Media column version 09.26.14 — Now if only TWC can get out of its own way on trying to give So Cal its Dodgers coverage

The post-game coverage of Wednesday night's TWC SportsNet L.A. game, as shown on KDOC-Channel 56, captured Dee Gordon jumping into the stands down the right-field line at Dodger Stadium to shower himself, and fans, with champagne.

The post-game coverage of Wednesday night’s TWC SportsNet L.A. game, as shown on KDOC-Channel 56, captured Dee Gordon jumping into the stands down the right-field line at Dodger Stadium to shower himself, and fans, with champagne.

The focus this week has become a two-part project:

It’s only been about six months since we’ve seen what a Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A. telecast of a Dodgers game actually looks, sounds, tastes and smells like.
You digging in?
We’ve talked to pre- and post-game analyst Orel Hershiser and game producer Glenn Diamond about the productand why it seems TWC can’t get out of its way in trying to spread good will with its efforts to make the product available the last week of the regular season. The link to that column, which appears on A1 of today’s editions, is here.

In the sports section, we examine the need for a new “We Need To Talk” female-driven sports show that CBS Sports Net launches on Tuesday, as well as Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket vice president Steve Simpson talking about about how the Angels have fared this season without a lot of direct competition from Dodger viewers, and why it took so long for ESPN to suspend the guy who calls himself the “Sports Guy.” Again. The link to that column is here.

What will be relegated to blogospheric notations:

(Notes updated Friday morning:)

== Is Simmons a victim of his own un-edited star-system success? Ethics expert Kelly McBride at the Poynter Institute lays it all out there. And I’m in full support of Ed Sherman’s headline that classifies this as a classless rant by Simmons with a link to an updated and well-crafted response by ESPN ombudsman Bob Lipsyte.

== Phil Simms has to do a Washington-N.Y. Giants game tonight for CBS/NFL Network. And he’s standing behind his declaration of independence not to utter the nickname for the home team during the telecast.

== Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Jessica Mendoza have USC’s football game at the Coliseum against Oregon State on Saturday (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.)

== Morgana, the famous “Kissing Bandit” from the 1970s and ’80s, is the focus of ESPN “E:60″ half-hour special to air Friday at 4:30 p.m. The network press release says she “breaks her silence” after 15 years, with the help of reporter Wright Thompson. A quick preview here with a clip that includes Dodgers manager Don Mattingly chiming on what she did way back when. Maybe ESPN got the idea for this from the 2013 documentary on her by Adam Kurland called “Always Leave Them Wanting More” that made it onto Roopsigo.com. Morgana denied Kurland an interview:
morgana2== Are the Chicago Cubs next to launch into a team-own channel? They’re chewing on it.

Continue reading

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Play It Foward — Sept. 22-28 on your sports calendar: How much longer do the Dodgers’ stretch the suspense?

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen goes cannon-ball into the Arizona Diamondbacks' pool after the Dodgers clinched the NL West last season at Chase Field. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen goes cannon-ball into the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pool after the Dodgers clinched the NL West last season at Chase Field. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

MLB: DODGERS vs. SAN FRANCISCO
Details/TV: Dodger Stadium, Monday-Wednesday, SportsNet L.A., KDOC-Channel 56, ESPN:
DODGERS vs. COLORADO

Details/TV: Dodger Stadium, Friday-Sunday, SportsNet L.A. and KDOC-Channel 56:

