Media column version 08.15.14: How Ted Lasso loosens up the lackadaisical U.S. soccer folk

In the hopper for this week posted here:
We’ve not seen the last of Ted Lasso.
The Jason Sudeikis characterization of a former U.S. football coach who tries to revolutionize the English Premiere League has been expanded into a new NBC Sports marketing vehicle as the network’s coverage of the sport ramps up again on Saturday. We’ll look at what’s behind the campaign with some of Lasso’s “punditry” and how it continues to draw attention in this week’s column.

What could have been in there but will be more than happy to just exist here instead:

nbc-epl-topps== Don’t let your mom throw these away: Topps trading card company has partnered with NBC Sports to do a card package of EPL commentators. The “Season Starter Kits” have cards for Ted Lasso, as well as Arlo White, Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Kyle Martino and Robbie Mustoe.

== Also note that NBC has snatched the “Men in Blazers” show featuring Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, who started popping up during ESPN’s World Cup coverage earlier in the summer. The two will have a weekly Monday night show on NBCSN.

Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Aug. 11-17 on your sports calendar


Kerri Walsh Jennings and Whitney Pavlik celebrate their 2013 Manhattan Beach Open title.

Kerri Walsh Jenning, right, and Whitney Pavlik celebrate their 2013 Manhattan Beach Open title.

Details/TV: Men’s and women’s final, Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS Sports Net:
2013 Manhatttan Beach Open - ball and logo
Kerri Walsh Jennings, despite having won three Olympic gold medals and becoming the face (and body) of beach volleyball the last decade-plus, still has some work to do. She may have more career victories than any other female beach player in history. She could become the all-time leader in wins, male or female, and if that happens, it would be right around the time when the 2016 Rio Olympics take place. As for the Manhattan Beach Open – the most prestigious and longest-running tournament in the sport – she has won it four times. Pretty snappy, but that’s only fourth all-time on the list of women champs behind Linda Hanley (eight), Nina Matties and Kathy Gregory (seven each). With partner Whitney Pavlik, Jennings won last year’s MB Open, made all the sweeter because her husband, Casey Jennings, took the men’s title with Matt Fuerbringer in an upset over Sean Rosenthal and Phil Dalhausser. The Jennings family will get their bronze plaques put up on the Manhattan Beach pier in a ceremony Thursday that leads into the weekend competition for this 54th event, all the more special since the family lives in Manhattan Beach. This year, Kerri Walsh Jennings will be with current teammate April Ross and should be the top seeds. As the 39-year-old Matt Fuerbringer has gone back into retirement, Casey Jennings has been partnering with Avrey Drost, and the two had a nice showing at the recent FIVB event in Long Beach. Dalhausser-Rosenthal may not play this weekend because of a Dalhausser injury, but it will be a game-time decision. John Hyden and Tri Bourne will likely be the men’s top seed, with Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson seeded second.

The rest of the week includes the U.S. men’s national basketball team trying to get itself together with an exhibition in Chicago against Brazil (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN), the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship in Georgia, the start of the Premiere League and WWE SummerSlam at Staples Center. Read more here.

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Media column version 08.08.14 — Why would KFWB switch to all-sports now? When in Rome …

KFWB1984Southern California proper probably needs another all-sports radio station like the ozone layer needs another hole.
That said, go fetch an umbrella. The unbearable barometric conditions could get weird again. Cloudy with a chance of more meatball opinions pelting down upon us.
Even if KFWB-AM (980) continues to position itself for a morph into what would be the fourth sports-centric station in these parts starting Sept. 1, that shouldn’t translate that into a situation where the sky is falling. The residual effect of this potential hybrid national lineup from the CBS and NBC sports radio networks is that Jim Rome stands to finally have an L.A. radio base again.
Here’s more of Friday’s media column ….

Other notable notes:

== How Dan LeBatard got a four-day weekend from ESPN without giving away another Hall of Fame ballot.

snl_1657_11_Update_JAY== Falling forward: With Stephen A. Smith back from “vacation” on some show that ESPN continues to air called “First Take,” it was anounced Thursday that ESPN and SiriusXM will put “The Stephen A. Smith Show” on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio, Channel 85, starting Sept. 2 at 10 a.m., emanating from Bristol, Conn.

