Play It Forward May 11-17: When Rockets’ Twitter account gets back up to speed, let us know … or not

Texas_Bottle_Rocket_img_largeTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NBA PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
CLIPPERS vs. HOUSTON
Details/TV: Game 5 at Houston: Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., TNT:
Nothing_to_see_here
At this point in the proceedings, the inclination might be to tell Houston Rockets’ fans to just be quiet, close their eyes and this series against the Clippers may all be over soon. Why does that ring a bell? Because that same sort of message, along with some emoticons showing a gun pointed at a horse’s head, is what got the team’s last social media master put out to pasture. In fact, all through this series, we are underwhelmed by the tameness of the @HoustonRockets Twitter account in the wake of Rockets Digital Communications Manager Chad Shanks losing his job over that so-called inflammatory tweet he sent out at the end of the team’s first-round NBA playoff series against Dallas. Just look at what the team account posed prior to Sunday’s Game 4: “Enjoy your day Moms! On Mother’s Day 6 years ago we beat another L.A. team to tie up a series,” with a link to a story about how Houston, without injured star center Yao Ming, evened up their Western Conference semifinal series against the Lakers despite 30 points from Pau Gasol and “a quiet 15” from Kobe Bryant. A response from Johnny Navarrette (@jnavsports), former LakerNation.com senior editor: “you lost that series @HoustonRockets. Bring back the other social media guy.” We should note: The Houston Rockets’ account retweeted Navarrette’s tweet. As for Shanks, who has a masters in journalism and theology from Baylor, he still got his own @chadjshanks personal account. He writes in that bio: “Will probably be tweeting less about basketball now.” We are all the worst for that. Meanwhile, keep an eye on that Memphis-Golden State series. You think the Clippers’ psyche is ready for some sort of playoff rematch against the Grizzles next week? Game 4 of that series, with Memphis up 2-1, is Monday at 6:30 p.m. on TNT.
If needed, this series could go to a Game 6 at Staples Center (Thursday, TBA, ESPN) or a Game 7 at Houston (Sunday, TBA).

ALSO THIS WEEK:

The Ducks await a time for the NHL to schedule their Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference final against Chicago, so stay tuned … American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund — the top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby — are expected to reappear at the Preakness Stakes on Saturday in Baltimore … The Dodgers have a meet-and-greet with Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Dan Haren in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium starting Monday …The 10th annual Amgen Tour of California ends on Sunday with the final stage going from L.A. Live to the Rose Bowl … Gennady Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs) makes his 14th middleweight title defense in a bout at the Forum in Inglewood on Saturday against Willie Monroe, Jr. … More information at this link.

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Charming Billy Simmons, and the next step toward national park status

Rolling Stone magazine

Rolling Stone magazine

Not to pretend that we can climb inside the swelling head of Bill Simmons here, but …

For all reasons that would seem logical to him, the creator and editor-in-chief of Grantland.com who also happens to be a cutting-edge documentary exec, a huge podcast master and all-around “voice of the fan” should have reason to believe he’s worth in excess of $6 million a year (for the sake of argument, a salary figure reported by TheBigLead.com) just to continue his “B.S.” reign at ESPN in today’s media world.

Or, as an unnamed agent tells SportsIllustrated.com, why should he settle for anything less in the $7 million-to-$10 million range?

Clippers guard J.J. Redick pulled in about $6 mil this season, and backup Jamal Crawford made even less. Clippers season-ticket holder Simmons has to be a bigger hot-shot in L.A. than both of them. Even at age 45.

Bill-Simmons-1__1257175248_9080A really good NBA general manager may be in that ballpark, too. For years, Simmons has conveyed to his boy-band audience that he’s more than GM-qualified. His wispy-voiced observations on pre- and post-game studio appearances comes also with the appearance that he’s sitting on top the 752-page “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy,” which allows him to look down, right and left with ease when seeking fellow-host affirmation.

186du3c2gaffrjpgAnd don’t overlook the minor mention that Simmons just had in the Los Angeles News Group list of the 50 most powerful sports people in the city. The Boston transplant was slotted rather marginally at No. 36, but in due time, after planting firmer L.A. roots, he’s a sure bet to blossom into a drought-resistant Sequoia with his own national park status.

Yet, when ESPN president John Skipper got ahead of the story on Friday and announced that Simmons’ contract would not be renewed after a 15-year-run with the company, and indicated that he was more than just money, that sent up the flag: It was about the money.

