Did Al Michaels’ rascal joke go flat? Pumped up winners may disagree

Note: This was originally posted Tuesday, Oct. 20 and updated Wednesday morning, Oct. 21:

sunday-night-footballIt must have been decades ago — no, wait, it was just last January, when everyone was gearing up for NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl XLIX — and we were cautiously curious about how Al Michaels would deal with a Bovoda.lv prop bet during the upcoming NBC telecast: How many times would the broadcasters mention “deflated” footballs, in the wake of Deflategate?
Michaels went on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and joked about people should take the over on the 2-1/2 line, at which point it went up to 3. But just as fast, Michaels tried to separate himself from any kind of perceived gambling corruption scandal.
“I was having some fun with Jimmy, nothing more, nothing less,” Michaels told us at the time through an NBC publicist when he was in Phoenix prepping for the Super Bowl. “I’m not thinking about anything other than doing the game.”
When the Seahawks-Patriots finally played that game, we’re not even sure if we counted the “deflate” mentions. It surely wasn’t part of our broadcast story.
So it’s just nine months later and now is when Michaels can’t help himself. Continue reading “Did Al Michaels’ rascal joke go flat? Pumped up winners may disagree” »

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Play It Forward Oct. 19-25: UCLA, USC have the second half to attempt a regroup

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK 8:
UCLA vs. CAL
Details/TV: At the Rose Bowl, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN
USC vs. UTAH

Details/TV: At the Coliseum, Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Half the 12-pack has been chugged for these two L.A. college football Pac-12 anchors. One manages to stay fairly upright, precariously at 4-2, but stumbling in their last two. The other looks somewhat punch drunk at 3-3 … and they’ve already picked a designated driver for the rest of the season.

UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa sacks Cal sophomore quarterback Jared Goff during the Bruins' 36-24 win over the Bears last season. (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa sacks Cal sophomore quarterback Jared Goff during the Bruins’ 36-24 win over the Bears last season. (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Both are back home to start the second half of the season – six more games guaranteed, with a rewards program that promises at least a seventh (a variety of bowl options).
Although the Bruins, in their first week out of the Top 25, may be averaging a decent 34.8 points a game, that’s only eighth-best in the conference. Their next mid-week opponent, the 20-ranked and 5-1 Bears, are putting up 40.2 points, and quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 17 touchdowns (150 for 225, 1970 yards). Five of his nine interceptions, however, came in the Bears’ last game, a 30-24 loss at Utah. UCLA knocked off Goff and Cal last year, 36-34, when Marcus Rios picked off a Goff pass at the 2-yard line with 51 seconds left.

Travis Wilson celebrates with Utah fans after throwing a 1-yard TD pass with 8 seconds left to beat USC, 24-21, in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Travis Wilson celebrates with Utah fans after throwing a 1-yard TD pass with 8 seconds left to beat USC, 24-21, in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

As for those unbeaten 6-0 Utes, who’ve crept up to No. 3 in the polls –they;ve been getting it done with running back Devontae Booker, who leads the nation with 161 rushing attempts, and the steady hand of quarterback Travis Wilson, the senior from San Clemente who has got the job done despite missed a game and a half with a bad left shoulder. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, one of the many named thrown out as a possibility to be the next USC head coach, seems to be benefiting mightily from having 68-year-old Dennis Erickson on his staff as an assistant head coach.
As things go, USC has to face Cal the following week (on Halloween) while UCLA gets Utah on Nov. 21 (the Saturday before Thanksgiving). Until then, a toast to the second half of the season.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
The NL Championship series between the Cubs and Mets moves to Wrigley Field for Games 3-5 (Tuesday-Thursday), while the AL Championship series goes to Toronto with the Royals in position to sweep (Monday-Wednesday) … The Galaxy finishes the MLS regular season in Kansas City on “Decision Day” (Sunday, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet) … The Clippers (Staples Center, Tuesday) and Lakers (Honda Center, Thursday) give Golden State a couple more practice games as the NBA exhibition season finishes up … More at this link.

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Sunday media Q&A: After further review, Jessica Mendoza’s final month at ESPN is likely just the start of something bigger

Jessica Mendoza goes over her notes in the Yankee Stadium press box prior to ESPN's coverage of the AL wildcard game on Oct. 6. Mendoza will do MLB work for "Baseball Tonight" through the World Series. (ESPN photo)

Jessica Mendoza goes over her notes in the Yankee Stadium press box prior to ESPN’s coverage of the AL wildcard game on Oct. 6. Mendoza will do MLB work for “Baseball Tonight” through the World Series. (ESPN photo)

