Beth Mowins added by CBS for NFL play-by-play

Beth Mowins continues to make history.

Beth Mowins ESPN
Beth Mowins will call NFL games for ESPN and CBS this season. (ESPN photo)

Mowins, whose star has risen on ESPN college football and basketball games, was recently tabbed by the network to do play-by-play on one of its season-opening Monday Night Football games. Now she’s also been put on one of CBS’ NFL announcing teams.

She will be joined by analyst Jay Feely, former NFL place-kicker. Their first game will be the Sept. 24 Browns-Colts game.

Mowins’ NFL debut will be the ESPN Chargers-Broncos game on Sept. 11. That will be the second of two Monday night games. The opener will be the Saints and Vikings. She will work with former NFL coach Rex Ryan.

The only other woman to call an NFL game was Gayle Sierens for NBC in 1987.

At the time of the MNF announcement, Mowins told The Associated Press: “I understand the significance of it and the importance of this moment and I hope there are a lot of young girls and young boys out there who not necessarily see me as a play-by-play announcer but as a kid who had a dream and had wonderful support from family and friends to pursue that dream and put in a lot of sweat equity to get the opportunity.”

CBS’ other announcing teams, from top to bottom are:

  • Jim Nantz/Tony Romo/Tracy Wolfson
  • Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts/Evan Washburn
  • Greg Gumbel/Trent Green/Jamie Erdahl
  • Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon
  • Andrew Catalon/James Lofton
  • Spero Dedes/ Adam Archuleta
  • Tom McCarthy /Steve Tasker/Steve Beuerlein

The big thing for CBS this season will be the addition of Romo with Nantz on the No. 1 team. He replaces Phil Simms, who moves to The NFL Today pregame show.

FOX FILLS OUT ITS LINEUP

Fox also released how its NFL talent will be set up this season. The most interesting thing in its lineup is Mark Schlereth, formerly with ESPN, being an analyst with Chris Myers. Fox’s teams, from top to bottom:

  • Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Erin Andrews
  • Kevin Burkhardt/Charles Davis/Pam Oliver
  • Kenny Albert/Ronde Barber/Kristina Pink
  • Chris Myers/Daryl Johnston/Laura Okmin
  • Dick Stockton/Mark Schlereth/Shannon Spake
  • Thom Brennaman/Chris Spielman/Peter Schrager
  • Sam Rosen/David Diehl/Jennifer Hale

EXHIBITIONS ON DISPLAY

One of this weekend’s NFL preseason games will be shown on three Los Angeles TV stations. The Rams play the Raiders at Oakland at 7 p.m. PDT Saturday and the game will be shown on KCBS (Channel 2), which shows Rams preseason games in the L.A. market, and also on KTLA (Channel 5), which, for some reason, shows Raiders games. The third station is KFTR (Channel 46), which shows Rams preseason games in Spanish.

Sunday’s Chargers game against New Orleans at StubHub Center will be shown by KABC (Channel 7) at 5 p.m. Sunday.

On national TV this weekend, ESPN shows Buccaneers-Jaguars at 5 p.m. Thursday and Giants-Browns at 5 p.m. Monday. NFL Network’s live games will be Vikings-Seahawks at 7 p.m. Friday, Panthers-Titans at noon Saturday, Colts-Cowboys at 4 p.m. Saturday, Broncos-49ers at 7 p.m. Saturday and Falcons-Steelers at 1 p.m. Sunday.

RENAISSANCE MAN

Tommy Hawkins, who played for the Lakers and was an L.A. sportscaster before becoming an executive for the Dodgers, died Wednesday in Malibu. He was 80.

Hawkins, the first black All-American at Notre Dame, was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1959 and came with the team to Los Angeles in 1960. He sandwiched six seasons with the Lakers with four seasons with the Cincinnati Royals in between.

After he retired from the NBA in 1969, he joined KNBC (Channel 4) as a sportscaster. Ventura County sports fans may remember Hawkins and Ross Porter broadcasting Cal Lutheran’s NAIA Division II national football championship game in 1971. Porter would later go on to become a Dodgers broadcaster.

