Weekly media notes version 06.05.15 — Remember when Jenner was a real sports media darling?

What’s bound to come up in Sunday’s weekly media column:

Bruce Jenner on the cover of Sports Illustrated -- Aug.9, 1976 -- photo by Walter Iooss Jr.

Bruce Jenner on the cover of Sports Illustrated — Aug. 9, 1976 — photo by Walter Iooss Jr.

Remember back in the day when Bruce Jenner was a media darling?

That is, by the sports media?

Back when everything was “Awrright!” in the world?

In light of all that’s happened to the former Olympic decathlete — things do change — we’ve got some thoughts about how today’s media cycle has redefined the Jenner story, including ESPN’s decision to honor the transformed Caitlin Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at its upcoming ESPY shin-dig set for the Nokia Theater in L.A. Live on July 15.

There’s already been plenty of backlash to that decision. We have more thoughts on whether the ESPY Awards do, or ever have, trivialize things anyway.

More on this from our senior correspondent in media irony, Jon Stewart:

“You see, Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen,” he said. “But now you’re a woman — and your looks are the only thing we care about.”

What’s better suited to be distributed here and now:


== David Caldwell and Tony Moskal have the call on the baseball title games for CIF Southern Section Divison I (Hart vs. Huntington Beach, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) and Division II (Mission Viejo vs. Chino Hills, Saturday at 4 p.m.) for FoxSportsWest.com PrepZone video streaming.
Fred Salas and Jeff Tolcher have the title games for Division III (Redondo vs. Walnut, Saturday at 1 p.m.) and Division IV (South Torrance vs. Serrano, Saturday at 10 a.m.).
For the CIF Southern Section softball championships, Robert Brender and Paul Westphal have the Division I (West Ranch vs. Norco, Saturday at 6 p.m.)  and Division IV (Torrance vs. Highland). Sam Farber and Michelle Schroder do the Division V (St. Bonaventure vs. Garden Grove, Saturday at 12:30 p.m.) and Division VI (Savana vs. Paraclete, Saturday at 10 a.m.).

== Joe Buck, Tom Verducci, Harold Reynolds and Ken Rosenthal have the Angels’ game at the New York Yankees (Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 11).

xxxex== We could pretend to give you the most extensive pieces of information on how Fox Sports — not ESPN — plans to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup starting Saturday. Instead, we defer to Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated. Because he seems to care much more than one should.
“First of all I would say: don’t judge us until you see us on the air,” said David Neal, the executive producer for Fox’s Women’s World Cup coverage and a longtime NBC Sports executive. “I was brought on here three years ago, and brought solely for the purpose to get us ready for the World Cup. Based on my Olympics experience, I will tell you our commitment is at an unprecedented level.”
Fox Sports will do all 52 games of the event, but there’s no real rhyme or reason why some are on Fox Channel 11, Fox Sports 1 or even Fox Sports 2.

== Thanks to “grown man Chick Sarica” and “grown man Bob DeSanzio,” here’s a potential SAP to the NBA Finals that ABC might consider providing with tonight’s Game 1 of the Warriors-Cavs series.
Does it possibly tarnishes the legacy of an L.A. icon who did go by the name of “Chick” during his Hall of Fame career?
It’s also a reminder that Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” return next week.

== We’ve been down this track before.
Since 1919, we are reminded in this NBCSports video, there have been 17 U.S. presidents. And 11 Triple Crown winners. Thus, the odds are better of a horse getting into the White House.

American Pharoah receives a bath from a handler in the Preakness Barn after a workout for the 140th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race, which he eventually won in the rain. (Geoff Burke-USA Today)

American Pharoah receives a bath from a handler in the Preakness Barn after a workout for the 140th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race, which he eventually won in the rain. (Geoff Burke-USA Today)

