Tom Hoffarth

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Play It Forward, May 14-20: Justify can justify a favorite position for the Preakness

Ranking the top 10 sports events May 14-20 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: HORSE RACING: THE 143rd PREAKNESS STAKES

Details/TV: At Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Saturday at approx. 3:20  p.m., Channel 4Justifiably so, the NBC analysts were soaking in Justify’s Kentucky Derby mud-throttled triumph moments after it happened with all the verbiage they could muster.

“It’s not that he just wins, it’s how he wins,” said Jerry Bailey of the Santa Anita-based 3-year old who had not raced in his 2-year season. “He went the third-fastest half mile in Kentucky Derby history and still had enough to draw off. The sky is the limit for this colt.” Added Randy Moss: “We can’t say right now if Justify is good if not better than (recent Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah, he has more work to do … but we were more impressed with Justify’s Kentucky Derby win than we were with American Pharoah’s. All four of Bob Baffert’s previous Kentucky Derby winners have also won the Preakness. It’s hard to see (Justify) losing.”

Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic will be the main challenger, but those who ran on the first Saturday of May but are passing on this include Bolt d’Oro, Audible, My Boy Jack, Instilled Regard, Hofburg and Mendelssohn. There’s also Quip, the Arkansas Derby runner-up who skipped the Kentucky Derby to be fresh for this event. It’s 9-1/2 furlongs (one and 3/16 miles, shorter from the 1-1/4 miles in Kentucky), and $1.5 million at stake. After this, the final jewel of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park in New York on June 9.

NO. 2: NBA PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 1: WARRIORS at ROCKETSDetails/TV: At the Toyota Center in Houston, Monday at 6 p.m., TNT

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 2: CAVS at CELTICS Details/TV: At TD Garden in Boston, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN

Chris Paul … he looks familiar, but we can’t place him. We’ve heard he’s now the choice for Nickelodeon to host their “Kids’ Choice Sports 2018” show from the Barker Hanger at Santa Monica Airport. Before the Rockets, who had the most wins in the regular season, get slimed out of the playoffs by two-time defending champion Golden State, they will have considered it some sort of triumph for Paul, who left the Clippers to join the Rockets last summer. He has been in the playoffs 10 straight seasons, but this is his first appearance past the second round.

Also this week in the Western Conference finals: Game 2 at Houston, Wednesday at 6 p.m., TNT; Game 3 at Oakland, Sunday at 5 p.m., TNTAlso this week in the Eastern Conference finals: Game 3 at Cleveland, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN

NO. 3: NBA DRAFT LOTTERY

Details/TV: At the Palmer House Hilton hotel in Chicago, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Give it up for the Lakers, back in this pingpong ball situation with the 10th-worst record and nowhere to go. If they somehow get that 1.1 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, it will go to Philadelphia. If it’s Nos. 2 through 5, it goes to Boston. If it’s Nos. 6-30, it also goes to the Sixers.

Which is why the Lakers’ deal with Cleveland, landing them the No. 25 overall choice, is the only ticket they get to the first-round party. The Clippers, with the 13th-worst record, have a 0.6 percent chance of getting No. 1 and 2.2 percent chance of a top three pick. Then again, based on the Blake Griffin trade, they will get the Detroit pick (likely No. 12) if it lands outside the top four.

Phoenix (25 percent chance at the top pick), Memphis (19.9 percent), Dallas (12.9 percent) and Atlanta (12.8 percent) have the best odds of No. 1, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, the Pac-12 Player of the Year as a 7-foot freshman, considered to be the prized choice. The 2018 draft is at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on June 21.

NO. 4: WNBA OPENER SPARKS at LYNX Details/TV: At Target Center in Minneapolis, Sunday at 2 p.m., ESPN2

The Sparks and Lynx are linked forever in this era of WNBA existence. Minnesota won its fourth title in seven seasons with a series-ending Game 5 triumph last October over the Sparks, with Sylvia Fowles as the Finals MVP with a 17-point, 20-rebound performance.

This, a season after the Sparks won a controversial Game 5 Final on the Lynx’ home floor to clinch the 2016 title. The principal players return – Candace Parker, Alana Beard, Nneka Ogwumike, plus the addition of Cappie Pondexter. The Sparks were the last WNBA team to repeat as champions in 2002.

NO. 5: MLB: ASTROS at ANGELS Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Monday and Tuesday at 7:07 p.m., Wednesday at 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports West

The Angels won two of three against the reigning World Champs in Houston less than a month ago, with the only loss coming against Justin Verlander. He was 4-0 at the time but hasn’t posted a win since then, even though he’s lowered his ERA to 1.21. Verlander’s next start is due in the final game of this series.

Also this week for the Angels: At Angel Stadium vs. Tampa Bay, Thursday and Friday at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 6:07 p.m., Sunday at 1:07 p.m., Fox Sports West

NO. 6: MLB: DODGERS at NATIONALS Details/TV: At Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Friday and Saturday at 4:05 p.m., Sunday at 10:35 a.m., SportsNet LA

A Max Scherzer-Ross Stripling matchup for the opener of this series isn’t as tantalizing as Scherzer vs. Clayton Kershaw that happened last time the teams met at Dodger Stadium in late April. Scherzer won that matchup and has sprinted out to a 7-1 mark with a 1.69 ERA. In his last start, the two-time defending NL Cy Young winner struck out 11 in a win over Arizona.

Also this week for the Dodgers: At Miami, Tuesday and Wednesday at 4:10 p.m., Thursday at 9:10 a.m., SportsNet LA

NO. 7: COLLEGE BASEBALL UC IRVINE at USC Details/TV: At Dedeaux Field, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network

LONG BEACH STATE at UCLA Details/TV: At Jackie Robinson Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Saturday night, Mike Gillespie will be inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame. But first, he visits the USC home field one last time with his UCI team during his final season of coaching. Then, USC ends the week with a three-game set against No. 3-ranked Oregon State (Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Sunday at noon, Pac-12 Networks)

Also this week for UC Irvine: At Anteater Ballpark vs. UC Riverside, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for UCLA: At Washington, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Goodwin Field in Fullerton vs. Cal State Northridge, Thursday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., ESPN3Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Cal State Fullerton, Thursday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., ESPN3Also this week for UC Riverside: At UC Irvine, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Long Beach State: At Blair Field in Long Beach vs. UC  Santa Barbara, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Pepperdine: At Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Eddy D. Field in Malibu vs. Portland, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Loyola Marymount: At Page Stadium in Westchester vs. Grand Canyon, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Page Stadium in Westchester vs. Saint Mary’s, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

NO. 8: CYCLING: 13th TOUR OF CALIFORNIA: FINAL STAGE Details/TV: At Sacramento, Saturday at noon, Channel 4

The final 88 miles goes around the state capital, a flat route expected to see a sprint to the finish. Stages 2 (Monday, from Venture to Santa Barbara), 3 (Tuesday, King City to Laguna Seca), 4 (Wednesday, Morgan Hill in San Jose), 5 (Thursday, Stockton to Elk Grove) and 6 (Friday, Folsom to South Lake Tahoe) air on NBCSN. The women’s three-stage race goes from Thursday to Saturday.

NO. 9: MLS: LAFC at PORTLAND Details/TV: At Providence Park in Portland, Saturday at noon, Channel 11

So the LAFC has produced a payroll of $13.4 million, a record for an expansion team. Doesn’t it already seem to be paying off? It could actually be in first in the MLS Western Conference when this game ends.

Also: FA Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Manchester United, Saturday at 9:15 a.m., Channel 11

NO. 10: NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALSGAME 2: GOLDEN KNIGHTS at JETS Details/TV: At Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Monday at 5 p.m., NBCSN

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 3: LIGHTNING at CAPITALS Details/TV: At Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., Tuesday at 5 p.m., NBCSN

It’s no sure bet Las Vegas, already down 1-0 to Winnipeg, will make it to the Stanley Cup Final, but it sure is making it interesting. The Golden Knights have “become a focal point at Las Vegas sportsbooks, populating video boards in a way the NHL never has before,” according to an ESPN report that quotes Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay as saying: “Whenever the Knights are playing, we have to put them on the main screen with audio. This is the first time that we’ve featured hockey games over the NBA playoffs.”

Also: IIHF World Cup of Hockey Championship in Copenhagen, Sunday at 11 a.m., NHL Network

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/13/play-it-forward-may-14-20-justify-can-justify-a-favorite-position-for-the-preakness/

Media: Donna Moskal all about family at home and work

Donna Moskal’s role as a live sports TV broadcast stage manager doesn’t necessarily translate to the way a stereotypical stage mom might do things. Sometimes, it just looks that way.

Does the broadcaster have his tie on straight? No food in the teeth and hair looking good? Does she need a bottle of water or a cup of hot tea to fend off a cold?

Now, look into this camera, you’re on in three, two, one …

“I’m not sure they like to think I’m mothering them,” Moskal said with a laugh as she kept a rolled-up stat sheet in her right hand while sitting on a break in the Dodger Stadium stands a few hours before Thursday’s Dodgers-Reds contest. “But it’s really not that much different than making sure the kids have their homework done and are dressed nice before they go to school.

“It’s just what a mother does. It’s just what I do.”

It’s what this Santa Clarita working mom of four, the last of whom is about to graduate from high school and give the family three in college at the same time, has successfully navigated for the past few decades.

If Mother’s Day on Sunday is a moment to celebrate and thank those maternal influences in our lives, at least consider picking up a bouquet for those in the sports media business like Moskal, whose MacGyver-esque instincts kick in at home and at work to figure out on the fly how to iron out all that could become a wrinkled mess before the red light goes on.

For most of the year, Moskal manages the booth for the Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket home telecasts of the Kings’ and Clippers’ contests. But in her 24 years of doing this, she’s also had the packages that include the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Sparks, Galaxy, college football and basketball, and, just recently, the LAFC, for either a local or national telecast.

More freelance assignments fill out the summer, such as this weekend when Fox Sports Ohio has her handle the Cincinnati Reds’ pre- and postgame shows as the team visits the Dodgers.

Donna Moskal, a stage manager for the Los Angeles Kings' Fox Sports West telecasts, works freelance for the Cincinnati Reds Fox Sports coverage at Dodger Stadium. (Keith Birmingham/SCNG)
Donna Moskal, a stage manager for the Kings’ and Clippers’ Fox Sports West telecasts, works freelance for the Cincinnati Reds Fox Sports coverage Thursday at Dodger Stadium. (Keith Birmingham/SCNG)

Even if the finale of this four-game series falls on Mother’s Day, Moskal is game to go.

What makes it a bit more special is Moskal’s oldest daughter, 24-year-old Kendall, a first-grade teacher in North Hollywood, will also be on the field near her working for the Dodgers Crew. That’s the team’s hired help to corral the kids who run onto the field with the Dodgers’ player at the start of the game, and then orchestrate fan contests throughout the day for the video boards.

The other three of Moskal’s children – Brendan, 22, a junior soccer player at Simpson University in Redding; Brianna, 19, about to transfer to Cal State Northridge to study kinesiology and athletic training; and Derek, 18, graduating from West Ranch High School this month before going to Arizona State with hopes of getting into sports broadcasting – know where Mom will be on this holiday.

Saturday night, Moskal also planned to have her own mother, Patricia Mobilia, who lives in Northridge, come out with her to Dodger Stadium for an early Mother’s Day celebration.

“It’s always been about family for us and that’s what I want to make sure that’s important for all of them,” Moskal said. “Everyone’s into sports, and they think what I do is pretty cool. So they’ve all had the chance to come out to games, run on the field, sit in the dugout, come into the booth. It’s just part of our lives.”

The village it takes

Moskal gives plenty of credit for creating balance in parenting to her husband, Tony, a “very involved dad” who has been in the education business for 30 years. He currently teaches college career seminar and a sports broadcast journalism class at Golden Valley High in Santa Clarita, as well as coaching the boys and girls golf teams.

When the four kids were younger, Tony would take the handoff from Donna once he got home from work at 3 p.m., which was about when she needed to head out to the arena or ballpark. She pre-made dinners with all the instructions, and still didn’t miss her assigned car-pool duties.

“It may not work for everybody,” she said, “but it’s worked for us.”

A triple-OT Ducks playoff game against Detroit might not get her home until 3 a.m., but she would be up by 6 a.m. after most night games to begin the day with the family.

“Her organizational skills are ridiculous,” said Tony, noting he is represented by purple on the color-coded calendar attached to the refrigerator that maps out who, what and where everyone has going that day – from sports games to visits to the allergist.

As the kids have become older, Tony has been able to do more night-time work as a game analyst for high school events for Fox Sports’ PrepZone. His mother, Kathy, is also nearby to help cover.

Only occasionally have things gone a little sideways at the intersection of work and family. Donna recalls having to leave in the middle of a Kings telecast when Brendan had complications from an ACL surgery and Tony had to take him back to the hospital.

Because of the relationships she has with the teams and their personnel over the years, she’s been able to pull off any emergency-type situations.

“We’ve got so much trust and understanding after all these years, it’s all second nature,” said Jim Fox, the Kings’ TV analyst since 1990, just a couple of years before Donna joined the crew.

“And from the times when she’s brought her family up to visit us, you can tell she’s also set some great guidelines and principles for them to live by. Every parent strives to set an example, and she not only has done that, but she’s lets go enough to let them learn on their way as well.”

Donna Moskal, far right, celebrates the Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup victory with, from far left, daughter Kendall Moskal, Kings broadcaster Bob Miller, daughter Brianna Moskal, husband Tony Moskal, son Derek Moskal, Kings broadcaster Jim Fox and son Brendan Moskal. (Photo from the Moskal family)
Donna Moskal, far right, celebrates the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup victory with, from far left, daughter Kendall Moskal, Kings broadcaster Bob Miller, daughter Brianna Moskal, husband Tony Moskal, son Derek Moskal, Kings broadcaster Jim Fox and son Brendan Moskal. (Photo from the Moskal family)

Kings’ Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller said Moskal is someone “I truly miss working with” since his retirement in 2016.

“I was always happy to see her in the media room at Staples Center because she always brightened up the room with her cheery and pleasant disposition,” Miller said. “It was a comfort to know we were in good hands with her in charge of that part of the telecast. Donna and her entire family are well grounded, and she amazed me by doing this while raising four kids and keeping up with their school activities.”

All in the family

After playing basketball and softball at Granada Hills High, Donna Moskal put in a year of softball at the University of Oklahoma before earning a broadcast journalism degree at Cal State Northridge, hoping to be an on-air talent like Jayne Kennedy or Gayle Gardner.

An internship at the old Prime Ticket in the 1990s gave her more insight into the business and all it had to offer. After Moskal’s first child was born, Prime Ticket executive producer Pat McClenahan advised her to focus on raising her young family as he helped coordinate freelance stage manager work for her.

She’s managed it well all these years later.

“I still have people ask me, ‘You have four kids?’ said Moskal, recently named Volunteer of the Year at West Ranch High, where all her kids attended. “I’ve always thought of myself as a mom first and my career was second.

“I think now about how raising kids goes in phases, and they need their parents to change with each phase. When my kids were in elementary school, I had one year where all four were together, and it was important to me that I was home when they got home from school. And some weeks were busier than others at work.

“Once they hit high school and sports, they were busier than I was. I tried to work my schedule around them. What I learned most from my mom was the value of the time we have together while they are young. Whether it was them sitting having lunch and me just sitting there too, maybe talking, maybe not, it was just about being present.

“Now it’s a very transitional time. But you know, you’re never done being a parent, no matter how old they are.

Reach Tom Hoffarth at tomhoffarth1@gmail.com and follow him @tomhoffarth on Twitter.

Measuring media mayhem

What smokes

* NBCSN’s daily coverage of the Tour of California, starting with Stage 1 in Long Beach (Sunday, 1 p.m.), brings back Phil Liggett with Paul Sherwen and Christian Vande Velde, plus reporters Jens Voigt and Bob Roll.

* NBC Sports’ annual coverage of the Premier League’s “Championship Sunday” with 10 matches on 10 networks, all starting at 6 a.m., could be highlighted by Arsenal against Huddersfield on MSNBC. Main network NBC takes Liverpool vs. Brighton & Hove Albion, with NBCSN taking Newcastle vs. Chelsea and USA Network handling Manchester United vs. Watford.

What chokes

* At a time when ESPN might want as much transparency as possible in how it will operate under a new president, the network said through editorial board chief Kevin Merida it would no longer have the public editor/ombudsman role, saying it has “outlived its usefulness” since real-time social feedback serves that purpose. Created in 2005, the position was last held by Jim Brady before it ended in March, about the time John Skipper left as the network president. In his last column, Brady wondered if new president James Pitaro would have the same commitment to journalism as Skipper.

* It’s official: The ESPN “Sunday Night Football” team officially consists of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Lisa Salters. Could have fooled us. It reads more like the crew for an SEC Network Saturday afternoon telecast from Oxford, Miss., but that’s where this package has gone in losing its luster. Their first game together will be the Rams’ season opener vs. and Jon Gruden and the Raiders in Oakland in a 7:15 p.m. kickoff Sept. 10, the first time in ESPN’s 13-year history of doing a Monday night doubleheader that the A-team takes the later game. No word yet on who the B-team will be.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/12/media-headline-goes-here-for-donna-moskal-column/

Play It Forward May 7-13: Tour of California cycles through Long Beach for starters

Ranking the top 10 sports events May 7-13 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: CYCLING: 13th TOUR OF CALIFORNIADetails/TV: Stage 1: Circuit loop that includes Shoreline Drive in Long Beach, Sunday at 1 p.m., NBCSN

We accept that things tend to run in cycles. Tech stocks. Flannel shirts. Kayne West. But we’re not sure why the cycling community has waited 11 years before deciding to recycle to Long Beach for what has become the most important bike-sport event on U.S. soil.

The first 83 miles applied to the 654-mile run will come from a 12-lap circuit race that retraces some of the tire-skidded pavement used at the recent IndyCar spectacle. The loop will also pass by the Pike, show off Rainbow Lagoon Park, go as far east on Ocean Avenue to Belmont Plaza Pool, divert up to 4th Street and the Art Theater and then return to cover as much scenic ground as possible.

One other quirky thing about this year: While stops in downtown L.A., Pasadena and Santa Clarita have been traditional stage events, this will be the only traditional SoCal place to watch in person year. Stage 2 jumps to Ventura and it all ends up in Sacramento on May 19.

Three of the sport’s greatest riders have confirmed reservations — Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), who won the last three world championships and holds the Tour of California record for most stage wins with 16 as well as most days in a green jersey (40, including five last year and eight in 2016).

They will be joined by Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), the American who won the race in 2013. The chain-reaction of competitors doesn’t include New Zealander George Bennett, the men’s defending champ who decided to ride in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia, which started Friday and runs through May 27.

More info: https://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/route-2018/2018-route-overview

NO. 2: MLB MOTHERS’ DAY GAMES TWINS at ANGELSDetails/TV: At Angel Stadium, Sunday at 1:07 p.m., Fox Sports WestREDS at DODGERS Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Sunday at 1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA

No mom wants to be asked to pick her favorite child. Nor should she have to decide which team she wants to root for most on Mother’s Day while the guys are wearing pink wristbands and auctioning off their pink bats. The Angels and Dodgers present a bit of a dilemma this year, on purpose or by accident, by each having a game this day. If it matters, the Dodgers are offering a free cosmetic bag; the Angels have a fancy sun hat giveaway.

Also this week for the Angels: At Colorado, Tuesday at 5:40 p.m., Wednesday at 12:10 p.m., FSW; At Angel Stadium vs. Minnesota, Thursday and Friday at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 6:07 p.m., FSW

Also this week for the Dodgers: At Dodger Stadium vs. Arizona, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA; At Dodger Stadium vs. Thursday and Friday, 7:10 p.m. and Saturday at 6:10 p.m.

NO. 3: MLS: MINNESOTA UNITED FC at LAFC Details/TV: At Banc of California Stadium, Wednesday at 7 p.m., YouTube TV.MLS: NEW YORK CITY FC at LAFC Details/TV: At Banc of California Stadium, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., FS1

Can the new place handle two contests in five days? Now is the time to test its structural integrity, as well as its fans’ ethical ingenuity.

Also: Galaxy at FC Dallas, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., UniMas.

NO. 4: NBA PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

GAME 5: JAZZ at ROCKETSDetails/TV: At Houston, Tuesday at 5 p.m., TNTGAME 5: PELICANS at WARRIORSDetails/TV: At Oakland, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT

Did you see the other day when Lisa Beverly, the mom of Clippers guard Patrick Beverly, won $41,000 in prizes on “The Price is Right,” including two cars and a six-night stay in Madagascar? “Wow is all I can say!” Patrick Beverly wrote on Twitter. “I’m hyped like it was a playoff game!!” Ah, the playoffs. Before coming to L.A. in the Chris Paul trade, Beverly was used to being in the postseason. Maybe he can watch the TNT coverage in Madagascar as the Western Conference finals near.