“A true renaissance man,” Porter said of Hawkins in the Los Angeles Times. “He was interested in so many things and he would learn them, study them.”

Hawkins’ interests included poetry and jazz. His son Kevin told AP that Hawkins self-published a book of poetry and was in the midst of writing a memoir on his basketball career when he died.

He also had a radio stint with KABC (790 AM) and later co-hosted a morning show with Stephanie Edwards on KHJ-TV, now KCAL (Channel 9).

Hawkins was hired in 1987 by the Dodgers to be vice president of communications, working for the team until 2004.

The Dodgers held a moment of silence for Hawkins before their game against the White Sox on Wednesday night.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

The NBA schedule was released this week. The Lakers will have 23 national TV games on TNT (11), ESPN (11) and ABC (1), including their Oct. 19 season opener against the host Clippers on TNT. The Clippers have 19 games on national TV, nine on TNT, 10 on ESPN, none on ABC. The Lakers play on Christmas night against Minnesota, but the Clippers will be off on Christmas for the first time in seven years. … The PGA Championship attracted a 3.6 big-market overnight rating on CBS, the lowest for the event since 2008 when it competed with the Beijing Olympics. U.S. Amateur golf from Riviera Country Club continues on Fox Sports 1 at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday before moving to Fox at 9 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. …

Mike Tirico continues to be more and more visible on NBC. The network announced this week he will replace Dan Hicks on play-by-play of Notre Dame football. Tirico filled in on three Irish games last season while Hicks was doing PGA Tour golf. … ESPN will cover Major League Baseball’s first Little League Classic at 4 p.m. Sunday. The St. Louis Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Williamsport, Pa., where the Little League World Series is going on. … HBO’s Real Sports (11 p.m. Tuesday) will be highlighted by an examination of the NFL Players Association.

The P&G Gymnastics Championships from Anaheim’s Honda Center will be shown live at 8 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and 10 a.m. Sunday (live) and at 7 p.m. (tape-delayed)Sunday on NBC. ESPN will pull out all the stops on its season-opening college football telecast Aug. 31, showing the Ohio State-Indiana in its “MegaCast” mode. It adds “film room” and “homer” channels to its coverage as well as several other options online. … ESPN also has plans for a yearlong project on the history of college football during the sport’s 150th anniversary. … Turner Sports plans to launch a streaming sports service next fall to show UEFA Champions League and Europa League soccer games.

Chargers lose first round in ‘Fight for L.A.’

cha mkltp 1 for gold bkgd rgbThe Chargers lost the first skirmish in their self-described “Fight for LA.”

Not only did the Los Angeles Chargers drop their NFL preseason opener, 48-17 to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but the team’s first game at StubHub Center attracted less than a sellout crowd.

Not that a sellout crowd would’ve been all that difficult to produce. StubHub Center, in beautiful Carson, Calif., is a soccer stadium, home to the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy, and holds only 27,000. Perspective is everything here. To give you an idea of how big (or small) 27,000 is, it’s two Dodgers crowds.

But in their first game back in Los Angeles (the Chargers played their first season in L.A. in 1960 before moving to San Diego), didn’t even reach the 27,000 sellout figure. An announced crowd of 21,054 was on hand for the Chargers’ first game.

Note: Whenever they call it an “announced crowd,” it’s because it looks like considerably less than what they announced. The word “crowd” is probably a little suspect, too. “Gathering” or “assembly” might be more accurate. Or maybe “sewing circle.”

But when your “announced crowd” still isn’t even anything close to the capacity number at an NFL stadium that holds only 27,000, you’ve got problems. The next smallest NFL stadium is Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 53,286. The Raiders have announced plans to leave for Las Vegas after the 2018 season.

Like we said, perspective is everything. The night before the Chargers drew 21,054, the Galaxy had 25,667 see it lose 2-0 to New York City FC. This season, the Galaxy is averaging 23,167 in its 12 games at StubHub during one of its worst seasons in recent memory.

It should be noted that the Chargers have gussied up their new stadium as well as they can and certainly in a smaller venue, you are much closer to the action. There are premium locations to watch the game and even “cabanas” to go into in case you’re more interested in drinking than you are in watching the Chargers. Or in case watching the Chargers drives you to drink.

