What’s part of this week’s column posted here:
The sparkle of a Kings’ outdoor NHL game may have come and gone with last year’s appearance at Dodger Stadium against the Ducks. But as the lead-in for their Feb. 21 encounter against the San Jose Sharks in Santa Clara, this four-part EPIX “Road to the Stadium Series” series from Ross Greenburg Productions has plenty of behind-the-scenes revelations that fans of the team will appreciate if they have yet to access it. Most noteworthy: coach Darryl Sutter’s inside the locker room demeanor versus what kinds of non-sound bites he usually gives the media.
Meantime, access the first two episodes at www.epixhd.com, with episodes 3 and 4 coming the next two Tuesdays.
What else we felt was right and just to include:
== A documentary that Greenburg’s production company began on the life of former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in early 2014 will become a one-hour Showtime special to premiere on March 25, the network announced this week. George Roy directed and edited it, and Steve Stern wrote it.
Among those who will appear in the doc are Charlie Scott, the first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC, and former Tar Heel stars Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison, Eric Montross and J.R. Reid.
Smith died at the age of 83 last Saturday and, while there was no cause of death given, his family said five years ago that he suffered from a progressive neurological disorder.
“We did understand that he was not well, and I think the fact he struggled with Alzheimer’s has not been talked much this week,” said Greenburg, who did not interview Smith for the piece. “We didn’t know he was going to pass just before we would air this. It’s kind of amazing. We were planning on doing it for March, right around the NCAA Tournament, but it’s interesting to do this now because instead of a documentary it becomes an obituary.”
== TheUndefeated.com is the impactful name they’re going with at ESPN for the new site devoted to sports, race and culture that will launch this summer and lean on the voice of columnist Jason Whitlock as its editor-in-chief.
Whitlock explained in a statement that the name is inspired by a famous quote from poet Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
So no more do we lazily just call this the “Black Grantland.”
“Maya’s quote perfectly captures the African-American journey and the spirit athletes and all Americans try to embrace,” said Whitlock. “It’s wonderful to see our collective vision coming together.”
As something of a test run for the site, ESPN.com posted a 9,000-word profile of Charles Barkley, the Turner Sports analyst and NBA Hall of Famer, by TheUndefeated.com writers Jesse Washington and Justin Tinsley, who pose the question: Is Barkley the modern day Muhammad Ali, a voice for the ages on race. Or Jack Johnson, a provocateur with no real agenda?
ESPN also warns the story contains “explicit language.”
== As much as we enjoyed honoring the life and times of former NFL Films chief Steve Sabol upon his passing occurred in 2012, we tend to smile even more reading about the ground-breaking accomplishments of his father, Ed, the actual NFL Films creator and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who died this week at the age of 98.
Sabol founded NFL Films in 1964 and ran it until ’95, winning 52 Emmy Awards in the process.
Here is his obit written by the Associated Press.
As Steve once said: “My dad has a great expression. He always says, ‘Tell me a fact and I’ll learn, tell me the truth and I believe, but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.’ Interestingly enough now, my dad’s story is going to be in Canton and hopefully that will live forever, too.”
Here’s a column on Ed Sabol by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom is entitled “I love this man (even though I never met him)”
In a discussion on “Pardon The Interruption,” Tony Kornheiser said: “I always wondered why it took the NFL so long to put Ed Sabol in the Hall of Fame. He got in at (age) 94. Who was more important than him?”
Added Dan Patrick as he made it the first topic on his Tuesday radio show: “(Ed and Steve Sabol) are the most important people in NFL history. If I said (Ed Sabol) transformed the NFL, I’d be shortchanging his legacy. He didn’t change the way we think about football, he changed the way we view sports. He also changed movie making as well. …
“Other leagues have tried to copy NFL Films, but it’s not easy because you have to try to copy the passion of the Sabol family. They turned a hobby into a company. And they’re gone, but the legacy will live on. … The Sabols, and rightfully so, they’re Hall of Famers. People may say it’s Joe Namath or Pete Rozelle or Vince Lombardi … they made the game bigger, but I thought the Sabols made the game better.”