NO. 5: GOLF: 45th THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP Details/TV: At TPC Sawgrass in Point Vedra Beach, Fla., Thursday through Sunday, Golf Channel and Channel 4

Tiger Woods, who won this in 2013 as well as 2001, and 2007 winner Phil Michelson are the headliners committed to this $10 million-plus event, but not as famous as the course’s 137-yard par 3 17th island hole. The scoring average there: 3.225, with no eagles, 16 percent birdies, 12 percent bogeys and 9 percent double-bogey or worse.

NO. 6: WOMEN’S WATER POLO: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP Details/TV: At USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Sunday at 6 p.m.

No. 1 USC (23-1) outlasted No. 2 Stanford 13-12 in overtime to win the MPSF tournament last week, yet the defending NCAA champion Cardinal is the only team this season to defeat the Trojans. In Tuesday’s first round, UC Irvine must defeat Pomona Pitzer (7:30 p.m.) to move on and face Stanford (Friday, 6:30 p.m.) in the quarterfinals. Also Friday, USC takes on the winner of UC San Diego-Wagner (3 p.m.), followed by No. 4 UCLA vs. Pacific (4:45 p.m.). A USC-UCLA matchup can happen in Saturday’s 6 p.m. semifinal.

More info: https://www.ncaa.com/sports/waterpolo-women

NO. 7: NHL PLAYOFFS EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS GAME 6: CAPITALS at PENGUINS Details/TV: At Pittsburgh, Monday at 4 p.m., NBCSN

The two-time defending champions from Pittsburgh currently have 11/4 odds to win the Eastern Conference and 11/2 odds to be a three-time Stanley Cup hoister. Tampa Bay remains the favorite to do both (8/5 and 15/4 respectively) according to Bovda.lv. We all know this series will most likely go seven games, meaning one more at Washington (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN).

NO. 8: SUMO WRESTLING: 18th U.S. OPEN Details/TV: At the Walter Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus, Saturday at 1 p.m.

So there’s a fellow named Byambajav Ulambayar, a 6-foot-1, 353-pounder from Mongolia who is the four-time World Sumo heavyweight champion winning gold in 10 of the years he’s competed in the U.S. Open. His record over that time: 104-5.

One of his top challengers is Roy Sims, a 6-foot-5, 380-pounder from Hollister who had some time in college football and the Arena Football League but needed a job with some stability. So he tried sumo. He won the 2015 U.S. Sumo Open and last year, he defeated 11 opponents – but not Ulambayar.

More info: https://www.usasumo.com/us-sumo-open/2018-us-sumo-open/

NO. 9: COLLEGE BASEBALL LONG BEACH STATE at UCLADetails/TV: At Jackie Robinson Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Three of the top spots in the D1Baseball.com rankings coming into last week included UCLA (No. 7, up from No. 9), Oregon State (No. 3, up from No. 5) and Stanford (holding at No. 2). The 49ers, if the rankings went that far, probably wouldn’t make in the Top 49, so here’s a chance to make a statement.

Also this week for UCLA: At Washington, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for USC: At Washington State, Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Long Beach State: At Blair Field vs. UC Santa Barbara, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for UC Irvine: At Cal Poly, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Matador Field vs. Fresno State, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; At Matador Field vs. UC Davis, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Goodwin Field vs. UC Riverside, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for UC Riverside: At University of San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Cal State Fullerton, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Pepperdine: At UC Santa Barbara, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at Saint Mary’s, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Loyola Marymount: At Cal State Bakersfield, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Santa Clara, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at noon.

NO. 10: UFC 224: AMANDA NUNES vs. RAQUEL PENNINGTON Details/TV: At Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday at 7 p.m., pay-per-view, FX, UFC Fight Pass

The bantamweight women’s title fight features Brazilian native Nunes, against the U.S. defender. Brazilian male fighters are also all the rage, with Ronaldo Souza (185) and John Lineker (135), plus a head-to-head 185-pound match up of challengers Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida. Every other fight also features a Brazilian competitor, except for the second women’s main-card event that pits Americans Mackenzie Dern and Amanda Cooper at 115.

More info: http://www.ufc.com/event/UFC-224

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/06/play-it-forward-may-7-13-tour-of-california-cycles-through-long-beach-for-starters/

Media: How a Dodgers high-five raises objectivity concerns

What’s so wrong with the optics of a sports TV reporter celebrating with a manager after a historic event takes place?

Nothing, apparently.

And everything, mostly.

SportsNet LA cameras captured its own field reporter, Alanna Rizzo, on the receiving end of a high-five from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts at the conclusion of Friday night’s combined no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico.

The immediate reflex here was to report it as a bad-look, mixed-message via Twitter. The response evolved into an interesting social (and sometimes anti-social) discussion on what should matter versus what doesn’t seem to be all that important any longer.

Maybe this was just one of those tipping points that reinforced a theory we have suspected all along – fans want fans calling and reporting on their games. To embrace their leanings. Especially if you’re a team-owned channel and have the ultimate final call on how to control your message.

A consensus from a stream of pro-Dodgers followers seemed to be that Rizzo should be allowed to react as a person who works for the team and this was all OK because she wasn’t “cheering in the press box.”

To be fair, the SportsNet LA camera in the aftermath of the celebration first focused on Roberts extending his hand to someone out of view. Quickly, it was apparent Rizzo was on the receiving end.

She could have returned the gesture as a natural reflex, based on their relationship, or left him hanging, perhaps extending her hand for a more professional shake before going off to find her interview subject. Had she done the latter, the irony is that video would probably have gone viral and had fans calling her out.

Yet, mainstream media members – taught back in Journalism 101 to keep a healthy, objective distance so as not to compromise one’s fact-gathering abilities – will often call out others in their profession on public faux pas that could undermine all their credibility. It is an integral and internal check-and-balance mechanism.

Perhaps we just assumed Rizzo fell into that category. Our mistake.

This also shouldn’t be taken as a direct hit on Rizzo – it would have been just as much a violation if David Vassegh, the team reporter for the Dodgers-co-owned KLAC-AM 570, was seen doing the same thing. Even more egregious if it was a Los Angeles Times or Southern California News Group representative.

If it was Orel Hershiser or Nomar Garciaparra or Jerry Hairston Jr., it would have looked less bothersome to most since they were former players, but still in the SportsNet LA corral. A homer is a homer is a homer.

It boils down not so much on how one defines their role, but more through what prism the media consumers want to view them.

From this mini-experiment, the bottom line seems to be the fans accept this is a team-owned channel, and those covering the team on this network shouldn’t be confined by standards of other journalists.

Maybe that’s not fair to someone like Vassegh, for example. Or even John Hartung, the former KABC-Channel 7 news anchor who came over to SportsNet LA to be the pre- and postgame show host and also do some play-by-play. Ned Colletti, as another example, does an exceptional job as a studio analyst with a down-the-middle perspective.

We seem to recall as well Vin Scully – not to go deep old-school here – prided himself on a call that would not identify him favoring one team or another. That resonates with some. Not all.

That can lead us also on a side trip on what play-by-play broadcasters do during a no-hitter in progress. Friday, the Dodgers’ Joe Davis and Hershiser had to mention the no-hitter because of Roberts’ history of removing young pitchers based on a pitch count even during an historic moment like this.

In the past, Davis and Hershiser have been open about reporting no-hitters, even joking about the “jinx” factor. Reports are the San Diego TV broadcasters Friday night were also not hiding the no-hit information – because it involved the opposing team. Were it a situation that a Padres pitcher was throwing it, as happened earlier this season, the call would have been a different story – much like it will always be with the Angels’ Victor Rojas, who refuses to mention the event and, as a result, makes himself part of the story.

In a time when viewers tend to show loyalty to an MSNBC or Fox News depending on what they want to hear, that only becomes more be amplified when it comes to local sports. Objectivity is less important than feeding an emotional need.

“She’s a Dodgers reporter, a damn good one too!!” read one Twitter response about Rizzo. “She bleeds blue like the rest of us.”

So you can apparently have it both ways if you just close your eyes, click your blue heels, and wish it hard enough.

Reach Tom Hoffarth at Tomhoffarth1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @tomhoffarth

MEASURING MEDIA MAYHEM

WHAT SMOKES

* The Dodgers’ first appearance on Facebook Watch on Thursday – a 5-2 win at Arizona – logged 1 million views (anyone watching for more than three seconds) with a high of about 44,000 at one point, had 189,000 reactions (people who “liked” or did some other registerable click) and saw some 28,000 comments posted. The comments may have been the most entertaining aspect of the whole experience.

Among those we were quick enough to pull in and document before they vanished off the screen:

Donald Archuleta: My dad just called to ask me what channel Facebook is …

Lynn Camomile: Hate that I have 3 big flat screens, an MLB subscription and Sling TV – and I’m having to watch this on a laptop computer or phone!

Keiko Van Meeteren: Who wants to watch on FB? Not me, kind of a rip off to Spectrum customers who don’t want or need FB. Might have to take some getting used to. I have Spectrum for the only reason to watch Dodger games! PERIOD.

Marina Gonzalez: Sad day when you have to watch you baseball team on Facebook, on your phone. Irony is I’m happy I get to watch.

Also interesting is that SportsNet LA could have replayed that MLB Network-produced game Thursday night for those unable to access Facebook Watch during the day. The network decided not to do it.

* Chris Marlowe and Kevin Wong call the finals from AVP/FIVB Huntington Beach Open beach volleyball event Sunday for NBCSN at 1 p.m. Tanith White is part of the team as a courtside reporter.

* Sam Gore, Holly McPeak and Holly Rowe call the ESPN coverage of the NCAA women’s beach volleyball championship from Alabama (Sunday, 11 a.m., following coverage of the second semifinal at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2).

WHAT CHOKES

* Hard to knock the process by which NFL Films and HBO decide whom to recruit for their annual “Hard Knocks” documentary series. But as the Chargers are one of six teams eligible for their “mandatory” appearance, “they have not come up once” in discussions, according to a league source. Noting the Rams’ inclusion in the 2016 series documenting their move from St. Louis back to Los Angeles, the source added: “Going back to L.A. twice in three years isn’t want the executives and producers want.” Teams can beg out of inclusion if they have a first-year head coach, went to the postseason the past two years or appeared on the show in the past 10 years. Aside from the Chargers, those eligible to be picked (expect a decision in the next couple of weeks) are Cleveland, San Francisco, Denver, Baltimore and Washington. The GMs for the Browns and 49ers have already publicly lobbied to get a pass. Chargers GM Tom Telesco has said he wouldn’t object. Don’t knock it ’til you tried it. Look what it eventually did to the Rams’ success and Jeff Fisher’s future earnings.

* Peter King has divested himself from Sports Illustrated after nearly 30 years, signing a more secure deal with NBC that includes taking his “Monday Morning” NFL column to NBCSports.com starting in July. The 60-year-old founded The MMQB microsite in 2013, an expansion of the Monday Morning Quarterback column he has written since 1997. He joined SI in 1989 to write the “Inside the NFL” column. At a time when SI’s iconic brand is in the process of staff defections, less frequent print issues and questionable ownership status, it’s connecting the dots to assume King is merely leaping from one melting iceberg to the next. NBC has a working relationship with the NFL; SI did not and could give their reporters more freedom to criticize.

And then there are these Twitter responses from syndicated columnist Norman Chad, who for years has referred to King as everything that’s wrong with “insider” journalism and problematic relationships: “Peter King’s conflicted-of-interest, factually-challenged, hidden-agenda-driven MMQB column is moving from Sports Illustrated to NBC. #JournalisticCrimePays #NowTheOnlyReasonToReadSIIsTheSwimsuitIssue

Chad added: “Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Stone: ‘Peter King, in my opinion, is one of the five most important figures in SI history.’ Uh… He’s not even one of the five most important figures in line at Wienerschnitzel. #SomeoneNeedsToInvestigateTheHistoryOfHisReporting

Without the cloak of SI, King could be even more exposed to problematic relationships with the sport he covers.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/05/media-how-a-dodgers-high-five-raises-objectivity-concerns/

Play it Forward April 30-May 6: Bolt D’Oro, Justify could be Kentucky Derby favorites

Ranking the top 10 sports events April 30-May 6 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: HORSE RACING: 144th KENTUCKY DERBY

Details/TV: At Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Saturday at approx. 3:30 p.m., Channel 4

Britney Eurton, the TVG reporter who will be part of the NBC telecast for this roses run, knows about what it’s like having a rooting interest in this event. Eurton is the daughter of former jockey and current trainer Peter Eurton, and, in 2014, she experienced a thrill ride where her dad’s horse  Dance With Fate, a dark bay colt that Corey Nakatani. It rallied to a sixth-place finish in a tight pack at the end.

“Our first and only Derby,” she said, “and unfortunately, we ran into California Chrome. But we were still so proud. It’s nice when you’re working at TVG on a daily basis, you know the connections well and, from a personal standpoint, you can relate to the emotions and excitement they feel in this kind of moment.”

With that experience, the 30-year-old with an MBA from USC says if she’s putting money down in this year’s race, stick with Santa Anita-based Bolt D’Oro and Justify. Even as Instilled Regard, My Boy Jack and Solomini are also So Cal trained, her choices come with some reservations.

“Usually, in a field of 20, you can throw out 10 of them who won’t win, have a few others who might hit the board, but it’s easy to whittle it down to three or four,” said the Brentwood resident who grew up in Glendora and attended Bonita High in La Verne. “This time, you can make a case for over half the field. Bolt D’Oro is my No. 1 right now – post position could change everything – because he strikes me as the horse with the mentality and demeanor to handle a big day like this. He’s been known as a cool customer. Justify might be called the next (2015 Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah, with one of the most seasoned trainers behind him (in Bob Baffert), and I can’t knock a single thing Justify has done so far. But I put Bolt is just ahead of him. People may say it’s my West Coast bias, but I just see Bolt aiming to peak at this time.”

NBC’s coverage runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. NBCSN airs prep races from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. More info:www.kentuckyderby.com

NO. 2: MLB: DODGERS vs. PADRES

Details/TV: At Estadio Sultanes de Monterrey in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Friday at 6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA; Saturday at 4:10 p.m., FS1; Sunday at 1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA (ESPN blacked out in L.A.), also all on Fox Deportes.

Here’s where the Dodgers consider activating Fernando Valenzuela and Julio Urias, if only to have them roll out the ceremonial first pitch and then warm up in the bullpen to freak the Padres out. If you’re not certain about making the 1,500-plus mile trip from L.A. to this city a bit south of Laredo, Tex., off Interstate 10, note that the Dodgers’ Pantone 294 fan club is scheduling an excursion for the Saturday game and may offer carpools. This also ends a season-long 11-game road trip.

Also this week for the Dodgers: At Arizona, Monday-Wednesday at 6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA; Thursday at 12:40 p.m., Facebook Watch

NO. 3: BEACH VOLLEYBALL: FIVB/AVP HUNTINGTON BEACH OPEN FINAL

Details/TV: At Huntington Beach Pier, Sunday at 1 p.m., NBCSN

Pro beach volleyball returns to the Huntington Beach Pier this week for the FIVB/AVP Huntington Beach Open. The main draw starts on Thursday, May 3, 2018. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Pro beach volleyball returns to the Huntington Beach Pier this week for the FIVB/AVP Huntington Beach Open. The main draw starts on Thursday, May 3, 2018. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The AVP makes its season-opening event a global festival, an interesting teamwork setup bringing in FIVB to invite far more than just U.S. domestic stars to Surf City. That means Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and  double Olympic medalist April Ross gets some spotlight with Brazilian 2015 world champions and Rio 2016 Olympic medalists Agatha Bednarczuk and Bruno Schmidt, Italy’s Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist Paolo Nicolai, Canada’s current FIVB World Ranking leader Sarah Pavan … But still no Kerri Walsh Jennings? Or is she tied up with “Dancing With The Stars?” The event starts with single-elimination qualifying Tuesday and Wednesday (starting at 8:30 a.m.) with the main draw 48 teams kicking off Thursday (8:30 a.m.). Amazon Prime Video has live streaming. More info: avp.com and fivb.org

NO. 4: VOLLEYBALL: NCAA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Details/TV: At UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN2

The 24-7 Bruins, on their home court, could meet No. 1 overall seed and Big West champion Long Beach State (26-1) for the title on Saturday afternoon if things break right. UCLA must first defeat visiting Harvard (Tuesday,7:30 p.m.) and then knock out No. 2 BYU, which defeated the Bruins in the MPSF finals last April 21. That UCLA home match against BYU would be a 7:30 p.m. national semifinal on Thursday, after the 49ers face the winner of the UC Irvine-Ohio State play-in at 5 p.m. For reference, Long Beach State knocked off UCLA twice in one weekback in Feb. 17-21 in a home-and-home series. The Pyramid in Long Beach is the site for the 2019 NCAA championships. More info: https://www.ncaa.com/ interactive-bracket/ volleyball-men/nc

Also: NCAA beach volleyball championship at Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday at 11 a.m., ESPN. Semifinals coverageSaturday at 2 p.m., ESPN2. UCLA (35-3) won the Pac-12 championship over two-time defending national champion USC (24-12) More info: https://www.ncaa.com/sports/ beach-volleyball.

NO. 5: BOXING: GENNADY GOLOVIN vs. VANES MARTIROSYAN

Details/TV: At StubHub Center in Carson, Saturday at 8 p.m., HBO (11 p.m., delayed)

This was where Golovkin was supposed to take on Canelo Alvarez as the most anticipated fight on this year’s calendar in a Cinco de Mayo classic. But then Alvarez ran into some problems (a six-month suspension resulting from a failed drug test) that might be resolved at a later date. Meanwhile, the man from Kazakhstan (37-0-1, 33 KOs) will put his undefeated world middle weight title up against two-time challenger and Glendale resident Martiroysyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs). Triple-G has proven to be a Southern California favorite, selling out the Forum twice in 2015 and ’16, and setting the StubHub attendance record in ’14. This is Golovkin’s first non-PPV fight since ’16 and it will be his 20th straight middleweight title defense.

NO. 6: MLS: FC DALLAS at LAFC

Details/TV: At Banc of California Stadium, Saturday at 1 p.m., Univision

The second of four in a row at their LAFC home base, and based on the debut game, why would anyone want to play anywhere else?

Also: Galaxy at Houston, at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet; UEFA Champions League semifinals second leg: Real Madrid at Bayern, Tuesday, 11:45 a.m.; Roma at Liverpool, Wednesday, 11:45 a.m.

NO. 7: MLB: ORIOLES at ANGELS

Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Tuesday-Thursday, 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West

As Albert Pujols closes in on career hit No. 3,000, we don’t want to sound like a calloused blister, we are itching to see Shohei Ohtani throw against the Orioles at home on Tuesday night.

Also this week for the Angels: At Seattle, Friday at 7:10 p.m,; Saturday at 6:10 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m., FSW

NO. 8: NBA PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS GAME 2: PELICANS at WARRIORS

Details/TV: At the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT

Nice time for Steph Curry to finally make his 2018 playoff debut, and the rest will be history. He has not played since suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee on March 23.Also in the Western Conference: Utah at Houston Game 3, Wednesday at 5 p.m., TNT

NO. 9: NHL PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS GAME 3: GOLDEN KNIGHTS at SHARKS

Details/TV: At the SAP Center in San Jose, Monday at 7 p.m., NBCSN

The experts tell us that whomever prevails here will just get eaten alive by the winner of the Winnipeg-Nashville series for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. We’re not so sure.

Also in the Western Conference: Nashville at Winnipeg Game 3, Tuesday at 5 p.m., CNBC

Also: IIHF World Championships: U.S. vs. Canada, Friday at 7 a.m., NBCSN; U.S. vs. Denmark, Saturday at 11 a.m., NBCSN

NO. 10: COLLEGE BASEBALL: UCLA at UC IRVINE

Details/TV: At Anteater Ballpark, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

The Anteaters’ 8-1 win at then-No. 13 UCLA last April 17 should be a wake-up call that they’re not backing down. Now the Bruins go to UCI to see if that was just a blip. UCI packs in a Pac-12-like schedule to finish the week by playing host to Oregon (Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at noon).

Also this week for UCLA: At Arizona, Thursday at 6 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Also this week for USC: At Dedeaux Field vs. Cal, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Long Beach State: At UC Riverside, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Riverside: At San Diego State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Riverside Sports Complex vs. Long Beach State, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At UC Davis, Friday at 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At UC Santa Barbara, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Pepperdine: At Fresno State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu vs. San Francisco, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.Also this week for Loyola Marymount: Off week.

ALSO:

WORLD SURF LEAGUE: FOUNDERS CUP OF SURFING

Details/TV: At the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch in Lemoore, Saturday and Sunday, Channel 2

At a giant wave-machine pool just south of Fresno, 25 of the world’s best converge for a first-of-its-kind event. Five teams of three men and two women, representing the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Europe and a catch-all World Team, are up for the challenge of the longest open-barrel, man-made wave in existence. More info:www.worldsurfleague.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/29/play-it-forward-april-30-may-6-bolt-doro-justify-could-be-kentucky-derby-favorites/

Hoffarth: The latest on the Dodgers and their TV fiasco

And with that, your complimentary five-game simulcast package of Dodgers’ SportsNet LA games on KTLA-Channel 5 for 2018 went away after Saturday night’s game in San Francisco.

