"Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits." — Tommy Edison
Tom Hoffarth is a sports journalist in Los Angeles, born and raised (reared is the correct phrase, but it just sounds wrong) and specializing in the sports media business. A USC graduate from the School of Journalism (it still exists, somewhat) in 1984, he is also available for service at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomhoffarth/
Lifetime members of the Vin Scully Marching and Chowder Society might appreciate this: The Dodgers’ late broadcasting icon would have celebrated his 95th birthday today.
We were grateful for a recent post-Thanksgiving Day ritual, breaking up baseball’s annual dreadful post-World Series, pre-spring training pause, when we could reconnect with him on the phone to mark the occasion, as well as reflect on the past, catch up on the present and ponder the future.
There may continue to be pangs of sadness about his passing last August, but far more gratitude for the moments shared. If anything, the time after his retirement from the broadcast booth in 2016 – following a record 67 seasons – has probably helped us, and the city, through any kind of prolonged grieving process. In fact, a column we did before the ’17 season that tried to help Angelinos possibly identify and cope with our “Scully Separation Anxiety” could still be effective. We also think about how Scully told audiences who saw him during appearances in a Distinguished Speakers Series after his retirement: “It’s better to be gone and not forgotten than to be forgotten but not gone.”
The Voice of Vin, the Sound of Scully, is comforting these days as we process whatever other curve balls life throws at us. It may be with some irony we remember him more for his actions speaking louder than his Hall of Fame-worthy words.
Upon his passing, we did an appreciation column for Angelus News, the local Catholic-based news organization, that tried to frame his character based on his foundation of profound belief through many personal tragedies. A friend of ours created a beautiful blue-toned cover to go with it.
There was even a reason to do an essay that broached the idea: For his impact on the City of Angels, why isn’t there a path to canonization for Vin Scully? As former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti tweeted out on the day of Scully’s funeral: “He showed us every day what true goodness looks like.”
Our connection to Scully starting as a journalist covering the team and the sports media in the 1990s evolved into conversations about history lessons, shared family experiences, and even faith-related topics. He’d offer to call my mother on her birthday, knowing she was such a big fan of the team and of his work through the decades. She even met him once in the Dodger Stadium press box for a photo op and a hug.
We gladly returned the favor to him every November 29.
He talked about how as a kid, he didn’t really want to expect too much on his birthday.
“We lived in a fifth-floor walk-up apartment in New York, not a tenement, but where if you looked out the window, you’d see another window,” he said. “I knew we didn’t have any money. So I always tried to downplay my birthday so that my parents wouldn’t feel obligated to spend money they really didn’t have. I never thought about the number itself. I just kind of pushed it aside as something personal but not for anyone else to get excited about.”
In 2014, as he was turning 87 and pondering when his last season behind the mic may be, we talked about which of the five senses he was most thankful for.
“For me, the sense of sight has to rank No. 1,” he said. “Not only because there’s this great big world to look at, but when you do what to beat a hasty retreat from it, there’s always a good book you can find to read.”
We had talked about the importance of his eyesight earlier as he was preparing to be the grand marshal of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade in January 2014. We asked if he saw the world now with rose-colored glasses. He laughed and replied that he recently had refractive eye surgery so that he wouldn’t have to keep wearing a pair of large eyeglasses while he worked. But he also asked: Please don’t include that in the story. I don’t want people to worry about me and this surgery.
The surgery came out just fine, and few knew that the procedure even occurred. Except he stopped wearing the glasses.
Upon Scully’s passing, the Los Angeles Daily News worked with Triumph Books in Chicago to publish a tribute book, republishing stories the newspaper had done about him over the years. Of the two dozen or so pieces included, we’re humbled to have a handful of our essays there.
One of them we wish we could update.
