What’s made the Sunday column:
Along with the media beat writers and columnists who can claim to have documented Kobe Bryant’s Lakers career for the last 20 years, there exists a unique group of cameramen, producers and directors going back to the team’s days on Prime Ticket, Fox Sports West and KCAL-Channel 9 — still immersed as members of the current TWC SportsNet crew — that have stories to tell.
As for what they saw, remember and will be thinking about when Bryant plays his final game for the franchise on April 13, we hope we’ve captured some of that.
From TWC Sports executive producer Larry Meyers, coordinating producer Jared Stacy, game producer and director Mark Shah and Jerry Weinstein, to cameramen like Rusty Breslow, stage manager Dean Benson and audio man Antony Hurd, we’ve heard from them during the course of conversations before Wednesday’s Lakers-Heat game at Staples Center.
Here’s the result of it.
What’s worth posting here and now:
== With the goal again to make sure readers have as much information going in each spring on the latest array of newly released baseball-related books, we’ve come to feel it is now more a privilege than a chore to keep this annual series of reviews alive and, for the most part, very real.
The launch is tomorrow, April 1 at noon. Starting with Jeff Passan’s “The Arm.”
Good to go through April 30, likely ending with the two latest Dodgers releases, “Dodgerland” by Michael Fallon (due for June 1) and “The Last Innocents” by Michael Leahy (due on May 3)
Thirty baseball books, one a day.
God speed and good vision care.
Going back to previous seasons of book choices and reviews:
= From 2015
= From 2014
= From 2013
= From 2012
= From 2011
= From 2010
= From 2009
= From 2008
= And an explanation we once gave as to why we even try this. And thanks again to some guidance from Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf.
== You really didn’t expect the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. thing to be resolved by Opening Day 2016, did you?
Then you aren’t disappointed.
No matter what is leaked out as the “sweetest” deal TWC is trying use to lure AT&T/DirecTV into ending this stalemate that started long before the 2014 season — and you may hear reports trickling out still– it continues to feel as if it will take a monumental shift in philosophy(and ego) from competing dish and cable companies to snuggle to to any SNLA agreement that doesn’t involve them having to explain a jump in their customer’s monthly bills.
The latest statement from TWC: “We’ve offered short-term deals and long-term deals, we’ve lowered the price by 30 percent we’ve asked for arbitration, we’ve offered to pay them the same thing they charge for their RSNs, we’ve told them we’d meet them anytime, anywhere to negotiate, and nothing has worked. They’ve rejected every offer we’ve made. We don’t believe they’re interested in carrying SportsNet LA, and fans should switch to Time Warner Cable, Charter or Bright House Networks if they want to see the Dodgers.”
(By the way, is it “low” for everyone to start playing the “Vin Scully Card” now as negotiations bog down and this is, as he says, his final year broadcasting?
Sorry, we thought that was the case back in March, 2014.)
The weekend of Dodgers-Angels exhibition games Thursday, Friday and Saturday on SNLA again feature a Vin Scully call. There’s also Victor Rojas back with Mark Gubicza on the FSW coverage.
The Dodgers’ opener Monday at 4 p.m. in San Diego has both ESPN (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone, Jessica Mendoza and Buster Olney) and SNLA (Scully says he’ll be there).
Meanwhile, both ESPN2 (Karl Ravech, Dallas Braden, Tim Kurkjian and Buster Olney) and FSW have the Angels’ opener against the visiting Chicago Cubs on Monday at 7 p.m.
Buster Olney, at both the Dodgers’ game in San Diego and the Angels’ in Anaheim? That’s the plan.
== The Shulman-Boone-Mendoza team (with Olney) make their season debut for the ESPN Sunday Night opener — N.Y. Mets at Kansas City, 5:30 p.m. — which actually comes after St. Louis-Pittsburgh (Jon Sciambi, Rick Sutcliffe, Doug Glanville, ESPN, 10 a.m.) and Toronto-Tampa Bay (Dave Flemming, Curt Schilling, Eduardo Perez, ESPN2, 1 p.m.)
Monday’s games on ESPN include Houston-N.Y. Yankees (Sciambi, Sutcliffe, Glanville, 10 a.m.) and Seattle-Texas (Flemming, Schilling, Perez, 1 p.m.)
== Also note: The MLB Network has the Boston-Toronto exhibition games from Montreal on Friday (4 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) that will be played in Montreal and is expected to draw a combined 110,000 fans.
== Very cool piece by the San Diego Union-Tribune on Spanish-language play-by-play man Eduardo Ortega, the 52-year-old entering his 30th season. “Oh, he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame someday,” said Padres play-by-play man Dick Enberg, a Ford Frick broadcast inductee in 2015. “He’s that good.”
== The TBS/CBS plan for covering Saturday’s NCAA basketball Final Four from Houston includes more a basic understanding again of where to find all the Turner channels on your cable or dish system.
That, and how to stay away from anything CBS puts on the air opposite of it.
TBS has both Oklahoma-Villanova (3:09 p.m. tipoff) followed by North Carolina-Syracuse (40 minutes after the first game ends). Jim Nantz calls it with (for the 26th straight time since taking over for Brent Musburger) with Grant Hill and Bill Raftery (calling his 34th tournament), and reporter Tracy Wolfson. They’ll also do Monday’s final (TBS, 6 p.m.) along with a revised version of “One Shining Moment” that TBS apparently figured it had to do since it was the channel’s moment to shine.
Three hours of pregame Saturday begins at noon delegating verbiage from hosts Ernie Johnson and Greg Gumbel with jibber-jabber from Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Clark Kellogg, Reggie Miller, Seth Davis, Steve Smith and guest college coaches Tom Izzo and Kevin Ollie. Bill Walton is also scheduled to be part of the pregame.
During that time on Saturday, KCBS-Channel 2 counters with a sloshing of paid programming, a Dec. 4, 1984 episode of “Who’s The Boss?”, local and national news and even an 8-to-9 p.m. block that simply says on our menu as of earlier this week: “To Be Announced.”
It’s almost like they’re daring you to tune away from TBS to watch a major network collapse under its own lack of stuff.
Adding to that is the “Team Stream” options on TNT and truTV for those who want more team-centric reporting/hollering. Turner has done this in previous Final Fours, but this will be the first time it also carries over to the Monday finale — and the success of it measured in large party by which two teams advance.
Saturday’s breakdown: Sooners Sports TV play-by-play man Chad McKee is on the “Oklahoma” feed (TNT, 3 p.m.), with former Sooners player Eduardo Najera as the analyst and reporter Jessica Coody.
Westwood One play-by-play man and voice of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Scott Graham does the call on the “Villanova” feed (truTV, 3 p.m.) with former Villanova football (not basketball) player Brian Finneran as the analyst and Villanova alum Kacie McDonnell as the reporter.
The “North Carolina” feed (TNT, approx. 6:45 p.m.) has Fox Sports South’s Wes Durham on play-by-play (the son of Woody, who did Tar Heels sports for 40 years), with analyst and former North Carolina player Brendan Haywood and Dwayne Ballen as the reporter.
The “Syracuse” feed (truTV, approx. 6:45 p.m.) has (of course, a Syracuse grad) Tom Werme on play-by-play with former Orangemen player Roosevelt Bouie as the analyst and Donovan McNabb — yes, that Donovan McNabb — as the sideline reporter.
Seems like we all kind of buried the lead there, didn’t we?