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?
== Part of the Final Four weekend programming that will unfortunately be buried on CBS is a one-hour documentary called “With A Kiss,” on Raftery (KCBS-Channel 2, Saturday at 9 a.m.) It is produced and narrated by Raftery’s son, Billy.
Meanwhile, check out Raftery on the SI.com podcast.
== Was there really a need to attach a headline on this Kevin Harland call after Syracuse’s win in the Elite Eight and run with it as a news item?
== Aside from helping the New York Times for an exclusive story, ESPN didn’t have much time to promote a unique airing Wednesday of Texas Western’s historic victory in the 1966 NCAA championship game over Kentucky (remember the movie “Glory Road”?) It then had to clarify that it wasn’t the entire game, but seems to be an edited high-camera coaches’ film with the radio play-by-play by Wildcats broadcaster Claude Sullivan overlaid on it, not the original TV broadcast.
Thankfully, they will re-air it Sunday at 8 a.m. on ESPN2. Check it out.
The 1 1/2-hour presentation begins with an introduction from President Obama about the importance of the contest before John Saunders co-hosts the coverage with perspective from Michael Wilbon and Jay Bilas.
The game has rarely been seen on TV since its original broadcast on March 19, 1966. The Associated Press recently re-released the story it published about the game from College Park. Md., and it’s interesting to note: There is not one reference to Texas Western becoming the first predominantly black team to win a title. It was more intrigued that the school that was “once a little mining school just across the border from Mexico was making its first appearance ever in the national final under young Coach Don Haskins but didn’t let the pressure or the exposure before a national television audience bother it a bit.”
== “Nobody’s putting a gun to your head to watch,” said UConn’s Gino Auriemma about his team’s advancement in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. “So don’t watch. And don’t write about it.”
One writer in particular responded. We don’t expect to see it affect the ratings for Sunday’s Final Four in Indianapolis: UConn-Oregon State (3 p.m., ESPN) and Washington-Syracuse (5:30 p.m., ESPN) or, Tuesday’s final, which could be an all-Pac-12 event (5:30 p.m., ESPN)
== We believe this to be the greatest achievement in FS1’s existence: It is in the process of airing 15 episodes of “The White Shadow” during a “marathon” that began at 3 a.m. Thursday and continues Friday, but takes breaks for regularly scheduled programming.
Yet, because of the time shift, most of these episode have been and will be airing in the middle of the night, PDT.
KTLA-Channel 5 could have done as much.
If only FS1 could have figured out a better way to mess this up …
The gesture is deference to the recent passing of actor Ken Howard, who played coach Ken Reeves on the L.A. inner-city Carver High fictional team that became a must-watch TV series for those of us in high school at the time, from 1978-81. There are 54 episodes in total and we can only find the first and second seasons available on DVD through Amazon.com.
== Which reminds us: Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News posted this column recently with somewhat disturbing news about how new FS1 chief Jamie Horowitz wants to change things up by adding more “opinionists.” That includes the pending arrival of Nick Wright from Houston and Joy Taylor from Miami.
Perfect timing for those of us who have one of The Onion’s day-by-day desk calendars. As this one turned up for the March 26-27 weekend, it read almost like non-fake news (with edits made on our end to keep it more G-rated, but you get the drift):
== Another update on the recovery of Kings Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller, which falls along the lines of what we had on it more than a month ago. And congrats to Kings TV analyst Jim Fox, as well as Clippers play-by-play man Ralph Lawler, on being included in the latest list of inductees into the 10th class of the California Sports Hall of Fame. Ceremonies will be June 26 at Morongo Casino in Cabazon. The Hall was founded in 2006 by former NFL running back Christian Okoye (who will also be inducted in June) as a non-profit to enhance education for underprivileged children and young adults. More information: www.californiasportshalloffame.org.
We wrote about the organization’s genesis back in 2007.
== Why would ESPN and “SportsCenter” care about covering WWE’s Wrestlemania 32 on Sunday? And going live for cut-ins during the day? We don’t know either. But SI.com’s Richard Deitsch decided to find out.
It caused Dan Patrick to remark during his syndicated radio show on Tuesday: It’s “pretty transparent … people aren’t watching ‘SportsCenter’ the way they once did. … (WWE fans are) being used … It’s not like (ESPN) cares about the sport. They care about you the audience that they can now fill up ‘SportsCenter’ with. You can get better ratings there.”
== You are apparently supposed to post a Post-It note somewhere on your TV that ESPN is going to debut its five-part documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” on June 11 on ABC, then re-air the episodes before the next installment airs on ESPN between June 14-18.
And ESPN is trying to win an Academy Award for this TV production?
It of course doesn’t hurt that the Tuesday night FX docu-drama “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” has received a ridiculous amount of press and viewer attention. The season-finale of that one is Tuesday, April 5. “I can’t resist seeing how it’s all going to end,” real-life prosecutor Marcia Clark told Entertainment Weekly.
