Weekly media column version 05.17.13: The realities of the Kings’ playoff run hits home again for Miller, Fox

What made it into the big-boy column this week:

Hockey-Ratings-JokeIt’s one year later, but it doesn’t mean the Kings’ TV crew of Bob Miller and Jim Fox have this playoff blackout thing figured out any better. They’re just more adjusted this time when NBC Sports Network takes over the coverage. Plus more on ESPN taking over the U.S. Open, while we like Dottie Pepper, and can’t really deal with car horn sounds on the radio any more.

What we put away for save keeping here on the internet machine: Continue reading

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Bling doesn’t change the Kings’ TV restrictions — Miller and Fox back into studio mode

Jim Fox and Bob Miller, during the Game 1 postgame show from the Kings' victory over San Jose on Tuesday.

Jim Fox and Bob Miller, during the Game 1 postgame show from the Kings’ victory over San Jose on Tuesday. Notice the ring on Miller’s right hand.

Sitting an otherwise empty table in the Chick Hearn Press Room at Staples Center this afternoon, Bob Miller fidgeted around with his 2012 Stanley Cup championship ring that weighed down his right hand.

“I might be the only person who has one who has worn it every day since last summer,” said the Kings’ Hall of Fame play-by-play man. “Some people have told me when I’m on camera holding the stick microphone with this hand, they can really see it shine on TV.”

With the blings of success, there still comes some steering through the blahs of reality.

At that moment, three hours before the Game 2 broadcast of the Kings-Sharks Western Conference semifinal series, Miller had no prep work to do. It was almost as if he was the official greeter in the press room, saying hello to everyone who came in to work.

As is the case that Kings’ fans finally came to grips with a season ago, NBC takes over all Stanley Cup playoff live game coverage from the local teams beyond the first round. John Forslund and Joe Micheletti have had the call on this series for the NBC Sports Network, leaving Miller and longtime analyst Jim Fox to fend for themselves.

Miller could have spent Game 2 sitting in the stands with his wife Judy, who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Instead, it was easier to stay perched high in the media press box, focused on the action below, without anyone to broadcast to about it. For good reason, the Kings have stayed with longtime radio play-by-play Nick Nickson and analyst Daryl Evans for the broadcast on KTLK-AM (1150).

Just because Miller and Fox stumbled through the awkwardness of not having a game to call a year ago during the Kings’ improbable run that ended with a finals win over New Jersey last summer doesn’t make it easier to prepare for the scenario that it could happen again as long as these Kings decide to defend their title this May and June. Continue reading

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U.S. Open’s move from CBS to ESPN starting in ’15 should be welcome to tennis viewers

us-open-tennis-ticketsAn 11-year, reported $770 million rights deal with ESPN and the U.S. Tennis Association announced Thursday will end CBS’ long-time relationship with the U.S. Open starting in 2015 and provide far more flexibility for viewers of the last Grand Slam event of the sport’s season.

CBS has been carrying the U.S. Open back to 1968, and it will have the next two women’s and men’s championships, usually held on the first week of the NFL regular season, before its deal ends in 2014.

CBS and ESPN currently share U.S. Open rights, and ESPN has sold off some of its coverage to Tennis Channel.

“We have all the respect for CBS and what they’ve done with this event, and I would submit to you fairly categorically that we expect the audience for the US Open to increase, not to decrease,” said ESPN president John Skipper, in response to questions about the ratings on CBS dwindling in recently years.  “We presented last year a coherent start-to-finish presentation of Wimbledon and the audience went up, it did not go down. Continue reading

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How unfortunate: L.A. has two in the top 10 for SI’s “Fortunate 50″

image003The Dodgers must feel fortunate Zack Greinke came back from a broken collarbone unusually fast in time to resume pitching tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Then again, when you’ve invested $29 million in his future, every missed start is a pain in the wallet. You try to fix the problem ASAP.

