Before getting deeper into the weekend, we have some noteworthy comments about how June will end and July will begin from a sports media angle here:
== Yes, there’s another massive cleanup in Aisle 1 at L.A.-based Fox Sports. AwfulAnnouncing.com’s Ben Koo and Andrew Bucholtz are there with a damp sponge and magnifying glass, concluding with a piece entitled: “Frustration, uncertainty, dread and layoffs: An inside look at Jamie Horowitz’s takeover of Fox Sports Digital: Fox Sports’ mass layoffs were the coup de grace of a period that saw Horowitz prioritize the promotion of television personalities and programs over digital content”
As the Koo piece includes about the revamped FoxSports.com: “Mass layoffs (some revealed Monday) were the coup de grace of a period that saw Horowitz prioritize the promotion of television programs and personalities over digital content, even enlisting veteran reporters to ghost-write or compose “as told to” content during Super Bowl week for talking heads like Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless.”
Converting the guts of an abused and abandoned former shopping mall in Hawthorne, with all its graffiti tagging, leaking roof and other sketchy surrounding, a quaint “Mad Max”-type TV venue was all there and more for the Drone Racing League.
It was a setting better suited for a secret fight club instead of a half-dozen freaks and geeks with goggles and customized sweat shirts with their handle names across the front, fighting it out with controllers of souped-up prop-driven remote-control machines that zipped through old storefronts and escalators in 90 mph clips.
As a studio audience was also on hand to root, ESPN saw the seeds planted.
That show was one of the highlights during the first season of the DRL on the World Wide Leader that once began with teaching Aussie Rules Football and decades later continues to push the definition of athletics and amusement with competitive eating, poker and the Spelling Bee.
Penetrating into esports-type territory with something that looks like a cross between BattleBots and “Star Wars” Phantom Menace pod racing, the DRL regenerated this past week with a second run on ESPN that will go through a six city, 12-episode journey leading to championship in London in late July. Craig Hummer, the former marathon swimmer and triathlete who always seems to get the call for extreme-type sports, is the play-by-play man giving it more TV legitimacy.
About an hour after ESPN seemed to be done with its NBA Draft coverage Thursday night, ABC aired an updated version of “The Gong Show.”
It was a seamless transition.
The longer we played along, the more we came to the realization as the gong mallet hit us between the eyes: At what point does the NBA figure out that the best way to capture the peak of attention is by extending its offseason to as many days, weeks and seasons as possible? More at this link.
The longest day of the year was Tuesday; Wednesday is the summer solstice, providing enough solar energy to entice you into shading yourself with perhaps our shortest list of midweek notes this year, heading into the sports media weekend.
But it’s quality, not quality:
== How ESPN plans to overkill it on Thursday’s 4 p.m. NBA Draft, the 15th year in a row for the network: = Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Michael Wilbon and Jay Bilas are on the main desk. Jay Williams does interviews/analysis. Allison Williams talks to the players after they have been picked. Jeff Goodman is a “breaking news” reporter, with Fran Fraschilla and Tom Penn are also on hand.
= ESPN has a draft preview show Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
= Also: The Pac-12 Network puts up its own NBA draft special following the event at 9 p.m. Thursday where Don MacLean can break down the conference picks with studio hosts Ashley Adamson and Mike Yam, plus reporter Lewis Johnson at the event in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
== NBCSN has the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft as well as its annual awards show Wednesday at 5 p.m., and then the full-on NHL draft on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The net also has Kathryn Tappen and Paul Burmeister, plus Pierre McGuire doing commentary, for Wednesday’s production.
== The Dodgers’ Joe Davis goes to his Fox duties this weekend and lands the Angels’ game at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox (Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 11). AJ Pierzynski and Jon Paul Morosi join the broadcast going to 51 percent of the country, including L.A. Pittsburgh-St. Louis (Kenny Albert-Tom Verducci) and N.Y. Mets-San Francisco (Matt Vasgersian-John Smoltz-Ken Rosenthal) are the other two regional games.
== Fox Sports announced it has added Ray Lewis(aka: “ESPN bust” in some headlines) after his three-year run in Bristol, Conn., mercifully ended. The NFL Pro Bowl linebacker is first going to be inserted on FS1 daily L.A.-based shows starting Sept. 5. It does not appear, for now, that he’ll be part of the “NFL on Fox” Sunday pregame show as a regular. But why should he? The Sporting News reported it first this week.
Maybe he’ll be able to help Jason Whitlock with headgear selections.
David Vassegh, right, with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. (Photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)
David Vassegh isn’t kidding about his kids.
“Some of the players can’t believe it when I tell them I’m a dad,” he said the other day.
The 4-year-old daughter Adriana and 1 1/2-year-old son Joseph son of the KLAC-AM (570) Dodgers reporter/”Dodger Talk” co-host get quality time in the mornings before he heads off to Dodger Stadium each afternoon.
When he’s on the road, like today’s Father’s Day, they learn to make it work with his wife, Tessa.
“Doing this last 6 years, you really do have to have an understanding, loving and supporting wife to handle things when I’m at work,” said Vassegh, who has covered every Dodgers game since the start of the 2012 season. “We reassess this work-and-personal life balance every year, and if she’s at a point where she feels the cons outweigh the pros, I support my family and they’re No. 1. Baseball is my No. 1 sport. But I can’t see myself missing soccer games on weekends or big events in their lives. I take a lot of pride in never having missed a Dodgers game, but that’s all ingrained in me.”
More on Vassegh’s balancing act in today’s media column at this link.