What’s coming up in Sunday’s sports media column:
Jimmy Kimmel recently did a piece in his late-night monologue about how odd he found it that YouTube has created a channel where people can watch other people play video games.
“It’s called ‘The We Should All Be Very Ashamed Of Ourselves For Failing As Parents Channel’,” the 47-year-old Kimmel joked. “To me, watching another person play video games is like going to a restaurant and having someone eat your food for you. I guess I’m getting old. When I was a kid, you only watched other kids play video games when you ran out of quarters.”
A quarter of a century later, ABC, which is the company Kimmel works for, might have just got played by Turner Sports.
The Time Warner Inc., company announced this week it would start its own video game league, with partner WME-IMG, and televise this eSports competition on Friday nights starting in 2016.
A story in Fortune magazine back in April pointed out that professional video gaming, known as ‘eSports’, has a fan base that will outstrip the NFL by 2017, and big brands like Coca-Cola are already looking for sponsorship opportunities.
TBS, which is already gearing up for coverage of MLB’s National League playoffs and also involved in the NCAA college basketball tournament (not to mention Turner’s TNT involvement in the NBA), isn’t ashamed of this venture. And they will explain.
What’s worth posting today:
== Maybe because this feels kind of like a follow up to last week’s column, but it smacked us in the gut again as Frank Deford lamented the disappearance of newspaper columnists in an NPR “Morning Edition” piece — “It was before sports were equal parts television and fantasy.”
This dovetails into a piece that Ed Sherman wrote for Poynter.org allowing writers Filip Bondy, Wayne Coffey and Hank Gola to come to terms on their firing (along with Bill Madden) from the New York Daily News.
“I have to say getting fired is nourishing for the ego,” Coffey said. “Between the tweets and calls, it’s really been humbling. If you want to build your ego, I highly recommend getting fired.”
== As rumors continue to circulate that the San Diego Padres have the best shot at landing deposed Boston Red Sox play-by-play man Don Orsillo, it comes perhaps with some resolve that Dick Enberg announced before Wednesday’s telecast on Fox Sports San Diego that 2016 would be his final year calling games for the Padres on a full-time basis.
“My time has come to move to the next phase of my life,” Enberg said (see video clip above).
The 80-year-old former Angels play-by-play man who landed with the Padres in 2010 and was honored last July by the Baseball Hall of Fame with its Ford C. Frick Broadcasting award, also said in a release: “In culminating 60 years of sports broadcasting, it has been a tremendous thrill to be the TV voice of my hometown San Diego Padres, and I’m tremendously excited that I will have a continuing TV role through the 2016 season, an All-Star Game year for San Diego.
“Our family is sincerely grateful to Padres ownership, Ron Fowler and Peter and Tom Seidler and CEO Mike Dee for providing the opportunity for an extension through 2016. While I have decided that 2016 will be my last as the primary play-by-play announcer, I will always be a Padre, and look forward to a continuing role.
“Ultimately, with high hopes I’ll be one of the many in line that will someday soon embrace a World Series championship in San Diego.”
Enberg will be with the Padres as they face the Dodgers in the final three games of the regular season at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 2-4.
Having a night to sleep on the decision, Enberg told us via email on Thursday morning and reflected on how Vin Scully recently said he would be back for 2016 but it “realistically” would be his final season: “I figured if it’s good enough for Vin to step away in 2016, it’s certainly good enough for me. I’ll continue after 2016 in a limited capacity … some voice and writing contributions. I want to have an excuse to go to the ballpark.”
Enberg also told the San Diego Union Tribune on Thursday: “On one hand, I don’t want to give it up. My dream was to die in a booth. I’d like to keep going until my head hits the table after I say, ‘The Padres win the World Series.’ And then on the other hand, it’s an old cliche, but the guy on the deathbed has never said ‘I wished I’d worked more in my life,’ and that kept resonating with me.”
== Under the category of longform sports journalism well worth your time, Ron Kaplan at the New Jersey Jewish News looks at upcoming 50th anniversary — Oct. 6, 1965 — when Sandy Koufax decided to sit out Game 1 of the 1965 Dodgers-Twins World Series on Yom Kippur.