In 2016, we created a list of Scully’s Top 10 calls of all time, ranging from the Kirk Gibson 1988 World Series home run to his 1982 NFC Championship game for CBS on the Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark catch to his ad-libs in the 1999 movie “For Love of the Game” with Kevin Costner. But we were reminded this last October that Scully was on the call for the final innings of the nationally televised broadcast when the New York Yankees’ Don Larsen threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
A piece in USA Today noted how Scully, 29 at the time and sharing the broadcast as the Dodgers’ broadcaster along with the Yankees’ Mel Allen, set the scene at the end of the eighth inning: “Well, all right, let’s all take a deep breath as we go to the most dramatic ninth inning in the history of baseball.” When Larson struck out pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell to end the game, Scully said: “Got him! The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history by Don Larsen. A no-hitter, a perfect game in a World Series!”
Another story we did on Scully that’s missing from the Daily News collection continues to be front and center in our thinking today.
We’ve endorsed having the Ford C. Frick Award, given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to someone whose lifetime of broadcasting merits attention, renamed in Scully’s honor. It was recently brought up again by local media.
Scully won this award in 1982, after his 33rd season in the business. He then ran off another 34 seasons before retirement.
Kinda think he should have received two of these awards, right?
Back in 2016, when we asked the Hall of Fame about this name change possibility, there didn’t seem to be any urgency. We even reached out to John Thorn, the official Major League Baseball historian, who gave us this thought: “I try not to have opinions about other people’s business, but Frick is an odd namesake for the award.”
We could give you 95 reasons why the broadcasters’ lifetime achievement honor, which will be announced on Dec. 8 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla., should be rebranded as the Vin Scully Award. He embodies the award’s criteria: “Commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers.” Here’s a link to the Hall of Fame Frick 2022 ballot.
We have our own Scully tribute area in our office. We see him daily as the background on our desktop computer screen – an unassuming, peaceful shot we took of him from behind when we walked into the Dodger Stadium broadcast booth prior to the 2011 Opening Day Ceremonies and saw him prepping for the game.
This, again, makes us smile. Happy Birthday, Vin. Instead of blowing out another candle on the cake, we’ll light another one in your memory.
For years, the holiday lists we would post on sports-related gift suggestions we felt were too cool to keep to ourselves became, if anything, a fun exercise in our resourcefulness and sense of taste.
But it was somewhat unsatisfying. The implication that we’d actually like someone in our gifting circle to read these numbered posts and then realize that’s what we were really hinting at having for ourselves never seemed to connect.
We won’t be so subtle this time. No more dropping hints. Self-serving shall now prevail in our post-COVID lockdown holiday existence.
Consider this Top 10 a way to put into the universe things that, if someone decided we were worth spending the dough on and were willing to put it wrapped nicely under our fresh corkbark fir (look it up) Christmas tree, we’d so, so appreciate the gesture.
We embrace the idea that those who embrace the cerebral nature of baseball can be referred to as “seamheads.” At Gary Joseph Cieradkowski’s marvelous website seamheads.com, all of that is dutifully celebrated with unique artwork in baseball card form. But let’s unravel this even further. The MLB Game-Used Baseball Beanie is a creation artist Ward Wallau, who says on his website that he figured out how to use some 130 yards of “authenticated yarn” from three game-used baseballs and weave them on a hand-operated knitting machine by a single craftsman to make these hats. Cooler head are prevailing. The knitting is done in the order of the yarn as they appear inside a baseball: outer gray, white and inner gray. The yarn is then softened and the inside of the hat is lined with alpaca wool yarn. They take four weeks to knit and ship — so pick early and often, and you also decide which team you want the balls connected with. Also take some time to see what else is on the Wallau website — custom desks created out of used basketball courts, or hockey stick blades turned into a beer flight sampler. It even says on the about website how, when the Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup, he asked for and got a puck from the decisive Game 6 win and used it to create a unique collection of cuff links for the Kings’ players. From then, it was a matter of explaining to the hockey players what cuff links were used for. At Tokens & Icons and Uncommon Goods, $235.
You’d never see us wearing an NBA (or college basketball) jersey in public.We don’t have the desire or physique for it. But some do make a nice piece of art to put on a hanger and just display in the office. For that, we’re kind of fond of the Clippers’ 2022-’23 Nike City Edition Los Angeles jersey. Especially when put up against what the Lakers did (or didn’t do).
