What the plan is for Sunday:
The madness of March and the on-ramp to the MLB season, the NBA playoffs and the Stanley Cup playoffs… and we’ve hooked our rig to the NASCAR Sprint Cup, returning to Fontana this weekend on FS1, FS2 and Fox.
Trust us. It’s going to work. Somehow.
The bare essentials: Fox has Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip (we listed those two analysts in order of importance) and Larry McReynolds somehow still in the mix for the Auto Club 400 (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11). Jamie Little, Chris Neville and Matt Yocum are in the pits, and no rain predicted.
Chris Myers has the pre-race show (Sunday, noon) with Gordon, Waltrip and Michael Waltrip. “NASCAR Raceday” at 10:30 a.m. on FS2 has John Roberts hosting with Jeff Hammond, Wally Dallenbach, Kaitlyn Vincie and Kenny Wallace. The features include a look at “drivers’ media blitzes in the Los Angeles market,” such as Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr. attending Thursday’s “American Idol.”
Qualifying is Friday (4:30 p.m., FS1). The cable channel also has practice at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday at 8 a.m. (FS2) and 11:30 a.m.
The Xfinity Series NXS 300 goes Saturday at 1 p.m. (FS1, with Adam Alexander on the call, analyst Michael Waltrip and guest analyst and defending Auto Club 400 winner Brad Keselowski). Practice is Friday at noon and 2:30 pm.. (FS1) with qualifying Saturday at 9 a.m. (FS1). The “Raceday-Xfinity” show at 12:30 p.m. (FS1) has Danielle Trotta hosting with McReynolds, Kenny Wallace and reporter Neville.
What’s worth posting here and now:
== And speaking of FS1: Yes, there are changes going on there as the cable channel rebranded in Aug., 2013 with much too much fanfare (really, Regis Philbin?) has been going through too many public growing pains.
(And three logos over this period of time?)
The latest round of layoffs and cutbacks are written about here and there, and we’ve not really wanted to expose too much about what we’re hearing until more dust settles and the ranting subsides as we get a clearer picture on what’s happening at the L.A.-based facility.
We already know about the “reformatted” “Fox Sports Live with Jay and Dan” that “strays from the traditional highlight shows” (as per the weekly press release). If the Canadians can do the news like Scott Van Pelt at ESPN, more power to ’em, eh?
Meanwhile, we know of several people who’ve been part of the latest purge — and even read about Tony Siragusa on the outs at network Fox NFL coverage.
None of this is easy or fun. Stay tuned.
== Didn’t current Fox employ Erin Andrews look like $55 million bucks during her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday night?
== Why was someone named Joy Taylor sitting in for Kristine Leahy on “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” today and coming back Friday? Not that we heard anything but Taylor, the younger sister of former Dolphins star Jason Taylor and a Miami radio co-host, has already been a joy to hear in this fill-in spot. If there’s one reason why our ears have been diverted away from Cowherd’s show so far on FS1 …
== Today the Clippers, next the Rams?
The announcement Wednesday night the Clippers figured out a deal with KLAC (570 AM) and iHeartRadio to carry the rest of their games for this season, including the playoffs, is probably the best fit since the Clippers’ former flagship station, KMPC (980 AM) was sold and abandoned the all-sports format, switching to Southeast Asian/Indian/Bollywood music.
Senior VP of Sports Los Angeles/KLAC Don Martin told us several weeks ago that if the numbers matched up, the iHeartRadio family of stations would be willing to add the Clippers on — especially with UCLA basketball done for the season. The Dodgers would provide the most conflicts going forward, but the Clippers know they’ll likely be moved over to KEIB (AM 1150) when those happen.
The first Clippers game on KLAC will be Saturday in Memphis, followed by Sunday in New Orleans and next Wednesday at Golden State.
Adding the Clippers to the KLAC home of the Dodgers and UCLA only makes it more attractive for the Rams to eventually add an iHeartRadio station to their media platforms once that decision is to be made.
On the FM side — where most NFL teams have a sister station to carry games in stereo — the best IHeartRadio options in L.A. are alternative rock Alt 987, hip-hop Power 106 and Real 92.3, or classic rock 105.5 KLOS, as well as several Spanish-language stations.
== A week out from the CIF state basketball championships in Sacramento and TWC SportsNet as well as TWC Community channel and the website locked down the major Southern California Regional finals at the Long Beach State Pyramid.
Steve Quis and Casey Jacobsen have the call on the Chino Hills’ road show as it puts its 32-0 record again with 28-2 Bishop Montgomery for the boys Open Division title game (Saturday, 8:30 p.m.) on TWC Community and livestream. The winner moves to the March 26 state title.