For better or worse, Spectrum Sports hasn’t decided about partnering up on more games later in the season, because it all depends on what its marketing department feels is important. It may feel a bit sorry for the Dodgers and want to reinforce its branding message – Spectrum remains the team’s exclusive carrier – or it could just leave things alone.

It all depends.

First, depending on what numbers you want to believe, 90 percent of all homes in the Dodgers’ designated TV market area (DMA) actually have access to Spectrum and SportsNet LA. Only 40 percent choose to act on it. So the number that 60 percent don’t get Spectrum, it’s always been a bit deceiving. Of that, 10 percent live in areas where either Cox or Comcast cable is the only choice. The other 50 percent are sticking with AT&T-owned DirecTV, Dish, Frontier FiOS or AT&T U-verse service.

But we’re at a point when Spectrum/Charter is trying to rationalize, across the country, what ways it can go to stop losing money and customers, based on recent second-quarter reports that look somewhat dismal.

And as the U.S. Department of Justice is about to hear final arguments Monday in its case to block a pending $86 billion merger AT&T wants with Time Inc., things could start to go into motion again.

If AT&T prevails, it will then own a whole new assortment of channels – CNN, HBO, Cinemax, TNT and TBS, for starters. AT&T will need to play nice and renew those contracts with cable companies. Charter remains the second-largest cable operator in the country with 16 million customers.

Somewhere amid those high-level negotiations, as they come up at different intervals, Charter will insist that, as part of the deal, DirecTV pick up SportsNet LA., or else …

“It’ll make the Dodgers’ deal look like adding just another PBS station,” one sports business insider told us this week.

The last time the DOJ gave Spectrum any hope of helping out, it filed an antitrust collusion case against DirecTV in late 2016, prior to its takeover by AT&T, but quietly settled without much of an explanation in spring 2017.

Yet, if the DOJ loses this argument, the plot thickens again.

GETTING SCHOOLED

This Dodgers’ TV rights fiasco is scaring the heck out Cubs’ fans in Chicago, we have learned from those learning about it.

The University of Illinois at Champaign offers a class – RST 199-Business of Sports Entertainment – which examines the business side of sports TV rights deals. Ed Sherman, a former Chicago Tribune media columnist and contributor to Poynter.org in tune with how the real world of sports and media works, was lecturing his 87 undergrads recently about how the dark side of this Dodgers situation.

The course ends Tuesday, and the topic of the students’ final paper is to think through this situation.

The reason this matters in Chicago is the Cubs’ current local TV deal runs out after 2019 and they have yet to announce a new rights contract. They are loudly contemplating having their own channel.

“Everyone is waiting for the Cubs to make the big announcement about their plans, and the Dodgers’ situation is serving as a cautionary tale, at least in reporting in the media, and the Cubs haven’t really addressed it,” Sherman said. “The climate also is different here. There would be massive riots if 60-70 percent of market didn’t get the games.”

GOING OFF THE MENU

Hulu CEO Randy Freer, on the job since October after spending more than 20 years in charge of the Fox Sports Media Group – which included overseeing the two regional channels in L.A. – was talking to a room full of hundreds of smart business executives at the CAA World Congress of Sports last week at LA Live. Freer went from broad strokes of how sports programming rights remains strong to a very specific example about how “dynamic pricing” for customers can change the paradigm.

These days, when you yank out your cable cord or dismantle the roof-top dish and subscribe to a device on your Internet-ready TV – like Hulu or YouTube TV or Amazon Prime – you still need a new way to get to the local sports nets. A generation of today’s TV viewers have figured out end-around plays. But when that happens, the teams and channels lose the opportunity to cash in.

“How do you create an opportunity in baseball where, either through MLB.tv or with ESPN’s app, you can buy a Yankees-Red Sox game for $10 or $20 or whatever is the right price?” Freer asked. “To me, one of the bedrocks of why I think live sports is important to the business is because it has great value and you can start to offer it in a different way – reprice things, recreate value, give people an opportunity to come in and out across the board.

“Honestly I’m a little surprised in L.A., where you have some distribution channel issues, the Dodgers haven’t been more aggressive and more innovative in figuring out a way to get outside of the geography and the parameters that they’re stuck in and get out.

“Say, the Dodgers and Cubs have a series … (they can) figure out how to get it to you at the right price. Regular-season pricing could be valuable to the Dodger fan who watches 20 games.”

Internally, the Dodgers may be all for parceling out games to customers, but when asked in this instance for a comment, the team deferred to its business partners at Spectrum, which issued a blanket statement: “We are proud to deliver Dodgers fans quality broadcasts and exclusive, in-depth programming on SportsNet LA. Last season, Dodgers telecasts recorded the highest-ever season ratings on SportsNet LA and we look forward to another exciting season of 24/7 coverage celebrating the Los Angeles Dodgers 60th anniversary season.”

First, Freer is very freed-up from his previous position to make such a suggestion that would ultimately benefit Hulu and others. Were he still at Fox, it’s doubtful he’d support such a business model that would amount to just a very small percentage of income and, more importantly, would damage the exclusive nature Spectrum customers currently have in accessing the Dodgers games.

Honestly, we’re a little surprised he even brought that up as a viable option.

FACE THE MUSIC

Unless technical issues from past performances have been resolved, expect some handwringing in these parts when Facebook Watch snatches up exclusive coverage of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game in Phoenix scheduled for 12:40 p.m. first pitch Thursday – meaning no SportsNet L.A. live coverage, but it can replay it later that night.

Buffering issues affected the first telecast earlier this month. The Dbacks-Phillies feed last week was compromised by the chat scroll on the side of the screen that was infiltrated with adult webcam services with pictures of naked women and suggestive emojis.

“This is a concern and we are working with Facebook to ensure the proper safeguards are in place,” an MLB spokesperson said in a statement to The Athletic.

The MLB Network production has Rich Waltz on play-by-play, Orel Hershiser and Eric Byrnes sharing the role of analysts, and Alanna Rizzo as the reporter. Coverage starts at noon with a special Dodgers’ insider show on the team’s Facebook Live feed.

Tomhoffarth1@gmail.comTwitter @tomhoffarth

MEASURING MEDIA MAYHEM

WHAT SMOKES

* Colin Cowherd’s hiring of Kristine Leahy to launch his new FS1/radio show based at the Fox studios near Century City more than two years ago was questionable at best, but the news she is leaving the show, even if only to join an esports broadcast on FS1 this fall, comes with much relief here. Perhaps we can listen to more than a full half hour now without flipping somewhere else because of the irritant interjections.

* The AVP’s new video streaming rights deal with Amazon Prime begins with the Huntington Beach Open this week. Customers in more than 200 countries can watch live and on-demand, including whichever of the men’s or women’s final NBCSN decides not to air May 6.

* CBS will have live coverage from the two-day World Surf League Cup inaugural event next weekend from Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, just south of Fresno – the first major event with a machine that generates the surf in a giant pool. KCBS-Channel 2 has Saturday coverage at 11 a.m., with Sunday coverage to be announced.

WHAT CHOKES

* The Colorado Rockies should not have to defend anything about a decision made in concert with its regional sports channel to give reporter Jenny Cavnar a shot at doing play-by-play on a game last week. Still, the anticipated social media trolling didn’t go away. The Rockies’ Twitter account did a nice job of holding up a mirror – also known as clapping back — on those who decided to vent about a female voice on their TV sets. “This has nothing to do with criticism,” said one tweet. “Criticism, dealing with differing opinions, is absolutely part of the job. This has everything to do with respect.” We respect them for standing up. We might even respect the Dodgers or Angels more if they decided to become more proactive in finding a female voice – Jeanne Zelasko, anyone? – for their radio booths which are, at this point, beyond a dismal experience.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/28/hoffarth-the-latest-on-the-dodgers-and-their-tv-fiasco/

Latest Dodgers, McCourt idea is going, going, gondola

Frank McCourt, who can’t stop trying to leave his skid marks all over the ethos of Los Angeles, sold the city this week on the idea that he can string together a gondola between Union Station into Dodger Stadium, able to carry thousands of trolley-dodging customers in a progressive single round-trip bound.

This $125 million project, all promised to be third-party privately funded, will be finished by 2022.

L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, who has championed an idea to build a monorail over the 405 to tame traffic gridlock, seems to be over-the-Wally-Moon about this Aerial Rapid Transit proposal.

To be frank, how many ways can a couple of simple paragraphs come off as so Angels Flight-funicular flawed?

After assessing the company’s list of FAQ, may we ask some follow-ups?

= Did we mention “Ballpark Frank” McCourt is the point person here, right? Or, at least his son, Drew, is characterized as the idea man.

Divorcing yourself from anything remotely positive he and his former spouse (now the U.S. ambassador to France, for real) accomplished during their ATM reign of terror, have you already forgotten one of the analogies he used six years ago before leaving his position as the Dodgers’ caretaker – and almost their undertaker?

“I got a little over the front of my skis here with the L.A. thing,” he admitted.

So this ski lift gizmo is going to be the snow job that whites out all memory of a city-wide concussion we all suffered?

= If McCourt is still able to cash in on the stadium parking lot fees as part of his severance package, wouldn’t this in theory divert cars away from filling those spots? Or is the real end game here that he will be able to control every means possible of getting people inside the facility, including buying up land around the soon-to-be-gentrified downtown train depot to charge people parking before they board Con Air McCourt?

= What’s to also prevent him from starting his own Uber company – let’s call it McCart – that could also repurpose those inefficient bus lanes that currently sardine fans onto Sunset Boulevard, and confuse everyone trying to make a right-hand turn up Vin Scully Way before they end up crashing into the lobby of that Super 8 Motel on the corner?

= Can we trust McCourt won’t have one price set for those who board this flying closet, but then impose an inflation-adjusted rate the riders must cough up as they try to disembark or they’ll be sent back?

= How soon before McCourt launches a seat-licensing fee for those who don’t want to stand the entire ride?

= If Pedro Baez uses it, does it guarantee it will take three times longer to reach its doomed destination?

= Should there be TV monitors installed showing the game on SportsNet LA, can passengers buy an unlimited day pass just to see what Joe Davis looks like?

= What’s the likelihood this leads to a monorail built between the pitchers’ mound and each Dodger Stadium bullpen in a way to speed up games?

= Will there be signs posted that prohibit anyone from starting a round of “It’s A Small World” when the thing starts moving over Chinatown and Olvera Street?

= Now that Jim Beam announced it has become “the official bourbon of the Dodgers,” will they have highball stations at each point to give fans more liquid courage to climb aboard and overcome their fear of heights?

= What precautions will be in place that prevent riders from trying to join the “150-Feet-High Club”? Or will the TSA agents spot potential culprits while doing their body-scan searches?

= Let’s say one cart is full of Dodgers’ fans, and the doors won’t close until all spots are filled, and the group inside can’t convince a single Giants fan standing on the platform to just come in and take that last open spot so the thing can get moving? Does that fan ultimately get bullied on the platform for holding things up?

= Once the city tries to dodge this giant mistake that doesn’t get off the ground – take your pick between EPA, geology and historical landmark status restrictions – can the city then call on Elon Musk to tunnel us all out of this problematic heap of orange pylons?

Follow Tom Hoffarth at @tomhoffarth on Twitter and reach him at Tomhoffarth1@gmail.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/27/latest-dodgers-mccourt-idea-is-going-going-gondola/

Tracy Austin will be honored at Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament: Q&A with former No. 1 in the World

Tracy Austin’s ongoing role as an analyst for Tennis Channel will have nothing to do with her channeling all her attention on the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament in the Ventura County hamlet this week.

The 55-year-old International Tennis Hall of Famer, three-time Grand Slam winner and ranked No. 1 in the world in the early 1980s as a pig-tailed teenager from Palos Verdes actually triumphed twice at the Ojai event just before stunning the sport by winning the U.S. Open.

Last year, she got to sit in the stands with husband Scott Holt as their son, USC freshman Brandon Holt, upset UCLA senior and previous Ojai champion Gage Brymer in the Pac-12 championship, a high-profile event that has found a home at this venue for years. As the 20-year-old Brandon defends his title, his younger brother Sean, a 17-year-old at Palos Verdes High, will be in the high school doubles division. Their oldest brother Dylan, recently got his MBA at USC and also once competed at Ojai.

What ties it together this year is that Austin serves as the tournament’s honoree at the annual event on Friday (April 27) at the Ojai Valley Tennis Club, a fund-raiser to support local tennis programs as well as upgrade the facilities at host Libbey Park and other local schools that hold part of the tournament.

Austin explains how she embraces the Ojai experience as a flashback to her past and a place to watch the future of her sons’ careers:

Q: When you’re thinking about going back to the Ojai event, which of your senses becomes more heightened as you recall the sights of the village, the quiet sounds and even the calming aroma in the air?

A: There’s just a feeling you get when you drive into Ojai and go the park – almost like you’ve gone back in time. Everything slows down. Everyone’s happy to be there. All the boards are up of past champions, and as a player, you want to be part of the long history in some way whether it’s the age-group divisions, the high school divisions, the Pac-12, and then the men’s and ladies’ pro events. You can be part of this over a very long stretch of time, either playing or just going to watch. You can see up-and-comers who look like they have a bright future, there’s the Pac-12 titles on the line with heated rivalries that have a different feel with the individuals participating in a team sport.

And because this is all in what could call a smaller community (population about 7,500), it’s become such a strong tradition that the town kind of stops as well when the tournament comes in and everyone wants to be part of it. Even if it’s putting the tea out every afternoon or serving the fresh orange juice – it becomes a very homey event.

Q: As the mom of three sons who play tennis, what do you take from your experiences as a competitor to know when to coach them up or pull back or how to fit into their day-to-day game that’s realistic?

A: Brandon is pretty independent and his coach at USC (Peter Smith) has taken over, so that puts me on the sideline which is nice. I’m just mom. He’s part of his team, and that’s the bigger unit. And that’s kind of the way I like it. I don’t have to wear any other hats. I’m not working for TV, I’m not coaching, I’m just mom and that’s so much fun.

Q: The memorable experiences you’ve had at Ojai, last year, watching Brandon win while you also were part of the Rod Laver tribute at the fund raiser. You’ve won twice as a player, the Open title (in ’77) but then the Girls’ 16 division (in ’78). What stands out and defines your time here?

A: As a player, it was very interesting when I won the 16s, because I was already probably top 12 in the world at that point, but I needed another 16s event to qualify for the 16s nationals. So while I was playing that at Ojai in the early rounds, my mom drove me to be part of the World Team Tennis event at the Forum in Inglewood with the L.A. Strings, playing with Chris Evert and Ilie Nastasi one night. So we had to drive back to Ojai the next day to finish the weekend winning that 16s event. It was like two different colliding worlds going on there. Playing with the world’s best pros, but also playing girls my own age where I was clearly supposed to win, a lot of pressure – and I think that much pressure and expectation helped me a lot later on in my career when I had to deal with all of that. It ended up as being a lot of fun.

But as a mom, watching Brandon win tops all that. As a freshman put in that situation, playing a rival school, against someone who had won everything before at Ojai. All of the sudden I looked up at the (team) scoreboard and it says 3-3 – it’s not up in lights, but they flip the cards over like in the ‘50s. So I was like, my gosh, this match is going to decide it all. And then he wins the third set (7-5, 3-6, 6-4), huge crowd, his reaction, his teammates come rushing out – you never get to celebrate like that in tennis – it was just so special.

Q: What do you see for his future?

A: I don’t really think about it. We all can get so busy we get up every day and we’re all trying to do our best. He’s trying to improve and he’s enjoying college and his teammates. We don’t really look too far into the future. His dream would be to become a pro one day, but we’ll see.

Also: More video of Austin’s memories at Ojai

118th OJAI TENNIS TOURNAMENT

Established: 1895 by William Thacher
Location: Main events are at Libbey Park with competition at 30 locations including the Ojai Valley Tennis Club and The Thacher School.
Prize money: For the first time, both men’s and women’s prize money is equal: $5,300 for singles winners, $2,600 for singles runner-up, $2,400 to split for doubles winners. A total of $30,200 is awarded.
TV coverage: Pac 12 Network covers the conference men’s and women’s finals with Ted Robinson and Justin Gimblestaub. More information: http://pac-12.com/tennis/ championships
Defending champion: Men’s open: Henry Craig of Murrieta. Women’s open: Salma Ewing of Long Beach (and USC). Ewing returns to defend her title she won last year at age 16.
More information: http://www.ojaitourney.org/tournament-info/

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/23/tracy-austin-will-be-honored-at-ojai-valley-tennis-tournament-qa-with-former-no-1-in-the-world/

Hoffarth: Hank Azaria makes ‘Brockmire’ an easy call

Hank Azaria, as cordial as one could be on a Monday morning in El Segundo, rolls through a 15-minute appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show,” regaling about all things New York sports – Mets, Jets and Knicks – that are near and dear to him.

As Eisen sends the show into a commercial break, Azaria eases himself out of the guest chair from the window-framed, ground-floor studio in the AT&T facility.

“I’ve got six minutes, right?” Azaria asks.

“Six minutes,” Eisen confirms, “and we’re back.”

In a deft costume-change move out of “Saturday Night Live” between skits, Azaria goes with a mini-entourage – a publicist, a personal assistant and a production partner — back down the hall and around the corner to Eisen’s dressing room.

Getting out of his blue blazer, gray-striped dress shirt and olive-colored khaki pants, Azaria is soon retracing his steps back to the set now in dark slacks, a white dress shirt and red tie – and slipping on the subjectively loud plaid jacket in the process.

No new makeup, hairpiece or alcohol intake necessary.

Jim Brockmire is now ready for his caustic close-up.

With the proper prompting by Eisen, Brockmire immediately lays in with the thick campy Southern drawl and returns fire at the host, saying he watched him on gas station pump monitors and says he’s now become “the Shonda Rhimes of petroleum-based entertainment.”

He sizes up Texas Rangers’ soon-to-be 45-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon as “disability-check fat.” He calls NBA games unwatchable because “the last 90 seconds are like a Judd Apatow movie – a fun thing that goes on at least 20 minutes too long.” And he just can’t stop when referring to Brent Musburger as “a P-U-N-K punk” but takes it to a point where now the phrase “Ruffles have ridges” is something seared into our Freudian id.

As that quarter-hour segment winds down, Brockmire poses for photos, submits to some Eisen show-related social media, and morphs back into Azaria. The crew is whisked up the nearby 105 Freeway toward the LA Live studios of 710-KSPN to join John Ireland and Ben Lyons for another two-segment sit-down – this time, only as Azaria – as the Southern California tour continues.

A CHARACTER’S CHARTED COURSE

By the time Season 2 of “Brockmire” debuts Wednesday on the IFC network, Azaria will have submitted to all sorts of somewhat-odd and high-end media appearances, contractually obligated but personally agreeable.

He’s publicizing something to a sports TV viewership world that’s nothing more than a DVR reminder — the show that already got him a Best Actor in a Comedy Series nomination from the Critics’ Choice Television Awards will reload, explaining more from the salty cliffhanger that ended its debut eight-episode run in the spring of 2017.

Most of these media hits focus primarily on Azaria, the 53-year-old actor known for his voiced characters on “The Simpsons,” playing a gay Guatemalan house boy in “The Birdcage,” and once embodying Mitch Albom in a “Tuesdays With Morrie” made-for-TV movie almost 20 years ago. This coming week leading into the relaunch, Azaria will be back in New York for spots on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the “Today” show and “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

But when the circumstances of Azaria-as-Brockmire present themselves, organically or staged, the dynamic changes for the betterment of all who want to play along.

The zigging in and zagging out of different ways to promote a show have now included coming on with longtime friend Eisen, a recent half-hour appearance on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” with Dan LeBatard, and going on the air during an ESPN telecast of a Mets’ game. Fox has figured out a way to have Azaria dressed as Brockmire at the Mets’ Citi Field on Tuesday to record a series of lines that will be edited into the intro for the FS1 coverage of the Yankees-Angels game from Anaheim on April 28.

But before he’s doing any more ESPN “car wash” or Barstool Sports appearances, there is some prep work that has to be done.

Back up again to the Eisen pit stop: A half hour before he was to go on, Azaria paced in the green room asking three publicists who came with him if they could pull documents up on their phones that included lines he had used in the past that had to do with Colon, the former Angels Cy Young Award-winning pitcher who, because of his size and appearance, is still ripe for ribbing, especially after nearly throwing a no-hitter against Houston the previous night on ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball.”

The trio of colleagues, who were with Azaria in Hollywood that Sunday morning for Deadline’s Emmy-contenders panel discussion, quickly started reading off jokes that Azaria had done, allowing him to filter through and re-rehearse them as one-liners he could use on the set as Brockmire when he was to be with Eisen.

So yes, a decent part of Azaria’s appearances as Brockmire have a scripted element, crafted by the show’s executive producer and head writer Joel Church-Cooper to fit the circumstances of each interview and keep the character true. But it doesn’t preclude Azaria from inserting his own prepared ad libs. Comfortable enough doing Brockmire for a full season-plus and knowing the audience is already in on the joke, Azaria says it’s easier to roll with this because of his years of “method acting” training on “The Simpsons” to simply take a breath, focus, and get into it.

