Meanwhile, back in El Segundo, they SportsNet LA team keeps pace with the Dodgers’ playoff run

Orel Hershiser, center, joins Ned Colletti, left, and John Hartung in a TWC Sports conference room on Monday night to take in TBS' feed of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS Game 3.

Orel Hershiser, center, joins Ned Colletti, left, and John Hartung in a TWC Sports conference room on Monday night to take in TBS’ feed of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS Game 3. And, yes, that’s the Chargers-Steelers game on one of the monitors to the left (along with the Cards-Cubs NLDS series Game 3).

Orel Hershiser, Jerry Hairston, Ned Colletti and John Hartung, having just finished about an hour’s worth of TV studio analysis, filed into a board room at the Time Warner Cable Sports offices in El Segundo on Monday afternoon.

But they were hardly bored.

The quartet joined a group of production people, piled their paper plates with some food, and grabbed a high-back chair to settle in for the next few hours.

With TBS’ coverage of the third game from the Dodgers-Mets NLDS from Citi Field in New York about to fill both large flat-screen TV sets against one wall, all the key on-air members of the SportsNet L.A. pre- and post-game show were actually about to strategize.

So, the meeting room setting was somewhat appropriate.

All season long, as well as the year before when SportsNet L.A. launched just before the 2014 season, this mixed-and-matched group (along with former infielder Nomar Garciaparra, who had this night off) grinded daily in previewing and summarizing the Dodgers’ regular season games for the TWC-distributed channel that continues a well-documented battle for full distribution.

For those viewers who have been fortunate enough to follow along, the channel’s segue into the post season brings a higher level of intensity, a more keen focus on single game-turning plays and on-going discussions about the best way to convey it as it wraps itself around the national network coverage of the game rather than the TWC-produced telecasts from the regular season.

On Monday, just before the 5:30 p.m. first pitch arrived, something strange happened.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Play It Forward Oct. 12-18: The storm warnings ahead for Dodgers-Mets in New York

Chase Utley, left, slides hard into Ruben Tejada at second base during the seventh inning of Saturday's NLDS at Dodger Stadium. (Credit Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

Chase Utley, left, slides hard into Ruben Tejada at second base during the seventh inning of Saturday’s NLDS at Dodger Stadium. (Credit Gregory Bull/Associated Press)


Details/TV: Game 3 at New York: Monday at 5 or 5:30 p.m., TBS:

Among the storylines they’re all frothy about in the New York media going into the next two games at Citi Field:

(Associated Press/Gregory Bull)

(Associated Press/Gregory Bull)

From Mike Vaccaro in the New York Post: “If (Chase) Utley thought he was detested, despised and reviled in New York already, he has no idea what he’s in for. You thought it was ugly when John Rocker returned to the scene after his verbal hate crimes? Maybe you remember Pete Rose leveling Buddy Harrelson back in the ’73 playoffs, and the way he was treated the rest of his career at Shea Stadium? Those were Hallmark cards compared to what’s coming.”
From Michael Powell of the New York Times: “Some press commentators mumbled that Utley’s slide was just ‘good old-fashioned baseball’; we retreat into cliché to avoid thought. … (Utley) appeared to have one goal: to take out (Ruben) Tejada any way he could. And that is against the rules of baseball. … The sport’s ethos has never been to rattle brain pans and cause rib cages to collapse. It is not football, and thank God for that. … You hope that Matt Harvey, the next of the Mets’ strong young arms scheduled to step forward, realizes that he is of more use snapping Lord Charles curves and 98 m.p.h. fastballs in Game 3 than tossing at the cranium of some Dodger player. You also hope an old Met antagonist has not hijacked a series and taken it to a dark place.”

(Associated Press/Gregory Bull)

(Associated Press/Gregory Bull)

From David Lennon of New York Newsday: “We can’t deny that Utley single-handedly reversed the momentum of this Division Series. He did. … Just don’t tell us it was a clean play, because it wasn’t. … Lawrence Taylor was easier on quarterbacks than what Utley did to Tejada, and now the unlikely pair have something in common. They both snapped an opponent’s leg in two.”
Game 4 is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at New York; If necessary, Game 5 is tentatively 5 p.m. Thursday at Dodger Stadium if necessary. The NL Championship Series begins Saturday.

Details/TV: Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 4:

Steve Sarkisian reacts to a play during Thursday's loss to Washington at the Coliseum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Steve Sarkisian reacts to a play during Thursday’s loss to Washington at the Coliseum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

After USC’s Cody Kessler threw for 372 yards and six TDs during a 49-14 win last season over the Irish at the Coliseum, Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian exclaimed: “Our future is ridiculously bright. We’re going to be really good.” And now where are we? With the news of Sarkisian’s leave of absence, and the 3-2 Trojans having lost two of their last three to drop out the Top 25 polls, this annual rivalry game takes on a lot different context. Kessler, who was 32 for 40 passing and setting a TD opponent record against the Irish last season, comes off a game where he just 16 of 29 for 156 yards, no TDs and two picks against Washington in a 17-12 home loss. No. 14 Notre Dame comes in 5-1 after a 41-24 win over Navy. The Irish are ranked 14th in the nation in total yards average per game (504), two spots ahead of USC (495). This is the 86th edition of the rivalry, which Notre Dame leads 45-36-5 for the right to keep the Jeweled Shillelagh. Before USC lost the 2013 game at South Bend, 14-10, it had won the previous five in a row there.