Bob Ryan, the former VP of NFL Films and the company’s fourth employee hired, told Sports Video Group that “Ed loved Hollywood movies, and that’s what he wanted our movies to be like — as did Steve. The sports fan will always like your movies, but he wanted little kids and women who didn’t give a damn about football to see the artistry and majesty of the game. John Facenda, original music, sideline sound — all were innovations of his.”
== One more AP obit, this time about one of its own — NFL writer Dave Goldberg who died Sunday at 73. It points out that his pet peeves about the business concerned “if reporting was losing its standards, with less fact-checking and excessive use of anonymous sources.” We checked that out, and it’s true.
Goldberg described himself on his Twitter account: “old guy who is said to know a lot about football (and futbol) but hopes he knows about other things too. Retired (almost) so I read a lot.”
== How the passing of golfer Charlie Sifford reminded one-time Augusta Chronicle columnist Joe Posnanski that “Sifford was the topic of the only column (I think) that I’ve ever had spiked. I don’t bring this up to rehash old memories or embarrass any of the people involved (including myself) but instead to make a point about Charlie Sifford and what he faced in his life both as a golfer and a man.”
== Is there value in having viewers in China up to speed with what the Pac-12 is doing on the basketball court? The Pac-12 is banking on it.
The conference announced last week that it developed a partnership with Chinese interactive video platform LeTV to live stream 27 men’s basketball games, including the Pac-12 tournament in March. This makes the Pac-12 the only conference to have this kind of deal with China and, as the conference says in making the announcement, it is “a big step forward in the Pac-12’s ongoing Globalization Initiative.
“The initiative is an unprecedented effort to showcase the Pac-12 and its member institutions in China through student-athlete exchanges and sport. Since launching the Pac-12 Globalization Initiative in 2011, the Conference has sent men and women’s basketball teams, two women’s all-star volleyball teams, and a men’s basketball all-star team to China for competitive exhibitions.”
Next season, the Pac-12 is sending the University of Washington to China to play host to a game against Texas.
“For the first time ever, the basketball-savvy Chinese audience will see our talented student-athletes compete at the highest level of basketball and learn more about our member universities,” said commissioner Larry Scott.
UCLA’s games against Colorado on Jan. 31, at Cal on Feb. 7 and home to Oregon State on Wednesday this week were among the 27 games in this package. USC’s games at Arizona (Feb. 19), at Arizona State (Feb. 22) and home to Washington State (Feb. 25) and Washington (Feb. 28) are also included.
== Amy Van Dyken, the former Olympic gold-medal swimmer who last June became paralyzed in an ATV accident, will work for the Pac-12 Network on the live coverage of the UCLA-USC women’s swim meet Friday at 1 p.m. from the USC campus. More on her appearance for the first time with network covering the USC-Cal meet in Berkeley on Jan. 30 from this photo gallery by the San Jose Mercury News. Van Dyken also will call the Cal-Stanford meet on Saturday and the Pac-12 championships at the end of the month.
== Is the mystery finally solved as to who played “left shark” in the Super Bowl halftime show?
== The NBA TV’s latest episode of “After Dark with Rick Fox” has the one-time Laker wrapping up the league’s visit to New York for the All-Star game with a half-hour show on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Fox’s guest include Ray Allen, as the two go to Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High to talk about his participation in the movie “He Got Game.”
== Why some of those who participate regularly on ESPN’s “Around the Horn” have some more street cred, based on the Associated Press Sports Editors’ annual awards dished out this week.
== One of the newest additions to the SiriusXM menu is “Behind the Numbers: Baseball SABR Style,” which launches Sunday at 4 p.m. and airs weekly through the year on the MLB Network Radio slate on XM Channel 89 and Sirius Channel 209. Vince Gennaro, the president of the Society for American Baseball Research since 2011 and author of the book, “Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball,” will host the show and said in a press release that the show will examine “how baseball’s decision-makers use analytics to identify trends, evaluate talent, and make informed decisions from both the front office and the dugout.”