“And for the most part, I know what I’m going to say,” Azaria said during a break after the ESPN radio spot. “I can free-form, improvise as the character, but I’m usually in the context about talking about sports. You want to have a take and be funny, concisely, and promote the show as well aside from just being entertaining, not to go out there and bomb.

“So, yeah, you want to know what you’re going to say and you want to score.”

SEASONED VETERAN MOVES

Promoting “Brockmire” could be an award-winning venture into itself, if awards are given for such a thing.

As more and more working sports broadcasters embrace the grizzled “Brockmire” creation – Joe Buck played himself astonishing well in Season 1 as a Brockmire foil, and Bob Costas hosted the Season 2 premiere in New York last week – the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Scribes and Mikemen” wing has allowed a display to go up featuring the Brockmire plaid jacket. Maybe if only to confuse visitors who make the pilgrimage in hopes of getting a glimpse of a Vin Scully or Dick Enberg plaque.

Longtime sports communications specialist Adam Friefeld, who flew out from New York to help coordinate the L.A. media appearances, said it took about a year to orchestrate that aspect of the promotional campaign.

IFC has already picked up Seasons 3 and 4 for “Brockmire,” giving Azaria time to process how far this can go. Season 2, for example, gets a little more in to Brockmire’s dark side as he moves to New Orleans – what could possibly go wrong there for a recovering alcoholic? – and gets frustrated as he awaits the retirement of the Atlanta play-by-play man and a promise he’ll be hired so he can resume his big-league career.

“Season 4 might genuinely be it,” said Azaria, whose character was birthed several years ago from a “Funny Or Die” company skit co-created by Will Ferrell, who knows about making promotional appearances (and even beyond that) in character as Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman” movie fame.

“One of the things about this lovely era of television is that when things seem to run its course, then you can stop. If you tell the creative story you want to tell, then you can be done. That said, if they back up the money truck to our house and say ‘Season 5!’ we’ll probably do it. Who knows?”

By then, who knows how it’ll be promoted. What about a sports-related revival of the old Off-Broadway musical “Forever Plaid?”

MEASURING MEDIA MAYHEM

WHAT SMOKES

— Even before its release scheduled for Tuesday, “Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story” (Flatiron Books, $26.99, 304 pages) by Entertainment Weekly film critic Chris Nashawaty has already reached top billing in several Amazon.com categories like “movie history & criticism” and “genre films,” perhaps inspired by an excerpt currently on SI.com.

Insert this link:
ESPN, Fox Sports Team Up for UFC TV-Rights Bid (EXCLUSIVE)
over the words “Variety had an exclusive” below

— The University of Nebraska women’s bowling team has made it to HBO’s “Real Sports”? Indeed. The next episode (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) brings in Mary Carillo to explain the dominance of this program as an NCAA-sanction championship-seeking event. Nebraska has won 10 national titles, five since 2003 when it was officially recognized by the NCAA. “Is Nebraska bowling perhaps the most unknown dynasty in all of sports?” Carillo asks coach Bill Straub, who responds: “I think the coaches are paid the least of any dynasty in sports, but that’s another issue.”

— Fox Sports chief Eric Shanks would not comment earlier this week during an appearance at the CAA Sports Congress at LA Live about reports that his network will team up with ESPN on a joint deal to cover the UFC coming up. Variety had an exclusive story posted Tuesday, noting the UFC programming for ESPN would be for its new ESPN+ app that is continues to try to bolster as a $4.99 a month service launched a week ago.

WHAT CHOKES

— No doubt, there’s an abundant overload of TV coverage coming up on the NFL Draft, starting with Fox’s foray into the mess from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for Thursday’s Round 1, a simulcast of the NFL Network production. ESPN and ESPN2 also have live coverage, which morphs into ABC on the final day Saturday morning of Rounds 4-7 to apparently give the parent network some counter-programming for all the kids shows going on at the time and consider a way to make “Mr. Irrelevant” a new cartoon series. Who are we kidding? Anything related to the NFL seems to still be worth piling on if you’re a network way in over your head with rights fees. Winning the offseason is all part of the year-around business model now.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/21/hoffarth-hank-azaria-makes-brockmire-an-easy-call/

Play it Forward April 16-22: Who let the Dogg out for the NHL playoffs?

Ranking the top 10 sports events April 16-22 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: NHL PLAYOFFS
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
GAME 4: GOLDEN KNIGHTS at KINGS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, NBCSN
GAME 3: DUCKS at SHARKS
Details/TV: At SAP Center in San Jose, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, CNBC

We couldn’t help ourselves and clicked onto a new feature at NHL.com called “Hockey 101 with Snoop Dogg.” The rapper from the LBC (once the home of the Ice Dogs, if you recall), refers to himself “Dogg Cherry” and calls Wayne Gretzky “99 problems, and you ain’t one of ‘em.” Why the NHL and Snoop Dogg are even together on this? It’s his ties to the Kings.

“One of the things we noticed when Snoop came to our All-Star game a couple years ago in Los Angeles was not only is he Snoop and everybody loves him, but he really loves hockey,” the NHL’s executive vice president Steve Mayer told Deadline. “The first thing he said when we walked into the East locker room was, ‘Sid the Kid!’ — calling out Sidney Crosby. He knows the players, he knows the game, and we started talking back then about how he feels like he can help promote the game.”

Ice, ice, baby. We hope the shows become, uh, better as the playoffs continue into May and June. Before then, we gotta expect Dogg to be fixing on having this Kings-Golden Knights series return to Las Vegas for an encore of what happened there for Games 1 and 2.

The Ducks, meanwhile, didn’t take advantage of their home ice and are on thin ice as they go to San Jose for what could be the closeout of their season.

Also this week for the Kings: Game 5 at Las Vegas, Thursday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket, NBCSN; Game 6 at Staples Center, Saturday, TBA. Both games if necessary.

Also this week for the Ducks: Game 4 at San Jose, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, Golf Channel; Game 5 at Honda Center, Friday, TBD; Game 6 at San Jose, Sunday, TBD. All games if necessary.

NO. 2: NBA PLAYOFFS
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
GAME 2: SPURS at WARRIORS
Details/TV: At Oracle Arena in Oakland, Monday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
GAME 2: PACERS at CAVALIERS
Details/TV: At Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Wednesday at 4 p.m., TNT

Until someone else steps up, we’ll remain focused on a storyline that provides whatever it takes to create a rematch between Golden State and Cleveland, who’ve been in every NBA Finals since 2015. While neither the Warriors nor Cavs have the top seeding in their respective conferences, “The City” is still given 7/5 odds to win it all by the Bovoda sports book website, with “The Land” a third-favorite at 13/2 behind Houston (8/5). The Lakers and Clippers are off the board, and that’s an odd feeling all together.

NO. 3: MLB: NATIONALS at DODGERS
Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Friday at 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA; Saturday at 6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA and Ch. 5; Sunday at 5 p.m., ESPN
MLB: RED SOX at ANGELS
Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Tuesday-Thursday, 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West

Enough talk about LeBron James coming to either the Lakers or Clippers, because here’s where we get heavy does of Bryce Harper-to-the-Dodgers chin rubbing. Jon Heyman at FanRag.com puts the Dodgers at 3-1 odds of landing the soon-to-be free-agent Harper, but it seems to be an either/or proposition, depending on whether they re-sign Clayton Kershaw. Saturday lines up for a Kershaw matchup against Stephen Strasburg.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox face the Orioles on Monday morning (MLB Network, 11 a.m.) before heading West to start a nine-game, 10 day road trip. Shohei Ohtani’s spot in the rotation moves to a Tuesday start against Boston because of Sunday’s cancellation in Kansas City.

Also this week for the Dodgers: At San Diego, Monday-Wednesday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA

Also this week for the Angels: At Angel Stadium vs. San Francisco, Friday at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 6:07 p.m., Sunday at 1:07 p.m., FSW

NO. 4: GOLF: LPGA TOUR HUGEL-JTBC L.A. OPEN
Details/TV: At Wilshire Country Club, Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel

The women’s pro tour returns to L.A. for the first time since 2005 with a $1.5 million event, on the outskirts of the city’s Koreatown district. Keep an eye out for 2017 Women’s PGA Champion Danielle Kang (Westlake High, Pepperdine), Alison Lee (UCLA), Jenny Shin (South Korea born and the state’s top player when she was at Torrance High) and Robynn Ree (Redondo High, USC). Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist (recent winner at the ANA Inspiration in Palm Springs), Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie are also entered (as well as Cheyenne Woods, the half-sister of Tiger Woods).

Golf Channel has coverage each day starting at 3 p.m.

More info: www.hugeljtbcopen.com

NO. 5: GYMNASTICS: NCAA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
Details/TV: At Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPNU

UCLA, winner of the Pac-12 title and the recent NCAA regional championship, starts as the No. 3 national seed in a six-team semifinal bracket against No. 2 LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Nebraska. The top three advance to the “Super Six,” where they will likely face No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion Oklahoma and/or Pac-12 rivals Utah, Cal or Washington. UCLA finished fourth last year in the finals, and Kyla Ross was the individual winner in the bars and beam.

More info: https://www.ncaa.com/sports/ gymnastics-women

NO. 6: COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA SPRING GAME
Details/TV: At Drake Stadium, Saturday at 11 a.m., Pac 12 Network

The spotlight may be on Chip Kelly and how he runs things, but there may be more focus on Justin Frye, the new offensive line coach, who’ll have to figure out a way to protect whoever is playing quarterback.

NO. 7: COLLEGE BASEBALL
USC at UCLA
Details/TV: At Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at noon, Pac-12 Network

The Trojans (17-13) pulled out a 3-2 win over the Bruins (22-9) in the Dodgertown Classic on Lars Nootbaar’s eighth-inning home run into the UCLA bullpen last month, but it hasn’t established any trends in how their seasons have gone from there.

Also this week for UCLA: At Jackie Robinson Stadium vs. UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Also this week for USC: At Dedeaux Field vs. UC Santa Barbara, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Loyola Marymount, Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Also this week for Long Beach State: At Blair Field vs. Loyola Marymount, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Cal Poly, Thursday at 7 p.m., ESPNU, Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At University of San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Goodwin Field vs. Hawaii, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At San Diego State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Matador Field vs. UC Irvine, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Irvine: At UCLA, Tuesday at 6 p.m., at Cal State Northridge, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Riverside: At Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Wednesday at 2 p.m.; At Riverside Sports Complex vs. San Jose State, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Pepperdine: At Eddy D. Field in Malibu vs. Cal Poly, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; At Eddy D. Field in Malibu vs. University of San Diego, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Loyola Marymount: At Long Beach State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Page Stadium in Westchester vs. USC, Wednesday at 6 p.m.; At Page Stadium in Westchester vs. Portland, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

NO. 8: 60th MT. SAC RELAYS
Details/TV: At Murdoch Stadium at El Camino College in Torrance, Thursday-Saturday

As construction continues at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Mt. SAC – the site for the 2020 U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials — El Camino College plays host to the event that produced six world-leading marks last season, including two NCAA records. Cooper Teare’s 4:00.16 mile was the second-best time in California history and 10th-best in U.S. history.

More info: www.mtsacrelays.com

NO. 9: 122nd BOSTON MARATHON
Details/TV: Monday at 5:30 a.m., NBCSN

Patriots’ Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers another chance to Galen Rupp to see if he’s up for this challenge. The two-time Olympic medalist and 2017 winner of the Chicago Marathon was 21 seconds behind winner Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya last year. “It was an incredible time,” said Rupp, who set a personal best 2:09:58. “The race exceeded any expectations that I had. I wouldn’t say that my training has been optimal, but I take nothing away from this guy (Kirui). He ran a hell of a race. I just didn’t have it in the last couple of miles. I’m very happy with this result.” On the women’s side, 2017 New York City Marathon winner and Olympic silver medalist Shalane Flanagan is the one who’ll get the most local attention.

More info: www.baa.org

NO. 10: NFL: 2018 SCHEDULE ANNOUNCEMENT
Details/TV: To be determined

In 2017, the schedule came out a week before the draft. If that holds, the 2018 version will come out this Thursday. Or it could hold for a couple more weeks. Be prepared. The 99th NFL season will start Sept. 6, and the Rams know they’ll to go Mexico City to play the Chiefs, and the Chargers will go to Wembley Stadium in London to meet with Tennessee in late October. We know the NFL West will play the AFC West teams in the rotation – meaning an L.A. vs. L.A. matchup at the Coliseum. Otherwise … wait it out.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/15/play-it-forward-april-16-22-who-let-the-dogg-out-for-the-nhl-playoffs/

Amstutz’s Fox Sports leadership is all about the future

More than 100 girls may have been giddy getting out of class on a recent Friday morning at Mulholland Middle School in Lake Balboa, but as they were escorted over to the main auditorium, most weren’t sure why they were singled out from all the boys for a special presentation.

And the woman at the front by the stage wasn’t one of their usual teachers.

“Let’s build a team for Fox Sports West 2028,” Lindsay Amstutz declared.

The senior vice president and general manager of the Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket and Fox Sports San Diego regional sports networks could actually make this happen. She had a Power Point presentation and the power of channeling dreams to prove it.

“Jobs in sports (that you might not know about)” were words on a slide up on the screen. Amstutz asked if anyone in the room knew about careers in the sports TV business.

“Can you do a push-up?” Amstutz asked. “You can be a camera operator.”

AMST.IMG_1471
Lindsay Amstutz talks with the girls at Muholland Middle School. (Photo courtesy of Fox Sports West)

The photo on the screen showed a woman running a camera. One girl shot her hand up, announced her name and came up to the stage.

“We need a graphics artist …Who can make movies on their phone?” Amstutz continued.

“Is anyone good at math? We need a statistician. … Social media? Yup, that’s a job.”

“Who likes to plan parties and figure out where everything goes? That’s our operations manager.”

Within a few minutes of seeing screen shots of women working all those jobs, Amstutz had called up almost two dozen volunteers. The girls who have been exposed to STEAM school curriculum were connecting their basic knowledge with their genuine curiosity.

“And why do you to you want to be the producer again?” Amstutz asked one student she had picked.

“I’ll do it,” she replied, “because I want to try something new.”

Building a foundation

As of October, when she was promoted from her role of director of marketing at FSW/PT/FSSD as well as the entire 22 affiliate Fox Sports Regional network, Amstutz’s ambitious drive as a leader in one the country’s largest TV markets has been about creating and facilitating what’s next.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

This Wednesday at the CAA World Congress of Sports at LA Live, Amstutz will be recognized by the Sports Business Journal as one of the “Forty Under 40” who are among the industry’s “best and brightest.” In June, Amstutz goes to New York to be one of three nationally recognized as the Women In Sports and Events annual awards.

“It means the world to me knowing that colleagues are the ones who nominate for these,” Amstutz said from her downtown L.A. office this week. “The sports industry is a tight-knit community, and that enough of them thought this highly of me makes it neat and encouraging for the future.”

With a dry wit and soft-spoken approach that allows her actions to speak even louder, Amstutz stands out simply because she’s one of only two women leading a sports regional network — Andrea Greenberg of Madison Square Garden Network is the other.

“Lindsay is everything you want in a leader – smart, hard-working, gets along with everyone, innovative and always willing to help,” said Kathy Schloessman, the president of the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission.

“She got to the position because the Fox executives realized how good she is and what a find they had and how lucky they were to already have her.”

Aside from planting seeds to cultivate future stakeholders in L.A. sports production, Amstutz’s impact has come from three years of helping to launch the Women of Fox Sports group to better connect women in the TV field to those men who’ve traditionally been making all the important decisions. The first WFS breakfast meeting drew more than 100 participants.

“We might have underestimated the need and desire for this at first,” said Amstutz, who worked in marketing at Santa Clara University, the NBA offices in New York and then with the WNBA’s Sparks before moving into this position at Fox.

“It was first about building a community and now it’s watching how we can influence the business. We know we need more women in sales and production, for example. With this program, we can bring them in front of people like (Fox Sports president and L.A.-based) Eric Shanks and (RSN chief) Jeff Krolik and start the discussion.”

Adds Schloessman: “While there may be more women in sports leadership roles now than before, there still aren’t a lot. But I think Lindsay and I both feel that it’s not just about helping women but about helping young professionals move up the ranks and being there as a mentor when they need it.”

Back to the middle

As Amstutz told the middle schoolers, now is the time to make friends and influence people.

 

Lindsay Amstutz poses with the girls at Muholland Middle School on a recent visit. (Photo courtesy of Fox Sports West)
Lindsay Amstutz poses with the girls at Muholland Middle School on a recent visit. (Photo courtesy of Fox Sports West)

She had a first-person experience about what would be known as networking – she sat in her home room at Porter Avenue Middle School in Granada Hills next to a kid named Ilan Ben-Hanan.

“It was alphabetical order – I’m the ‘A’ and he’s the ‘B,’” Amstutz said.

Who could have known that Amstutz would be where she is today and Ben-Hanan would become ESPN’s vice president of programming and acquisitions after going to USC?

“It’s funny how life goes,” said Ben-Hanan, living in Manhattan Beach and recognized last year in the “Forty Under 40” ceremony. “What she’s been able to accomplish is incredible, but not surprising knowing her as long as I have. She has always had the spirit, attitude and ability to see something that should be done different or better, and then she does something about it. It takes a special person to decide to get it done. She deserves all of this attention and more.”

The main reason why Amstutz was invited to Mulholland Middle School that day was because a teacher there remembered her from a time when he worked at the Mason Park Rec Center in Chatsworth. She was in high school and showed up one day asking why she they didn’t have a girls’ basketball league.

The director invited her to play in the boys’ league. She declined but persisted. She was told if she got a list of girls together, they’d do a league for girls. She did it – 40 names strong – so it happened.

“I was babysitting at the time and knew a lot of girls in the 9-to-12 age range who wanted to play,” said Amstutz, who then sent out flyers, created a newsletter and organized an all-star game. “I’m kind of just doing the same kind of thing now.”

The effects of Title IX more than 40 years ago continue to give girls access not just to playing sports, but to becoming seen on TV and having a new field to consider.

“I didn’t know any of this growing up,” said Amstutz, who thought of herself more as a dancer who wanted to join drill team in high school. “Right now, a majority of the women interested in production want to be on-air. And I’m not here to crush those dreams, but if that’s your passion, absolutely go for it. But if that doesn’t work out, look at how many opportunities there are to be part of the story-telling process.

“I hope we get to a point in the future where the dynamic shifts and we grow the women in the industry. But until then, there’s a lot of work to keep doing.”

The education continues

After Amstutz explained to the middle-school girls how she grew up going to Monroe High in Van Nuys, lives in Pasadena with her husband and two small children, and did some trailblazing things at Stanford (degrees in political science and communications with a minor in economics) and Georgetown (a law degree), a question-and-answer session came afterward.

“Are you a feminist?” one student asked.

“I am,” Amstutz said after a measured pause. “That’s a great question. What do you think that means?”

“It means you’re dedicated to girls and boys having equality,” came the reply.

Amstutz followed up: “I already know my (1-year-old) daughter (Chloe) is fierce and she has fire in her. But with my (3-1/2-year-old) son (Travis), I want him to have an equal opportunity too and be respectful to women, to also stand up for women’s rights.”

The girls applauded.

“Wasn’t that interesting?” Amstutz said of that reaction back at her office. “It’s not like that question was out of line, but it caught me by surprise. They knew that concept. And they had a positive feeling about it.”

Even more so after Amstutz’s visit.

Measuring media mayhem

What smokes

* This edition of NBCSN’s coverage of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Sunday, 1:40 p.m.) becomes special for race analyst Paul Tracy – it’s the 25th anniversary of his first win at the circuit, which was also his first major career victory. The four-time Long Beach champ (also in 2000, ’03 and ’04) says “it blows me away” thinking it happened so long ago, but laughs as he recalls coming in as a 24-year-old rookie still upset that he frittered away a win the previous week in Phoenix. He and a friend went to vent riding go-carts in Riverside that next Tuesday, and Tracy ended up flipping end over end and arrived to a Long Beach press conference a couple days later looking battered and bruised. He told everyone he fell off his mountain bike. “I was beat to (bleep) and knew I had to make something happen,” Tracy said this week. “I took the pole, led most of it, had a flat tire near the middle that that put me off-sequence (for pitting) and ended up winning by 10 seconds. Afterward, everyone’s happy, I see Roger (Penske, team owner), and he says, ‘Great race, now stay off those mountain bikes.’” Tracy calls Long Beach “the most important race of the year for IndyCar, other than Indianapolis” and ripe for more attention as the circuit has early momentum compared to NASCAR viewership slumping. NBC, meanwhile, outbid ABC/ESPN to get the rights to all IndyCar racing for three years starting in 2019 – ABC had it for 54 years, and NBCSN’s current deal never allowed races to move to NBC. “We’ve got a ways to go to compare us to NASCAR,” Tracy said, “but it’s a good feeling to see people start to get back into it. Having NBC take eight races next year will be huge for the series and give us all more opportunities. It’s a great partnership.”

