Sports media notes version 08.30.17: CFB nation trusts in the Labor Day-to-New Year’s Day (and beyond) journey … but not everyone’s rushing to get there (Ed Cunningham)

The Labor Day weekend means a bounty of college football is ushered in … and Joe Davis is needed for two FS1 broadcasts this weekend, taking him off the Dodgers starting tonight and likely through the weekend …
But there is a serious side to all this:

== Ed Cunningham sat with a New York Times reporter at Legends Sports Bar in Long Beach, near his home, and explained why he won’t be doing games this season for ESPN or ABC as he has the last 20 years — he can’t watch players keep getting head injuries.
“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham said. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”
Cunningham may be the first leading broadcaster to step away from football for a related reason — because it felt wrong to be such a close witness to the carnage, profiting from a sport that he knows is killing some of its participants, writes John Branch in this piece.
It does help — a lot — that Cunningham, 48, is busy as a film and TV producer (an Academy Award winner in 2012) and also said he was upset when a slew of his colleagues were recently let go at ESPN. Cunningham was a center on the University of Washington’s 1991 national championship team and played five years in the NFL with Seattle and Arizona.
But he has walked away from a nice salary and a fall of Saturday events on his own principles.

== Don’t be underwhelmed by the Pac-12 Network’s choice to have  Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Lewis Johnson call USC’s opener in the Coliseum against Western Michigan with a 2:15 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
It’s another test in how the network will try to tighten up the length of the games with shorter halftimes so pay attention. And a test at how far the Pac-12 Net can stretch its talent.
Returning to USC’s 710-AM coverage for his 18th straight season is Pete Arbogast on play by play — in addition to six seasons he did in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he’s past the 25-season mark — with John Jackson as the analyst for the fifth season and Jordan Moore on the sidelines. Arbogast and Jackson have been in the booth now five seasons together since Paul McDonald went off to follow his son’s college careers (Matthew could start for Boston College as a true freshman this season). Jackson also did sidelines from 2005-2012.
The four-hour pre game and two-hour post game includes Travis Rodgers, Chris Fisher, Dennis Thurman and Rachel Frain. Continue reading “Sports media notes version 08.30.17: CFB nation trusts in the Labor Day-to-New Year’s Day (and beyond) journey … but not everyone’s rushing to get there (Ed Cunningham)” »

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Discovering the sports roots of Route 66: Mickey Mantle’s home town, the Unser Racing Museum, a Field of Dreams in Kansas, the Payne Stewart Highway and golf course … if you can find them

They’re called the Inland Empire 66ers for a reason.

It might not dawn on you why until you’re actually making the approach to San Bernardino’s San Manual Stadium, home of the Angels’ single-A team, a one-time Dodgers’ affiliate as well.

The 66ers’ nickname has nothing to do with an historic gold rush or a city incorporation date.

Historic Route 66 is nearby.

On E Street, not far from the original McDonald’s site, and a few blocks over from the 215 and the famous Wigwam Motel famous for their array of kitschy teepees for nightly rentals, the stadium entrance has an arched sign featuring a character of car mechanic swinging a giant wrench like a baseball bat. The team logo is like a Route 66 highway sign.

They’ve only been the 66ers since 2003, a team previously known as the Stampede and Spirit until the current Elmore Sports Group took over and decided to pay homage to the famous strip that often isn’t even marked on road maps any longer.

The original route from Chicago to the Santa Monica Pier (stretched from its original end point in downtown L.A.) goes some 2,488 or so miles, with abandoned gas stations, motels, drive-in movie lots and even the still-thriving Cadillac Ranch (bring a can of spray paint).

Baseball parks mark its path at many twists and turns along the way.

Chicago’s Wrigley Field and L.A. Dodger Stadium are just as much part of the start and finish line – a stretch of Sunset Blvd., near the Dodgers Stadium entrance at Vin Scully Avenue sports an historic Route 66 marker. And if you sit in the outfield bleachers at Wrigley, there is a gate down the right-field line where, if you squeeze your hand through just right, you can snag some ivy off the outfield wall.