The Jewish holiday took place this week, from sunset Tuesday to sunset Wednesday.
In a section of the story on the media, Kaplan quotes Scully as saying: “We were all caught up with World Series fever and excitement … Everyone respected Sandy and we all knew he would pitch the next game.”
Jane Leavy, author of “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy,” also told Kaplan: “I’m sure I knew (Koufax) was Jewish but I didn’t dwell on it. Nor did I give it much though at all until I agreed to write a biography of him for HarperCollins in 1999. It was not until then that I came to appreciate the significance of his decision not to pitch that day. … He makes me proud to be a Jew.”
Another take on the story posted this week is from ESPN’s Jim Caplel, which quotes Scully: “Most people admired Koufax for putting his religion before his job. I’m sure there were others who were furious, saying that he wasn’t that religious — and I don’t think he really was — but that didn’t make any difference. It was his decision, and everyone respected it. They understood.”
One more by Michael Freund of the Jerusalem Post. which includes the note that Don Drysdale pitched Game 1 instead of Koufax and gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. “When Dodger manager Walter Alston made his way to the mound to take Drysdale out of the game, the pitcher handed him the ball, smiled and said, ‘I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too.’ ”
(This allowed us to also look back at pieces written about this from years past, and we also enjoyed this Alan Siegel story in the Atlantic from 2010 entitled “God vs. the World Series: Sandy Koufax’s Yom Kippur Sacrifice.” … And there’s this one, if only to read the editor’s note at the end apologizing for a poor choice of words in the original headline).
== Meanwhile, while it does not cover that period of time, a new book by Brian M. Endsley called “Finding the Left Arm of God: Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers, 1960-1963” through McFarland Publishing has finally come out, as a followup to his Dodgers’ history book “Bums No More: The 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers, World Champions of Baseball”
== An interview with Scully that Larry Burnett procured at the ballpark this week will air on tonight’s edition of “Open Season” on KCAA-AM-1050, airing from 6-7 p.m. in the Inland Empire with Fred Wallin and Mark Mancini. Since the show’s launch, Burnett has had Lakers coach Byron Scott, former Dodgers pitcher Tommy John, agent Leigh Steinberg, HBO’s Jim Lampley, Sacramento Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman and pro wrestling star Goldberg. The podcasts of previous shows are on the KCAA website and Burnett’s website.
== The official Guinness World Record write up on Scully’s award presented Wednesday for “longest career as a sports broadcaster for a single team.” Although they did have a few facts lost in translation along the way. There are even better shots of Scully from his bobblehead night posted by official Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo.
== In light of the Angels’ chase for the final AL wild card spot, the MLB offerings for the weekend in the L.A. market focuses on the Texas-Houston series. Fox has it Saturday (10 a.m., Channel 11) with Aaron Goldsmith, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal (instead of Pittsburgh-Chicago Cubs with Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz).
TBS also has Rangers-Astros on Sunday at 11 a.m. with Ernie Johnson, Cal Ripken Jr., and Ron Darling. The pregame with Casey Stern, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and Dusty Baker starts at 10:30 a.m.
== Notes for college football Week 4 TV in L.A.:
= Since ESPN “College GameDay” committed last Sunday to go to Tucson, Ariz., prior to the UCLA-Arizona contest, the A-team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox will stay there to call the 5 p.m. kickoff for Channel 7’s coverage of the Bruins and Wildcats. As you may have seen by now, with Fowler as the A-team play-by-play man, he no longer has to host the early morning GameDay exercise, having turned it over to Rece Davis.
More notes from the GameDay staff: The last time it was at Arizona was 2009, when the Wildcats lost to Oregon 44-41. This is the first all Pac-12 GameDay visit that has not featured USC or Oregon as one of the teams. UCLA hosted the first Pac-12 GameDay in 1998 and later that night defeated Oregon. UCLA was the road team in seven other instances where it was involved in a GameDay visit. The Bruins lost five of those seven, and all three of their Pac-12 road games by at least 19 points. And Lee Corso is 1-1 when picking UCLA and 3-1 when picking against UCLA. He is is 2-0 when picking against Arizona, and he has never picked Arizona to win.