What chokes

* Four cable sports channels have endured a decrease in subscriber fees from 2012 to 2017, as a result of a lack of viewership: Tennis Channel, Olympic Channel, beIN Sports and the Pac-12 Network. The latter, which launched in 2012 costing 30 cents a sub, has dipped to just 11 cents (a 63-percent drop), according to the latest data by SNL Kagan and reported by the San Jose Mercury News this week. The issue revolves still around the Pac-12 Net not having a major media partner and getting shut out by DirecTV. There is more that goes into explaining this, but consider a channel like the Big Ten Network has gone from 37 cents to 48 cents per sub, up 30 percent. ESPN has also has gone from $5.04 to $7.54 in that same period.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/14/amstutzs-fox-sports-leadership-is-all-about-the-future/

Play it Forward April 9-15: Kings, Ducks roll the dice to start NHL playoff season

Ranking the top 10 sports events April 9-15 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: NHL PLAYOFFS
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
GAME 1: SHARKS at DUCKS
Details/TV: At Honda Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TV to be determined
GAME 1: KINGS at GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Details/TV: At T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Wednesday at 7 p.m., TV to be determined

Kings fans who now have an excuse to make a quick mid-week trip to Vegas for this playoff-opening series against the expansion Golden Knights may have to gamble on whether tickets will be readily accessible for either night.

After officially clinching a playoff spot back in late March, the Golden Knights announced something called a “Knights Vow” that gives its 14,000 full season ticket holders a reduced price for playoff tickets (long before the pairings were announced) but only if they forfeit their ability to sell their tickets on the secondary market. If the VGK season seat people opt out of this “Vow,” their savings “will not be as significant” as those who stick in the “the program.” Translation: A price-per-seat cost for Round 1 in the “Vow” plan might cost $100 in the regular season, but it’ll be $125 for the playoffs first round. If they don’t opt in, it’ll go for $175 – a 75 percent markup legal in Nevada on top of the already difficult to transfer Flash Seats ticket model on StubHub.

“We’re a destination city,” Vegas team president Kerry Bubolz told ESPN. “During the regular season, it was a big part of our event experience. But the Stanley Cup playoffs, that’s a different time. We want to do what we can to support the hockey side of our organization.

“At the end of the day, we’ll make less money with this strategy, but it’s all about what’s the best thing for our home-ice advantage.”

The Kings (45-29-8, 98 points) drop into the playoffs as a Western Conference wild card, splitting the four-game season series with the Golden Knight, but winning in back-to-back games 3-2 in overtime at home and 4-1 at Vegas on Feb. 26-27. Vegas, running away with the Pacific Division by posting a 51-24-7 record for 109 points, continues to expand on its expansion season. It expects a capacity 18,400 in a venue that has 17,367 set aside for hockey seats – the team was drawing 104 percent capacity, fourth-best in the NHL, because of standing-room-only tickets also sold.

The Ducks (44-25-13, 101 points, second in the Pacific) and Sharks (45-27-10, 100 points, third in the Pacific) come into the playoffs under different forms of momentum. The Ducks  won their last five in a row and 10 of their last 12 – 9-4-1 in March and 4-0 in April as well. San Jose lost five of its last six games after spinning off an eight-game win streak between March 12-26. The Sharks won three of the four meetings against the Ducks, the last, a 3-2 shootout at Anaheim on Feb. 11. The two teams last met in the playoffs in 2009, when the Ducks won that series four games to two.

In the 2-2-1-1-1 format, the Ducks host Game 2 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.) before the series goes to San Jose for Games 3 and 4 the next week. The Kings are Las Vegas for Game 2 (Friday, 7 p.m.) before that series moves to Staples Center for Game 3 (Sunday, 7:30 p.m.).

Also: The AHL Ontario Reign ends its regular season at Stockton (Wednesday, 7 p.m.), at Citizens Bank Arena vs. Stockton (Friday, 7 p.m.) and at Bakersfield (Saturday 7 p.m.).

NO. 2: INDYCAR: 44th GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
Details/TV: At Shoreline Drive near the Long Beach Arena, Sunday at 1:40 p.m., NBCSN

James Hinchcliffe surged ahead on a restart with five laps to go and held off Sebastien Bourdais by a second and a half to win this thing last year. It was Hinchcliffe’s first win since the 2015 season and the first since a near-fatal crash during practice for that season’s Indianapolis 500. As part of this year’s celebration, 2001 Long Beach winner Helio Castroneves and 1999 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will be inducted on Thursday at the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on Pine Avenue near the Convention Center. Castroneves was on the pole for the 2017 race after setting a new track record of 1:06.2254, with an average speed of 106.98 mph.

Schedule:

Friday: IndyCar practice at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Super Drift Challenge #1 at 7 p.m.

Saturday: IndyCar qualifying at 3:30 p.m., Historic TransAm Race at noon, ISMA SportsCar Grand Prix at 1:05 p.m., Super Trucks Race #1 at 5:05 p.m., Super Drift Challenge #2 at 7 p.m.

Sunday: IndyCar warmup at 9 a.m., Pirelli World Challenge Race at 10 a.m., IndyCar pre-race ceremony at 12:30 p.m.

More info: www.gplb.com

NO. 3: MLB: DIAMONDBACKS at DODGERS
Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 6:10 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA (Saturday also on Channel 5)
MLB: ANGELS at ROYALS
Details/TV: At Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Friday at 5:15 p.m., FSW; Saturday at 4:15 p.m., FS1; Sunday at 11:15 a.m., FSW

As the Amazing Shohei Ohtani Tour goes back on the road, the annual Jackie Robinson Day falls on Sunday, capping off the series for both the Dodgers and Angels. The MLB started this recognition in 2004, having all players, managers, coaches and even umpires wear No. 42.

Also this week for the Dodgers: At Dodger Stadium vs. Oakland, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:10 p.m., SNLA

Also this week for the Angels: At Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:05 p.m., FSW

 

NO. 4: NBA: LAKERS at CLIPPERS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, Prime Ticket

The regular season grinds to an end for both teams that played host to the NBA All-Star Game in February but no representation, and now neither figured out how to crack the top eight in the Western Conference playoff pairings.

Also this week for the Lakers: At Staples Center vs. Houston, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, TNT

Also this week for the Clippers: At Staples Center vs. New Orleans, Monday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN

Also this week in the NBA: Conference quarterfinal games begin Saturday and Sunday, TBA.

NO. 5: COLLEGE FOOTBALL: USC SPRING GAME
Details/TV: At Cromwell Field on Loker Track Stadium on USC campus, Saturday at noon, Pac-12 Network

The 15th and final spring practice/scrimmage won’t be at the usual Coliseum site as they continue to renovate. Third-year sophomore Matt Fink and second-year freshman Jack Sears get some more reps to show what they can do before freshman JT Daniels comes in from Mater Dei High in the fall.

NO. 6:  MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:
INLAND EMPIRE at RANCHO CUCAMONGA
Details/TV: At LoanMart Field in Rancho Cucamonga; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Not to overlook the start of Cal League action, but the Dodgers’ Class-A Quakes stage their home opener against the Angels’ 66ers affiliate. The Quakes opened the season with trips to Visalia and Stockton. The 66ers started their season in San Bernardino with four at home against San Jose and three more this week against Modesto.

Also this week: Lancaster at Lake Elsinore, at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore, Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

NO. 7: COLLEGE BASEBALL:
UCLA at LONG BEACH STATE
Details/TV: At Blair Field in Long Beach, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
LONG BEACH STATE at CAL STATE NORTHDIRGE
Details/TV: At Matador Field in Northridge, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., CSUN Sports Network

The 19-8 Bruins, who started last week ranked 20th in the country, go to Utah to continue conference play (Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at noon) but before that, it’s a quick trip to meet up with the 49ers (12-20).

Also this week for USC: At Dedeaux Field vs. Arizona, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Fresno State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Goodwin Field vs. Pepperdine, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At San Diego State, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Irvine: At San Diego State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Anteater Ballpark vs. UC Santa Barbara, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., ESPN3

Also this week for UC Riverside: At Riverside Sports Complex vs. University of San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at University of Hawaii, Friday and Saturday at 9:35 p.m., Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
Also this week for Pepperdine: At Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Santa Clara, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Loyola Marymount: At UC Santa Barbara, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; At Page Stadium in Westchester vs. University of San Francisco, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

NO. 8: MLS: GALAXY at CHICAGO
Details/TV: At Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Univision
MLS: LAFC at VANCOUVER
Details/TV: At BC Place in Vancouver, Friday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV

Maybe in Canada, the LAFC rookie mistakes aren’t as costly considering the exchange rate.

NO. 9: NASCAR SPRINT CUP: FOOD CITY 500
Details/TV: At Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., Sunday at 11 a.m., Channel 11

Jimmie Johnson, with four new tires, took the lead with 21 laps to go, scooting past Kevin Harvick, who didn’t pit after a caution flag with 37 laps left, and won last year’s race. Johnson was 35th last week in Texas, with his ninth-place at Fontana the best result this season so far.

NO. 10: GOLF: PGA TOUR RBC HERITAGE
Details/TV: At Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 2

Don’t read anything into it, but newly minted Masters champ Patrick Reed didn’t sign up for this event. Neither did Tiger Woods, wanting some time off. Defending champ Wesley Bryan, a rookie last year and a South Carolina native, will be back after he posted an 8-over at Augusta last week and missed the cut.

Also this week on the LPGA Tour: LOTTE Championship at Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii, Wednesday-Saturday, Golf Channel

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/08/play-it-forward-april-9-15-kings-ducks-roll-the-dice-to-start-nhl-playoff-season/

Hoffarth: MLB on Facebook – not in our wildest streams

Faced with a futuristic prospect of having Facebook, YouTube, Amazon and/or Twitter on board as a new revenue stream and distribution partner. Major League Baseball experienced a whole bunch of post-Easter egg all over its interface last week.

Maybe not everyone was able to watch the entire hard-boiled humiliation. It’s a shell game that’s still buffering.

We’re all for healthy competition when it comes to the traditional media platforms producing live games – it’s our expectation that someday sooner than later in your lifetime, you’ll experience a Super Bowl on some sort of service you know best nowadays as a way to order inflatable palm trees and sturdy tiki torches to decorate a patio for a summer luau without running to Costco.

But in the first exclusive Facebook Watch episode Wednesday – a Phillies-Mets game from New York that would have otherwise gone unnoticed to the local TV markets as well as the MLB.tv out-of-market package – it got caught in the dragnet of a current tarnished, maybe-soon-outdated Internet social media company still trying to explain how millions of its customers had personal data improperly shared with political ads during the 2016 presidential election.

Things were bound to act like an Uncle Charlie Hough knuckleball, starting with the fact the game had a 90-minute rain delay, graphics that blocked the screen and comments that scrolled too fast to even read at times.

In 2017, MLB and Facebook did a trial run, borrowing 20 games from local rights holders for a Friday national simulcast on the social media platform. Assured all would work well enough, Facebook decided it was worth bribing the MLB folks with a reported $35 million – about $1 mil in extra walking-around-money per team – to lock in a 25-game exclusive rights fee to have a weekday, otherwise non-descript contest taken away from two teams and put on its service.

What could go stupid wrong with this?

Strange bedfellows

First, many have recently dropped Facebook, fearing their information was being compromised. But for those who participated, Facebook was in a position to mine data from this MLB relationship and sell it off to third-party advertisers about where one was viewing a game, and what kind of comments were being made. Beautiful.

Next, those who paid up to $120 a year for all out-of-market game access on MLB.tv were now told that, no, this one is now not part of that promise. Complain if you wish.

Doug McIntyre did.

The L.A.-based morning host of his own KABC-AM (790) news talk show, a Daily News columnist, and a home-grown Mets fan took to his Thursday morning program to amplify his disgust in the whole process.

He even registered a complaint online at MLB.com, but the tone-deaf result was that MLB.tv agreed to credit his account for that lost game and then cancel the service – neither of which McIntyre demanded. He was then forced to go through another half-hour-plus process of re-registering.

“Facebook has done nothing wrong in trying to grow its business with livestreaming,” McIntyre said. “Even though it was sloppy and the feed crashed, those things happen, and they’ll work on the technology.

“The problem is that the MLB sold out their fans. Their slog is ‘every out-of-market game all season long.’ They violated the contract, and violated our trust in having a package that promised all out-of-market games. That’s the great frustration in all this. So week after week, another two teams’ fans will have the same issue, and there’ll be complaints, but not enough to make a large difference.

“We live in bizarre times where people are now asking for government regulation on digital use, going against what the free market usually does to regulate itself.”

As McIntyre also connected dots, this isn’t all that different from how the Dodgers, with the MLB’s blessing, have used fans as collateral damage in their distribution struggles. If enough people disconnected their DirecTV service in Southern California over the Dodgers/SportsNet LA issue over the past five years, parent company AT&T would have seen enough in a cost benefit analysis that its brand and customer base had been damaged. Neither things happened.

So we continue to take one for the team, the league and the suspect social media platform, and slog forward.

Who’s up next?

The Dodgers, Angels and every MLB team go into each season knowing they could have as many as nine games lifted from their local schedule and taken by ESPN, Fox or TBS. That’s one thing. The exposure is pretty good, and the teams are compensated well.

Games on Facebook are announced at the start of each month, so we know that only Milwaukee-St. Louis (April 11), Kansas City-Toronto (April 18) and Arizona-Philadelphia (April 26) are locked in for more fun and games.

Yet those three national networks would probably fight harder to keep a Dodgers or Angels game for themselves at some point in this six-month season rather than have Facebook snatch it away, so the odds aren’t as likely that Southern Californians will suffer this layer of confusion and anxiety just witnessed by many in the Philly and N.Y. markets not prepared for this inconvenience.

The Dodgers are one of seven teams, along with the Blue Jays, Pirates, Astros, Rockies, Orioles and Nationals, whose games are available on either an RSN or, when lucky enough, a national broadcast, so cord cutters don’t always do well surviving this situation.

The other somewhat ironic part to this is some Dodgers followers have already figured out some end-arounds to the SportsNet LA access — Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) or a Virtual Private Network (VPN), watching on Chromecast or Roku, hiding their L.A. location from MLB.tv through Unlocator.com, which unblocks streaming services.

But Facebook has also been a cyber-communal gathering spot for not-so-secret society of those who transmit their SportsNet LA feeds onto their FB accounts. It has created a group-watch experience, complete with commentary, that some rather enjoy.

There is some merit to this way in which people are going to use Facebook and MLB feeds, one that behooves both companies to get ahead of it. But ultimately, if MLB thinks it is tapping into a younger demo by having a Facebook relationship, someone there must know that, while there are plenty in the 18-to-34 range among the 2.2 billion monthly active users, the average age skews at 40 and older.

The numbers that came out of the Wednesday experiment also show there were 1.1 million engagements and 4.3 million views of at least three seconds, along with 68,000 comments. Not at all a threat to the main delivery of games over TV sets.

As Michael Mulvihill, the Fox Sports guru of research, strategy and analytics, explained on Twitter on Thursday, the average length of a view on the Facebook game was just a little more than three minutes as people likely popped in and out.

“The audience for Facebook’s game supports the idea that streaming is only a complement to TV for sports, not a replacement,” Mulvihill said. “When your audience is (more than) 90 percent lower than the lowest-rated broadcast game ever, that’s not much of a case for replacement.”

Facebook released a statement Thursday that read in part: “We’re still in the early days of having live sports on Facebook Watch and are learning with every broadcast we have on the platform.”

Tony Petitti, the deputy commissioner of business and media for the MLB, said earlier in the week to New York Newsday that “we are just trying to figure out ways to bring our content to as many platforms where fans aggregate as possible … Obviously it might be a little tricky, but we want to be respectful of our fans. There’s always going to be, when you test new things, a little bit of disruption.”

As to how that disruption measures out, we’ll leave it for Cambridge Analytica to crunch the numbers for its Facebook friends.

Measuring media mayhem

What smokes

* HBO’s presentation (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) of the documentary “Andre The Giant” comes primarily from the Bill Simmons Media Group and WWE, one of the original “30 for 30” pieces that Simmons had lobbied for almost 10 years ago when he was at ESPN. The narrative of André René Roussimoff, who died at 46 in 1993, was how a man 7-feet-4 and almost 500 pounds survived as an athlete and actor at a time when he really wasn’t in on the joke.

* ESPN has a “SportsCenter All-Access” real-time look into “what it takes to create the iconic sports news and information program” on Tuesday at 7 p.m., following the Yankees-Red Sox telecast, and continuing until 9 p.m. Steve Levy and transplanted Fox Sports West guy Michael Eaves anchor with Elle Duncan and Marty Smith to go around the studios, control room and highlight-editing work spaces. Sounds slightly intriguing as much as it can be self-serving.

What chokes

* The L.A. market wasn’t much help in getting a viewership push behind Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball national championship game that featured a one-sided Villanova victory over Michigan. With the game on TBS predictably drawing fewer eyes than it would on CBS – it did an all-time low 10.3 overnight — L.A. came in at 8.0, 49th out of the 56 markets. L.A. was even less robust for Saturday’s Final Four, also on TBS, with a 5.7 rating (47th nationally).

* As part of the new ESPN+ over-the-top, $4.95 service that ESPN will launch starting Thursday, a 15-episode “basketball analysis show” called “Detail,” created and hosted by Kobe Bryant, will be available through the NBA playoffs, the parties announced this week. Otherwise, the “exclusive content” for this on-demand platform for the redesigned EPSPN app isn’t all that impressive — limited live MLB, NHL, PGA, tennis, MLS and boxing events, but no NFL. There is also access to a documentary on the volatile life and times of former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight (who ESPN then decided to hire as a college hoops analyst), and the “30 for 30” doc library. If you want to be an “early adapter” to this service, knock yourself out.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/07/hoffarth-mlb-on-facebook-not-in-our-wildest-streams/

Play it Forward April 2-8: Tiger Woods’ revival makes Masters a must-watch

Ranking the top 10 sports events April 2-8 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: GOLF: THE 82nd MASTERS TOURNAMENT
Details/TV: At Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Thursday-Sunday, ESPN, Channel 2

This whole Tiger Woods resurrection story coming on the heels of Easter week sounds fundamentally freaky yet wistfully wonderous. But there are a bunch of us already in this category of the Doubting Justin Thomas.

Woods, the four-time Masters champion (’97, ’01, ’02, ’05), could come all the way back from personal and physical setbacks, get everything working together and somehow win his fifth career green jacket at Augusta at age 42 – just four years shy of when Jack Nicklaus mastered his one-for-the-ages victory there in an epic 1986 event. It would also push him past Arnold Palmer for most career Masters wins into second place, behind Nicklaus’ six.

Oddly, the oddsmakers are over-generously giving Woods a 9-to-1 favorite status of doing this, although it’s just ahead of Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy (10/1). We gotta believe surging Riviera champ and recent Match Play victory Bubba Watson (16/1, with Phil Mickelson) is a much smarter play. Even defending champion Sergio Garcia (25/1 odds of a repeat).

Still … when there is a Tiger lurking in the woods …

“I think it’s interesting that we have talked when Tiger has been down the last five years, that the young kids are so much better than they used to be, and they’re not intimidated anymore,” said ESPN analyst Curtis Strange. “Well, I’ve got to tell you, Jack Nicklaus is still intimidating to me at 78 years old. So if Tiger Woods continues to play well, there is a real influence of intimidation out there, the way he carries himself, the way he acts, the way he plays, and then the aura about him. It’s not just about how he hits the golf ball. So there is an effect that affects everybody. And if he’s on the last tee next Sunday playing against whoever it is, there’s one guy that’s going to be more nervous than the next guy, and it’s not going to be Tiger Woods.”

ESPN coverage Thursday and Friday is noon to 4:30 p.m. CBS’ coverage is Saturday (noon-to-4 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-to-4 p.m.)

NO. 2: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP:
VILLANOVA vs. MICHIGAN
Details/TV: At the Alamodome in San Antonio, Monday at 6:20 p.m., TBS

From USC’s snub, to UCLA’s disinterested loss in the play-in game, to Cal State Fullerton’s quick exit against Purdue in Detroit, we’ve rallied to this juncture in the dance where the Wildcats (35-4) are a 7-plus point favorite over the Wolverines (33-7), the greatest point-spread margin since Duke was favored over Butler in 2010.

Imagine what it would be if Loyola of Chicago had knocked out Michigan. Or if UMBC made it to this point. The two brands win out over the rest, and as long as neither has FBI guys sniffing around their locker rooms, all should be NCAA-groovy.

NO. 3: NHL: STARS at KINGS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West

DUCKS at COYOTES
Details/TV: At Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., Saturday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket

The last list we saw concerning the playoff breakdown, the Kings were given an 85.9 percent chance of making the Western Conference final eight, and the Ducks had a 78.9 percent shot.

Colorado is the one who could mess it all up. After these Saturday’s regular-season finales, everyone must put their buzzers down and see how the standings shake out. The NHL playoffs official begin April 11. Check local listings in your area.

Also this week for the Kings: At Staples Center vs. Colorado, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Staples Center vs. Minnesota, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW

Also this week for the Ducks: At Honda Center in Anaheim vs. Minnesota, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Honda Center vs. Dallas, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket.

Also this week in hockey: NCAA men’s championships, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., Saturday at 4:30 p.m., ESPN. Minnesota-Duluth vs. Ohio State and Notre Dame vs. Michigan are Thursday’s semifinals.

