What we expect to have done for Sunday:
A story on Yahoo.com’s sports page this week had this headline: “Sleep specialist forecasts Bills victory after looking at Jags’ London travel plans”
We already could sense that the NFL’s Jacksonville franchise is still sleepwalking through this season.
But as the Jags plan to face Buffalo at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, they’ll have arrived in the UK on Friday morning. Just two days before kickoff.
The Bills flew in Monday and have had a full week to get acclimated to the five-hour time change.
“Jacksonville is going to lose this game,” says W. Christopher Winter, who works with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. “My guess is: pretty badly. … Bet the farm on Buffalo. That’s absurd. Why did (the Jaguars) do that?”
Yahoo’s NFL odds page has the Bills as just a consensus four-point favorite. But it’s that kind of expert sleep knowledge for those who play fantasy sports on Yahoo’s site that needs to be known so real money can be made here.
And how does that bode for the quality of the game that Yahoo reportedly paid seven figures in rights fees so it could have exclusive media rights?
The NFL is experimenting with this to see what kind of audience it can draw — in the U.S. and worldwide — for a “free” game on the Internet. The only place it will be on TV is in the Buffalo and Jacksonville home CBS-affiliate audiences, at 9:30 a.m.
That means a 6:30 a.m. start on the West Coast.
You ready to flip open a laptop in bed and see how your Wifi streaming works just after the sun comes up? There are already one Bills fan out this way who isn’t real happy about it.
“We need to prepare for the future,” NFL executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp recently told Peter King’s TheMMQB last June, when the deal was announced. “Have we entered into a new era? Maybe. Maybe not. Obviously TV is still the dominant platform to distribute our games, as it has been for years. But TV is not the only platform any more, and this is the first time in history we have done this with one of our games.”
We’ll dig more into the pros and cons of this in a column that may end up reading after the game is completed.
What we’d figure we better put out there now:
== The unfortunate closure of Universal Sports is set for Nov. 16, the network said today.
== How seriously do betters get upset with Al Michaels messing up their exotic wagers? Michaels, and Bovoda.lv, got a laugh out of it.
== The ESPN company layoffs have already claimed the program director at KSPN-AM (710). Here is more background on the layoffs. We also learned KSPN has lost executive assistant Heather Thau, who has been with the company for 22 years.
== What’s continually sluggish about the current state of network MLB playoff coverage goes deeper than Harold Reynold’s predictable incompetence in the Fox booth, Cal Ripken’s sudden inability to structure a sentence in the TBS booth (which now somewhat distracts from Ernie Johnson’s robotic play-by-play calls), or the fact Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose are in the same L.A. studio hoping that TV rehabilitates their legacies.
The reflexive irritant starts with the fact we still can’t mentally locate an ALCS or NLDS game without suffering a brain cramp or strained thumb while surfing with the remote control.
We shouldn’t have to give our neighbors a finders’ fee every time we are unable to locate TBS (is that next to TNT and before truTV, where Conan is still trying to recover?) or FS1 (maybe it’s on that tier with the RFD Channel and ION, but we can’t be sure).
It was even more debilitating in the earlier rounds with the MLB Network grabbed a couple of ALDS contests.
As much as Fox wants to send the mixed message that it is promoting the game as well as promoting its third-tier cable channels, burying the coverage can’t make anyone pleased.
As much as Turner wants to be an invested participant, it could really do us all a favor and just let ESPN take more than one wildcard game.
And as for the aforementioned talent involved in the broadcasts (would Fox finally replace Reynolds with someone like John Smoltz) and studio shows (Dusty Baker might be a nice “get” for TBS but does he really get it any more?) — the whole package continues to miss a big-time feel.
We know it didn’t match the level of the match-ups, now that the NL has been decided.
As much as we’ve admire Johnson, his health comeback story and his play-by-play DNA, his references to Dodger Stadium as “Chavez Ravine,” continually calling Ripken “Ironman” and talking about “crooked numbers on the scoreboard” … they all just seems dated. Brian Anderson, who also did NLDS games, would have been a smoother fit on these higher-profile endeavors.
Ron Darling, forced to be the one to add actual real-time information, only seems to befuddle the others with his insights. Maybe he feels he has to try harder to carry the load.
Same when Tom Verducci comes up with a stat and the only thing Reynolds seems to respond with is a nervous laugh or saying something like: “How long have you been sitting on that?” The true response should be: Why didn’t I come up with that? Oh, right, I’m just here to vamp.
