Note the team graphic logos from Saturday night’s KTLA-Channel 5 coverage: Maybe they were distracted by all the other stuff going on at Dodger Stadium as well and didn’t quite get which orange team was participating (get your $#!@ together):
So there really is a fine line between hockey and hokey.
They found it, crossed it, circled back, went offside a few more times, and by then it was too late to go back Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
In true NHL-creates-Hollywood-stereotype form, the portable rink they set up for the Kings and Ducks to play apparently wasn’t enough. They had to add a volleyball court in left field, a roller rink at home plate, let some fans on the field to do yoga stretching and Frisbee throwing, then set up a rock stage foaming with dry ice in right field amidst the palm trees.
It was just one bubbling hot tub away from an XFL game. (Ask anyone at NBC with a short memory if they get that reference).
We did fear the worst with an outdoor rinky-dink event like this. It couldn’t possibly live up the hype we kept giving it, right? Especially after the Ducks put two quick goals up on the board in the first period and took the Dodger Stadium crowd out of it, and even a Kyle Clifford-Tim Jackman second-period “brawl” seemed to be as contrived as anything else.
To those who went out, enjoyed themselves, had a rare January Dodger Dog and come home wondering what that Kabuki Theater thing was all about, bless you. If it brought Wayne Gretzky out of NHL hibernation and in front of Kings Nation one more time, all the better.
(Where were the fans, by the way? We hardly heard a peep out of anyone in the crowd, let alone saw anyone there. It’s a huge difference when there are no folks crowded around the glass. Go back to that ’91 game in Vegas. At least they let people see the game up close in grandstands built near the playing surface.)
For those like us who ended up watching at home, confusing NBC’s camera work on KISS with a stadium “Kiss-Cam,” and then logically wondering, “What ever happened to Spinal Tap?” we admit we did miss Bob Miller and Jim Fox on the call (Anson Carter?), but at least we didn’t have to high-stick the traffic coming home.
We asked NHL COO John Collins last week if he worried that this whole event would come off as being too “tricked up” for those watching around the country trying to figure out why people still live in L.A., he replied.: “The core presentation is the game, and once the puck drops, there’s two points on the line and the game is ultimately what matters. I don’t think it’s a three-ring circus.”
But then why did all that other stuff seem to keep getting mentioned, shown, replayed and treated as if it was an essential part of what happened? Even the broadcasters kept wondering if the “pomp and circumstance” had an affect on how sluggish the Kings came out in the eventual 3-0 loss.
There’s got to be some second guessing as to why KISS and its hydrological stage antics were really necessary to be involved in any of this. The real fear had to be which would melt first: The ice, or Gene Simmons’ makeup?
Vanilla Ice might have been less archaic and more name-suitable for this venue. Along with LL Cool J, if you’re trying to tap into someone a little more contemporary with the Grammy Awards crowd chilling out before Sunday’s ceremony.
Can we get another shot of Tom Arnold, by the way? We had him already deceased in our latest dead pool. Thanks for the clarification. Send him over to the volleyball court with all the other burnouts.
At the end of the night, this outdoor game kind of reminds us of the Donald Trump golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes. The surroundings, the weather and the atmosphere are really pretty perfect as it is. But then the orange-haired mogul decided the first hole needed a huge built-in waterfall next to the green. Another hole on the back nine also has a big, noisy water pageantry. Because we need a distraction from the true beauty of the Pacific Ocean view?
There’s no need to re-invent it, then overcharge for the privilege of playing the course. Same for fans who just want to see two So Cal rivals play each other under the stars of a downtown L.A. evening.
Dial it back, focus on the game, and it’s just as cool. Do it again in L.A.? Sure, try the Coliseum next. Or even a more intimate StubHub Center, where the shape is more inclined to watching hockey. Go easy in the ticket prices and parking. And make sure we’re staying green with all this planning.
They just poured some 30,000 gallons of water to make that portable rink, yet they’re telling us to take five-minute showers because California is in dire drought conditions. That’s just the icing on the whole evening.
