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.

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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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Mr. Hockey, and Howe: 1928-2016

81xmVrldKAL._SL1500_The book came out in October, 2014, Gordie Howe’s autobiography.
In his own words, he explains himself in 242 pages. That was an NHL season he probably never was able to follow because of a stroke, which came after he was diagnosed with dementia.
But despite premature stories of his passing then, Mr. Hockey lived to be 88 until today.
We’d like to give some time and space to the legend that Wayne Gretzky called the greatest of them all:

From Page 6:91nPVDerS4L
“To my way of thinking, the two more important things you need to survive in hockey are time and space. I found that a surefire way to earn a wider berth the next time I came around was to give someone a good crack. If his teammates took away a message as well, then so much the better. I’m aware that not everyone approved of how I played, but I don’t think any apologies are in order … The way I saw it, everone in the league was getting paid to do a job. Mine was to help my team win games. There were lines I wouldn’t cross, but as long as I did everything my power up to that point, I didn’t have any problem sleeping at night.” Continue reading

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Weekly sports media notes version 06.09.16: The SoCal Prep Legends Awards show blazes a new trail in high school sports coverage

What’s worth posting today for the weekend ahead:

As part of the SoCal Prep Legends Awards show, KABC-Channel 7's crew had Dodgers manager Dave Roberts meet with Upland High’s Jacob Beltran for a segment that will appear on Friday night's show at 8:30 p.m.

As part of the SoCal Prep Legends Awards show (Friday, 8:30 p.m.) KABC-Channel 7’s crew arranged a special meeting between Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Upland High’s Jacob Beltran.

== All the moving parts are in place for KABC-Channel 7 to carry the first SoCal Prep Legends Awards show in collaboration with the Southern California News Group of 11 regional media outlets. The show Friday at 8:30 p.m. after Game 4 of the NBA Finals is the focus of this preview story.

== If you missed the latest non-breaking news:

This photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows O.J. Simpson. Prison officials in Nevada have released a new photo that shows a smiling Simpson. He is serving a sentence of nine to 33 years in a Nevada prison for a 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping conviction. He is eligible for parole next year. (Nevada Department of Corrections via AP)

This photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows O.J. Simpson. Prison officials in Nevada have released a new photo that shows a smiling Simpson. He is serving a sentence of nine to 33 years in a Nevada prison for a 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping conviction. He is eligible for parole next year. (Nevada Department of Corrections via AP)

LOVELOCK, Nev. (AP) — Prison officials in Nevada have released a new photo that shows a smiling O.J. Simpson.

Perhaps he’s been given time to conjugally visit early reviews of the five-part ABC/ESPN documentary series, “O.J.: Made in America” that had a limited theater release and finally gets to TV screens (where Simpson can theoretically watch it) with the Saturday opener (Channel 7, 9-11 p.m.) and continuing on ESPN at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, June 17 and June 18.
In a GQ review, Chuck Klosterman says “this is as good as storytelling gets. It’s the finest film ESPN has ever produced and the absolute pinnacle of its 30 for 30 ideology: If you want to understand why sports matter so much to the fabric of our society, there is no clearer illustration than this documentary.”
In an Entertainment Weekly review, it’s “a brilliant work of long-form reporting with (director Ezra) Edleman carefully plotting an outcome that seems inevitable only in hindsight. Watch it now. You’ll be thinking — and talking — about it all summer long.” A second review of the piece in another part of the same June 3/10 issue gives it an “A+” grade, as “the lesser-known players, including jurors and marketing agents, .. provide the most provocative insights into a tragic saga of compounding historical injustices that implicate all of American culture.”
The Washington Post posted a story under the headline: “ESPN’s ‘O.J.: Made in America’ is nothing short of a towering achievement”
ojEven the Onion’s A.V. Club calls it “a journalistic marvel, assembling fact after fact and observation after observation into a portrait far more complex overall than it appears at any given moment. What emerges is a bracing look at life in a country where the way we process what we see and hear is too often determined by who we are.”
(Our own SCNG writer Rob Lowman also has high praise for it, as well as pointing out some of its journalistic flaws with some need of follow up questions).
And after all that’s said and praised, we’re still not sure we want to dedicate eight hours of our life (even without commercials) to this whole thing again.
Call is Juice Fatigue.
NPR makes sure we know that the series is more “about America, not O.J.” and that seems fair. We know we’re setting up the DVR to capture this moment. But we’re just not sure that after the mess FX did with the recent “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” we are ready to consume more of it — and we hardly watched a minute of that either.
(And by the way: Why were graphic crime scenes included in this ESPN piece, but nothing from Kato Kaelin?)

== TWC SportsNet surely has plenty of pictures of a smiling Dave Miller.
Maybe not any more going forward.
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Sunday media: How ‘The Last Gold’ tells a story that’s 40 years in the making

The 1976 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic women’s 4x100 meter freestyle relay team – from left, Jill Sterkel, Wendy Boglioli, Kim Peyton and Shirley Babashoff – is the focus of a new documentary called “The Last Gold,” debuting Monday at the L.A. Film Festival. It was the one and only time the foursome swam together as a team in competition. Heinz Kluetmeier /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

The 1976 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic women’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay team – from left, Jill Sterkel, Wendy Boglioli, Kim Peyton and Shirley Babashoff – is the focus of a new documentary called “The Last Gold,” debuting Monday at the L.A. Film Festival. It was the one and only time the foursome swam together as a team in competition. Heinz Kluetmeier /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

The “greatest untold story in Olympic swimming history” is the not-so-subtle subtitle attached to the new documentary, “The Last Gold,” making its world debut at the L.A. Film Festival on Monday night before an already close-to-sold-out theater in Culver City.More to the point: It’s a story that perhaps needed 40 years of perspective to tell it correctly. So now it has happened.
More on this story at this link.

Also at the LA Film Festival: Staff writer Bob Strauss reviews “Trackdown.”

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