Weekly sports media notes version 05.13.16 — Will Chuck Knox get some air time in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with these Rams?

What’s coming for Sunday:

At the NFL owners meetings last March, HBO, NFL Films and the Rams got together and decided that, for the upcoming episode of documentary series “Hard Knocks” that would air this fall, the franchise that just got approved of a move from St. Louis back to Los Angeles was the no-brainer story worth telling.
“As soon as the announcement was made that the Rams were returning to Los Angeles, I really think it was a three-way tie between the organizations calling each other and saying, ‘This makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?'” said coordinating producer Ken Rodgers.
600x360-Hard-Knocks-Untitled-1So while the Rams have held workouts the last few weeks at a makeshift facility at a Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, drafting a new overall No. 1 quarterback along the way, HBO’s camera crews have already been there to record things.
Rodgers, along with “Hard Knocks” director Matt Dissinger, estimate they’ve already collected about 100 hours of material, sent via Internet portals to editing bays at the NFL Films’ offices in New Jersey.
But the crazy thing is, a great portion of that may never be used. It all depends on what happens when the Rams open camp in late July in Irvine, and the show begins its tape-to-edit-to-air process in early August for five episodes.
More heck could break loose between then and now. This is Hollywood, after all.
We caught up with the “Hard Knocks” execs after Thursday’s team workouts as they started to feel their way around this storyline — the first time that the series in its 11 incarnations has had to deal with a franchise transfer — and got their thoughts going into this project as the trailer for the show is already viewer-ready and Southern California News Group columnist Mark Whicker has already dived into the pros and cons of what the Rams face based on past “Hard Knocks” history.
And to say these “Hard Knocks” players with HBO and NFL Films aren’t riding something of a euphoric high: The show won two Sports Emmys at this past week’s ceremony in New York in the 37th annual ceremony, based on their work in 2015 chronicling the Houston Texans. It won for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary and Outstanding Post-Produced Audio/Sound.
That brings the total Emmys for the series over the years to … is it 14?
UPDATE: The link to the Sunday column is here.

What’s worth posting now:

== A 5,600-word piece on Vin Scully superbly crafted by Tom Verducci in the current issue of Sports Illustrated cuts to the heart of what Los Angeles has known for years — the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster is just like your best friend. Verducci conveys that sentiment in what has become the latest in the media-generated celebration of Scully’s career as we get into what is presumed to be Scully’s 67th and final season
Add in the calculation by Verducci that Scully has broadcast nearly half of the Dodgers games ever played. The franchise began in 1890. Scully started in 1950. It boggles the mind.

400vin-scully-si-cover.0The two-part video Q-and-A on SINow.com — the first part on his career, and the second part on his legacy — is sugar-free frosting on the cake.
What’s new about this piece: Scully finally made the magazine’s cover, albeit a strange representation of half-photo, half-clay figure that looks like something out of the Tom  Hanks in “The Polar Express.”
Still, SI’s own managing editor Chris Stone calls it in a tweet: “Inarguably the most overdue cover in history.”
We asked Verducci if in the process of putting this long-form piece together, there were some gems he had to leave out.
What’s the writer’s cut from a project that could have gone on for volumes?
Verducci, who continues to write for SI.com, do game work and reporting for the MLB Network and, despite changes in the Fox Sports MLB lead team, is a game analyst, was kind enough to reply:

