tuesday at 10 p.m., with Bryant Gumbel, Mary Carillo, Frank Deford, Jon Frankel, Bernard Goldberg and Andrea Kremer talking about the year that was (but mostly about the stories they covered).

Versus’ 2009 Sports Soup Countup Countdown hour-long show, with host Matt Iseman plus Snoop Dogg and former Lakers guard Gary Payton, airs Sunday at 7 p.m. (repeats Tuesday at 8 p.m.). Also, a special appearance by Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp.

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On the same date, same time, same one-hour window, Charles Barkley, Dennis Eckersly, Kyle Petty and Spike Lee will be helping HLN with a roundtable discussion on the biggest issues of ’09 in a show called “With All Due Respect.”
Already taped, the show has been leaking quotes from those involved, especially when it comes to Tiger Woods.
Barkley is crying that Woods has changed his phone number and is refusing to converse with his “famous” friends.
“I think when you have these fires in your life, as I call them, you need to talk to somebody else who is famous who [has] been through things in their life,” says Barkley.
Or, you stay away from friends who got you there in the first place.
Lee believes Woods can find advice from Michael Jordan.
“If Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan can’t get to him, and those are his boys, then other people are making bad moves,” said Lee.
Already looks like a bad “Caddy Shack” sequel waiting for Ice Cube to fill our the foursome.

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Coming Friday: Hot Rod cools his jets in NYC

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(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
Hot Rod Hundley acknowledges the Utah Jazz crowd before he broadcasts his final game for the team last April. The Basketball Hall of Fame play-by-play man played six years for the Lakers and then worked with Chick Hearn from 1967-69.

Four of the six games that one-time Chick Hearn sidekick Hot Rod Hundley has agreed to do as a fillin for Stu Lantz on the Lakers’ TV coverage are in the books, and he’s still smiling.

The 75-year-old retired with a year left on his contract after 35 years doing games for the Utah Jazz, most of them on TV. His relegation to radio calls left him discouraged — and sent to the rafters in most NBA arenas. That, and the travel, just caught up with him.

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Until the Lakers called him a week ago to see if he could sub on the KSPN-AM (710) radio broadcast for Mychal Thompson, who needed to go back to the Bahamas for the funeral of his mother, Hundley was content playing golf in Arizona. Then the Lakers called him back a day later, knowing Lantz had to miss the current five-game road trip, plus another home game, because his wife was having ankle surgery. Hundley thought it would be fun.

Until he was reminded of what NBA travel was like. He’s sitting around in the Ritz Carlton Central Park in New York City today trying to kill some time before the Lakers play the Nets in New Jersey on Saturday night. The flight from Milwaukee to Newark, N.J., last night wasn’t all that great, either.

“We were on our way to land for the last 10 minutes, and I was looking out the window,” said Hundley. “The plane didn’t seem to be landing gradually like it normally does. Then all of the sudden — boom — we’re right on the ground. I’m looking out the window again wondering what’s going on? It was a little scary, made me a little uneasy. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like being on the road so much any more. Sometimes those NBA trips would be 10 games over two weeks. The hard part is in between games. Especially at my age.”

Especially when you consider that Hot Rod was on a Laker team flight back in 1960, going from St. Louis to Minneapolis, and had to land in a snowy cornfield because of a blizzard and the fact all the electricity went out in the plane and the backup generator of the DC3 went out as well.

We caught up with Hot Rod on Thursday at the Ritz Carlton Central Park and he says he’s having fun — for now — and can’t believe how much Kobe Bryant has grown up since the first time he saw him until now, considering he’s seen him make the game-winning shot in OT in Milwaukee less than 24 hours ago.

But he also has worries on this trip — like, he could lose his luggage.

“All the bags I have say ‘Utah Jazz’ all over ‘em,” said Hundley. “My garmet bag and my other big bag … I gotta talk to the hotel staff and make sure they know it all goes with the bags marked ‘Lakers’ or else I gotta get some duck tape and put it over the Jazz logos.”