And one of the GameDay features planned: Shelley Smith reports on the progress of USC’s Jake Olson, the freshman blind long-snapper out of Orange Lutheran in the city of Orange who suited up for his first game last Saturday.
= ESPN’s Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Tom Luginbill call USC’s game at Arizona State at 7:30 p.m. Former USC coach John Robinson will also be working the game for the Sports USA national radio network, with Ducks TV play-by-play man John Ahlers calling it.
= Highlights of other games nationally and available to this TV market:
Friday: Stanford at Oregon State, 7 p.m., FS1 (Tim Brando, Joel Klatt)
Saturday: Utah at Oregon, 5:30 p.m., Channel 11 (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt); Cal at Washington, 2 p.m,. Pac-12 Network (Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker); BYU at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 7 (Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Todd McShay); Oklahoma State at Texas, 12:30 p.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch); Tennessee at Florida, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson); UMass at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., Channel 4 (Tom Hammond, Doug Flutie); Western Michigan at Ohio State, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2 or Channel 7 (Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer); San Diego State at Penn State, 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen); TCU at Texas Tech, 1:45 p.m., Channel 11 (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn); Texas A&M vs. Arkansas in Arlington, Tex., 4 p.m., ESPN (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe); Missouri at Kentucky, 4:30 p.m., SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer)
== Notes for NFL Week 3 in L.A.:
= Fox has only one game and will deliver Atlanta at Dallas (10 a.m., Channel 11) to most of the nation, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. The Fox games that get passed over are Philadelphia-N.Y. Jets, Tampa Bay-Houston, New Orleans-Carolina and San Francisco-Arizona.
= CBS’ doubleheader starts with San Diego at Minnesota (10 a.m., Channel 2), going to about half the country, with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts. That means no Pittsburgh-St. Louis, Jacksonville-New England, Oakland-Cleveland and Indianapolis-Tennessee. The second game is Chicago-Seattle going to almost the entire country (1:25 p.m., Channel 2) with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Buffalo-Miami is the only game in that window.
= NBC has Denver-Detroit with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (5:30 p.m., Channel 4)
= ESPN has Monday night’s Kansas City-Green Bay with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden (5:30 p.m.)
== And why was O.J. Simpson left out of an ESPN slide show of former “Monday Night Football” broadcasters on its 45th anniversary?
== Ready to put on the foil and watch some old-time hockey?
NBCSN isn’t promising as much when it covers an otherwise innocuous Tampa Bay Lightning-Pittsburgh Penguins exhibition game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. But the hook is that the game will be played in the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pa. — the same place where the 1977 cult classic “Slap Shot” was filmed.
And to make it right, after this exhibition, NBCSN will air “Slap Shot,” starring Paul Newman.
Doc Emrick, Pierre McGuire and Jeremy Roenick are there to call the Lightning-Penguins scrimmage, but Bob Costas will set the tone as the telecast host.
Costas, who started his professional broadcasting career at that arena more than 40 years ago when he did games for the Syracuse Blazers of the North American Hockey League, will do a live interview with the Hanson Brothers (including Johnstown’s own Jeff and Steve Carlson) and he will recount stories of his days calling games for the Nationals — which included an altercation on the Blazers team bus involving Bill Goldthorpe, the inspiration for the “Slap Shot” character Ogie Ogilthorpe.
For Costas, who was a senior at Syracuse University in 1973 when he covered the Blazers’ game against the Johnstown Jets at the arena, explained how he missed the team bus ride from Syracuse to Pennsylvania and ended up spending $150 on a plane flight for a game where he’d only get paid $30 to call.