verdOne of the real treats in talking to Vin is listening to him talk about Jackie Robinson. I did write about the story of Vin being in a training room with Jackie and Pee Wee immediately after the Dodgers lost to the Giants in 1951 on the Bobby Thomson home run.
Vin also told the story about how Jackie wanted to challenge him to an ice skating race at Grossinger’s in New York during a Dodgers winter caravan – even though Jackie never had been on skates before. “The competitiveness would just drive him to learn to do something he had never even tried before,” Vin said.
They didn’t race, but they did pose for a picture.
And then there is something I hadn’t heard before:
“I remember a hot day in Philadelphia. Shibe Park. There was one exit, and I came out of the exit. The bus was right there. It was really hot. There was a man with a small table and he was cutting a watermelon, and as I came out he handed me his watermelon.
“‘Oh, great. Thanks.'”
“I got on the bus. All the players who had been ahead of me, they all had watermelon. Jackie came out the door, and when this man said, ‘Have a piece of watermelon.’
Jackie went ballistic.
sd2640-1947-brooklyn-dodgers-jackie-robinson-fridge-magnet-classic-vintage-style-logo-mlb-baseball“Now, I don’t mean to put on a big show or anything, but he was furious. The players hollered from the bus and held up Jackie. And then he realized, this man was actually giving cold slices of watermelon on a brutally hot day in Philadelphia.

“So he was right on the edge all the time, as you well imagined. So I guess this long winded answer to your question [about Jackie] is that he was a very complicated man who was able to control all of those burning desires he had right to the very end.”
For those fortunate enough to listen to Scully call that April 15 game recently between the Dodgers and Giants at Dodger Stadium for SportsNetLA — the annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration — they may recall that story. For those who didn’t, like Verducci, and for those who don’t mind hearing it again, it’s just another gem.

== Verducci goes on Dan Patrick’s show to talk about the interview (above).

== In Sports Illustrated’s history, there have been several pieces done on Scully going back to the 1964 gem by Robert Creamer called “The Transistor Kid.”
There was also the David J. Halberstam piece less than a year ago, with Scully looking back on his first season of 1950.
vinmagesAnd in 2010, Joe Posnanski did his own and re-purposed some of it in 2011.
And in 2008, Richard Hoffer did “In Vin, Veritas.”
And in 2005, Steve Rushin did “Diamonds in the Sky.”
In 1971, Jerry Kirshenbaum focused a piece primarily on Scully called “And Here, To Bring you the Play by Play …”
At one point, we tried to track them all down from the SIVault.com, but links disappeared. You can do a new search yourself.

== Also this week: The New York Daily News’ Christian Red did this 2,000-word piece on Scully, who declined an invitation by the Yankees to come with the Dodgers when the team travels to New York for a series in September. And New York WOR’s Howie Rose has a 17-minute conversation with Scully as well.

== Joe Davis, who we continue to be impressed with as he does a schedule of Dodgers’ road games thus far, is paired with Verducci and Ken Rosenthal on the Houston-Boston game from Fenway Park on Saturday (10 a.m., FS1), followed by Justin Kutcher and CJ Nitkowski at Minnesota-Cleveland (1 p.m.). Verducci is also on the team with Bob Costas and John Smoltz calling Washington-N.Y. Mets on Thursday at 4 p.m. for MLB Net.

== And in case you missed the call of how the Dodgers did not wrap up their victory at Toronto last Saturday, with verified video to help the radio description. Continue reading “Weekly sports media notes version 05.13.16 — Will Chuck Knox get some air time in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with these Rams?” »

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A post-script to the Mendoza Mom’s Day story …

0508_SPO_LDN-L-MEDIA-0508In addition to the story posted on ESPN MLB analyst Jessica Mendoza and how she balances her career and work in light of having to be away from her two young sons on Mother’s Day tonight, there are some other things mom-related we covered in a recent interview:

Q: What’s easier for you to deal with these days: A full diaper at a restaurant, the perils of potty training or a poorly presented review of your TV work on social media?
A: I feel like those who critique me, I don’t necessary have to deal with them. But you just can’t ignore a dirty diaper in a restaurant. That’s true responsibility, you gotta deal with it. And the sad part is I like to interact with people. I’ll spend a good window post-Sunday night game looking at my full Twitter box, flooded with people writing things good and bad. I let it go and maybe once the weekend is over, I’ll get back on and chat it up with people.

