Keith Olbermann at ESPN2, version 2.0, coming Aug. 26

From 1993, Keith Olbermann on the ESPN2 set. (Photo by Rick LaBranche / ESPN Images)

From 1993, Keith Olbermann on the ESPN2 set. (Photo by Rick LaBranche / ESPN Images)

Keith Olbermann’s return to ESPN after a 16-year absence to host a weeknight late show beginning Aug. 24 became officially verified with a conference call full of media members curious as to why this would be happening all over again.

We’ll get into more of it in Friday’s weekly media column, but for those wondering how this came about, talks have been in the works for more than a year about Olbermann returning, pushed on his side to try to rectify some of the nasty terms he left on.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity,” said the former KTLA-Channel 5 and KCBS-Channel 2 sports anchor this morning. “This is a chance to put a little different ending on my relationship with ESPN.

From 1993: ESPN host Keith Olbermann is posing for the camera on the ESPN2 studio set in this promotional photo. (Photo by Rick LaBranche/ ESPN Images)

From 1993: ESPN host Keith Olbermann is posing for the camera on the ESPN2 studio set in this promotional photo. (Photo by Rick LaBranche/ ESPN Images)

“I appreciate the fresh start, and we’ll see how much success we can get in that way. This is not quite the Paris peace accords, but we’ve done a very good job. I’m the main beneficiary and hope to make the audience the second beneficiary.”

Added ESPN president John Skipper:  “We don’t ultimately have to work through anything except my having discussions and being sensitive to some of the previous issues. …. It ultimately was my decision.”

This sports-focused show called “Olbermann” will air in the 8 p.m. PDT window, emanating from the network’s Times Square studio in New York, and, for its debut, will come on the heels of ESPN2 coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Olbermann says that despite some premature reports, there is no clause in his contract that will prevent him from talking politics — a career path he had recently on MSNBC and on Current TV as a pundit.

keith-olbermannTwitter is already alive with responses to the news. One from @DannyZucker, the writer and executive producer for ABC’s “Modern Family”: ESPN confirms that Keith Olbermann will return to the network and be fired 12 days later.

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Reflecting on the Lasorda Q-and-A: You gotta believe we got responses

lasordesIn today’s editions of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press Telegram, Pasadena Star and all others in the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, a version of the Tommy Lasorda Q-and-A appears — one condensed from the blog version we posted over the weekend.

(We’ve also posted some video worth checking out, linked here).

Among the responses we’ve received is an essay written by John Paciorek, whose brother Tom played for the Dodgers in the 1970s and was one of Lasorda’s favorites.

John Paciorek has become famous in baseball lore for having the best one-game performance for the Houston Astros as an 18-year-old in 1963 before an injury derailed his career — one where he finished with a 1.000 batting average. In 2012, Sports Illustrated caught up with John Paciorek to recapture what happened and where he is today with his family in San Gabriel.

John writes: Continue reading “Reflecting on the Lasorda Q-and-A: You gotta believe we got responses” »

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Play It Forward: July 15-21 — Dodger, Angel reps are far and few between in MLB All-Star Game

How the week ahead lays out on your sports calendar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

STK527373MLB ALL-STAR GAME from CitiField in New York, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Channel 11:
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Mike Trout is in the AL starting lineup, and at some point, may even face off against Clayton Kershaw coming out of the NL bullpen.
Otherwise, what will compel an L.A. viewer to invest any time in tuning into some star power offered in the 84th edition of this non-exhibition game from the Mets’ home dominion?
Seeing Mariano Rivera trot out of the AL pen one last time, to the roar of the New York crowd?
logoesWaiting for Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez to come off the bench and join Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran in an “all-Carlos” NL outfield?
Trying to guess which teams Justin Masterson, Brett Cecil, Jason Castro, Salvador Perez, Glen Perkins, Jesse Crain, Steve Delabar, Jose Fernandez, Jeff Locke, Pedro Alvarez, Matt Carpenter or Jean Segura play for? You sure we didn’t stumble into an MLS All-Star festival?
Also: Home Run Derby contest, 5 p.m., Monday, ESPN.

BEST OF THE REST Continue reading “Play It Forward: July 15-21 — Dodger, Angel reps are far and few between in MLB All-Star Game” »

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Lasorda Q-and-A Part VI: What else is on his mind?

lasorda ringQ: So which World Series championship ring do you where there on your right hand?
A: That’s the Hall of Fame ring. It’s the top of the mountain. You crawl, you scratch, you laugh, then you get this. I used to wear World Series rings, but I’d never know which one to wear – 1988 or 1981. One was full of talent. The other was a bunch of no-named who scratched and clawed their way to the top.

