By T.J. Simers
I just loved a story in the LA Times newspaper’s sports section Tuesday morning.
It wasn’t on the first page of sports because there was no story there, just some artist showing off with fake art.
Nothing on the second page, and a Dodgers’ farm system story on page 3. I believe it’s the third-straight day of minor league Dodgers’ baseball and one day was too much.
Who cares who the Dodgers might throw into a trade they are not going to make for Ohtani.
It wasn’t on page 4 because that was all soccer with Kevin Baxter writing from Auckland, New Zealand about a pink-haired Angel City player who dyed her hair black to play for Japan in the World Cup. He wrote a second story about what I don’t know after reading it, but it was soccer.
That leaves only page 5 in the 5-page sports section, and there it was, a story I wanted to read: “Johnson stresses weight of new ownership role.”
I might have used “Magic,” in the headline instead of Johnson, but there I go being picky again.
I like/love reading about Los Angeles icons. Not all that crazy about Magic, the puffed-up team owner, but kudos to the Times’ Broderick Turner (a.k.a. Brad) for tracking Magic down on his yacht in Europe for an update.
Turner is the voice of authority when it comes to the NBA for the Times. He did a Q&A with Magic, and while Turner had to do a certain amount of sucking up because otherwise he would lose Magic’s cell access, he asked about Magic’s ownership in the NFL, MLB, NBA, MLS and WNBA.
I’m a horse owner, 1% in Kiddy Up, and I’m not sure beyond the fact it’s just one horse and loose change, that is much different than owning a piece of the Commanders, Lakers, Dodgers, Sparks and the LAFC.
But again, whatever my questions and doubts for Magic and his input in ownership, they are irrelevant. What matters here is Brad Turner giving newspaper readers something to read.
Why the Times buried it inside shows more of a disregard for its readers than Magic.
I used to interview Lasorda, Scully and Wooden every chance I had because they were LA icons. They might say something really interesting and maybe not, but it was Lasorda, Scully and Wooden.
This is Magic. A breath of fresh (hot) air after all the soccer, minor league baseball and boxing we have been force fed in the Times. Finally, a name we know and always want to know more about.
I was once involved in a newspaper survey, asking readers what they wanted to read. Shocking, I know.
Columns graded high, but the highest marks went to any story featuring a well-known sports figure. If it was a story about Fouts or Mickelson or Kobe, the readers couldn’t wait to gobble it up although there was no guarantee of anything new.
People want to know and read more about the people who have brought them so many thrills in their lives.
The Times has been more focused on the obscure lately, but then comes along Brad Turner with his phone call to Magic and Times’ readers are winners.
It should have been the page 1 story rather than buried inside. But congratulations to Turner for not letting that deter him from doing such a great job.
By T.J. Simers
I give up. Maybe the last straw was the hiring of someone from the University of Washington Monday to serve as USC athletic director.
It was news to the LA Times, reporter Brady McCollough writing in the Times’ story: “ESPN’s Pete Thamel was the first to report the hire.”
I thought everyone from ESPN had just been fired.
This was USC, located in the LA Times’ backyard and former sports editor Bill Dwyre would have gone newspaper crazy asking why none of his reporters didn’t have the story first.
Dwyre is now moving from California to Baltimore on Sunday, and maybe that’s another reason to give up. He had the best sports department in the country for decades, great stories to tell and a passion as a really ancient journalist to keep the Times on top.
He offered to help the newspaper several times but was rebuked and ignored. On occasion they let him write in his retirement, but he was willing to return as an advisor to the sports editor, and I think it’s pretty obvious there is someone who needs help.
For one thing he would have put reporter Brady McCollough to work, McCollough showing up to write every decade or so and I wonder why the Times had no clue who was being hired as USC’s athletic director?
And it happened before 3 p.m.
The Times ran a story about the USC search for a new AD yesterday with a picture of Minnesota AD Mark Coyle as if he was now the favorite. The story mentioned a half dozen possible candidates for the post but never mentioned the woman who was named USC AD a day later.