 

NO. 4: MLB: INDIANS at ANGELS
Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Monday and Tuesday at 7:07 p.m., Wednesday at 1:07 p.m., Fox Sports West

MLB: DODGERS at DIAMONDBACKS
Details/TV: At Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday and Tuesday at 6:40 p.m., Wednesday at 12:40 p.m., SportsNet LA

It always made more sense to us to have East Coast MLB teams start the season on the West Coast. Whether or not you believe in weather history, it makes more sense (ask the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers this year, whose opening days last Thursday were postponed and they continue to struggle through the mess).

The Cleveland Indians, who started the season in Seattle, make their way down to Anaheim for Games 3, 4 and 5 before going back home – the only visit of the year by the club that won 102 games last season and won the AL Central by 17 games.

JC Ramirez is scheduled to face Mike Clevinger in the Angels’ home opener, with former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber pitching Wednesday for the Indians.

The Dodgers’ short hop to Phoenix gives Clayton Kershaw his second start of the season on Tuesday, but Zack Greinke, who pitched last Saturday, will miss his turn here.

Also this week for the Angels: At Angel Stadium vs. Oakland, Friday at 7:07 p.m,. Saturday at 6:07 p.m., Sunday at 1:07 p.m., Fox Sports West

Also this week for the Dodgers: At San Francisco, Friday at 7:15 p.m., SNLA; Saturday at 1:05 p.m., SNLA, Channel 5; Sunday at 1:05 p.m., SNLA

NO. 5: NBA: TIMBERWOLVES vs. LAKERS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m. Spectrum SportsNet

At long last, the Elgin Baylor statue will be added to outskirts of Staples Center in a ceremony before the game. They waited a long time for this, and even longer so that visiting Minnesota, the place he started his NBA career for two seasons as a 24- and 25-year-old, was able to be the opponent. On top of all this, a new book about Baylor’s life, “Hang Time: My Life In Basketball,” is also coming out April 10.

Also this week for the Lakers: At Utah, Tuesday at 6 p.m., SSN; At Staples Center vs. San Antonio, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., SSN; At Staples Center vs. Utah, Sunday at 3 p.m., SSN

Also this week for the Clippers: At Staples Center vs. San Antonio, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT; at Utah, Thursday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Staples Center vs. Denver, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket.

NO. 6: HORSE RACING: 81st SANTA ANITA DERBY
Details/TV: At Santa Anita Race Track, Saturday at 3:30 p.m., TVG

McKinzie, who went head-to-head with Bolt D’Oro in the recent San Felipe Stakes but was placed second after winning because of interference, reportedly will miss this major Kentucky Derby prep because of a hind leg injury. That leaves Bolt D’Oro as the heavy favorite here against Instilled Regard.

Also this week: Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial, Saturday at 2:30 p.m., NBCSN.

NO. 7: MLS: KANSAS CITY at GALAXY
Details/TV: At StubHub Center in Carson, Sunday at 6 p.m., FS1
MLS: LAFC at ATLANTA
Details/TV: At Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN, YouTube TV

The MLS must immediately rearrange its schedule to have an LAFC-Galaxy contest played at least once a week until November. These two games are just another exercise before the next El Trafico on July 26.

NO. 8: CURLING: MEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GOLD MEDAL GAME
Details/TV: At The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Sunday at 5 p.m., NBCSN

Brooms up: For those who didn’t get enough of this during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, go to the desert to see some more.

Here, Russia is back to being an officially recognized country this time, going up against the recent Olympic gold-medal winning Team U.S., silver medalist Sweden, bronze medalist Switzerland, plus Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Japan, China, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Korea.

Teams from the event that started March 31 has 25 sessions, including three most days at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m., plus the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the bronze medal game at noon on Sunday. Coverage all week leading to the final on Olympic Channel.

More information: www.lasvegascurling.rocks

NO. 9: COLLEGE BASEBALL
STANFORD at UCLA
Details/TV: At Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

The nation’s third-ranked Cardinal (20-3, 5-1), which earlier this season swept USC by scores of 5-1, 11-1 and 18-0, comes to L.A. to measure up against the No.15 Bruins (16-7, 6-3), who have won 12 of 15 at home this season.

UCLA has lost three of its last four, with their only win in that stretch credited to starter Zach Pettway (5-0, 2.23 ERA), the freshman from Long Beach Wilson.

Also this week for UCLA: At Loyola Marymount, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Also this week for USC: At UC Santa Barbara, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; At Arizona State, Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Arizona State, Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.; At Goodwin Field vs. Cal Poly, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Long Beach State: At Lake Elsinore Stadium vs. San Diego State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Blair Field in Long Beach vs. UC Irvine, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Irvine: At San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Long Beach State, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Riverside: At Riverside Sports Complex vs. Cal State Northridge, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Pepperdine, Tuesday at 2 p.m.; at UC Riverside, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Pepperdine: At Eddy F. Field in Malibu vs. Cal State Northridge, Tuesday at 2 p.m.; At Eddie F. Field in Malibu vs. Pacific, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for LMU: At Page Stadium in Westchester vs. UCLA, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At San Diego, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

NO. 10: FUNDRAISER: 38th annual “SWIM WITH MIKE”
Details: Uytengsu Aquatics Center at USC, Saturday at 9 a.m.

The event that has raised nearly $20 million since its inception, with more than $1 million scholarship funds going to more than 50 physically challenged recipients to help them with their education has expanded to a wheelchair basketball tournament (Friday and Saturday 1 p.m.) and a masters water polo game.

More info: https://www.swimwithmike.org/ campaigns/usc/

 

ALSO:

TENNIS: DAVIS CUP QUARTERFINALS
U.S. vs. BELGIUM
Details/TV: At Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tenn., Friday-Sunday, Tennis Channel

The indoor hardcourt is the choice for Team USA as it gets to the quarterfinals for the third straight year, coming off a 3-0 sweep of Serbia last February on clay as captain Jim Courier goes with Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson in this round. The semifinals are in mid-September and the final in late November.

In other quarterfinal play, the matchups are Italy-France, Spain-Germany and Croatia-Kazakhstan.

 

INDYCAR: PHOENIX GRAND PRIX
Details/TV: At Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., Saturday at 6 p.m., NBCSN

Sebastien Bourdais started the IRL season with a win at St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11, and this second of 17 races this season funnels into the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15.

Marco Andretti plans to honor his grandfather by driving his No. 98 Andrett-Herta Autosport Honda with the black, white and red paint scheme that Mario Andretti had in his final Indy car win 25 years ago on this track.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/01/play-it-forward-april-2-8-tiger-woods-revival-makes-masters-a-must-watch/

Hoffarth: Matt Vasgersian ready for prime-time player status in new ESPN booth

ESPN figured at least one vital piece of intel about its new “Sunday Night Baseball” team with Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez and Jessica Mendoza, based on their Opening Day performance at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

If Jennifer Lopez can arrange an ad-lib cameo between innings in the booth and allow it to be taped-to-air, there’s the potential to SpaceX this thing into new corners of the social media galaxy never before dreamed when original broadcasters John Miller and Joe Morgan had their 20-plus year run.

“Unbelievable. How is that news?” Vasgersian laughed over a hipster power breakfast Friday morning at a trendy Venice cafe, noting his wife had just called to tell him that ARod-JLo moment (it’s J-Rod now?) was captured as the top story on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“It was the only time when I got texts from my idiot friends Thursday,” Vasgersian continued. “‘Did you meet JLo?’ ‘Is she as pretty in person?’ I did a nine-inning, Giants-Dodgers, 1-0 game with Kershaw, and that’s the moment that resonates with you?”

Obviously, the real news is that the power couple just bought a $15.3 million condo in a Park Avenue tower in New York City, according to Harper’s Bazaar. But’s that some bizarre news that the Vasgersian-ARod-Mendoza team can break down during their next game, which is the first Sunday-slotted broadcast of the season taking the Dodgers and Giants opening series finale (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.).

So here is Vasgersian, the 1989 USC grad, former child actor and Universal Studios Tour guide who just turned 50, with a wealth of experience being around celebrities as well as calling games for the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres before a run at the MLB Network. He explains how he sees the stars aligning for this latest stage of his career:

Q: What were the positive takeaways from Thursday’s Opening Day telecast, adding onto what you did already did together in some practice studio games and a spring telecast?

A: The biggest positive for me was the “want.” We all want this to be really good. It’s always your intention when you’re hired for a job to do a good job, but there’s extra here because there is some built-in skepticism – Jessica still faces that over just being a woman in the booth, Alex has detractors and I was brought in “outside the family.” There were people that made this happen, who put their faith in us. For us, and for them, we want this to be really good, the pre-eminent presentation of the game on Sunday night. It’s the stand-alone game. It’s a big deal. And it’s a franchise, too.

I’ve kind of likened “Sunday Night Baseball” to “Saturday Night Live,” where someone who really doesn’t watch it will, as a first reaction, say, “Oh, I liked it better 10 years ago. … The booth in the mid-’90s was better.” Whatever that means. It’s the same way some will react to “SNL”: “The Belushi, Aykroyd, Chevy Chase years were better. … Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy were better …” Well, have you watched since then?

By the way, what you’re seeing of those shows now are 30-minute cutdowns. There were huge elements of “SNL” in the ’70s and ’80s that were terrible even when it was the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players.” The first two years were two-hour shows and about an hour and 50 minutes of it was garbage. But that one sketch that resonated lives forever, so we assume the whole show was great back then. I feel as if there is a parallel there with “Sunday Night Baseball.”

Q: Does that mean you’re bringing the Muppets into the ESPN booth?

A: That’s right, the Muppets were once in “SNL.” Holy (bleep). That’s what I’m talking about. It was not that good.

Q: Alex Rodriguez’s addition brings a lighting-rod superstar thing maybe “SNB” has never had before. Is your directive now to bring him into the broadcast at pertinent moments, versus what you’ve been asked to do in any other play-by-play assignments? He is the star of the show, right?

A: He is for sure the star and I’m happy to assist in maintaining that. But more so than just highlighting Alex the Renaissance Man, I want to bring out what a good baseball guy he is. I think that’s what he is at the end of the day. Think what you will personally, but he’s one of a handful of greatest players of his generation. Not just because of what he could do physically, but he has such great baseball sensibilities and great at the nuances of the game. That’s what everyone at ESPN is interested in hearing from him.

I think (new CBS NFL analyst and former Dallas quarterback) Tony Romo kind of changed the way this is all being done now, and I don’t think he intended to do that. But he did. What we knew to be your father’s analyst over baseball, talking over a picture, telling us what we’re seeing on TV, we’re trying to not do that. And that’s hard.

Q: Add to that how you incorporate Jessica, based on her experience now. How has your opinion of her work changed for you?

A: I like Jessica a lot. I met her in 2004 at the Olympics (while Mendoza was playing for Team USA and Vasgersian was the primary broadcaster of the games). She has a star quality to her. You get the sense as a viewer she knew her stuff and did her homework. What I’ve got from her the last month is her fascination of the science of baseball. Not just launch angle and exit velocity, but in things like what it takes to swing a bat, repeating the mechanics. She’ll make extra phone calls too. Doing that extra layer of work that not many will actually do.

I know (ESPN) wants this booth to be conversational, but when I think of those directions, I think back to how Jessica and (Aaron) Boone and Dan (Shulman) were very conversational (during their brief run together from late 2015 through 2017). I really liked that a lot.

Q: When ESPN had a conference call to announce how you and ARod and Jessica were the new team last January, it came up that ARod specifically asked that you were one of the choices to be his partner. He was comfortable with you and maybe a couple others, and that was important to this whole dynamic. Then there was a report in the New York Post trying to frame this as an ARod power-play move — ESPN supposedly was interested in Bob Costas or a host of other ESPN staffers, but they went with you because of ARod’s wishes. Did that rub you strange in any way?

A: That did rub me a little bit. I felt it minimized the fact I’ve done this my entire adult life, six years in the minors, 13 years working for a club and now eight years at MLB Network. I’ve got a lot of skin in the game. I felt like I was kind of ancillary damage at the shot they were trying to take at Alex, that he was trying to be a bit of an ogre, which couldn’t be any more false. I was having conversations with ESPN about this before I even shared the same agent with Alex. I’ve known Alex a bit before all this. That’s kind of the way it went. The piece in the Post, I was an innocent bystander but it make me feel minimized, which kind of sucked.

Q: Is that how this business can work, in dealing with egos and jealousies and all other kinds of politics and rumors you’d rather not even have to deal with? How do you work around any of that?

A: Just let me do the job. If after three months of this you think I stink, say that. But you’re going to blast me before I even start.

Q: Still, based on Opening Night, you’re already ahead of the game allowing JLo into the booth whenever you feel the need to make everyone else jealous.

A: Look, if it needs to be stunted up with her – one walk in and one peck on the cheek – we will trend.

Q: We’ve talked in the past about how at one point or another, you had been mentioned as a possible next-up whenever Vin Scully was going to retire with the Dodgers. If you had a do-over, would you have tried harder to position yourself to get this Dodgers full-time job, or did your experiences with the Brewers and Padres make you realize that it’s a lifestyle and travel schedule that you just didn’t think was what you wanted?

A: It is a grind. Going back on the road for 180 days? Doing the Brewers and Padres for 13 years was a blast and I’m glad I did it because it gave me my chops to be able to do what I’m doing now. But it’s tough with a family. My wife has never lived outside of New Jersey. She’s got two teenage daughters and we have a 3-year-old son. It wouldn’t be the right choice now to say we’re moving to L.A. and I’ll see you in November. The Dodger job has always been kind of the Holy Grail. Joe Davis was perfectly positioned when it came up to do it. You can’t say no to the Dodgers at 29. The difference between Joe getting the Dodgers at 29 and filling in for Scully versus me doing the Brewers at age 29 in 1997 was that the Brewers didn’t even have a full TV package back then. And no offense, but that market isn’t L.A. It’s not nearly as daunting as what he tackled. And he’s done it really, really well.

Q: Actually, as it turns out, didn’t you replace Scully in the booth for “MLB The Show” video game in 2006 for Sony PlayStation?

A: I still have more people think I started my career as a video game guy, based only on doing this game. I get more play on that game than anything. We’ve had Dave Campbell, Rex Hudler, Eric Karros, Steve Lyons, Harold Reynolds … now it’s Dan Plesac and Mark DeRosa with me. That’s been my job security. We update it at various times during the year at the MLB studios. You know, it’s really one of the things I’m most proud of – the other end of the time when I did the XFL. The game is really good and there are super talented people involved with it. It’s cool when a friend’s kid gets a charge of meeting you based on this game.

Q: Could this really be your legacy?

A: I think it is. Honesty.

Q: The Sunday Night Baseball gig could go for years and you’ll take the video game fame.

A: I could seriously win a Peabody Award and they’ll still know me as the guy from the video game.

MEASURING MEDIA MAYHEM

WHAT SMOKES

* The fourth season of the groundbreaking “We Need To Talk” sports discussion platform on CBS Sports Net has finally expanded to a year-round monthly program, starting with a special at the NCAA men’s final four in San Antonio at 4 p.m. Sunday. The all-female crew brings in Dana Jacobson, Lisa Leslie, Allie LaForce and Swin Cash for this episode, as a rotating cast continues with Tracy Wolfson, Andrea Kremer, Dara Torres, Summer Sanders, Aditi Kinkhabwala, Katrina Adams, Lesley Visser, Amy Trask and Laila Ali. The show is produced by Emilie Deutsch and Suzanne Smith.

https://twitter.com/ TurnerSportsPR/status/ 978647471332016128

* Turner Sports’ “Bleacher Report Live” premium live sports streaming service will launch April 7 as “the central hub for both the discovery and consumption of live sports content,” according to the network announcement. “Flexible price options” to live games or a subscription service will be announced this summer. The NBA League Pass is the key component of what Turner offers in this package, and that will also change to allow viewers to watch a game in progress at a reduced rate starting with the 2018-19 regular season. “When we first acquired Bleacher Report in 2012, we knew the definition of a network was changing and we anticipated a time when B/R would become a virtual network,” said Turner president David Levy. Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms already in the works like this one include CBS Sports HQ, launched last month, and ESPN+ coming soon for $4.99 a month.

WHAT CHOKES

* The announcement this weekend that the likable Grant Hill will be inducted into the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame all but ensures the TBS/CBS production of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will keep him as part of a Jim Nantz-Bill Raftery broadcast booth. It’s a great distinction for the former Duke star, but it will effectively stunt the growth potential of this particular threesome. It might have looked nice on paper when it was drawn up before the 2015 tournament, an arrangement made necessary by the news Greg Anthony would no longer be with the A-team because of personal indiscretion and co-analyst Steve Kerr was leaving to coach the Golden State Warriors. We’re ready to call it all a wash at this point. Nantz, the play-by-play voice every year since 1991, brings adequate gravitas to the broadcast, but a Reggie Miller or a Steve Lavin would do better as the second and third voices, proven through their work on the tournament. Or, there’s always Bill Walton waiting in the wings to insert himself.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/31/hoffarth-matt-vasgersian-ready-for-prime-time-player-status-in-new-espn-booth/

Play it Forward March 26 to April 1: Dodgers, Angels usher West Coast MLB presence into a Season 60 vs. Bay Area foes

Ranking the top 10 sports events March 26-April 1 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: MLB SEASON OPENERS
GIANTS at DODGERS
Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Thursday, 4 p.m., ESPN
ANGELS at ATHLETICS
Details/TV: At Oakland Coliseum, Thursday, 1:05 p.m., FSW

Sixty years ago, the first West Coast MLB game was a bit taxing for the Dodgers – on April 15, Don Drysdale took the brunt of an 8-0 loss to the Giants before just 23,448 at the old Seals Stadium in San Francisco. The 21-year-old Drysdale, coming off a 17-9 season in the Dodgers’ last year in Brooklyn, surrendered five hits and three walks and led him to get charged with six earned runs before Walter Alston took him out of the game trailing 4-0 with two out in the fourth. Willie Mays followed with a bases-loaded single to drive in two more of Drysdale’s runners and break things open.

Welcome to the earliest opening day in MLB history, the byproduct of a new collective bargaining agreement that yielded to the players wanting more days off during the season. Considering that the Dodgers’ 2017 season ended in early November, they’ve had about 150 days to process what happened in the seventh game of the World Series. Time’s up.

A Dodgers’ home opener is usually a day game, not late afternoon battling with shadows. But as ESPN decided it wanted to fit this into its four-game Opening Day broadcast window, Clayton Kershaw’s fastball will probably look even more unhittable before darkness falls.

Meanwhile, Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ 23-year-old from Japan who, despite a less-than-stellar spring indoctrination, should start at DH in their opener at Oakland, and then pitch in the third game on Saturday. It’s never too early to see what Anaheim has to work with here. Who’ll be the Angels’ starting pitcher on Opening Day? Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker and JC Ramírez are the options for Mike Scioscia, starting his 19th season as manager, to figure out.

Also this week for the Dodgers: vs. Giants, Friday, 7:10 p.m., SNLA, Ch. 5; Saturday, 6:10 p.m., SNLA; Sunday, 5 p.m., ESPN
Also this week for the Angels: at Athletics, Friday, 7:05 p.m.; Saturday, 1:05 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m., FSW
Also this week on Thursday’s MLB Opening Day: Cubs at Marlins, 9:30 a.m., ESPN; Astros at Rangers, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Indians at Mariners, 7 p.m., ESPN
Also this week: The Dodgers-Angels Freeway Exhibition series continues Monday and Tuesday at Dodger Stadium (7:10 p.m., SNLA, FSW)

NO. 2: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
MEN’S NCAA FINAL FOUR
LOYOLA-CHICAGO vs. MICHIGAN
VILLANOVA vs. KANSAS
Details/TV: at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, 3 p.m. and 6:20 p.m., TBS

Did you know: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the 98-year-old team chaplain of the Loyola-Chicago team getting as much TV time the last two weeks as any of the 11-seeded Ramblers, had a 20-year run in the Los Angeles Archdioceses, including time as a teacher and principal at St. Brendan Elementary School in the St. Andrews Square neighborhood of L.A. “Worship, work and win!” has been her message, as well as the endorsement of a bobblehead and a special-made pair of maroon and yellow Nikes that have her name stitched on them. Loyola (32-5), which famously won the 1963 NCAA title, is a 5 ½-point underdog and given just a 26.4 percentage chance of beating Big Ten champion and 1989 national champion Michigan (32-7), according to the ESPN “Matchup Predictor.” In the second semifinal of two No. 1 seeds, coach Jay Wright’s Villanova (34-4), which won it all in 2016, is a five-point favorite at VegasInsider.com over Kansas (31-7), a program that Bill Self coached to a championship 10 years ago.