Q: Are you able to throw batting practice anymore?
A: Not since I fell in a hotel room years ago. I’m trying to put my foot up and pull on a sock and fell backward, hit my head. I put my hand out to break my fall and tore up everything in my left arm. My doctor said he could fix it. Why? Just so I could throw out first pitches? I’ll just roll the ball out there across the field.

tommy-lasordaQ: If you were ever going to be a head coach in something other than baseball, what would it be?
A: I would love to have been a football coach. I still speak to a lot of teams. The Wisconsin team has won four Rose Bowls every time I speak to them.
Q: What kind of football strategy to you know?
A: I know quite a bit about the game. Here’s the ball, go ahead, damn it, give me everything you’ve got. That’s all I’m asking.
Q: You’d be the head coach who gave the pre-game speeches, but then turn it all over to your assistants?
A: Yeah, that’s the way to do it. Head coach doesn’t do anything. They’ve got 20 guys helping them.

Q: Any plans to go with the Dodgers to Australia next year for the season opener against the Diamondbacks?
A: No. It’s too far. I’ve only been there one time – for a good reason (the 2000 Olympics). And I popped off, too, that we were going to win the gold medal. They said no one could beat that Cuban team. That was one of the greatest thrills of my life. I cried because I knew I did something for my country, not for the Dodgers or Yankees or Reds.

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Lasorda Q-and-A Part V: What motivates, little by Little Leaguer

Lasorda slidingQ: You ever go out to see a Little League game lately? You see the coaches who maybe saw how you did things … they yell and rant at the kids, the umpires …some of the parents doing the same thing in the stands …
A: They’re wrong.
Q: What happens when you address Little Leagues parents about how to behave around their kids?
A: I put it to them this way — Mind your business, watch how they play, don’t holler at the umpire, and if your son or daughter strikes out, encourage him to keep playing, tell him how much you love him and tell him you’ll get ‘em next game.
There are parents out there screaming as if their kid is going to be in the big leagues someday. C’mon. I chew them out if I see that. Maybe they’ve got their own idea how to do things, but it’s wrong.
Just be with the kids. Let ‘em make errors. Give them all a chance. It’s not about winning. It’s spirit, togetherness. They’ll form their personality and livelihood right then and there in Little League. I’ll tell you why. In Little League, you have to listen to the manager. Right? When you’re in the big world, you’ve always got to listen to someone else. Second, in Little League, you follow orders. That’s how the world works. Third, get along with teammates. When you get in our world, you’re going to have to get along with all kinds of people. This is what you are forming when you’re playing Little League on his mind and body. See? That’s important. Don’t scream and get on them after an error. Tell ‘em how many times Babe Ruth struck out, or a pitcher got knocked out of the box.
One time I was doing a speech to a group of kids and just before I get there, I see thiss little kid crying. I found out they just lost a game and he was the losing pitcher. I went over there, put my arm around him, and said, “What are you crying for? When Major League players lose, they don’t cry.” I’m a builder, a builder of moral, self confidence, spirit, togetherness. That’s what I do.

20130328__IDB-L-LASORDA~p4_400Q: Where did that come from? Did you inherit that?
A: My father (Sabatino), may he rest in peace, used to tell us stories and he’d use our names in those stories. One time he told a story about a family with five sons – that’s what he had – and they were very strong, powerful. The church had a big rock in front of the church and the priest wanted to move it out of there. So someone said, “Get those Lasorda boys over here for dinner, then get them to move the rock.” The priest said that’s a good idea. And he fed those five brothers like you’ve never seen before. So then as my father is telling us this story and he says, “Wait a minute, you’re the guys who gotta move that rock.” He was getting that message across to us.
Another time, he had this piece of ground that he farmed. There’s an empty milk bottle and he tells me to get the bottle, go to a spring a quarter of a mile away straight from here, walk straight there. Fill it up with water and don’t break the bottle. Then – boom — he whacks me in the back of the head. I said, “What did you hit me for, pop?” “Because if you break that bottle, then it’s too late to hit you.” I carried that bottle and I know one thing, no one was going to get that away from me.  And I wasn’t going to drop it
I took that story to use. You can’t do anything about an error a guy made,  but you can do something about him not making an error in the future. That’s what he did with me. He had the story about having five guys pulling on the same end of the rope. I used a lot of his philosophy in managing. I don’t know how much education he had, but he had it down psychologically. He taught us a lot about life.
He was all about commitment and responsibility. He told us about loving each other and doing all we can for each other. In the end, when he had cancer, we were there in the hospital for him 24 hours a day. The nuns couldn’t believe it. I wish he was alive to see me become the manager of the Dodgers. God works in strange ways.

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