It should also be noted that on Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams, who returned to L.A. from St. Louis last season, drew 62,888 for their preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum. And the Rams were 4-12 last year.

The Rams and Chargers are both scheduled to inhabit a sparkling new 70,000-seat stadium in Inglewood in 2020.

In the meantime, three seasons may seem like 30 at StubHub Center to the Chargers, who went 5-11 in 2016.

I’ve covered a high school football state championship game at StubHub Center. Even high school football seemed like a stretch for the stadium then. The press facilities, obviously, have been improved since then, but back then there wasn’t even enough room for someone to walk behind a person who was seated in the press box.

Of the NFL’s 31 venues, 17 are called “stadiums,” as in Arrowhead Stadium or AT&T Stadium. Ten are called “fields,” as in Lambeau Field or Soldier Field. Two (L.A. and Oakland) are called “coliseums.” and one is called the Superdome.

Only one is called “center.”

“Center” is great if you’re an NBA team. In the NBA, 17 of its 29 arenas are called “center” (or in Toronto, “centre”). But in the NFL, you should play in a “stadium” or a “coliseum” or in something “super.”

The Chargers will, eventually. But if Sunday’s Los Angeles debut is any indication, not very many may care.

THE WEEK JUST PAST

Now, while counting my announced crowd on one hand, here’s a look at the week just past:

  • The real “fight for L.A.” came last week when the Rams and Chargers scrimmaged in Orange County. The large-scale brawl started when Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson shoved Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman. During that scuffle, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman ran onto the field to defend his teammate and was taken down by Chargers receiver Keenan Allen. It was a fight that would’ve been unlikely to happen in the regular season and never would’ve gone on that long.
  • Speaking (again) of the fight for L.A., it would be interesting to see which TV station had the biggest ratings over the weekend: Channel 2 for the Rams, Channel 7 for the Chargers — or Channel 5 for the Raiders. Only thing was the Raiders were tape-delayed. Apparently, they didn’t want to hurt the attendance coming in from L.A.
  • Chris Sale has had a great season pitching for the Boston Red Sox. It seems like so long ago when he was with the Chicago White Sox and was suspended for five games for cutting up a bunch of throwback jerseys merely because he didn’t want to wear one. If he couldn’t wear them, then neither could anyone else. Like we said, it seems so long ago, but it was just over a year ago.
  • The Washington Nationals are breathing a sigh of relief after their slugger, Bryce Harper, sustained only a bruised knee after slipping on the bag at first base over the weekend. The play looked like every ligament in his leg would wind up in Baltimore.
  • Scott Boras, Harper’s agent said Major League Baseball must take steps to ensure that wet, slick bases aren’t a safety hazard in rainy weather. They must do this, apparently, to make sure Boras doesn’t lose any money.
  • Speaking of the Nationals, it was great to see former Angel and Dodger Howie Kendrick hit a walk-off grand-slam home run in the 11th inning Sunday night to beat the San Francisco Giants.
  • Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs said — after striking out, of course — that he would like to see an electronic strike zone in the major leagues. “If we want to change something like that, we’re going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes,” Zobrist told ESPN. He’s sure to get plenty of calls his way from umpires now.
  • Wisconsin and Notre Dame announced they will play football at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field in 2020 and at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2021. This will be news in three years.
  • Boxer Floyd Mayweather fights mixed martial artist(?) Conor McGregor Saturday, Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. For those of you wondering, like my wife was, it’s a boxing match. No grappling. No judo. No pummeling. No artistry. Also, for those of you wondering, it will be an incredibly overblown event.

ESPN makes a big investment in streaming its future

Cable TV is not dead, nor should we expect it to be anytime soon, but there are indications that it may soon get smaller.

With more and more people “cutting the cord” and opting to go only with streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Roku, TV networks are finding themselves with fewer cable subscribers. Especially hit hard is Disney, which has seen its cable operations fall 3% and its operating income drop 23% in the most recent quarter, according to SportsBusiness Daily. That’s rough as ESPN is faced with large rights fees to show pro and college sports.