Also this week: Tuesday’s NIT semifinals pit Western Kentucky against Utah (4 p.m., ESPN) and Penn State against Mississippi State (6 p.m., ESPN), leading into Thursday’s final (4 p.m., ESPN) at Madison Square Garden in New York

 

NO. 3: NHL: KINGS at DUCKS
Details/TV: at Honda Center in Anaheim, Friday, 7 p.m., Ch. 13

The Kings and Ducks may be tied for the third spot in the Pacific Division when this arrives, leaving that uncomfortable feeling about who’ll eventually drop to fend for themselves against Colorado and St. Louis for the last two Western Conference wild-card spots. This will be the season tiebreaker of their season head-to-head series. The Ducks posted a 2-1 win at Anaheim and 4-2 at Staples Center when they played two games in a six-day span in mid-January. The Kings’ wins of 4-3 in OT and 2-1 in a shootout came back in November.
Also this week for the Kings: vs. Flames, Monday, 7:30 p.m., FSW; vs. Coyotes, Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Prime

Also this week for the Ducks: at Canucks, Tuesday, 7 p.m., Prime; vs. Avalanche, Sunday, 6 p.m., FSW

 

NO. 4: MLS: LAFC at GALAXY
Details/TV: Saturday, noon, Ch. 11, Youtube TV

Previously overhyped meetings between the Galaxy and their former sublease tenant Chivas USA were branded “SuperClasico,” as well as “L.A. Derby” and “El Clasico Angelino.” The new LAFC has to grind down the 110 Freeway and merge over to the 91 before finding Carson, so it’s been suggested this new rivalry be called “El Traffico.” The game was declared a 27,000-seat sellout a few weeks ago, well before the Galaxy acquired 36-year-old global Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The two have two more meetings this season: July 26 at the new Banc of California Stadium (a Thursday night ESPN telecast) and again on Aug. 24 at StubHub Center (a Friday nighter, again on ESPN)

 

NO. 5: NBA: BUCKS at CLIPPERS
Details/TV: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., TNT, Prime

NBA: BUCKS at LAKERS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

Something perhaps overlooked in Sunday’s “60 Minutes” piece about the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo: In his age-23 season, the “Greek Freak” is averaging 26.3 points per 36 minutes on 53.1 percent shooting, posting a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 27.7. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to their only NBA title in his age-23 season,  he averaged 28.4 points per 36 minutes on 57.7 percent shooting with a PER of 29.0. That was Abdul-Jabbar’s second NBA season; Antetokounmpo is in his fifth season. He tweaked an ankle during the Bucks’ 127-120 loss to the Clippers last week in Milwaukee, but has since returned after missing one game. Between facing the Clippers and Lakers, the Bucks go to Golden State for a Thursday night contest.

Also this week for the Clippers: at Suns, Wednesday, 7 p.m., Prime; at Trail Blazers, Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN; vs. Pacers, Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Prime

Also this week for the Lakers: at Pistons, Monday, 4 p.m., SpecSN; vs. Mavericks, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., SpecSN; vs. Kings, Sunday, 6:30 p.m., SpecSN

 

NO. 6: GOLF: LPGA TOUR ANA INSPIRATION
Details/TV: at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Thursday-Sunday, Golf Ch.

So Yeon Ryu won this major a year ago by defeating 2014 champion Lexi Thompson with a birdie on the first playoff hole, the par-5 No. 18. This started in 1972 as the Dinah Shore Invitational and became an LPGA major 35 years ago. Golf Channel has final-round coverage from 2-6 p.m. Sunday.

Also this week: PGA Tour Houston Open at GC of Houston in Humble, Tex., Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel and Channel 4

 

NO. 7: COLLEGE BASEBALL
UCLA at CAL
Details/TV: at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Thursday, 7:05 p.m.; Friday, 6:05 p.m.; Saturday, 2:05 p.m.

The Bruins (15-5) had a five-game Pac-12 win streak snapped last Sunday with a 4-0 loss against ASU, but should maintain their Top 20 national ranking. Zach Pettway, the freshman right-hander out of Long Beach Wilson, has jumped out to a team-best 4-0 record and 2.35 ERA in six games (five starts), holding hitters to a .196 average.

Also this week for USC (11-9): at Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday, 6 p.m.; vs. Washington, Thursday-Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m.
Also this week for Cal State Fullerton (9-12): vs. USC, Tuesday, 6 p.m.; at UC Santa Barbara, Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m.
Also this week for Long Beach State (10-14): vs. San Diego State, Tuesday, 6 p.m.; at Fresno State, Thursday-Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m.
Also this week for UC Irvine (12-10): vs. Loyola Marymount, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.; vs. Hawaii, Thursday-Friday, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m.
Also this week for UC Riverside (10-9): at Fresno State, Tuesday, 6 p.m.; vs. UC Davis, Thursday-Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday, 1 p.m.
Also this week for Cal State Northridge (9-14): vs. Cal State Bakersfield, Tuesday, 2 p.m.; vs. Cal Poly, Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m., Saturday, 1 p.m.
Also this week for Pepperdine (10-13): vs. UC Santa Barbara, Tuesday, 3 p.m.; vs. BYU, Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m., Saturday, 1 p.m.
Also this week for Loyola Marymount (12-11): at UC Irvine, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.; at University of Pacific in Stockton, Thursday-Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday, 1 p.m.

 

NO. 8: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
WOMEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
Details/TV: At Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Sunday, 4 p.m., ESPN

Very unlike the men’s side, this could be a Final Four of four No. 1 seeds, as Louisville and Mississippi State (having just eliminated UCLA) won their way in and will meet in Friday’s semifinals, while UConn (vs. defending champion South Carolina, Monday, 4 p.m.) and Notre Dame (vs. Oregon, Monday, 6 p.m.) and have one more step to make.

 

NO. 9: BOXING: ANTHONY JOSHUA vs. JOSEPH PARKER
Details/TV: at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, 2 p.m., Showtime

The world is sort of unifying its heavyweight champion in this one before an expected 80,000 fans. The U.K.’s Joshua (20-0) has the WBA and IBF belts and New Zealand’s Parker (24-0) has the WBO belt. Perhaps the winner will then have to do one more unification exercise, as there sits American Deontay Wilder, holding the WBC heavyweight belt with a 40-0 record. He will be watching ringside as part of the Sky Sports broadcast team.

 

NO. 10: NFL ANNUAL MEETINGS
Details/TV: in Orlando, Fla., through Wednesday

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to hold a press conference when this ends, with the goal of having a better explanation of what clearly defines a catch and what doesn’t. That’s one of the 27 proposals on the agenda. Another one that one that the Chargers, Cardinals and 49ers are backing – limit West Coast teams to only three games per season that begin at 1 p.m. on the East Coast. Last year, the 49ers and Cardinals had five of them; the Seahawks had none. The stats bear out that playing an early Sunday game after long travels results in the road team’s win rate dropping from 45.2 percent to 33.5 percent.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/25/play-it-forward-march-26-to-april-dodgers-angels-usher-west-coast-mlb-presence-into-a-season-60-vs-bay-area-foes/

Hoffarth on the media: SportsNet LA’s fifth season crosses old issues with new concerns

Trying to take everyone’s best interest into consideration, we offer you this public service warning: Year 5 of the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. Hostage Crisis is upon us. Exit at your own health and financial risk.

From purely a sports media or business story, there is no news to report about additional distribution in the days before the 2018 MLB season is to begin. When the team and partner in crime Charter Communications released a statement a month ago about the latest feeble attempt to farm out five games in April to KTLA-Channel 5, it buried the line that “other distributors are not expected to carry SportsNet LA this season.”

Both Spectrum, the Charter rebrand of the Time Warner original enabler, nor the Dodgers, coming off a World Series appearance and winners of four straight NL West titles since the launch of the channel, would prefer you did not see either of them operating from a position of weakness at this stage of their 25-year, $8.3 billion agreement.

In as bizarro way, both seem to be doing just fine with everything.

Sources tell us Charter gets by with continuing to write off these annual financial losses on its balance sheets through some terrific tax laws in place. The Dodgers not only go full spigot in this revenue stream, but whatever ways they’ve manipulated attendance figures and ticket income make it look as if they’ve created a situation where coming out to the ballpark is a special, added value, like having to pay for another live performance of  “Hamilton.”

And the third part of this equation – a lack of cooperation from AT&T’s DirecTV – hasn’t cracked either. The math bears it out. In what they call an “enterprise evaluation,” DirecTV would have to lose about 20,000 subscribers before it even considers adding SportsNet LA to its menu, even with a ballpark $5 price tag per subscriber per month. They’re barely a fourth of the way to that threshold, even as the asinine TV commercials continue with a group of actors dressed as monsters propping up the simplistic message: “Satellite TV Bad. Spectrum Good.”

Five years in, we seem to giving life to the metaphor of the boiling frog – the Dodgers and Spectrum have managed to kill us through a progressively slow source of heat. We have no hopping anger left in us.

But even so, the narrative feels as if it’s about to pivot to a much longer-term and darker reality for all who stand to prosper.

THE ADJUSTMENT PERIOD

It is generally accepted that more than half, and as much as 70 percent, of Southern Californian homes can’t access SportsNet LA. The hairs are split over whether or not those who have a choice to drop DirecTV and get Spectrum aren’t doing so because of the perceived inconvenience it may cause them.

Whatever the number, the reality is that those slotted as Seniors and Baby Boomers face the most anxiety over all this. Pair that up with the face that the average age of a TV baseball viewer skews into the upper 50-year-old range.

In an enlightening new book by Susan Jacoby called “Why Baseball Matters” (Yale University Books), the author applauds the game for its history of being able to reinvent itself over time and make it somewhat immune to generational staleness. But the graying of the fan base is something those who run the game “refuse to talk about on the record,” she writes.

Add to that our digital-age natives, ranging from newborns to those in the mid-30s, who have conflicted motivation to invest time in watching a full game play out on TV.

“Any baseball game is a process, not a series of disjointed, disconnected events,” Jacoby writes. “The digital world is not about process but about instant delivery of results, so it is logical that younger viewers find it more difficult to focus on baseball.”

But even if that hurdle is cleared, those members of the emerging Generation Cord Cutters are more likely to resourcefully circumvent traditional means of obtaining a SportsNet LA service. They may have not ever seen what a cable bill looks like – including the sneaky “sports surcharge” now up to $11.55 that tries to offset the increasing costs of channels weighted down by absorbing sports rights fees.

Hardwired into manipulating delivery through an Xbox or Slingbox, seeking out a Facebook friend with a bootleg feed, or working around the MLB.tv servers with fake IDs, this next demographic of viewers don’t bother “calling their providers” and “demanding” SNLA access on a website by punching in their zip code into static message.

They’ve already given the blueprint to the generation coming after them. They have even taught the older viewers how to just tune into the MLB Network to get a few live cut-ins each night, and then DVR the extended highlight packages during the “Quick Pitch” programming to watch the next morning.

That said, these media consumers of the Dodgers were also not attaching themselves to another traditional platform – the radio – and make that their guilty pleasure access to live play-by-play. Listen, if they weren’t compelled to catch the last three years of Vin Scully’s three-inning simulcast, there is even less incentive for them to endure someone like Charley Steiner chortling on about how games are just too long these days, which does more a disservice to the listeners just trying to get find a happy medium.

THE SILENT MINORITY

Perhaps more bothersome to us in this entire charade is how those living on the edges financially continue to be forgotten, all but iced out of Dodgers broadcasts going back to the SNLA launch in 2013.

Some may remember decades ago when the Dodgers’ TV coverage was limited to a KTTV-Channel 11 road Sunday game as well as all the contests played in San Francisco. It was reasonably proportional to how much national baseball was also available at the time.

When regional sports nets started popping up 30 years ago, there were still a few dozen games set aside for over-the-air distribution. But the process of separating the haves and the have-nots was just getting started.

The Guggenheim group’s purchase of the Dodgers came with the expectation that they would spin off their own media company and create this team-owned channel. Chairman Mark Walters said at the time the creation of SportsNet LA was a way to “provide substantial financial resources over the coming years.”

In all the years that followed with public shaming, private ambivalence and all other kinds of agitated media verbiage, including a U.S. Justice Department charge of collusion in late 2016 that was “settled” without any benefit to the consumer in March of 2017, the narrative never really included all those Dodgers’ loyal fan living in marginalized areas, the less economic robust areas of this sprawling desert metropolis who could only afford whatever their roof-top antennas captured. Families struggling each month to pay utility bills still have to redefine priorities.

Which leads us to circle back to that press release from last February – here are your five KTLA games. All in April. Not because the Dodgers and Spectrum can appease the masses or water down their own guilt. They actually believe they are doing the right thing in some small way.

Given, ESPN has national broadcasts of the Dodgers-Giants opener on Thursday afternoon (4 p.m.) as well as the series ender on Sunday evening (5 p.m.). In the course of the 162-game regular season, ESPN, Fox and TBS will pick up some Dodgers’ broadcast nationally, leaving about 130-odd games only on SportsNet LA for 2018.

For those who can access it. For those who know the drill.

For those who still care.

MEASURING MEDIA MAYHEM

WHAT SMOKES

== After all those years of pitching Farmer John products, Vin Scully seems to be relishing his new role as a spokesman for Kingsford Charcoal in a new commercial spot. It opens with him finishing a conversation with the “commissioner” and exclaiming: “Hot dog! Opening Day is back! Go out and tell it to the world, guys!”

== How much more a business man has former Laker Shaquille O’Neal become after his NBA playing days ended? How much of a force has Yorba Linda’s John Force become in the drag racing world? They are two of the four focus stories on the 252nd edition of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” that debuts on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m.

WHAT CHOKES

== In their fourth year together calling the Final Four and national title game for the men’s college basketball coverage on both CBS and TBS, the team of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill might have looked nice on paper when it was drawn up before the 2015 tournament. That was an arrangement made necessary by the news that Greg Anthony would no longer be with the A-team because of personal indiscretion and co-analyst Steve Kerr was going into coaching the Golden State Warriors. We’re ready to call it all a wash at this point. Nantz, the play-by-play voice every year since 1991, brings adequate gravitas to the broadcast. Reggie Miller or Steve Lavin would do better as the secondary voices, proven through their work on the tournament. Or, there’s always Bill Walton waiting in the wings to insert himself.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/24/hoffarth-on-the-media-sportsnet-las-fifth-season-crosses-old-issues-with-new-concerns/

Play It Forward March 19-25: No rest in the West for NCAA upsets

Ranking the top 10 sports events March 19-25 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 AND ELITE EIGHT
WEST REGIONAL:
FLORIDA STATE vs. GONZAGA; MICHIGAN vs. TEXAS A&M
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Thursday and Saturday, Channel 2 and TBS

Sunday proved to be quite the 1-2 punch in the West. No. 9 Florida State came back from 12 points down and toppled top-seeded Xavier 75-70 and No. 7 Texas A&M throttled second-seeded defending champ North Carolina by 21. That means Los Angeles will be home to 7 vs. 3 (the Aggies take on Michigan at 4:37 p.m.) and 9 vs. 4 (the Seminoles play Gonzaga at 7:07 p.m.). Just like everyone thought. Can the underdogs keep barking? Will the Zags, for the second year in a row, zig their way via the West into another Final Four? Or can the Wolverines be the X-factor and run their winning streak to 12?

Also this week in the NIT: Second round: USC vs. Western Kentucky at Galen Center, Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2 (quarterfinal game would be at USC on Wednesday if the Trojans advance).

NO. 2: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SECOND ROUND
UCLA vs. CREIGHTON
Details/TV: At Pauley Pavilion, Monday at 6 p.m., ESPN2

The Bluejays (19-12) were one of three No. 11 seeds to pull off first-round upsets when Jaylyn Agnew scored 24 points and Sydney Lamberty added 20 in a 76-70 victory over No. 6 Iowa. The third-seeded Bruins (25-7), who will be seeking their third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, dispatched of pesky No. 14 American 71-60 on Saturday at home. Should UCLA make it to Kansas City, it will face either No. 2 Texas or Pac-12 rival and No. 7 seed Arizona State.

NO. 3: 38th BOYS CALIFORNIA STATE HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
OPEN DIVISION: SIERRA CANYON vs. SHELDON
Details/TV: At Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Saturday at 8 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

Sierra Canyon (26-4) got past a hard-nosed Etiwanda squad 58-55 to capture the CIF Southern California Open Division championship Saturday at The Pyramid at Long Beach State. The Trailblazers will face a similar opponent on its turf Saturday night in Sacramento for the state title. Sheldon High (29-5) will have about a 15-mile drive to the Golden 1 Center after knocking off longtime powerhouse Bishop O’Dowd 61-60 to become the first public school to win the NorCal Open championship since the division began in 2013.

Friday’s state championship games in Sacramento: Division IV Girls: Rolling Hills Prep vs. Priory, 10 a.m.; Division IV Boys: View Park vs. Stuart Hall, noon; Division III Girls: West Campus vs. Sunny Hills, 2 p.m.; Division II Boys: Crossroads vs. Alameda, 4 p.m.; Division I Girls: Serra vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral, 6 p.m.; Division I Boys: Chino Hills vs. Las Lomas, 8 p.m.

Saturday’s state championship games in Sacramento: Division V Girls: Sierra Pacific vs. Lowell, 10 a.m.; Division V Boys: Santa Clarita Christian vs. Argonaut, noon; Division II Girls: Redondo Union vs. Pleasant Valley, 2 p.m.; Division II Boys: Notre Dame (Riverside) vs. Pleasant Valley, 4 p.m.; Open Division Girls: Windward vs. Pinewood, 6 p.m.

More info: www.cifstate.org/sports/basketball

NO. 4: MLB EXHIBITIONS
DODGERS at ANGELS
Details/TV: At Angels Stadium, Sunday at 6 p.m., Fox Sports West, SportsNet LA

The week begins with Clayton Kershaw marking his 30th birthday. Does that foreshadow a 30-win season? Nope. The week ends with the first of three exhibition games in Southern California between the Dodgers and Angels. Does it imply they’ll meet there in October/November for the World Series. Hmmm.

Also this week: Angels vs. Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz., Thursday, 7:05 p.m., SportsNet LA, Prime Ticket; Dodgers break camp after playing the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on Saturday at 12:05 p.m., SportsNet LA; Angels break camp after playing Arizona Diamondbacks at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Saturday at 1:10 p.m., Fox Sports West.

NO. 5: NBA: LAKERS at PACERS
Details/TV: At Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., Monday at 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

NBA: CLIPPERS at TIMBERWOLVES
Details/TV: At Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., Tuesday at 5 p.m. Prime Ticket

The Lakers and Clippers get sent away for four-game road trips to open up Staples Center for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament regional semifinals and finals.

Also this week for the Lakers: At New Orleans, Thursday at 5 p.m., SSN; at Memphis, Saturday at 5 p.m., SSN.

Also this week for the Clippers: At Milwaukee, Wednesday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket; at Indiana, Friday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket; at Toronto, Sunday at 3 p.m., Prime Ticket

NO. 6: NHL: KINGS at WILD
Details/TV: At Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., Monday at 5 p.m., NBCSN

NHL: DUCKS at FLAMES
Details/TV: At the Saddledome in Calgary, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports West

The Kings and Ducks have 10 more regular-season games, and each is split equally home and road. But they also have to play four in a row on the road at this juncture.

Also this week for the Kings: At Winnipeg, Tuesday at 5 p.m., FSW; at Colorado, Thursday at 6 p.m., FSW; at Edmonton, Saturday at 7 p.m., FSW

Also this week for the Ducks:  At Winnipeg, Friday at 5 p.m., FSW; at Edmonton, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

NO. 7: COLLEGE BASEBALL

UCLA vs. ARIZONA STATE
Details/TV: At Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at noon, Pac-12 Network

LONG BEACH STATE at CAL STATE FULLERTON
Details: At Goodwin Field in Fullerton, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

PEPPERDINE at LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
Details: At Page Stadium in Westchester, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Bruins, cranking up their conference schedule last weekend at home, remain the only Southern California team that’s been able to stay camped in the national Top 25 polls. The Titans used to be there, but need to figure out how to pull themselves together in matchup against their Big West Conference foe 49ers, which doesn’t count in the league standings. The Titans and 49ers close the conference play with a three-game set at the end of May. Meanwhile, the Waves and Lions have their only West Coast Conference meeting of the season at LMU.

Also this week for USC: At UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.; at Stanford, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Goodwin Field vs. University of San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Also this week for Long Beach State: At Loyola Marymount, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Illinois, Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.; At Missouri State, Friday at 1 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 10 a.m.

Also this week for UC Irvine: At Anteater Ballpark vs. USC, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.; at Southern Illinois, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at noon.

Also this week for UC Riverside: Off until March 27

Also this week for Pepperdine: At Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu vs. Fresno State, Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Also this week for Loyola Marymount: At Page Stadium vs. Long Beach State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

NO. 8: GOLF: WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP DELL TECHNOLOGIES MATCH PLAY
Details/TV: At Austin Country Club in Austin, Tex., Wednesday-Sunday, Golf Channel and Channel 4

The PGA’s version of March Madness and a 64-man bracket has a $10 million payoff – the Masters in a couple weeks has an $11 million purse. There are 16 groups of four players that have round-robin matches Wednesday to Friday for the first three rounds. The “sweet 16” left from that have to face a potential two matches Saturday and two more Sunday to claim the title. The locals are just pleased as punch that Jordan Spieth, the former Longhorn, has agreed to play against a field that should include Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy – but no Tiger Woods, based on not quite having enough world ranking juice. Adam Scott on Friday announced he was not playing, joining Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka among the top 64 players to pass on  the World Golf Championships even.