Mull that over as a possible historic Triple Crown winner could be on display by Saturday afternoon, when NBC covers the latest run by Santa Anita-based American Pharoah as he takes on the field in the Belmont Stakes (race is at about 3:30 p.m., with pre-race coverage at 1:30 p.m. on Channel 4).
A year ago, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos-based California Chrome was all the Triple Crown buzz, until he finished fourth at Belmont. Then the tone of the story — after Tonalist won the race — was how owner Steve Coburn flipped his wig afterward to NBC reporter Kenny Rice about the “coward’s way out” for other rested horses to spoil California Chrome’s day. Coburn went on ABC’s “Good Morning America” — seems he should have gone to NBC’s “Today Show” — and offered an apology.
628x471A year ago, NBC reporter Randy Moss, a former newspaper handicapper who has been covering the sport since 1979, the year after Affirmed won the last Triple Crown,  told us right before the Belmont that “it’s really a battle for me not to get too jaded when we get to this situation … I’ve been at Belmont for all the near misses. Too many times, it doesn’t transpire the way people want it to. I think there’s a keen appreciation for the challenge California Chrome faces. We’re not rooting, but having seen failure so often through so many years, you’d love to see one of these pull it off. And I think California Chrome is a great story and has a fighting chance to do it.”
This week, Moss talked about how those feelings were coming back again. Continue reading

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Kings’ Nick Nickson gets the Hockey Hall call — he’s joining Bob Miller as a Foster Hewitt recipient

i-0373ab8727acc078f193d3298ebfe656-GYI0062132446_crop_450x500Nick Nickson, the Kings’ radio voice for the last quarter century and a member of the organization as a broadcaster about to start his 35th year in the fall, has been named the latest Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner for outstanding contributions to broadcasting, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced in a release today.
That gives the franchise three Hall of Famers — current TV play-by-play man Bob Miller was the recipient of the same award 15 years ago.
Jiggs McDonald, who called Kings’ games from their inception in 1967 to 1972, got the award in 1990 after his career included calling games for the Atlanta Flames and N.Y. Islanders.
“I’m kind of speechless, to be honest,” Nickson said Thursday afternoon. “When you get news like this, maybe it’s a little unusual in my profession to say it, but as a broadcaster, I was speechless when I first got the news.”
Nickson, a Rochester native who moved to L.A. after the calling games for the franchise’ New Haven affiliate, started his time with the Kings in 1981-82 as Miller’s analyst on games primarily for radio but simulcast on TV.
“I remember one day when Pete Weber left (as the broadcast analyst), and Parker MacDonald was the Kings’ head coach,” said Miller. “He told me if I was looking for a new partner, the guy he once worked with in New Haven might work well with me. I gave Nick a call and told him that the job was for a colorman, but he said he wanted to give it a try, to get his foot in the door, and we worked for nine straight years.”
In 1990, when the Kings split their TV and radio teams, Nickson moved to the radio booth and has called games there ever since, currently heard on KABC-AM (790).
He has worked with five different analysts, with current partner Daryl Evans having been there the longest, since 1999.
In addition to that, Nickson has coordinated the team’s radio network, written stories for the team’s media guide and program and hosted the “Kings Talk” post game shows for many seasons.
Nickson was at his Santa Clarita home with his wife Carolyn about to babysit their granddaughter when the call came from Chuck Kaiton, president of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association and the Carolina Panthers’ radio play-by-play man.
“Nick has been one of the most popular radio and TV personalities in Southern California for over three decades,” said Kaiton. “He is extremely worthy of this award and we from the NHL Broadcasters’ Association congratulate him on this distinct honor.”
Miller said Nickson’s honor is a “great accomplishment, because none of us start out in a career — as athletes or announcers — with a goal of being in the Hall of Fame. That’s so far removed from just getting a job and staying with it. But when that call does come, it’s such a great feeling.”
Nickson said the news announced today still feels “out of the blue,” especially when he was out in his car running errands and heard KNX-AM (1070)’s Randy Kerdoon relay the news during a sports update.
Aside from getting a congratulatory call from Miller and his wife, Judy, Nickson said he has heard from many others in the NHL broadcasting fraternity, including Weber, Ducks broadcaster Steve Carroll, and Pat Foley, the Chicago Blackhawks’ broadcaster who won the award last season.
Miller is one of several past Foster Hewitt recipients who are on the selection committee, which includes NBC’s Mike Emrick, who has known Nickson from his days doing Rochester minor-league games.
“There are many names discussed and opinions given and then voted upon, but longevity is one of the important criteria for this award, and that really means something with Nick,” said Miller. “What’s really neat is that Nick’s dad is in his 90s now and we hope he can be there on that night to see Nick get a plaque that will have his picture on it in the Hall forever.”