When Los Angeles Times assistant sports editor Chuck Schilken dared to rank the 29 new City Edition jerseys for this season — noting how each was supposed to represent the stories, history and heritage that makes each franchise unique — we agreed right away that the Lakers’ version was dead last and least effective. That jersey was intentionally stripped down to a basic white, with a purple “Los Angeles” moving letters and black numbers. “LOL,” wrote Schilken. “Sounds like someone forgot their art project was due today …” As for the Clippers, it was No. 2 on his list for its rainbow background of the “los angeles” (lower case) script and nods to the Drew League (and its 50th anniversary) and the Watts Towers. By George, he’s correct. In a story posted in The Athletic, Drew League CEO Dino Smiley said he and the Clippers had been “discussing the possibility of a jersey collaboration in early 2020, before the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The Clippers were the first of the two L.A. teams to actively reach out … The Lakers, he said, still have not.” Yet, when the Athletic staff ranked the jerseys, it picked the Clippers tied for 14th (still ahead of the Lakers at No. 23) If it’s all a matter of taste, we appreciate the effort as well and history stuffed into this design. Dick’s Sporting Goods, $120.
L.A. history/Purposeful Minimalist Art:
Our go-to man for this mission is always Anaheim-based artist S. Preston, back to when we did a 2018 piece on him for the Los Angeles Times featuring his MLB stadium collection. These days, we don’t want to minimize the fact that we exist during an historic Southern California moment in the existence of the Rose Bowl and Coliseum – both are hitting the century mark.
The Pasadena landmark opened on October 28, 1922. It was USC breaking the seal as it lost a football game to Cal, 12-0 – the Trojans’ only loss that season. Cal went unbeaten but declined a trip to the Jan. 1, 1923 Rose Bowl. USC went instead and defeated Penn State, 14-3.
In the meantime, USC was awaiting for its own campus-adjacent home to bust loose.
The Coliseum broke ground in December of ’21 and eventually came open in May of ’23 as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (in honor of those who fought in World War I). The place had another USC game as its opening event — Oct. 6, ’23, with the Trojans’ 23-7 win over Pomona College. The Coliseum would be the selling point for having the 1932 Summer Olympics arrive amidst the Great Depression, and it still will be a vital centerpiece for the upcoming 2028 Games.
The Rose Bowl has launched a commemorative brick campaign that leads into its Jan. 2, 2023 annual “Granddaddy Of Them All.” There’s also a “Coliseum Forever” campaign going on now that features 100 years of “epic moments” at the place.
We’re apt to take a sweet and simple route, with S. Preston’s minimalist representations of both sites of worship — not just for sporting events, but for all the other things that happened there and are etched in our L.A. collective souls. S. Preston creations of the Rose Bowl and the L.A. Coliseum, $70 medium print; $140 large print. Framing optional.
L.A. History/Documentary film:
Steve DeBro told us recently it’s his intention that fans of the old Olympic Auditorium make the effort to see his new documentary, “18th and Grand,” at one of the various special theater screenings they’ve been able to have from time to time since its debut.
“I tried to make it where you’re carried on a journey that’s almost disorientating, and it should feel like you’re in the Olympic — energetic, fast moving, something that takes you out of yourself,” said the writer, director and producer of the flick. “That’s why in a theater is the best way you don’t get distracted.”
Yeah, well, when there’s a chance to own a copy of the film, you punch your way toward it. This has added features such as extended interviews with some of the key storytellers, like Gene LeBell and Jimmy Lennon. TMC’s Eddie Muller says about it: “ ‘18th & Grand’ resurrects wild and wonderful memories of the Olympic Auditorium, once the beating heart of several vital strains of Los Angeles culture—boxing, wrestling, and punk rock—that weren’t dusted with Hollywood glam and glitter. Looming large is legendary promoter Aileen Eaton, who showed the world how a ballsy broad can mix it up with the big boys.” This is also an opportunity to latch onto some of the equally fresh T-shirts. If only we could call RI.9-5171 to finish this order. www.18thandGrand.com, $20.