stephen-a-smith-faces-cropped_display_image== Please read the conclusions drawn about today’s quick-to-react media and how thoughtful discourse is compromised in this Aug. 3 column by the New York Times’ Bill Rhoden under the headline: “Stumbling Along in the Race to Be Provocative –Stephen A. Smith’s Comments on Ray Rice Illustrate Problematic Trend in Media Commentary”.
Rhoden writes in part: “When will all of this end? When consumers want it to end. For all the focus on the individuals who create the outrage, the reality is that the histrionics are intended not as much to facilitate debate as to draw, and keep, fans. As competition has escalated, news media outlets have become increasingly obsessed with their audience numbers. We want your eyes, your ears, your wallets. And what does the audience want? Debate? Diatribe? Outrageous behavior?
“Heated debates around polarizing figures and polarizing quotations make for good copy and great TV. But do they lead to positive change? The scandal surrounding Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner, who was secretly recorded making racist comments, brought up a wide range of captivating issues, including blacks working in a team’s front office and players exercising greater influence in team affairs. But has anything really changed?
“If there is a lesson to be learned from the spate of suspensions, it’s that in our zeal to tap new markets and attract new readers, viewers and listeners, we relinquish a sliver of our conscience and our responsibility to at least try to create order out of chaos.
“As we chase dollars, we make progressively less sense.”

This comes a couple of days after ESPN Ombudsman Bob Lipstye did his regular posting about the perils of “embrace debate.”

== For those who missed Vin Scully imitating an umpire taking a foul ball in the sweet spot from Monday’s Dodgers-Angels game. And for those who think a petition will get Fox to allow Scully to call the 2015 All-Star game and World Series.

BuCiDauCYAASjOT.jpg large== Don’t recall much on the TBS broadcast of the Angels-Rays game last Sunday following up on the passing the day before of Pete Van Wieren. A TBS spokesman points out that they did a full-screen graphic in the top of the 7th with Pete’s headshot and play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson acknowledged his passing. Following the game, TBS ran a two-minute package chronicling his career with notable highlights and memorable calls.

== While HBO revvs up its newest “Hard Knocks” reality show featuring the Atlanta Falcons , consider your Los Angeles Kiss. They may have finished their inaugural Arena Football League season recently with a 3-15 mark and losing their last six in a row, but as a reality show fodder, we’ll see how they fare any better with a new 10-episode AMC series, “4th and Loud,” that launches Tuesday at 9 p.m. (or 6 p.m. on DirecTV Channel 254) with many repeats. It’s promoted as a place where “rock n’ roll and sports collide as two of entertainment’s biggest showmen try to once again break all the rules.” The production company, Thinkfactory Media, previously did the show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.”

= If Ted Lasso really was part of the NBC coverage of the Premiere League, we might be more compelled to set the DVR.

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Play it Forward: Aug. 4-10 on your sports calendar

Mike Scioscia has spent more time in an Angels uniform now than a Dodgers' jersey? Hard to believe.

Mike Scioscia has spent more time in an Angels uniform now than a Dodgers’ jersey? Hard to believe.

Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Monday and Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.; At Angel Stadium, Wednesday and Thursday, 7:05 p.m., SportsNet L.A. and FSW:
By the time this anticipated four-game, home-and-home, so-called World Series preview is finished, the Dodgers and Angels will have played each other 100 times in the regular season since inter-league play began in 1997 (yes, it’s been that long). And there’s no denying that the Dodgers  need a few more years to catch up as they’re caught in a traffic jam in the Freeway Series standings (yes, it will take that long). Forget that long-standing exhibition thing they still do before each season. Focus on the fact the Angels have won 56 of the 96 when-it-counts meetings, including 26 of the last 40, and it could be a 60-40 split when this series ends. The pitching-stretched Angels won’t have Jered Weaver available, since he threw Sunday in Tampa — he beat the Dodgers 4-3 last year. But to show how to show how much a difference a year makes, the pitchers of record in those four games played in late May 2013 included Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Robert Coello for the Angels (with Ernesto Frieri racking up two saves) while it was Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Ronald Belisario getting decisions for the Dodgers, and Brandon League netting a save. Former Angels Zack Greinke and Dan Haren will make appearances here for the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw, who hasn’t lost a game since May 28 and seen his ERA drop to 1.71, sports just a 2-2 record against the Angels lifetime in five starts with a 3.74 ERA. He is set to go Tuesday. At least with FSW handling all four games, a city mostly in the dark on other nights can see these all in one shape or form.

la-me-ln-three-marines-stabbed-dodger-angel-fans-20140331The rest of the week includes Tiger Woods paired up with Phil Mickelsen for the first two rounds of the 96th PGA Tour Championship at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., the new-look Red Sox visiting Anaheim, while the Dodgers go to Milwaukee, USC and UCLA starting fall training camp, and Michael Phelps making a splash in Irvine for the U.S. National Championships. Here’s a link to the week ahead.