Note: There will also be a replay of this one at 10:30 p.m. on TWC SportsNet (which is committed to the MLS Galaxy game against San Jose from 7:30-to-9:30 p.m., plus the Galaxy “Access” postgame).
TWC SportsNet can otherwise commit to the boys Division I final between Redondo and Crespi (3 p.m.), girls Division final final between Brea Olinda and Vista Murrietta (1 p.m.), boys Division II final between Long Beach Poly and JW North (11 a.m.) and girls Division II final between Mater Dei and Cajon (9 a.m.).
The girls Open Division final between Chaminade and Long Beach Poly is only on TWC Community and live stream tipping off at 5 p.m.
Quis and Jacobsen also have the call on the girls Open and boys Division I championships. Dan Hellie and Tracy Warren have the girls Division I and II and boys Division II.
== It seems almost like a month ago now when CBS finally finished its reveal of the men’s NCAA Tournament bracket in the two-hour Sunday show that a) no one seemed to be pleased with and b) even more were upset/elated that someone leaked a bracket over Twitter.
Upset, at the NCAA offices. Elated, everyone trying to stay patient while watching Charley Barkley trying to mess with a touchscreen (he apparently didn’t make it to rehersal?).
A follow up by the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir, which referenced our Sunday piece that previewed CBS Sports Sean McManus explaining why it was expanding the show, noted that “executives of CBS and Turner refused to comment on Monday, apparently uninterested in suppressing the uproar among college basketball fans.”
Having the Barkley situation was annoying enough (c’mon, play along with Ernie Johnson about whether Fairleigh Dickinson is named after one or two people?)
But dragging out the regions, then having more analysis in between, felt more like a four-corner stall. This day in age calls for immediate need for information. Had it been back to a one-hour show, the draws would have been up in the first half hour and the rest was left for analysis. This time, it dragged past the full-hour mark before it was complete, and by then, the Twitter leak had occurred.
The result was a 3.7 overnight rating for the show, its lowest in 20 years.
Live and learn. We are at least thankful that we could provide some context about how it was supposed to happen versus what actually went down.
Anyone watch ESPN’s one-hour women’s tournament reveal last Monday as a comparison? Didn’t think so.
One for the road: Check out Sam Laird’s take on this at Mashable.com, where the person who leaked the bracket is referred to as “a Liam Neeson-level hero.”
== Kevin Harlan has the call, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner are the analysts and Lewis Johnson on the sideline for the TBS carriage of USC-Providence in Thursday night’s opening round in Raleigh, N.C., of the NCAA Tournament East Regional (approx. 6:50 p.m.).
How punch drunk may this foursome be by the time the Trojans start the layup line?
About six hours earlier, they’ll call Texas Tech-Butler (9:40 a.m., truTV), then Virginia-Hampton (approx. 12:15 p.m., truTV), then North Carolina-Florida Gulf Coast (4:20 p.m., TBS). Bathroom breaks optional.
The Thursday coverage begins with Ian Eagle, Chris Webber, Len Elmore and Evan Washburn on Duke-N.C. Wilmington in Providence, R.I., at 9:15 a.m. on Channel 2. Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wilson are at the Des Moines site to start with Colorado-UConn at 10:30 a.m. on TNT. Then comes Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas and Jamie Erdahl in Denver beginning with Iowa State-Iona at 11 a.m.
Friday’s teams: Brian Anderson, Steve Smith and Dana Jacobson are in St. Louis launching Dayton-Syracuse at 9:15 a.m. on Channel 2; Verne Lundquist, Jim Sparnakel and Allie LaForce are in Brooklyn for the start of Villanova-UNC Ashville at 9:40 a.m. on truTV; Carter Blackburn, Mike Gminski and Jamie Maggio are in Oklahoma City for Oregon State-VCU at 10:30 a.m. on TNT and Spero Dedes, Doug Gottieb and Ros Gold-Onwude are in Spokane for Cal-Hawaii at 11 a.m. on TBS. Really, they needed to start a West Coast game before noon local time? It’s the very last window they have for the day, so, yes. But still …
== KCBS-Channel 2 will again use Cal State Northridge coach Reggie Theus as its in-studio analyst with Jim Hill throughout the tournament.
== WNBA Sparks star Candace Parker is the analyst (with Tiffany Greene on play-by-play) for UCLA’s first-round game at Pauley Pavilion against Hawaii (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2) in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. ESPN2 will have four games in that regional window but sends this one specific to the L.A. market.