For the Bookshelf:
The near-50 titles we worked through for our annual new baseball book titles from March through August is a starting point for fresh ideas in this genre. We gladly steer anyone toward Ron Shelton’s “The Church of Baseball,” Jeff Fletcher’s “Sho-Time,” Dan Good’s “Playing Through the Pain” about Ken Caminiti, Pedro Moura’s “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink,” as well as Joe Posnanski’s eternally appreciated “The Baseball 100.”
But wait, there’s more.
David Maraniss’ “Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe” is, as Keith Olbermann writes in a New York Times review last August, a true-to-life, forget-the-hyperbole we’ve heard before and “in the last 200 excruciating pages, the Thorpe that Maraniss follows is less the mythological athlete and more a real-life Sisyphus. …Maraniss continually yet gently returns to an affirmation (that) taken as a whole, Jim Thorpe’s story is not one of prejudice, nor the hypocrisy of others, nor even of the superstar who doesn’t fulfill Housman’s ‘To an Athlete Dying Young.’ Whatever life took from him, Thorpe persisted and trained and worked and learned and succeeded to the point that he was the landslide winner of the 1950 Associated Press poll of experts who chose the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century. Given the precision with which Maraniss measures the almost unbearable weight of the odds against Thorpe, the reader begins to question if the qualifiers were actually unnecessary, and if Thorpe isn’t simply the greatest athlete — full stop.”
We also came across a New Yorker list of “The Best Books of 2022 So Far,” updated Nov. 16. They included this intriguing entry for those of us who are in the final quarter of our projected existence:
“The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings,” by Geoff Dyer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, released last May). Dyer, who lives in Venice, writes that as he was “dilly-dallying, unsure how to start this book about how things end,” a press conference in 2019 occurred as Andy Murray announced he would retire from tennis as he lost in the Australian Open. “More than moving, it was devastating to watch,” Dyer writes. “The whole thing made for harrowing, and, of course, absolutely absorbing viewing.” Dyer had already had this book in mind watching Roger Federer’s eventual run toward his tennis retirement. There are many more sports-related angles to this as it covers an assortment of people and their heading to the finish line. Maybe it’s something we need to read at this point in our lives. “There are some gorgeous passages” in the book, writes the New York Times’ Jennifer Szalai, “some marvelous bits of criticism, some enthralling descriptions of psychedelics.”
Take a whiff:
When your thoughts drift to what it’s like walking into Dodger Stadium, what smells come to mind?
Maybe right now, there’s a Yellow Brick Road afterglow. But that will end.
From Elton John to Farmer John (and Tommy John in between), we’ve got a good sense to ask that this offering of the “Dodgers Fan Bundle” not try to hard to capture what may be impossible. But we’re willing to give it our two scents worth. Light it up.
It says the Dodgers candle has “top notes” of popcorn, tajin spice and crisp beer, with lesser notes of peanuts, grilled corn, lime, sea salt, fresh grass, red clay and peppercorn. Paired it with the “Los Angeles” candle, which features orange, rose, ylang ylang oil, lemon, jasmine and musk.
(Really, you’re gonna muck this up with musk? Isn’t that asking for trouble?)
“With fireworks as impressive as the A-list fan base, the crowd exits the stadium with a belly full of esquites and a bright blue tongue reminiscent of ice cream and ices,” reads the description. Pure poetry, right? There’s also the option to “make it person” for $15 more, using 130 characters to create a message that will be affixed to the back of the candle. Like: “Did you get that whiff of that Cody Bellinger whiff.” Homesick.com, $77 for the two.
Dining and entertaining:
Kobe Bryant was never accused of coasting when he was on the basketball court. Yet four of his greatest contributions to our memory of him are immortalized on things you’re supposed to put your beverage on to avoid a wet ring on the coffee table.
