Media column weekly notes version 04.10.15 — It’s become a quality-of-life decision: Take us out of the choke hold and we’ll take TWC and SportsNet LA, you filthy #$%&@*s

IMG_3198What’s coming up in Sunday’s media column:

Milton Bradley (left) is restrained by teammates Alex Cora (center) and Steve Finley as he shouts at fans after throwing a bottle back at a fan who threw it onto the field at him in 2004.

Milton Bradley (left) is restrained by teammates Alex Cora (center) and Steve Finley as he shouts at fans after throwing a bottle back at a fan who threw it onto the field at him in 2004.

In July 2013, a judge sentenced former Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley to 32 months in prison and a year of domestic violence and anger-management classes after he was found guilty one month earlier on nine counts that included inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon (a baseball bat), criminal threats and brandishing a deadly weapon.
But he remains free pending a second appeal of his conviction. He hasn’t spent a day in jail.
And his former wife, Monique, died last September of strange physical ailments at age 33.
A haunting Sports Illustrated exclusive covering a 10-year period of the Bradley relationship is included in the new April 13 edition, and SI executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim, who co-authored the story with Michael McKnight, explains how the presentation of the “This Is What Domestic Abuse Looks Like” jarring piece came together in a Q-and-A with us.

Former Dodger Milton Bradley is in a Van Nuys Superior Court on July 2, 2013 for sentencing on his convictions on 9 misdemeanor counts steaming from incidents involving his estranged wife. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Former Dodger Milton Bradley is in a Van Nuys Superior Court on July 2, 2013 for sentencing on his convictions on nine misdemeanor counts steaming from incidents involving his estranged wife. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

What’s worth making a note of here and now:

== Full disclosure: We’ve been wavering internally on how to deal with this whole Dodgers-TWC-SportsNet LA-DirecTV disaster from long before Day 1.
We’ve been asked by plenty of readers for advice. We suggested sitting tight and riding it out.
L.A. sues Time Warner Cable over feesWith this story we did for Sunday’s editions on the distribution mess, we weren’t advocating you do anything illegal, just pointing out that some have creatively circumvented the MLB.tv restrictions and found a way to get the SportsNet L.A. feed through other means.
In a depression situation, you survive by whatever means you can.
We won’t say that Adrian Gonzalez’s three-homer game on Wednesday night was the straw that broke open the pack of Camels that we’ve put aside in case we needed to ease our nerves. But our son living in Pittsburgh and daughter in Portland could comfortably watch that same game on ESPN2. It was blacked out here as well as SportsNet L.A.
What it did was reinforce a tentative decision we made last week, just before Opening Day, that our household has resisted the option to switch to TWC long enough.
Our installation date is on April 15. It was scheduled far enough in advance to cancel it if we had second thoughts.
Right now, we don’t have any.
You’ve broken us down.
Send Bill Cowher over ASAP with his tool belt.
Nothing personal, DirecTV. We’re all in favor of protecting those who don’t want their monthly bills gouged an extra $5 just for a channel they don’t necessarily want. I’ve been a strong advocate for a la carte programming, even if the current bundling is less expensive but more expansive. I don’t blame TWC any longer for outbidding Prime Ticket, and others, for the TV rights to the Dodgers. If they weren’t going to pay this exorbitant amount, then try to pass it onto the viewers, someone else was.
We’re just finished with all this foolishness.
horns-of-a-dilemmaBy dumb luck, we have the means and ability and live in an area where we do have a choice, yet we feel the anguish for those who don’t at this moment.
This is a selfish resolution, based on a quality-of-life issue, plain and not-so-simple.
We could keep waiting it out. We’re stubborn. But we’re also tired.
We can at least accept reality that, for now, we’ll bend. But we aren’t breaking the bank to do this. And we reserve the right to switch back if the numbers add up again.
The TWC promotional bundle currently out there actually makes financial sense when we consider that our household has paid for DirecTV as a separate entity, then had another service for phone and internet. The TWC package deal is reasonably less per month, has a stronger internet than our current Verizon provider and we understand we are substituting what has been premium customer service for one with a reputation that makes it one of the worst cable companies on anyone’s list.
But they’ve got the goods. And we’re hungry enough to bite.
Reluctantly. Regrettably. Not resourcefully.
I’m giving up on NFL Sunday Ticket? I haven’t bought it in years. I’m not a fantasy junkie. This doesn’t tap my veins.
I’m gaining SportsNet L.A. and — what do you know? — the Pac-12 Network. I’m keeping HBO and Showtime as well in the deal.
As a sports media writer, it’s not fair in many ways that I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the quality work that many have put into the SportsNet LA programming during its first year. But as a consumer, I can’t justify adding two TV delivery systems.
We listened to the post-game Dodger talk after Opening Day, and the first caller started to complain about the SportsNet LA distribution issue when he was cut off. The hosts decided that wasn’t what their show was going to be focused on. That’s an editorial decision AM-570 can make, but the fact is, at this point, they’re part-owned by the Dodgers. So you could say the team isn’t interested in hearing fan response on their own radio outlet.
What kind of message does that send?
Besides, the greater problem still isn’t being address in this whole situation. Even if SportsNet LA was available on every cable system, only those who pay a monthly cable or dish bill could afford to see it. Those who can’t afford the luxury of a cable or dish service would still be left in a black hole, unable to see any Dodgers game as it was in the prior Prime Ticket/KCAL Channel 9 construction. Think of all those intercity families who are asked to make a choice between food and cable, between rent or a satellite dish.
n0tjcf-b781263813z.120140210222030000ghq1ifsoq.2This is more moral and demoralization corrupt than anything the Dodgers want to admit to being an accessory of in this scenario, and someday, when this smoke clears, that will be the next debate.
You wonder what the citizens of Brooklyn once may have felt when the Dodgers finally did move away. Out of sight, out of mind. Some never recovered. These Dodgers are at a tipping point, and nothing any team executive says at this point (see this “exclusive” with CNBC where Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten laments that the situation) resonates with the customers. Just stop.
And stop using “if you want to hear Vin Scully” as a marketing ploy in this whole hostage situation.
Take off our blindfold, and give us a cup of dirty water. We surrender.
Unless something crazy happens before tax day, we’re going forward with the switch. Why wait’ll next year, as they used to say in Brooklyn, since we’re not even sure that’s going to come.