“We have been in negotiations and it was clear it was time to move on,” Skipper said in a statement. Meanwhile, James Andrew Miller, the author of the book, “Those Guys Have all the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” reported there was no salary request from either Simmons or ESPN during the recent negotiations.

There didn’t need to be. A dealbreaker, no matter what controversy that’s involved in any disciplinary action that landed on Simmons over the years, good or bad publicity for ESPN, it has to generate some particular residual effect, measured in cash flow.

No matter how creative a media genius he thought he had become, Simmons apparently wasn’t printing enough Disney Dollars to offset whatever internal corporate grief he had created. You can only replay the Grantland Basketball Show in the 2 a.m. slot on any one of the ESPN channels and net the same result.

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Cal State Northridge’s plan more than a mid-major undertaking with CSUN Sports Network

Cal State Northridge students work on coverage of live sports events through MatatorTV, which will expand to the CSUN Sports Network this fall (Photo: CSUN Athletics)

Cal State Northridge students work on coverage of live sports events through MatatorTV, which will expand to the CSUN Sports Network this fall (Photo: CSUN Athletics)

Channeling the resources at Cal State Northridge to produce more student-generated media for the expanding athletic department was one of the prime initiatives that Dr. Brandon Martin had his eye on when he was hired as athletic director in February, 2013.

This fall, those lenses will be refocused on a much wider scale as plans were announced this week to expand the current MatadorTV program into creation of the bilingual CSUN Sports Network.

Martin, the former USC basketball point guard out of Cleveland High and most recently the University of Oklahoma assistant AD, has seen what university-driven media initiatives can do to not just build a brand but also become a live learning laboratory for students. Despite the realities of a smaller operating budget, but able to activate many CSUN alums in the media business willing to lend a hand, Martin envisions this fast-tracked project to have a wide-ranging impact.

Print“One of the first things I discovered when I came here was we were the leader in the Big West in terms of video production, and this CSUN Sports Network is really just an extension of that and our comprehensive excellence agenda to get better at everything we do,” said Martin, who recently attended NCAA meetings in Indianapolis and Big West meetings in Palm Desert.

“We are maximizing our efforts. We knew this would take some time and we set the priority for this two years ago, but right now is the right time. It’s more realistic from a budgetary standpoint.”

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Weekly media notes version 05.07.15 — How CSUN sees the bigger picture of its sports media future: A do-it-yourself project, calling all alums

CSUN-Sports-Network-RotatorWhat’s coming up for Sunday:
The announcement this week that Cal State Northridge plans to raise the bar with producing more sports-related content in expanding its current MatadorTV program into the launch of what it is calling the CSUN Sports Network should get everyone’s attention in the Southern California academic/sports world.
What four-year universities should be doing in the second-largest media market is ramping up their training the next generation of technicians, editors, graphic designers and on-air talent. Programs in place at USC and UCLA may seem to have more international exposure, but CSUN can shed any “mid-major” connotation with what it is attempting here, not just augmenting the Big West in production of live-streaming video but also improving its brand of a place to go for those who want to learn the business.
Take note, Long Beach State, Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine, LMU …
(Which seems to raise the question: Doesn’t Cal State University Channel Islands have the brand name and natural synergy in getting its own sports channel?)
That, with all the CSUN alums already involved in the media business in the area who want to assist in this project, gives it much more momentum.
We have more with CSUN athletic director Dr. Brandon Martin on how this project will work.

What’s also worth nothing at this point in the week:

