Before we reach the weekly Sunday media column — we have a Mother’s Day piece planned on ESPN reporter Shelley Smith — here are some things to embrace:
There is conversational value to be found in the latest Bill Simmons’ podcast, No. 210 of his career, by bringing Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal and his own Bryan Curtis from The Ringer together to hash out what they think about the sports landscape — past, present and even future.
It starts with the demise of “The Sports Reporters” on ESPN, gets into the ESPN layoffs, and somehow concludes with Simmons predicting that ESPN will buy The Players Tribune and fold it into The Undefeated.
Maybe. Probably not.
The only regret is the three did not give a “Parting Shot” at the end of this, to giggle at each other’s one liners.
On of the topics hit is ESPN’s commitment to journalism, and even though “The Sports Reporters” is officially gone, “E:60” and “Outside The Lines” starts a combination project with Sunday’s live episode at 6 a.m. on ESPN (repeated throughout the day) hosted by Jeremy Schaap and Bob Ley from a new studio. Both will also give their takes on the sports world at large each week.
Journalism, as we discussed before, is something ESPN wants to continue as it redistributes its resources. “E:60,” which started in Oct., 2007, will continue to focus on profiles, investigations, and off-the-beaten path stories.
“We could not be more thrilled to be moving to our new permanent time slot, 52 weeks a year,” said exec producer Andy Tennant in a press release. “For a decade, the staff at ‘E:60’ has worked tirelessly to bring our viewers the best stories in sports. From our acclaimed investigations, which have made a global impact, to our features and newsmaking interviews, ‘E:60’ has redefined storytelling in TV sports. The decision to go weekly represents a doubling down on this kind of content. Maybe even a tripling down.”
The first episode of the new series will include Schaap doing a feature on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott as he opens up about his mother and her battle with cancer that ended her life in 2013, a report from Steve Fainaru on the Syrian national soccer team and how the country’s ongoing civil war has affected the team’s bid to compete in the next World Cup, and a piece on artist Dan Gamache, who crafted the custom cleats that will be presented to Derek Jeter as a special gift from New York Yankees during his number retirement ceremony Sunday in the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” game (4:30 p.m., with ceremony at 3:30 p.m.)
== At Tuesday’s Disney stockholders meeting, CEO Bob Iger said: “A lot has been said about cost reductions at ESPN. We’re managing that business efficiently. We always have, we always will. Obviously, there’s been a greater need to do it given challenges in the near term, but frankly what we’ve been doing, in terms of scale and size, is not that significant given that ESPN has 8,000 employees and we reduced by 100 employees. I don’t take it lightly but, the number gets these headlines … it wasn’t a particularly significant reduction.”
He also said: “We’re running our business more efficiently. So we’re actually confident in ESPN’s future, we’ve got a tremendous lineup of programs, of products, of live sports. Live sports are still a huge driver of consumption.”
== NBCSN again has daily coverage of the Amgen Tour of California cycling event, starting with Sunday’s first stage in Sacramento at 12:30 p.m. The final stage from Pasadena airs on NBC (KNBC-Channel 4) on May 20 at noon. The broadcast crew: Phil Liggett on play-by-play with analysts Paul Sherwen and Christian Vande Velde, analyst and reporter Jens Voigt, reporter Steve Schlanger and “Inside-the-Race” correspondent Steve Porino reporting on a motorcycle from the course.
== Former Fox Sports news senior vice president Rick Jaffe has been hired as the executive producer for the Vegas Stats & Information Network — the Brent Musburger-family owned-and-operated sports gambling information site. Jaffe’s journalism career has also been at FoxSports.com as the editior-in-chief and executive sports editor of the L.A. Times.
== NFL pregame show/game-day moves for those who need to know such things:
= Tony Gonzalez, who tired of the weekly flights from L.A. to New York for the CBS NFL studio show from 2014 to ’16, will now be part of the “Fox NFL Kickoff” pre-pre-game show starting at 8 a.m. each Sunday. Phil Simms has already taken Gonzalez spot on the CBS set after he was dumped for Tony Romo on CBS A-team game analysis with Jim Nantz.
= Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, a co-host of the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” will also be added to the CBS set, replacing Bart Scott, to fill in around James Brown, Simms, Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason.
= James Lofton has (finally) been hired to replace Solomon Wilcots on CBS games as an analyst.
Some highlights from Tuesday’s Sports Emmy Awards ceremony in New York:
= “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams,” produced by NFL Films and aired on HBO, won for Outstanding Camera Work. It is the 15th Emmy award the series has won since it started in 2001.
= Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of the Summer Olympics from Rio was awarded Outstanding Studio Show in Spanish, while Andres Cantor got his second Emmy for Outstanding On-Air Personality in Spanish.
= Fox’s coverage of Cubs-Indians World Series won for Outstanding Live Sports Special and its coverage of the NFC divisional playoff game between Green Bay and Dallas was named Outstanding Playoff Coverage.
= ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” was named Outstanding Studio Show – Daily.
= HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” won for Outstanding Sports Journalism and Outstanding Sports News Anthology
= Bob Costas won again for Outstanding Sports Personality/Studio Host for his work on MLB Network and NBC; Doc Emrick was Outstanding Sports Personality/Play-by-Play, Bill Raftery was Outstanding Sports Personality/Sports Event Analyst and Charles Barkley was Outstanding Sports Personality/Studio Analyst.