What made it into this week’s media column, posted on the website:
The media convergence onto Dodger Stadium for Saturday’s Kings-Ducks outdoor game may seem like a fish-out-of-frozen-water experience, but there seems to be more excitement than anxiety related to how it will be covered.
What also could have been included in the notes, but are here instead:
== A Time Warner Cable Sports spokesperson confirmed today staff layoffs took place within its division devoted to local high school coverage on the SoCal 101 channel, but the number of employees involved was not disclosed.
“While the decision to make changes to our local sports operations was a difficult one, it was strictly about better utilizing our resources,” spokesperson Amy Millstone said. “SoCal 101 will continue to honor its existing sports programming commitments and continue to provide in-depth coverage of the CIF. During a transition period, we may have to slightly adjust our programming schedule.” Continue reading
Need a Hollywood primer on what it’s like in the world of outdoor puck?
In the 1999 film, “Mystery, Alaska,” Russell Crowe plays the sheriff of the fictitious small town way up in the Last Frontier, but he may be more well known as the veteran player trying to keep his spot in what’s called the “Saturday Game” – a four-on-four game of pond hockey where the whole town comes to watch.
Eventually, a Sports Illustrated writer (played by Hank Azaria) who is a native of the town does a story about the game. A promoter latches onto it, and suddenly the New York Rangers are dispatched to this place to play a nationally televised exhibition game against the locals, coached by the town judge (Burt Reynolds).
The place is inundated with all kinds of unwanted attention. Even famed hockey studio host Donnie Shulzhoffer (Mike Myers), a spin-off of Don Cherry, is credited with the line: “This is hockey, OK? It’s not rocket surgery.”
This “Mystery” story, co-written by famed TV producer and Kings fan David E. Kelly, is about the closest thing in movie form that conveys some of the simplistic beauty of what outdoor hockey is all about, and how it can get sidetracked by a lot of media attention.
Kind of like the L.A. version of the “Saturday Game” at Dodger Stadium between the Kings and Ducks?
There is a common denominator – Kings analyst Jim Fox, who played himself as a studio host in “Mystery, Alaska,” will be working for the NHL Network on Saturday’s telecast.
Again, as himself.
On our own list of the Top 10 hockey movies we’d watch if they popped up on cable one Sunday afternoon, there’s no mystery — “Mystery, Alaska” makes it easily. In no particular order (unless you’re reading between the lines), we’d also jump on:
== “Slap Shot” (1977):
Sports Illustrated noted once that the late film critic Gene Siskel said his greatest regret when the film was release was giving it a lukewarm review. He later decided it was worth including as one of the greatest American comedy movies of all time. The 50th anniversary issue of GQ magazine in 2007 included it on a list of the “30 films that changed men’s lives.” Paul Newman as player-coach Reggie Dunlop. The Hanson Brothers puttin’ on the foil. Ogie Ogilthorpe. Ned Braden skating in his jock strap. The Charlestown Chiefs will live in silver-screen infamy. (And please, do not locate 2002’s “Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice,” with Stephen Baldwin and Gary Busey, or 2008’s “Slap Shot 3: The Junior League.” Both may include reprised roles of the the Hanson Brothers, but they can’t save either one of these straight-to-DVD sequels from the penalty box for low-shticking). Continue reading
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
KINGS vs. DUCKS at Dodger Stadium, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez sent a tweet out last week, asking for all of those in Los Angeles to pray for rain. “Send down your rains from the heaven in this time of drought,” he pleaded. “California needs rain!” Heavens to Gretzky. We understand the gravity of this request. We’ve been going through the driest winter in years, and the ramifications are already being felt.
But for mercy’s sake, and in all due respect, could the hockey gods divert any wet stuff away from Chavez Ravine this Saturday night, at least for a few hours? When the puck drops for this one-of-a-kind event in L.A. sports history, a full house at Dodger Stadium will be witness to something that could be considered its own kind of religious experience. Especially if there’s no bad weather, or incredible heat wave hanging over everything.