== One more Sean McManus tidbit on the NCAA basketball tournament: The new CBS/Turner format introduced several years ago means there (hopefully) will never be another time when someone who wants to see a complete game during the 68-team event won’t have access on one of the four participating channels.
That, of course, wasn’t always the case.
Now, there had to be plenty more pros than cons growing up the son of iconic sports TV journalist Jim McKay (real name: McManus) all those year ago. One was he got a first-hand experience on what happened during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
But as McManus quickly discovered, a downside to acting as the executive producer for the tournament was that not even his dad, who died in 2008, could be completely satisfied with limited choices made for him.
“He became a real follower of Duke (Sean McManus’ alma mater) and he really loved the tournament overall,” Sean said. “He loved the individual stories about the players and coaches and the overall ambiance of the tournament where you’d never know what was going to happen, with buzzer beaters and Cinderella stories. He just wasn’t crazy about all the switching going on.
“Back in the days when we used to carry only one game to each market, splitting the country into eight regions for four games a day, no matter what we did as well thought out as we could with the switches, we always got complaints.”
McKay lived in the winter at a home in Palm Beach, Fla., a region filled with transplanted New Yorkers who often wanted to see Syracuse or St. John’s.
“What probably hurt me the most,” McManus said, “was when I got a call in the studio once from my dad who called me one time and asked, ‘You know there’s a great Ohio State game going on. Why aren’t we seeing that?’
“My thought was: If you can’t please your own father, maybe I’m in the wrong business.”
As it is, McManus says he can’t see a time when it will ever go back to that overlapping TV windows of discontent.
“We have done a great job as well of helping navigate viewers to other games if there is something noteworthy going on another channel,” he said. “I think this is the format that going forward will never change. The only changes we’re going to make now is in the digital world, dealing with Roku and Apple TV, experimenting with expanded platforms. You’ll always have the option to watch a game from beginning to end, even if it’s a 30-point blowout. For better or worse.”
== Circling back to the NYT’s Sandomir: He got the jump on the Jessica Mendoza Version.2016 story by going to her Moorpark home and writing this column that appeared last Sunday.
Mendoza has been gathering info during a trip to Arizona for spring training as she preps for her first full year as the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” analyst.
“Her primary goal at spring training has been to face major league pitching,” wrote Sandomir. “She did not feel she had to swing or even bring a bat. She simply wanted to see what she had not experienced in softball. She hoped to look at Clayton Kershaw and say, ‘OK, Clayton, give me the slider I’ve heard so much about.’
“On Tuesday, she stepped into the batter’s box against Jeff Samardzija of the San Francisco Giants. ‘His curve was beautiful, and it made me laugh out loud,’ she said, adding that Dave Righetti, the Giants’ pitching coach, ‘was also laughing because he said, ‘You nearly came out of your shoes.’ ”
== If the Yankees are bold enough to use Alex Rodriguez (third baseman/part-time Fox MLB playoff analyst) as a spokesman to urge fans of the team’s YES network to drop Comcast, what would prevent the Dodgers from recruiting one of its own to step into the fray and urge fans to drop DirecTV and AT&T and switch to Time Warner Cable to get SportsNet LA?
Plenty, apparently. Considering most of those Dodgers players are likely DirecTV subscribers.
But imagine if Tommy Lasorda would do the commerical — bleeps and all, as if he was just asked about a Dave Kingman performance. That’s either a card the Dodgers are waiting to play, or they’ll never do because they fear it will somehow backfire on all the money they’ve already spent from this deal.
The Vin Scully final season factor appears to be something they just don’t care enough about to take action. And if this is all “too complicated,” then someone best explain it.
== Chris Fowler, Chrissie Evert, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver are the broadcast group for ESPN calling the WTA women’s title and ATP men’s title of the BNP Paribas Open from Indian Wells (Sunday starting at 11 a.m.) The men’s semifinals are Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN); the women’s semfinals are Friday (7 p.m., ESPN2). WatchESPN has seven-court offerings through Sunday.
== DVR alert: The new season of “Feherty” on Golf Channel has former president George W. Bush for a sitdown that airs Monday (6 p.m.), taking place at the George W. Bush President Center at SMU in Dallas. (Not a library? Would you ever expect David Feherty to go to a library for this Batman vs. Superman matchup?) As season six begins of the show, Golf Channel reports the two-part interview with Jordan Spieth drew 325,000 and 351,000 viewers. Might want to dig out that replay of the interview he once did with Donald Trump and see how many watch it now.
Upcoming “Feherty” episode guests: Jason Day (March 28), Emmitt Smith, Cris Carter, Bob Costas, Peter Oosterhuis, Paula Creamer, Bob Uecker and Doug Collins.
