The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: TV studio hosts/reporters with the objective of … objectivity?

tessThe objective here is to single out all the hosts/reporters/talent who work on the local cable sports channels involved in presenting information about the L.A.-based teams.
This can get tricky.
We catch ourselves now wondering about what the motives are any more for journalistic integrity, if such a term is still used as such shops. It should be. It’s not so evident any longer.
In a piece we did last May under the headline “How a Dodges high-five raises objectivity concerns,” the blowback from readers seemed to be: One can react to a situation as a person as long as you’re not cheering in the press box. On the other hand, this shows little objectivity, which is what the “reporter” in question seems to think she has the players’ respect.
More on that conundrum later.
We continue to value professionalism to the craft, the ability to process information in a pre- and post-game studio setting and keeping it transparent.
With that preamble rambling, we feel comfortable with this:




Patrick O’Neal, left, and father Ryan attend a Kings-Canucks game at Staples Center in 2012.  Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/UPI | License Photo

black 1PATRICK O’NEAL/ Angels and Kings TV
It is kind of a hoot to dive into his bio – Samuel Eldridge Patrick Ryan O’Neal IV is how it’s listed, but Patrick says it’s not anything close to the truth — and see how far he took a shot at pursuing an acting career, following the lead of his father, mother and famous half-sister. (See: “Die Hard 2,” 1990, Cpl. Telford). One of his latest, as “family dad” on the 2007 “Wild Hogs,” actually came while he was well into his sports broadcasting swim. A profile we once did on him explained how his passion for sports came from his dad, Ryan, a one-time Golden Gloves boxer. “We’d watch thousands of games together. There was never any bedtime. Stay up and watch the Kings, Lakers, whatever was on. Our bond was always sports. Without that, there’s no way I’m able to do this.” Said Ryan: “He’s iron. You never see his nerves. He’s never caught short. He looks like he’s been doing this all his life. I’m very impressed, really. It’s just easy for him. He sure makes it look easy.” It’s easy for us to keep him in this elevated spot as well, where Sports Emmys that come as a residue of his work at Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket are just fine instead of Oscars.

black 2JOHN HARTUNG/ Dodgers TV
The news and sports anchor background he established over 11 years at KABC/Channel 7 before coming over with the launch of SportsNet LA was, as we pointed out recently, the result of Jim Hill deciding not to take this role. Hartung might be the better fit as it turns out. He’s not only a multi-talented broadcaster capable of taking over a play-by-play spot if needed, but he doesn’t know any other way than to give it straight and real, without trying to power blue sugar coat anything. He has that internal clock to manage highlight reads, throw it to analysts in a comfortable manner and process all that needs to be done in a live shot. As much as there is going on, he makes it all look simple, without fluster or bluster. He admits he grew up rooting for the Dodgers as a kid growing in the San Fernando Valley. His Twitter feed admits to a “Go Blue” shoutout. But from our side of the TV screen, he knows how to compartmentalize it.

black 3MIKE BRESNAHAN/ Lakers TV
Again, the journalism background he has from his days covering the team for the Los Angeles Times is required to come through on the Spectrum SportsNet coverage, to balance out some of the cheerleading that can easily happen with the team that, win or lose, always drains the viewers emotionally, especially this time of year. Bresnahan never felt he was “selling out” by making the move to TV. He told us recently that he sticks by a rule that now-retired Times sports editor and columnist Bill Dwyer once told him: As a journalist, be accurate, insightful and entertaining. “Now I’m finding there are ways to do that not just in print but also on TV,” he said.



black 4NED COLLETTI/ Dodgers TV

One of the coolest moves by the SportsNet LA decision makers was putting the former Dodgers GM into this TV big chair and letting him explain how things work behind the scenes with all sorts of roster decisions. He’s an independent contractor now, also teaching a Pepperdine, someone who could and should be an advisor to a team GM these days who get buried in algorithms and lose touch with with the rhythms of the game. Colletti always keeps it real.

black 5CHRIS McGEE/ Lakers and Galaxy TV
Anchoring the desk at Spectrum Sports for the Lakers’ ongoing reality show takes another level of control and balance. Geeter can fight all he wants to show disappointment after a loss or want to cheer it up after a win, but he’s learned how to divert that to the analysts on set. We respect his human reactions.

black 6JEANNE ZELASKO/ Clippers TV
A background of experience in national live studio coverage – and even a stint with the plaintiffs on “Jude Joe Brown” – gives her respect on this court setting with the Prime Ticket telecasts. Her faith and support from husband Curt Sandoval and her children has gotten her past some rough personal issues.