The Washington Times June 29 1914 Home Editino page 11 - Grantland Rice poem - w wait until next year== Meanwhile, a decent list of places, via KPCC-FM 89.3, that have hooked into Dodgers’ coverage this season. What’s missing? The Dugout in Simi Valley, for one.

== One downtown news organization lets you know that the MLB commish says he’s talked to L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti about the Dodgers’ TV issues. That’s not news to us (see eighth paragraph).

== Ratings for those who need ratings: The Dodgers’ opener had as many watching on TV than in the stadium, unless you were in an unmetered bar or restaurant or dorm room, and you weren’t counted.

== What do you make of this full-page ad taken out in Monday’s edition of the L.A. Daily News’ sports section, about “who owns Vin Scully”?

== Through Change.org, you can support a statue build in Scully’s honor, to be created by someone, and placed somewhere, at the cost of who-knows-what. Got any spare change?

== A Q-and-A with the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, via PRI radio.

== Tommy Lasorda signs copies of his new book “My Way,” along with author Colin Gunderson, during a special event at Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Matador Field, prior to the CSUN-UC Santa Barbara baseball game. A game ticket ($8) is necessary for entry, and book copies are for sale at the site. Lasorda also signs his book at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove in L.A. on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 9: It’s something Mo’Ne Davis may want to at least skim before she writes her next chapter

San Marcos pitcher Ghazaleh Sailors, left, and Birmingham High Pitcher Marti Sementelli have the distinct honor of breaking down one of baseball's gender barriers, becoming the first females to start against each other in a high school baseball game. Birmingham Sementelli pitched her way to a 6-1 victory.  (John McCoy/staff photographer)

San Marcos’ Ghazaleh Sailors, left, and Birmingham High’s Marti Sementelli were the first female to start a game on the mound against each other in a high school baseball game. Sementelli pitched her way to a 6-1 victory. (John McCoy/Daily News staff photographer)

The book: “A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball”
The author: Jennifer Ring
The vital statistics: University of Nebraska Press, 353 pages, $29.95
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com