Q: A story a few years ago in Fitness magazine asked how you define “mother” and you talked about how if the world were run by mothers, we would always have peace. That was pretty profound … but true. Have you thought more about that?
A: I just know what I feel, and the conversations I’ve had with my kids. In places I’ve traveled — Rwanda, South Africa, so many places around the world now — my reaction always to visiting a war-driven area is, ‘I never want to harm any innocent people or children.’ Maybe that’s more than just the mother in me. I’m sure plenty of dads feel the same way. But when I talk to my 6-year-old, sometimes he’ll say something like, ‘If we ever see a bad guy, I’m going to get him. He’s never going to live again.’ I have to explain to him that in my opinion, there aren’t any bad guys, there are just good people who sometimes make bad decisions. We need to give them an opportunity to become good again. Sometime, society puts bad people in cartoons or whatever, it’s ‘get the bad guys … get rid of them.’ It’s our job to educate our kids and tell them now to be good.

Q: How difficult must it be like to go to your son Caleb’s T-ball games and not want to get out there and coach him up? We don’t see you as much of a helicopter mom:
A: It’s really hard. You know, half the time, I’ll see him in the outfield, and he’ll call out, ‘Look, mom, I’m making dirt angels!’ And a ball will be hit to him, and roll right up to him, and he’s still lying there. It’s hard not to yell, ‘Hey, stand up!’
When he’s up hitting, I try to just let him have fun and just swing the bat hard. Make it simple. Part of me, sure, wants to help him, work on some mechanics. But he’s 6. At this point, it’s just having fun. Sometimes, having fun was hard for me to handle.
My dad is already putting him on camera, videotaping his games. It’s hilarious. When I’m gone some weekends and they have a sleepover at my parents’ house, they watch film. That’s my dad. I was doing it at the same age. But it warms my heart to think, the person who taught me everything, now he’s doing the same thing with my son, it’s the coolest thing ever.

Q: One child can be tough to handle. Two kids, sometimes it’s like it’s 10 times more degree of difficulty. How is it for you?
A: I actually love it more because they entertain each other a lot now. The can wrestle around more, and have fun together. My 6-year-old can read books to the 2-year-old. It’s really hard to imagine life without two — although it sure was easier at one time to pack up and go with just one. When I was playing pro softball, and we had a house in California and Florida, and I was playing in a different city each night — I look back on that and see, what we did was kind of insane. That did change a lot with two. It’s not as simple as throw it all in a backpack and here we go.

Q: Two boys. Ever think of trying to add a girl to the mix?
A: We talk about it all the time, but right now, with the way my career is going, that would be hard to fathom, another one. It’s funny that I’ve always wanted boys. The part of me that would like a girl is because I do so much speaking to groups of girls, mostly in the 12-to-18 range, trying to talk about body image and all things they are dealing with. But then I realize having two boys can be just as impactful, if not more. That’s the other side of it, how men treat women. I’ve been lucky to have a great dad treat me so well and generously, coach me up like he would his son and boys. Even in the field I work with, I know men can be as impactful as women in stressing equality. I might hear my 6-year-old say, ‘Girls aren’t as fast, mom.’ And as soon as those words come out, I see my husband react and I’ll sit back and say, ‘This is going to be good.’ I’m always telling him, ‘Just so you know, girls are faster, and probably smarter than boys.’

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Weekly sports media notes version 05.06.16: Moms, daughters and hardball life lessons

0508_SPO_LDN-L-MEDIA-0508-2We’ve been fortunate enough to have people like Linda Cohn, Andrea Kremer, Chris McKendry, Alex Flanagan, Jeanie Zelasko and Colleen Dominguez share their stories on Mother’s Day past — how does momhood work in the sports media business, finding balance the work and parenting schedules so they feel they’re doing the right things at the right time?
Jessica-Mendoza-bio-wiki-picsIt takes a sports village to raise a family, as it turns out. Moms network, share strategies, compare and contrast methods before doing their video homework or draw up interview questions.
Thanks to ESPN’s new “Sunday Night Baseball” analyst Jessica Mendoza and her mother, Karen, for spending some time with us to talk about their relationship and how lessons learned impact Jessica and her stay-at-home husband Adam as they care for their 6-year-old Caleb and 2-year-old Caden in Moorpark, with the grandparents not too far away still in Camarillo.
Medoza will spend Mother’s Day at Yankee Stadium on Sunday doing the Red Sox-Yankees game, and then be at Dodger Stadium on May 15 for the Dodgers-Cardinals telecast on ESPN.