The camerawork, especially on TBS, was below par. The on-screen graphic of the batters’ box is a constant distraction and should be yanked. Sideline reporting is proven again to be not just unnecessary but a determent when not done correctly. Even if it’s just putting a pair of headsets on the manager for a quick interview between innings.
Going into the World Series starting next week — we’re led to believe it will all be on Fox’s Channel 11 home — we must give these grades to date:
Fox: Broadcast — B. Studio show — C-minus (Rose in a bow tie trying to crack jokes looks like a garden gnome next to Frank Thomas when asked to stand. Or sit.)
TBS: Broadcast — D-plus. Studio show — C. Thanks for helping out, Turner. Now, on to the NBA.
== Turner reported Thursday morning that its coverage of the NL wildcard, two division series and the just concluded league championship series averaged 6.3 million total viewers and a 3.9 rating for 14 telecasts. Considering it had the New York, L.A. and Chicago TV markets, you’d have expected something much stronger.
== Suzyn Waldman,the New York Yankees broadcaster who we made reference to in last Sunday’s Q&A with Jessica Mendoza, makes reference herself to Mendoza during an appearance this week on CBSSN’s “We Need To Talk” women’s-based sports show as well as to the kind of hate mail she used to receive and how those at her radio station tries to sabotage her progress.
== For those who haven’t seen the new epic TBS-produced promo for the upcoming NBA season that features the Clippers’ Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan — and Billy Crystal — it’s at this link as well as above.
== Week 8 of the college football TV season from an L.A. market perspective:
= ESPN’s Joe Tessitore, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack and Kaylee Hartung are back on the UCLA beat, this time from the Rose Bowl tonight at 6 p.m. when the Bruins face Cal.
= Fox’s Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Molly McGrath are on the USC-Utah game from the Coliseum on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 11.
= ESPN’s “GameDay” goes to James Madison University for the first time Saturday, the 65th different school it has visited.
JMU (7-0), ranked No. 4 in the FCS poll led by Jacksonville State and including Eastern Washington, Portland State, Fordham, Villanova, Harvard and Dartmouth, takes on No. 11 Richmond (5-1) in its homecoming game that won’t be carried on any ESPN platform, but only on Comcast SportsNet Plus, MadiZONE HD SportsNet and something called CAA.TV.
= ABC’s prime-time game (5 p.m., Channel 7, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit) settles for No. 1 Ohio State for the second week in a row, this time at Rutgers. ABC also has Indiana-Michigan State (12:30 p.m., Channel 7, Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham), following Clemson-Miami (9 a.m., Channel 7, Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman).
= ESPN’s top broadcasts include Stanford hosting Washington (7:30 p.m., Dave Pasch, Brian Griese), after Texas A&M-Ole Miss (4 p.m., Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge) and Penn State-Maryland (12:30 p.m., Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley). Friday, it also has Memphis at Tulsa (5 p.m. Dave Flemming, Mack Brown)
= ESPN2 takes Northwestern-Nebraska (9 a.m., Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht), Texas Tech-Oklahoma (12:30 p.m., Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer) and Wyoming-Boise State (7:15 p.m., Mark Neely, Tom Ramsey). It also has Friday’s Utah State-San Diego State game (7:30 p.m., Ryan Ruocco, David Diaz-Infante) as well as tonight’s Temple-East Carolina (4 p.m., Mark Neely, Ray Bentley)
= CBS has Tennessee-Alabama (Channel 2, 12:30 p.m., Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson)
= The Pac-12 Network is left with Colorado-Oregon State (7:30 p.m., Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth), after Washington State-Arizona (1 p.m., Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker)
= Fox Sports 1 has Kansas State-Texas (9 a.m., Joe Davis, Brady Quinn) and Kansas-Oklahoma State (12:30 p.m., Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman)
= The SEC Network has Kentucky-Mississippi State (4:30 p.m., Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer)
= ESPNU somehow ended up with LSU hosting Western Kentucky (4 p.m., Allen Bestwick, Dan Hawkins)
== The Week 7 NFL landscape in L.A.:
= Tonight’s San Francisco-Seattle game (5:25 p.m., Channel 2/NFL Network, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms).
= The aforementioned Sunday’s Buffalo vs. Jacksonville contest live streaming by yahoo.com/nflstream in London (6:30 a.m., Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jamie Erdahl)
= CBS has a single game on Sunday, and will go with Oakland at San Diego (Channel 2, 1 p.m., Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein). All the other CBS choices are in the 10 a.m. window — Pittsburgh-Kansas City, Cleveland-St. Louis, Houston-Miami and N.Y. Jets-New England (Ian Eagle-Dan Fouts).