1403099527000-stanley-cupThe fact that the Kings have won two Stanley Cups in the last three seasons, and Nickson’s calls have been used on many highlights during that span since he was the primary Kings’ voice with NBC taking over network TV coverage and replacing Miller, could have played some role in giving Nickson new-found exposure along with his longevity.
“Maybe the name gets out there and the voice is heard in early June by fellow broadcasters and it turns a light on in their thinking,” Nickson said. “I would like to think it’s all based on my work over a number of years.
“For many years when we were on the West Coast, it felt like we were on an island, long before expansion into the Sun Belt, and before cable and satellite TV and even satellite radio and the Internet. People didn’t get the opportunity around the league to hear each other much. Put that all together, and for all of us in this business, it gives you the ability to be heard quite frankly and you get more of a chance.”
Nickson, who has called more than 3,000 games as a Kings broadcaster, was inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2011 he was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y.
It was also announced Thursday that Bob McKenzie, a longtime writer in Toronto, a former editor in chief of The Hockey News and an “insider” for TSN as well as NBC, was given the Elmer Ferguson award for excellence in hockey journalism.
Kings fans may remember it was McKenzie who wrote, during the 1993 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Maple Leafs, that Kings’ star Wayne Gretzky “looked as though he were skating with a piano on his back.” The line seemed to wake Gretzky up as he had a game-winning OT goal in Game 6 and a hat trick in Game 7 to push the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Final.
Both Nickson and McKenzie will be honored at the Hall during its Nov. 9 ceremony this year.

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Charter subscribers to have Dodgers’ SportsNet LA by Tuesday — at no additional charge

The purported 300,000 subscribers of Charter Communications cable service in Southern California will have access to the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel beginning Tuesday at no additional charge, the company and the team said Thursday morning.

241-6026The move that affects Charter subscribers —  the bulk of which in Southern California make up parts of Long Beach, Pasadena, the West Covina and some of the San Gabriel Valley, Glendale/Burbank, San Bernardino and much of the Inland Empire, Malibu and other parts of L.A. County– also allows residents of those areas who have DirecTV, Dish, AT&T Uverse or Verizon FIOS to change providers if they want access to the Dodgers-owned channel that launched in February, 2014. To date, it has only been available to Time Warner Cable subscribers as well as a small pocket of Bright House and Champion Broadband in the San Gabriel Valley.

SportsNet LA will on Charter’s Channel 44 for standard-def and Channel 789 for high def in the L.A. market. Because the Dodgers’ territorial rights expand to parts outside of Southern California, it will also be on Charter’s systems in San Luis Obispo and Porterville. The SportsNet LA Spanish-language telecast as well as secondary audio that has Korean language service is also included.

“The Dodgers are an iconic franchise and part of the fabric of the community,” said Tom Rutledge, President and CEO of Charter Communications, in a statement.  “We are very excited to be bringing the Dodgers back to Charter customers in the L.A. area.”

On May 26, it was announced that Charter would seek approval to buy out Time Warner Cable in a $55-billion merger, and a promise was given that Charter customers would begin to get the Dodgers channel while the government approval began. No date was given at that time.

The fact that Charter customers will receive SportsNet LA immediately at no extra charge, as confirmed by a Charter spokesman on Thursday, is an about-face change in recent negotiations, brought on by the merger talks.

Before these merger talks began, however, Charter had dug in against Time Warner Cable, along with DirecTV and many other competitors, claiming the reported $5 per subscriber fee was too high and it did not want to pass that on to its customers who were not interested in having that channel added to their system. TWC, as well as DirecTV, have recently added surcharges to customer bills to augment the costs the companies have incurred for sports-related channels that have higher monthly fees based on rising rights fees involved in the negotiation of those deals.

The Dodgers’ deal with Time Warner Cable was reported in early 2013 to be a 25-year contract that will bring the team some $8.35 billion over that period. TWC outbid previous Dodgers’ rights holder, Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket.

The Charter launch on Tuesday will have Vin Scully calling the Dodgers’ home game against Arizona at 7:10 p.m.

Meanwhile, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) took the opportunity to issue a statement again requesting binding arbitration for DirecTV and other cable and dish companies that have yet to accept the Time Warner Cable parameters to adding SportsNet LA.

“I am pleased that Charter Communications will begin carrying SportNet LA, but the work is not done yet,” he said. “Too many Angelenos still won’t have access to the Dodgers because of a 14 month dispute between cable companies over how to provide Los Angeles residents with access to Los Angeles Dodgers television broadcasts.

