About an hour after ESPN seemed to be done with its NBA Draft coverage Thursday night, ABC aired an updated version of “The Gong Show.”
It was a seamless transition.
The longer we played along, the more we came to the realization as the gong mallet hit us between the eyes: At what point does the NBA figure out that the best way to capture the peak of attention is by extending its offseason to as many days, weeks and seasons as possible? More at this link.
The longest day of the year was Tuesday; Wednesday is the summer solstice, providing enough solar energy to entice you into shading yourself with perhaps our shortest list of midweek notes this year, heading into the sports media weekend.
But it’s quality, not quality:
== How ESPN plans to overkill it on Thursday’s 4 p.m. NBA Draft, the 15th year in a row for the network: = Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Michael Wilbon and Jay Bilas are on the main desk. Jay Williams does interviews/analysis. Allison Williams talks to the players after they have been picked. Jeff Goodman is a “breaking news” reporter, with Fran Fraschilla and Tom Penn are also on hand.
= ESPN has a draft preview show Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
= Also: The Pac-12 Network puts up its own NBA draft special following the event at 9 p.m. Thursday where Don MacLean can break down the conference picks with studio hosts Ashley Adamson and Mike Yam, plus reporter Lewis Johnson at the event in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
== NBCSN has the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft as well as its annual awards show Wednesday at 5 p.m., and then the full-on NHL draft on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The net also has Kathryn Tappen and Paul Burmeister, plus Pierre McGuire doing commentary, for Wednesday’s production.
== The Dodgers’ Joe Davis goes to his Fox duties this weekend and lands the Angels’ game at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox (Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 11). AJ Pierzynski and Jon Paul Morosi join the broadcast going to 51 percent of the country, including L.A. Pittsburgh-St. Louis (Kenny Albert-Tom Verducci) and N.Y. Mets-San Francisco (Matt Vasgersian-John Smoltz-Ken Rosenthal) are the other two regional games.
== Fox Sports announced it has added Ray Lewis(aka: “ESPN bust” in some headlines) after his three-year run in Bristol, Conn., mercifully ended. The NFL Pro Bowl linebacker is first going to be inserted on FS1 daily L.A.-based shows starting Sept. 5. It does not appear, for now, that he’ll be part of the “NFL on Fox” Sunday pregame show as a regular. But why should he? The Sporting News reported it first this week.
Maybe he’ll be able to help Jason Whitlock with headgear selections.
David Vassegh, right, with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. (Photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)
David Vassegh isn’t kidding about his kids.
“Some of the players can’t believe it when I tell them I’m a dad,” he said the other day.
The 4-year-old daughter Adriana and 1 1/2-year-old son Joseph son of the KLAC-AM (570) Dodgers reporter/”Dodger Talk” co-host get quality time in the mornings before he heads off to Dodger Stadium each afternoon.
When he’s on the road, like today’s Father’s Day, they learn to make it work with his wife, Tessa.
“Doing this last 6 years, you really do have to have an understanding, loving and supporting wife to handle things when I’m at work,” said Vassegh, who has covered every Dodgers game since the start of the 2012 season. “We reassess this work-and-personal life balance every year, and if she’s at a point where she feels the cons outweigh the pros, I support my family and they’re No. 1. Baseball is my No. 1 sport. But I can’t see myself missing soccer games on weekends or big events in their lives. I take a lot of pride in never having missed a Dodgers game, but that’s all ingrained in me.”
More on Vassegh’s balancing act in today’s media column at this link.
A 20-minute piece scheduled for Sunday’s “E:60” (ESPN, 7 and 9 a.m.) focuses on the father-son story of Michael Lorenzen, the Cincinnati Reds middle relief pitcher from Anaheim, Fullerton High and Cal State Fullerton.
Late in the 2016 season, Lorenzen hit a home run against the Dodgers at Great American Ballpark. It went viral because of how he tearfully reacted.
Lorenzen had just rejoined the team following bereavement leave so he could attend his funeral of his father, Cliff, who led a tormented life of alcoholism and drug abuse but still had the time and passion to coach him in Little League.
