What we’ll get around to writing about for Sunday:
There are many, many, many, many golf traditionalists who find themselves concerned about how Fox Sports — yes, that Fox Sports — will go nontraditional in covering the 115th U.S. Open from Chambers Bay in Washington on Father’s Day weekend.
Loosen the grip on your shaft, boys. Don’t over think this.
What pungent sounds might be emanating from nearby Puget Sound? It will be Shark invested for sure, with Greg Norman on the network’s first major golf broadcast, taking cues from Joe Buck.
We’ll get more into all that, how the networks plans to present the event as well as a course that not many know about, and give it prime-time treatment (in the East, of course).
But first …
What’s best suited to be sent off into cyberspace at this moment and from this platform:
== Al Epstein, who just finished his 30th season as the voice of the Pepperdine Waves, was named to school’s Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015 this week — long overdue.
Epstein, who has a streak of calling 908 consecutive men’s basketball teams, began his career at Pepperdine as a men’s basketball color man during the 1985-86 season. Since then, he’s seen changes from local radio to Internet to conference-driven digital TV platforms, and he continues to often be a simply the single voice calling anything from basketball to volleyball to soccer for the school — up to 75 events a year.
“It’s been a smooth transition over the years even as TV comes into a production with more and more people and cameras,” said Epstein, a West L.A. resident who went to Beverly Hills High and Cal State L.A. and, looking back on the process now, should have been on UCLA’s short list of candidates to replace the recently retired Chris Roberts as the voice of the Bruins.
Epstein remains the longest-tenured play-by-play in the West Coast Conference — Pat Olsen at the University of San Francisco (going into his 25th year) and Bill Johnson at the University of Portland (23 years) are next in line.
In 2003, Epstein received the West Coast Conference’s Sam Goldman Award, honoring a member of the media and he remains committed to play-by-play training for students learning the art of the broadcast, offering a co-authored textbook (with Lou Riggs) on the subject at his website.
What keeps Epstein busy in the school’s offseason? Polo.
You’ll find him at the Will Rodgers State Park on the weekends from early May to October calling the man-on-horse sport over the public-address system for matches that can draw as many as 1,000 spectators.
“When they first asked me to do this and wondered what I knew about polo, I told them that I had a Ralph Lauren shirt in my closet, but that’s about it,” said Epstein. “Now I’ve been doing it 21 years — Saturdays at 2 p.m., Sundays at 10 a.m., keeping stats and even working the scoreboard with the old wooden numbers just like Wrigley Field. It really takes you back in time.”
The Pepperdine Hall ceremony is set for Oct. 18 at Firestone Fieldhouse. The World Polo Hall of Fame induction is pending.
== Going into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) Class of 2015 induction ceremony on Sunday is the most brilliant Jim Lampley, holding down the “observer category” for his 27 years of working for HBO, capped most recently by his call of the Floyd Mayweather triumph over Manny Pacquaio.
In a column posted by the LA News Group boxing columnist Robert Morales, Lampley says he has “extremely mixed feelings because I’m a reporter and fame is not the goal. I would almost rather it were a Hall of Truth or a Hall of Diligence or something like that, you know what I’m saying? Because for me it was always about, ‘Do you do the work? Do you do the work in the right way? And do you properly honor those people who really count?’”
Lampley calls the “Boxing After Dark” card on Saturday at 10 p.m. (live ET/tape delayed PT) at Madison Square Garden before going to Syracuse for Sunday’s ceremony in Canastota, N.Y.
Also slated for induction is ESPN.com boxing columnist Nigel Collins. The former editor-in-chief of The Ring Magazine has a story about him by Brian Campbell of ESPN.com.
== NBC NHL play-by-play man Doc Emrick, in his 39th season covering pro hockey, will become the eighth recipient of the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting by Scully’s alma mater, WFUV Radio at Fordham University, the school announced this week. He will receive it on Nov. 2.
Scully was given the inaugural award in 2008 when it was announced his name would be attached to it. After him, Dick Enberg (2009), Ernie Harwell (2010), Pat Summerall (2011), Al Michaels (2012), Bob Costas (2013), and Verne Lundquist (2014) received it.
The beauty of the announcement is that it comes as Emrick is in full bloom, calling the Stanley Cup Final, something Kings fans could appreciate (to some extent, even with Bob Miller away) during the championship runs of 2012 and 2014.
As Ed Sherman caught up with him this week in Chicago for a piece on Poynter.org, Emrick talks about how mastering the English language may be lost on many viewers these days, not to mention broadcasters.