In between, the Dodgers’ Triple A affiliate in Oklahoma City sits – at Chicksaw Bricktown Park is a statue of local hero Johnny Bench, born in OKC but prepped in a tiny offshoot 60 miles west called Binger, Okla.). Conveniently, the Dodgers’ Double-A team in Tulsa, Okla., known as the Drillers and playing in the art deco designed park known as Oneok Field, are just 100 miles East of OKC, also on the route.

Continue reading “Discovering the sports roots of Route 66: Mickey Mantle’s home town, the Unser Racing Museum, a Field of Dreams in Kansas, the Payne Stewart Highway and golf course … if you can find them” »

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It’s Out of the Question: Joey Chestnut vs. The Gyoza … Got the stomach for this?

The question we’ve always wanted to ask Joey Chestnut: Why have you never won a chestnut eating contest?

“No one has had one yet, but I’m sure all it would take is a sponsor …it could be easy to do,” said the 10-time Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating champion as he started to entertain the idea.

“Even I could do it myself. See how many I eat and donate something to a charity for each one.

“Maybe one of these years, it seems someone can do it around Christmas-time. Hold a winter festival.”

Roasting that thought on an open fire, it’s a nut to be cracked in the future.

Now, it’s gyoza gut-check time.

Joey Chestnut, left, celebrates his 2015 victory in the gyoza eating contest in Little Tokyo.

A little more than a month after he broke his own standards of decency by devouring a new record of 72 hot dogs and buns at the iconic Coney Island 10-minute competition last July 4 – and ESPN televised it, so it did happen — Chestnut will try to go gonzo for something we’re not even sure how to pronounce correctly.

“I’ve always called them ‘GHEE-zah’,” he said of the doughy Japanese pan-fried/steamed dumpling, not to be confused with a pot sticker.

Just say it like you mean it, and don’t talk with your mouth full.

More at this link …

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Sports media notes version 08.24.17: Playing catch up on ESPN’s Robert Lee, the SoCal Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame selections, Jose Mota’s milestone, and more

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.thompsonsportsart.com

Last Saturday, the Los Angeles Times’ sports section looked as if it had morphed into the Travel section.
More specifically, the Traveler section.
A nearly full front page story dedicated to the USC equine mascot made it appear there was compelling news to be gleaned. A photo that big with a headline that large couldn’t be there to draw attention unless something important was up.
Instead, it curiously blew up a queer story that started in the university’s Daily Trojan newspaper reporting on a black student group that questioned the origins of Traveler’s name. Specifically, Traveler “comes under scrutiny” for “having a name similar” to the horse once ridden by Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
Pat Saukko DeBarnardi, the widow of former Traveler rider Richard Saukko, is quoted as saying in the Times: “The problem is this: Maybe three weeks ago it was fine. So now the flavor of the day is . . . we all have to be in hysteria. . . . It’s more of a political issue. The horse isn’t political and neither am I.”
Neither is Robert Lee, an ESPN broadcaster who now comes on the national radar not because of his work but also because of a similar name.

When that Times’ Traveler story ran online in all its curious overplay, a friend texted me: “Do you think there will now be a movement on campus to make Asian students with the last name of Lee change it to something else?”
A day after the rare sighting of a solar eclipse, an even stranger story transformed into social media fodder. Another friend texted Tuesday night a link to a piece about how ESPN “pulled” its Asian broadcaster Robert Lee from an assignment that would have had him calling a University of Virginia Sept. 2 football game against William and Mary for the online ESPN3 site and ACC Network. It moved him to an equally uneventful Youngstown State at Pitt game that day.
It’s apparent these days that one must be careful what completely off-the-wall jokes you make. Someone will take them seriously enough to consider the ramifications and then act upon them.
But not even The Onion or Sports Pickle or even SI’s Extra Mustard was in play here (and why is it always food related when sports goes nutty?)
Continue reading “Sports media notes version 08.24.17: Playing catch up on ESPN’s Robert Lee, the SoCal Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame selections, Jose Mota’s milestone, and more” »

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