Chances are that UCLA play-by-play man Chris Roberts finishes his run either after calling tonight’s Bruins game against Gonzaga in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Sweet 16 from the South Regional in Houston. Or it could come Sunday if the Bruins advance to the Elite Eight.
A Final Four appearance? Let’s not get greedy. Let’s just try to capture what this extended period has meant for Roberts, as well has his broadcast partners, one step at a time.
Other news of note from the week to catch up on:
== There’s the Charles Barkley who can’t figure out where the NCAA Final Four is being played this year — Indianapolis or “In The Annapolis” — during a credit card commercial with Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson navigating. That’s a spoof. Playing off his intelligence. Done for laughs.
Then there’s the Barkley whose mere presence in the studio for the NCAA tournament for CBS and Turner apparently means that he can’t be corrected when he blatantly tries to pretend he knows what’s going on in a game right before him and is completely off base.
Barkley’s comments about Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander “playing pretty good” in Sunday’s contest when, in fact, Anderson hasn’t played in a game since late February, got a lot more run than might have been expected, opening the wounds for those who believe Barkley has no business lending his “Barkleyisms” to this particular event.
Mark Heisler, the current NBA columnist for the L.A. News Group, took the apparent acceptance of the Barkley “B.S. meter” in a piece for Forbes.com that came under the intriguing headline: “Putting Madness In March: CBS Sells Out NCAA Tourney Coverage, Lives To Regret It.” The bigger problem, as Heisler points out, is the NBA game is different from college, and putting NBA analysts on the college games isn’t such a clean transition. Still. Heisler pointed out that the worst fears of Billy Packer back in 2011 are being realized.
The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman points out “there are two sets of rules for analysts: One for Barkley and one for everybody else. That’s why they call it Madness.”
“Live TV is difficult,” wrote Jason McIntyre for TheBigLead.com. “Want to chalk this up to a slip of the tongue? That’s fine. But nobody on the set bothered correct him.”
Now, about Barkley telling a TMZ reporter that he’s tired of critics calling out President Obama for filling out a publicized bracket, and they’re only doing so “because he’s black …”
== It must be noted — if only for amazement purposes — that Barkley a previous winner, was nominated again for a Sports Emmy Award in the “Outstanding Sports Personality — Studio Analyst” category, with the Pac-12 Network’s Rick Neuheisel (now at CBS) and the MLB Network’s Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds.
Reynolds also somehow got an Emmy nomination for his game analysis work on Fox and the MLB Network. His competition includes Jon Gruden (ESPN), Cris Collinsworth (NBC), Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN/ABC) and Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN/ABC).
Also worth glossing over from release of other nominations for the 36th annual event:
= There are 40 categories, and 190 nominees, guaranteed to fill the ballroom with optimism when they’re finally given out on May 5.
= ESPN/ABC (57) and NBC Sports Group (42) were the only networks/organizations with more than 40 nominations.
= The XXII Winter Olympics had 15 nominations for NBC and its broadcast partners, while the ESPN2 program “E:60” had seven nominations — the same as Fox Sports 1’s new “Fox Sports Live” show and ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
= The “Outstanding Sports Documentary” category may be four pieces you’ve never seen: “McConkey,” about extreme freeskier Shane McConkey and aired on Starz; “Payne,” about golfer Payne Stewart that was on the Golf Channel; “SEC Storied: It’s Time” on the SEC Network (from ESPN Films), and “We Could Be King”, which aired on ESPNews.
= Four of the five nominees for “Best Sports Journalism” are from HBO’s “Real Sports.”
= The list of “Outstanding Sports Personalities — Studio Host” includes NBC/MLB Network’s Bob Costas, NFL Network/DirecTV’s Rich Eisen, TNT’s Ernie Johnson, ESPN2’s Keith Olbermann, the MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian and the late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott.
= The play-by-play nominees somehow did not include Al Michaels. They are, instead: Bob Costas (MLB Network), Mike Breen (ESPN/ABC), Ian Eagle (TNT/TBS/CBS), Mike Emrick (NBC) and Dan Hicks (NBC/Golf Channel).
= They do recognize “Outstanding Reporting.” With that, comes someone who’ll win that category from Ken Rosenthal (Fox/MLB Network), Holly Rowe (ESPN), Lisa Salters (ESPN/ABC), Michele Tafoya (NBC), Tom Verducci (MLB Network) and Tracy Wolfson (CBS/TNT/TBS). Sorry, Erin. And Pam. And anyone else on Fox NFL coverage.
