Who’s on the Dodgers’ bandwagon for a delivery of SportsNet L.A. in time for the 2015 season? Wait, and see. Again. At least this time, the Puig sticker on the truck wasn’t unveiled too early.
One of the latest Twitter trends is #2014in5Words.
Which not only seems to be a bit short sighted, but it’s one word short of what the hashtag requirement. Or, as BleacherReport.com lead columnist Dan Levy replied:
The proper amount, if you want to get technical.
By our count, we found the L.A. sports media in 2014 often focused on stories about things that didn’t quite add up right once all the pieces were there in front of us, all accounted for. The irony is that we probably used too many words to detail week after week about these misfit shortcomings. That’s just the culture of the media business.
(And by the way, “culture” was what Merriam-Webster picked as its 2014 “word of the year.” As in, the Dodgers’ bullpen was about as effective as yogurt culture.)
We will try to apply Twitter logic in conveying our Top 10 list of this local media year in review, the stories and moments with the most impact, importance and impatience. With the option to expand a bit to add context:
No. 1: I Can’t See Vin Scully?
Nine days into 2014, we spotted the billboard off the 405 Freeway in Culver City touting the launch of the Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA channel. Turns it, it was premature exultation. It also turned out that for about 70 percent of the TV viewers in Southern California, the channel was just a rumor. El Segundo-based DirecTV directed all that didn’t happen in this area, squashing Time Warner Cable’s distribution efforts by claiming the price per customer was too outrageous. Legal action was threatened, politicians and the FCC started barking, but all that actually happened was during the final week of the regular season, we got a sneak peek of the Dodgers clinching the NL West (over the eventual World Series champion Giants). Add to the frustration: The Dodgers’ playoff games kept showing up on Fox Sports 1 or the MLB Network. Now, Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who promised the channel saturation by Opening Day, 2014, says he’s “reasonably confident” it will happen by April, 2015 “because of all the various business deals going on.” That would entail a DirecTV-AT&T merger along with Comcast’s purchase of Time Warner Cable. See us holding our breaths?
No. 2: Pac-12 Net Absent 12 Months:
Another DirecTV power play move by a company claiming to have the sports viewers’ best vested interests at its core. But the business model isn’t working in Year 2 of this freeze-out. It’s become so acceptable that we Tweeted out the other day why UCLA might have wanted the second half of its basketball game against Kentucky moved from CBS to the Pac-12 Net, so no one could see how it ended. Meanwhile, those who have Dish Network will probably see more of their sports channels go away as it changes its strategy toward more of a wireless service, with Verizon on the horizon of taking over.
No. 3: Donald Sterling Tarnished, TMZ Sez:
By deciding it had the ethical duty to release a private conversation between the Clippers owner and his girlfriend, the gossip website based near Marina del Rey began the swift process of Sterling’s exit, even if his actions often spoke louder than his words for years before this. Somehow, Harvey Levin gets the assist on Adam Silver’s layup, and Steve Ballmer is taking the ball and going the other way. He’s paid out some $2 billion for a team based on a perception of a media rights deals down the road. Add to that TMZ providing the defining video in the Ray Rice assault/NFL suspension, and the company had a role in the two biggest national stories of the sports year.
No. 4: Simmons, Kellerman: You’ve Been Served:
Photo: Rolling Stone magazine.
ESPN decided to suspend its L.A.-based media megastar and Rolling Stone profile boy Simmons for three weeks in September because he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” and then dared his bosses to punish him. Done. Now the parlor game is predicting where he’ll take his ball and go when his ESPN deal is up. The network also forced a week vacation for Kellerman for talking out of turn about the Rice case. The ban also affected Kellerman from his KSPN-AM (710) radio show (although, we had to be told that happened, since the mute button is often activated in the afternoons to avoid most of his show). In a year with suspensions were handed out for all kinds of things said, tweeted or debated, these affected the local economy the most.
No. 5: The Beast At Its Best?
When the old KFWB-AM (980) finally figured out how to get Jim Rome’s nationally syndicated show back in L.A. via the CBS Sports Radio Network, it decided also to rearrange the nebulous format and go all-sports, with new/old local-hosted shows subdividing the airways. Constructive criticism: Do better. With a rather vague ownership situation, there’s no guarantee this Clipper-strong attempt to compete with the Lakers/USC KSPN-AM (710), the Dodgers/UCLA KLAC-AM (570) or the Angels KLAA-AM (830) lineup won’t continue its dead spots. The station will start taking callers soon, right?
No. 6: A Hall Call for Enberg:
When Dick Enberg found out at the recent MLB Winter Meetings that he would be the 2015 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame, he said the moment “took me to my knees.” The play-by-play man for the Padres (since 2010) who launched his career with the Angels (1969-1978, on KTLA-Channel 5 and KMPC-AM) even received a call of congratulations from Vin Scully, one of the voters for the award. The one-time San Fernando Valley State baseball coach will join another Padres’ broadcast legend, Jerry Coleman, who passed away five days into the 2014 calendar.
No. 7: Bookish Times for Showtime, Wooden
Our top-shelf book of the year, “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s,” landed in March, coinciding with the Lakers’ fall from the NBA playoff radar. The best interviews that author Jeff Pearlman uncovered in the 496 pages were from the bit players of that era, including Michael Cooper’s ex-wife. Three months earlier, Seth Davis unloaded a 608-page inventory called “Wooden: A Coach’s Life,” based on an abundance of research by the Sports Illustrated writer and CBS college hoops analyst. We also got a reminder of John Wooden’s final season as it was recalled by then-KTLA play-by-play man and Brentwood resident Al Michaels in his new autobiography, “You Can’t Make This Up.” It was such a revelation that Michaels said his own daughter didn’t know he called Bruins basketball games until she read the book.
No. 8: Lawler’s Law Doesn’t Cover This:
Ralph Lawler, the Clippers’ spry 76-year-old play-by-play voice who’ll eventually have his microphone hanging from the Staples Center rafters before any Clippers jersey gets there, called in sick earlier this month. From a guy who wouldn’t let prostate cancer get in the way during his 36-season career. A kidney stone procedure interrupted his plans for a Clippers-Pelicans game. It had been bothering him a few weeks before, but he plowed ahead anyway with medication and fastening his seat belt. It’s a tribute to his perseverance and tolerance for pain, likely built up over years of covering the team.
No. 9: Eisen, His Own Show? Uhhh:
DirecTV offered up a studio for the lead voice of the Culver City-based NFL Network to hold his own three-hour morning program, simulcast on Fox Sports Radio. The local affiliate, KLAC, hasn’t thought enough of it to add the thing to its lineup. Frankly, we haven’t thought enough of it to include it on an extended DVR programming after “The Dan Patrick Show” lead-in. We get enough of Eisen’s smarminess when he appears weekly on Patrick’s show as it is.
No. 10: Crawford Goes Off For 17:
ESPN reporter Lisa Salters stopped Clippers guard Jamal Crawford for an interview at halftime of a game against OKC in February, and said she heard he could recite the name of every NBA coach he has ever played for – 17 of ‘em. And on live TV, he did it, from Tim Floyd to Doc Rivers. AwfulAnnouncing.com’s Matt Yoder included it in his piece for SportsIllustrated.com’s 2014 national year in review, under “Best Moment” in an interview.
That’s good enough for us.
Notice how that last sentence got it all done in five words? Probably sums up our #2014LASportsMedia, with whatever set of thumbs you choose to type with.
What else we could have included in our 2014 L.A. media in review, but will leave here under these categories:
== Best ESPN pin to the mat: Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0,” from its Santa Monica studios, responding to how the network stole his “web redemption” segment (as we again provide the inspired video):
== Next local reporter to go national: Alex Curry. Her Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket work, especially on the Kings magazine show, give her a major platform for possibly bigger things.
== Next national reporter to go local: L.A.-based Fox Sports continues to promote Erin Andrews, giving her Pam Oliver’s top NFL sideline spot this year (really, based on her Richard Sherman moment?) and including her on some of the most awkward situations from the World Series post-game interviews. And her ongoing relationship with the Kings’ Jarret Stoll meant we had to keep seeing her pop up in all kinds of Stanley Cup-related celebration photos.
== Most amusing out-of-town L.A.-related story: The New York Post decided that, during the Stanley Cup Final when their Rangers played the Kings, not enough New Yorkers knew about the L.A. roster. So they printed this with all the “fun facts” they could find.
== Most pleasant re-connection: With the Kings now on KABC-AM (790) often keeping the radio dial on the station the next morning, we’ve caught former Channel 7 sports anchor Todd Donoho delivering the sports reports on the weekday “McIntyre in the Morning Show.” Donoho moved from Valencia to Columbia, Missouri about 10 years ago and kept a lifeline with the former “Mark & Brian” show. He also continues to do the 7:30 a.m. sports on the “Heidi and Frank Show” on KLOS. “I can’t believe it has been that long since I moved from Southern California,” Donoho said in a recent email. “Time flies. The other morning Heidi said she was 8 years old when I started at KLOS (in 1988). She sure knows how to make a guy feel old!”
== Most noteworthy disconnection: Rich Marotta ended a 34-year on So Cal radio, including the last 21-plus on KFI-AM (640) Bill Handel’s morning show, in September. “The KFI job has been a fantastic experience, but now I’m going to get some sleep,” Marotta said.