What’s worth posting now:

== The Sunday ESPN “SportsCenter” Mother’s Day related story focuses on Peggy Nibert, wife of Presbyterian College basketball coach Gregg Nibert, and the foster parenting they’ve done over the years — taking in children that have been abused with  injuries and broken bones since 2006. Tom Rinaldi has the story that starts with the 7 a.m. edition of “SportsCenter” and airs throughout the day.
BTW: The NCAA.com posted a 7-minute story on this in 2015 and another nice piece on this was done by AmericanSportsNet.com.

== And all these thoughts of mothering reminds us of a piece we still enjoy reading from Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated last summer talking to various TV sports talent and their pregnant pauses as they become visible on camera with a baby on board.

== With his Poynter.org column, Ed Sherman gets into more about the #MoreThanMean video that’s been getting millions of views. Says ESPN’s Sarah Spain: “Part of the issue, which is just as unfortunate, is just having women talk about the abuse, for whatever reason, is not as powerful as seeing the reaction of the men in the video.
“There is a larger discussion about whether women are believed by society. When we talk about it, it gets dismissed as a women just being upset or getting carried away. As much as it stinks that the power needs to come from a man’s reaction, it is what makes the video so striking.”

== As the Rams are deciding whether to go with the iHeartRadio family as its Southern California flagship station (which would include games on the FM and AM side) as opposed to taking a deal with ESPN’s 710 affiliate, the Padres said this week they’re heading to the FM dial, the modern rock KBZT-FM 94.9 starting in 2017. They’re currently heard on XEPRS-AM 1090, aka the Mighty 1090.
Party on.

== More public posturing and playing to the masses with the Dodgers-SportsNet LA distribution … c’mon. Frontier still hasn’t figured out how to get old Verizon FIOS customers off their old system yet. Think that’s their top priority at the moment?

2016_derby_800== NBC isn’t horsing around with its coverage of the 142nd Kentucky Derby, which should sync up air at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday (KNBC-Channel 4). NBCSN’s pre-race events start at noon and it shifts over to NBC at 1 p.m.
(The race will be strategically sandwiched between two NHL playoff games as well — Game 5 of St. Louis-Dallas at 10 a.m., and then Game 5 of Pittsburgh-Washington at 4:15 p.m., both on Channel 4. If the Blues-Stars game run into OT, it’ll be continued on  NBCSN until its conclusion.)
indexThe net says it has the “most comprehensive coverage in Kentucky Derby history,” with an excess of 50 cameras, including a new 360-degree robotic camera on the infield and an 80-foot high camera on the Churchill Downs video board. Finally, too, will be a camera on race caller Larry Collmus.
Bob Costas and Tom Hammond are the hosts with analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey, handicappers Bob Neumeier and Eddie Olczyk, reporters Laffit Pincay III, Kenny Rice, Donna Brothers and Jay Privman, plus Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski in as the fashion experts and Rutledge Wood, who is part of NBC’s NASCAR coverage, included as a social media reporter using a 55-inch touch screen in the paddock area to show all the trends happening. Yes,  It’s come to this. Rob Hyland is the coordinating producer, Drew Esocoff is the director and Sam Flood is the exe producer overseeing everything.
NBC will, of course, do the May 21 Preakness and June 10 Belmont.

