What’s bound to come up in Sunday’s weekly media column:
Remember back in the day when Bruce Jenner was a media darling?
That is, by the sports media?
Back when everything was “Awrright!” in the world?
In light of all that’s happened to the former Olympic decathlete — things do change — we’ve got some thoughts about how today’s media cycle has redefined the Jenner story, including ESPN’s decision to honor the transformed Caitlin Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at its upcoming ESPY shin-dig set for the Nokia Theater in L.A. Live on July 15.
There’s already been plenty of backlash to that decision. We have more thoughts on whether the ESPY Awards do, or ever have, trivialize things anyway.
More on this from our senior correspondent in media irony, Jon Stewart:
“You see, Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen,” he said. “But now you’re a woman — and your looks are the only thing we care about.”
What’s better suited to be distributed here and now:
== FRIDAY AM UPDATES FROM THURSDAY POST:
== David Caldwell and Tony Moskal have the call on the baseball title games for CIF Southern Section Divison I (Hart vs. Huntington Beach, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) and Division II (Mission Viejo vs. Chino Hills, Saturday at 4 p.m.) for FoxSportsWest.com PrepZone video streaming.
Fred Salas and Jeff Tolcher have the title games for Division III (Redondo vs. Walnut, Saturday at 1 p.m.) and Division IV (South Torrance vs. Serrano, Saturday at 10 a.m.).
For the CIF Southern Section softball championships, Robert Brender and Paul Westphal have the Division I (West Ranch vs. Norco, Saturday at 6 p.m.) and Division IV (Torrance vs. Highland). Sam Farber and Michelle Schroder do the Division V (St. Bonaventure vs. Garden Grove, Saturday at 12:30 p.m.) and Division VI (Savana vs. Paraclete, Saturday at 10 a.m.).
== Joe Buck, Tom Verducci, Harold Reynolds and Ken Rosenthal have the Angels’ game at the New York Yankees (Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 11).
== We could pretend to give you the most extensive pieces of information on how Fox Sports — not ESPN — plans to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup starting Saturday. Instead, we defer to Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated. Because he seems to care much more than one should.
“First of all I would say: don’t judge us until you see us on the air,” said David Neal, the executive producer for Fox’s Women’s World Cup coverage and a longtime NBC Sports executive. “I was brought on here three years ago, and brought solely for the purpose to get us ready for the World Cup. Based on my Olympics experience, I will tell you our commitment is at an unprecedented level.”
Fox Sports will do all 52 games of the event, but there’s no real rhyme or reason why some are on Fox Channel 11, Fox Sports 1 or even Fox Sports 2.
== Thanks to “grown man Chick Sarica” and “grown man Bob DeSanzio,” here’s a potential SAP to the NBA Finals that ABC might consider providing with tonight’s Game 1 of the Warriors-Cavs series.
Does it possibly tarnishes the legacy of an L.A. icon who did go by the name of “Chick” during his Hall of Fame career?
It’s also a reminder that Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” return next week.
== We’ve been down this track before.
Since 1919, we are reminded in this NBCSports video, there have been 17 U.S. presidents. And 11 Triple Crown winners. Thus, the odds are better of a horse getting into the White House.
Mull that over as a possible historic Triple Crown winner could be on display by Saturday afternoon, when NBC covers the latest run by Santa Anita-based American Pharoah as he takes on the field in the Belmont Stakes (race is at about 3:30 p.m., with pre-race coverage at 1:30 p.m. on Channel 4).
A year ago, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos-based California Chrome was all the Triple Crown buzz, until he finished fourth at Belmont. Then the tone of the story — after Tonalist won the race — was how owner Steve Coburn flipped his wig afterward to NBC reporter Kenny Rice about the “coward’s way out” for other rested horses to spoil California Chrome’s day. Coburn went on ABC’s “Good Morning America” — seems he should have gone to NBC’s “Today Show” — and offered an apology.
A year ago, NBC reporter Randy Moss, a former newspaper handicapper who has been covering the sport since 1979, the year after Affirmed won the last Triple Crown, told us right before the Belmont that “it’s really a battle for me not to get too jaded when we get to this situation … I’ve been at Belmont for all the near misses. Too many times, it doesn’t transpire the way people want it to. I think there’s a keen appreciation for the challenge California Chrome faces. We’re not rooting, but having seen failure so often through so many years, you’d love to see one of these pull it off. And I think California Chrome is a great story and has a fighting chance to do it.”
This week, Moss talked about how those feelings were coming back again.
We asked him how, if there have been 13 previous failed attempts to win the final leg of the Triple Crown, and so many of them in the last few of years that include I’ll Have Another (2012, scratch on race day), Big Brown (2008), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), why wouldn’t viewers look at this as another Mayweather-Pacquaio hyped even that can’t possibly live up to expectations?
