Weekly media sports column version 05.30.13: What makes Ross Porter smile these days

batruleWhat made it as the lead item to this week’s sports media column:

You think the Dodgers’ new ownership team would considering finding a spot on their new TV network for Ross Porter? We talked about it as he prepares for calling two CIF baseball title games from Dodger Stadium today.

Porter, by the way, says he has reason to smile when he’s listening to a game today and hears broadcasters sprinkle statistics into the broadcast — something he was probably unfairly criticized for years ago.

Edward Frascino/The New Yorker

Edward Frascino/The New Yorker

“I guess I can laugh about that now,” he said. “I used to keep a blue book with statistics on things like how Johnny Bench used to do against Don Sutton, and people might have asked, ‘What are you doing?’” said Porter. “Now that kind of thing is on every media stat sheet in every press box. And you hear the stats everywhere from Vin down, just as if it’s another part of the game.

“Maybe I was a little bit of a pioneer in that, and I took a lot of criticism for it — some of it may have been warranted — but I think my problem was that having done all that research, I wanted to get it in, and that couldn’t always happen.

“To me, the research and homework never stopped. I never considered it a grind. It really was a pleasure to do it. I enjoyed the homework almost as much as the play-by-play itself.”

What didn’t make it in but really, really should have: Continue reading

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Prep yourself: Ross Porter, back at Dodger Stadium

In 2002, Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter, right, interviews team GM Dan Evans.  © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers from www.jpblog.com

In 2002, Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter, right, interviews team GM Dan Evans. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers from http://dodgersphotog.mlblogs.com/2012

Ross Porter will venture up to the Dodger Stadium broadcast booth Friday afternoon, perhaps sitting in the same spot where he last worked about 8 ½ years ago.

The statistical probably of this happening? It’s likely that only Porter could give you the correct numbers on that.

When his contract was ridiculously not renewed by the Dodgers and then-owner Frank McCourt after the 2004 season, thus ending a 28-year run with the team as its No. 2 TV and radio voice next to Vin Scully and another decade-plus as the “DodgerTalk” post-game host, Porter wasn’t about to just go away to his Calabasas home and become the retiring type.

The 74-year-old has stayed busy on various broadcasting projects and finds himself returning to the stadium today as an employee of Fox Sports West. Executive producer Tom Feuer hired him to call today’s CIF Southern Section Division III title game between Mira Costa and Serra (2 p.m.) as well as the Division II championship between Cypress and Temecula Valley (5 p.m.), both of which will stream on the FoxSportsWest.com Prep Zone online platform.

“I think it’s going to be a really interesting experience,” Porter said Thursday. “I’m just happy to have the opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.

“You know, I think I still know where to park.” Continue reading

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Eagle is just the sort to hatch “Stars on Sports”

Illustration from NJ.com

Illustration from NJ.com

Ian Eagle’s entertainment pedigree would seem to make the CBS sportscaster a natural for the network to try a possible new series called “Stars on Sports,” which gets its first test run Saturday at 11 a.m. on KCBS Channel 2.

Eagle’s father, Jack, was a standup comedian who appeared in more than 50 TV commercials, best remembered in the role of Brother Dominic, the beleaguered monk in the Xerox commercials. His mother, Monica Maris, was a singer and actress who played Judy Garland in the long running Las Vegas legends show.

“For me, this was a perfect way to blend sports and entertainment into an interview format, and I don’t think there’s anything out there quite like it on a national level,” said Eagle, whose sitdowns with “NCIS” star LL Cool J and actor Ethan Hawke fills the first hour-long installment of the “Stars on Sports” show. Continue reading

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Read Weaver’s lips: He’s got Angels believing again

Jered Weaver made 86 pitches in his first game for the Angels since April 6, and came out on the winning end of a 4-3 decision over the Dodgers on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Jered Weaver made 86 pitches in his first game for the Angels since April 6, and came out on the winning end of a 4-3 decision over the Dodgers on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM — Jered Weaver had been perfect through four innings Wednesday night in his first game off the disabled list. But as things can happen, he was all of the sudden boxed into a corner and feeling like an underachiever against the Dodgers.

The Angels’ no-nonsense ace, having spent the last seven weeks trying to speed-mend a fractured left elbow, had not only lost his string of 12 straight batters set down once the fifth inning started, but now his shutout was gone and the Dodgers’ No. 8 hitter, A.J. Ellis, just dropped a single to left field.

“What the (bleep)’s going on here?” Weaver was caught verbalizing by the TV cameras, deftly translated by Vin Scully.