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Play It Forward: July 28-Aug. 3 on your sports calendar

Details/TV: At Canton, Ohio, Sunday at 5 p.m., Channel 4:
Details/TV: At Canton, Ohio, Saturday at 1 p.m., NFL Network:
The Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies that just took place mark a time to pause and reflect on the specialness of the game at midseason. The Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies, and subsequent exhibition game, that will happen a week later remind us that fall isn’t far away. And we notice some even drooling for it. After seeing more stories lately about the possibility of a team coming back to Los Angeles despite a 20-year absence, catching some of the Dallas Cowboys’ visit to Southern California to limber up in front of hundreds of gawkers, and a growing menu of ESPN programming set up just to allow fans to watch their team’s practices, we believe it’s time to yield to the powerful pull of the National Football League at this moment. So it’s back to Canton, Ohio,  where fame isn’t fleeting, and time to give props to guys like punter Ray Guy, the former L.A. Raiders specialist whose job was damage control when the offense couldn’t get things moving. For that, he’s now a certified legend in the game. Let’s see how far he can kick his bronze bust. New morning TV darling Michael Strahan gets honored as well with Derrick Brooks, Claude Humphrey, Walter Jones, Andre Reed and Aeneas Williams on Saturday afternoon. The next day, they’ll play an exhibition game on the local high-school football field, and Al Michaels will make it sound real.

The rest of the week lays out with the Dodgers playing at home against Atlanta and Chicago, the Angels heading on the road to Baltimore and Tampa, the International Surf Festival on the South Bay beaches and some more soccer, WNBA and even women’s indoor football. Go figure. It’s all here at this link.

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Media column version 07.25.14: The art of the UFC, by Art Davie, and how he sold it to a TV audience some 20 years ago

UFC_Creator_Art_DavieThe book is called “Is This Legal? The Inside Story of The First UFC From The Man Who Created It,” and we thank Art Davie for giving us some time to talk more about all that went into the event more than 20 years ago that spawned what is now the MMA explosion of TV programming.
51-WynqNOcLDavie’s adventures with rejection letters from ESPN and Prime Ticket, as well as from HBO and Showtime, are all part of the process that he reveals with plenty of relish. Davie says he’ll be showing on the Spike TV broadcast of the Bellator fight card from Temecula (Friday, 6 p.m.) to talk about the book with his co-author and MMA play-by-play man Sean Wheelock.

While this is the subject of this week’s media column, other notes worth noting here:

== Erin Andrews, not on Fox’s college football anymore? At least there is some residual effect to her knocking Pam Oliver out on the lead NFL sideline gig.
== It’s Tom Verducci, on Roger Angell, thankfully a link provided via Ed Sherman.
== It’s still a bit of a surprise that the Stanley Cup champion Kings will be getting as much NBCSN exposure for the 2014-15 season — 12 appearances — as Philadelphia, Washington and (ahem) San Jose. But still not as much as Chicago (20), Pittsburgh (19), Boston (17), Detroit (15) or the N.Y. Rangers (14).
== Is it true that the L.A. Times’ Bill Dwyer conveniently left out in his remembrance of Jim Healy this week the fact that Healy used to call him “Journalist Bill”?
== How ESPN plans to cover the 2015 Special Olympics from Los Angeles.
== We always had a bad feeling about teams that named themselves after bad things.

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Play It Forward: July 21-27 on your sports calendar

emily-day-edchan-WSOBV_span7THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
Details/TV: At Alamitos Beach in Long Beach, final matches on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 4:
ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball LogoThis is where SPF number indicates the Summer Party Festival level on your keg of Coppertone. This version of the Long Beach Grand Potpourri follows up on last year’s inaugural event with even more juice — a six-day festival starting Tuesday, kicked up a notch as the FIVB-sponsored tournament attracting more than 120 of the top players in the world going after $1 million in prize money. That includes the usual bump-and-thump American headliners like Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Brittany Hochevar, Sean Rosenthal, Todd Rogers, Phil Dalhausser and Casey Jennings, all of whom are trying to calibrate their games as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil comes more into focus. Throw in all kinds of live musical acts, junior and college competition, co-ed four- and six-person events and the mandatory bikini contest with a $1,000 grand prize, and it’s proof again that the signature sport of Southern California has arrived for its mid-summer fling thing. Or go with what promoter/organizer Leonard Armato calls “the most extraordinary beach volleyball event in the history of the planet.” If parking hassles around the Pike or Convention Center aren’t appealing, Channel 4 also has either a men’s or women’s semifinal match on Saturday (1:30 p.m.), with NBCSN and Universal Sports carrying matches all weekend. More info:

mlb_g_torre_200Also this week: The Dodgers’ road trip continues to Pittsburgh and San Francisco, the Angels are home against two of the hottest teams in baseball — Baltimore and Detroit — the Baseball Hall of Fame has six inductees and the Galaxy get friendly against Man U. at the Rose Bowl. See the rest of the week at this link.

