Coming up Sunday:
We have a Q-and-A planned with longtime CBS play-by-play man Verne Lundquist, who called Thursday’s UCLA win over SMU in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament and will do the Bruins’ third-round game against Alabama-Birmingham at 9:10 a.m. on Saturday from Louisville, Ky., with Jim Spanarkel.
This time, it’s too good to be truTV — it has made it to the KCBS-Channel 2 menu, with the Kentucky-Cincinnati game right afterward.
And no, if both UCLA and Kentucky win, they don’t play each other next. They may be on the same court this weekend, but they’re in different regions.
We’ve allowed Verne to rest up after doing those four games on Thursday and not getting back to his hotel until 3 a.m.
What else we have worthy of notes at this juncture in the week:
== CBS’ Doug Gottlieb, who referred to UCLA’s inclusion in the NCAA Tournament as a “joke” on Selection Sunday, followed up on it with new facts available — the Bruins’ 70-69 win over SMU — when asked about it Friday morning on the Dan Patrick syndicated radio/TV show: “I didn’t think UCLA belonged in the field because they didn’t beat enough good teams. But I also picked them to beat SMU. Now I don’t feel like some sort of champion because they got a lucky call on an airball. But the idea that the team doesn’t belong in, and they win, and that proves me wrong …”
I’m not following the logic there.
== KCBS Channel 2’s Jim Hill will add Cal State Northridge coach Reggie Theus as a tournament analyst on “Sports Central” starting Friday at 9 p.m. and he will remain through the title game on April 6.
== CBS and Turner has added Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, the Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks grad, as a guest studio analysts starting Saturday from the studios in Atlanta, joining Matt Winer, Mateen Cleaves and Seth Davis. Pitt, which finished tied for ninth in the ACC at 19-15 overall and failed to make the field of 68, lost its first-round NIT game to George Washington earlier this week.
== Last we checked, the Dodgers’ regular-season availability on flagship radio station KLAC-AM (570) was pretty close to 100 percent saturation in Southern California — unless you were driving through a tunnel on the 110 Freeway through Pasadena and Charley Steiner’s pitch for Daniel’s Jewelers suddenly disappeared.
But with the second part of an announcement this week, one that started last September with the team not only renewing a radio rights deal with 570 but also saying it was investing in an ownership stake of the station, the rebranded “AM 570 LA Sports” with a spiffy new logo and the elimination of “Fox Sports Radio” references this week seemed to leave out a piece of news we thought would be included.
That is, if the Dodgers are in now as partners, why wouldn’t there be daily live coverage of every spring training exhibition game from Arizona as an essential part of that deal?
Consider that the Angels carry every one of their exhibition games on their own KLAA-AM (830), interrupting whatever ESPN Radio syndicated coverage that would be blasted out in the midweek afternoons. The Dodgers’ TV carriage deal with SportsNet L.A. continues to stall and, with the latest FCC delay on the Time Warner Cable-Comcast and DirecTV-AT&T mergers likely pushing live local Dodger TV games citywide to perhaps past the All-Star break, the news isn’t getting any sweeter.
This would seem to be a natural entry point to create more buzz going into the season — aside from the revival of the nightly 7 p.m. DodgerTalk show hosted by Kevin Kennedy and David Vassegh.
Instead, the media blackout seems to be even more curiouser and curiouser, no matter how an in-studio appearance at the station this week by Vin Scully tried to frame it.
Senior VP/Station manager Don Martin points out that 570 will be carrying 18 Dodgers exhibition games this year — the most it has ever done. That includes all games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Except that arrangement got some tweaking this week when the Friday window was replaced by Thursday’s Dodgers-Angels game, which awkwardly pushed UCLA’s NCAA Tournament basketball opening game against SMU from its usual 570 home to AM-1150.
The Dodgers’ radio schedule is on the station’s home page (www.am570lasports.com) and billboards have already gone up around town promoting the change.
It’s interesting when we recall the days when the Dodgers were on KABC-AM (790) and every spring, station management would cringe at the fact that the obligation to cover every exhibition game (in those days, from Vero Beach, Fla., which meant a 10 a.m. start) took away listeners who wanted to hear the popular Michael Jackson show.
But with today’s technology, if a listener who didn’t want to hear the Dodgers’ exhibition from Arizona at 1 p.m. wanted to keep tuned to the shows by Jay Mohr or Petros and Money, the live audiostreaming either online or via a phone app is always an option.