black 7JAMES WORTHY/ Lakers TV
There’s continued value for Lakers fans to watch and hear the Hall of Famer who turned 58 on Wednesday speak with some old-school passion before and after a broadcast, a career he started back when the team was part of the KCAL/Channel 9 family and continued now as he shares rotating spots with other former teammates. He made some headlines this week when he said he thought the team had a “virus” that was corrupting their drive toward the playoffs, and singled out Rajon Rondo. Would Rondo argue back?

black 8DON MacLEAN/ Clippers TV
Like Worthy, he has the breadth of experience but with more broadcasting background to go different ways with opinions, including sitting courtside. He should get more consideration as a full-time game analyst when the team comes to adjusting its TV team for next season.

black 9OREL HERSHISER/ Dodgers TV
It doesn’t happen often during the course of the year, but SportsNet LA gives him some assignments to break up the at-the-game schedule and asks him to come into the El Segundo studio for a new perspective. This has worked out to be even better when the postseason arrives, networks take over the telecasts, and he is able to break down things for the local audience.

black 10ALEX CURRY/Kings TV
She’s cut back on her schedule from Kings and Angels rinkside reporter to focus more on hosting the Fox Sports West weekly shows, which remain quality programming. After nearly getting hit with ice buckets of Gatorade a few times a week in Anaheim, we completely understand the job security.

Honorable mention: John Ireland and Mike Trudell, Lakers Spectrum Sports; Mike Hill and Cristina Pink, Clippers Prime Ticket; Jose Mota and Mark Gubicza, Angels Fox Sports West; Allie Clifton, Lakers Spectrum SportsNet; Kent French, Angels Fox Sports West; Jill Painter-Lopez, Angels/Ducks Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket; Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers SportsNet LA; Jon Rosen, Kings Fox Sports West.



The real court jester on the SportsNet LA production crew has somewhat become the incarnation of what Steve Lyons used to bring to Dodgers broadcasts – the former player perspective, OK, but … don’t get known for dropping your pants. We’ve had our recycling of the Rex Hudler experience. Inject some personality, sure. But if JHair wants to be taken seriously … we assume that’s not the case. He’s become what the bat flip is in today’s game. Some appreciate the emotion. Others find it an annoyance. We’re not asking him to change who he is. But can viewers swap him out at some point with, maybe, some Kevin Kennedy appearances?

red 2ALANNA RIZZO/Dodgers TV
Back to the original pros and cons of what constitutes credibility, and even taking into account a fanboy post that there are “no objectivity concerns” with this on-field pretend reporter.
We’ve slowly come to terms that someone in this position, at a team-owned net, has the primary objective not to alienate players or management while providing usable content for the TV viewers and then graciously accepting another NL Championship ring for all their loyal support. There is the pregame manager reporter scrum (where one can secure a seat next to the boss and ask the first pertinent questions), there’s a new requirement to inject some background info into a live game telecast (usually just recapitulating what the game analyst just said), doing promos for upcoming giveaways, conducting a post-game on-field interview with a player who did something noteworthy – only if the team wins, otherwise you’re of no use to us – then asking manager the first few questions at the postgame staged press conference before the deadline reporters get to ask something more pertinent.
rrrezzzzled pictureAll in all, they can look, sound and even present themselves as a reporter. They can also wear T-shirts on camera that compel viewers to vote for a  Dodger during the All-Star selection process. They can wear a personalized jersey with their cute nickname on the back during the series when players do such things. The ultimate result is they get privileged access as embedded person with a mike in hand, and they are not journalists despite what we would like to believe. Rizzo, a former MLB Network studio host and reporter, may want to think of herself otherwise, but it’s not the reality.
Oh, and then there’s this situation of her co-habituating with a current MLB player. The Dodgers upper management seems to be just fine with this arrangement. It will, eventually, come around as a conflict of interest. It always does.

red 3ROBERT HORRY/ Lakers TV
It’s OK to come to the set in awake mode. You’d think someone would remind him he’s working on television.

Thanks for the tryout. If Sean O’Donnell is ready to consider a comeback … Otherwise, it’s OK not to give TV a try in your retirement. Relax, go to Vegas …
red 5COLE WRIGHT/ Dodgers SportsNet LA
Makes John Hartung and some of the others not want to take a day off. But they apparently have to. So …


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