No doubt, Weaver was back. Continue reading

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Updated: Play It Forward: May 27-June 2 — Kings stay alive; Dodgers-Angels need 4 on the floor for their slide-sharing program

Trying to plan the week ahead on the sports calendar (updated 5/29/13):

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET I:

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick lays on the ice after San Jose's Joe Thornton scored in the first period of Game 6 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick lays on the ice after San Jose’s Joe Thornton scores in the first period of Game 6 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

NHL PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
KINGS vs. CHICAGO
Game 1: 2 p.m. Saturday at Chicago, NBC Sports Network:
For as much as they were road warriors a year ago during their Stanley Cup run, the Kings’ playoff numbers going into this series from 2013: A 1-5 record away from home just seven goals scored (compared to 7-0 at home with 18 goals and three Jonathan Quick shutouts). After finishing off the Sharks, do the Kings have enough to repeat in facing the conference’s No. 1-seeded Blackhawks, whom ESPN’s Barry Melrose predicted before the playoffs would win the whole thing? “Chicago’s got four lines now and a lot of big bodies that can hit the net,” said the former Kings coach on the air recently. “L.A. is an awesome team, very similar to last year, and the best is yet to come for Dustin Brown in these playoffs.”
The rest of the series this week:
Game 2: 5 p.m. Sunday in Chicago, NBC Sports Network

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET II:

110-Freeway-Stadium-WayMLB: ANGELS at DODGERS, Dodger Stadium:
5:10 p.m. Monday, Prime, FSW
7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Channel 9, FSW

DODGERS at ANGELS, Angel Stadium:
7:05 p.m., Wednesday, Channel 9, FSW
7:05 p.m., Thursday, Channel 9, FSW

a-a-angels-and-dodgers-2The lighted CalTrans billboard indicates another Dodgers-Angels Freeway Series, but this is hardly a Sig-Alert situation, unless you enjoy watching two teams throwing things in reverse into the oncoming car pool lane. Since 1999, the Dodgers and Angels had six head-to-head regular-season matchups – two three-game series in each park – to determine, well, nothing really. You could brag that it was Southern California bragging rights. In 2005, it was a “true” battle of Los Angeles since both were back to using the city designation on their place in the standings.
ebs62dodgersyrbkBut with changes that came with a forced 15-team alignment in both the NL and AL, this Freeway Series has had a few off-ramps removed and is condensed into one four-game inconvenience, with just two appearances in each territorial facility. We could just take more surface streets to make this trip more scenic, but we’re also faced with a realistic situation that a Memorial Day week stay-cation between two underachievers isn’t all that much a true World Series preview. The only drama could come if Don Mattingly and/or Mike Scioscia get another vote of confidence from their ownership teams.
weaverelbowOne saving grace for the Angels is ace Jered Weaver coming back from a broken left elbow, which appears to land him in the spot to go Wednesday instead of Thursday.
Former Angel Zack Greinke (1-4 lifetime against the Angels going back to his Royals days) goes for the Dodgers in tonight’s opener against C.J. Wilson. Otherwise, the firework show we’ve all been expecting may just be more contract money going up in flames.

THE BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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Q and A: How former UCLA baseball coach Gary Adams found John Wooden not just sharing his office, but his passion for the game

smallWooden Back CoverGary Adams has two baseballs in his collection autographed by John Wooden, one of which is on the back cover of his new book.

“Just look at that penmanship,” marveled Adams, UCLA’s baseball coach for 30 seasons before retiring to Bear Valley Springs in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County in 2004. “He used to say you could put the NBA 24-second shot clock on him when he was asked to sign a basketball, but he needed the college’s 35-second shot clock when it came to signing a baseball. That certainly is a prized possession.”

9781595800763_p0_v1_s600Why the 74-year-old Adams would continue to cherish such a small token given to him by the legendary UCLA basketball coach speaks more to a 36-year relationship they started when they shared an office space on Westwood campus for eight years that many may not have known about.

Adams, who played baseball at UCLA from 1959-62, was hired by athletic director J.D. Morgan as the Bruins’ coach in 1975. That was also Wooden’s final season, capped by the last of his 10 NCAA championships.

Morgan wanted Wooden to keep an office at the athletic department, and asked Adams if he wouldn’t mind having a rather high-profile bunkmate.

“When I tell people the story of how J.D. asked this, I say, ‘Well, I’ll have to think about it and get back to you’,” Adams says before laughing.

Adams2-2004As it turned out, Wooden made the request to give incoming basketball coach Gene Bartow his own space, and Wooden’s desire to hole up with Adams came from of his unrequited love of baseball.

And as the friendship grew, and the conversations continued, inevitably things would circle back to, of all things, baseball.