It’s one thing to offer a horrible product, but a complete clueless whiff on a story that has now played out for months speaks to how far the sports section has slipped. And Dwyre is headed to Baltimore.
Maybe the last straw came in a twitter message Monday from former San Diego Union-Tribune sports editor Jay Posner: “I know it was exhibition and I know it’s only the Chargers but did you notice their game yesterday ended just before 7:20 and not a single word in the Times print today. Not even anything explaining why the game was played when city and state officials told people not to leave home. But we did get to read about the Angels DH split from Saturday.”
That’s the Los Angeles Chargers, Mr. San Diego, and the LA Times should care about them now.
The expectation, of course from Posner was that I would write about it and criticize the LA Times which doesn’t live up to Union-Tribune standards.
Then I get a series of tweets from former LA Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth on Monday about the inconsistencies and poor coverage in the Times. He concludes one message by writing: “TJSimerspage2 may have thoughts on how this also took a full page of Sunday’s tiny print edition.”
First of all, it is “tjpage2.blog.”
But I have given up. The LA Times’ sports section as it appears in the newspaper is an abomination. The LA Times no longer cares what they deliver in the newspaper, circulation dwindling and fewer and fewer people to read a blog who even know what I am referring to when I write.
The best story to appear in the newspaper in recent memory was Dwyre’s tribute to columnist Jim Murray. And Dwyre is moving to Baltimore, no more of our Lazy Dog lunches every few weeks to discuss the good old days.
They no longer exist, the full-page story in the LA Times sports section with pictures recently in a column by Helene Elliott on former UCLA golfer Lilia Vu.
I read the first nine paragraphs, a LA County record for reading that , much of an Elliott column without quitting, and still don’t know why she wrote it or why the LA Times used its entire first page to showcase it.
The simple explanation is the Times doesn’t care.
Speaking of turning off readers, I offered to return and work for nothing except for a donation to a children’s hospital, but never heard back from Publisher Patrick Soon-Shiong. Former Times’ editor Davan Maharaj told me it wasn’t my job to help the misfortunate, so maybe that remains the Times’ community policy.
But if the Times really is trying to kill the printed newspaper, why not bring back Page 2 to finish the job?
I’ve been sending my blogs by email to the laboratory where Soon-Shiong is searching for the cure for cancer. Soon-Shiong is registered as a “friend” on my twitter account, but apparently we’re not close friends.
I’ve changed. I didn’t make fun of Elliott’s column earlier because frankly I’ve lost interest. If that’s the story the LA Times sports editor thinks is going to rock its readership, suggesting alternatives is a lost cause.
Beyond lost subscribers, there’s no outcry from folks in Los Angeles about how their hometown paper gets worse day by day. They don’t care.
I’ve joined that club.
By T.J. Simers
I love my dog dearly until she starts slobbering and it’s so disgusting.
That brings me to Plaschke. I love him dearly.
But then the LA Times sports columnist starts slobbering, as he did Sunday morning all over the USC Trojans—again.
He predicted they will go 12-0, suddenly throwing on the prognostication brakes when it came to declaring them National Champions “because no one would dare predict the playoffs.” Who says he doesn’t have a sense of humor?
Before he writes his playoff column predicting a Trojans’ National Championship later this year, the slobber just dripping off the newspaper pages, I have a suggestion. The LA Times wants to get rid of the newspaper, so how about promoting the online product—-Read Plaschke on our web site. No Spittle.
There was a time when our beloved LA Times windsock was writing: Westwood, Ho!
He wrote: “When it comes to college football, Los Angeles clearly belongs to the Bruins. Not USC, not anymore, not even close, and not only just this year. This is a Bruin football town…”
In time he would be leaping into Pete Carroll’s arms, and now he’s gone giddy over USC coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams.
It took much less time for him to jump on the Dodgers’ bandwagon, writing for Aug. 1: Trade Deadline Debacle, and how Dodgers’ GM Andrew Friedman “got shelled,”’ while lamenting “the Dodgers failed. And that failure will haunt.”
Ten days later he wrote Clayton Kershaw is back and “so are the LA Dodgers World Series title hopes.”
