Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Death Of The 11 O'Clock Sports Report

I grew up in a wonderful time. If you wanted sports news, there were two choices. Wait for the news to come on, or wait for the next days newspaper. There was no internet, no scroll at the bottom of the screen, no mobile phones to give you sports news and scores at your fingertips. No up to the minute anything. You had to wait. ESPN was in its infancy.
Which brings me to the topic at hand. The late night news sports segment. It usually started at about twenty minutes into the newscast. I had three great sportscasters to choose from. On KOVR channel 13, there was the loud and obnoxious Steve Somers. KXTV channel 10 featured the young and brilliant Stuart Sato. On KCRA channel 3, good old Creighton Sanders. 
My mom would watch channel 13 for her news. I can remember the fall of 1982, trying to see if the Dodgers won or lost. I was a live and die everyday Dodger fan growing up. I worshipped the Dodgers. 
Steve Somers HATED them, and he let everyone know it. He bashed them all the time. Somers was once known as the man everyone in Sacramento loves to hate. I actually liked him. He made his sportscasts fun, always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. You knew by watching him he loved sports. 
I can remember sneaking down the hallway just far enough so I could see the TV. I would be as quiet as possible. Of course I would try too hard to be quiet and make a noise. My mom would shout, "Go to bed! It's late!" I would give her the "Oh mom it's the Dodgers!" routine, but she wouldn't hear of it. So off to bed I went happy if they won or sad if they lost. To make a long story short, they lost the division by one lousy game. On the last day of the season at Candlestick, Joe Bleeping Morgan hit a homerun to end the Dodgers season. He became my personal Bucky "Fucking" Dent. That's probably how my hatred towards him started. 
As I got older I got perks to stay up later. Steve Somers moved away, so I started to watch Stuart Sato as often as I could. He was very articulate, soft spoken, no gimmicks. He just gave you the scores and highlights very clearly. He wasn't a homer. He was a football guy from what I remember. Football guy meaning he loved football. If you wanted to watch a football guy, that would have been Wayne Walker out of San Francisco. Great sportscaster! He always wore his emotions on his sleeve, but in a good way. He was excited about sports and his job! 
Now if you wanted to watch a old school sportscaster, you tuned into channel 3 to watch Creighton Sanders. He had the gravelly voice from probably smoking too many cigars. His sportscasts were the best. I would have loved to have sat down with him and heard his stories! He was like your grandfather or favorite uncle. You trusted him, you looked forward to seeing him. I always remember that voice. 
Then in the 90's, things changed. ESPN grew and grew and eventually became the all mighty, all powerful sports network. CNN had a great sports show. Key word in that sentence was HAD. ESPN killed it. ESPN destroyed everything. Changed everything.
The days of your local sportscaster were numbered. Hell, some of them eventually worked for ESPN. 
The days aren't numbered anymore, they are in the past. 
Now we are surronded by the smarmy, smart ass, shock jock at times sportscasters. They try to be as big if not bigger than the event they are covering, and also they love to hear themselves speak. (Cough Dan Patrick cough!)
Some of them try to hard to be the sports version of Walter Kronkite. (Stuart Scott). 
I had ambitions to be a sportscaster. Those dreams were quickly crushed in high school. 
Sometimes I ask myself, "Could I have been one of those guys?" I think I could have if I really put my heart and soul into it. I don't think I could have been Bob Costas, but I think I could have been Chris Rose. He's a fucking dork, but I could have been him.
So now that I can stay up way past 11pm now, I don't watch any of the national sports shows. Sports Center is a popularity contest. It's filled with who's hot at the moment. Nothing that really interests me. 
I just miss that five minutes of time in the early to mid 80's when I would sneak down the hallway to catch the sports report. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Classic Book, Classic Golfers

I'm currently reading a book about the 1970 Masters golf tournament. It was written by one of my favorite sports journalists, Dick Schapp.
It chronicles a week in a major tournament. It reads like a Who's Who of Golf....Miller Barber, Gay Brewer, Bob Charles, Frank Beard, Bob Goalby, Charles Coody, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Billy Casper, George Archer and of course the big three. That would be Jack, Gary and Arnie.
It's a very interesting read. For some reason, Bert Yancey is a major topic of the book. He didn't win.
I saw most of these guys play at the Raley's Senior Gold Rush in the mid 90's at Rancho Murrieta Country Club.
Its a great time capsule of a simple time in golf and the world.
It will have a permanent spot on my bookshelf.