Continue reading “Weekly sports media notes version 05.06.16: Moms, daughters and hardball life lessons” »

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A post-script to 30 baseball books from April ’16: A Q&A with “Last Innocents” author Michael Leahy

posterWith Tuesday’s arrival in bookstores of “The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers,” writer Michael Leahy circles back to a group of players from that roster to find out, 50 years later, how they survived that decade of upheaval, surrounded by World Series titles and adjustments from the franchise still fresh off its move from Brooklyn.
We reviewed the book as one of our favorites during the April series — not just for the subject matter but the way it is so eloquently written and organized.
Leahy, the former Washington Post political writer who has covered everything from politics to sports, is coming to Southern California as part of his book tour, arriving at the Burbank Library’s Buena Vista Branch on Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m. along with former Dodgers first baseman Wes Parker.
Prior to his arrival, the 63-year-old Northridge native and Yale grad currently living in Fairfax County, Virginia, often included in the Best American Sportswriting annual anthologies, graciously submitted answers to our Q&A about the process of how the book came about and what he got out of it:

SFValleyStateQ: In writing this book, did you feel that growing up in Northridge with a fan’s appreciation of the team and franchise helped you more than got in your way of an objective approach to documenting how that era played out?
A: When it comes to the book, growing up where I did was an enormous advantage.  I probably saw 20 to 25 games a year at Dodger Stadium as a kid. Familiarity and intimacy are always huge benefits for a writer.
il_570xN.758989978_j530For instance, I find it difficult (bordering on impossible) to imagine how I would have written the scene about Koufax’s perfect game had I not been in the Stadium to see it – at the very least, something powerfully visceral would have been lost. There are moments from that night, frozen on my mind’s eye at age 12, which I would’ve had no chance of evoking had I not been sitting with my hosts (the Allen family, who are characters in the scene) in Aisle 27, Row S of the reserve level.
And I keenly remember what it was like, a year earlier, to make that drive with my father from Northridge to Dodger Stadium for the first time, the sheer wonder of it – ascending that incline on Stadium Way, glimpsing the ballpark and the glowing globes with the baseball stitching in the parking lot, then sitting in the high seats and watching the sunset in the distant hills. It was all paradise for a kid whose family had moved to Los Angeles a short while earlier. The memories of those images have served as reminders for me of the Dodgers’ profound hold on millions of Los Angelenos during the Sixties. We were, in many unadmitted ways, a citizenry without a hub at the time, and the Dodgers (along with some other Los Angeles teams and institutions) served to provide some modest sense of connection.
415ZJAlWjULWhat a writer must avoid, of course, is romanticizing his subjects. A writer has a duty to reveal the truth about his subjects, no matter how disturbing that truth might be in moments, and to illuminate, as in the case of this book, what those realities tell us about individual players, the team’s management, the city and country in which they played, and their era. It’s always the same task in journalism really. It was much the same challenge for me in writing for The Washington Post about politics and about Michael Jordan’s playing comeback in Washington and later in my book about Jordan (in 2004).
When it came to writing The Last Innocents, I told players that I hoped to learn something utterly new about their careers and lives, something that would enable a reader at once to grasp the reality of their lives and better understand baseball in the era, the sport’s imperious executives, the Dodgers organization, and the Sixties. The players delivered; they were extraordinary subjects. Continue reading “A post-script to 30 baseball books from April ’16: A Q&A with “Last Innocents” author Michael Leahy” »

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ICYMI: April 27-May 1

drew.tableA quick reminder about posts and columns that landed this week:

== Former UCLA and Clippers star Baron Davis walks us through his documentary “The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce” which continues a Showtime network run.

== ESPN’s Chris Mortensen gives us an update on his treatment for Stage IV throat cancer and how he was able to keep up with the NFL Draft.

== You think it’s a safe bet for the Raiders to land in Las Vegas? We’re not so sure.

== We’ve finished another version of 30 baseball book reviews during the month of April, and two of them about the Dodgers (one looking at the World Series teams of ’77 and ’78 by Michael Fallon, and another about the team of the ’60s by Michael Leahy) were among the best out there. We also have a list of books we wish we could have included in the list — maybe another one for this summer?

== Here’s the week ahead, May 2-8, highlighted by the Kentucky Derby and …. Suddenbreakingnews?


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