They come and they go, so many Plaschke predictions and demands: Trade LeBron, no wait, don’t.
Oh well, the Trojan honks will love it, and maybe Plaschke will generate a ton of conversions, the happy-chirpy column generating a bunch of new online subscribers to make the LA Times’ editors thrilled.
Now we just sit back and watch the Trojans go 6-0 against teams even UCLA could beat, reading Plaschke’s Sunday columns on Monday because USC can go 12-0 but can’t win in time to beat the LA Times’ 3 p.m. deadline.
Then it’s Notre Dame, and Utah, a team that Plaschke tells us can’t beat USC because it already has done so two-straight times. Plaschke logic.
Then it’s just a matter of doing away with Cal, Washington, Oregon and UCLA before he can write a column about how it is going to win a National Championship.
A year from now after Riley and Williams have left town, we’ll be told it’s always been a Bruins’ town, Westwood Ho just on hold for 22 years.
By T.J. Simers
After hearing how negative public reaction convinced the executives at the Las Vegas Review-Journal to bring back box scores, I was curious if the LA Times received any flak when it got rid of box scores.
I’m being told the newspaper received more than 7,000 negative emails, a staggering number when you think about people actually sitting down to express their dismay to nameless, faceless editors.
I’ve also been told the newspaper had more than 10,000 cancelled subscriptions.
I welcome a call from sports editor Iliana Romero if those numbers are not accurate and will say nothing about her reputation among her staff for not telling the truth.
But more than ever, it begs the question why did the newspaper eliminate the box scores when there was absolutely no pressing need to do so? And how does the person who made that decision to irritate readers in these troubled newspaper times still have a job?
Wikipedia says the newspaper, which represents a city as large as Los Angeles and how many millions is that, has a circulation of about 141,000.
If true, the newspaper has bigger issues than box scores.
I’d start with management.
By T.J. Simers
Three days after the Las Vegas Review-Journal removed box scores from the newspaper, the newspaper has been overwhelmed by upset readers.
As a result, the box scores will return Friday.
“All, a heads up that our print readers have spoken up,” wrote the executive editor of the Review-Journal to its employees in a memo. “They were not happy about losing their baseball box scores, so they’re coming back, effective in tomorrow’s edition.”
That means one of two things for the LA Times: The Times does not give a hoot what its readers want, or Times’ baseball readers have given up on the Times and didn’t think it was worth fighting for the return of box scores.
Either way, it’s damning, and a clearer sign of the Times’ demise.
Kudos to sports editor Bill Eichenberger of the Review-Journal who listened to the newspaper’s readers and opted to satisfy the newspaper’s readership.
I’m sure the LA Times’ sport editor Iliana Romero will just order up another soccer story.
Keep in mind the Times did not have to get rid of box scores; the newspaper will be going to new presses in February. The Times’ sports editor said she just wanted to get Times’ readers used to (being deprived).
At the very least, you can bet she will run another piece of Associated Press file art and a flowery feature—today a lot of different color LA baseball caps rather than a recap of how the Dodgers have dominated in recent weeks.
In short, the newspaper does not care if you are unhappy and apparently you have done little to make the LA Times feel what it means to disregard the paying customers.
By T.J. Simers
Laker honks, you’re gonna love HBO’s season 2 about your heroes, of course missing the point about how shallow it makes you all appear.
I watched the first episode of season 2 of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, but have no idea how shallow you must have been to adopt these bum steers as your idols.,
The HBO show, based on “Showtime,” by Jeff Pearlman, makes everyone appear devoid of any redeeming qualities beyond shooting a ball, and yet the people of Los Angeles adore them.
Jerry Buss comes across as the worst father imaginable on an episode dedicated to fatherhood, his sons—dopes and his daughter winning favor because she sucks up to daddy by telling him she’s just like him.
Paul Westhead and Pat Riley have been assigned the roles of resident buffoons and Jerry cussing West would never become the NBA logo if this is how the league regarded him. West ought to be suing the makers of this show, his reputation trashed.
Magic Johnson comes across as a sex fiend, his knee brace ruining his time in bed with one young lady and then listening to his knee talk to him. Amazing the access Pearlman must have had.
Magic is portrayed as an egotistical me and me only player, who is the last guy I would want my son accepting as a role model. And you people were buying his jersey.
The father of the girl that Magic knocks up early on with the Lakers, says, “I want (Magic) to step up and be a father and not a coward,” as a financial payoff is discussed.
“Until this is all worked out,” Magic tells his parents, “I got to be thinking about me.”
Magic. Magic. Magic.
Magic is later seen holding his baby and asking the birth mother what his name is. Very heartwarming.
Magic’s father tells a money-grubbing lawyer that Magic’s family has worked everything out with the girl’s family. No idea if the Lakers were part of that deal.
When the episode shifts to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he comes across as a brooding isolationist, and well, maybe they nailed that.
The Lakers do well in Westhead’s system until Magic returns from his knee injury, the Lakers beating Boston until he shows up to watch the game and the crowd starts chanting his name.
That’s shallow Laker fans for you, Magic turning to the camera and badmouthing the guy playing Larry Bird, everyone watching in Lakerland probably yelling, “Yeah!”
The episode goes deep into Buss’ relationship with his kids, the abusive father belittling his sons and then leaving in a huff to pull out the scrapbook he’s kept of all the women he dated over the years. I’m not sure that’s what my wife means when she says she’s going to do some scrapbooking.
Jerry’ has just belittles his sons, but for the moment he’s not any of the beauties in the scrapbook believe in him. Jeanie overhears and tells her dad she’s always believed in him. The closest Pearlman comes to chills, and I wonder where he was sitting when Jeanie told that to her dad.
A short time later we see Magic’s wife, “Cookie,” telling Magic’s mother that Magic will soon be on the prowl for another woman. I presume that’s where Chick Hearn got the saying: “The game’s in the refrigerator, the door’s closed, the light’s out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jello’s jiggling.”
Magic’s mother explains to Cookie that Magic’s father had another family, so she takes comfort in that.
As soap operas go, Pearlman has given the show’s writers a wonderful framework built on angst, an illegitimate child, bungling brothers, a daughter who is a climber a womanizing father and heroes on the basketball court adored by millions who are really troubled human beings.
Perfect for Lakers’ fans who want to relive the glory days.
By T.J. Simers
I think tomorrow we’re going to get the results in the L.A. Times telling us how the U.S.A. soccer team did in the World Cup against Sweden.
The Times has done so much on our women on their way to winning a third consecutive World Cup.
They spent all that money to send Kevin Baxter to New Zealand and then on to Australia to document the U.S. women’s glorious run to another title.
Baxter set the modern-day record for writing the most words on one subject in a dying newspaper, hyping the sport of soccer and the U.S. women, and the Times wouldn’t do that unless it was pretty confident the U.S. women were all that.
From what I understand U.S. soccer played Sweden at 2.a.m. so it could be sure to make the 3 p.m. Times deadline to get it in Monday’s newspaper. The Dodgers are rumored to be thinking about changing the start of their games to 4 a.m. to beat the Times’ deadline.
The Angels know there is nothing they can do to get coverage of their games.
Now there really wasn’t any warning from Baxter that the U.S. women would beat Viet Nam by only three goals, and then tie the Netherlands before failing to score against Portugal. At this rate less-than-explosive rate they could finish the World Cup not having scored in their last 238 minutes.
But if this is a team of United States players they will probably score seven or eight goals against Sweden. That’s why we loved our women’s World Cup teams of old and why we didn’t take to Beckham. The Mia Hamms scored; Beckham could not.
Had Baxter told us in all those words he wrote that this was going to be a team that couldn’t score, I’m not sure we would have been all that keyed up. But knowing Alex Morgan was going to go crazy mother on everyone, as Baxter reported, and Rapinoe was just crazy, I think we’re all expecting fireworks here in the Round of 16.
When do the U.S. women play next?
Should we take bets on who will score first for the U.S.?
Isn’t it about time for a Morgan hat trick?
Now I had heard rumblings about a National Anthem controversy involving our women, but don’t remember seeing that in any of Baxter’s stories. I’d like to say I read them all, but if I missed it and there was a National Anthem controversy, I was expecting Plaschke to weigh in.
But I can’t say for sure Plaschke knows the World Cup is even being staged. He seems to only have an eye for the Lakers, Dodgers and some guy named Ohtani these days. I know the Times is counting the number of people to read the work of its writers each day, but I can’t believe Plaschke would just write to suck up to his editors.
You wait, when USC starts playing, he’ll expand his repertoire.
Back to soccer, and I apologize. Baxter told us in a July 10, 2023 story: “Why U.S. women’s soccer heads to World Cup with reinforced optimism.” And if Baxter was optimistic, how could I or any other Times’ reader be anything other than optimistic given everywhere he has traveled to write about soccer.
The Times laid off 74 employees a little while ago to pay for all of Baxter’s excursions, so I take what he writes as the gospel. The Peninsula Press did a profile on our man Baxter earlier this year and I wouldn’t rule out a guest spot on Kimmel if the women, as expected, win a third-straight title.
So now as we await the Times’ comprehensive coverage on the U.S. women’s soccer team in Monday morning’s newspaper, oh man, it’s so exciting, the anticipation. We’ll probably get a huge picture on the front sports page and then inside a breakdown on the women’s dynamic win over Sweden.
That will leave us with eight teams, and three more Baxter game stories on the World Cup. Only three? Well, I guess all good things have to come to an end.
By T.J. Simers
One more thing.
I know Frank McCourt still owns the Dodgers’ parking lots, but any chance he’s advising the front office this year on how to assemble a team?
How do you swing a trade for a guy who has it writing he doesn’t want to play for your organization? The Dodgers traded for a pitcher from Detroit and he informed them the Dodgers were one of 10 teams he had already decided not to join.
How much work went into vetting that trade? That’s the way the Dodgers I knew more than a decade ago behaved. They were a joke.
If a guy picks Detroit over LA, do you really want him?
Now I could have sworn LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke insisted in a column the Dodgers trade for a starting pitcher. They got Yarbrough; I thought he was a race car driver.
Plaschke also told the Angels to trade Ohtani; doesn’t anyone listen to this guy? He also wrote LeBron should be traded. The Times got mad at me because I said Arte Moreno might be the problem a decade ago; at least I was right.
The Dodgers didn’t do much in the offseason, taking on the look of a team owned by McCourt, and now went belly up at the trading deadline.
I think about all the words in the LA Times speculating on who the Dodgers might acquire, and I wonder if those boys at the LA Times are talking to the Dodgers’ front office or just guessing?
The Times’ writers were absolutely clueless; did any of them predict the team was going all in on the race car driver?
The conclusion: Trading deadline stories are a waste of time.
By T.J. Simers
I almost ran out of derogatory words to write about Angry Arte Moreno, waiting until the 3 p.m. MLB trading deadline just to make sure I didn’t have to find new ones.
But Arte remained firm, just as it had been leaked earlier, holding on to the best player in the game in Shohei Ohtani if only for another couple of months.
There was a time when I really liked Arte. We drank beers together beyond the centerfield wall until I criticized him, hurt his feelings and he went into hiding. He banished the media to a right field corner press box, a small-time owner making sure he didn’t bump into any of the scribes while entering or exiting his owner’s box.
But I commend Arte today, congratulate him on getting it right for the fans in Orange County. And when Arte started his journey as team owner he really did care about the fans until it got away from him.
It’s a fact. There are no guarantees with prospects; there is with Ohtani.
Yet some yahoos, some who have even been given a column to write, wanted Arte to trade the best player to ever play the game for prospects.
Arte made it clear at the trade deadline his team was going to try and make the playoffs, and isn’t that what every fan wants?
The Angels are within reach of the playoffs, and have been playing without an injured Mike Trout. And as soon as Arte made the statement in silence that he was in this to win it, his team traded for pitching and some additional hitting.