Details/TV: Thursday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
A year ago at the Rose Bowl, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan Hogan threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns as the 7-5 Cardinal crushed the Bruins’ hopes for the Pac-12 South title and a College Football Playoff spot with a 31-10 victory on a Friday night. Because of the Pac-12 title game, Hogan has already played four games against UCLA in his career – all wins — and has thrown for 776 yards with five TDs and only one pick. Funny these two should meet again on a weeknight – the first of back-to-back Thursday night games for the No. 18 Bruins (4-1, 1-1) that has coach Jim Mora’s suspenders in a bunch. Both UCLA and No. 15 Stanford (4-1, 3-0), leading the Pac-12 North, had a bye week coming into this one.

To finish the NFL’s Week 5, San Diego plays host to Pittsburgh (Monday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN) and then goes to Green Bay for Week 6 (Sunday, 1:25 p.m., Channel 2) … The 0-2 Kings have three more home games this week, starting with the Sedin twins and Vancouver (Staples Center, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., FSW) …The other NLDS between St. Louis and Chicago continues at Wrigley Field for Game 3 (Monday, 1:30 p.m., TBS) … More at this link.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Here’s our pitch: Ditch the batter’s box graphics on TV, online … everywhere

The Mets' David Wright argues with umpire xxxx after a strike call in Friday's Game 1, which the TBS graphic showed to below the strike zone.

The Mets’ David Wright argues with umpire Alan Porter after a strike call in Friday’s Game 1, which the TBS graphic showed to below the strike zone.

Assume that we’re all optically challenged in one way or another.

Put a graphic up on the TV screen that’s supposed to represent an MLB batter’s box, and it can mess with our viewing experience.

Add to that another strike zone visual, from a different MLB media platform, and now you’ve forced a call to the eye doctor for a emergency checkup.

More than likely, those watching the Dodgers-Mets NLDS on TBS’ TV coverage aren’t also consuming it through the Gameday app on a mobile device. But for those multi-taskers who’ve tried, the exercise can leave them cross-eyed and crossed up.

Which graphic box is accurate, which isn’t, and do either of them unnecessarily box in the home plate umpire?

On one side, TBS’ PitchTrax is based on PITCH f/x camera technology supplied by a company called Sportvision, the same folks who do it for ESPN and Fox Sports. Each use the screen presentation differently, but the same metrics are in play.

Because the center-field TV camera isn’t completely looking straight on at home plate, the pitch you see thrown is misaligned from what the umpire sees, and from what the on-screen graphic says about its placement.

Umpire Alan Porter, right, once tossed Dodgers manager Don Mattingly out of a game in 2012, but Mattingly had no issues pubically with his calls behind the plate in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Umpire Alan Porter, right, once tossed Dodgers manager Don Mattingly out of a game in 2012, but Mattingly had no issues publicly with his calls behind the plate in Game 1 of the NLDS.

The Sportvision system, which is a 3D presentation if need be, calculates the point where the ball crosses the front of the plate — not where the catcher gloves it. They say the pitch is accurately noted to within a quarter-inch or less of where it crosses.

When Game 1 home plate umpire Alan Porter was calling strikes on pitches that appeared to be low on the TBS graphic, a red flag went up. Was Porter expanding his strike zone, just as it appeared home plate ump Phil Cuzzi did in the Cubs-Cardinals NLDS Game 1 earlier Friday, also carried by TBS? Or did the TV graphic need some re-calibration? Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

#WinForVin, during a no-Vin situation… it’s a Blue October

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

The game arrived at 6:45 p.m. The radio was flipped on. The volume on the TV was turned down.

And there was no Vin.

Of course, we had all been properly warned that this would be the reality of Friday’s Dodgers-Mets NLCS Game 1 from Dodger Stadium.

We still had to check. And then, check our pulse.

None of this was quite registering. It was as if we were in some kind of weightless state, waiting for gravity to return.

The gravity of the situation seemed to hang there in the air.

All we’ve been told on Thursday afternoon in vague terms was something about a “medical procedure” that 87-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully needed. And according to the doctor’s orders, this would mean Scully would go quiet during this postseason.

So now that this is apparently real, do we have a plan on how to navigate the rest of this playoff contest? The rest of this series? The rest of the winter?

For a quick diversion earlier in the day, we picked up the comic section of the paper. There was Kevin Fagan’s “Drabble.”