MLBAM_logoThis week, Disney announced it was buying a majority stake in BAMTech, increasing its stake from 33% to 75%. BAMTech, which was spun off from MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) in 2015, is the streaming platform originally created by Major League Baseball to show its games online. It has been so successful, it has become the industry’s state of the art. Disney has used it to stream WatchESPN and ESPN3 programming. MLBAM also runs the NHL’s websites and streams its games.

MLBAM will still own 15% of BAMTech while the NHL will own 10%.

With its investment in BAMTech, Disney plans to start an ESPN streaming service in 2018 and a Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019. The ESPN stream will be available through an updated version of the ESPN app.

“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company.”

The ESPN service, which will not merely duplicate what is on TV, is set to have more than 10,000 live events per year, featuring major league baseball, the NHL, MLS, Grand Slam tennis and college events. It would be the first time ESPN has shown NHL games since 2004.

The plan will also result in Disney ending its new-release movie deal with Netflix, beginning in 2019.

EYE ON SPORTS

Meanwhile, CBS is planning a streaming sports channel of its own.

CBS CEO Les Moonves said this week the company will base its service on CBSN, its streaming news service.

Moonves said CBS will attempt to differentiate itself from ESPN and Fox. CBS already has an online sports unit based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

WELL-WISHES

Three notable broadcasters with health issues this week:

  • NBC’s Ed Olczyk will miss the start of the NHL season as he undergoes treatment for colon cancer. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Olczyk had a tumor removed last week. Olczyk, who also is an analyst on Chicago Blackhawks games, played for six teams, including the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. He has been with NBC since 2007, working with Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire. In addition to hockey, Olczyk has recently added Triple Crown horse racing to his NBC repertoire.
  • Jerry Remy, analyst for the Boston Red Sox, is not expected to return to the broadcast booth this season. Remy had surgery for lung cancer on June 26 and is expected to start chemotherapy soon, according to the Boston Globe.
  • Len Dawson, former quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, will be stepping down as radio analyst after this season. Dawson, 82, has had several health problems recently. He started broadcasting while he was still quarterbacking, becoming the sports anchor for Kansas City’s KMBC-TV in 1966, then after his retirement, became host of HBO’s Inside the NFL from 1978 to 2001. He joined the Chiefs Radio Network in 1984. Dawson is one of only three men — joining Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf — to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as both a player and as a broadcaster.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

Charissa Thompson, who had rumored to be joining Mike Greenberg’s new ESPN morning show, is instead staying at Fox, according to reports. … Other reports are questioning whether Pete Rose is likely to stay at Fox after a recent alleged statutory rape accusation from the 1970s. Fox has reeled in recent months over various sexual harassment accusations on its various networks. … Still more on Fox: The network is not reeling over Jay Cutler backing out of an NFL game analyst job to sign a one-year QB deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The three-man booth he was scheduled to share with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis will reportedly now become a two-man booth. …

A reminder: The PGA Championship continues Friday on TNT at 10 a.m. PDT. CBS will have the third and fourth rounds at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. … Nationally televised baseball this weekend includes the Red Sox-Yankees at 1 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1 and at 5 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. TBS will show Indians-Rays at 10 a.m. Sunday. … Prime Ticket’s schedule of high school football games starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, with Oaks Christian visiting Chaminade. NBCSN’s Premier League soccer season starts at 11:45 a.m. Friday with Leicester City at Arsenal. There will be three games on Saturday: Liverpool-Watford at 4:30 a.m. on NBCSN, Burnley-Chelsea at 7 a.m. on NBCSN; and Stoke City-Everton at 7 a.m. on CNBC. … The Women’s Rugby World Cup from Ireland starts on NBCSN at 6:35 a.m. Sunday with U.S.-Italy. … Wednesday marked six months from the start of the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Bring your requests to God; accept His will and peace

Three weeks ago, I wrote about prayer instead of sports. Prayer is something I think about a lot these days, in my journey toward the next chapter in my life, so I hope you’ll bear with me. This week I want to sort of “fine-tune” a few things about prayer.

prayerDo you ever feel as if you don’t know what to pray for in a certain situation? Or even how to pray?