“That’s a great question because I’ve found myself, especially this year, kind of wrestling with that in my mind. I mean, every year, every different horse is a unique type situation, so you want to try to go into each Belmont Stakes and each chance for a Triple Crown sweep looking at it just as a onetime deal. This Belmont Stakes, what’s the chance of the horse winning?
“But it’s really difficult to separate the history and what’s happened in the past to horses with similar opportunities and not let that affect your mindset, because as we go into this one, I can’t say that American Pharoah is a better horse than Smarty Jones, is a better horse than Big Brown, is a substantially better horse than California Chrome, and yet those horses couldn’t pull it off.
“It is a tremendous challenge. He’s got, again, some very worthy competitors in there who ran in the Derby, skipped the Preakness and now are fresh for the Belmont, a formula that’s worked exceptionally well in the last decade. So he’s got his work cut out for him.
NBC handicapper Bob Neumeyer added: “There’s an old saying in horse racing that there’s one way to win the race and 20,000 ways to lose a race, and when you go back in history, you think about great horses like Spectacular Bid, who was a cinch. He stepped on a pin. You have War Emblem, who was a cinch, who started off poorly. You have Smarty Jones, who was a cinch, and he got kind of got up in a speed duel and a jockey tiff when he was out finished. You have California Chrome, who was a cinch, who just got beat. On and on through history we can just go back to Belmont and see what can happen. On paper anyway, this is another cinch, but whether it happens or not is anybody’s question. So when you look at it, that’s basically where I stand and I look at it, and history is winning so far.”
So is science, if you want to take it another step.
Rice, Moss and Neumeier are joined here by the same crew that did the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for NBC: Bob Costas and Tom Hammond as the host, Jerry Bailey as an analyst, Eddie Olczyk as a handicapper, Lafitt Pincay III as a reporter with Donna Brothers and Jay Privman, Larry Collmus calling the race, and features by Josh Elliott and Carolyn Manno.
==NBC also announced this week he reached a “long-term agreement” with The New York Racing Association to extend the TV rights to the Belmont Stakes. NBC has done the race nine times since 2001. The New York Times reported the extension will go until 2020.
== As a lead in to the Belmont, the race to attract boxing fans to mainstream TV manifests itself in another Premiere Boxing Championships card, this time at the StubHub Center in Carson that NBC takes on Saturday (Channel 4, noon).
Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard (without Al Michaels and whatever others bells and whistles that accompany a prime-time event) will call it when four-division world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (32-3-1, 18 KOs) goes against Aron Martinez (19-3-1, 14 KOs) in the main event, plus 2012 U.S. Olympian and Glendale native Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (14-0, 13 KOs) against Yasmany Consuegra (17-0, 14 KOs) in an eight-round heavyweight fight, and a 12-round featherweight matchup of Jesus Cuellar (26-1, 20 KOs) and Vic Darchinyan (40-7-1, 29 KOs).
Also working the broadcast are professional boxer Daniel Jacobs, who made his debut two weeks ago as a corner analyst, Todd Harris, who makes his PBC on NBC debut, and former referee Steve Smoger.
The TV enhancements for this particular telecast is a skycam to show off the outdoor coverage of the venue, as well as the debut of punch tracking data, which puts chips into the fighters’ glove inside the wrists to track the speed and force of punches.
== Olcyzk’s appearance in New York with the horse racing means he’ll miss Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final between Chicago and Tampa Bay (4:15 p.m., Channel 4). Mike Emerick works with Pierre McGuire on the telecast.
== NBC’s Saturday of expansive sports coverage actually begins at 6 a.m. with the French Open women’s final between Serena Williams and Lucie Safarova. Ted Robinson, at his 16th French Open, calls it with John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. The three also do the men’s final on Sunday at 6 a.m., as well as the men’s semifinals Friday at 8 a.m.
== Smooth move by ESPN to give Bob Ley, ESPN’s longest-serving commentator (since Day 3 of the Sept. 6, 1979 launch), another “long-term extension” to stay put. It is Ley, after all, who has hosted “Outside The Lines” since it’s launch in May 1990 — 25 years ago. A prime-time special is planned on the show to air July 7.
“I’m very fortunate, each day, to continue to find the challenge in the stories and issues in our sporting culture, and equally lucky to have the time and the space to examine them, working with the most creative and dedicated staff in the business,” Ley said in a statement. “Between our reporting and analysis on Outside the Lines, and the opportunities with our soccer coverage across the planet, I’m looking forward to our best work yet.”
== If an International Olympic Committee is to develop its own TV channel, it will be with Larry Probst, the USOC head, as the chairman. IOCchief Thomas Bach announced Probst’s new job and the 16-person Olympic Channel Commission earlier this week.
The Associated Press reports that the Olympic Channel is Bach’s “personal project” after he received a go-ahead last December. This digital channel based in Madrid is supposed to launch in April, just prior to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, at a cost of about $600 million over the first seven years. Probst has worked with NBC for many years in its Olympic coverage. L.A.-based Anita DeFrantz, who is stepping down as the lead person for the LA84 Foundation, is on Probst’s committee, while U.S. IOC member Angela Ruggiero, the former women’s hockey player from Simi Valley, is on the channel’s 12-person board of directors, which Bach will chair.