The coasters feature, in order: His lob to Shaquille O’Neal in the 2000 Western Conference Finals Game 7 (while Rick Fox, Glenn Rice and Robert Horry were all posting up for 3-point opportunities); his 2004 Western Conference Final Game 4 game winner over Phoenix as time ran out; the last points of his 2006 81-point game against Toronto (at the free-throw line with 43 seconds left and an 18-point lead); and his April 2016 final game, called “Mamba Out,” where he dribbled around a Randle screen and hit a jumper with 31 seconds left against Utah to have him finish with 60 points. A toast, to Kobe, and other absent friends. Playbookproducts.com, in leather for $30 or in slate for $40.
We’re not expecting much any more when we happen to have six hours to spend on a golf course. The goal is to start and finish without any injuries — physical or psychological — and perhaps lose only a half-dozen balls. Playing quickly — or, at least not painfully slow — is the way to go. It’s never a walk spoiled if done with a purpose.
Here’s a gadget that may not only improve our lies, but also improve the way we don’t have to lie so much on our scorecard. The GPS Audible Golf Range Finder is said to be a first in that it can announce rather than make one read the distance to the pin from your place in the fairway. Consider it a conversation starter. Or a way to mess with the others in your foursome who think you’re just arguing with yourself. It’s compatible with that iPhone or Galaxy/Android that you should have left in the car, but this time there is the usefulness of allowing it to provide a screen to show the distance and pathway in map form (as you upload a variety of courses into the memory bank). The website reviews give it 4.1 out of 5 stars. Among the few one-star reviewers: “This is too techy for me. After reading the instructions, I didn’t even take it out of the box.” Then mail it to me, pal. A five-star reviewer added: “The trick is to keep the speaker volume at maximum in order to hear easily on the remote visor unit.” Point taken. We endorse anything that prevents slow play. Especially if you’re on one of golf’s “Top 18 most dangerous courses,” with two of them not too far away from us. Scholl Canyon in Glendale above the Verdugo Mountain range is just a par 60 track, but it’s laid out on top of an old landfill. They say there’s some issues with grass growing as well other methane bursts. (We’re led to believe the same is true with The Links at Victoria Park in Carson. Read some of these reviews.) The other time you may need to play at a quicker pace is at the Compton Par 3 course (6400 E. Compton Blvd., next to the L.A. River and the 710 Freeway near Dominguez High), which we aren’t sure if it’s reopened after the pandemic. Swing at your own risk. At SharperImages.com, $129.99.
Side note: An initial public sale of gallery and upgraded tickets to the 123rd U.S. Open Championship at Los Angeles Country Club starts Monday Nov. 28 at 9 a.m. Enter the online waiting room at usopen.com up to 30 minutes ahead of the on-sale window if you like (where’s no benefit to entering earlier). There are daily tickets that start at $125 and go up to $1,300 and beyond. You can only get two tickets per day per transaction. One for me and … More info here.
We were reading recently with some remorse about how the Southern California Curling Center in Vernon (near downtown L.A.) was getting evicted from its facility. Founder and CEO Peter Dohm had told some media members about how SCCC, which established itself at this place in July 2021, finally built the first and only curling-specific venue in Southern California (4545 Pacific Blvd., Vernon). But it has had issues with its landlord (Dynamic Holdings LLC) over the last year because of L.A. County COVID Rent Moratorium Protections.
SCCC says it lost nearly $100,000 in the process and elected officials were weary to get involved in a civil dispute between landlord and tenant, said Dohm. “I am proud of what SCCC has achieved over the last two and a half years at our location, overcoming 15 months of COVID shutdowns to get opened, hosting over 5,000 curlers of all levels, including the USA Olympic and Paralympic Teams, the 2022 gold medalists from Sweden and many others that have helped make memories here,” said Dohm.
The place shut down in October. Lawsuits are pending. “I have put in 110 percent every day – even if most was behind the scenes – and given all the troubles, I am damn proud of what we achieved,” Dohm said. “I promise to you is that we will curl again on dedicated ice in Southern California at some point.”
