Weekly sports media notes version 06.23.16: Football writers recognize Mort; Simmons’ HBO debut is kinda f–ed up

What’s worth posting at this point in the week:

(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

== Considering what he had to say in his last correspondence with us before the April NFL Draft, wouldn’t that be something if Chris Mortensen was able to make it to Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6 to accept the Professional Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award.
Presented to a reporter who “has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage,” it is named for the first director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1962-67) who was also a longtime reporter in New York. Previous recipients include Bob Oates (L.A.Times), Jerry Magee (San Diego Union), Will McDonough (Boston Globe), Paul Zimmerman and Peter King (Sports Illustrated), Dave Anderson (New York Times) and Art Spander (Oakland Tribune).
Mortensen wasn’t up to giving us an update or response to this announcement. Instead, ESPN sent responses by ESPN NFL staffers:
John Clayton, a former PFWA president (1999-2001) and 2007 McCann Award recipient: “Chris is one of our profession’s greatest treasures. As a reporter, he is masterful. Like Will McDonough did, Chris shows that accurate information can educate a fan base. Plus, in every segment, he provides the right information that keeps football fans in the know on what is happening in a rapidly changing sport.”
Adam Schefter, a former PFWA president (2001-03): “There is not a single person in our industry who is more deserving of any single award than Mort is for the McCann Award. It’s based on long and distinguished reporting in professional football, and there’s nobody who has done it longer or in a more distinguished way than Mort. As good of a reporter as he is, he’s a better man, teammate and friend, and the only thing that will give me more joy than seeing him get this award will be getting to work with him again this fall.”

== After waiting it out for about a month for the official announcement that the Rams have an unusual five-year radio partnership with all-sports KSPN-AM (710) and classic rock station KSWD-FM (100.3 The Sound), owned by two different companies, the rumors have started about how these two may end up merging on more than just NFL contests.
RamsRadio1-1-750x400Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications, which owns The Sound as its only station in the L.A. market, has had success with all-sports FM stations in Boston (WEEI-FM 93.7, a simulcast of all sports WEEI-AM 850 and carrying Patriots games), Providence, R.I. (WVEI-FM 103.7) and Memphis (WMFS-FM 92.9, a simulcast of ESPN’s WMFS-AM 830), so it wouldn’t be out of character for it to flip this into the same format, which would make it  L.A.’s first, and loudest, all-sports station on the FM side.
Entercom is the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the U.S. with 124 stations in 27 markets. It also owns alternative rock station KBZT-FM (94.9) in San Diego and KGMZ-FM (95.7), aka The Game, an all-sports format in San Francisco/Oakland, carrying Raiders game.
Both Entercom and ESPN, which owns KSPN-710, agreed to a rights fee to carry Rams games on their radio platforms. Sources say that the reason potential Southern California front-runner iHeartMedia, which has powerful stations on both the AM and FM side, didn’t win out here was because it wanted to do a revenue sharing plan with the Rams, and the team didn’t go for it.
KLAC-AM (570), for example, which is part-owned by the Dodgers as well as iHeartRadio and also carries UCLA sports, did a revenue share with the Clippers to get them on board when their previous flagship station, KFWB-AM (980), aka “The Beast,” was sold several months ago.
The Rams’ radio deal puts the bulk of the work on KSPN, starting with producing the show, selling all the advertising for the game and pre- and post-game shows and creating a radio network for outlying cities (including St. Louis?) The Sound 100.3 will simply simulcast the KSPN game call.
Conflicting dates that come up for the Rams and other KSPN programming will be interesting to watch. KSPN is already tied in as the flagship station for the Lakers, USC football and basketball, sometimes with the Angels and carrying the MLB, NBA and college football games nationally distributed on ESPN Radio.
Next up for the Rams is hiring a play-by-play man as well as color analysts, and develop a pre- and post-game show. Those mentioned as possible analysts are former Rams stars Jackie Slater, the Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman who spent 19 of his 20 NFL seasons for the Rams in L.A. and has been coaching at Azusa Pacific, and another Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Eric Dickerson, the running back who tried reporting on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” in 2000.
Also of note: It was revealed at the monthly meeting of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters that KWKW-AM (1330), the ESPN Deportes station in L.A., will have the Spanish-language call of the Rams this season and employ KNBC-Channel 4 sports anchor Mario Solis on play-by-play and Troy Santiago as the analyst.