“We have a commitment to our audience to cover all LA Sports, and I believe that this gives a us a wonderful balance,” Martin said of continuing the regular mid-week lineup.
Dodgers executive VP and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen said the team’s financial investment in the station is “very significant. We have had a number of suitors to work with going forward but we feel most comfortable with KLAC. It’s a perfect association. There is more Dodger Talk now, but really the station doesn’t change except for the logo. It’s a rebranding.”
And also allowing the iHeartMedia L.A. company to better promote the Dodgers on its seven other stations — Real 92.3, KOST-FM (103.5), KIIS-FM (102.7), MYfm (104.3), KFI-AM (640) and KEIB-AM (1150).
But then again, it’s apparently been too many years to count since anyone paid attention to KLAC (570 AM) anyway, according to Jebidiah Atkinson ….
== Via the New York Daily News, from the Sports Business Daily: Will MLB fans finally get video streaming access to local games? It might sound like a way around the SportsNet LA hitch, but it usually means you have authenticate that you have a TV provider that has the channel you’re seeking.
== You get the postcard in the mail yet? The one where Time Warner Cable gently reminds you that “DirecTV doesn’t give you every Dodgers game — Time Warner Cable does” — along with the promise of a $300 “rewards card” for making the switch now, plus a free installation and pay $89.99 per month for one year?
Looks tempting, doesn’t it?
(Fine print: That $300 card will be mailed approximately four-to-six weeks after the 90 day installation period. Card expires on 6/6/15. Do the math. Can you apply it to your monthly cable bill?)
== Part of L.A.-based Fox’s annual celebration of its coverage of the Auto Club 400 in Fontana this week is making it seem as if there’s a special Hollywood connection to NASCAR — such as pushing Jeff Gordon to make a special appearance on Fox’s own “American Idol” show Thursday.
Fox has 18 hours of live coverage from the Sprint Cup and Xfinity series at Auto Club Speedway, climaxed by the race Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (Channel 11)., with pre-race starting at noon. Play-by-play man Mike Joy is joined by analysts Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds, plus reporters Jamie Little, Chris Neville and Matt Yocum for the race; Chris Myers hosts the pre-race with Darrell and Michael Waltrip.
As part of the Fox-NASCAR deal to rotate drivers in as analysts, Clint Bowyer drew the short straw for the Xfinity Series coverage on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11, with Adam Alexander, Michael Waltrip, Vince Welch, Little and Yocum). FS1, the logo that all AYSO kids will proudly be forced to wear this year on their jerseys because of the network’s connection to soccer, also has the Sprint Cup practice on Friday (noon).
== In the creative capital of the film and TV world, will Fox have any new, cool drone cameras on hand to use for its NASCAR coverage in Southern California this weekend?
Maybe not this year, but check back in the near future.
Not to drone on any more about this, but Fox Sports issued a release this week explaining how the network will “aggressively pursue” the use of drone cameras at live events, sending out a video clip of a practice session it did in Indianapolis recently in coverage of AMA Supercross.
But there’s no more testing scheduled, and nothing planned for Fontana this weekend.
“There is no question we are looking into ways to in-
corporate this next-
level technology into a wide variety of our sports prop-
erties,” said Fox Sports president, COO and exec producer Eric Shanks in a release. “While certainly not limited to use in motor sports, capturing the speed and on-track aggressive competition of Monster Energy Supercross from new and unique angles with multiple drones in operation at the same time was a great place to start. We’re thrilled with what we learned from this live-event simulation, and we are excited to see where it takes us next.”
HeliVideo Productions, the Austin, Tex.-based company that has been granted FAA approval for TV and film cinematography, used three drones to track the motorcycles in the experiment.
“We proved today that drones are not only going to be an enhancement in our production toolkit but they are poised and ready to move into the spotlight of total event production,” said Brad Cheney, the Fox Sports director of technical operations. “The capabilities we saw today will open up new and more compelling images of the event with little to no impact on the in-stadium experience. The control of movement of these devices was faster and more agile than we expected to see in such a dynamic environment as supercross, with bikes running around at high speeds, reaching incredible heights. We look forward to continuing our quest to place drones into all our producers’ hands.”