We’ve tried curling before. We can’t find the story on any website, but we found a Deadspin.com compilation of all the stupid reporter-tries-curling stories prior to the 2010 Winter Games, and we made it in there. Lucky us. We’re still up to curl. At home. Where we know the landlord will be nice to us. The Hovering Curling Set won’t replace the real thing, but allows you to do that thing you do in ice with air-propelled stones that float across the floor. Do it next to a fireplace if that helps create the right mood. At SharperImage.com, $129.99.
More non-ice time stuff:
We’ve never ridden on a Zamboni but this could be the next-best thing. Of course, not for us. Something to have at the house when the grandson pops by. But we’d likely take it on a test run first. The Panorama City-based ice surfacing company has done all sorts of deals with the NHL, making die-cast toys, Pez dispensers and Monopoly tokens. All worthy of gift gifting. But now, something for kids aged 3-to-8, Kook Karz Playground has a somewhat realistic ride-on version replica ice resurfacer. It’s complete with four rubber tires, horn, LED headlights, and a “snow collection tank” that acts as a storage. It also has a 22-pound rechargeable battery. Best, a sound track of Zamboni noises. Sure, Zamboni drivers usually sit toward the back of the real deal, but now they’re front and center. In case they’re driving it up the driveway and a squirell decided to try to play chicken with it. Trust us, we’ve seen it happen. It may not end well for everyone. More info with this ESPN.com story. At NHL.com, Zamboni.com and KoolKarzPlayground.com, $349.99.
This whole Twitter thing — it was what it was. And now, for us, it isn’t.
Coaxed into the virtual party year ago, engaging on-and-off-and-on because of the enjoyably toxic exchange of ideas, opinions, observations and usable information. Driven out by, who really knows why.
But for better or not-so-worse, and few regrets, we’re dropping the mike.
We can’t say it has nothing to do with all the recent news of its ownership change, employee layoffs, workers distress, policy ideas floated, or the welcoming back of at least one major proponent of abusive-minded posts that push Freedom of Speech to absurd limits. But that’s only an ugly slice of it.
(And by the way: Our deepest respect continues for Dan LeBatard, as he continuously calls out those who allow “dangerous rhetoric” to take place, has an effective continual proper use of the phrase “orange, racist turd,” and eventually has come, like us, to the sad conclusion that he can’t honestly advise anyone thinking of getting into journalism after the way the industry has allowed to be “trashed … How can I advise anybody to choose that as a career path when it feels so unsafe?”)
And there we lazily go, using another Tweet to illustrate a point.
When you’re handed a loaded social-media weapon of mass distraction, not always having the discipline to fire without being ready or aiming correctly at nothing in particular, you hope you learn things about your own self. We did.
We have no memorable exchanges in our Twitter chronicles. We doubt we will even take any steps to save whatever we posted. It was there for the moment captured somewhere perhaps in someone’s archives like any conversation you would have with a person. We will remember the best parts and try to learn from the worst all while not getting consumed with trying to save everything we’ve ever sat or posted.
Maybe we pulled an Irish goodbye. We didn’t announce “so long” to anyone. We just left the party as quietly and cautiously as we entered it years ago.
We had our reservations about it before we even joined in, finally coaxed in by a colleague who thought “you’d be really good at this.” Quick, witty opinions. Networking. Linking to stories that carried some weight and otherwise might be missed.
We had already seen some of our friends leave in the past few weeks. One said he was tired of getting a new wave of threats from a community of random followers. Another said the platform just felt like an abusive ex-spouse.
We enjoyed posting things like the view of a sunset from our front porch, date and time stamping it. It would draw a few likes or retweets, but even those became fewer and fewer.
If the simple things you’re trying to share aren’t being accepted, and the quality of the platform continues to crumble, you can either ride it out to an ugly finish, cursing and screaming about it, or politely exit, stage whatever, and embrace exchange services that are more aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish.
Like LinkedIn. Solid, reliable, a place with a purpose.
We recently read (and shared) this piece from The Atlantic — “The Age of Social Media is Ending” — that seemed to explain best to us how and why some got here and there in the first place. It was very complimentary of the LinkedIn mission statement and how it was still staying in that lane of engagement.
