Sports media notes version 03.01.17: On Bob Miller’s future and more

What’s worth getting out now before the weekend arrives:

== The Kings have called it  a “major announcement” planned for Thursday at 3 p.m. at Staples Center, hours before the team takes on Toronto, concerning the future of Bob Miller as their Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster.
Prime Ticket will air it live, and it will stream on the team’s website.
Here is how the Southern California News Group framed the story today.
Yet, the Los Angeles Times has posted a story that Miller “is expected to announce his retirement.”
The story is based on …  the ability to connect dots? Even if there were “sources” or “confirmation” from someone inside the Kings’ organization …. you want to take whatever this moment is away from Miller in the name of getting ‘news’ first?
If it becomes true that Miller plans to announce some sort of retirement plans, we’d rather hear it first from his point of view. This is his life and his story.
And there are more dignified ways of dealing with this sort of announcement rather than trying to get it out there before “everyone else,” including the primary subject.
Consider how, during Tuesday night’s Kings game in Calgary, the press conference was mentioned several times.
“So many questions surrounding Bob and his health, and Bob says, ‘I want to answer those questions’,” longtime partner Jim Fox said during the promo in the third period.
Ralph Strangis, who has been filling for Miller this month, added: “We’re all friends and fans of Bob. I’ve known Bob for a very long time, 25 years. It’s my honor as well as for all the other guys who have had a chance this season to step in and give him a little breather. We are honored to do it. We love Bob. Bob, see you on Thursday.”
Miller, 78, isn’t going away so quickly. The Kings have 13 games left at home, leading into the last one Saturday at 3 p.m. on April 8 against Chicago. The team finishes the regular season the next day at Anaheim.
Miller, who had a four-way heart bypass operation 13 months ago, said last Feb. 13 he would wait until he receives a health update from his doctors before deciding how to proceed through the rest of this season as he recovers from a mild stroke at the NHL All-Star Game. Listen to him on with Fred Roggin and Rodney Peete during their KLAC-AM (570) show on Monday afternoon.  Miller is careful not to lead anyone into thinking he’s about to walk away.
If it happens, we will be prepared.

== Coming up on its first year of operation, TheUndefeated.com continues to monitor and bring to light socially bolstered sports stories that we find important and maybe not so much so.
We expect to see improvements as the D.C.-based organization officially added, most notably before the end of Black History Month, retired New York Times writer Bill Rhoden as a columnist, editor-at-large and the creator of a Rhoden Fellows internship program to train aspiring African-American journalists at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“Bill’s pioneering career has been phenomenal, his body of work unmatched. We are grateful to have him leading a new initiative at The Undefeated to develop the next generation of Bill Rhoden,” said The Undefeated editor-in-chief Kevin Merida. “Thankfully for us, and for our readers, Bill will continue to write – his strong, brilliant voice is still needed.”
Rhoden took a buyout at the Times last July after 26 years.
“I look forward to passing the torch I received from Sam Lacy and many others to a vibrant, new generation.”
Lacy, the pioneer black sports writer and part of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was a mentor to Rhoden when he worked at The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper right out of Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Last week, The Undefeated added former Buffalo News executive sports editor Lisa Wilson to its staff as a senior editor.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
== UCLA’s contest against Washington from Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday at 8 p.m. goes to FS1 with Tim Brando, Jim Jackson and Steve Lavin (as well as Kevin Burkhardt on site as the host). Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. home game against Washington State lands on ESPN2 with Steve Quis, Sean Farnham and Jill Montgomery
== The Pac-12 Network has J.B. Long and Don MacLean calling USC’s games against Washington State (Wednesday, 7 p.m.) and against Washington (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
== The Pac-12 Nets and ESPN have coverage of the Pac-12 tournament from Las Vegas beginning Wednesday, March 8 and concluding Saturday, March 11 at 8 p.m.
== In the West Coast Conference tournament, Pepperdine faces Pacific on Friday at 6 p.m. and Loyola Marymount meets up with BYU on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet. Barry Thompkins, Casey Jacobson and Kelli Tennant are on the broadcast team for LMU-BYU.
== Paul Sunderland, Mike Thibault and Elise Woodward have the Pac-12 women’s tournament championship from Seattle, Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Sunderland and Thibault also have the West Coast Conference women’s final, Tuesday at 1 p.m., on ESPNU