Now that he’s off the disabled list, Greinke has made it on to another list — Sports Illustrated’s “Fortunate 50,” a spin-off of the Fortune 500 for athletes who are doing something right — starting with hiring a good agent (or, just showing up in Ned Colletti’s office without an agent).

You do realize Greinke is the highest-paid SoCal athlete — Kobe Bryant’s salary of $27,850,000 falls just short. But because of the Laker star’s $19 mil in endorsements, he’s No. 4 on this SI list at $48,850,000, the same spot he had a year ago. Greinke, alas, has just $20,000 in endorsements, according to SI research, the smallest amount of anyone in this Top 10 (he’s at No. 10).

Floyd Mayweather Jr. topped this year’s list ranking of the 50 highest-earning pro athletes in the U.S. with $90 million projected for 2013 — with none of it coming from endorsements.

Tiger Woods, No. 1 every year from 2004-11, is down to No. 5 at $40.8 million. LeBron James (No. 2 at $56.5 million) is the first team-sport player to crack the top two since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 2004. James’s $39 million in endorsements were more than any other U.S. athlete in 2013.The New York Yankees topped team sports with five representatives on the list. The Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies came next with four players each. The Lakers had three.The complete list: si.com/Fortunate50.

Former Galaxy scallywag David Beckham ($48.3 million) tops the SI International 20, which ranks the 20 highest-earning international athletes. Sorry, you’re no longer our domestic financial burden.

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Play It Forward: May 13-19 on your sports calendar — Do the Kings have more bang for their puck?

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET: rajsmaller

NHL PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
GAME 1: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Staples Center, NBC Sports Network, KTLA-1150 (AM)
So there was a recent episode of the “Big Bang Theory” where Raj, the Cal Tech student who often gets lost in the conversation, wanted to impress his new girlfriend with his manly side by sporting a Kings home sweater to a dinner date. “I love your jersey,” said Lucy. “Thanks, I love hockey,” answered Raj. “Cool, so does my dad, we watched it all the time growing up. Who’s your favorite player?” Long pause. “Not Brian Boitano, that’s for sure,” Raj managed to spit out. It took awhile, but Raj finally came clean as to why he was putting on the act, causing Lucy to ask: “Do you even like hockey?”

Yup, that's Taylor Swift (with Demi Lovato) in a Kings sweater at a Kings game.

Yup, that’s Taylor Swift (with Demi Lovato) in a Kings sweater at a Kings game.

“No,” he admitted. “I bought this at Staples Center when I went to see Taylor Swift.” Cue canned audience laugh.

It’s all relative, right? (Just ask Sheldon, Leonard or Howard for a definition of what that might mean. … maybe even Penny, if you’re feeling lucky). If the planets are aligned for another Kings’ run to a second consecutive Stanley Cup, the empirical evidence revealed itself again during their first-round triumph over the Blues, a team that maybe played better hockey but didn’t benefit from the laws of physics at the right time (except, perhaps, in Game 1, but we’ve already purged that from our intellectual properties).

Sharks center Logan Couture collides with  Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, in a game at San Jose last April. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Sharks center Logan Couture collides with Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, in a game at San Jose last April. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

This is the time of year to see Kings black-and-silver pop up from Pasadena to Pacoima, Palos Verdes to Paso Robles and all Pythagorean theorem-friends points of interest in between.
The Kings’ version of Shark Week is an interesting switch of storylines. The Kings will have home ice advantage for the first time since 1992. The previous 16 series have started on the road, and the Kings have won the last five in a row. They topped San Jose twice at Staples Center during the regular season, including 3-2 in the last game of the regular schedule on April 27. And the Kings have won 10 in a row at home.
May the force be with Jonathan Quick’s backbrace and Dustin Penner’s slapshot at least one more round. A bigger bang for the puck awaits.
That, and Taylor Swift will be back at Staples Center in late August. In case you were wondering.
Remainder of the series this week (all games on NBC Sports Network and 1150-AM):
Game 2: 7 p.m. Thursday, Staples Center
Game 3, 6 p.m. Saturday, San Jose

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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