= Fox’s doubleheader starts with New Orleans-Indianapolis (10 a.m., Sam Rosen and John Lynch) instead of Tampa Bay-Washington, Atlanta-Tennessee or Minnesota-Detroit) and it has a national audience for the 1:25 p.m. kickoff for Dallas-N.Y. Giants (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman).
= NBC’s “Sunday Night” game lands Philadelphia at Carolina (5:30 p.m., Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth).
= ESPN’s “Monday Night” game goes with Baltimore-Arizona (5:30 p.m., Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden).
Bye weeks for Green Bay, Chicago, Cincinnati and Denver.
== On the high school media radar for Week 8: With three weeks left in the regular season, Prime Ticket has JSerra vs. St. John Bosco on its Friday night live telecast (7:30 p.m., Mark Rogondino, John Jackson). The other games on the Prepzone video streaming: Santiago (Corona) vs. Centennial (Corona), Mission Viejo vs. San Juan Hills, Cajon vs. Redlands East Valley and San Marcos vs. Dos Pueblos.
Prime Ticket/Fox Sports West has not make its TV of webstream picks yet for the Week 9 Oct. 30 or Week 10 Nov. 6 windows. The playoffs begin Nov. 13 leading to the Dec. 4-5 finals.
== FS1 boasts an all-female broadcast team — in the broadcast booth, and in the pre- and post-studio — for its coverage of the U.S. Women’s National team contest against Brazil at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Sunday.
The U.S. “victory tour” squad with Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo airs at noon on Fox Sports 1 with Jenn Hildreth, Kyndra de St. Aubin and Julie Stewart-Binks on the call.
The pre-game show, hosted by Jenny Taft, starts at 11:30 a.m. with former national team players Leslie Osborne and Heather Mitts. The match will be the final game for midfielder Lauren Holiday (the wife of NBA player and former Campbell Hall and UCLA standout Jrue Holiday) and defender Lori Chalupny.
The U.S.-Brazil telecast leads into FS1’s coverage of D.C. United-Columbus MLS game at 2 p.m.
ESPN has Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman calling the Galaxy’s game from Kansas City at 4:15 p.m. Sunday while having live look-ins at Seattle-Salt Lake, Portland-Colorado, Vancouver-Houston and Dallas-San Jose on the final day of the MLS regular season.
== Bob Costas has an autobiography in the works, with Mike Lupica’s help, reports the New York Times. Costas says it has nothing to do with trying to keep up with Al Michaels’ “You Can’t Make This Up” autobiography he came out with recently with the help of Sports Illustrated’s L. Jon Werthheim. Fox’s Joe Buck recently revealed he, too, is in the process of writing his own life story.
== NBC has Bill Seward and Brian Hightower calling the Rugby World Cup semifinals from London — South Africa vs. New Zealand Saturday, Channel 4, 11:30 a.m., on tape delay as well as Argentina vs. Australia on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. for Universal Sports.
That leads up the live final on Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. on NBC, with the Oct. 30 bronze final on Universal Sports at 12:30 p.m. live.
== NBC’s Leigh Diffey, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Will Buxton have the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix from Austin, Tex., live Sunday at noon (Channel 4).
== Katherine Webb McCarron isn’t pleased with the NFL Network’s accessibility to show naked players in the locker room — especially when it comes to her husband.
She tweeted out in graphic terms her concerns:
I would rather my husbands ass/penis not be all over TV. Would you like to be filmed while naked? https://t.co/0cWsGDE5zj
— Katherine McCarron (@_KatherineWebb) October 19, 2015
NFL Network’s Albert Breer was interviewing Adam “Pacman” Jones in the Bengals locker room after the team’s 34-21 win over the Buffalo Bills.
It’s a simple problem to fix: Ask the player to wear a towel (which 99 percent do) or ask the TV people to wait outside.
Indianapolis’ Bob Kravitz weighs in with this piece: “Even though I spend a decent portion of my professional life in those places, often standing around while grown men moisturize, primp, pamper and then dress, I despise those places, and the vast majority of people in the media business would say precisely the same thing.
“Male media members, female media members, we feel like unwelcome interlopers, like it’s their private tree house and we’re not included in the club. …
“The NFL is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Spend some money, give the players a changing room and then let them walk into the locker room, fully dressed, where they can do their interviews.”
That’s the no-so naked truth.