= The late Craig Sager won for Outstanding Sports Personality/Sports Reporter
LINKAGE WORTH REPEATING
Add me, and more importantly my kids, to this list https://t.co/5tahxtpPHc
— John Ondrasik (@johnondrasik) May 10, 2017
= The narrative continues with an NBCSN post by Craig Calcaterra based on a Bob Timmermann post on LAObserved.com about the Dodgers losing “a generation of fans” because of the SportsNet LA distribution mess. There could be a weekly story with this headline, but we continue to read them anyway.
(FYI: It’s Charley Steiner, not Charlie).
= Dottie Pepper is “tired of the idiots” that populate Twitter, so the CBS golf reporter has signed off that social network.
= “Why ESPN Hemorrhaging Subscribers Will Impact The Next Wave Of National TV Deals,” by Maury Brown of Forbes.com.
= As cable channels like ESPN lose subscribers, college conferences will likely need new platforms like Google and Amazon to keep their revenue for broadcast rights growing, writes Andy Staples in SI.com.
“I don’t think anyone knows exactly what the landscape will look like or what health ESPN or Fox will have in 2023 when we’re negotiating or how significant a player a Twitter or a Facebook will be,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “My sense is that there will be more competition. There will be more and different types of players. And there will still be very limited and highly valuable sports properties.”
= Where is Katie Nolan, and are we supposed to be concerned?
= Two NFL guys leave to get a TV gig and “it seems as if quarterbacks are fleeing the hazards of the NFL for the announcing booth en masse this off-season,” it says at FiveThirtyEight.com.
= “As a broadcaster, Jay Cutler needs to show charm that wasn’t evident in Chicago,” writes Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Tribune. Which reminds us of when Nomar Garciaparra went from the playing field to the broadcast booth, and it’s worked.
= Tony Romo expects to “stink for awhile” as a CBS NFL game analyst.
= From ESPN One Nacion: How Jaime Jarrin and Vin Scully spoke the same language: Baseball
= Charles Barkley, who won another Sports Emmy at the awards ceremony this week for his NBA studio work at TNT, would rather be watching the NHL playoffs, and for good reason. “Speaking of the Zamboni, thank god for the NHL playoffs; that’s what I’ve been watching in the back instead of these blowouts.”
= There is joy in watching sports alone, writes Nathaniel Friedman for GQ
== Save the dates: ESPN already has its 35-game college football bowl lineup to announce for the 2017 season, starting Dec. 16 and capped off by the national championship game on Monday, Jan. 8 at 5 p.m. on ESPN. The national semifinal games: The Monday, Jan. 1 Rose Bowl at 2 p.m., followed by the 5:45 p.m. Sugar Bowl, both on ESPN. ESPN owns and operates 13 bowl games.
== The Pac-12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships finals will be broadcasted live on Pac-12 Network for the first time starting at 3 p.m. Sunday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Paul Sunderland, Tom Feuer, Jordan Kent and Jill Savage call it.
Pac-12 Net also has:
= UCLA softball at ASU, Thursday at 6 p.m, Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m., with Anne Marie Anderson and Amanda Freed (Pac-12 LA only)
= UCLA baseball at Washington State, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon with Rich Burk and Andy Lopez (Pac-12 LA only)
== Another save the date: the May 23 edition of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” plans to have the host do a profile on Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin. On the Sept. 27, 2016 episode, Gumbel had this farewell essay about Scully. In 2005, Gumbel did a sit-down interview with Scully that left the Hall of Fame broadcaster less than pleased as Gumbel asked questions about some of Scully’s personal tragedies that Scully thought were not going to be asked.
== One-time expensive Dodgers pitcher (and no-hit artist) Josh Beckett has found a job as a Houston Astros studio analyst for the Root Sports local cable coverage. As he tells Houston Chronicle reporter David Barron about picking up tips on broadcasting from listening to Vin Scully: “He was fun to listen to, and he painted a picture for you. That is what the great communicators do. It’s like you don’t have to watch it on TV. You’re already there.”
== For those who’ve seen the new Liev Schreiber movie “Chuck,” but missed the 2011 doc from the ESPN 30-for-30 series called “The Real Rocky,” ESPN Classic airs it Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 6 p.m. and May 20 and 21 (5 p.m.)
== All seven episodes of the IFC series “Brockmire” will air Saturday starting at 9:15 a.m. through 12:45 p.m. The last episode the debuted Wednesday, Episode 7 called “Old Timers Day,” includes roles for Joe Buck, Brian Kenney, Jonah Keri and Tim Kurkjian.
== Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe will call the WNBA season opener between the Sparks and Seattle from Staples Center, Saturday at 2 p.m., on ESPN. The Sparks make six more appearance on the network’s WNBA 16-game schedule (the other 15 are all on ESPN2, aside from the July 22 WNBA All-Star Game on ABC)
I was laid off today after 33 years with the Ventura County Star. Thanks for all your support. It has meant so much.
— Jim Carlisle (@JimCarlisle88) May 4, 2017
== After 33 years at the Ventura County Star, many of them as a sports media columnist, Jim Carlisle explains his current situation after the latest round of layoffs on a blog he’s started called “Designated for Assignment.”
He thought it was funny recently when, well, he posted this:
Haven’t written a TV-radio column in 9 months. It’s really been missed: I’ve had 4 suggestions in the past week on future topics for it.
— Jim Carlisle (@JimCarlisle88) April 12, 2017
So in late April, he wrote a column about how “fake news” is something the sports media “may have trademarked it before anyone else.”
The reality is that layoffs, cutbacks, downsizing, purging at newspapers never get easier. We are very sorry to see this happen to a nice guy like Jim. We’ll keep our ears open.