== Can you wait until May 30? Because that’s the first time the Dodgers make it onto a Fox Sports 1/Fox-KTTV Channel 11 Saturday MLB telecast, according to the schedule the network released this week. That day marks a Dodgers’ visit to St. Louis at 4 p.m. It’s a regional telecast on Channel 11.
Should it really be much of a surprise that the Fox coverage begins with … don’t wait for it, it’s Yankees-Red Sox, of course, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 11, but then the Angels’ game at Anaheim against Kansas City is tacked onto a split doubleheader at 6 p.m.
FS1 has 38 games on its schedule, the second year of its existence. Fox (KTTV Channel 11) will have 27 more (at the minimum, or 31 at the maximum. The Yankees appear on the first three Saturdays of the FS1 coverage.
The second time the Dodgers have an appearance after May 30 isn’t until Saturday, July 4 when they host the New York Mets at 4 p.m. How’s that going to work for a post-game fireworks show?
Other scheduled Dodgers telecasts for Fox are July 28 (at Washington, FS1, 1 p.m.), Aug. 1 (vs. the Angels, FS1, 1 p.m.) and Aug. 8 (at Pittsburgh, FS1, 1 p.m.).
After that first April 11 appearance, the Angels appear May 2 (at San Francisco, FS1, 1 p.m.), May 23 (at Boston, Fox Channel 11, regional game at 4 p.m.), June 6 (at N.Y. Yankees, Fox Channel 11, regional game at 4 p.m.), June 27 (home vs. Seattle, Fox Channel 11, regional game at 4 p.m.); Aug 1 (at Dodgers, previously noted) and Aug. 15 (at Kansas City, FS1, 4 p.m.).
Scoreboard: Angels 7, Dodgers 5.
Could it be a reflection that the Angels are one of the 15 teams part of a Fox Sports Regional Network affiliate (and the Dodgers used to be, but are not any longer)? As Fox noted in its schedule release, its regional nets will produce more than 2,200 games this season for the Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Padres, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Royals, Tigers, Twins and Yankees.
That’s covering all your bases, and keeping your clients content.
== Because the 20 minutes that Jon Oliver used (above) to uncover the insane ways the NCAA treats student-athletes on the last HBO episode of “Last Week Tonight” wasn’t enough, the 216th edition of “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (HBO, Tuesday at 10 p.m.) will spend an hour on the same topic.
This Gumbel-esque examination starts with two pieces, one called “The Wreckage,” with correspondent Bernie Goldberg looking at how injuries to college athletes can leave a legacy of medical bills. The other, “Under the Radar,” has reporter Jon Frankel getting into the mental health angle of how an athlete functions with practices and classwork responsibilities that can get overwhelming. Gumbel will then lead a discussion on both segments. And if that’s not enough, comedian Lewis Black will lash out at the NCAA in his closing segment. Make sure you bring a spit guard. There will also be an “overtime” session available on www.HBO.com/realsports.
On that note, celebrated sports pundit Bob Costas appears on the latest edition of “Real Time With Bill Maher” as the top-of-the-show interview guest. That episode debuts on HBO on Friday at 10 p.m.
== Chris Fowler, who, for as much as he’s known now for his college football work at ESPN, will end up calling three of the four tennis majors this season, leads the broadcast team for both the men’s and women’s final at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday from Indian Wells. Chrissie Evert and Pam Shriver join him on the women’s championship match, starting at 11 a.m. The men’s championship follows with Fowler paired up with Patrick McEnroe and Darren Cahill.
== Since everyone else seems to have created an over-hyped deal with this Premiere Boxing Champions organization — whether it pays for the air time or not — ESPN has announced its own PBC series with 12 two-hour shows per season starting Saturday, July 11 at 6 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The deal includes matches to appear on ABC on Saturday afternoons, with details to come. And because boxing is such a sport of today’s 18-34 age demo — that’s heavy handed sarcasm — coverage for ESPN/ABC will be on WatchESPN via computers, smartphones, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Ask your neighborkids what those are. Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will continue to describe the action for the networks. This effectively does away with ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights,” a series for the last 17 years. The last Friday night show will be May 22.
NBC, CBS and Spike TV already have a PBC fight package, with NBC experimenting with a prime-time card already to mixed reviews.
== Despite raising enough intrigue to force a purchase of a book once we came across in the store, “Bias in the Booth: An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News,” spun by Dylan Gwinn, doesn’t give us enough to put out much of an endorsement.