== One can speak with more authority and with a clear path about the ridiculous conflicts of interest that exist in today’s media and the teams they cover — particularly when their media employer no longer has an obvious conflict (ie: The Dodgers were once owned by Fox).
“It’s such a big business that everyone is in bed with everyone else — which is really bad,” Katie Nolan boiled it down on a recent episode of her Sunday show “Garbage Time” on FS1.
“So what’s the solution? I’ll be honest, I have no idea. … But at this point, no one’s even acknowledging this is really a problem, so I think that’s a start. …. Somebody get working on that. Not me. I’m very busy.”
A start? Not to expose a lack of a simple Google search as in-depth research, but there have been plenty addressing this particular issue. Here, for at least the last 30 years.
Acknowledging that might be a healthy start.
== “Do you know who W.C. Heinz is?” Buzz Bissinger once looked his nose down at Deadspin.com editor Will Leitch during a pannel discussion on an HBO show called “Costas Now” back in 2008.
“Did you ever read him?”
Well, did you? Leitch, in fact, did. Which only seemed to upset Bissinger even more.
Now, you can read W.C., too. To avoid the complete dumbing down of today’s society, as Bissinger would have you know it.
The new book by the Library of America, “The Top Of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz” was released recently, edited by Bill Littlefield.
“The work that appeared in the (New York) Sun under the byline of ‘W.C. Heinz’ can be categorized as ‘human interest stories’ in the same sense that the work of William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway can be so categorized,” Littlefield writes in the introduction.
“Like Faulkner, Bill (which was W.C.’s nickname for his friends) Heinz understood the significance of place. For him the place was not an imaginary county in Mississippi but a real boxing gym on Eighth Avenue, or a racetrack in the rain or a tavern in the middle of a clumsy hold-up.
“Like O’Connor, he understood that the people at the edges of any endeavor offered, by necessity, original perspectives on a culture into which they would never fit.
“Like Vonnegut, he wrapped his darkest observations in humor. Often the humor was exceptionally gentle.
“Like Hemingway, he never wasted a word.”
Pick up this one and find out that, even with 576 pages, not a word, or sentence, or paragraph, or Littlefield selection, is wasted.
== With the North Carolina Tar Heels making an appearance in the NCAA West Regional at Staples Center, thanks again to Showtime for releasing the documentary, or “hourlong Valentine” on the late Dean Smith that debuted Wednesday and has upcoming showings on Sunday (9 a.m.) and Monday (9:30 p.m.) on various Showtime channels.
== In light of the piece we did last weekend with CBS’ Verne Lundquist, who got the No. 4 assignment for the Sweet 16 and had to go to Syracuse, N.Y. this weekend, we encourage participation in the AwfulAnnouncing.com bracket challenge that aims to identify the best announcer movie cameo. Lundquist’s appearance in “Happy Gilmore” continues to resonate with today’s college kids, as he told us.
== Vin Scully’s one-and-only Arizona tuneup game comes Friday when the Dodgers face San Francisco at Camelback Ranch, with a SportsNet LA start of 7 p.m. The plan is for him to also call the three Freeway Series games against the Angels next weekend.
== A special commemorative edition of The Sporting News, celebrating 125 years of baseball with “The Game We Love” edition on newsstands now, names Scully tops on a list of the 10 best announcers of all time.
There’s nothing in the paragraph justifying his No. 1 status that you already don’t know.
The rest of the list: 2. Jack Buck; 3. Mel Allen; 4. Harry Kalas; 5. Ernie Harwell; 6. Red Barber; 7. Curt Gowdy; 8. Harry Caray; 9. Bob Uecker and 10. Jaime Jarrin.
Later in the magazine, they’ve decided to name an “all-time franchise team” for everyone. The Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers’ right fielder: Matt Kemp.
“Kemp is a debatable selection,” they allow, “but he produced one of the best seasons every by a Dodger outfielder in 2011, batting .324 with 39 homers, 126 RBIs and 40 steals.” No mention of how many errors. Duke Snider is the center fielder, with Zack Wheat in left.
== A reminder: Former L.A. Daily News baseball writer Lisa Nehus Saxon and columnist Ron Rapoport are part of a panel discussion on Saturday called “Turning Back the Clock: Baseball In Los Angeles,” sponsored by the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary. The 2 p.m. gathering at the Arcadia Public Library (20 W. Duarte Road) also features Howard Cole, the founding director of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, and Randy Kerdoon, the KNX-AM (1070) sports anchor.