51WpBmx1arLThe pitch: It was March 5, 2011. For the first time in U.S. history, two high school baseball teams faced off and each had the audacity to have a girl as their starting pitcher – Marti Sementelli for Van Nuys’ Birmingham High, facing Ghazaleh Sailors of San Marcos High.
“It didn’t hurt that the game took place in media-obsessed Los Angeles, between two highly rated large urban schools,” Ring writes in the introduction to this book. “More than a thousand girls in the Untied States play high school baseball on ‘boys teams,’ but the story would not have had such an impact if it had been a game between two small-town schools.”
Perhaps.
It didn’t hurt that Sementelli pitched a complete-game 6-1 victory, giving up two hits. Sailors gave up two runs and three hits in her three innings.
“Both girls pitched beautifully,” Ring continues, “but the attitude of the press with whom I sat was the same bewildered astonishment that characterized news stories about girls playing baseball in the early twentieth century and still dominates news coverage of girls who play baseball today.”
Isn’t that right, Mo’Ne Davis?
1D274907243406-today-mone-memoir-inline-141117.blocks_desktop_mediumWhile Davis’ Harper-Collins published biography came out this month – and why not, since the 12-year-old continues to create buzz for her athletic skills that were on display in last summer’s Little League World Series? – this is one that she might want to thumb through to gain a little more perspective for what’s in front of her, if not completely read it if she has the time to plow through these 17 chapters. Sixteen of the pages are on Sementelli, who last season was pitching for NAIA-affiliated Montreat College in North Carolina, but she has now joined the school’s softball team. Sailors was a junior pitcher and second baseman for the University of Maine-Presque Isle and, according to the NCAA, was the only female playing NCAA baseball in 2014.
Ring begins this with the premise that no matter how good they were, “all the girls who grew up” to play on the 2010 USA Baseball Women’s National team “were told to leave baseball at age twelve and to find another sport. Most obliged. A few refused.”
Ring knew this from some degree of experience. Her daughter, Lilly, was a member of that national team in 2006, ’08 and ’10, “but I knew her story couldn’t possibly be unique,” she writes in the preface.
Encouraged to pursue a book that chronicled the lives of 11 players from the U.S. national women’s baseball team from her 2009 project, “Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball,” Ring diligently does it in a methodical approach that, because of its repetitiveness, nearly loses the affect it may have intended.
These aren’t so much inspirational stories about how each female has endured on an otherwise male-only team, and they are often written too simplistic, as if to be included in a Parade magazine story. It’s likely just a product of the author’s inability to take more than just a clinical approach to each story, considering Ring’s expertise is as a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.
It’s not as if these “voices” don’t need to be heard. They do. Including on where else maybe they find their niche in sports, if they don’t want to be defined as a baseball player and might, in the growth process, figure out they’re better in other sports.
01sarahLike the chapter on shortstop Sarah Gascon, the Rancho Palos Verdes native who somewhat in passing mentions she played for the Eastview Little League in San Pedro. Ring never get around to document what high school Gascon attended (Mary Star, as a three-sport star) before she went on to take a volleyball scholarship at Southeastern Louisiana. Gascon currently is trying to stay with the U.S. Olympic handball team.
If the purpose here is to advance the cause of females in baseball, so that the next time two girls face off in a “boy’s baseball game” somewhere in a large, medium or small town it’s not some odd occurrence, that’s very admirable. But it will take a lot better prose to capture and inspire a generation of young readers who may have to soon decide whether they really want to stay on a baseball path from youth sports to high school and beyond, or simply feel they’re worthy enough to pick a different field of expertise and not default that softball is the only option.

Also:
== Daily News staff writer Jill Painter’s piece on the 2011 game between Birmingham and San Marcos in 2011. Compare it to one by the L.A. Times’ Bill Plashke.
== A more compelling piece by John Walters piece for Newsweek last year about how “Baseball Can’t Truly Be America’s Pastime Until It Lets Women Play”
== The link to the U.S. National Women’s Baseball team

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 8: What constitutes a Dodgers-certified Hollywood Star these days? It can’t be the same as 50 years ago

The 1979 game when Robin Williams played in the Hollywood Stars Game -- and ran the bases backwards.

The 1979 game when Robin Williams played in the Hollywood Stars Game — and ran the bases backwards.

The book: “Bats, Balls, and Hollywood Stars: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Baseball”
The author: Joe Siegman
The vital statistics: Educator’s International Press, 124 pages, $34.95
Find it: On Amazon.com, on Barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com.