“I am reissuing an earlier request for Time Warner Cable into enter binding arbitration with DirecTV and others. This would be a fair and fast way to return programming to consumers. Time Warner Cable has agreed to enter into the arbitration process. They have offered to make SportsNet LA available immediately to all fans upon the initiation of binding arbitration. Immediate binding arbitration is the only mechanism that will get the Dodgers games on the air now.”

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Circling back to the ESPN/’Homeless’ Rams players piece on Sunday … a tear-filled bravo

Rams DEs William Hayes and Chris Long went undercover to raise awareness of a life most people ignore. (Courtesy of St. Louis Rams)

Rams DEs William Hayes and Chris Long went undercover to raise awareness of a life most people ignore. (Courtesy of St. Louis Rams)

Without a lot of real context to what was going on here — other than trusting an ESPN press release and a few photos — my blog post last week prior to the airing of Sunday’s “Life on the Streets” piece involving the St. Louis Rams’ Chris Long and William Hayes had many concerns about the intent and end-game for two NFL players pretending to be homeless and mixing it up with a community that may not take well to their “experiment.”
My opinion completely needs a re-write after having watched the nearly seven-minute story, as well as read the accompanying piece by ESPN.com’s Elizabeth Merrill (with the video included).
Yes, the “power of sports,” even as an advertised slogan for a series, can work. Here’s why:
The story was not about a game these two were playing.
“I wonder if we could handle that,” Hayes once told Long as they were on a bus and passed by a homeless encampment.
I’ve wondered that plenty of times myself. I doubt I could. My mind would break down quickly. My will to survive would be crushed. I could see myself not using the situation as motivation to move forward, but to accept this fate.
I’ve tried this, alone, just for an afternoon. It’s self-defeating. But its also a powerful awakening.
With more background, we learn that these two have been donating to a local St. Louis homeless shelter, and Long was almost embarrassed he had never visited it as much as Hayes did.
Long’s narrative was touching, crediting Hayes for shining the light on this and showing empathy. You need a teammate to bring you along. It’s a tough go alone.
Bravely, Long and Hayes had not only the desire to go try it, if only for 24 hours, but come away with an action that spoke louder than their words — finding some temporary housing for a man and a woman who just needed to try to get their dignity back.
Yes, they did have an escape plan if things went wrong. They weren’t stupid. They also had the prep with the social worker who ran the shelter. She was with them the whole way.
Despite preconceived concerns, this finished product can definitely be not just a starting point, but a call to action. That if it takes these two men in the sports world to step up and do something that puts a voice and face on something so tragic, something that most take so much for granted, we’ll back it 100 percent.
Web-DorothyDayPOster-5x6.667There’s a famous quote attributed to The Catholic Worker saint Dorothy Day (even if she may have never said it):
“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
If Long and Hayes accepted it before in some way, or accepted the idea that their donations were a great place to start but really that’s all they could do, then they just raised the bar on awareness about a system that’s not just broken, but can be fixed if enough raise their hand.
If only we knew more before we went and wrote that first post. Maybe it’s like looking at a homeless person on the street and making a judgment without  having all the facts, or circumstances, or thoughts of some redemption. You have to ask politely if you can share the space, talk to those hurting, and find out what they need, not just what you think they need to “fix” it. Long and Hayes did that.
A huge thumbs up to not only putting their NFL paychecks to a worthy cause, but causing the rest of us to think harder about what we can do as well.
Do you think you live in an area without a homeless issue? It’s not just downtown.  The homeless count is rising. Shelters aren’t there. More transitional housing is going away.
Locally, there are groups trying to help. Check out Family Promise, for one. The South Bay Coalition to end Homelessness. The San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.
Learn about how things work. Give your time. Be in the moment.
Should the former L.A. Rams relocate back to the City of Angels, and Long and Hayes comes along for the ride, we’d love to be there to help take a tour of Skid Row, meet the people and listen to their cries for help.