== NBA Draft on Thursday night begins with ESPN’s coverage at 4 p.m. and gets some overlap from the Lakers’ TWC SportsNet starting at 6 p.m.
indexOn ESPN, Michael Wilbon sits at the main desk with Jay Bilas and Jalen Rose (and no Stephen A. Smith), Lisa Salters doing the post-pick interview, and Rece Davis as the “host” role. The net will use Ramona Shelburne as its Lakers-based reporter. Tom Penn, Fran Fraschilla, Andy Katz and Mark Stein will also be interspersed. As for “new technology,” ESPN says it will introduce the “Avid Edit System” that uses multiple camera angles to “capture the raw emotion of the prospects leading up to and during the night.”
Meanwhile, on TWC SportsNet, Chris McGee, James Worthy, A.C. Green and Kelli Tennant will be in the studio (again, Dave Miller is no longer with the coverage as the network says it decided not to renew his contract). Reporter Mike Trudell will be at the NFL Draft in Brooklyn and Jamie Maggio is reporting from the team’s El Segundo headquarters.

== Whatever happens to probable No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, it’ll be the capper to a documentary in the works that Showtime announced this week it plans to air in October once it’s finished.
The working title, “One & Done,” started two years ago when Simmons was playing high school basketball in Australia, before going to LSU for his one and only college season. MAGGIEVISION Productions, with exec producers Maura Mandt, Dave Chamberlin and Josh Swade, is working with Showtime on the project. Mandt and Swade, who collaborated on the 2012 ESPN “30 For 30” documentary called “There’s No Place Like Home,” about the James Naismith original rules of basketball document, are also the directors.

== As for the NHL’s Draft on Friday from Buffalo, N.Y. at 4 p.m. on NBCSN: Liam McHugh will host it with Pierre McGuire, Bob McKenzie, Craig Button, Kathryn Tappen and Darren Dreger.

== Fox Sports reports 3.29 million viewers watched the FS1 coverage of the United State’s 4-0 loss to Argentina in the semifinals of Copa America Centenario on Tuesday.
But then, the Univision Spanish-language feed and Univision Deportes had 4.8 million viewers.
Add it all up, and that’s more than 8 million. Not quite evenly split.
Depends on who’s “goal” call you were intent on hearing.
The FS1 number makes it the top men’s match in the net’s history, surpassing the 2.132 million that watched the U.S. quarterfinal win over Ecuador on June 16.
Previous U.S. matches in this event drew 1.53 million during a loss to Colombia on June 3, 1.6 million for a win over Costa Rica and then 2.06 million for the final pool play win over Paraguay on June 11.
Saturday’s third place game between the U.S. and Colombia starts at 5 p.m. from Glendale, Ariz., on FX. To make it more confusing, the one-hour pregame show is on FS1 starting at 4 p.m. and the wrapup show is also on FS1 at 8 p.m.
Sunday’s championship between Argentina and Chile kicks off at 5 p.m. from East Rutherford, N.J., on FS1. Fathom Events is also carrying it live in selected movie theaters for $12.50 tickets at Cinemark 18 at the Hughes Center near Westchester and the LA Live 14 theaters near Staples Center.

== A selection of Vin Scully-related news stories from the week:

= Milwaukee broadcaster Brian Anderson got emotional when interviewing him for the Brewers’ TV audience last weekend.
= How he isn’t the first broadcaster to refer to Washington pitcher Stephen Strausburg as Steven Spielberg.
= His Wednesday press-box visit with Washington’s Bryce Harper.
= In case you only saw the Wednesday contest on ESPN’s feed:

= Some still can’t get over his semi-rant about the cons, and cons, of socialism. He “destroyed” it?
= Josh Caray, the 34-year-old younger half brother of Chip Caray, the son of Skip Caray and the grandson of legendary Harry Caray, is calling games for the Hudson Valley Renegades, a Single-A team of the Tampa Bay Rays. And “by no means am I Vin Scully,” Josh Caray said, “but I’m much better now” than when he started in the business at age 19.
= Is baseball the “most Catholic of sports”? Maybe so when someone like Scully is calling it.
“Vin Scully has lived through tragedies that would have crushed or embittered others: the death of a wife; the death of a son. He openly credits the Catholic faith with which he grew up in the Bronx as his life’s anchor. You can find him on Sunday at St. Jude the Apostle Church in Westlake Village, being fed by word and sacrament before he brings a lifetime of learning and that melodious voice into the homes, cars, and ear-buds of millions later in the afternoon, from his post behind the microphone at Chavez Ravine.”

== After two national ESPN games earlier in the week, the Dodgers have two more before the weekend ends. The Dodgers’ game in Pittsburgh on Saturday goes to KTTV-Channel 11 as a Fox regional game (going to 36 percent of the country) with Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz and Ken Rosenthal. Their Sunday 5 p.m. game in Pittsburgh is the ESPN prime-time national airing with Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone.
Dodgers and Fox Sports play-by-play man Joe Davis has the weekend off — he became a dad for the first time on Father’s Day. Charley Steiner has the Dodgers’ play-by-play TV duties with Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra on the upcoming road trip in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, while Rick Monday and Kevin Kennedy are on the KLAC-AM (570) radio call.