We’re kind of surprised we haven’t heard much of Gwinn, who appears to be part of the Yahoo! Radio Sports Network (late nights on weekends) and goes by the Twitter handle “The Mighty Gwinn” (where is also describes himself as ‘Christian. Father. Husband. Patriot. Sports.’)
Especially after this. With all the conclusions he jumps to, we’re sure we’d have seen him featured in a Guiness Book of World Records for most broken bones as a result of jumping to conclusions and connecting unrelated dots.
The promise was that the premise would spark some intellectual challenges to how the sports media operates. It unfortunately does not. Unless you happen to be a blind loyalists to ideas expounded on the Fox News Network that’s humorously pretending to be fair and balanced.
We always hope to be one of the first to point out problems that the sports media has, but for starters, there’s nothing “exposed” here. Whether the media “distorts” the news is always an issue, but there are plenty of checks and balances in place to correct those inaccuracies.
Maybe the book in a questionable nutshell really is summed up in this last paragraphs from the afterward, where the Houston-based Gwinn writes:
“Conservative and nonpolitical fans want to be able to talk about the teams they love without having their worldview besmirched and denigrated by a bunch of wanna be Chris Matthewses and Rachel Maddows. … Conservatives are natural sports fans, because they love competition, revel in American traditions and history (including sports), and appreciate individual hard work and striving for greatness. The demand from conservative sports fans for real sports coveage, liberated from leftist agendas and politically correct spin, is palpable and growing.
“The sports world has been politicized, and there’s probably nothing that can undo that. Now that the sanctity of our once pristine and unvoilated sports sanctum has been breached, our responsibility is to do something about it. It’s not something that you or I, in our innocence, signed up to do. But if we want real sports reporting and commentary that’s accurate and fair, if we want to thwart an arrogant liberal media that want to remake sports, our country, and ourselves, then we need to shut off the bad guys and tune into the good guys. With the decision that you and I make, a better sports media can start today.”
Keep fighting the fight if that’s what you believe.
== Someday, there may be an ESPN viewing party in Southern California for the release of the 16-team field for the NCAA men’s hockey tournament. Just in case you want to start your own puck bash to say you did this thing long before anyone else, note the brackets come out Sunday (9 a.m., ESPNU) leading up the Frozen Four on April 9, with the final on Saturday, April 11.
== There are all kinds of venting is penting up here from the news this week that former Washington Post reporter Jason Reid, who started his journalism career with the Daily Breeze and spent time at the L.A. Times, was cut off from doing a morning show in Washington D.C. because Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who owns the station decided it wasn’t going to happen, apparently based on the recommendation by team GM Bruce Allen.
You’re really going to keep playing these kind of chicken-bleep games with the media and think no one will notice?
Read more from the Washington Post, particularly this piece by Dan Steinberg under the headline “vindictiveness or incompetence?”
“If you’re trying to find a moral in this whole saga — in which facts remain as scarce as returned telephone calls — try this one: The people calling the shots about Reid’s shuttered show were either extraordinarily vindictive, or extraordinarily incompetent. Neither seems like a badge of honor. It goes without saying that I’m nowhere near objective on this matter. I’m friends with Reid, although he hasn’t responded to my messages this week.”
Same here with trying to get messages sent to Reid.
Adds NBC.com’s ProFootballTalk, which may have a little objectivity: “It remains heavy handed and petty (though unsurprising) by Snyder, to take one of your harshest critics off the beat with the promise of a job, only to yank it away at the last moment.”
Even former Dodgers hot-head Milton Bradley would have to agree with that.
== And finally:
Thanks to all those who have responded to pieces I’ve done over the last week related to the passing, and impact, of sports-talk show host/reporter Joe McDonnell. The pleasure was mine, especially combing through Joe’s Twitter account to find photos of him in recent years, and long ago, and reflections he had along the way when the job search wasn’t going so well.
Add this one to your collection — Tomm Looney compares McDonnell perfectly to a pineapple in a piece he did for LARadio.com.
A funeral Mass for McDonnell is a go for Wednesday at St. John Baptist De La Salle (107 Havenhurst Ave, Granada Hills, on the corner of Hayvenhurt and Chatsworth) at 10 a.m., with a prayer service at the same church on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The family has asked that instead of flowers, “do something nice for someone less fortunate.”