Sunday media: The book on heckling, and what the heck we aim to gain from it

A fan with a Dodgers jersey and the name "Problems" wearing No. 99, took advantage of the Dodgers' 2014 expansion of the areas behind the bullpens during a Dodgers-Angels Freeway Series.

A fan with a Dodgers jersey and the name “Problems” wearing No. 99, took advantage of the Dodgers’ 2014 expansion of the areas behind the bullpens during a Dodgers-Angels Freeway Series. And we were there to capture it.

Dodger Stadium was recently renovated to allow fans better access around the entire park — which included putting tables and chairs beyond the bullpen back walls, and planting a full bar nearby.
It seems to be all but asking patrons to have a drink and start heckling the relief pitchers as they warm up – home or visiting team.
9781493024513With the Dodgers this year, it does work both ways.
“I think teams are responding more to people who want to interact more with players and not feel so detached,” said Kevin Nelson, author of the book, “The Official Heckler Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Offending and Irritating the Enemy.”
“And that’s what a heckler can do – knock down that invisible wall between them and the field. And it’s mostly for the good.”
Mostly.
If done correctly. And with the proper intention.
One of the greatest heckles we ever heard at a game: The 2003 Orange Bowl in Miami between USC and Iowa. The Hawkeyes took the lead by running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Eventually, the Trojans broke open a 10-10 halftime tie with four consecutive touchdowns in the third and fourth quarter. The game was effectively done and the crowd was just quietly waiting for the scoreboard to click off the remaining time when a fan stood up and yelled: “Attention: There is a tractor in the parking lot with its lights on. Iowa license plate: E-I-E-I-O.”
It worked on many levels, enough to where the Iowa fans in the area could have a laugh as well about it.
What made that particular one work, and one remembered all these years later?
We get more into that aspect, and why it seems Los Angeles lacks a signature sports heckler in these times of YouTube stardom, with this week’s media column effort. Hopefully, you’ll find it at this link. If not you have every reason to start berating our professionalism.

Another form of heckling -- stitched into a scarf -- was on display during the U.S.-Argentina Copa America soccer game in Houston this week. What's the point again?

Another form of heckling — stitched into a scarf — was on display during the U.S.-Argentina Copa America soccer game in Houston this week. What’s the point again?

 

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Weekly sports media notes version 06.23.16: Football writers recognize Mort; Simmons’ HBO debut is kinda f–ed up

What’s worth posting at this point in the week:

(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

== Considering what he had to say in his last correspondence with us before the April NFL Draft, wouldn’t that be something if Chris Mortensen was able to make it to Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6 to accept the Professional Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award.
Presented to a reporter who “has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage,” it is named for the first director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1962-67) who was also a longtime reporter in New York. Previous recipients include Bob Oates (L.A.Times), Jerry Magee (San Diego Union), Will McDonough (Boston Globe), Paul Zimmerman and Peter King (Sports Illustrated), Dave Anderson (New York Times) and Art Spander (Oakland Tribune).
Mortensen wasn’t up to giving us an update or response to this announcement. Instead, ESPN sent responses by ESPN NFL staffers:
John Clayton, a former PFWA president (1999-2001) and 2007 McCann Award recipient: “Chris is one of our profession’s greatest treasures. As a reporter, he is masterful. Like Will McDonough did, Chris shows that accurate information can educate a fan base. Plus, in every segment, he provides the right information that keeps football fans in the know on what is happening in a rapidly changing sport.”
Adam Schefter, a former PFWA president (2001-03): “There is not a single person in our industry who is more deserving of any single award than Mort is for the McCann Award. It’s based on long and distinguished reporting in professional football, and there’s nobody who has done it longer or in a more distinguished way than Mort. As good of a reporter as he is, he’s a better man, teammate and friend, and the only thing that will give me more joy than seeing him get this award will be getting to work with him again this fall.”