== Baseball authors Rob Goldman (“Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher” in 2014, “Tim Salmon: Always an Angel” in 2010 and “Once They Were Angels” in 2006 and ) and John Klima (“The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII” just released, “Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball” in 2012 and “Willie’s Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend” in 2009) will do a presentation and book signing at the Grant R. Brimhall Library in Thousand Oaks (1401 E. Janss Road) on Monday from 7-8 p.m.
== What’s a new program director to do at The Beast 980? Tom Lee, who helped launch Fox Sports Radio in 2000, was given that task this week. And do something fast, or …
“Tom has achieved some of the highest ratings of all sports stations across the country,” said Diane Sutter, Trustee for KFWB Asset Trust, said in a statement. “Our listeners will benefit from Tom’s invaluable skills in producing relevant content, top-notch talent and his experience in working with sports teams.”
Lee, who starts Monday, added: “Los Angeles sports fans are the greatest and perhaps the most underrated in America and their passion, the distinct L.A. attitude and our great sports teams will all be represented by The Beast 980. I’m very excited to get back to L.A. with the opportunity to program the only radio station uniquely built for home town fans.”
Or maybe raising a sports-talk station from near oblivion in the monthly ratings would be a job better suited for someone who has absolutely no knowledge of corporate radio experience.
Like, say, me.
I actually sent in an application for this position. I didn’t get a call back for even a cursory interview.
That fact will not haunt the station for the rest of its existence.
== The return of California Chrome at the Dubai World Cup has coverage on Fox Sports 1 (Saturday at 9:30 a.m.) with Simon Bray, Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling and Alyssa Ali covering it.
== If you’re going to Las Vegas to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquaio fight on May 2, apparently you need a ticket to the event, or a room at the MGM. But no where else in the city can they show it, TMZ Sports reports.
== The ladies and ice dance competition from the World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai make it to NBC on Saturday (8 p.m., Channel 4, delayed), with the men’s and pairs competition on Sunday (3 p.m., Channel 4, delayed). Terry Gannon, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski do the commentary from the NBC studios, while Tracy Wilson is actually at the event reporting in Shanghai.
== Highlights from the lineup for Time Warner Cable’s coverage of the CIF state high school basketball finals from Berkeley (with all games streaming live on www.twccommunity.com):
== Boys Div. V: Sierra Canyon vs. University, TWC Sportsnet at noon, with Steve Quis, Mary Murphy and Drew Shiller
== Boys Div. III: Damien vs. Campolindo, TWC Community Channel at 4 p.m., with Barry Tompkins, Casey Jacobsen and Kelli Tennant
== Girls Div. I: Serra vs. McClatchy, TWC Community Channel at 6 p.m., with Barry Tompkins, Casey Jacobsen and Kelli Tennant
== Boys Div. I: Chino Hills vs. San Ramon Valley, TWC SportsNet at 8 p.m., with Barry Tompkins, Casey Jacobsen and Kelli Tennant
== Girls Div. IV: Sierra Canyon vs. Brookside Christian, TWC SportsNet at 10 a.m., with Steve Quis, Mary Murphy and Drew Shiller
== Boys Div. IV: Crespi vs. Capital Christian, TWC SportsNet at noon, with Steve Quis, Mary Murphy and Drew Shiller
== Girls Open Division: Mater Dei vs. St. Mary’s, TWC Community Channel at 6 p.m., with Barry Tompkins, Casey Jacobsen and Kelli Tennant
== Boys Open Division: Mater Dei vs. Bishop O’Dowd, TWC SportsNet at 8 p.m., with Barry Tompkins, Casey Jacobsen and Kelli Tennant
More info at www.twcsportsnet.com.
Also, for those who have access to DirecTV Channel 698 – Comcast Bay Area — you may find all the state final games there as well.
== A 13-part series called “Championship Moments” from the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup run, produced by the team’s KingsVision group, will be available to buy online starting Monday for $26. The purchase at LAKings.com/moments will benefit the Kings Care Foundation. The team says the limited-edition DVD/Blu-Ray, if still available by April 11, will also be sold in the Team LA Store at Staples Center. The series was featured during the Kings’ games on Fox Sports West this season.