Also, the IOC said it will have a new a department called Olympic Channel Services, headed up by Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the late IOC president, and include former NBC sports chief Dick Ebersol among the 14 members of the group.
== Among the books we wanted to include in the recent “30 baseball books for the 30 days of April” 2015 series, although we knew it would eventually land, was “Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty” by former Angels catcher Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan. With the Cardinals and Yadier Molina in town to face the Dodgers, Bengie has a booksigning at Barnes and Noble in the Grove on Saturday at 2 p.m.
== More on the book reports about father/son relationships in light of Father’s Day coming up: A new one on the lifetime writing of the late Sports Illustrated star Mark Kram has surfaced called “Great Men Die Twice: The Selected Works of Mark Kram,” edited by his son, Mark, who also writes an exquisite introduction and explains how George Kram, his father’s acutal name, became Mark by simply taking his son’s name as his byline — a pallindrome done on purpose. As Mark Jr. notes, The New York Times obituary of his dad in June, 2002 called him one of SI’s “most lyrical writers of the 1960s and 1970s.”
== Also FYI: Barry Svrluga, the Washington Post’s national baseball writer, has a book coming out next month called “The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season” that looks to be a gem based on the endorsements of Thomas Boswell, George F. Will, Sally Jenkins and Tony Kornheiser.
== A Twitter post this week from photo historian Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) shows a 100-year-old cover of Baseball Magazine — a view from the press box. Where reporters are actually watching what’s going and don’t have their eyes focused on their cell phone sending out a vital tweet.
“Love the hand on the telegrapher’s key,” tweeted out MLB historian John Thorn (@thorn_john).
== Why ESPN Classic seems to matter once and awhile: It’s 30 years since the Lakers defeated the Celtics in Game 6 of the 1985 NBA Finals, and on Tuesday’s anniversary, the network shows the game again at 2 p.m.
Also this week on ESPN Classic: The Dodgers-Yankees 1981 World Series games 3, 4, 5 and 6, airing Monday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
Following that: A series of “Battle of the Network Stars” at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. You can’t get enough of it.
== Some will read more into an announcement this week that Yahoo won the world-wide video streaming rights to carry the Oct. 15 NFL game from London that “features” the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jags. It likely cost them, according to business insiders, some seven- to eight-figures to outbid Google or Facebook for the privilege of showing a game that the NFL’s U.S. TV partners aren’t even much interested in on that weekend, or any other. The kickoff will take place at 6:30 a.m. (PDT) on that Sunday. It will be free on the Internet and mobile devices with no login or cable subscription required. It is more an NFL experiment to see how the process works in case, you know, they ever want to do the Super Bowl this way in 2050. And it’s not as if Yahoo was making much of a big deal about it. It wasn’t on the Yahoo Sports front page of its website and one had to dig a little bit to find the story headlined “Yahoo to share NFL game with world.”
== This may not be among the 10 movies to see at the L.A. Film Festival starting Wednesday and continuing through June 18, based at the Regal Cinemas near Staples Center, but we’ll throw out these these sports-related titles anyway:
= “In Football We Trust” airing June 17 at 8 p.m.:
It’s called “an insightful, eye-opening and moving documentary exploring in rich detail the remarkable story behind the Polynesian Pipeline to the NFL. To understand this phenomenon, one must appreciate the individuals and cultures behind the headlines, their unique diaspora to the United States and the role of the Mormon Church in facilitating their immigration.” Players interviewed include Troy Polamalu, Haloti Ngata, Star Lotulelei and Vai Sikahema.
This screening also includes a short film by Andrew Jenks called the “All American Family.”
= “The Dark Horse” airing June 13, 2:40 p.m.:
From the description at the Toronto Film Festival: This is “an inspiring true story based on the life of a charismatic, brilliant but little-known New Zealand chess champion, Genesis Potini. It’s a provocative, emotionally-charged drama about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own struggles – finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children of his community.”
= Also screening, the 2000 movie “Love and Basketball” with Omar Epps on June 13, 8 p.m.
== The latest Bryan Curtis story from Grantland.com focuses on the reboot of the career of Scott Ferrall, trying to keep it clean.
== For those who have missed previous blog posts this week that dig into the Kings’ Nick Nickson going into the Hockey Hall of Fame, or the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA deal with Charter subscribers beginning Tuesday, or congratulating ESPN on its Sunday “SportsCenter” piece about homelessness, we’ve got the links there.
== Another appearance on Fred Roggin’s “Going Roggin” with me and Petros Papadakis airs at midnight on Sunday, Channel 4. The topic: The recent L.A. News Group discussion on the 50 most important people in L.A. sports.
Roggin still doesn’t understand how he was left off this list.