The topic was Scully. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Weekly media column notes version 10.08.15: A year into this, 980-AM remains in Beast mode

We’ve looked ahead to the ESPN documentary on the Pete Carroll Era at USC, and looked back on Jessica Mendoza’s run with the ESPN MLB job.
Presently, this is what’s worth submitting to the Internet machine before we focus on the Dodgers’ run in the playoffs:

== What can set KFWB-AM (980), aka “The Beast,” apart from other sports stations in Southern California?
That’s Tom Lee’s task.
thebeast980-141201The ratings for the iconic spot on the L.A. radio dial haven’t really shown much movement up in its first full year of format change, driven by CBS Sports Radio’s need to finally bestow a Southern California beach head for Jim Rome’s 9 a.m. to noon national radio show.
Rome is safe. What’s built around him here keeps shifting like it’s on an earthquake fault. To no one’s fault.
The announcement that L.A. Times sports columnist BIll Plaschke has joined the 6-to-9 a.m. with Jeanie Zelasko is the latest wake-up call by  program director Lee as he continues to put his shovel into the ground for a weekday lineup heading into the NBA season that will be very Clipper-heavy for the team’s flagship station.
“I’m looking at every possible way to make the station better,” said Lee, who came on as the PD after the original man in the position, Owen Murphy, built the first lineup prior to the Sept. 2014 launch. Murphy eventually returned to his family in Seattle last February to work as a radio consultant.

The Beast 980 program director Tom Lee

The Beast 980 PD Tom Lee

“What I ask myself every day: What’s the advantage for the L.A. sports fan? If we ask ourselves that question every time a decision is made, then we’re going to get better.”
The Plaschke hiring was necessitated to replace Marques Johnson, the former UCLA and NBA star who jumped at the chance to become the TV analyst for the Milwaukee Bucks. Johnson felt the commitment to the TV job meant he had to leave the station, but his name value was really all that carried him through during his time in that radio chair. His ties to the Clippers made him a recognizable figure. He added little otherwise. Perhaps team broadcaster Ralph Lawler‘s regular contributions may be all that’s needed in the grand scheme.
In this era of media branding, Plaschke becomes along as a potential beast of an asset for 980 as the only regular local newspaper columnist taking on a radio role. (The last? You can follow T.J. Simers reports on his wrongful termination case against the Times as it continues to play out in downtown L.A. courts. Other websites are also hopping on board with analysis.) Along with his duties on ESPN’s continually unwatchable “Around The Horn,” Plaschke only hopes to work some sleep time into his new 24/7 schedule.
Actually, the first of Lee’s first revamping jobs was to thankfully drive out the George Wrigster and Brett Winterble team in the 4-to-7 p.m. afternoon drive shift, still known as “The Drive.”
“I loved both of them, and they’re two really good people, but it wasn’t quite where we needed to be,” said Lee, who was the former PD at ESPN Sports in Dallas, WIP in Philadelphia, KJR in Seattle and Fox Sports Radio.
“Having been in this business for as long as I have, it’s a decision you make from your gut, from experience, and from ratings. They worked really hard and helped launch the station, but it’s time to raise the bar.”

Jim Rome remains the foundation to the 980-AM existence as a sports-talk format one year into the process for the former all-news station.

Jim Rome remains the foundation to the 980-AM existence as a sports-talk format one year into the process for the former all-news station.

Lee has been trying out mix-and-match combinations of Wes Clements, Dave Denholm, Dave Smith, Brian Webber and others, to some degrees of success, until he decides on what could work. All are viable candidates.
But all that may be simply to see who fills the noon-to-3 p.m. slot. Fred Roggin, the KNBC-Channel 4 sportscaster who has been on that shift, is in discussions of being moved to drive-time and have his show emanate from the Channel 4 Universal Studios offices.
A strong lead-in will be needed once the Clippers regular season begins later this month. Sam Farber, Isaac Lowenkron and Brian Siemen will handle the Clippers pre- and post-game shows.
As this market has shown, the interest in the Clippers has a strange attachment to how the Lakers’ float. Without the Lakers driving viewers, the Clippers often stay stagnant or even submerge more. No matter what 980 does, it, in some strange ways, has to hope rival ESPN-AM (710) does well with its Lakers ratings.
“I’m excited about the potential now with what we have in place,” said Lee. “I know potential doesn’t mean we have it done yet, but with the options that L.A. sports listeners have, we’re building a station for the real L.A. sports fan. It’s a process that’s done with a lot of evaluation and internal discussion and brain storming and it feels like we’re on the brink of really doing something good. I love the energy in the building.”

== OK, one more New York Times story that posted today about Mendoza.

GettyImages-83340125.0== On the MLB postseason:
For the Dodgers-Mets NLDS, TBS will have Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, Cal Ripken Jr. and Sam Ryan on each game starting Friday at 6:30 p.m.
On the Cardinals-Cubs series, TBS sends out Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Simpson and Matt Winer starting with Friday’s Game 1 at 3:30 p.m.
When the two American League Division Series begin tonight, Fox Sports 1 has Kenny Albert, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci doing the Texas-Toronto series, with Game 1 at 12:30 p.m., followed by FS1’s Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz, A.J. Pierzynski and Jon Paul Morosi doing the Houston-Kansas City series, with Game 1 at 4:30 p.m.
The MLB Network jumps in for two games: It sends Bob Costas and Jim Kaat to call Game 2 of the Rangers-Blue Jays series on Friday (9:45 a.m.) and for Game 3 of the Astros-Royals series on Sunday (1 p.m.), it will stick with the Vasgersian-Smoltz-Morosi crew.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email