== More from TNT NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who did Tuesday night’s game at Golden State: “It’s obviously been very surprising and overwhelming the support I’ve gotten. So many times when you’re doing a job you feel like you’re nuisance sometimes to people and you’re intruding on their space and you’re asking questions maybe they don’t want to deal with at the time and it’s not as, ‘Hey, welcome, here’s Craig.’ Whereas now it’s kind of been different. I’ve always been one I’ve always liked to talk to people in the stands. I understand when people come up to me and say somebody in their family has cancer, ‘We appreciate what you’re doing, we appreciate your fight, don’t give up, we love your attitude.’ That’s just me. I’ve never had one day where I said, ‘Why me?’ and I’ve never had one day where I laid in my bed and thought about what reality and the worst things are and was down and started crying in my bed. That’s never happened.”
Sager said his plan is to work the playoffs for TNT, hopefully more games in San Antonio (and coach Gregg Popovich) where he’ll be closer to treatments he’s receiving in Houston.
== If you aren’t familiar with the plagiarism accusations floating around Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp, this piece by the original writer, David Harns, asking for a public apology, should shine a whole new light upon it.
== Sports Business Daily reports Thursday that all eight AVP pro beach volleyball matches this summer, starting with Sunday, April 17 in New Orleans, will be carried live on NBC and its sports group as the Summer Olympics in Rio near.
NBC doesn’t pay a rights fee; the AVP takes care of ads.
It’s hardly what the AVP once was on NBC — a force of nature that NBC eventually helped sell as an Olympic sport in the late ’90s. Most of the airings last year, the first after a five-year hiatis, were on NBCSN, but the Manhattan Beach Open was on NBC and had more than 1 million viewers. This year’s MB Open falls on July 17.
Chris Marlowe, Kevin Wong and Dain Blanton return as the broadcast team for all coverage and likely for the Olympics as well.
Gracie Gold skates during a ladies practice session prior to the World Figure Skating Championships in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
== The remainder of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships from Boston hits the main event with the always tape-delayed ladies’ free skate on Saturday (9 p.m., KNBC Channel 4), a four-day competition held in the U.S. for the first time since L.A. and Staples Center had it in 2009.
Tom Hammond, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are on the call with reporters Andrea Joyce and Tanith White as well as Tracy Wilson, Ben Agosto and Ryan Bradley on some of the NBCSN coverage, which includes the ladies short program live Thursday (1 p.m.) and ice dance free dance (4 p.m.). The pairs short program is Friday at noon with the men’s free skate at 6 p.m. The pairs free skate is Saturday at 11 a.m.
== Golf Channel’s coverage of the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Ana Inspiration (formerly the Dinah Shore Invitational) in Rancho Mirage has Terry Gannon and Judy Rankin as the main broadcasters, Annika Sorenstam as an analyst on the Thursday and Friday rounds, along with hole analyst Tom Abbott and course reporters Jerry Foltz, Jim Gallagher, Jr. and Karen Stupples. The coverage include split windows of the first two rounds Thursday and Friday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.), then 1-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (which makes it a prime-time event on the East).
== The Hollywood Reporter’s April 8 issue includes a couple of baseball-related media pieces: Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) talks about leaving his dream of playing pro hockey and becoming an actor in the role of a former baseball pitcher the new Richard Linklater film, “Everybody Wants Some” (which comes out this week); and Fox is working on a pilot (with MLB) called “Pitch,” about a female pitcher who makes the San Diego Padres’ roster, starring Kylie Bunbury.
== The MLB Network has mapped out a schedule that brings at least one live regular season game for 20 straight days, and 40 games total for the month, starting with Tuesday’s Mets-Royals game in Kansas City at 1 p.m. The first exclusive MLB Network game is Friday, April 8, when Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and Tom Verducci do Boston at Toronto. Part of the schedule includes the Dodgers’ home opener against Arizona on April 12 as well as the Dodgers-Giants game from Dodger Stadium on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, for a 7 p.m. game that. Costas calls it with Verducci and Harold Reynolds. Both are likely to be blacked out in L.A.
== Pac-12 Network highlights for the weekend:
= Ann Schatz and Tammy Blackburn call UCLA softball at Oregon (Friday, 6 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.)
= Ted Robinson and JT Snow call USC baseball at Stanford: Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. (only on Pac-12 LA)
= Anne Marie Anderson and Al Scates have UCLA men’s volleyball at Pauley Pavilion against BYU (Friday, 8 p.m.)
= Brian Webber and Corina Morariu have UCLA women’s tennis at Utah (Sunday, noon, Pac-12 L.A. only)
= Kevin Barnett and Dain Blanton have USC men’s volleyball at Galen Center against UC Irvine (Sunday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 L.A. only)
== BillyPenn.com, the mobile journalism website for the betterment of Philadelphia launched in 2014 by current ESPN ombudsman/public editor and former Digital First Media editor in chief Jim Brady, was wise to hire Dan Levy as its new sports editor.
== And finally:
Our favorite tweet of the week:
“Lakers Compacto” is edited version of team’s games on cable TV. Sounds like trash service.Of course, their season has gone into dumpster.
— Steve Harvey (@sharvey9) March 29, 2016