“Words are the hammers and nails to build a sentence,” Emrick said. “You probably talk to young people about the value of putting together a good sentence, even a spoken one. This will sound like an old guy talking, but it is sort of a lost art.”
Also worth reading: The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick in a piece about “the utter brilliance” of Emrick.
== Speaking of which, you’ve got a problem with NBC Sports Group chair Mark Lazarus shaking the NHL’s tradition of playoff hockey beards by suggesting the league could market itself more without them, then you’re on board with the LA News Group’s Mark Whicker.
Not to confuse the opinions of Lazarus with Mark Lazerus, the Blackhawks’ beat writer for the Chicago Tribune, who is getting some blowback from all this.
== JP Dellacamera, Tony DiCicco, Cat Whitehill and Jenny Taft call the U.S. women’s contest against Sweden from Winnipeg in the Women’s World Cup today at 5 p.m. on Channel 11.
We also also reminded by Fox soccer analyst Alexi Lalas in his latest “rant” that players do pay attention to the media, whether they admit it or not. The point being, comments made by Sweden coach Pia Sundhage, a former U.S. coach, in the New York Times have motivated Team USA, says Heather Mitts, a former women’s team star now talking for Fox:
“The damage is done. The words are already out there. Carli Lloyd is using that as motivation. We all appreciate Pia for all she did for us, and we think she’s a great coach. I don’t think there are any ill feelings toward her, but the team will definitely use those words as motivation.”
== ESPNLA (710), the Lakers’ rights holder for the last six seasons after the team had its very long run on KLAC-AM (570), announced this week it would extend the deal through 2021-22.
Their last extension announced in 2013 had the deal running through 2019-20.
“We at ESPNLA have enjoyed a terrific and mutually-beneficial relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers since 2009, and could not be more excited to extend our agreement through mid-2022,” said ESPNLA VP and GM Scott McCarthy in a statement. “We are very proud to be associated with one of the premier franchises in all of sports.”
Lakers president Jeanie Buss was a guest on Tuesday’s shows to announce the contract extension.
== The ESPNLA announcement also comes at a point when the station had its best-ever Portable People Meter (PPM) monthly numbers. During May, KSPN was tied for 26th in the L.A. market with a 1.3 rating of all listeners, Monday-Sunday, from 6 a.m. to midnight, according to Nielsen numbers. And that’s without the usual Lakers’ playoff games.
Still, it was ahead of the Dodgers-loaded KLAC (570-AM) at 1.0, KFWB (980-AM) at 0.4 (up from 0.2 with a bump from the Clippers in the playoffs) and KLAA (830-AM) at 0.4 (up from 0.3 with a bump from the Angels).
More precise, KSPN was tied for fifth in the men’s 25-54 age demographic with KROQ at a 4.0 share, and ahead of both KLOS (2.8) and KFI (2.2). In measuring everyone 25-54, KSPN was tied with KFI with a 2.3 share.
The brightest light lately has been shining on the Steve Mason-John Ireland noon-to-3 p.m. shift. The show has a 14-month average of 3.0 and has dipped below that mark just once since January. It hit a high of 4.5 in May, and in the first quarter of 2015 (Jan.-March) did a 3.9.
Also of note is that the Max Kellerman-Marcellus Wiley show from 3-to-7 p.m. after Mason-Ireland landed at 3.9 last month, with a 14-month average of 2.6.
Put it this way: Any local sports show sustaining something better than a 2.0 is doing well in today’s climate.
“Radio and media has never changed — we have achieved what we have by a diverse collection of smart people, all with different takes and styles, having a sense of humor and insight along with a team approach,” said KSPN program director Mike Thompson. “We never take for granted the listener and poke holes in each other’s wind baggery as much as any critic would do. We try to be the best ‘talk’ station first – and I am proud to say that the ratings have proved that our team’s hard work has made that a reality.”
Thompson has also decided that the 10 a.m.-to-noon window would lock down Lakers’ TWC SportsNet sideline man Mike Trudell with Lakers’ game analyst Mychal Thompson after having tried out several co-host combinations in the last few months.
== Adding to the discussion generated from of last week’s media column on the media impact/impression of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, Bob Costas was very precise and measured in talking to Dan Patrick to where, by the 8:00 mark of the video above, he’s referring ESPN’s decision to make Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner as a “crass, exploitation play. … It’s a tabloid play … just a play to pump up audience the way lots of things are put on television to attract eyeballs, not because of validity but what the gawker factor is. … It feels like it’s ‘Let’s buy into the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape. That’s a train that’s left the station and you and I can’t slow it down no matter how we feel about it.”