We’re all in, the more we use it.
It’s been a couple days now and we’re remembering the line from the movie “Office Space,” where the hired consultants talk to the employee in an interview:
“We hear you’d been missing working lately.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say I’m missing it,” he replies.
We don’t really miss Twitter. The addictive, dopamine nature of it – finding something new to stimulate the brain every three seconds, generating a response, thinking through it before posting, then ultimately deciding whether it may or may not provide some entertainment and information to someone else – actually is a nice thing to avoid.
We’re just in another career-related makeover, and we don’t need anchors around our ankles moving forward. And, in the end, as we pulled the plug last week, Twitter felt just that way.
In the end, our Twitter bio just said two simple words – “Yesterday’s news” – because that’s how we’ve felt about things.
And that has changed.
We’re in the present, moving forward. Twitter is yesterday’s news.
A contest of attempted athleticism followed this photo op. And then, probably, a trip to Tommy’s hours later in the rain for some comfort food.
The Daily Trojan (representing a university that once had a separate school of journalism, now consolidated into a communications department) kept up the tradition of collecting members its newspaper staff to participate in an annual flag football contest against the Daily Bruin (a school still without a journalism program but with access to newsprint).
This battle of wits has been called the “Blood Bowl.”
Mostly, it’s just a few scrapes and skid marks. A black eye or two. Maybe even self-inflicted. Nothing to call Keck Medicine about.
This meet and greet happens on an agreed-upon day leading up to the scheduled USC-UCLA football contest. The home team aligns with whether the “real” game happens either at the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl.
That game, for what it’s worth, hasn’t really inspired a nickname. Marketeers have tried to incorporate some “gauntlet” thing. A “Victory Bell” is always at stake. We once took a media poll and the consensus was to call it “The ‘Wood vs. the Hood.”
In 1982, the Blood Bowl was at the UCLA practice field next to Pauley Pavilion – that’s in the background of this photo. It came prior to the Nov. 20 Trojans-Bruins season-ending game at the Rose Bowl. That one was won by No. 11 UCLA, 20-19, when Karl Morgan sacked Scott Tinsley on a two-point conversion attempt with no time left – there was no overtime, so No. 15 USC and coach John Robinson, ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, decided to go for the victory instead of a tie — but that’s incidental to any of this and should not be mentioned again).
UCLA also defeated USC in this Blood Bowl – we remember it as 12-0 mess on a muddy Spaulding Field that involved slipping, sliding and sloppiness in inappropriate shoes.
My one contribution was falling down while trying to cover a UCLA receiver, but an under-thrown pass landed right in my hands. I cradled it for an interception and felt like Ronnie Lott.
Forty years later, what else could possibly be memorable? Depends on your mental capacity.
“I was on the advertising team for Daily Bruin and played in that game. … The advertising guys carried the load. My recollection is UCLA won 6-0. I scored on a 99 yard hook and ladder and that was the only score. It was … and was testy for sure. I graduated but came back for next game at USC, and I recall a few scuffles in that game and one of the TV stations aired some highlights on the news. I didn’t think there was a bigger highlight than my TD, but now I can see I played against Randy Johnson.”
Yes, we had Randy Johnson.
And he was magnificently terrible.
When the once-aspiring Daily Trojan photographer (now is a pretty famous photographer – see his body of work) was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015, I thought it was appropriate to post this column explaining all his contributions to the contest.
That included a Daily Trojan touchdown called back because of an illegal block downfield – by Johnson.
Not to be too star struck, but UCLA had some notable names on its side as well, that we choose not to mention here for fear of ego inflation. You know who you were, David Kahn.
Wait, you had a bunch of guys from the ad department on your roster? From this team photo, I can tell you there’s no Mad Men present. Just journos. Pretty much. And a freakin’ Hall of Famer who knew how to snap off a Konica lens when the time calls for it.