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How New York has become Tiger Town

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Congrats to the New York Post: Thursday’s photo of Tiger Woods on its cover was the 20th consecutive day the newspaper had mention of him on either its front or back page.

The previous record — 15 consecutive front-page stories dedicated to 9/11 back in 2001.

Nice perspective on life.

From the story (linked here): “Tiger Named Best Swinger of the Decade”

He’s just that good.
Tiger Woods was acknowledged yesterday for his athletic prowess – this time, outside the bedroom.
The philandering dog and world – class golfer was voted “Athelete of the Decade” by members of the Associated Press yesterday, giving Woods a pass on recent revelations — and his own admission — that he cheated on his wife.

The record was noted as well on TheSportsHernia.com, comparing how Tiger Woods and 9/11 have now been linked: “Two topics with about as much in common as Lyle Alzado and Stephen Hawking.”

The site also reported that during the Post streak, the site CatChannel.com also had a story posted on Dec. 9 with the headline: “Tiger Undergoes Spaying.”

A list of the other Tiger covers and main headlines during the streak (all linked here)

Nov. 28: Tiger’s short drive (on the sports back cover)
Nov. 29: Tiger Cops out
Nov. 30: Cagey Tiger: Ducks Police 3rd day
Dec. 1: Exclusive: Tiger and Me
Dec. 2: Tiger’s Birdies
Dec. 3: Tiger admits: I’m a cheetah
Dec. 4: Tiger’s ‘green’ fees!
Dec. 5: Rachel’s story
Dec. 6: Tiger in the rough
Dec. 7: Tiger’s back 9
Dec. 8: Tiger’s Wife Turns Tail
Dec. 9: Mistress: Tiger Paid Me
Dec. 10: Tiger’s Sex Texts
Dec. 11: Ho, Tiger!
Dec. 12: Tiger Pulls Out
Dec. 13: $180m: What Tiger’s Timeout will cost him: That’s $15m a fling
Dec. 14: Toxic Tiger Fired: Sponsor 1st to dump damaged golf icon
Dec. 15: Exclusive: ‘He’s only just coping – he’s on the edge’ Tiger’s Agony
Dec. 16: Outta Here! Tiger’s wife taking kids and leaving lair
Dec. 17: Top Dog! Tiger Named Athlete of the Decade (and he golfed, too)

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What does it matter if everyone in Iowa is driving their tractors to Florida for New Year’s anyway?

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By Melanie S. Welte
The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — While the Iowa Hawkeyes prepare for their biggest bowl game in years, thousands of their fans back home may be scrambling to find a TV to watch them.

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Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s demand that cable company Mediacom Communications Corp. pay more to carry its stations could leave 700,000 cable subscribers in 11 states without some local channels on Jan. 1. That includes about 400,000 subscribers in Iowa, most of whom will lose the channel televising the Jan. 5 Orange Bowl between Iowa and Georgia Tech.

The cable showdown is part of a long-running national battle over what are known as carriage fees. Cable TV operators claim owners of broadcast stations and cable channels are gouging their customers by demanding ever-rising payments. Content owners respond that cable companies earn outsized profits by simply retransmitting their valuable channels.

Cable customers are caught in the crossfire.

“It’s a huge outrage,” said Brandon Huggins, a store clerk at a university apparel shop in Iowa City, home to the Hawkeyes. “I’d like to think they’ll figure something out, or make an exception for Iowa City.”

Barry Faber, executive vice president and general counsel to Hunt Valley, Md.-based Sinclair, said he’s “very pessimistic” an agreement will be reached with Middletown, N.Y.-based Mediacom by Dec. 31, when the current three-year deal ends.

That means customers in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and other Iowa cities will miss the Orange Bowl unless they find a TV with a satellite connection or rely on an antenna.

Continue reading

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Where in the world is Spero Dedes?

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We know last night the Lakers’ radio play-by-play man was in Milwaukee with Mychal Thompson calling that overtime victory.

We now know he’ll be in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday, doing his first college basketball gig for CBS, on UCLA-Notre Dame (Channel 2, 11 a.m.), with Greg Anthony as his partner.

We know he usually spends Sunday mornings in Culver City hosting the NFL Network’s pregame show.

We also know the Lakers have a game Saturday night in New Jersey and Sunday afternoon in Detroit.

How does this work?

Dedes said in an email today that he’ll have to miss the NFL Network show in Sunday, “my first one this season,” as well as Saturday’s Lakers-Nets game in his home state (Bill Macdonald will fly out to fill in).

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Your L.A. NFL Week 15 TV schedule: In a Perfect NFL world, the NFL Net would control things … and it does

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The latest from ESPN’s “NFL Live” show, because you can’t get any better up to the second information on the league, unless you have Internet access. Or the NFL Network. Or some of those other blogs out there are pretty good.

“The Colts still won’t say if they’re going to try for a perfect 16-0,” said ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols.

The implication: There could be a time, either in Week 15, 16 or 17, where the currently 13-0 Colts simply give up and stop trying.

Whatever happens, the NFL Network will know first. It has the Colts’ game Thursday.

It also has the 13-0 New Orleans Saints’ game Saturday against Dallas.

How perfect is that for the NFL Net?

“(Colts) coach Jim Caldwell has told players they are going for 14-0,” Nichols continued in that sing-song voice. “There will be no healthy starters sitting (against Jacksonville) … no punches pulled.”

That must be a relief for the NFL. One team tanks it, the others just fall in line.

Pretty soon, you’ve got a bunch of 0-13 teams saying they are going to try for a perfect 0-16.

If only Detroit hadn’t stumbled onto two wins this season. The Lions would be a perfect … you do the math.

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THURSDAY:

== Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network (with Bob Papa and Matt Millen)

SATURDAY:

== Dallas at New Orleans, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network (with Bob Papa and Matt Millen)

SUNDAY:

== New England at Buffalo, 10 a.m., Channel 2 (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, instead of Miami-Tennessee, Houston-St. Louis and Cleveland-Kansas City on CBS, or San Francisco-Philadelphia, Arizona-Detroit, Chicago-Baltimore or Atlanta-New York Jets on Fox).

== Green Bay at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m., Channel 11 (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman; instead of Tampa Bay-Seattle)

== Cincinnati at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 2 (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms; instead of Oakland-Denver)

== Minnesota at Carolina, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4 (with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth)

MONDAY:

== New York Giants at Washington, 5:30 p.m., ESPN (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden).

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The Donald, celebrity golf, and TV cameras: If that wasn’t a recipe for ego-stroking disaster, we otherwise wouldn’t care

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VanityFair.com

The Golf Channel, having enough from Hank Haney trying to fix everyone’s sick swing, has swung it into full-gear sellout by announcing a Donald Trump six-part show that seems to be like “Big Break” except there are supposed to be celebs involved and more exposure for his golf course ventures.

The appropriately cheesy-named “Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf” was announced today but won’t launch until April, 2010. But the storyboard already laid out for this should supercede “30 Rock” as the parody hit of the season.

To wit:

“To ensure each episode brings excitement and a high-level of competition, celebrity players will face-off against others of similar handicaps. The match-ups are destined to take a series of twists and turns as Trump will present many entertaining and exciting challenges along the way, including a pre-determined hole that will be worth $10,000 for the respective charity. While the high-stakes competition is a focal point of the program, viewers also will be offered exclusive access to some of Trump’s most incredible golf properties – from West Palm Beach to his top-rated courses in Scotland, New York, New Jersey and California. Off the course, in each show, fans also will catch a glimpse at how Trump brings his competitive bravado to his growing golfing empire.”

The Donald’s statement: “As everyone knows, golf has always been one of my greatest passions, so I’m excited to work on this new program with Golf Channel, which consists of showcasing some of my top-rated golf resorts from around the world, intriguing discussion and fierce competition with some of the biggest known celebrities of today, and my altruistic goals. I’m also looking forward to granting viewers access to the inner workings of the very successful Trump golf business.”

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Speaking of which: What is Trump’s current handicap that he lies about? Gotta be the hair.

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Your first week of college football bowl choices: Albuquerque, St. Pete and N’Orleans … don’t worry, the smell will eventually dissapate

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If you’re going by what someone at ESPN.com thinks (story linked here) about the 34 potential bowls that are taking place this month and early next, the first three here rank, in order, as 30th, 27th and 28th best.

The worst: The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which doesn’t come out of the woodfire oven until the day after Christmas. The best: If you have to ask, you’re not paying attention. No, it’s not a game involving USC (that’s No. 18, putting it in the bottom half).

Let’s get this middle-school party started:

SATURDAY

== The New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque: Fresno State vs. Wyoming, ESPN, 2:30 p.m. with Terry Gannon and David Norrie

== The St. Petersburg Bowl: University of Central Florida vs. Rutgers, ESPN, 5 p.m. with Mark Jones, Bob Davie and Rob Stone

SUNDAY

== New Orleans Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs. Middle Tennessee, 5:15 p.m., ESPN, with Dave Lamont and J.C. Pearson

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SI’s fifth annual sports media in review

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Stephen Colbert on the cover of Sports Illustrated … a sign of the apocalypse?

A sign of the times.

The Dec. 21 issue, on news stands Wednesday, props go to the Comedy Central fake pundint and U.S. speedskating savior who has raised sponsor money through his “Nation” for the American squad going into the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Nearly 9,000 individual donors, kicking in an average of $30, have helped make up for a Dutch bank sponsor that pulled out, and traffic on the USS website has doubled.

For some reason, 2006 Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis called Colbert “a jerk” earlier this month — the rest of the team love it.

Says Colbert: “They look like members of Blue Man Group, but beyond that there’s nothing comedic about speedskating. These are incredible athletes. My character isn’t ironically detached, he’s ironically a-ttached–things are important to him. And right now we’re here for speedskating.”

More from the SI media issue:

== A piece on Cris Collinsworth, who replaced John Madden on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”

== A piece on Bill Simmons and how he got to the top of the New York Times bestseller spot.

== A piece on “Invictus” and the power of the sports movie (when compared to Drew Barrymore’s “Whip It.”)

== A piece on how Chad Ochocinco (Hachi Go) has helped Twitter go nuts.

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Our Daily Dread: The Dodger fire sale begins — stay classy Juan Pierre in Chicagoland

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Two players on the Chicago White Sox roster will be delivered to the Dodgers by Jan. 7 in a trade announced today for outfielder Juan Pierre.

The cheaper they come, the better.

In one sense, the Dodgers dump an expensive contract. In another, they give themselves no insurance if/when Manny Ramirez bails out in the middle of his option season for lack of interest/injury/fertility drug use.

In a large sense, they give up too much character.

You were concerned that the Dodgers were too quiet? Here’s the opposite. It’s time to dump payroll. Poor Juan, and his five-year, $44 million deal that had yet expired. In fact, the Dodgers will reportedly pay about $10 mil of the $18.5 mil left on the final two years of Pierre’s contract.

Yes, they’ll pay him to leave.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says that “Juan always put the Dodgers first, even when it wasn’t in his personal best interest. In this day, that is a rare attribute. When he and I spoke at the end of the season, we agreed that if an opportunity presented itself in which his chance to play would be enhanced, we would pursue it and that’s what we’ve done. He deserved the chance to play more.”

And Dodger fans deserve … nothing.

In three years with the Dodgers, Pierre hit .294, stole 134 bases and had a .339 on base percentage. Last year, all he did was hit .308 in 145 games.

Which two players off the White Sox’s roster should the Dodgers expect?

Jake Peavy and Paul Konerko?

Mark Buehrle and Bobby Jenks?

Think more, OMG, Brian Omogrosso and Brent Lillibridge.

Although the Chisox did just add Andruw Jones to their roster … Does Pierre know he’ll be challenging him — again — for playing time?

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