== Among the latest NBC Olympics-related announcement: KNBC Channel 4’s Fred Roggin will serve as the host of coverage carries on CNBC from the International Broadcaster Center in Stamford, Conn., starting Aug. 5.
CNBC will focus on elimination-round basketball and volleyball, plus archery, beach volleyball, cycling, rugby, water polo and wrestling. Roggin, part of every NBC Summer Olympics since the 1984 L.A. Games, had been the host of the boxing competition in most recent Games coverage.
“Boxing attracted a specific audience,” said Roggin. “With CNBC switching to multiple sports, I’ll have a better feel for the overall Olympics.”

== How you can gauge with TV sports summer is here: CBS’ “Sports Spectacular” on Saturday features Major League Fishing’s Challenge Cup Championship. With real-time scoring. Marty Stone and Shelli Sanders “call the action,” according to the CBS release.

== How a career as a telemarketer can prepare someone prepare for a sports-talk show gig, via Jason Barrett at www.sportsradiopd.com.

== Skip Bayless signed off on ESPN this week. We can’t say we DVR’d the final show of whatever he was on.

== In a note promoting that Carrie Underwood has recorded a new opening theme song for “Sunday Night Football,” NBC snuck in the fact that Fred Gaudelli, who had been the lead producer for all 10 seasons of that package, was recently named executive producer of that package as well as the new “Thursday Night Football” series production.

== NBCSN has Saturday’s $500,000 Santa Anita’s Gold Cup from 5-6 p.m. The winner gets an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, also at Santa Anita. Laffit Pincay III hosts the coverage with Jerry Bailey, Jay Privman and Carolyn Manno.

== Sports books coming up to keep on the radar:
41kAugFrFGL= “Hellbent: An Autobiography,” by Marty McSorley, with Kirstie McLellan Day (due Sept. 8)
= “Cardinal and Gold: The Oral History of USC Trojans Football,” by Steve Delsohn (due Aug. 16)
= “Lost Champions: Four Men, Two Teams and the Breaking of Pro Football’s Color Line,” by Gretchen Atwood (due Sept. 6), which includes the stories of Kenny Washington and Woody Strode playing for the Los Angeles Rams in 1946, the year before Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
= “You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League,” by Amy Trask (due Sept. 15)
= “
Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present,” by Gail Buckland (due July 5)

== Sizing up Fox’s U.S. Open golf coverage: The final round attracted 5.4 million viewers, or a 3.4 rating. In L.A., it was a 2.8 rating.
That could be a feat in itself considering that, from the Thursday rain delay, the audience wasn’t quite sure which round was being played on Friday, Saturday or even Sunday.
And if not for the USGA scoring issue with Dustin Johnson’s phantom ball movement on the fifth hole, then delaying its decision until after the round, there would have been a definite lack of drama involved with Sunday’s competition. With that, the Sunday viewing peaked at 9.6 million viewers from 4:30 to 5 p.m. PDT.
Not even Joe Buck knew whether he could proclaim Johnson the winner after his birdie putt on the 18th hole, depending on the math involved.
Visually, it was an enjoyable experience. The graphics were helpful for everyone involved. Still, the booth coverage comes off as what you’d expect from a golf movie — some familiar faces and voices, but just not what you’re familiar with for an event of this magnitude.

== And finally:
anygivenwednesday_wide-9cdb0fc4c88719a1f0b23a7c2f0da2ffe1e6dc79-s700-c85== On any given HBO Sports-related show, we’ve come to expect a certain quality baseline. With thoughtful execution. And something worth watching again as it replays through the week, to see anything we missed.
Not the case on the debut of Bill Simmons’
“Any Given Wednesday.”
One down, 19 to go in this first season where HBO apparently gives him millions more than ESPN was willing to do.
(Might have to reconsider dropping it from my premiere package. This isn’t what I pay for).
A rash of expletives undid a similar type of show that Joe Buck once tried to do on HBO a few years ago. If that was the only problem with Simmons’ first effort, with or without Ben Affleck involved as a pair of perturbed transplanted Bostonians-gone-Hollywood.

Whether it was Simmons’ choice (or lack thereof) of a wardrobe, his predictably whiny voice, his not-so-fresh takes or the choice of already overexposed guests, we really can’t put a finger on it.
Oh, sure we can. This is just a televised podcast. The only thing of any sort of interest was the outtakes of the taped Charles Barkley interview — again, of his cursing — whether or not he even knew that would make it on air.
(Writer’s note: We began this review a few hours before this posted. Had a power outage at home. ‘F**k” was our immediate response. Kinda ironically. Wonder where we picked that up?)
There’s an alert: The show is available on YouTube, in hopes of generating free looks, so see what all the commotion is about. Between the billboards, Twitter ads and unlimited pre-interviews Simmons subjected himself to promote this mess, there is room to improve.
If this is what is supposed to be HBO edgy, the blade used here is dull on many levels.
Whether you are or aren’t already a Simmons sycophant, your bar has been set pretty low here. Maybe next time, don’t try to wing it. And don’t plan too much.

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