COLLEGES
== More live events of note from the Pac-12 Network:
= Ted Robinson and Eric Byrnes call the UCLA-USC baseball game from Dodger Stadium on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Continue reading “Sports media notes version 03.01.17: On Bob Miller’s future and more” »

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Play It Forward Feb. 27-March 5: The Lakers pick this night to see Boogie’s return

New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday battle on the floor with Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins for the loose ball during the second half of a game on Feb. 10. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

As the Lakers prepare to play host to New Orleans on Sunday (6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet), the script seems to have flipped for “La La Land” and “The Pelican Briefs.”
Newly cemented New Orleans teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis scored or assisted on 67 of the Pelicans’ 99 points in their first game together last week after the trade deadline. But they still lost to Houston by 30 points.  They combined for 51 points and 29 rebounds one night later, and lost by 13 to Dallas, as New Orleans only had 34 second-half points.

DeMarcus Cousins (0) pats Anthony Davis (23) during the first half of the team’s game against Houston last weekend. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Somehow in this equation, one plus one must equal three, as former Campbell Hall and UCLA star guard Jrue Holiday ups his game as the established point guard here, the one who ultimately feeds the bigs. Holiday took a leave of absence from the first 12 games of this season as his wife, former UCLA and U.S. national team star Lauren Holiday, underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. New Orleans has played itself back into a contender for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference and has less than two dozen games left to fix things and Holiday could be the biggest difference maker.
“He’s not one of the real vocal leaders, but I think he kind of leads by example,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said recently. “When he wasn’t with us, we didn’t have that on the floor — forget about all the leadership, he’s a talent, and you’ve gotta have talent in this league to win. So we missed the talent as much as anything, and then when you add in the leadership, and those other characteristics, it’s an integral part of this team that you’re missing.”
What’s missing from the Lakers, who missed on their attempts to acquire Cousins, can be seen on a nightly basis.
What else is on tap locally and nationally in the sports week ahead at this link.

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Sunday media: The ins and outs for Spectrum SportsNet “Lakers Insider” Mike Bresnahan