Despite what many inferred in subsequent posts, Costas previously pointed out at the 5:15 mark that he’s gotten in trouble with “people who always misrepresent what I’m saying … I speak reasonably clearly, I think. I do it for a living. But people will misrepresent what they want to misrepresent.”
== Why, at the end of these NBA Finals games on ABC, does the statement flash up on the screen: “The preceding program has been paid for by ESPN, Inc.”?
== Dick Vitale’s contract with ESPN was extended through the 2017-18 season, which would be his 39th on air with the network as he began with the company in its first year of 1979-80. ESPN made the announcement on Tuesday — Vitale’s 76th birthday — that he could “continue to call some of the season’s top games across ESPN networks, including regular-season action primarily on ESPN and ESPN2 and the Men’s Final Four for ESPN International.”
There was some consternation last college basketball season when Vitale, who has done more than 1,000 games for the network, was replaced by Jay Bilas on some key Duke-North Carolina games.
== A highlight of ESPN’s Bob Ley in a recent Q-and-A with AwfulAnnouncing.com’s Matt Yoder:
Q: There’s going to be some people saying ESPN wouldn’t be this hard on FIFA if they still had the World Cup. What’s your response to that question and what does this coverage mean for ESPN’s journalistic operation and ESPN’s continued soccer presence?
Ley: Nobody has ever reigned us in, even while we were a business partner of FIFA’s on the World Cup. We’ve been very tough and very fair on FIFA. If anyone was going to be told to dial it back it would have been myself as the host of the last two World Cups. I didn’t get that memo because that memo hasn’t been written.
There is a wall between church and state. I know for a fact that absolutely befuddles and astonishes senior executives at at least one of the leagues with which we are a major business partner that can’t understand why we would want to investigate a business partner and report on things.
== Time to celebrate another ESPN college football bowl game? Why not? Except this one, called the Celebration Bowl, will go on Saturday, Dec. 19 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and appear on ABC instead of ESPN, the network announced this week.
ESPN Events, a spinoff of ESPN, owns the bowl that will pit the winner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference against the Southwest Athletic Conference champs — conference that are both made of the Historically Black College and Universities. ESPN also has the rights to the season-opening MEAC-SWAC Challenge game on Sunday, Sept. 6 in Orlando, Fla.
== For those added to the SportsNet L.A. subscriber base as of this week, there’s Dodgers play-by-play man Charley Steiner talking about his broadcasting career as a guest on Larry King’s “At Bat” show, airing Sunday at 5 p.m. after Steiner calls the Dodgers-Padres game from San Diego at 1 p.m.
A quip from the show when Steiner talks about how his alma mater, Bradley University, wanted to name its sports communications school after him:
“The best part about it is, it’s not just sports broadcasting, it involves journalism, the digital world, media relations, sales, and believe it or not, ethics. And when they told me that there would be ethics classes involved in a business that certainly needs them, I said yeah, I’m all in.”
== And you’d think, with all the exposure Eric Karros gets by doing the MLB for Fox after all these years, some would remember him as the L.A. Dodgers’ career home run leader in this media-driven poll.
== Following Wednesday’s Season 5 episode debut with Webb Simpson as the guest, David Feherty’s “Feherty” talk show on Golf Channel will continue with episodes slated for June 24 (with Speaker of the House John Boehner), July 1 (fellow broadcaster and former PGA player Dave Stockton) and July 8 (captain of the 2014 European Ryder Cup team Paul McGinley). Additional interviews have been lined up with Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier.
== Tom Hammond, Ato Boldon, Lewis Johnson and Todd Harris call NBC’s live coverage of the IAAF Diamond League track and field event from Randall’s Island in New York (Saturday, 10 a.m.) that features Usain Bolt in the men’s 200 meters.
== The rights to a documentary on the life of former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez and the relationship he has with his older brother, Chris, called “Play It Forward” was purchased by Showtime this week with the intent to debut it in the fall. The movie was included in the opening gala of the 2015 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival and was the only non-ESPN film in the festival’s nine-year history to win the coveted opening gala spot.
With former NFL star Michael Strahan as one of the exec producers, “Play It Forward”
is a story about the relationship of the two who grew up in Huntington Beach, both wanting to be in the NFL. Tony made it, before retiring into the TV world as a studio analyst for CBS. Chris decided to chase a dream of becoming a firefighter. Tony Gonzalez is also a contributor to the Showtime series “Inside the NFL.”