== After waiting it out for about a month for the official announcement that the Rams have an unusual five-year radio partnership with all-sports KSPN-AM (710) and classic rock station KSWD-FM (100.3 The Sound), owned by two different companies, the rumors have started about how these two may end up merging on more than just NFL contests.
RamsRadio1-1-750x400Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications, which owns The Sound as its only station in the L.A. market, has had success with all-sports FM stations in Boston (WEEI-FM 93.7, a simulcast of all sports WEEI-AM 850 and carrying Patriots games), Providence, R.I. (WVEI-FM 103.7) and Memphis (WMFS-FM 92.9, a simulcast of ESPN’s WMFS-AM 830), so it wouldn’t be out of character for it to flip this into the same format, which would make it  L.A.’s first, and loudest, all-sports station on the FM side.
Entercom is the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the U.S. with 124 stations in 27 markets. It also owns alternative rock station KBZT-FM (94.9) in San Diego and KGMZ-FM (95.7), aka The Game, an all-sports format in San Francisco/Oakland, carrying Raiders game.
Both Entercom and ESPN, which owns KSPN-710, agreed to a rights fee to carry Rams games on their radio platforms. Sources say that the reason potential Southern California front-runner iHeartMedia, which has powerful stations on both the AM and FM side, didn’t win out here was because it wanted to do a revenue sharing plan with the Rams, and the team didn’t go for it.
KLAC-AM (570), for example, which is part-owned by the Dodgers as well as iHeartRadio and also carries UCLA sports, did a revenue share with the Clippers to get them on board when their previous flagship station, KFWB-AM (980), aka “The Beast,” was sold several months ago.
The Rams’ radio deal puts the bulk of the work on KSPN, starting with producing the show, selling all the advertising for the game and pre- and post-game shows and creating a radio network for outlying cities (including St. Louis?) The Sound 100.3 will simply simulcast the KSPN game call.
Conflicting dates that come up for the Rams and other KSPN programming will be interesting to watch. KSPN is already tied in as the flagship station for the Lakers, USC football and basketball, sometimes with the Angels and carrying the MLB, NBA and college football games nationally distributed on ESPN Radio.
Next up for the Rams is hiring a play-by-play man as well as color analysts, and develop a pre- and post-game show. Those mentioned as possible analysts are former Rams stars Jackie Slater, the Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman who spent 19 of his 20 NFL seasons for the Rams in L.A. and has been coaching at Azusa Pacific, and another Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Eric Dickerson, the running back who tried reporting on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” in 2000.
Also of note: It was revealed at the monthly meeting of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters that KWKW-AM (1330), the ESPN Deportes station in L.A., will have the Spanish-language call of the Rams this season and employ KNBC-Channel 4 sports anchor Mario Solis on play-by-play and Troy Santiago as the analyst. Continue reading

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Weekly sports media notes version 06.17.16: Open season again on Fox’s golf coverage

Bubba Watson, left, watches his tee shot on the sixth hole as his caddie looks during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Bubba Watson, left, watches his tee shot on the sixth hole as his caddie looks during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

What is more timely to post at this point in the weekend:

== At the end of last year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Wash., USA Today put together a list of the “19 worst things” about Fox’s coverage.
Take your pick. Some were nit-picking. Other things were quite lacking.
Among Golf Digest’s nine reasons why we “should be optimistic that Fox’s U.S. Open coverage will be better at Oakmont” this weekend, there are the obvious changes in the on-air talent: Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange are in analyzing, and Greg Norman isn’t.
Plus, there’s one more year of experience with Joe Buck at the control tower.
That could be the biggest game changer.

 Jordan Spieth with Fox's Joe Buck after Sunday's final round of the 2015 U.S. Open. (Michael Madrid-USA TODAY)

Jordan Spieth with Fox’s Joe Buck after Sunday’s final round of the 2015 U.S. Open. (Michael Madrid-USA TODAY)

“Going into last year’s U.S. Open and coming out of last year’s U.S. Open, I’ve never been more proud of an event we’ve covered at Fox, period,” Buck said in a conference call last week. “I refuse to apologize for 2015. That’s ridiculous. The critics who were unkind, that’s not a newsflash, that’s kind of the way of the world. When you start, you’ve got to earn your position and where I failed most of the time last year was injecting the heart and soul of what these guys are trying to do.
“I was completely caught up managing the scoreboard and back to the fairway and back to the tee and back to the green — there’s a lot of moving parts in golf and you make the mistake of thinking going in it’ll be slow, but it’s the opposite when you finally sit in that chair and don’t know what it’s like. Prior to 2015, I had no idea what it took. That’s where I’ll grow at this event is taking a step back and knowing I have the mechanics down as much as I can and inject more of the flavor of what’s going on in the players’ heads and hearing that from Paul and Curtis and Brad (Faxon).
“So if you’re begging for an apology for 2015, I’ll never do that. It was a great high-wire act and I’m glad we made it. It could have fallen apart but we had the drama all the way down the stretch. I know whatever we did in 2015 will be markedly better in 2016.”

And then he said a few more caustic things with a Barstool Sports podcast.

Fox’s coverage begins Thursday and Friday on Fox Sports 1 at 7 a.m. through 2 p.m., when Fox Channel 11 picks it up from 2-to-5 p.m. Fox Channel 11 has the third round Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the final round Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
If a playoff is needed — that’s a full 18 holes — Fox Channel 11 has it Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Aside from Buck, Azinger and Faxon in the booth and Strange on the ground, Fox employs Steve Flesch, Scott McCarron, Juli Inkster, Shane Bacon, Ken Brown, Bob Ford, Jaime Diaz, David Fay, Gil Hanse and Holly Sonders as part of their broadcast crew.

== In addition to our piece last Sunday on Azinger, here’s another enlightening one from Golf Digest’s Diaz.

High-definition VR cameras are set up on the 18th tee during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

High-definition VR cameras are set up on the 18th tee during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

== For those interested in the virtual reality angle of the U.S. Open — which is not like 3D of the past — the Associated Press has a view of it.
As part of Fox’s five-year deal with NextVR, some Darth Vadar-looking cameras will be positioned at Oakmont at the ninth, 17th and 18th holes, with roving capability at the neighboring Nos. 10 and 12. There will also be pre-packaged video on demand, including footage of players on the practice range each morning, a narrated history of Oakmont, two-minute “golf tips” and features on each hole. The coverage is available through the NextVR app for Samsung Gear VR owners.

Continue reading

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Sunday media: More Azinger, from alligators to zingers

Yes, that's Paul Azinger yanking on the end of a 12-foot aligator's tail during a round of golf in Florida recently.

Yes, that’s Paul Azinger yanking on the end of a 12-foot aligator’s tail during a round of golf in Florida recently.

The first part of a Q&A with new Fox golf analyst Paul Azinger landed online Saturday afternoon. That leaves the rest of the interview for this spot:

Q: Did you like dealing with the media as a player? It’s interesting how some players who didn’t enjoy the media aspect then get into the media business once the pressure is off them as a player and they can be more themselves.
A
I loved the media, always, and made good friends with the beat writers because I figured I’d see them all the time and might be nice to know them on a first-name basis. And I hung out with them. The media was a big part of my success at Ryder Cup (as a captain for the 2008 team that won). They actually helped me with stats, who’s hot and who’s, as I was figuring things out.

Paul Azinger, left, talks with David Feherty during an episode of "Feherty" on Golf Channel in 2015.

Paul Azinger, left, talks with David Feherty during an episode of “Feherty” on Golf Channel in 2013.

Q: At one point in your career, you had to beat David Feherty in a playoff to win an European Tour event in 1990 in Germany. What kind of an opponent was he then?
A: He was hilarious then, but more an eccentric, quirky guy. I remember one year he had the lead at the British Open and we had a giant tent for all the players and families to eat and chill out. So before we out to play the next round, there’s Feherty on one of these big long couches with headphones on, and it had to be a Walkman back then, his eyes are closed and his head going back and forth like Stevie Wonder, and I’m thinking, ‘This dude is out there.’ It’s like watching (Miguel Angel) Jimenez warm up. There are just some things you shouldn’t do in public. Feherty was grinding back then. It’s like they say with Ryder Cups: Just go and have fun? When the bell rings, the fun is over. There’s nothing fun about Ryder Cup. It’s hard work.

Q: When Fox started in the sports business, it created a “Fox Attitude” that it injected into football, baseball, hockey … can it work for golf? Is this a set of viewers too set in their ways and don’t want to see “attitude” come into play?
A: As long as we keep things fundamentally and functionally correct on our side, the technical side can do those kind of things. It’s interesting. When you let the pictures tell a better story, we can talk about how, as human beings who played the game, how we had to think a different way to be accomplished, probably different than someone else, and that’s what we want to do. I don’t think anyone’s going to be up there telling you what you just saw. Continue reading

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