“To prepare, I got the roster of teams and studied them until the players were like members of my own family. Then, just before game time, I noticed that the Johnstown owner had sprung for new uniforms – all of the numbers were different. There was no time to relearn the numbers, so when the first Johnstown player on the ice was a guy wearing No. 2 named Francois Ouimet, I decided that he was about to play the game of his life. No matter what the play, Francois was in on it. He scored all the goals and even assisted on his own. He checked everybody, including himself, into the boards. He was in on every play. He was everywhere.”
The Cambria County War Memorial Arena opened in 1950 and was the home ice of the Johnstown Jets until 1977. The East Coast Hockey League once had a team play there called the Johnstown Chiefs.
== Cable channel Epix has the premiere of hour-long original documentary called “Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports” about the conflicts involved in banned substance testing that airs Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Bobby Valentine, the former Dodgers infielder and ESPN MLB commentator, is the executive producer of the piece through his Makuhari Media production company that includes a partnership with director Andrew J. Muscato. It is narrated by actor/comedian Nick Kroll.
Athletes who claim their careers were impacted by incorrect drug testing protocol include Tori Bowie, the U.S. star who took the 100-meter bronze in the 2015 World Championships, former boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi and 2004 Olympic gold medal shot put champion Adam Nelson, who won his medal nearly 10 years after the event because original winner, Yurly Bilonog of the Ukraine, tested positive for doping after another examination. Former MLB investigator Ed Dominguez also goes on the record to talk about what former MLB sommissioners did and did not know about the steroid scandals.
Muscato discussed the documentary recently in an MSNBC appearance.
== In addition to landing a role last week with the Pac-12 Network covering college basketball this fall, Steve Lavin has also connected with Fox Sports to add some first-hand knowledge about the Big East.
Fox and FS1 said they will use the former UCLA and St. John’s head coach primarily as a studio analyst on pregame, halftime and post game as well as the FS1 show “Inside the Big East.”
== Tonight’s Prime Ticket TV high school football game of the week — Serra of Gardena against Loyola of L.A. — has a delayed airing until 10 p.m. because of Kings-Ducks NHL exhibition game on Prime as well as the Angels-Seattle game on FSW. Games available live on the PrepZone website include Hart-St. Bonaventure, Crespi-Alemany, Edison-Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran-Vista Murrieta, all at 7 p.m.
Fox Sports West/Prime has also announced its Oct. 2 Week 6 schedule: San Clemente Tesoro airs at 8:30 p.m. on FSW (delayed because of the Angels-Texas game, as well as the Clippers-Nuggets NBA exhibition on Prime Ticket), while the PrepZone online delivers Chaminade-Loyola, Redlands East Valley at Redlands, Serrano-Norco and Palmdale-Eastside at 7 p.m.
== Granted, one way to frame NBC’s coverage of Saturday’s Deontay Wilder-Johann Duhaupas bout is calling it the first prime-time heavyweight title fight on the network since 1985. That goes back to when Larry Holmes was given the newly-recreated IBF title and told to defend it against Carl Williams in Reno. The 35-year-old Holmes, forced to give up his WBC title more than a year earlier in a dispute, defeated Williams to improve his career record to 48-0 — one short of Rocky Marciano’s undefeated career mark. Sound familiar? Michael Spinks beat Holmes a few months later to end his streak.
That Holmes-Williams bout was called by NBC’s Marv Albert, who’ll also do this one featuring Wilder, the WBC champ, with Sugar Ray Leonard as the analyst in the not-so-prime time of 5:30 p.m. PDT for Channel 4 in Birmingham, Ala.
Yup, it’s another Premiere Boxing Championship series production. Current rankings by The Ring magazine at least has Wilder as the top-rated American heavyweight and the No. 3 in the world behind the Ukraine’s Vladimir Klitschko (WBA, WBO, IBF champ) and Russia’s Alexander Povetkin.
Klitschko and fourth-ranked Tyson Fury will fight Oct. 24, live from Germany on HBO.
Meawhile, there’s this piece in the HuffingtonPost.com: “Can Wilder Save Boxing From Floyd Mayweather?” Maybe that’s part of the NBC coverage strategy.
== And finally: Illustrator Jim Thompson’s take on the passing of Yogi Berra this week: