"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/
Wilt Chamberlain’s lair in Bel-Air is up in the air, listed for sale at the now-reduced price of $11.995 mil.
If that isn’t cool enough for you, then please step aside, my man. We’re starting up a collection to secure a piece of this historic erection. Who’s throwing in the first crypto cabbage to reclaim Wilt’s crib?
When we try to size up the life and times of Basketball Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain — a 7-foot-1 skyscraper all to himself — we become humbled as mortals transfixed on a compilation of staggering numbers.
He held 72 NBA records at one time. The 31,419 points he scored in the regular season may not be as iconic as 715 homers, but, accumulated over 14 years, it had been the NBA’s all-time mark (and still holds strong at No. 7, with the top spot soon to be claimed by LeBron James, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, even though both played a far more games than Wilt).
A career 30.07 points-per-game average is now second to Michael Jordan’s 30.12, in 15 seasons. Wilt topped it off at a record 50.4 points a game in 1961-62, at age 25, which was also the season he had a record 100-point game (that almost no one witnessed), all by himself.
Wilt’s 23,924 career rebounds, meanwhile, remains No. 1, more than 2,000 clear of rival Bill Russell, and will likely never be touched.
In ’67-’68, with the 76ers, he not only led the league again in scoring, but also averaged a league-best 8.6 assists a game, and had 31 triple-doubles in that finally Philly campaign. Listen to this: On February 2, 1968, Chamberlain scored 22 points, had 25 rebounds, and racked up 21 assists in a 131-121 Sixers win over the Pistons.
He was then shipped to L.A. as the game’s reigning MVP and its newest star as the Fabulous Forum was newly opened. Remember who he was traded for? Archie Clark, Darrall Imhoff, Jerry Chambers and likely a blank check. We can thank then-Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke, who bestowed Wilt with a ridiculous $250,000 salary (vs. the $100,000 given to Jerry West) and with Wilt as the new team captain, he brought the city its first NBA title, in 1972, as the catalyst of the fast-break offense, ignited by his outlet pass off the rebound. Chick Hearn delighted in him, and we were in awe.
Congrats and salutations to the young rebel who called attention to himself by dynamically prancing across the field during the Rams-49ers game on Monday Night Football, leading to a surprise meet-and-greet – and near beat-down — by Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner.
After which, the lad had the inflated balls to file a police report against Wagner, as reported by TMZ.
He successfully checked all the correct boxes in getting a protest message across effectively. They don’t teach this in college. It’s real-life experience. It also creates a curious if not lively discussion about what this all entails on even more credible media platforms. It has some shelf life now. Bravo.
From reading on, we’ve come to know the name of this fellow, but we’ll refrain from identifying him. We believe in the merit of a recent Associated Press policy change to no longer run the names of people charged with minor crimes “out of concern such stories can have a long, damaging effect on the Internet and make it hard for individuals to move on with their lives.” Yes, this will come back to haunt him. Plus, if it was publicity he was seeking, he’s going to have to live with being nameless in this space.
So without naming names, we now know what you were protesting. We don’t totally agree with it. But that’s your right.
Now that we’ve also learned you’ve asked the local authorities to act on your behalf because of you’ve come to believe you were unnecessarily assaulted during your truant action, again, we again don’t agree. But that’s your party, and you’ll cry if you want to.
Even with a greater understanding for your naivety, we somewhat admire your gumption.
Now, we invite you to leap into a vat of burning hot oil and see how that ends up.
So, so predictable. Yet even founding members of the Houston Astros’ “Trash Can Bangers Club,” circa 2017-19, are embarrassed.
From rook to royal flush to rainbow trout, all this unethical behavior comes to light when the simple act of maintaining a poker face — literally, in one case — is so difficult that the opponents sense deceit and the violation of being cheated. That’s the issue with all three. Let’s “Judge Steve Harvey” some video-evidence outrage while the dialogue is fresh:
Chess master Magnus Carlsen has alleged that rival Hans Neimann has been up to no good, twice withdrawing from head-to-head matchups in two separate events against him last month. In a subsequent statement, the 31-year-old Carlsen said he knew something was wrong when 19-year-old Neimann “wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can.” Masters can sense that in an opponent, when the other is too fast or skillfull.
Carlsen says Niemann poses an “existential threat” to the sport’s integrity.
The other day, something called Chess.com, an online platform where many top players compete, issued a 72-page report reviewed by, of all media outlets, the Wall Street Journal. It’s research accused Niemann of receiving illegal assistance more than 100 times in his online professional career, as recently as 2020, with prize money on the line, doing it with a pattern of “remarkable signals and unusual patterns.”
Yeah, you’ve heard about the anal beads. And artificial intelligence. Or whatever other gizmo will help you decide how a rook moves versus a pawn.
Neimann had supposedly admitted he cheated twice in online chess way back when he was age 12 and 16, but he’s outgrown that. Matured. Learned from his mistakes.
Washington Post master sports columnist Sally Jenkins writes that “the Carlsen-Niemann confrontation raises the important matter of ‘techno-solutionism.’ Too much machine intelligence in problem-solving, as it happens, can be more confusing — and weakening — than helpful. The long-term cost of techno-solutionism can be a fatal slackness, both mental and physical. You don’t want to lose your conditioning for decisive human judgment. … ‘Recommendation algorithms’ can solve some problems, but they don’t always make us smarter or stronger.”
Kinda like when SABR masters fill MLB R&A offices and pollute the decision-makers in the dugout into yielding to their data about how to circumvent things like extreme defensive shifts (soon to be eliminated), use relief pitchers as starters to mess with lineups strategy, or even resort to a need for an electronic system in the ear of the pitcher and catcher so they can discuss slider/curveball selections – all to avoid the ballpark nuanced sounds of thumping trashcans?
We all feel like pawns in a system of checks and checkmates. No solution yet — just a stalemate. Please, show us all your cards.
Which leads to …
Poker veteran player and TV reality star Garrett “Gman” Adelstein has accused newcomer Robbi Jade Lew of cheating after she pulled off an improbable upset win at a Hustler Casino Live event in Gardena.
(We’ve always been taught: What happens in Gardena usually has a stay-over at a Circle K in Harbor City where justice is ultimately carried out).
When confronted, Lew didn’t admit to anything, but reportedly offered all the money back from the $269,000 pot to him that she won. Even though she felt bullied into doing so.
Late at night on Sept. 29, Adelstein may have looked like the bigger boob by posting on social media that he reviewed Lew’s previous 11 hours of footage and thought what she did was “extremely out of character compared to prior hands.”
(Personal question: Is Lew married? Can we cross-examine her husband as a character witness?)
The poker world chimed in, trying to stay abreast with Lew’s every move.
Commentator Bart Hanson put up a 27-minute dissertation on the subject on YouTube and said “maybe there is a 20-to-30 percent change of cheating” in this case, but it’s not likely. There’s a zero percent chance we’ll watch his video for verification of this assessment.
Lew isn’t buying it either.
That was “either an insane hero call, or cheating,” is how one summed up the play in which Adelstein had an open-ended straight flush draw and went all-in on the turn, at which time Lew had a weak jack-high hand but also curiously went all-in and messed up everyone’s strategy.
We have no idea what the paragraph above means, or if it’s even possible. Our anal beads tell us to move on. This all feels like a problematic way of playing “Go Fish.”
Speaking of which …
A fishing tournament in Cleveland last weekend, the Lake Erie Walleye Trail, went sideways when the tournament director held up five live fish that were estimated to be four pounds each — 20 pounds total.
They ended up weighing in at nearly 34 pounds. Enough to make the guy working the fresh meat section at Ralphs have a double take.
Alleged fisherman Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky stood to win a prize of about $30,000 for their haul. But then they were left to answer — or not — as director Jason Fischer took a knife, cut the fish open, and weights started falling out of it.
Teach a man to fish, and he loads the catch with thirty pieces of lead.
This also cast a shadow of doubt of the Runyan-Cominsky previous wins over the last three months. Obviously. Experts in this competition say technology and increasing prizes has incentivize cheating to a point where many can’t be trusted any more.
This makes us all uneasy — like shooting fish in a barrel of monkeys who are playing poker with a bunch of dogs who think they are playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
We assume these people are in the cerebral worlds of chess, poker and fishing because they like being off the non-intellectual sports radar of fantasy football. They don’t have the villainous tendencies for something as wicked as throwing 20-pound cornhole bags, hollwed-out horseshoes or using illegally modified 3-D printer paintball guns (purchased without an intelligence background check).
There is a way to resolve these three stains on our competitive sporting landscape.
First, make all chess, poker and fishing part of the Olympic movement, preferably by 2028 when the Los Angeles Organizing Committee people can take ownership of another toxic-mess cleanup. That’s our thing.
Next, invite Magnus Carlsen and Hans Neimann, Garrett Adelstein and Robbi Jade Lew, and Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky to a Hollywood studio (Gardena-adjacent), trust enough that we can give them a plane ticket and a phony brochure, then invite them to participate in a three-part episode of a revival of the mashed-up reality show “Temptation Island: Cheaters Edition.” Martha’s Vineyard will be accommodating host on short notice.
Each day, the six of them rotate partners as they compete in extensive exercises of chess, poker and fishing. Rule books be damned. The players enforce things themselves on the dis-honor system.
The trickster’s triathlon hosted by Alex Rodriguez.
Losers, and winners, get a weekend of soul cycle cleansing with Lance Armstrong.
Since the Official California Sample Ballot officially arrived in our home mail box, we’re officially forced to come to terms that State Measure 26 and State Measure 27 will appear on the Nov. 8 election.
Just look at ‘em. Properly coded and aligned graphically as two of the seven life-altering referendums that also address reproductive freedom, reduced air pollution, music education in the schools, flavored tobacco sales and more rigmarole about kidney dialysis clinics.
Also known as Prop 26 and 27, per the paid ads that choke off any spare TV airtime and billboard space, the general idea here is that the state is properly asking if you’d like to engage in the exciting world of sports wagering, and, if so, where would you like your mounting losses go — toward benefiting the current tribal land casino structure or the expansion of mobile and online companies miles away from where the damage is done?
The entirety of Prop 26 comes weighs in at 15 pages, while Prop 27’s submission rambles on for 65 pages. Neither are easy reads.
But ultimately, this isn’t a pick-your-poison decision.
You can simply vote “no” and “no thanks” and we’ll all be better off.
If the only thing you come away with here is a link to the most important thing we’ve read on the subject — Christopher Caldwell’s piece for Compact Magazine titled: “America’s Bad Bet on Sports Gambling” – and then decide to vote yes, your disconnect is beyond reasoning.
Those who stand to profit most from this are measuring us up for sports gaming enthusiasts, because all the cool kids around this country are on board, and, as far as they know, none have resorted to 1-800-GAMBLER confessionals.
The con has premeditated dozens of states already. This is a chance for California to show restraint beyond its otherwise progressive nature.
Based on ads, a good number of voters won’t even know this is a sports-wagering prop bet, led instead to believe it will help the homeless crisis. That’s as far from reality, and insulting to those who are a home-need situation.
Our monthly Sports Media Misery Index is a standard check and imbalance of what we’ve loathed, liked or learned from a measured consumption of the various media platforms.
It’s our dysfunctional erectile thermometer, pointing true south. See if you can follow along without getting ticketed:
TESTING OUR PAIN THRESHOLD
Anyone seemingly connected to the New York Yankees — team, fans, George Constanza wannabes — who believe there is an inherent need for any network from ESPN to TBS to the Home Shopping Network to risk a live cut-in to follow Aaron Judge’s swing-and-a-miss chase for … what is it now? … the American League (and franchise) single-season home run record … Naw, we’re good.
The only treat is listening to YES Network play-by-play caller Michael Kay try to set the scene “for those joining us now” as the moment unfolds. Those who are there against their will pretty much can be heard screaming on social media immediately, which gives context and angst to this whole New York-shout-it-into-existence charade. The languish is almost over — four more telecasts in Texas (Monday at 4 p.m., Tuesday DH at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and the Wednesday finale at 1 p.m., all Pacific times). Check local listings, then cringe.
We actually know where to go if we truly needed access — and now know what to avoid. How about some live cut-ins when Shoehei Ohtani is throwing his next no-hit bid? He’s back for the Angels’ season finale in Oakland on Wednesday.
On Amazon Prime’s rocket launch of its first NFL Thursday Night Football telecast of the season — that rib-bashing Sept. 15 Chargers-Chiefs matchup, if you’ll recall — they managed to wait until five minutes before halftime before the obligatory shot into the luxury suits to find Roger Goodell with Jeff Bezos.
Unexpectedly, we actually felt as twisted as the NFL Commissioner’s body language as he made his Sit of Shame to fill the frame with this latest deal-with-the-devil financial funder to The League. It was made even more demeaning when Bezos’ gal pal, former TV news person Lauren Sanchez, saw her chance to squeeze into the shot to share a Dr. Evil moment together.
Bezos decided to pay about $1 billion a year for the package last March when the league held hostage all its rights holders to cover an 11-year stretch to the tune of about $100 billion. Amazon’s deal wasn’t supposed to start until 2023, but they decided why not go now, because it “creates incremental economic and strategic value for the League and our fans,” the NFL said in a statement.
Amazon has 200 million Prime subscribers around the world. This is one expensive home page screen shot.
It’s been noted that in our current streaming-of-consciousness existence, viewers may push back on how Apple+ has become a tough-to-find platform on the MLB’s new sellout for Friday night games (insufferable minor-league broadcasting crew aside). But the much easier to track down Al Michaels-Kirk Herbstreit tag-team for the Amazon Prime access shows its acceptance and reach. If you enjoyed watching this, you might also enjoy … Much easier, of course, for those digital natives. They field the phone calls from their parents right after kickoff asking: “Is this game on Anaheim Live or Omicron Prime Booster?”
We anticipated this happening last week — Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, helped off the field in a groggy, unnerving state, and the scroll reads: “Based on your viewing, you may also like the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith. Rents for $2.99″)
We’re still extremely uncomfortable with this whole idea that Bezos/Amazon can continue to worm its way into acting as our sports viewing fulfillment center. As well as its impact in the journalism world with a problematic Washington Post ownership. Just hope the NFL lawyers have checked the legal terms of Bezos’ return policy.
The LIV Golf tour’s inevitable rejection from all the major media players, and at a point where it will apparently just buy airtime to have a TV partnership with FS1, has finally made the existence of the USFL not look so desperate. Considering how often Fox channels replay those persistent ads trying to track down Camp Lejeune Water Contamination victims, the LIV Golf people have probably found their right demographic.
Besides, Fox, as a football company, has enough problems as they realize weekly they’ve lost the latest game of musical NFL analyst chairs.
The Reggie Bush Redemption Tour, supplemented with income from spotty commercial spots for Wendys, only serves to embarrass the former USC tailback and the food-adjacent delivery company. “You can’t take this away from me … back to its rightful owner,” as he says in the tagline, a confusing way for Bush to make light of the fact the Heisman people haven’t returned his trophy in the aftermath of … what? Are they legally obligated to do so? It’s their trophy.
The laugh’s still on Bush and he doesn’t get that he’s the punchline. What’s his beef? If he really wants that Heisman back, trying to shame the old folks in New York into doing it through this kind of desperate playground messaging just shows how detached from reality the somehow still current Fox Sports college football studio analyst must be. Try doing some ads instead for Depends. Lots of potential for laughs there, after the Fox network execs someday realize they can appeal more to younger viewers by replacing him with Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.
Once ESPN decided that two weeks into its “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot” show had a need for Pat McAfee to pollute its set with well-respected dignitaries like Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard, we’ve stopped making the effort to rise early or even DVR it for later consumption. “GameDay” has a comfortable vibe going. This will prove to be an unnecessary disrupter. McAfee, 35, with his talk show on YouTube and appearances on WWE’s “Friday Night Smackdown” and a $120 million deal to promote FanDuel, brings with him a built-in social media fan base. Other media companies hopefully have learned that isn’t such a wise gameplan (see: L.A. Times/Arash Markasi). This has the feel of 20 years ago when ESPN brought in Rush Limbaugh to be on its Sunday NFL Countdown pregame set. No, it didn’t end well – but what did they expect? Learn from history.
