Camera operator Steve Heinz is able to capture footage at the starting line for the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona on Saturday. (Credit: Amanda Busick/NHRA)
Even with its stellar track record, television and technology has its limits when trying to play catch up to National Hot Rod Association.
“It’s a five-sense sport – so is there a way to convey the smell or even the taste of the burnt rubber that’s in your clothes?” asked Frank Wilson, Fox Sports’ vice president of production for motorsports.
Vibrating La-Z-Boy recliners with nitro-scented air fresheners? Crank the volume up to a hundred-and-eleven?
Give Fox and the NHRA enough time, money and creativity, and Pomona could be the gritty petri dish for some high-end sensory overload experimentation.
The weekend’s Winternationals at the Fairplex Auto Club Raceway, leading into a three-hour live presentation on Fox’s national network Sunday afternoon, re-calibrates the next set of milestones.
A sport that has traditionally seen its TV presentation of four-second bursts bundled into a tape-delayed, heavily edited production, often airing hours after the event ended and everyone took out their earplugs, is shifting gears and already seeing results. More at this link …
Former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer is credited with coming up with the all-time line: “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” Joe Torre could be the guy who decides that in baseball, and perhaps in life, getting to second base just got a lot easier.
As pitchers and catchers report to spring training next week, they’ll no doubt be asked to throw out an answer to one of the most silly questions just raised this offseason.
Before the MLB even considers doing away with the Designated Hitter, they’ll discuss a theory that, should a game go past the 10th inning still tied and fans in the stands and watching on TV have become far too bored, a designated runner could be put at second base at the start of each team’s at-bat with the end game of ending the game quicker.
This isn’t just cuing up “purists’ outrage,” as a New York Times headline wants to frame this. It’s not a George Will issue, nor is it the will of the people.
Pure and simple, it’s about who wants to see another outcome predicated on another gimmick? More at this link …
Jiggs McDonald speaks to the crowd during the Kings’ home opener last October, part of the ceremony in celebration of the franchise’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
In addition to this mid-week column about Jiggs McDonald calling the Kings-Panthers game for Fox Sports West on Thursday, we have gathered these notes prior to the weekend:
== Last month, the N.Y. Islanders brought McDonald back to honor him and also thank him for filling in on games after his 2004 retirement. That ended up allowing McDonald to call an NHL game for 50 straight seasons – even though McDonald knew he was doing this Kings-Panthers game back in September.
The last game he called involving the Kings came in the 2003-04 season, when they made a trip to Sunrise, Fla.
“I’ve probably kept up with the Kings more than the Panthers lately,” he said. “I want to concentrate on the Kings so I recognize their lines, their power plays, getting injured players back.
“I’ve always said, ‘Don’t let me embarrass myself and don’t let me embarrass the game by hanging around,’ and if anything happens in respect to my health or my memory or a lack of identifying the team that has the puck, I’d take my leave and say thank you very much.
“I do know the broadcast booth at Sunrise is pretty far to the ice surface, so I just have to remember to watch the monitors.”
== Bob Miller, when asked for his favorite Jiggs McDonald story, relayed this one:
“In his first season with the Kings, at training camp in Guelph, Ontario, owner Jack Kent Cooke told him to find a restaurant that would feed the Kings three meals day for $10. Jiggs finally found a guy who said he would do it for $10.25. Jiggs thought Cooke would be pleased.
“Cooke said to him, ‘Dear boy, do you know the value of a quarter?’ No wonder Jiggs left for Atlanta.”
== McDonald will be the sixth play-by-play man that Kings analyst Jim Fox has worked with this season on a TV broadcast — he’s been with Miller, Gary Thorne, Chris Cuthbert and Ralph Strangis on FSW games, as well as with Randy Hahn for a Kings-Sharks game carried on NBCSN. “There’s always an adjustment to make to the play-by-play man’s cadence and flow and energy, but I have to defer to him because he’s the lead guy no matter who it is and then just play off that,” said Fox, in his 26th season as a broadcaster, coming straight into the booth upon his 1990 retirement and joining Miller.
“When you’ve worked as long as I have with Bob, I don’t have to watch him but can just listen to him to know when it’s time for me to jump in. With each new partner, I just have to formulate a plan on when to speak, and sometimes it means I get a little more conservative as we try to feel each other out.”
== At some moment in the second half of UCLA’s college basketball game against Oregon at Pauley Pavilion (Thursday, 7 p.m.), Dick Enberg and Bill Walton will share a broadcast table.
Oh, m … you fill in the rest. Since UCLA is honoring its former play-by-play man with a pre-game and halftime ceremony, someone thought it would be fitting that Enberg get to be on the ESPN telecast with Walton and Dave Pasch.
Enberg, who turned 82 last month, called eight of UCLA’s 11 national championship seasons in the 1960s and ’70s and is famous for the KTLA-Channel 5 late-night tape-delayed telecasts. After a long career at NBC, CBS and ESPN, covering every major event, he decided to retire from a five-year job he had with the San Diego Padres and move onto new adventures.
But first, a flashback to his days following John Wooden’s wonder years in Westwood.
“It will freshen many wonderful memories — nine years flying solo on KTLA,” said Enberg. “How fortunate. That may never happen again.”
Enberg has worked with Walton before during NBC’s March Madness coverage as well as inviting him into the Padres’ baseball booth before (see video above). Enberg doesn’t expect to get any favors thrown his way by the former Bruins star.
“Knowing Bill, it will be more of an eulogy than a basketball conversation,” said Enberg.
In addition to the TV appearance, Enberg is also scheduled to join Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray on the UCLA radio broadcast (570-AM) in the first half.
Students attending the game will also be handed an “Oh My!” Enberg T-shirt.
Pasch and Walton also have the Cal-Arizona game Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 this week.
How off the presses, the Houston Chronicle proclaims the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
It probably wasn’t even a full hour into Sunday’s Fox broadcast — eight-and-a-half minutes were left before halftime of Super Bowl LI — when play-by-play man Joe Buck dared to let the audience aware: No team had ever come back from a two-touchdown deficit to win an NFL championship.
Really, it didn’t need to be said right then. A comment like that in the regular season could have sent the audience to go flipping channels. Even in the early rounds of the playoffs.
Sure, Atlanta sported a 14-0 lead over New England, and it became 21-0 moments later when Robert Alford returned a Tom Brady interception for a touchdown.
It’s not as if we were going to over to the Bravo channel to see if “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” were about to start ordering party favors. But couldn’t Buck have come up with some alternative facts to capture the moment instead? More at this link …
Also: A chat on the Doug McIntyre KABC-AM 790 show on Monday morning at this link.
Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, center, lets out a yell after the Ducks defeated UCLA 89-87 on Dec. 28 in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
The last time UCLA invited a Top 25-ranked conference opponent to its home court — Jan. 21 against Arizona — it marked the occasion by honoring alum Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom award. The crowd showed some mettle as it tried to stay loud when UCLA fell behind by nine points at halftime, but the Wildcats wore down the Bruins at their own game and ran off with a 96-85 win.
When the Ducks (21-3, 10-1) arrive this week for a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday at Pauley Pavilion on ESPN, the Bruins (21-3, 8-3) pay homage to Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg, who called UCLA games at the start of his career in the 1960s and ‘70s. He will even sit in with Bill Walton on the ESPN telecast and try to get a word in edgewise.
Oh, my. What’s the worst that could happen? More on the week ahead at this link.