A reporter for Forbes not only asks Jessica Mendoza about whether she gets “sick of answering questions about being a woman baseball broadcaster,” but also if a New York Times headline about her was misleading readers into thinking she’s too often criticized.
A reporter for Cosmopolitan follows up with a query about an offensive tweet about Mendoza by an Atlanta sports talk host (who was eventually suspended) and why she went on ABC’s “Good Morning America” the next day and accepted his apology.
A reporter for NPR’s “Morning Edition” just wants to know if she is “hurt” by anything written or said about her.
Even as Mendoza sat in a backstage make-up chair prior to going on stage at the recent espnW Women+Sports conference in Dana Point, blinking as brushes and pencils get in her line of vision, she still was in a proper fielding position for more media-related questions.
In this case, all the ones we had.
While the 34-year-old former Camarillo High softball All-American, Olympic gold medalist and Moorpark mom and wife has more “Baseball Tonight” studio work in Bristol, Conn., and a trip to the World Series on her work radar, we tried to find new things to ask her in the wake of her super-sized media profile that has translated into a #BroadcastLikeAGirl social media wave.
Without blushing, she obliged.

Jessica Mendoza talks to the audience during The espnW: Women + Sports Summit in Dana Point last week (Photo by Kaitlyn Egan / ESPN Images)

Jessica Mendoza talks to the audience during The espnW: Women + Sports Summit in Dana Point last week (Photo by Kaitlyn Egan / ESPN Images)

Q: Stephen Colbert had a line about you in a recent “Late Night” monologue: “Last night, ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza became the first woman ever to announce a nationally televised playoff baseball game — proving once and for all that women are just as capable as men at staying awake for nine innings.” So congratulations on entering the pop-culture realm, and now how do you make sure you’re not just remembered as a trivia question on a board game 25 years from now?
A: (Laughing) For me, it’s what you can control at the end of the day. I just want to be a good baseball analyst. As far as pop culture and all of that — I appreciate the support and attention, even when there’s negativity, but I haven’t thought about how to utilize this.
More at this link…

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It’s Out of the Question: Swift justice is what Kings fans demand

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

With everything else on the L.A. sports landscape crumbling around us — the Dodgers’ playoff excuses and the USC football coaching and AD leadership issues lead our list for FEMA submission — we’re now being sent all kinds of urgent advisories that our greatest nightmare truly begins and ends with …

Taylor Swift? Never in our wildest dreams.

Swift justice is needed, insist the Kings fans carrying their social media pitchforks and Change.org petitions to have a banner honoring the pop star immediately removed from inside Staples Center.

Yes, it’s that same cheesy piece of felt that Kobe Bryant felt he needed to personally deliver during one of her concert dates in August and somehow was put up into the rafters for all to smirk at — especially the banner-less Clippers.

At the very least, it might even please the Kings’ commoners if it was simply covered up, which sounds more like something that a mom would be muttering after accompanying her teen to a Miley Cyrus concert.

This tailor-made #TakeTheBannerDown movement comes to light as a recent espnW.com investigation uncovered the reasons why other sports teams were suffering horrific tailspins following Swift performances at their venues. Thankfully, Drake seems to be off the hook now.

Don’t believe us. Connect the dots yourself and there’s no question the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres suffered inhumane damage after a visit by the “most popular human alive” today (those are the words of a GQ headline).

What other reason can there be for the Kings to start this season with two measly goals in three home losses going into tonight’s game?

Read more at this post ...

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The Dodgers-Mets TV aftermath: N.Y. viewers more engaged; NFL crushes it

watchTVbaseballThe L.A. market had a respectable 11.0 rating for Thursday night’s TBS telecast of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS Game 5 from Dodger Stadium, according to industry numbers, but it still trailed by a large margin to the 18.4 rating that came from the New York market.

Overall, TBS had a 4.5 overnight rating for the game, averaging 7.4 million viewers and peaking at 9.7 million viewers (5.7 rating) from 8:15 to 8:30 p.m. PT.

In L.A., the five NLDS games averaged 7.8 by Nielsen’s figures. N.Y. averaged 12.7.

TBS says that through 10 post-season telecasts, the average 3.5 rating is up 46 percent over 2014. The network also reports that live streaming on portable devices are up 74 percent and increased 46 percent in minutes consumed from last year.

The decisive game of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS overlapped with the NFL’s non-competitive Atlanta-New Orleans game on CBS, which had more than double the baseball audience with a 10.4 overnight rating. It was also on the NFL Network.

In L.A., that NFL game did an 6.3 rating/12 share on KCBS-Channel 2 — actually not that distant from the Dodgers-Mets cable-station coverage. CBS also won the night in prime-time viewing.

The Dodgers’ game also competed with the first half of ESPN’s coverage of UCLA’s football game at Stanford.

The NFL regular-season dominance over MLB post-season is an on-going storyline. It was pointed out again earlier this week that more watched ESPN’s Monday Night Football game between Pittsburgh and San Diego than have followed the Chicago Cubs’ run through the NL playoffs on TBS.

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