== Bud Selig proudly never owned a computer. His MLB commissioner replacement, Rob Manfred, is all over the Internet and has plans to reconnect with that demographic. That’ll be a signal for other commissioners to get in line, or become obsolete, write Ed Sherman for the National Sports Journalism Center.
And on a related note: Since research has it as only 20 percent of the PGA Tour’s TV viewers are millennials (folks born between 1977 and ’94), and the mean age of a current viewer is about 52, the sport has some media-related plans to skew younger, per the New York Times.
== Also, why Manfred says he’s staying out of the Dodgers-SportsNet L.A. mess. For the time being.
== It makes far too much sense for NBC to bring back Marv Albert on the call for its return to prime-time boxing, as the network officially announced this week after CBS and TNT signed off on it. The otherwise over-hyped Premiere Boxing Championships, starting March 7, include Sugar Ray Leonard as an analyst and Al Michaels as the host. Albert says he and Leonard will do a practice broadcast when he’s in L.A. for an NBA game for TNT later this month. Albert, who with Ferdie Pacheco did NBC boxing from more than 20 years starting in 1980, has not worked for NBC since 2002. The first show will be on Saturday, April 11 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
== Automated Insights, the tech company that allowed the Associated Press to feed information into a program and have a story spit out for public consumption, was sold to a company that also owns STATS LLC and will expand more into the sports writing field, according to a story generated by a human being at Poynter.org, and subsequently capsulized by another human being — myself — just for this purpose.
== With the release of another new ESPN SportsCenter app for iPhones, iPads, iPods and Androids, “we begin the process of unifying experiences through a single brand, a common aesthetic and consistent interface,” says Ryan Spoon, the Senior Vice President, Digital Product Placement.
== Since the 2016 Summer Olympics from Brazil will include sevens rugby for the first time, NBC ramps up its coverage of the sport at the three-day, 16-team 2015 USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament from Las Vegas this weekend. Universal Sports Network, with Bill Seward on the call, starts it on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Todd Harris calls matches covered by NBC and NBCSN (Saturday, 11 a.m., and Sunday at noon on Channel 4; Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on NBCSN). Former player Brian Hightower as the analyst. This event is the only one in the U.S. as part of a nine-event global Olympic qualifying circuit. The U.S. team is currently in eighth place.
== ESPN taped its 2015 “Sports Science Netwon Awards in Phoenix during Super Bowl week and will air them Sunday at 7 p.m., hosted by John Brenkus. These awards, according to the network, aren’t voted upon but are bestowed based on “unprecedented scientific analysis of thousands of athletic performances from the world of sports during 2014.” Nominees include the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Kings, as a team — most likely for the category “Most Improbable.”
== And finally, as the news sets in that Radio Shack has finally gone under — it still had the name “Radio” in its title? — we are reminded of the TRS Model 100 computers that we sportswriters used for such a long time back in the day — the TRS-80 family of computers actually — which were sometimes much tougher and reliable than the people banging on the keyboard.
I’ll never forget the updated 200 model (above) I actually put my own money down as an investment in the mid 1990s rather than taking the company-issued alternative — this was a flip-top, that had what seemed to be a billion inches of screen to use. Pre-internet, land-line driven, when the time came to have it pried out of my hands for what was the next latest thing in personal computer technology, I feared throwing it into a landfill because there were probably better uses for it — the thing was as useful as a Kevlar jacket in protecting anyone from taking a bullet.
I’d take a bullet for my Trash 80. Tossing it in the trash seemed so inhumane.
On the 35th anniversary of the machine in 2012, a piece in Time magazine asked that it no longer be remembered as the “Trash 80.” That’s garbage. The name was one of endearment.
Others are still as whistful with their memories of the thing that cost us plenty in double-A batteries. Then there was this tweet that also hit the mark: