News of note heading into the weekend:
— SI Vault (@si_vault) May 29, 2017
Not much else to add to the bluster of prose surfacing in the wake of Frank Deford’s passing over Memorial Day weekend.
Deford make it look easy and stylish as Clark Gable with a typewriter, getting to the human stories and nuances, finding the hypocrisy and the beauty of the subject at the same time, and the rest of us were duped into thinking we might try to do it just as suavely.
We are left with snippets of things we’ve collected over the last few days that resonated with us. Like this tweet from the SCNG’s Joey Kaufman:
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) May 31, 2017
It’s an excerpt from an Alexander Wolff column, which we can add to this list of our favorites thus far:
= From Charlie Pierce for SI.com
= By Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post (subscription necessary, and worth the expense)
= From The New Yorker
= David Zirin of The Nation wrote about Deford’s “wicked grace.”
= From Bryan Curtis at The Ringer
= There were two pieces by former employer NPR
Sports Illustrated should put Frank Deford on the next cover. With a purple background. He helped create their Glory Days.
— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) May 30, 2017
Sadly, it didn’t so. After having been scooped on the news of Deford’s passing by the Washington Post, SI has a cover previewing the NBA Finals.
The books that you ought to know Deford wrote:
= “Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter” from 2012
= “I’d Know That Voice Anywhere: My Favorite NPR Commentaries” from 2016
= “The Best of Frank Deford: I’m Just Getting Started” from 2000
= “The World’s Tallest Midget: The Best of Frank Deford” from 1987
= “Everybody’s All American” from 1981, which became a 1988 film with Dennis Quaid and John Goodman
= “Alex: The Life of a Child” from 1983 about his daughter who died from cystic fibrosis
And don’t forget:
= “Lite Reading: The Lite Beer from Miller Commercial Scrapbook” from 1984. Deford appeared in Lite Beer commercials when they were at their peak in popularity.
== ESPN used Deford as an essayist, as he did this piece about the 15th anniversary of ESPN. And Bob Ley followed up with this tribute Tuesday:
Farewell, Frank. pic.twitter.com/llb3bELSbn
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) May 30, 2017
The stories that you should know Deford wrote:
= ” ‘I’ve Won. I’ve Beat Them’ “ in 1983 about Howard Cosell
= “The Boxer and the Blonde” in 1985 about Billy Conn
= “Raised By Women To Conquer Men: The Journey of Jimmy Connors” in 1978
= “The Toughest Coach There Ever Was” in 1984 about Bob “Bull” (Cyclone) Sullivan
Frank Deford was longform before #Longform. In many ways, he invented the genre and let future generations play with it.
— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 29, 2017
== In 2013, we referenced one of Deford’s NPR commentaries because how it hit home. In a piece commenting about how impressed he was with the work put in by Sports Illustrated writer and NBC commentary Peter King, Deford slipped in: “Sports fans are jealous of sportswriters, because it’s a dream job where you get to watch games free, which is, above all, what sports fans want … (but today’s) sportswriters are required to update and blog and react to everything. Press box visitors are astonished to see that sportswriters, of all people, do not have time to watch the game, because they have to forever file something or other for the endless cycle. So, now it is the sports fans at home with their gargantuan HDTVs who are the privileged ones watching the games, while sportswriters are the ones not able to. Now, that’s a fine how-do-you-do, isn’t it?”
I’ve read this oral history of The National maybe a dozen times. Once more after the death of Frank Deford, a titan: https://t.co/b1PTnBLrG4
— Mike O’Malley (@GD_MikeO) May 29, 2017
== A gem of a note we found for a 1999 column: After exhaustive research through memorabilia stores, personal collections and library files, we’ve found our Sports Illustrated cover of the century: July 14, 1969 featuring O.J. Simpson under the headline “To Play or Not to Play?: O.J. Cools It In Hollywood.” He just won the Heisman Trophy at USC, but was already holding out from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who drafted him. According to Deford’s story inside headlined “Ready If You Are, O.J.,”‘ Juice was considering a full-time acting career if the Bills didn’t come up with the bills. Deford wrote that Simpson was acting in “a new CBS-TV series with the stirring title of `Medical Center’ ” as he waited to see if the Bills would meet his demand for a five-year, $650,000 deal, plus a $500,000 loan. Bills owner Ralph Wilson countered with a $250,000 deal over five years. Deford quotes Juice’s response: “I don’t like to be pushed.”
Frank Deford’s writing style and voice will be missed. pic.twitter.com/TCAfoH4yAw
— SI Now (@SInowLIVE) May 30, 2017
== In a 2010 piece for the OC Weekly, John Severson admitted that the original purpose of this surf magazine he put out was to be a promotional item to be sold at screenings for his third surf film, “Surf Fever,” in 1960.
He pulled together frame grabs from his filming in California and Hawaii, wrote some editorial content and sketched out some cartoons for the margins.
“It was supposed to be a tribute or celebration of surfing,” Severson said. “I just wanted to make it a beautiful thing that surfers would appreciate and I’d be proud of in the future.”
As Surfer editor Sam George wrote in 1999: “Before John Severson, there was no ‘surf media,’ no ‘surf industry’ and no ‘surf culture’ — at least not in the way we understand it today.”
What we understand today even better is how much an impact the Surfer Magazine founder had as the soul of surf news and views.
His passing as told her on Surfline.com and in a tribute posted by his own former publication Surfer.com paints the best picture of what he accomplished.
The story from the OC Register. As well as a review of his 2014 book.
IN THE NEWS
== Our self-imposed Twitter rule: Don’t post anything in the two hours after you’ve gotten out of bed and during the last hour before you go do bed. You’re likely too groggy and covfefe hasn’t kicked in and whatever happens from there — a typo to a misconstrued concept — is bound to mess up your day.
Yet even those parameters wouldn’t have saved the process that the Denver Post’s Terry Frei went through after a) seeing the result of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, b) tweeting a couched comment about the winner, c) accepting the backlash, d) apologizing, e) explaining where he was coming from in another apology and then f) still getting fired.
Frei has this tweet pinned on his Twitter account, updated with his professional status:
OK, I took out the name of a book. pic.twitter.com/b953FbqMEh
— Terry Frei (@TFrei) May 29, 2017
The Denver Post statement on Frei’s “unacceptable tweet” is another example that freedom of speech and the power of the press goes so far. Reaction to it has been remarkably tame, but there’s this spin that Frei’s comments helped the Post in a most efficient employee-cutting move.
His bio is still up on the Denver Post website. With a link to his “latest tweet.”
Here’s how the Japan Times covered the story.
So what did we learn here, again? Twitter, the loaded gun, can backfire. But someone shouldn’t lose his or job based on social media reaction, especially when its put into context.
He who casts the first tweet, count to 25 before sending anything. Then count to 25 again. We’ll call it now the “Frei Will Rule.”
== Lee Corso, who will turn 82 in August and is the only one remaining from the original cast of ESPN “College GameDay” in 1987, has signed up for at least a couple more years. Desmond Howard is in as well.
== Kenny Mayne, who hasn’t been a regular SportsCenter anchor in nearly a decade outside some appearances at the LA Live studio, will be put on the 8 p.m. show starting Monday. His co-anchors will include John Anderson (Monday-Tuesday) and Kevin Connors (Wednesday-Thursday). He will be based in Bristol, Conn.
== They say the team of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Doris Burke, starting their eight NBA Finals together when Cleveland-Golden State III begins Thursday at 5 p.m. on Channel 7, have put in the most time together on this event.
Breen is doing his 12th NBA Final. Marv Albert called nine NBA Finals with a variety of analysts for NBC, and Dick Stockton did nine for CBS, after Brent Musberger did five.
This is the 11th NBA Finals for Van Gundy, the most ever by an analyst (the list of those with more than a few includes Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Mike Fratello, Bill Walton, Doug Collins and Hubie Brown). ESPN also believes it is important to note: Jackson has called more NBA Finals — nine — than any other African-American NBA analyst. He skipped two seasons as he was coaching the Warriors.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Van Gundy said it “shocked me” when he was told about this record he is about to establish, and “it just shows you how fickle the two professions Mark and I chose after he got done playing. Coaching is a fickle one; so, too, is broadcasting. So I think I would speak for Mark in that we don’t take it for granted. I don’t think we ever envisioned ourselves maybe broadcasting or broadcasting this long. But it’s been a blessing and something that I know I don’t take for granted. Because I’ve been treated very, very well.”
Added Jackson, the former Clipper and Calabasas resident: “It’s very humbling. It truly is a blessing when you think about, I’m not just a fan of basketball, I’m a fan of all sports. You think about we’ve done it for quite a long time in a sustained period for a company that we absolutely love and treat us first class. To me, I don’t take for granted also the blessing to be able to work with guys and girls that are absolutely incredible. We have the time of our lives supporting each other as truly a team. These are friendships that have come before my coaching career and early on in my playing career and I’ve been able to sustain them for so many years. It’s really a blast.”
On ESPN Radio, it’s Marc Kestecher with analyst Hubie Brown and reporter Marc Stein.
And Shelley Smith, the ESPN reporter who was hospitalized on Mother’s Day with stroke-like symptoms while she was covering the opening of the Warriors-Spurs Western Conference final in Oakland, will return to the arena doing daily morning reports and post-game reports.
“I have been cleared to work, workout, fly … you name it,” said Smith, in remission from recent breast cancer and melanoma treatments. “Doctors will monitor my blood and believe it was connected to my cancer. It was wonderful to get to thank all those who helped me through this. Especially ESPN.”
== ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA baseball regional schedule includes:
= Clay Matvick and Kyle Peterson at the Long Beach Regional starting with UCLA vs. Texas (Friday, 4 p.m., ESPN2) and San Diego State vs. Long Beach State (7 p.m., ESPN2). Games Saturday 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Monday at 8 p.m. are TBD.
= Roxy Bernstein and Wes Clements are at the Corvallis Regional starting with Yale-Nebraska (Friday, 1 p.m., ESPN3 streaming) and Holy Cross-Oregon State (8 p.m., ESPNU). Games through Monday are TBD.
= Steve Lenox and JT Snow are at the Stanford Regional starting with Cal State Fullerton-BYU (Thursday, 1 p.m., ESPN3 streaming) and Sacramento State-Stanford (6 p.m., ESPN3 streaming). The hitch here: If BYU makes it to a final game, it will not be played on Sunday, but instead on Monday. If no BYU, it will be Sunday at 2 p.m.
== UCLA’s opener of the Women’s College World Series softball final eight against LSU airs at 11:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN with Adam Amin, Amanda Scarborough and Laura Rutledge. Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Jessica Mendoza (analyst), Michele Smith (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter) call the majority of the prime-time games. The final two teams start a best-of-three series on Monday at 4 p.m. on ESPN. Here is ESPN’s complete coverage.
== The Pac-12 Network will have both USC and UCLA in the first two weeks of its college football TV schedule, as announced this week. USC’s Sept. 2 opener against Western Michigan has a 2:15 p.m. kickoff, while UCLA’s home game against Hawaii on Sept. 9 will have a 2 p.m. kickoff. The Pac-12 Net has 15 games locked into its schedule from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16.
USC also knows its second and third games at home against Stanford (Sept. 9) and Texas (Sept. 16) are 5:30 p.m. kickoffs on Fox. ESPN has a Friday Sept. 29 game at Washington State at 7:30 p.m. and NBC takes the Oct. 21 game at Notre Dame at 4:30 p.m.
UCLA’s Sunday, Sept. 3 opener against Texas A&M at the Rose Bowl has a 4:30 p.m. kickoff on Fox. The Sept. 16 game at Memphis will be at 9 a.m. PDT on either ABC or ESPN2. FS1 also has a Friday game at Utah on Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m. and a Rose Bowl game vs. Cal on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. (the day after Thanksgiving).
== ESPN’s college football early schedule has locked in:
* Stanford vs. Rice from Sydney, Australia (Saturday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m., ESPN)
* Lane Kiffin’s coaching debut at Florida Atlantic against Navy (Friday, Sept. 1, 5 p.m., ESPNU)
* Florida State-Alabama (Saturday, Sept. 2, 5 p.m., Channel 7)
* Michigan vs. Florida from Arlington, Tex., (Saturday, Sept. 2, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7)
* Tennessee vs. Georgia in Atlanta (Monday, Sept. 4, 5 p.m., ESPN)
* Pittsburgh at Penn State (Saturday, Sept. 9, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7)
* Oklahoma at Ohio State (Saturday, Sept. 9, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7)
* Utah at BYU (Saturday, Sept. 9, 7:15 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2)
* Miami at Florida State (Saturday, Sept. 16, 5 p.m., Channel 7)
A LONGING FOR LINKS
== The New Jersey Devils fired their longtime radio analyst (who happens to be a female). The fans aren’t happy.
== Why golfer Fred Funk is getting all funky about what USA Today columnist Christine Brennan wrote about him. She defends it.
== A tennis TV reporter got slurped and groped by a player, while on the air, during an interview. The player was “banned for the rest” of the French Open. And reportedly some of the reporter’s colleagues in the studio “laughed and clapped during the episode” as it happened. It wasn’t funny at all.
== ESPN tries to explain why it doctored a police mug shot of Tiger Woods to use in one of its on-air graphics Monday. The excuse isn’t stylish at all.
== Norman Chad on 23 more “tried and true facts about sports TV” includes: “Every time I watch a golf tournament on the Golf Channel, they hardly show any golf. It’s like going to a strip club where nobody strips.”
== Why ESPN’s Mike Golic isn’t a fan of those who use anonymous quotes … like the SI.com column that started all the fuss with him and Mike Greenberg not getting along.
== NBCSN is going to help the U.S. Olympic Committee stage a reality TV show trying to capture athletes for various sports.
— Tom Hoffarth (@tomhoffarth) May 30, 2017
— The Smoking Gun (@tsgnews) May 30, 2017