== Second DVR reminder: Next episode of HBO’s “Real Sports” (Edition 288, Tuesday, 10 p.m.) has a Bernie Goldberg feature on TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager and his comeback from leukemia, and Jon Frankel has a piece on the “Titans of Mavericks” surf event.
== ESPN seems to feeling frisky over how it is touting a way it will change coverage of the SEC quad-meet gymnastics championships live on Saturday, which involves a new scoring graphic that tries to cover the quad-meet format, along with a real-time stream of individual apparatus.
Met Arnowitz, the ESPN coordinating producer quoted in a press release: “We’ve learned a great deal televising regular-season gymnastics live for the past two-years, and have seen some incredible opportunities for growth of the sport on television. The biggest hurdle in producing the sport live – and specifically the SEC Championship – is scoring, and we believe the graphics interface we’ve developed makes that challenge obsolete.”
That may all look fine and confusing — is that a gymnastics meet or a 7-Eleven security setup?
Perhaps they do what the Pac-12 Network has done and keep things more simple.
As we pointed out in a recent story about the network coverage of gymnastics, executive producer Will O’Toole led an effort to get all conference coaches to adjust the formats of the meets to every individual performance could be shown and the scoring would be accumulated in real time. They’ve managed to maintain most of that coverage for the Pac-12 gymnastics finals, which also air Saturday from Seattle at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Compare and contrast.
Jim Watson and Amanda Borden call the Pac-12 meet.
Bart Connors, Kathy Johnson Clarke and Courtney Kupets have the call of the SEC event starting on ESPU with the afternoon session (11 a.m.) and SEC Network for the evening session (3 p.m.).
This all funnels into the six NCAA regional sites on April 2 and the championships in Fort Worth, Texas on April 15-17.
== More Pac-12 Network coverage of note for the weekend:
= Roxy Bernstein and JT Snow have USC playing host to Cal in baseball (Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m.)
= JB Long and Kevin Stocker call UCLA hosting Washington State in baseball (Friday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon)
= Jason Knapp and Kara Lentz have USC at Cal in women’s lacrosse (Friday, 2 p.m.)
= Kate Scott and Amanda Freed have UCLA at Cal in women’s softball (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m.)
== Tom Hammond, Ato Boldon, Craig Masback and Todd Harris have NBCSN’s coverage of the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships from Portland on Friday (9:30 p.m.), Saturday (6:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.)
== If you missed last week’s KPCC-FM (89.3) “Off Ramp” with John Rabe, catch up on a story involving a 1991 Mercedes that Joe DiMaggio once owned and author John Shullian got to go for a ride in it with Rabe and the current owner. The car was for sale in Woodland Hills. Just $12,500 via Craigslist.
== With the time difference, the NBCSN coverage of the first Formula One event of the season — Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix — begins at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night. NBC’s networks have all 21 races of the F1 season; the network will actually carry four of them, including the Monaco Grand Prix (May 29) and the U.S. Grand Prix from Austin, Tex. (Oct. 23). Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett and Will Buxton call them for the fourth season in a row.
== The two sports-related films that get some box-office attention this weekend:
= “The Bronze,” a comedy featuring “Big Bang Theory” co-star Melissa Rauch as a Kerri Strug-type Olympic hero who becomes a washed up U.S. gymnast trying to rehab her image in her small town (it begins its run late Thursday night at some Southern California theaters):
= “The Program,” a drama, not to be confused with the 1993 football movie with James Caan and Halle Berry, is the based-on-a-true book “Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong” by writer David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) that led to the exposure of Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster) in his doping scandal. Dustin Hoffman also has a part at Bob Hamman, the CEO of SCA Promotions, which guaranteed his Tour de France bonus money and won a lawsuit to have Armstrong return $10 million. The film, co-produced by DirecTV, made its world premiere in September at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. A review by the Guardian when it came out: “It’s a fluid and nippy telling of a tale that still seems strangely urgent.” It has a limited Southern California run:
== And finally:
A site we’ve never really visited and don’t regret not having visited called CollegeSpun.com has posted a bracket of the “64 Most Annoying People in Sports Media.” It included itself as a 14 seed in the Darren Rovell Region (basically giving a free pass to advance for Chris Broussard.
NBC’s sharp-witted Cris Collinsworth, a 16th-seed against No. 1 seed Steve A. Smith, had this to say as he posted a filled-out bracket:
Got snubbed worse than Kansas. pic.twitter.com/Q0EwkGTflW
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthNBC) March 15, 2016