NO. 9: NASCAR MONSTER ENERGY CUP SERIES
STP 500
Details/TV: At Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday at 11 a.m., FS1

The traveling road show puts Fontana in the rearview mirror and trucks everything across the country, not scheduled to come back in this regional proximity until Sonoma in late June.

NO. 10: COLLEGE GYMNASTICS
UCLA at PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Details/TV: At Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, Pac-12 Network

The Bruins have been a top-three ranked program all season, with Utah close behind, and including Washington, Cal, Oregon State and Arizona State in the Top 25 lately. This meet funnels into the NCAA regionals at Salt Lake City, Utah (April 7), and then the national semifinals (April 20) and finals (April 21) in St. Louis.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/18/play-it-forward-march-19-25-no-rest-in-the-west-for-ncaa-upsets/

Play it Forward March 12-18: True to TV, NCAA men’s hoop tournament gives UCLA an early start

Ranking the top 10 sports events March 12-18 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

FIRST FOUR: UCLA vs ST. BONAVENTURE
Details/TV: At University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday at approx., 6:10 p.m., truTV

FIRST ROUND: CAL STATE FULLERTON vs PURDUE
Details/TV: At Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Friday at 9:40 a.m., truTV

True enough, it’ll take most Bruins and Titans followers about 68 extra seconds to find that do-we-have-it truTV channel on your TV menu, even if you’re culturally affected by “The Carbonaro Effect” or believe “Impractical Jokers” adds to the enrichment of humanity.

That said, the lack of the Pac-12 Effect on this tournament is painfully evident – regular-season and tournament champion Arizona (27-7), a surprisingly low No. 4 seed in the South Region, is the only one from the league that could be alive when the big-boy field of 64 starts on Thursday and Friday?

What’s wrong with that reality series?

UCLA (21-11) must go through Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday to be allowed to advance as a No. 11 in the East Region against No. 6 seed Florida on Thursday in Dallas (again, truTV, approx.. 7 p.m.).

Thanks?

Arizona State (20-11) finishes conference play 8-10, losing five of its last six, and then gets ousted in the first round of the conference tournament, but it also benefits from some impractical jokers who allow it to advance to another play-in game and kicks to the curb 23-11 USC, which went to the Pac-12 Tournament final and finished with a 34 RPI ranking.

The Trojans’ two-point loss to the Sun Devils (an RPI of 66) in Tempe, Arizona on Feb. 8 must have been the deciding factor? We may never know.

What does appear to be evident: Teams on the bubble that ran into some FBI issues – that includes USC, Louisville and Oklahoma State – are trying to get their head around an NIT bid at this point, as well as four other Pac-12 teams.

Meanwhile, Big West tournament champ Cal State Fullerton (20-11, 127 RPI), which lost to pre-season AP No. 10 USC by 42 points in the season opener and is among the teams given a 2500-to-1 shot at winning it all, is also in the NCAA East Region as a No. 15 seed, sent to play in Detroit, when that regional in San Diego would have been so much nicer.

Also: NIT first-round games: UNC Asheville at USC, Tuesday, 8 p.m., TV TBD

NO. 2: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT BRACKET ANNOUNCEMENT

Details/TV: Monday, 4 p.m., ESPN
UCLA (24-7) will likely be a first- and second-round host at Pauley Pavilion, as 16 campus sites are in play, starting Friday. The Bruins, who came up three points short in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, stand firmly at No. 9 in the latest rankings. CSUN (19-15) wormed its way through the Big West tournament to win and get in also. The target team again is unanimous No. 1 UConn (30-0), which logged a 78-60 win at UCLA back in late November. But the Huskies aren’t the defending champs – South Carolina is.

The regional sites after this are in Lexington, Kentucky and Kansas City, Missouri, Albany, New York and and Spokane, Washington, feeding into the Final Four at Columbus, Ohio on March 30, with the national title game on Sunday, April 1. More info: https://www.ncaa.com/womens- final-four/road-to-the- championship

NO. 3: RUNNING: 33rd CITY OF LOS ANGELES MARATHON
Details/TV: Sunday, 6:55 a.m., Ch. 5 (coverage begins at 6 a.m.)
This is the 10th year of the “Stadium To Sea” course – starting at Dodger Stadium, passing through Chinatown, the Hollywood landmarks, Rodeo Drive and the last six miles of Route 66 to end up at the Santa Monica Pier.

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner is the official honorary starter, with his foundation as the official charity. Kenya’s Elisa Barno was the top runner of 18,892 finishers last year in two hours, 11 minutes, 53 seconds. He was the fifth different Kenya runner to win this race over the last six years. More info: www.lamarathon.com.

Start times: 6:30 a.m. for wheelchairs, 6:42 a.m. for handcycles, 6:45 for elite women, 6:55 a.m. for elite men and full field.

NO. 4: NASCAR MONSTER ENERGY CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
Details/TV: At Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 11

Kyle Larson, the 24-year-old pole-sitter in his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy, outlasted Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., for the 202-lap victory last year – they needed two extra “overtime” spins because of another late caution flag.

Truex, the eventual 2017 season champion, was strong at the start but finished fourth overall because, as he admitted afterward, a decision not to pit under the next-to-last caution flag didn’t play out in his favor. “We thought more guys would stay out there,” he said. “It was definitely a disadvantage at the end and just really tight. Holding on for fourth was good for points.” More info: http://www.autoclubspeedway. com

Also this week at Fontana: Fanfest and Hauler parade, Thursday at 4 p.m.; Practices and pole day, Friday starting at 11:35 a.m.; Xfinity Series NXS 300, Saturday at 2 p.m.

NO. 5: NBA: LAKERS at WARRIORS
Details/TV: At Oracle Arena in Oakland, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
NBA: CLIPPERS at ROCKETS
Details/TV: At Toyota Center in Houston, Thursday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket

The 51-16 Warriors will have had a couple of days to process back-to-back losses at Portland and Minnesota, which came while Steph Curry stayed back to rest an ankle injury. “I’m very confident in where we’re heading,” said coach Steve Kerr. “But we’re in the middle of a tough stretch.” Two of the Warriors’ three wins over the Lakers so far have gone to OT.

Meanwhile, the Rockets, who’ve taken over the Western Conference lead in the meantime as the only other NBA team so far beyond the 50-win mark, handed the Clippers a 105-92 loss last month, win No. 14 during their recently ended 17-game victory streak.

Also this week for the Lakers: At Staples Center vs. Denver, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., SSN; At Staples Center vs. Miami, Friday, 7:30 p.m., SSN.

Also this week for the Clippers: At Chicago, Tuesday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Oklahoma City, Friday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Staples Center vs. Portland, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket.

NO. 6: TENNIS: WTA/ATP BNP BARIBAS OPEN FINALS
Details/TV: At Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Sunday, 11 a.m., ESPN
Before we get to the conclusion, there’s another historic moment here when Serena Williams meets Venus Williams in a third-round match on center court, a place they didn’t get to face off 17 years ago in the semifinals that led to an ugly spectator backlash and a family boycott of the event until 2015.

This 29th career meeting (Serena leads, 17-11) will be on ESPNEWS  Monday at 7 p.m., with the 36-year-old Serena unseeded and in her first event since maternity leave and the 37-year-old Venus holding strong with the No. 8 seed.

Also this week: Women’s semifinals are Friday at 7 p.m., ESPN2; men’s semifinals are Saturday at 11 a.m., ESPN.

NO. 7: NHL: RED WINGS at KINGS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Thursday, 7 p.m., NBCSN
NHL: RED WINGS at DUCKS
Details/TV: At Honda Center, Friday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West

The Kings pummeled Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in a 4-1 decision at Detroit last Nov. 28 – in typical Kings’ fashion, they trailed 1-0 after the first period. Howard stopped the visiting Ducks, 2-1, on Feb. 13, making 15 saves in the first period. Howard, in his 11th season, ranks 10th all-time in NHL wins by an American-born goalie. He may never catch the Kings’ Jonathan Quick, who is seventh, or the Ducks’ Ryan Miller, who sits third.

Also this week for the Kings: At Staples Center vs. Vancouver, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West; At Arizona, Tuesday at 7 p.m., FSW; At Staples Center vs. New Jersey, Saturday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West

Also this week for the Ducks: At Honda Center vs. St. Louis, Monday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Honda Center vs. Vancouver, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Honda Center vs. New Jersey, Sunday at 6 p.m., Fox Sports West.

NO. 8: COLLEGE BASEBALL
UCLA at CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Details/TV: At Matador Field in Northridge, Tuesday at 2 p.m.
USC at LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
Details/TV: At Page Stadium in Westchester, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Bruins and Trojans make a local trip outside their comfort zones against local Big West rivals prior to their first Pac-12 season openers at home.

Also this week for UCLA: At Jackie Robinson Stadium vs. Washington State, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for USC: At Dedeaux Field vs. Utah, Thursday at 6 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m., all on Pac-12 Network

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Ohio State, Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 10 a.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Titan Field vs. Grand Canyon University, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Long Beach State: At Blair Field vs. Washington State, Tuesday, 6 p.m.; At Blair Field vs. Tulane, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Also this week for UC Irvine: At Anteater Ballpark vs. Utah Valley, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Riverside: At Riverside Sports Complex vs. Grand Canyon University, Wednesday at 6 p.m.; At University of Nevada, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at noon.

Also this week for Pepperdine: At Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu vs. New Mexico, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; Starting the West Coast Conference schedule at Gonzaga, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Loyola Marymount: Starting the West Coast Conference schedule at BYU, Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at noon.

NO. 9: MLB EXHIBITION BASEBALL
DODGERS at WHITE SOX
Details/TV: At Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., Saturday, 1 p.m., SportsNetLA
ROCKIES at ANGELS
Details/TV: At Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Friday at 1:10 p.m., Fox Sports West
Did you know: The Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium was first opened in 1968 as spring training home for the Seattle Pilots in 1969, before their one and only season of existence in 1969. But the Pilots actually had two spring seasons in Tempe. The team went bankrupt and was in the process of being sold to Bud Selig in the spring of 1970. The sale wasn’t approved officially until April 1, six days before the start of the regular season. As players awaited their fate in Tempe, the team’s equipment was sitting in Provo, Utah with drivers waited to be told whether to take it to Seattle or Milwaukee. They ended up going to Wisconsin in a rush, and the players wore altered versions of their old Pilots uniforms. You can look it up.

More schedule information: www.dodgers.com and www.angelsbaseball.com

 

NO. 10: GOLF: PGA TOUR ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
Details/TV: At Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Fla., Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 4

The Tiger Woods Red Shirt Sundays are back. He has committed to this one coming off the tied-for-second, one-stroke loss last week at the Valspar Championship. If Woods prevails this one, things will get even redder – this event began a tradition last year by giving winner Marc Leishman a red cardigan sweater in Arnold Palmer’s honor.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/11/play-it-forward-march-12-18-true-to-tv-ncaa-mens-hoop-tournament-gives-ucla-an-early-start/

Play it Forward March 12-18: True to TV, NCAA men’s hoop tournament gives UCLA an early start

Ranking the top 10 sports events March 12-18 you won’t want to miss:

NO. 1: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

FIRST FOUR: UCLA vs ST. BONAVENTURE
Details/TV: At University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday at approx., 6:10 p.m., truTV

FIRST ROUND: CAL STATE FULLERTON vs PURDUE
Details/TV: At Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Friday at 9:40 a.m., truTV

True enough, it’ll take most Bruins and Titans followers about 68 extra seconds to find that do-we-have-it truTV channel on your TV menu, even if you’re culturally affected by “The Carbonaro Effect” or believe “Impractical Jokers” adds to the enrichment of humanity.

That said, the lack of the Pac-12 Effect on this tournament is painfully evident – regular-season and tournament champion Arizona (27-7), a surprisingly low No. 4 seed in the South Region, is the only one from the league that could be alive when the big-boy field of 64 starts on Thursday and Friday?

What’s wrong with that reality series?

UCLA (21-11) must go through Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday to be allowed to advance as a No. 11 in the East Region against No. 6 seed Florida on Thursday in Dallas (again, truTV, approx.. 7 p.m.).

Thanks?

Arizona State (20-11) finishes conference play 8-10, losing five of its last six, and then gets ousted in the first round of the conference tournament, but it also benefits from some impractical jokers who allow it to advance to another play-in game and kicks to the curb 23-11 USC, which went to the Pac-12 Tournament final and finished with a 34 RPI ranking.

The Trojans’ two-point loss to the Sun Devils (an RPI of 66) in Tempe, Arizona on Feb. 8 must have been the deciding factor? We may never know.

What does appear to be evident: Teams on the bubble that ran into some FBI issues – that includes USC, Louisville and Oklahoma State – are trying to get their head around an NIT bid at this point, as well as four other Pac-12 teams.

Meanwhile, Big West tournament champ Cal State Fullerton (20-11, 127 RPI), which lost to pre-season AP No. 10 USC by 42 points in the season opener and is among the teams given a 2500-to-1 shot at winning it all, is also in the NCAA East Region as a No. 15 seed, sent to play in Detroit, when that regional in San Diego would have been so much nicer.

Also: NIT first-round games: UNC Asheville at USC, Tuesday, 8 p.m., TV TBD

NO. 2: COLLEGE BASKETBALL
NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT BRACKET ANNOUNCEMENT

Details/TV: Monday, 4 p.m., ESPN
UCLA (24-7) will likely be a first- and second-round host at Pauley Pavilion, as 16 campus sites are in play, starting Friday. The Bruins, who came up three points short in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, stand firmly at No. 9 in the latest rankings. CSUN (19-15) wormed its way through the Big West tournament to win and get in also. The target team again is unanimous No. 1 UConn (30-0), which logged a 78-60 win at UCLA back in late November. But the Huskies aren’t the defending champs – South Carolina is.

The regional sites after this are in Lexington, Kentucky and Kansas City, Missouri, Albany, New York and and Spokane, Washington, feeding into the Final Four at Columbus, Ohio on March 30, with the national title game on Sunday, April 1. More info: https://www.ncaa.com/womens- final-four/road-to-the- championship

NO. 3: RUNNING: 33rd CITY OF LOS ANGELES MARATHON
Details/TV: Sunday, 6:55 a.m., Ch. 5 (coverage begins at 6 a.m.)
This is the 10th year of the “Stadium To Sea” course – starting at Dodger Stadium, passing through Chinatown, the Hollywood landmarks, Rodeo Drive and the last six miles of Route 66 to end up at the Santa Monica Pier.

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner is the official honorary starter, with his foundation as the official charity. Kenya’s Elisa Barno was the top runner of 18,892 finishers last year in two hours, 11 minutes, 53 seconds. He was the fifth different Kenya runner to win this race over the last six years. More info: www.lamarathon.com.

Start times: 6:30 a.m. for wheelchairs, 6:42 a.m. for handcycles, 6:45 for elite women, 6:55 a.m. for elite men and full field.

NO. 4: NASCAR MONSTER ENERGY CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
Details/TV: At Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 11

Kyle Larson, the 24-year-old pole-sitter in his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy, outlasted Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., for the 202-lap victory last year – they needed two extra “overtime” spins because of another late caution flag.

Truex, the eventual 2017 season champion, was strong at the start but finished fourth overall because, as he admitted afterward, a decision not to pit under the next-to-last caution flag didn’t play out in his favor. “We thought more guys would stay out there,” he said. “It was definitely a disadvantage at the end and just really tight. Holding on for fourth was good for points.” More info: http://www.autoclubspeedway. com

Also this week at Fontana: Fanfest and Hauler parade, Thursday at 4 p.m.; Practices and pole day, Friday starting at 11:35 a.m.; Xfinity Series NXS 300, Saturday at 2 p.m.

NO. 5: NBA: LAKERS at WARRIORS
Details/TV: At Oracle Arena in Oakland, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
NBA: CLIPPERS at ROCKETS
Details/TV: At Toyota Center in Houston, Thursday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket

The 51-16 Warriors will have had a couple of days to process back-to-back losses at Portland and Minnesota, which came while Steph Curry stayed back to rest an ankle injury. “I’m very confident in where we’re heading,” said coach Steve Kerr. “But we’re in the middle of a tough stretch.” Two of the Warriors’ three wins over the Lakers so far have gone to OT.

Meanwhile, the Rockets, who’ve taken over the Western Conference lead in the meantime as the only other NBA team so far beyond the 50-win mark, handed the Clippers a 105-92 loss last month, win No. 14 during their recently ended 17-game victory streak.

Also this week for the Lakers: At Staples Center vs. Denver, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., SSN; At Staples Center vs. Miami, Friday, 7:30 p.m., SSN.

Also this week for the Clippers: At Chicago, Tuesday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Oklahoma City, Friday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Staples Center vs. Portland, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket.

NO. 6: TENNIS: WTA/ATP BNP BARIBAS OPEN FINALS
Details/TV: At Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Sunday, 11 a.m., ESPN
Before we get to the conclusion, there’s another historic moment here when Serena Williams meets Venus Williams in a third-round match on center court, a place they didn’t get to face off 17 years ago in the semifinals that led to an ugly spectator backlash and a family boycott of the event until 2015.

This 29th career meeting (Serena leads, 17-11) will be on ESPNEWS  Monday at 7 p.m., with the 36-year-old Serena unseeded and in her first event since maternity leave and the 37-year-old Venus holding strong with the No. 8 seed.

Also this week: Women’s semifinals are Friday at 7 p.m., ESPN2; men’s semifinals are Saturday at 11 a.m., ESPN.

NO. 7: NHL: RED WINGS at KINGS
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Thursday, 7 p.m., NBCSN
NHL: RED WINGS at DUCKS
Details/TV: At Honda Center, Friday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West

The Kings pummeled Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in a 4-1 decision at Detroit last Nov. 28 – in typical Kings’ fashion, they trailed 1-0 after the first period. Howard stopped the visiting Ducks, 2-1, on Feb. 13, making 15 saves in the first period. Howard, in his 11th season, ranks 10th all-time in NHL wins by an American-born goalie. He may never catch the Kings’ Jonathan Quick, who is seventh, or the Ducks’ Ryan Miller, who sits third.

Also this week for the Kings: At Staples Center vs. Vancouver, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West; At Arizona, Tuesday at 7 p.m., FSW; At Staples Center vs. New Jersey, Saturday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West

Also this week for the Ducks: At Honda Center vs. St. Louis, Monday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Honda Center vs. Vancouver, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket; At Honda Center vs. New Jersey, Sunday at 6 p.m., Fox Sports West.

NO. 8: COLLEGE BASEBALL
UCLA at CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Details/TV: At Matador Field in Northridge, Tuesday at 2 p.m.
USC at LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
Details/TV: At Page Stadium in Westchester, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Bruins and Trojans make a local trip outside their comfort zones against local Big West rivals prior to their first Pac-12 season openers at home.

Also this week for UCLA: At Jackie Robinson Stadium vs. Washington State, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for USC: At Dedeaux Field vs. Utah, Thursday at 6 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m., all on Pac-12 Network

Also this week for Cal State Northridge: At Ohio State, Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 10 a.m.

Also this week for Cal State Fullerton: At Titan Field vs. Grand Canyon University, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Long Beach State: At Blair Field vs. Washington State, Tuesday, 6 p.m.; At Blair Field vs. Tulane, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Also this week for UC Irvine: At Anteater Ballpark vs. Utah Valley, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for UC Riverside: At Riverside Sports Complex vs. Grand Canyon University, Wednesday at 6 p.m.; At University of Nevada, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at noon.

Also this week for Pepperdine: At Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu vs. New Mexico, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; Starting the West Coast Conference schedule at Gonzaga, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Also this week for Loyola Marymount: Starting the West Coast Conference schedule at BYU, Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at noon.

NO. 9: MLB EXHIBITION BASEBALL
DODGERS at WHITE SOX
Details/TV: At Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., Saturday, 1 p.m., SportsNetLA
ROCKIES at ANGELS
Details/TV: At Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Friday at 1:10 p.m., Fox Sports West
Did you know: The Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium was first opened in 1968 as spring training home for the Seattle Pilots in 1969, before their one and only season of existence in 1969. But the Pilots actually had two spring seasons in Tempe. The team went bankrupt and was in the process of being sold to Bud Selig in the spring of 1970. The sale wasn’t approved officially until April 1, six days before the start of the regular season. As players awaited their fate in Tempe, the team’s equipment was sitting in Provo, Utah with drivers waited to be told whether to take it to Seattle or Milwaukee. They ended up going to Wisconsin in a rush, and the players wore altered versions of their old Pilots uniforms. You can look it up.

More schedule information: www.dodgers.com and www.angelsbaseball.com

 

NO. 10: GOLF: PGA TOUR ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
Details/TV: At Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Fla., Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 4

The Tiger Woods Red Shirt Sundays are back. He has committed to this one coming off the tied-for-second, one-stroke loss last week at the Valspar Championship. If Woods prevails this one, things will get even redder – this event began a tradition last year by giving winner Marc Leishman a red cardigan sweater in Arnold Palmer’s honor.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/11/play-it-forward-march-12-18-true-to-tv-ncaa-mens-hoop-tournament-gives-ucla-an-early-start/