Adams’ new book, “Conversations With Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes and Life” (Santa Monica Press, 439 pages, $24.95) reflects more on just the lessons learned by being in the presence of Wooden, who died at age 99 three summers ago, but, inspired by his Pyramid of Success, how he eventually created his own little-publicized Sphere of Commitment as a guide for his players in the late ‘90s.

QUESTION: This isn’t the first book, nor will it likely be the last, about John Wooden and the impact he had on someone’s life. Do you find yourself learning something new from those written before your book? Continue reading

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It’s Out of the Question: Magic, where art those pro-Mattingly tweets?

Magic Johnson and  Don Mattingly chat before a game last season.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Magic Johnson and Don Mattingly chat before a game last season. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

The question surrounding if, when, why and how Don Mattingly will lose his prime leaning spot on the Dodgers dugout railing all go back to how decisions really are made in this gaggle of Guggenheimers that include money man Mark Walters, sound-bite Stan Kasten, some other Hollywood hanger-ons, and . . . .

magic_tshirt250x265Oh, that guy they’re honoring next week with a “Magic Johnson-themed” T-shirt giveaway, in hopes it might entice more customers to an otherwise off-the-radar Dodgers-Angels series contest.

No need to jog our memory of Magic’s history with coaching changes. Back in ’81, he soon tired of the person in charge got Paul Westhead thrown under Jerry Buss’ undercarriage.

With such a coach-killing track record, where’s Magic’s e-voice been lately with any twits of support for Donnie Baseball?

On May 8: “Dodger Nation: I’m disappointed with our slow start but, I still feel we are going to play better and have a good season.”

There’s someone with some real hardball know-how.

You ever think it’s probably best Magic doesn’t go to the mat for Mattingly? Consider his post on May 21: “I’m supporting Wendy Greuel for Mayor of Los Angeles! Don’t forget to get out and vote today!”

How’d that grueling experience turn out again? Continue reading

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Why Kevin Kennedy can pull for Don Mattingly without any misconception of trying to help push him out

Kevin Kennedy managed the Boston Red Sox from 1994-1995, and had his team rebound from an x-xx start to just miss the playoffs.

Kevin Kennedy managed the Boston Red Sox from 1994-1995, and had his team rebound from an 36-49 start his final season to just miss the playoffs with an 85-77 mark.

Let’s be clear about this: Kevin Kennedy isn’t campaigning to be the next manager of the Dodgers.

Can you blame him?

l-46ebf40dbbb6431397a9c80ec57b829ajpg-8e03186ef180fd28_largeThe perspective he has on a day-to-day basis looking down from the Dodgers press box and then having to hop on the air to co-host the “DodgerTalk” postgame show on KLAC-AM 570 gives him an extremely viable platform to do such an underhanded thing.

Instead, imbedded as a media member for the last 14 years since his two stints managing in Texas and Boston came and went, Kennedy isn’t going to grab the mike after watching another Dodgers implosion and say, “If I were managing this team, I would . . .”

“I’m not about that, and I’m not about to go there,” Kennedy said this afternoon. “I have my own ideas and feelings about what a lot of managers do, and I can talk about that sometimes (on his Sirius XM radio show). But on Dodger Talk, if a fan calls in, I let him say his piece and then try to explain it from the other side.

“They’re just seeing the end result, not all the other things that go on before and after, the meeting with the coaches. This is all about teaching the fans. That’s what I love about this job.” Continue reading

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Sunday’s triple header of F1, IRL and NASCAR signature races a first for U.S. TV

Will Buxton, a British motorsports journalist who NBC has hired to help cover Formula One events, said it this week about the famed Monaco Grand Prix:

Monaco-Grand-Prix-1930-poster-1906694“If ever there is a moment at which you became disillusioned with the sport, you are reminded of the majesty and splendor of this incredible sport, it is standing trackside here in Monaco with cars flying past you over 100 mph, inches from your face.
“You can feel the working parts of the engine rise through your feet and your legs, up your spine, draw the breath out of your lungs as they fly past you. This place gives you a buzz for motorsports that nowhere else on earth gives you.”

That’s a legal buzz in Europe, by the way.

Some Americans may feel the same about the IRL’s iconic Indianapolis 500, or NASCAR’s longest race of the year, the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C. Interestingly, if your 3D flatscreen happens to have fume-a-vision, you’ll be able to experience all three of these races Sunday for the first time in one felled sniff.

The NBC Sports Network has added the Monaco Grand Prix live at 4:30 a.m. ESPN’s production of the Indy 500 for ABC follows at 8 a.m. (with the race at 9:15 a.m.). Fox then caps the pre-Memorial Day trifecta with the NASCAR Sprint Cup classic at 2:30 p.m.

And which one will Danica Patrick be in again? Continue reading

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