“This is a wonderful day, not only for Kings fans and for Ducks fans, but for the NHL itself,” said Kings Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, who will be in attendance. “It shows how much the game has grown. I remember sitting and watching on New Year’s Days, the games in Buffalo and Philly, in cold and snow, and always said it would be so cool to see it played in Dodger Stadium in 65 degrees (with fans) in shorts and T-shirts. The dream is going to come true.” Dodger Stadium has hosted all kinds of things over its 50-plus years. The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Michael Jackson. The Harlem Globetrotters, championship boxing matches and an Elvis Presley movie. Oh, right, Pope John Paul II also popped by in September, 1987 for a memorable Mass. It didn’t rain that day, either.
Also: The NHL Stadium Series continues when the N.Y. Rangers face the N.J. Devils at Yankee Stadium, Sunday at 9:30 a.m., Channel 4.
BEST OF THE REST Continue reading
Thanks to a great find by a keeper of the game Dennis D’Agostino:
That’s the late Russell Johnson, aka “The Professor” from “Gilligan’s Island” who died Thursday, playing in maybe his second greatest role — as “Rusty,” the Yankees pitcher in the 1956 CBS “Climax Mystery Theater” made-for-TV movie version of “The Lou Gehrig Story.”
(OK, maybe his third greatest. We did enjoy his work in “Attack of the Crab Monsters.”)
From Television City in Hollywood to your YouTube channel, just go to the five-minute mark of this black-and-white gem to see Rusty get all huffy with Bill Dickey about Gehrig’s poor performance. Soon, Gehrig (not played by “Pride of the Yankees” Oscar winner Gary Cooper, but someone named Wendell Corey) steps in to assure Rusty that it was a “my bad” moment. Classy.
(That’s also L.A. legend Sam Balter in the role of the sportscaster.)
Too bad the real Professor, Casey Stengel, wasn’t around to settle this rhubarb.
And if you’ve got the time, watch the whole drama play out on your computer, starting with the Chrysler car ads. Then go to the 59:20 mark to find out how you can give to the “mental health campaign.” Kind of explains who the target audience was for this series.
What made it into this week’s media column, posted Thursday night:
Everyone’s talking about the weather expected for Denver and Seattle this Sunday. If it’s 50 degrees and clear, will that draw fewer viewers? CBS and Fox aren’t so much concerned — wait until the Super Bowl rolls around in early February for the real hand-wringing.
With that, we’re also covering these talks that will open up for a network to nab part of the NFL’s Thursday night game package, a new feature on CollegeInsider.com posting the documentary “Basketball Guru: The Pete Newell Story,” and a condensed version of the Baseball Reliquary’s decision to include Bob Costas on its 2014 ballot, but not Vin Scully.
What wasn’t included but could have easily been incorporated:
== “Pretty much everyone who gets in trouble ends up calling me,” former CBS Sports studio host, former “Access Hollywood” host and former Fox Sports Radio host Pat O’Brien fesses up to Seth Davis in the next installment of the “Seth Davis Show,” which will be posted on Friday at 10:30 a.m. on CampusInsiders.com.
== The Southern California Sports Broadcasters are offering a limited number of tickets for public sale to their 23rd annual award lunch, set for Monday, Jan. 27 at Lakeside Country Club in Toluca Lake. The tickets at $75 each can be obtained through Russell Ono at 805-987-8366. KNBC-Channel 4 sportscaster Fred Roggin is the newest Hall of Fame inductee. Also honored will be former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, Dr. Frank Jobe, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, UCLA baseball coach John Savage (also named this week the 2013 coach of the year by the L.A. Sports Council) and Mater Dei basketball coach Gary McKnight, as well as winners in various radio and TV sportscasting categories.
This original post Tuesday at 7 p.m. was updated Wednesday at 10 a.m.:
The list of 50 candidates made eligible for 2014 induction into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals includes 13 newbies.
One is Bob Costas.
One isn’t Vin Scully.
That revelation isn’t meant to pit one famed baseball broadcaster against another. If anything, both should be candidates based on merits and criteria of the organization, and at this point, it’s a bit more surprising that based on the altruistic goals of the Pasadena-based non-profit, both have not been honored already.