And for what it’s worth, as noted in G. Scott Thomas’ new book, “Cooperstown at the Crossroads,” Johnson in his first year of eligibility received 97.27 percent of the votes to top the ballot, ahead of Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio, and Johnson’s “quality score of 89 points established him as the top-rated inductee since Mike Schmidt two decades earlier.”
Not sure exactly what that means, but all we know is we never took the time to ask the Big Unit to autograph any one of our bruises. Because, well, who knew?
Forty years is kinda mind blowing to look at that team photo, which exists only on photo paper, created in a dark room. If the game and everything around it was in full color, this is what we have now as the memory — like the last wedding scene in the movie “Diner.”
These were the career-aspiring, pre-Internet, read-the-newspaper ass kickers who laughed and wrote and drank and wrote and crammed and wrote and got on each other and wrote.
Guys and girls, some of whose names I can’t remember, and surely, they don’t recall mine either. Some are just nicknames given to them at 4 in the morning during some deadline rush to get the paper finished so we could figure out how we’d attempt that 8 a.m. Science For the Non-Scientist Class.
Over the last four decades, a few of them did really special things in big-time journalism. Even the guy wearing a lacrosse shirt. Maybe that’s why we were confused about what we were doing out there.
I see my trusted roommate and best-man at one of my several weddings – the guy with no shoes, far left. He had the right footwear for this game. And in life in general.
I see a friend who passed away.
I smile again when I see the guy wearing a No. 18 jersey in the front row who should also be in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his life of photography. I’m next to him — the idiot with the cheesy mustache and plastic Trojan helmet. Which still has mud on it and sits on my bookshelf.
There’s a game ball I collected after it was over and took it back to my dilapidated off-campus apartment. It’s in a box somewhere in the garage. I went searching for it the other day and came up empty. Maybe I should rescue it for some better shelf space.
The ultimate takeaway from any of this: Take, and save, lots of pictures with your friends. Forty years later, you never know who’ll amount to anything. There could be this 6-foot-10 guy in the back row, a head taller than anyone. It’s doubtful this photo-op is in his Top One Million memories. It’s gotta be in our Top 20.
Then again, with all the crazy things that happened in our lives since then, the rest of us maybe sleep easier knowing we never killed a bird with a fastball in a Major League Baseball game. So we got that going for us.
How much are you invested yet – financially, emotionally, intellectually or otherwise — in Crypto.com?
Considering it’s still fresh in our minds how the cuddly super-sized arena in downtown L.A. just abandoned a loyal partner to have its naming rights changed, it might be penny-wise to see how miscalculations are heating up in Miami these last few weeks.
A crypto currency company that just last year pledged Miami-Dade County some $135 million to add its name to the marquee for 19 years, plus give $5 million toward local causes concerning a reduction of gun violence, is now bankrupt.
It gave the county some $20 million up front for the first two years and the check has cleared apparently. A $5.5 million installment is due in less than two months.
Talk to the CEO, who resigned amidst a massive missive of social media mea culpas.
The custodians who run the place — it opened in 1999, same year as L.A.’s Staples Center, with the seemingly secure American Airlines Arena title in place — said they’re immediately dropping the FTX name and are “extremely disappointed.”
The people making these decisions shall remain nameless.
Due diligence and some common sense in how dollars are created out of thin air and then dispersed might be helpful.
“Crypto collapses have become par for the course,” Will Gottsegen writes in The Atlantic. “But now, crypto feels less ready for the mainstream than it has in years. Even as crypto slunk into a bear market in recent months, there was still the dream of crypto as it was originally conceived in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis: Part of the blockchain’s raison d’être lay in cutting out greedy bankers and creating greater trust between transacting parties. Now, in 2022, the crypto markets are controlled by an industry that’s proved time and time again just how similar to the existing financial system it really is.”
There’s that, and there’s the advice we once got from broadcaster Al Michaels, famous for his financial acumen. He suggested whenever a company in your investment portfolio announces it has spent millions in its marketing budget to buy the naming rights to some sports facility, that’s the moment you sell the stock. They are likely in over their skiis, and the investment will never pay off.