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Media column version 07.18.14: Enough ‘truthiness’ in SportsNet L.A. negotiations

truthinessdefWe fear that we can handle the truth.
It’s just that, five months into this Dodgers-owned SportsNet L.A., we’re still trying to decode what exactly are the reasons why a company like Time Warner Cable can’t get full distribution, as it has been hired by the team to accomplish, and why another company like DirecTV continues to refuse a product that seemingly everyone in Southern California would want.
At the right price.
The “truthiness” of what’s out there and what we believe to be true is what we’ve decided to attack in today’s media column, linked here.

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Play It Forward: July 14-20 on your sports calendar

la_g_puig_kh_600x600THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
Details/TV: At Minneapolis, Minn., Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:

Mike-TroutA well-intentioned lad at something called decided to produce a Top 5 list of reasons why we need to watch this annual exhibition game that continues to mistakenly gives World Series home-field advantage to the league that wins it. Reason No. 5: It’s a major sporting event “that carries a social obligation to care.” Uh, not to get off on a rant here, but that just doesn’t cut it. We’ll give you that it’s Derek Jeter’s last All-Star appearance — the 40 year old playing in his 20th season is making his 14th trip. But what if potential NL starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw faces AL leadoff hitter Mike Trout to star the game. And Trout launches a ball over the head of right-fielder Yasiel Puig, who leaps to try to make the catch and hurts himself. Trout circles the bases for a potential inside-the-park homer, but he’s called out for not sliding. Replay reverses the call. Bud Selig calls it a draw.(Didn’t this already happen in spring training?)
570x375x2014-MLB-ASG-Logo.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Ci6hzeOawVThat’s enough reason to set the DVR. And it also assumes Puig actually plays in the game after his participation in the 29th MLB Home Run Derby (Monday, 5 p.m., ESPN), where there’s plenty of reasons available for him to pull a rib cage when trying to match longballs with Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Yoenis Cespedes and Adam Jones. There’s a reason why Trout, Miggy Cabrera and Jose Abreu aren’t participating in one exhibition but will be there for the other.

golf snapAmong the other things going on this week: The 143rd British Open golf tournament at Royal Liverpool (without a Beatles reunion concert), the Dodgers resume the second half of the season starting a nine-game road trip in St. Louis (with two games carried nationally), Del Mar starts its summer thoroughbred season, the Baseball Reliquary holds another Shrine of the Eternals induction, the Arena League’s Kiss plays its final home game, and the ESPY Awards won’t go away. See more of this on the website.

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Media column version 07.11.14: Aligning the stars, to a point

Vin Scully prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on April 4 before the season home opener at Dodger Stadium. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY)

Vin Scully prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on April 4 before the season home opener at Dodger Stadium. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY)

In a recent column for the Chicago Tribune, Paul Sullivan listed seven things he’d like tinkered with to improve the 85th annual MLB All-Star Game, which Fox will televise on Tuesday from Minneapolis (Channel 11, 4:30 p.m.).
Skipping down to No. 7: Have Vin Scully call the game for Fox. We get enough Joe Buck on baseball and NFL games all year. It’s time to honor the best there ever was.
Buck, in a refrain he’s sang several times before when this topic has come up, would be among the first one to second that emotion.
“Personally, I could consider (yielding to Scully) a career highlight,” Buck said this week. “I once did a radio game with Ernie Harwell when I was about 3 years old, did a game with my dad (Hall of Famer Jack Buck) when I was 4. Getting a chance to say I was a part of a broadcast with Vin and hand over my headset … you’re talking to a guy who gets it and knows that generation of broadcasters. I’m in that age bracket. I realized back when I heard him and Joe Garagiola do the Game of the Week, and I realize now how brilliant the man continues to be to this very day. It would be awesome today (to have Scully come into the Fox booth), but I don’t get the sense he’s jumping to get involved.”
True enough. And that’s what we’ve focused on for the column we’ve pieced together for Friday’s editions.

In addition, we shall note:

== The St. Paul Pioneer Press uncovered Scully’s call of the 1985 All-Star Game, which was played at the old Metrodome. Continue reading

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