No doubt, over the years, we’ve had our favorites come up for discussion and inclusion by this selection committee appointed by the Baseball Reliquary board of directors. But more often than not, we’ve been more intrigued by who the group has uncovered through spirited research and historical digs that result in the eternilization of those who otherwise would not get their due in the “People’s Hall of Fame.”
At date, the list is already at 45 who have been given their plaques by Reliquary executive director Terry Cannon, and each one can be mighty justified.
It’s just that this latest ballot kind of struck us as a case where … if we were to nicely offer our two cents … and would someone be paying attention that might be open to third-party guidance …
Is there an oversight committee?
The only real guidelines for the ballot construction, as per Cannon’s cannon, is that it be comprised of “individuals – from the obscure to the well-known – who have altered the baseball world in ways that supersede statistics.”
Neither Costas nor Scully have stats to base their impact on the game. Just fan connection that goes deep for both, in different degrees probably. Scully, put into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s broadcasting wing with the Ford C. Frick Award in 1982, has the loyal Dodger fans base as well as a respected network career going back to 1950.
Costas, without a connection to a local team, has an exceptional network broadcasting career for decades on behalf of the game. He’s not in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Frick winner, as network broadcasters are finally getting a bit more of their due and it should only be a matter of time when he is recognized for that.
In the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine, there are several baseball authors and writers. But no broadcasters. Yet. Continue reading
THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
THE GRAMMY ROAD TRIPS BEGIN:
LAKERS at PHOENIX, Wednesday at 6 p.m., TWC SportsNet
KINGS at ST. LOUIS, Thursday at 5 p.m., NBC Sports Net
CLIPPERS at NEW YORK, Friday at 4 p.m., Prime:
Wanna get away? Again?
It’s really sounding like a broken record — those who run Staples Center have blurred lines when it comes to deciding what takes precedent in its building. So what if the Lakers, Clippers and Kings fill all the dates between October and May. When Grammy season arrives, the sound you hear are from the planes taking all those teams as far away as possible. Even though the awards ceremony/circus isn’t until Sunday, Jan. 26, the place needs to be cleared out for dress-up rehearsals and possibly installing new hydraulic equipment for a special Justin Timberlake entrance.
This is the time when Katie Perry’s Roar drowns out Mike D’Antoni’s list of excuses about the latest injuries. When Eminem can be more Berzerk than Clipper Darrell after another Blake Griffin dunk. When Kendrick Lamar has more cred entering the building than Lamar Odom (is he retired yet?)
All this means is that while the Kings have a home game Monday, they’re gone for eight games through Jan. 30. They are 12-8-2 away from home this season so far.
The Lakers are at home Tuesday, then they’re out the door for seven in a row away, until Jan. 28. They’re 6-13 on the road.
The Clippers are home Wednesday, then they beat it for seven in a row on the road, until Jan. 29. They’re 9-10 away from home.
And all the while, Rhianna remains Unapologetic. Ask Matt Kemp about that one.
THE BEST OF THE REST:
Starting a pro baseball career at age 18, right after graduating from Encino’s Crespi High, and making it through 17 big-league seasons, enough to accumulate 140 wins for seven teams, and finding himself on teams that made the playoff seven times and went to two World Series definitely accounts for something.
But the fact remains that with a four-pitch repertoire through a text-book mechanically sound delivery, he simply did what he was supposed to do and succeeded on many levels. Now’s the time when it’s all put into context.
When he officially announced his retirement on this past Jan. 2 – his 39th birthday, and the sixth anniversary of his mother Kathleen’s passing – it brought some closure for his family.
He hadn’t made a pitch for a big league team since he was in San Diego in the middle of the 2012 season. Yet the Calabasas resident has had plenty on his plate the last six years running Soups Sports Grill in Woodland Hills with his wife Dana, as well as taking care of his kids aged 4 and 2.
He explains the process:
QUESTION: What made you decide now this was the time to let everyone know your decision that it was time to retire?