If not now, then when? This game of playing capture the NL West flag was already a done deal a year ago. The Dodgers’ leap into the Arizona Diamondbacks right-field pool happened in game No. 153, giving them nine days to figure out how they wanted to approach the postseason circus. Tell us again how that turned out. This time, it could go down to all the way down to Fan Appreciation Day in game 162. Or, a sweep of the current second-place Giants may add up to something more productive. Especially with NL Cy Young lock Clayton Kershaw not only pitching the final game of the series, trying to record his 21st victory in his 27th start and end all the arguments about his MVP candidacy, but he would also be on regular rotation when October starts roll around. Closing out this thing at home also has this quirky twist – while the Dodgers have the best road record in all of baseball, they’re just five games over .500 at Dodger Stadium. To start the final homestand, Tommy Lasorda celebrates his 87th birthday on Monday, with Frank Sinatra Jr. set to sing the national anthem.
The series vs. San Francisco: Each night at 7:10 p.m. (games Tuesday and Wednesday also on ESPN)
The series vs. Colorado: Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 6:10 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

hi-res-5675394_crop_northUCLA trips over to Arizona State for a Thursday night game (7 p.m., FS1), while USC stays up late to host Oregon State on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN); the 40th Ryder Cup heads to Scotland for some middle-of-the-night exposure starting Thursday; the Kings and Ducks practice against each other at Staples Center, and Santa Anita gears up for its Autumn meet that concludes with the Breeders’ Cup. The link is here.

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Media column version 09.19.14: What would you do if you were starting up a sports-talk radio station in L.A.? It’s news to KFWB

BxM0mAMCYAAb9ix.png largeWhat made it into the main event this week, linked here:
KFWB1_1981
KFWB, the former “news 980″ station, will finally complete its transformation to “The Beast” on Monday morning with a new all-sports lineup, most of it made up of local hosts surrounding Jim Rome’s syndicated CBS Radio show from 9 a.m. to noon.
Best of luck, Beastie Boys. (And girls, like Jeanne Zelasko).
Our top five suggestions on how to make this work in a market that can be somewhat fickle about its sports-talk of the last 20-plus years.

We also had this note that somehow got misplaced so we’ll run it here:

== Starting with Fox taking Saturday’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field (Channel 11, 10 a.m., with Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz and Jon Paul Morosi), all but one Dodger game (Sunday at Chicago, only on SportNet L.A.) will be available on TV to Southern California viewers no matter what cable or dish provider they have, for as far as the team goes in the playoffs. The Time Warner Cable orchestration of having the final six regular-season games – it could be cut to five if Fox takes the last Saturday game – is small consolation to the season-long rights-fee issue that has seen nearly three-quarters of the region blacked out from Dodgers games in 2014, after the launch of the team-owned channel that has been handed off in distribution negotiating to TWC Sports execs. Consider these KDOC games a TWC walk of shame, especially after it has taken out full-page newspaper ads claiming that they are “putting fans first” with this arranged marriage. No irony in that the final telecast Sunday is of the Dodgers’ Fan Appreciation Day from Dodger Stadium. So this is how you appreciate your fans? Maybe during the KDOC broadcasts that interrupt its regular repeats of the old ABC sit-com “Cougartown” and starts with the three-game series against San Francisco on Monday, Vin Scully can do a retrospective of the season that most missed. What this KDOC coverage will eventually prove, as it includes the SportsNet LA pre- and post-game shows, is that this gesture should have taken place maybe in April, May and June – giving viewers a taste of what the coverage looks like and perhaps enticing them to switch over to TWC. You don’t miss what you never see, right? TWC plans more wraparound coverage of the Dodgers games in the playoffs as well. Looking forward, Dodgers’ playoff games would take place on ESPN (an Oct. 1 wild-card game), Fox Sports 1 or the MLB Network (during the NL Division Series) and then Fox-Channel 11 (during the NL Championship Series and World Series). The Angels’ involvement in American League playoff games would all be on TBS until the World Series that would begin Oct. 21 in Anaheim. And then KDOC can go back to claiming itself to be the home of the MLS’ Chivas USA squad.

What is relegated to becoming a mere footnote:

== The column we churned out earlier this week on the Time Warner Cable disingenuous decision to simulcast its SportsNet L.A. Dodgers games with KDOC-Channel 56.

