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Sports Medley: Where have you gone LA Times Sports?  8 Jun 15

by Tony Medley

Sportswriting 1A: When I was growing up and developing as a writer, The Los Angeles Times Sports Section was so good it was printed in green so people could get to it fast. It contained outstanding writers like Braven Dyer, Al Wolf, and, later, Bob Oates, the best game reporter who ever sat down at a typewriter. But, courtesy of the St. Louis Sporting News, I also read the great sports writers of the day including Dan Daniel who covered the Yankees for The New York World Telegram and Sun , Roscoe McGowen, who covered the Dodgers for The New York Times, and Dick Young, who wrote an acerbic column for The New York Daily News, among many others. All of the aforementioned writers were professionals, knew their sport and sports, were honest, and critical when required. That’s why reading today’s Los Angeles Times Sports Section is such a dispiriting experience.

On Tuesday, June 2, Alex Guerrero hit one of the most dramatic home runs in baseball history, certainly one of the most dramatic in Dodgers history. In the top of the ninth inning with the Dodgers trailing by three runs, 8-5, Guerrero was at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs with two strikes on him. A three run defeat was one pitch away. But on the next pitch Guerrero hit a grand slam home run over the centerfield fence snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

I anticipated a banner headline the next morning extolling Guerrero’s heroics. Instead the Times gushed about Joc Pederson’s two home runs and didn’t mention Guerrero’s grand slam game-winner until the end of the fourth paragraph. In a 22 paragraph story, writer Dylan Hernandez devoted 18 paragraphs to the wonderfulness of Pederson, and only two to Guerrero’s historic home run.

Even the headlines ignored Guerrero’s feat. “Rookies put on power display” read the headline. The subhead read, “Dodgers’ Pederson hits two long home runs; Guerrero hits a grand slam.” Oh, as an afterthought, “Guerrero hit a grand slam.” No mention of the situation, or that it was the game-winner, or that it was a “super grand slam.” To qualify it must be in the last inning with the team 3 runs behind. It’s a feat that had been accomplished only 28 times in the entire history of baseball. I think (but I’m not sure) that Guerrero is the only person to hit one with two outs in the ninth inning and two strikes on him.

So this is the best they can do for such an historic home run? “Oh, by the way Guerrero hit a grand slam. But that’s enough of that, let’s get back to Pederson.”  

Hernandez’s nose for what’s news and what’s not leads one to speculate that were he writing the Front Page lead story for the Dec. 8, 1941 LA Times, he’d probably say:

“Honolulu, HA, Dec. 8, 1941. A daughter, their first child, was born Friday at the Kapiolani maternity hospital to Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Vierra Jr. of 1344 Wilhelmina Rise. She weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces. A torn cartilage in his knee has ended Center Don Snaveky’s football career at Columbia. Also, at 7 a.m. the Japanese flew over Pearl Harbor and dropped a few bombs.”

A Star is Born: With all the brain-dead Baywater Babes asking their uninformed idiotic questions of athletes all over the tube (e.g. “What were you thinking when…?”), SportsnetLA’s Alanna Rizzo is an undiscovered gem. When she interviewed Mike Bolsinger after he retired 23 batters in a row a week ago she first asked him about what pitches he was throwing and in different situations. Then she followed up by asking him if he weren’t disappointed at being pulled for the ninth inning. She is a shining light in a field of total darkness, the best post game interviewer since Jerry Doggett.

Wow, What Insight!: Mark Jackson, lead NBA Analyst for ESPN/ABC, with the score of a Golden State Warriors playoff game 12-0 after three minutes, “I’ll tell you what. If you’re (Coach) Steve Kerr you can’t be satisfied with the start of your basketball team.” Later in the quarter, with the score now 42-22, he added, “If you’re the Warriors, you can’t be satisfied with the defense you’ve played in the first quarter.” Analyses like these from an “expert” are what set the infants apart from the 4 year olds. What’s truly deplorable is that ESPN/ABC has the best sports analyst in history, Hubie Brown, calling the game on radio. Wise up, guys, and put Hubie on the first team on TV where he belongs and dump Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, whose annoying, uninformed comments  add nothing but noise!