There is a reason to be excited about the Angels.
Isn’t that all you can ask for as a fan beyond cheaper prices for beer and cheap baseball caps for youngsters?
What I don’t get is how anyone could advise Arte to dump Ohtani, and take away the show in Anaheim? He’s worth the price of admission, and Angels’ fans have been supporting their team this season.
When Arte changed his mind about selling the Angels it had nothing to do with developing prospects. He realized the Angels were in position to seize the moment, a chance to win now and rehabilitate his reputation as a loser.
It’s ludicrous to suggest to the Angels’ faithful, “wait until next year,” which is what the Angels would be saying in trading Ohtani. In other words, the Angels would be surrendering, and I would have had to find more derogatory words for Angry Arte.
Now I can use those derogatory words on the Dodgers, who were all about saving money in the lead up to this season and who were outplayed at the trading deadline.
By T.J. Simers
Welcome to the home of the cheaters where the surf meets the turf and everybody is played for a sucker.
Only took about 18 hours to drive from Orange County to Del Mar.
Beautiful day. Not as hot as everywhere else. Shockingly on a Thursday mobs of people. The daughter, Grocery Store Bagger and the four grandkids were here for our annual get together, the kiddos a little taller, tanner and happy to escape the blistering Arizona heat.
I didn’t mind it at all when our seven-year-old grand girl named Buster joined me for ice cream, the sticky, gooey, ice cream falling from my cone into my lap while she wanted me to catch the drips from her cone.
“Every man for themselves,” I told her. I know this, I wasn’t going to spoil our chance to just sit there on a bench discussing the ups and downs of second grade.
Friends mattered most to her, her fave landing in her same class so all was right in the world. Meanwhile, a few feet away were a lot of young, very enthusiastic people in line waiting to get wristbands so they could get served alcohol all day long. Some were even 21 or older.
I looked. Our 18-year-old granddaughter was not in line.
When it came to the horse racing, I had already done my handicapping although I am more convinced than ever the races are fixed. I couldn’t be that wrong in my selections.
I have to tell you about the fifth race. The 7 and the 11 were locks. OK, so 4 won, and maybe I was little off in my handicapping. But it was the second-place horse, the 9 that demands an investigation.
First question: Was Bob Baffert anywhere near No. 9?
I immediately emailed Jay Posner, the former sports editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune asking him to contact one of the reporters who used to work for him to look into it.
I explained that No. 9 had run only once before, in Kentucky last year, at odds of 33-1, finishing ninth of 10 horses. Now this was his second race, 10-1 on the morning line, but shortly before the race began he went to 5 to 2, the third betting choice in the field of 12. Very fishy.
No. 9 was trained by Vladimir Cerin, known around the track by some as Vladimir Syringe, and a number of years ago I wrote about how he was fleecing the public. One of his horses could not breathe properly while running so they performed surgery to allow him to breathe and run better, but as he said at the time they were under no obligation to tell the public.
Now wouldn’t you feel stupid betting a horse that couldn’t breathe?
How about learning a horse’s problem has been fixed and now he can breathe? Seems like something everyone should be told with money involved.
No idea if that was the case in this situation, but obviously some of Syringe’s friends, excuse me, Cerin’s pals had good reason to bet so much and make No. 9 a 5-2 choice for no mapparent reason.
Do you think those betting on No. 9 were told something that most of the betting public were not privy to when placing their wagers?
Coming down the stretch it was No. 4 and No. 9 neck and neck, No. 4 prevailing, but No. 9 ruining any trifecta or exacta wagers, therefore the quick note to Posner who never answered. And he was at the track, too, for all I know sitting next to Syringe, excuse me, Cerin.
I don’t mind losing; I do it all the time. But racing is losing me, and the sport is in an ugly place, tracks closing and top-of-the-line trainers like Baffert forbidden to train in Kentucky.
Looking at all those people at Del Mar Thursday I realized almost none of them had access to inside information, thereby making them fools for a day. Come to Del Mar, you fool.
I think I understand now why so many youngsters were in line to get wristbands. This sport really will drive you to drink.