jacket.aspxThe pitch: The Dodgers’ 2015 pro-
motional calendar
includes all kinds of giveaways — 10 bobble-
heads, an assortment of fleece blankets, collectable pins, caps, T-shirts … all the usual stuff that will get people to come through the metal detectors.
And then there’s  return of the Hollywood Stars Night, set for Saturday, June 6, prior to the Dodgers-Cardinals game.
We’ll believe it when we see it.
An event that was once a signature event on the Dodgers’ calendar didn’t necessarily jump the shark — although Henry Winkler could have been there to do it — but it wasn’t as important in the Frank McCourt Era after he purchased the franchise from Fox in the early 2000s.
In 2004, McCourt, who “appeared to know nothing about Hollywood Stars Night,” as Siegman writes in the final chapter of this coffee-table sized book, had told Siegman and  partner Jack Gilardi, orchestrators of the annual event since the mid-1960s, that their services were no longer needed. It had devolved into something of an MTV-type B-list celeb softball game, and the Dodgers’ in-house staff could easily take care of booking it.
Or not.
In 2010, Siegman and Gilardi were asked to come back and plan a Hollywood Stars Night, to be played in August. But two weeks before it was to happen, it was canceled. Then it was pushed to the final weekend of the season. Then it was dropped altogether.
“The game has ended,” Siegman writes, “but the memories linger on.”
Those memories, in words and more importantly photos, are pulled together by the entertainment publicist and producer who could call on his connections to bring all kinds of Hollywood hotshots onto the field to play what was actually a decent brand of baseball.
Siegman explaines that the genesis of the event came from a Hollywood Entertainers League made up of actors, agents, writers, publicists and friends that played competitively in the early 1960s, getting together at the Mandeville Canyon High School or Hamilton High School fields on Sunday mornings. With the help of the Dodgers’ marketing guru Danny Goodman, the event became a Dodger Stadium regular event and grew in popularity during an era where it was Hollywood hip to be into baseball. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 7: Man up with Matheny’s ‘manifesto’ … or else don’t

Mike Matheny, right, meets Don Mattingly before the Cardinals-Dodgers 2013 NLCS.

Mike Matheny, right, meets Don Mattingly before the Cardinals-Dodgers 2013 NLCS.

The book: “The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life”
The author: Mike Matheny, with Jerry B. Jenkins
The vital statistics: Crown Archetype Books, 224 pages, $24
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnesandnoble.com, at Powells.com

B9Bhq2OIIAMMtO5.jpg largeThe pitch: You’re familiar with “The Dodger’s Way to Play Baseball.” Al Campanis wrote the book on that more than 60 years ago.
So now consider the Matheny way, for those who didn’t grow up with such a guidebook to how the game is played.
In the three years since Matheny took over for the retired Tony LaRussa as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 World Series championship season, the franchise has been to three straight National League Championship Series, won two NL Central Division championships and played in a World Series.
As a player, Matheny caught more than 1,300 games over 13 seasons, five of them in St. Louis. And desipte a less-than-stellar .239 lifetime career batting average, he won four Gold Glove awards as a catcher, and played in the post-season three times – all with St. Louis, in 2001, ’02 and ’04.
Even with a series of serious concussions that led to his playing career ending when he was 35, we give him the benefit of the doubt that he has forgotten more about how the game is played than we’ll ever know.
But what this “Matheny Manefesto” proves is that he’s remembered plenty enough to get it down in writing and boil it down to what matters most.
You can’t emphasize enough how much a parent of a Little Leaguer – or any youth sport participant – needs to face the cold, hard facts of what Matheny first lays down and then explains about how the game should be played.
The book is the byproduct of a five-page, single-spaced letter he once wrote in 2008 to a group of parents who had asked him to coach their kids’ team. The team included Matheny’s own 10-year-old son.
Yet Matheny had one problem – the parents. And he told them so, in not just a pointed presentation, but one that explained why he felt the way he did.
“Dear Fellow Parents:
“I’ve always said I would coach only a team of orphans. Why? Because the biggest problem in youth sports is the parents …”
Oh, that’s going to go over well. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 6: More than 100 ways to look up who’s on first on Opening Day… and where does Matt Kemp play again?

IMG_3157The book: “100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball”
The author: The staff of “Who’s Who in Baseball” and Douglas B. Lyons
The vital statistics: Lyons Press, 204 pages, $24.95
Find it: On amazon.com, on barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com

919yy4MAxdLThe pitch: The coverboy of the 2015 edition of this annual red, black and silver, ink-drenched newsprint magazine/book that now is requesting a $9.95 fee is the Angels’ Mike Trout.
Last year, it was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the front.
One hundred years from now, we hope it looks, and reads, just as dopey and stale as it does today.
Anytime anything lasts 100 years, it’s worth a celebration. This book may not rise to the occasion to make such a milestone memorable, but maybe based on its track record, that’s all we should have been expecting.
The forward by Marty Appel, adding the historic context to this annual project that simply alphabetizes the basic statistical information you’d find on the guy’s baseball card or BaseballRefence.com profile, turns out to be the most enlightening part of this whole publication.
Otherwise, the annual year in a review that Lyons writes in retrospect of each year, and the season that the coverboy had to merit his elevated status, leaves a lot to be desired. Continue reading

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