directv-ceo-michael-white== DirecTV CEO Mike White, who landed at No.19 on the LANG list of the 50 most powerful sports people in L.A. but could easily disappear in future rankings, reasserted his company’s disdain for the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. distribution via Time Warner Cable during a Wednesday earnings conference call with analysts this week, according to Variety.
Amidst all that angst also came the most jarring quote from his assessment of the impact the channel has on his company as it stands today: “The channel’s probably worth less to us than it was a year ago.”
Perhaps full context of his statement in response to a question from James M. Ratcliffe of Buckingham Research, pulled from a transcript provided by TheStreet.com and cited by TVPredictions.com, is really needed here.
Despite another quote that “we haven’t lost any customers” because of the channel issue, White did admit that by his count as many as 3,000 customers have left DirecTV because of the SportsNet L.A. situation. Count us, Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy and KSPN-AM (710) afternoon co-host Steve Mason among them.
Because we think you do care — despite another White assertion — here is his full quote, which also makes a reference to DirecTV not having the Pac-12 Network:
vast-outlet-of-doom“I think in the case of the Dodgers, frankly at this stage, it’s probably for AT&T to make a decision. But it was a reckless deal at many multiples of what was being paid before, well above what anybody else would have bid and then they tried to force customers to pay for it.
“We had very minimal churn last year. I think something like 2,000 customers, which was — like half that this year, so I think, my view we made a very fair offer last year. It was rejected out of hand by Time Warner Cable.
“Frankly, now that we haven’t lost any customers, the channel is probably worth less to us today than it was a year ago. But you know, I have to say I think it’s … when you abuse customers by overpaying for stuff and then trying to jam them, which there’s a lot of in this industry, whether it is for a college network or whether it is for a regional sports network, you know, I think what we’ve learned out of our Houston experience and our Los Angeles experience is you know what? Customers don’t care that much.”
White said he expects a $48.5 billion acquisition merger with AT&T to be approved in the next few months after it is reviewed by the FCC and Justice Department, and then it would be up to the new AT&T company execs to decide if it wanted the SportsNet L.A. deal for its combined customers.

== In the meantime, may we interest you in a meet-and-greet with Dodgers Hall of Famer Vin Scully?
Willing to drive about 2 1/2 hours north to somewhere in Central California?
The Kern Golden Empire website (run by KGET Channel 17) confirms that the 87-year-old Scully, who isn’t calling Dodgers games this week, will make the trek to the city of Taft — specifically at 515 Cascade Place —  to visit a Wiffle ball named in his honor on Saturday, as well as “visit with local children and celebrate the work being done every day in support of the community.” Ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. More information: Westside Parks and Recreation District at (661) 763-4246.

== If you missed the clip of the Dodgers fan who video taped himself catching a home-run hit by Arizona’s Aaron Hill at Dodger Stadium last weekend, it’s at this link. And as Scully said, “It’s the selfie of all selfies.”

== With David Letterman’s late night show coming to and end on May 20, we’ve dug up this Scully appearance on the program from almost exactly 25 years ago — May 11, 1990 when Scully was traveling with the Dodgers in New York.
Move the video to the 25:30 mark to see Scully, then in his 41st season with the Dodgers, drop the word “bitchy” into the conversation.
How Letterman will retire before Scully remains one of TV’s greatest mysteries.

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Play It Forward May 4-10 — Hack-A-Howard vs. Hack-A-DJ, with Reggie Miller back in play

rockets-v-clippersTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

NBA PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
CLIPPERS vs. HOUSTON
Details/TV: Game 1 at Houston: Monday at 6:30 p.m., TNT:

Mayweather Pacquiao BoxingAnother poor choice for Reggie Miller, giving up his TNT courtside seat for Game 7 of the Clippers-Spurs opening round series to Chris Webber so that he could hobnob around the MGM Grand with Charles Barkley and be part of the network posse representing themselves at the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. So now Reggie Roundball wants back in for the Clippers’ second-round series? By all means. Kevin Harlan will be impatiently awaiting his arrival in Houston, since it was the Rockets, who from what information we can gather, who eliminated the Dallas Mavs with just five games in the first round and haven’t played since last Tuesday. That gives them plenty of time to practice their free throws, since it will somehow come down to a Hack-A-Howard versus a Hack-A-DeAndre chess match, which always makes for compelling TV. Houston led the NBA by averaging 114.2 points in its first-round series, but it made just 67.9 percent of its free throws, 15th out of the 16 postseason teams. In the regular season, Houston was 27th overall at 71.5 percent. Only the Clippers (71.0 percent, 28th) were worse among playoff teams.
The series continues with Game 2 at Houston on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., TNT). Staples Center has Game 3 (Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN) and Game 4 (Sunday, 5:30 p.m., TNT).

ALSO THIS WEEK:

The Ducks take their Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal series to Calgary for Game 3 (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., USA Network) and Game 4 (Friday, 6:30 p.m., NBCSN) before coming back to Honda Center for Game 5 (Sunday, TBA) … All 50 in the world rankings’ top 50 are enrolled for the PGA’s Players Championship, which ends Sunday (11 a.m., Channel 4) … The Dodgers’ road trip takes them to Milwaukee and Colorado … The Angels stay home for Seattle and Houston … More at this link.

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