7ac3b7bd711d7aaa95d9ce9b5f7d0dac_400x400== After working as a morning-drive sports reporter for 34 years, going back to KNX radio in 1981, Rich Marotta announced Wednesday that he’s retiring from doing updates on KFI-AM (640)’s Bill Handel Show. Marotta had been part of that show for the last 21-plus years. The former Kings TV analyst, inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011, has also spent much of his time lately growing the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame that he founded a few years ago.
“The KFI job has been a fantastic experience, but now I’m going to get some sleep,” Marotta said. “I’m just happy because I feel I’ve done as well as I could, grew in a lot of areas, having lost too much on my fastball and I’m leaving on my terms — not being fired. This is a retirement from radio, but I’m also hoping to get back into the loop in TV boxing. I’ve had to turn down a few gigs in the last year and I know if you keep saying no, then pretty soon they stop asking. So I’m hoping promoters, producers and sports networks will work me back into the equation.”

== Why wouldn’t you support Dick Enberg for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award? Continue reading

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Thanks again, TWC and the Dodgers, for reminding us about just how little you care

7113c85e0fe01f3482bde6a7a0a61a4dIf the Dodgers are in the business of scrambling to do a little good will hunting during the last two weeks of the season, the announcement made by Time Warner Cable this morning that it has suddenly figured out a way to simulcast the team’s final six home games from its SportsNet L.A. feed to KDOC-Channel 56 between Sept. 22-28 could not be a more empty, condescending gesture.

Dodger fans should be considering another kind of gesture in reply.

Here’s more where that came from …

 

thanks-4-nothing-e1359133671476

 

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Play It Forward: Sept. 15-21 on your sports calendar — A redo of SBXLVIII, for those counting on something other than off-the-field NFL stuff

What didn't happen when Seattle and Denver last met on the football field.

What didn’t happen when Seattle and Denver last met on the football field.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

NFL WEEK 3
DENVER at SEATTLE
Details/TV: Sunday at 1:30 p.m., Channel 2:

The top X things we remember most from Super Bowl XLVIII:
I: It didn’t snow in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
II: Seattle had the NFL’s best defense. The Seahawks scored 43 points.
III: Denver had the NFL’s best offense. The Broncos scored 8 points.
IV: Some were calling it the “Bong Bowl,” since the home states of the teams – Washington and Colorado – were the first two to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
V: The Seahawks entered MetLife Stadium to “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve; the Broncos came in to a dubstep remix of “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy, remixed by Denver DJ Omega (OK, we really had no idea this happened, but it says so on the game’s Wikipedia page).
VI: The Seahawks took a 2-0 lead one snap into the game. Las Vegas collapsed.
VII: The Seahawks took a 5-0 lead a few minutes later. The Broncos got their relief pitcher warming up in the bullpen.

Malcolm Smith (53) reacts as he returns an interception for a touchdown against the Broncos during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII.  (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Malcolm Smith (53) reacts as he returns an interception for a touchdown against the Broncos during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

VIII: The Seahawks had a 22-0 lead when eventual game MVP Malcolm Smith returned a Peyton Manning pass 69 yards for a touchdown before the half. We remembered him from his high-school days. He’s gotten more popular.
IX: The Seahawks had a 36-0 lead near the end of the third quarter. Some people were complaining that their Time Warner Cable coverage of the game disappeared. Good for them.
X: Russell Wilson had as many TD passes (2) as Manning had picks (2). Guess who got invited to appear on “Late Night With David Letterman”?

The Seahawks’ loss to the Chargers in Week 2 shouldn’t tarnish this meeting, although it might have be appropriate to re-raise the Super Bowl championship banner at CenturyLink Field  while the Broncos are in for a weekend visit. After another week of off-the-field missteps by NFL players, maybe this rematch of last year’s title game can’t come soon enough to distract attention. The only crazy thing that could happen – if the Chargers’ game at Buffalo leading into this one goes into overtime, we’re stuck watching it because we’re in the wrong TV territory again.