The 2022 local MLB broadcast in review interruption:
= The Dodgers’ rotation on SportsNet LA of Orel Hershiser anchoring the game analyst chair on home games, then pivoting to Eric Karros, Dontrelle Willis, Jessica Mendoza, Nomar Garciaparia and even Rick Monday on roadies, managed to keep things fresh without confusion. There was definitely a different tone each one brought based on their personality, and it was then up to test Joe Davis’ versatility to figure it all out — perhaps against his will, but he masterfully made it work to his immense credit. It’s a feat no other Dodgers broadcaster has ever had to endure, and its degree of difficulty made obvious when he needed to jump off on weekends for a Fox national MLB or NFL broadcast, and the remarkably pedestrian Tim Neverett (never was, never will be) was never going to be our Plan B, but there it. Karros and Willis are keepers for their energy, knowledge and chemistry. Mendoza’s nervous laughs and somewhat muted audio was never really helpful. Kristin Watson finally looks comfortable and actually informative on the field, and David Vassegh as the occasionally fill-in has learned to jump into a broadcast for dutiful updates without breaking a leg in the process. Only wish we could have seen more of Jose Mota, who seems to be the most likely candidate to slide into Jaime Jarrin’s chair on the Spanish-language radio broadcast.
= The Angels’ stagnant offerings on Bally Sports West and KLAA-AM (830) go against all that is supposed to happen in a major media market like Southern California. In the absence of Victor Rojas (nice knowing you) and an inconsistent post-COVID lockdown appearance rotation of Matt Vasgersian after fumbles with Daron Sutton and Rich Waltz (gone and goner), resorting to a very green Patrick O’Neal making an apparent cost-efficient segue from field reporter/studio host up to TV play-by-play was a Double-A attempt to solve a MLB issue. There are plenty of other seasoned broadcasters who put in the reps and may have been more deserving. A very likeable, personal professional, O’Neal must realize this really isn’t his strength, but the audience didn’t need to be on the other side of the two-way mirror watching the audition play out, especially with historic performances playing out by Shohei Ohtani in need of the proper captioning rather than jaw-dropping hyperbole. If all he was asked to do was set and serve to longtime Angels broadcast fixture Mark Gubicza, O’Neal wasn’t put into a position to succeed as he naturally tried too hard to add his own knowledge and mix in too many cliche captions. They’ve got an offseason to study the tapes and come back with a new gameplan. On radio, it will forever be an untenable, unlistenable mix of Terry “Smithers” Smith (really, in his 21st season?) and Mark Langston that has somehow been as sustainable as a daily series of paper cuts. Please, just cut your losses. New ownership will have to take ownership of this marketing mold. Here’s an idea:
A HIGHER TOLERANCE
The “Saturday Night Live” cold open paying homage to ESPN’s Monday Night Football “ManningCast” shows how quickly this alternative viewing set up has become part of our mindset. If only ESPN could figure out a way to have Joe Buck and Troy Aikman come in as a guest for Peyton and Eli Manning, to remind folks they’re still doing a game on the other channel. Tonight’s Rams-49ers telecast might be the time to test that idea. Because if one really wants to learn how a quarterback thinks during the fourth-quarter chaos, this is the place to default after the first three quarters. Our only suggestion: Find a way to get former SNL cast member Tracy Morgan five minutes on each broadcast, maybe for halftime analysis, we’d make a point to never miss it. (On that note: Tonight’s Rams-49ers contest airs in the L.A. market on KABC-Channel 7 and ESPN. Which means it pushes ABC’s syndicated version of “Jeopardy!” to … where? It remains absent tonight/Tuesday AM on our TV menu. Unacceptable.)
The semi-annual Clippers-Ball Sports West contract renewal played out as expected — they’ll stay connected in an act of convenience, not real love, until the team figures out how he can cut ties and move into its own TV-controlled situation. The fact the team announced a deal with KTLA-Channel 5 before last weekend’s formal announcement to air a handful of games was only the result of anticipated NHL schedule conflicts with Bally Sports West’s Kings games. There will be more bluster from the team and how it handles its local TV rights after it settles into a new arena and tries to establish its own narrative.