== A follow up by ESPN writer Nick Wagoner

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Play It Forward June 1-7: A Warrior mentality versus a Cavalier attitude

hi-res-1cd75389cad349a348cd10bea1cd25a0_crop_northTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Details/TV: Game 1 at Golden State, Thursday at 6 p.m., Channel 7:
They’ve had more than a week to rest up for this – Steph Curry and Klay Thompson should have their heads screwed back on straight, and LeBron James has lined up all his endorsers for optimal exposure as he’s back to this stage for the fifth straight season. So the wait is over — let either the Warriors win their first title in 40 years, or the Cavs capture their first ever in their 45-year existence. The storylines are abundant, but most focus will be on how Curry, the regular season MVP who averaged 31.2 points and almost shot 50 percent from 3-point range in the Western Conference finals, goes shot-for-shot with James, third in the MVP voting and posting an average of almost a triple-double in the Cavs’ sweep of the Eastern Conference finals. Golden State may have a more-than serviceable spike strip for James in Draymond Green, who has been asked to do this before.
warriors-cavaliers-basketball In December, 2012, Green, a second-round draft pick out of Michigan State and on the Warriors’ bench for his rookie season, was assigned to guard James, then with Miami, during a regular-season game. James failed to score twice with Green on him. After a missed jumper and a turnover, the 6-foot-8 James backed Green down and drew a foul. Then he yelled at Green. “He said, ‘You too little,’ and I hate when people say that to me,” the 6-foot-7 Green told the San Jose Mercury. “So I said something back to him. I think that’s where I gained respect. And it’s mutual.” By the way, in that game, Green also made the game-winning shot, a layup with 0.9 seconds to play. After the contest, James, who scored 31 of the Heat’s 95 points in the two-point loss, sought out Green to congratulate him. “He played hard, it was great competition out there between me and him,” James said. “He knows how to play the game and (Golden State) is a good fit for him. It was good to see him out there.” Maybe now, not so much. During the regular season, James scored 42 points with 11 assists in a 110-99 win in Cleveland in late February. Curry had 18 points in that game, but only six after the first quarter and was 5-of-17 from the field. An injured James missed the prior meeting in early January at Golden State, a 112-94 Warriors’ win where Curry and Thompson combined for 47 points, and Green had 10 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Game 2 at Golden State is Sunday at 5 p.m.

Details/TV: At Elmont, N.Y., Saturday at approx. 3:30 p.m., Channel 4:
It’s the third time in four years that we’ve had a Triple Crown chance and the 14th time since Affirmed did it in 1978. Again, it’s just a chance. American Pharoah will see about turning back as many as nine competitors in this latest attempt in the “Test of the Champion” at a mile and a half. Seven key horses skipped the Preakness to rest up for this one, including the three trained by Belmont-based Todd Pletcher – Materiality, Carpe Diem and Madefromlucky. “I understand,” said American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert said of the loaded field. “It just shows the respect they have … It’’s something you can’t control.  You have to earn it. I’ve seen a lot of great horses leave here and (lose) the Belmont — Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, Funny Cide, I’ll Have Another … you just don’t know.” Maybe American Pharoah’s best shot is praying for rain, like in the Preakness. The problem here could be that American Pharoah has never raced at Belmont before, which gives Pletcher’s Madefromlucky an advantage to some bettors here. The one thing we do now know is how American Pharoah came to be named, even with a common misspelling of “Pharoah.” Marsha Baumgartner, a 64-year-old registered nurse from Barnett, Mo., is apparently the one responsible. In a recent New York Times story, we learned that Baumgartner entered a contest held on the website of American Pharoah’s owners, Zayat Stables, to name a dark bay colt sired by Pioneerof the Nile and Yankee Gentleman. Baumgartner had the winning entry and it was submitted on Jan. 15, 2014 to the Jockey Club. She did not win any kind of prize for it. Except maybe the satisfaction for having some insider knowledge on how things happen in the racing industry.


UCLA must defeat Maryland one more time Monday at 8 p.m. (ESPNU) at Jackie Robinson Stadium, or else the No. 1-seeded Bruins’ baseball season is over. A win pushes them into the 16-team Super Regionals starting Saturday, likely against Virginia, which eliminated USC  … The Dodgers have four games to finish in three days at Colorado before a four-game series over Thursday-Sunday at home against St. Louis (with the Sunday game at 5 p.m. on ESPN) … The Angels win an all-expenses paid trip to New York to face the AL East-leading Yankees to end the week after playing host to Tampa Bay to start it … The Chicago-Tampa Bay NHL Stanley Cup Final best-of-seven starts Wednesday (5 p.m., Channel 4) in Florida ….  More at this link.

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