Also this week:
-wrigleybefore3The Dodgers take roadies to Colorado and Chicago with their magic number dwindling as fast as their starting rotation; the Angels have seven in a row in Anaheim to end their regular-season home schedule (hint: They’ll play more in October); the L.A. Triathlon goes off course and heads to Torrance, the AVP will crown its beach volleyball champs in Huntington Beach, and the Kings start training camp.
California Chrome returns, but USC and UCLA football takes the week off. Probably all for the best of reasons. It’s posted here.

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Media column version 09.12.14 — Trying to elevate the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell story past ‘drowning in reaction to reaction’

An editorial cartoon response from the Arizona Republic's xxxx to the Ray Rice domestic violence case.

An editorial cartoon response from the Arizona Republic’s Steve Benson to the Ray Rice domestic violence case.

What made it in this week (linked here):
Why the opinions of those women who cover the NFL for a living matter in the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell narrative, and why we decided to seek out ESPN’s Linda Cohn, Fox’s Colleen Dominguez, NBC’s Michele Tafoya and CBS’ Lesley Visser to see how they have filtered the information out there this week.
For example: What about theangle that this story would not have gotten nearly as much play without social media.
“Some may say that a story like this is just was social networking was made for,” said Cohn. “But what are we doing here? I feel like we’re drowning in reaction to reaction, and it feels awful.
“We seem to be obsessed about Roger Goodell’s role and make sure people like Paul George apologize, but we’re not getting to the root of the bigger issues here. There is so much lack of education on this topic. That’s what is more disconcerting to me.”

What didn’t make it into this week’s column:

Illustration by Sam Manchester/The New York Times

Illustration by Sam Manchester/The New York Times

More related to the Ray Rice story:
== Peter King is sorry
== Floyd Mayweather Jr. is sorry
== Paul George is sorry
== Ted Robinson is sorry
==
We’re sorry you had to hear Chris Berman try to call an NFL game again, while trying to add social commentary.
== You’re going to nominate TMZ for a Pulitzer when it refers to the commissioner of the NFL as “Rodger Goodell”?
== Is TMZ really fool-proof in its body of work of reporting?
== Is showing the TMZ video over and over again really doing good journalism?
== It wouldn’t be full coverage unless “Fox and Friends” chimed in. Inappropriately.
== How the story brought ESPN’s Mark Schlereth to tears.
== A San Diego UT editorial opened their eyes on the matter, and the impact of a visual over written words is always a winner, writes the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik:  “We know what we saw. We saw an ugly, horrible act that someone tried to keep hidden in darkness. And now, thanks to TMZ bringing it to light, we believe that we know who and what Ray Rice really is behind all the PR, lawyering and image-making of the Ravens and the NFL. TMZ’s video won the credibility war over Rice’s image.”
== Why the Rice video changed a Washington Post columnist’s view compared to her criticizing the media over its Rihnanna coverage years ago.
== David Zirin’s piece from The Nation on the re-victimization of Mrs. Rice.

What also could have been included but will just have to be content with its placement here: Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Sept. 8-14 on your sports calendar — Dodgers may take three Giant steps forward

Clayton Kershaw threw a two-hit shutout against the Giants on July 26 in San Francisco to finish a three-game sweep at AT&T Park.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw threw a two-hit shutout against the Giants on July 26 in San Francisco to finish a three-game sweep at AT&T Park. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

MLB: DODGERS at SAN FRANCISCO
Details/TV: Friday-Sunday, SportsNet L.A.:

Two giant impediments stand in the way of the Dodgers and wrapping up an NL West title this month, and it begins and ends with the Giants. A 13-games-in-13-days stretch starts with these three at AT&T Park, and it’ll finish up when the Giants visit Dodger Stadium on Sept. 22-24. In each case, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has aligned the pitching rotation so that Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw start in succession. Because, really, after that, who’s even quasi-reliable? The last time these two teams met in late-July, Mattingly rearranged the rotation to get his top three arms locked and loaded. It led to a three-game sweep in San Francisco, where the Giants were held to four total runs. We are legally obliged to tell you that past performances do not necessarily guarantee future results. But in this case, Greinke has had the best success against San Francisco this season (three starts, 3-0, 1.80 ERA). Kershaw (two starts, 1-0, 1.63) missed facing them in the home-opening series in April, where Ryu (three starts, 2-1, 5.40) pitched the Dodger Stadium opener on April 4 and gave up eight runs in two innings to the Giants before the red, white and blue bunting could be unfurled.
The series: Friday, 7:15 p.m., Saturday, 6:05 p.m., Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

The rest of the week shapes up with the Chargers playing Monday night against Arizona and then Sunday at home against Seattle in Week 1 and Week 2 NFL games; USC heads to Boston while UCLA goes to Texas in Week 3 of college football; Floyd Mayweather Jr. decides to fight again, the PGA Tour has another year-ending event and … check it out for yourself at this link

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Media column version 09.05.14: FoxSports@20 … you got a problem with it? Depends on your attitude

The way it was in 1995: Howie Long, left, discusses the NFC title game with Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw.

The way it was in 1995: Howie Long, left, discusses the NFC title game with Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw. (Photo: Fox Sports archives)

What became the topic of this week’s sports media column linked here:
In 1994, there were two NFL teams in L.A. Then there were none. But the network that moved into the neighborhood that same year — Fox Sports — has not only stayed and keep its roots planted.
We look at the 20th anniversary of the birth of Fox Sports, how it has not only stayed true to its “attitude” but kept building upon it even as some longtimers are getting a little more gray. We talk to Fox Sports boss Eric Shanks, “NFL on Fox” studio stalwart Howie Long, his partner Jimmy Johnson, and No. 1 game analyst Troy Aikman.

The way is it today: Howie Long discusses NFL studio strategy with Fox president Eric Shanks, while Michael Strahan continues working on his notes.

The way is it today: Howie Long discusses NFL studio strategy with Fox president Eric Shanks, while Michael Strahan continues working on his notes. (Photo: Lily Rosales/Fox Sports)

What else could have been in the column but will have to be happy staying right here:

== Terry Bradshaw submits himself to being a guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Friday night/Saturday morning at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 7. There’s another indication about how influential Fox Sports has been the last 20 years — Kimmel has his own show? Still?

= We asked Aikman and Johnson about how ironic it remains that Fox may still have its sports beachhead in L.A. but the NFL doesn’t:
Aikman: “I was a big Rams fan growing up in Southern California. Then along came the raiders. Not having a team in L.A., from someone like me who spent so much time there, is disappointing. Everyone wants a team there. Maybe the West Coast feels like being without a team the last 19 years is fine. We’ve been talking about this for such a long time I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. The 49ers have their new stadium. The Raiders clearly need a new one and maybe they’ll do a deal to move in with the 49ers. Even in San Diego, they’re trying to get a new stadium. I don’t know how much longer Dean Spanos can stay. I know I’d sure like to be going out West for more NFL games, so hopefully we’ll get a team there, and it’ll be an NFC team.”
Johnson: “People in L.A. may be getting by with seeing a lot more football on TV, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person, and having your own team. There needs to be a team in Los Angeles, but the league wants to make sure whatever team it is, it will succeed.” Continue reading

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Where’s the news from KFWB on its sports swap-out?

construction-restricted-area-sign-s-0827Station promos on KFWB-AM (980) continue to tease about “what else is coming” after the soft launch of the CBS Sports Radio syndicated lineup several weeks ago – most notably, having Jim Rome’s 9 a.m.-to-noon show finally return to the L.A. market since early 2013.
The holdup for an official re-branding of iconic former news-and-talk station into what will be the fourth all-sports AM station in Southern California centers on how fast newly hired program director Owen Murphy can piece together a local-host weekday lineup to surround Rome, at least from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
While an announcement had been targeted for an official launch on Sept.1, think more of Sept. 15 or 22 at this point.
Longtime KNBC-Channel 4 anchor Fred Roggin, thought to be all but locked into a noon-to-3 p.m. spot at KLAC-AM (570) when the station announced a new lineup last December, has instead been penciled into to that same time slot with KFWB.
Considering the credibility Mark Willard built during his run at KSPN-AM (710) that ended last Friday when the station did not pick up his contract, adding him to the KFWB playlist would seem to be a popular fit.
radio-girlThe same with Jeanne Zelasko, the former Fox Sports reporter/anchor who would add a fresh voice to the sports-talk noise and has been in for an audition.
Others said to have been in the mix for a role include Marques Johnson, Tony Luftman, Brady Poppinga and George Wrighster.
Meanwhile, long-time update anchors/reporters Ted Sobel, Bill Seward and Bob Harvey had been told several weeks ago they would continue on with their roles at the station. That changed as well — only Sobel is being retained, station management recently told the three.
Prior to starting its fifth season as the radio home of the Clippers, the station will also ramp up with Westwood One to take its Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night NFL games, plus playoffs through the Feb. 1, 2015 Super Bowl. It also has select college football games, starting Saturday with Michigan State-Oregon. KFWB also has an hour-long “Trojans Live” show with football coach Steve Sarkisian airing Tuesdays from 6-to-7 p.m.

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The Enberg encore at the U.S. Open may have been a wash, but it was the thoughfulness that counted

Before signing off on Sunday's U.S. Open tennis telecast for CBS, Dick Enberg (center) has analyst Mary Carillo (left) in stitches, while John McEnroe (right) continues to do his analysis.

Before signing off on Sunday’s U.S. Open tennis telecast for CBS, Dick Enberg (center) has analyst Mary Carillo (left) in stitches, while John McEnroe (right) continues to do his analysis.

The tennis gods were hardly kind to Dick Enberg.
After luring him back to Arthur Ashe Stadium to do just one more match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament for CBS, lightning and rain postponed the Roger Federer-Marcel Granollers third-round faceoff on Sunday afternoon.Just 19 minutes on the air with familiar partners John McEnroe and Mary Carillo, Enberg was left to fill the two-hour window with a Federer retrospective of his past U.S. Open victories.
As CBS’ 47-year-run ends at the tournament this weekend – ESPN takes over everything starting next year – the network’s look back at its Open legacy is well deserved, and for CBS Sports chief Sean McManus and producer Bob Mansbach asking Enberg to take a break from his play-by-play assignment for the San Diego Padres and make a curtain call in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., was brilliant.
“You are to announcers what Roger Federer is to our sport – no, seriously,” McEnroe said on the air prior to the abbreviated match Sunday.
“I was treated royally,” Enberg said after arriving back in San Diego this week. “I’m still blushing about McEnroe calling me the ‘Federer of TV tennis.’ I’m not certain, but I don’t think he was imbibing.”
Enberg’s presence will be felt again in CBS’ final three sign-off days as it takes the men’s semifinals (Saturday, 9 a.m.), women’s final (Sunday, 1:30 p.m.) and men’s final (Monday, 2 p.m.). A vignette he wrote and narrated about the network’s coverage over the years will likely air between the men’s semifinals on Saturday.
“For the essay I did, a reflection on the history of CBS at the U.S. Open, they asked me to keep the writing to three minutes,” Enberg said. “That’s 47 years, in three minutes. Bud Collins could write an entire encyclopedia while I hiccup three minutes. I still managed to get the name of every champion in the piece.”
Enberg has rejoined the Padres this week and will make his last trip of the season to Dodger Stadium with the team for the Monday-Wednesday series against the Dodgers.

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