Another interesting angle here: The reporter is Will Reeve, the 25-year-old son of the late actor Christopher Reeve, and doing his first piece for the show after doing some “SportsCenter” work.
“Michael’s story, while it’s unique to him, is also universal,” Reeve said Thursday morning. “We all have a father that we try to follow in their footsteps, for better or worse, and there are universal truths in this story that relate to themes of forgiveness and hope after our shared experiences.”
Wrapping up the piece, Reeve and “E:60” host Jeremy Schaap will sit together to discuss the relationships they had with their late, high-profile fathers and how they feel about this Father’s Day in particular.
“We want to explore that emotional space, and give credit to Michael for his raw emotions that he exposes and we were not expecting,” said Reeve. “We are so grateful that he opened up and shared this.”
The Dodgers finish a three-game series at Cincinnati back at Great American Ballpark on Sunday’s Father’s Day (SportsNet LA, 10:10 a.m.), where it might not be all that strange if Lorenzen came out of the bullpen to throw some innings.
== What will be this year’s take-away/extended hang wringing from Fox’s coverage of the 117th U.S. Open from Erin Hills, Wisc.?
It’s just year three of a 12-year deal between the network and USGA, and nothing really has been fairway friendly over that time. This recent GolfDigest.com piece lays that all out, why the contract continues to be scrutinized and what exactly are the Golf Gods trying to do to all of us.
Fox reports to having more than 45 hours of coverage between FS1 and Channel 11 (and Fox Deportes, plus its Fox Sports Go app), with live streaming on USOpen.com and the U.S. Open app. Among those 45 hours, however, Fox is also counting shows that are emanating from the course, like “Undisputed.”
FS1 has a preview show Wednesday (6:30-to-9 a.m.) and live first and second round coverage from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with Channel 11 jumping in from 3-to-6 p.m.
Fox’s weekend coverage starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The technical enhancements are always more intriguing than trying to see what’ll come out from Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Brad Faxon, Curtis Strange or any of the other mismatched talent in front of a live camera. (This year, they’ve added Darren Clarke for international flair).
Drone technology is one area of advancement worth watching for, as well as the “augmented reality” aspects with the graphics to show things the eye can’t normally focus on. All 18 holes can use shot-tracking technology; nine of them have “Trakman radar” that shows a ball tracing with data, with the other nine using “Toptracker” that puts the live ball over video in a “Fox FlightTrack” sequence.
DirecTV also has a 4K service showing featured holes.
Audio — a Fox signature move — will include using more than 200 microphones around the course, much of it picking up player-caddie conversations as well as official ruling discussions.
== You can ultimately judge whether another so-labeled ESPN “30 for 30” three-part piece on the Lakers-Celtics “Best of Enemies” rivalry is/was worth investing five hours of your time spread over two nights.
It’s summer, not much else on, the NBA Finals are over …
And it is Lakers and Celtics with 12 NBA Finals meetings in five decades.
Let the rehash begin (which it does Tuesday night with episodes 1 and 2 from 5-to-8 p.m. and continues Wednesday night with episode 3 from 5-to-7 p.m., and it’s also available on demand)
While we wish more was told about the early 1960s run, there is more attention on the 1980s era that still seems to be an endless loop of highlights, as well as most captured video by the networks at the time. Race is a common theme covered for the West Coast-East Coast components, as are social incidents that happened during this time.
We tend so far to lean with Ben Koo of AwfulAnnouncing.com that a five-hour, two-night commitment is “an awfully big ask,” unless you’re a hard-core follower. He does wonder if it also went “too far back” to study history — the answer is no, you gotta go there.
And the A.V. Club’s assessment that director Jim Podhoretz gives more “scope and context” to the rivalry is cool, but we were also weary of this element, which writer Noel Murray points out: “The opening minutes … aren’t especially promising, and almost seem designed to put viewers off. The doc has two narrators—Donnie Wahlberg representing Boston, and Ice Cube for L.A.—and they speak in first-person throughout, describing a personal connection to their respective hometowns while casually trash-talking each other’s teams. But they’re reading from a script, and the stiff, performative aspect of their fandom is grating at times.”
Besides, who cares what they thought? It’s your filter that matters most. More background from ESPN’s PR department.