Spectrum SportsNet

By all transparent measurements, Charter Communications is in the Lakers’ business, with its Spectrum SportsNet covering the team as close to a 24/7 cycle as it can possibly do.
While the Lakers didn’t own this channel — the Dodgers later would do so with SportsNet L.A., produced and distributed by TWC, now owned by Charter – there was the understanding from the start that the franchise would be the marquee asset and get far more in-depth coverage, good or very good, than previous rights holders Fox Sports West and KCAL-Channel 9 could ever manage.
That’s what comes with a 20-year, $3 billion rights arrangement.
“The approval rights were born out of our desire to be more involved in how our brand is portrayed,” Tim Harris, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Lakers, said at the time of the launch in 2012.
Mark Shuken, the TWC Regional Networks manager and senior VP at the time, added: “The Laker relationship is transcendent … (the channel) will share the truth” in partnership with the Lakers and “make sure their viewpoint is represented.”
There is favoritism in some ways, but to stay legit, it can’t go overboard. Fair and balanced isn’t always going to happen, no matter what mechanisms are in place.
Four years later, enter Mike Bresnahan into the Lakers’ coverage, a SSN employee whose job it is now to cultivate information from his connections.
The role he played in Tuesday’s coverage of the Lakers’ announcement that Magic Johnson would be the new president of basketball operations was how he conducted the live interviews during the half-hour presentation on SSN.
And it got watched: SSN reports that it got a .38 household rating in the 7 p.m. hour that day, after many repeats. That was the highest-rated “Access SportsNet: Lakers” non-game day show since the start of the 2015-16 season.
We caught up with Bresnahan to talk about how he fits into this role after years of covering the team front the print side as the Lakers’ beat writer for the Los Angeles Times for the previous 12 years.
Some of the outtakes:
His thoughts about how he wants to continue going to games, home and away, to generate information: “I don’t want to be just some guy prattling in a studio about what I think I know. I insist they send me out on road trips — I’ve already done four this season, including Oklahoma City (right after the Magic Johnson hiring).”
His incentive to make the move from print reporter to TV reporter: “I had done the Lakers beat for 12 years and felt I broke a ton of news, and maybe that was all I could do on the beat. I had the last 12 years of Kobe Bryant’s career. We had our ups and downs and didn’t see eye to eye, but I think there was mutual respect. I realized this was a good way to out on the print size after cataloging Kobe for so long. It seemed like a good time to try something new.”
On thinking of this as a career path: “(TV) hasn’t been that different. I’m green-lighted as a reporter to track stories. Basically, it’s just a different medium. Instead of behind the scenes in an interview with Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss, it’s broadcast for fans to see. I felt we needed to ask questions on the minds of the Lakers fans. I try to put myself in the chair of the fan. That’s what has always guided me. What does Joe from Encino or Fred from Carson want to hear.”
On whether he now feels he’s a performer in a TV show: “I still feel like I’m a guy asking questions, which is not always easy. When we had semicircles around players or coaches after a game or practice, I wasn’t the first to ask a question. I’d wait and then jump in. Now they want me to jump in to get the answers, so they can get it on tape and edit it for the postgame show. There is more speed and immediacy in that respect. I had some experience already as a reporter who would come onto the Time Warner Cable Lakers shows for the last four years, going in a couple of times a month. I know how I need to bring energy to the show. Now I have to do that almost every day I’m in. So there’s a transition even in that. And I wasn’t always getting haircuts or wearing suits all the time. We do have a mirror on the set below our table, but I haven’t used it yet. I’m not concerned if I have a hair out of place.”
On what he’s asked to do by Spectrum SportsNet: “They want to have more opinions in their discussions, as well as breaking news. That sounded good to me. It’s not like it’s going to be Stephen A. Smith versus Skip Bayless, which is fine because I’m neither one of those. I was intrigued by what they wanted to accomplish, break news in a different way to a different audience, and I really have been enjoying that. I watch TV differently now. I tape the show every day. I’m watching how people ask questions and learn from that. How body posture is important. Those were not the kinds of things I learned when I went to journalism school.”
On how other media reporters treat him now: “It feels like a pretty natural transition. Not like I’m feeling anything special. I’ve known these reporters before as people and I still talk to them about things. I’m never too far away from them and there’s no animosity. It’s actually been pretty chill. There are no jerks on the beat. Everyone has been supportive and cool.”
More about Bresnahan and the SSN approach in Sunday’s column at this link.

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Sports media notes version 02.23.17: FS1 KOs Onrait, O’Toole; more on Daytona, UCLA-AZ, etc.

Reporters fill the work spaces as Dale Earnhardt Jr.speaks to the media at NASCAR Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

What’s worth posting before the weekend arrives in full force:

== FS1 has finally decided to cancel what was left of “Fox Sports Live” and will also pass on renewing the contracts of hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole — something not surprising but then again, considering all the promotion put into it when it debuted in the fall of 2013 for the launch of FS1, it seems somewhat noteworthy.
According to the story posted Thursday on the Sports Business Daily, the network will also not renew “Garbage Time” with Katie Nolan, but she is expected to stick around in some capacity. She, of course, was already part of one FS1 over-hyped show that didn’t work — “Crowd Goes Wild” with Regis Philbin, which overstayed its year-long run.

A statement emailed to the Sports Business Daily from FS1 and FS2 executive vice president of content Charlie Dixon said: “We’ve been committed to creating programming that resonates with sports fans. As part of that commitment, we are constantly assessing all of FS1’s studio offerings, and despite changes to the format of ‘Fox Sports Live’ and the popularity of Jay and Dan as individuals, we’ve made the difficult decision to move forward with other projects.”

For more reference, a story from Canada’s National Post in June 2013 when Onrait and O’Toole left TSN and made their border crossing official: “Jay and I were back and forth between: ‘Yeah, we’re going, no we aren’t; yeah we are,’ ” O’Toole said. Added Onrait: “In the end, it was like, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ We didn’t want to be 75-year-old men saying, ‘Why didn’t we just go to L.A. for a couple of years in our 30s? We could have always come back. What the hell were we thinking?’ ”
Later Thursday, Ben Koo of AwfulAnnouncing.com followed up on the Nolan angle of this with a quote obtained by FS1 that indicated the network looks forward to “further developing her role” as she stays on.

MOTOR SPORTS

== Highlights of the Fox Sports coverage of the Daytona 500 and all programming related to it include:
= The 11 a.m. start time Sunday on Fox (KTTV-Channel 11) with Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon on the call for the second year together. Joy and Waltrip have called every Fox Daytona 500 — 14 of them, over a 17-year period.
Waltrip’s brother, Michael, will be making his final Daytona race as a driver.
Larry McReynolds is the pit crew/technical analyst with pit reporters Shannon Spake, Matt Yocum, Chris Neville and Jamie Little.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. points to a friend after qualifying for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway last Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

= The Can-Am Duel at Daytona airing Thursday from 4-7 p.m. on FS1 to determine the grid aside from the front row. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has one of those two spots, will be a guest analyst for this coverage in the booth.
= Earn-
hardt Jr. also appeared to make some news while appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show” earlier in the week.
= “Refuse To Lose: Jeff Gordon and the 1997 Daytona 500” documentary airs at 7 p.m. Thursday
= The Xfinity Series event Saturday runs at 12:30 p.m. on FS1
= Fox will use 20 manned cameras, three in-track cameras, two high frame 4K cameras, two Xmo cameras at the end of pit road and the start-finish line, four super slow motion cameras, 10 robotic cameras, eight in-car cameras, two in-car gyro-cams and 150 mikes places along the track.
== Also curious to see how often the Monster Energy Girls get camera time on Fox.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

== The Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket PrepZone stream has Fred Salas and Tracy Murray calling both CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinal boy’s basketball games Friday night from the Galen Center at USC — Bishop Montgomery vs. Sierra Canyon at 7 p.m., followed by Chino Hills vs. Mater Dei at 8:30 p.m.
The games are also available on the Fox Sports Go app for iOS, Apple TV, Android, Android TV, Chromecast, Fire tables and phones, Roku players and TV, Xbox One and some Windows devices, as well as online at FoxSportsGo.com.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

== The ESPN Saturday night A-team of Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Maria Taylor have No. 5 UCLA’s game at No. 4 Arizona in the 5:15 p.m. window. The ESPN College GameDay crew is also at Tuscon, Ariz., for the 8-to-9 a.m. show hosted by Rece Davis, with Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. It is the first “GameDay” appearance for both schools since they faced off in Tucson in 2015.
Thursday, Dave Pasch and Bill Walton have UCLA-Arizona State at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Pac-12 Network has both of USC’s games on the Arizona road trip. Ted Robinson, Steve Lavin and Lewis Johnson call the Thursday 7 p.m. game at Arizona, while J.B. Long and Mike Montgomery have Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. game at Arizona State. Continue reading “Sports media notes version 02.23.17: FS1 KOs Onrait, O’Toole; more on Daytona, UCLA-AZ, etc.” »

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Mike Walden: 1931-2017

Mike Walden, the first to become a football and basketball voice at USC and UCLA, then parlaying his broadcasting persona into a comedy straight man, died Sunday at age 89 of complications from a stroke, USC confirmed Friday.
Walden, a Springfield, Ill., native who lived in Tarzana, was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 as well as the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
He was the SCSB president from 1975-77 and 1992-93.
He started in Southern California calling USC sports from 1966 to 1972 and then went to UCLA for a run of 18 more years (1973-90), both on radio and TV.
More info about a celebration of his life at this link.

Mike Walden, second from left, is joined by Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame members at an annual awards ceremony in 2012. (Photo by Jon SooHoo).

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