Sometimes it’s baffling. We want to pray the way God would have us pray, but it’s not always clear exactly what that means.

Should we pray for what we want, even though what we want might not be what God has in mind for us? Should we only pray for God’s will with no specifics about what we would like to see happen? And even if we do pray, does it really make any difference since God not only already knows what’s on our hearts, but how it’s all going to turn out anyway?

Sometimes even when we turn to God’s Word to try to find the answers to these questions, we can still come away not understanding exactly what we need to do.

Are you praying right now about serious health issues, either for loved ones or for yourself? How do you pray for something like that?

You quite naturally would hope for that person or for you to be fully restored to health and may well have the faith to believe God could do that.

In Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That’s a wonderful promise. Giving your anxieties over to God and experiencing His peace is a relief. Even in the darkest times, the peace of God surpasses all comprehension. With God, anything is possible. God can do anything within His will.

Here’s the thing we may not want to face: It may not be in God’s will for that health to be restored. It may instead be in God’s will for that person to be called home.

That’s a hard fact to deal with, but Jesus Christ, who underwent every kind of trial we could ever face, dealt with the same thing Himself. On the same night He was betrayed by Judas, Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In Mark 14:34-36, Jesus had just told His disciples His soul was “deeply grieved to the point of death”:

“And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.’ ”

Jesus acknowledges that God can do all things and then asks that He might be spared from having to die the gruesome death He knew was ahead. Then Jesus submits to the Father’s will instead of His own, knowing that God’s will is perfect, even for Him.

It’s the perfect example of how to pray in times of crisis. God, as Paul has stated, wants to hear our requests and wants to give us His peace. Even Jesus went to the Father with His desperate plea, but He received God’s peace by submitting to His will.

A perfect example for imperfect people. We often think we know exactly what God should do, or at least what we would do if we were God. But we’re not God. There is only one God and He is sovereign over us.

Why does God do the things He does? Why does His will sometimes seem wrong to us? We won’t know until we are with Him in heaven. We need to be content in knowing that God is in control of everything, that none of our crises are a surprise to Him, and that even if what we believe to be the absolute worst happens, God is still Ruler over all.

Be anxious for nothing. Pray and let God know what’s on your heart. Then accept the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, knowing it will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Dodgers to show six more games on KTLA

LD2017_PrimaryClubMark_RGBSix Dodgers games will be shown on KTLA (Channel 5), as well as on SportsNet LA, the team and Spectrum announced Thursday.

The games shown will be the final six Tuesday games of the season, starting Aug. 22. Four of the six games are road games.

Channel 5 also showed 10 early-season games; the 16 total games will be the most the Dodgers have shown on free television since SportsNet LA was launched in 2014. SportsNet LA is owned by the Dodgers.

The channel is available only on Spectrum, despite efforts to convince other providers to offer it. About 60% of the Los Angeles market does not receive it.

The six games that will be shown on KTLA are:

  • Aug. 22 at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m.
  • Aug. 29 at Arizona, 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 5 vs. Arizona, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 12 at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m.
  • Sept. 19 at Philadelphia, 4 p.m.
  • Sept. 26 vs. San Diego, 7 p.m.

CBS will have a bag of tech tricks at PGA Championship

Fox has changed the way a lot of sports are televised since the network first got into the sports biz back in the mid ’90s. Most of those innovations have to do with technology, the gadgets and gizmos that have for the most part enhanced the telecasts.

Added to the list of those sports is golf. Fox really came into its own at its most recent U.S. Open, finding ways to bring more information to viewers, such as flight trackers and wind readings.

Now that the final major of the year — the PGA Championship — is looming next weekend, Aug. 10-13, at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., CBS is putting its own spin on golf technology and, if possible, do Fox one better.

CBS will use “Trackman” for the first time on all 18 holes, using 3D radar tracking to provide with distance, height, curvature and more.

“Virtual Eye” will be used on more holes, showing exactly where the ball is on the course, and also providing flyover animation to give a second-shot perspective once the ball comes to rest.

“Toptracer” is basically a portable version of Trackman that can be used for second and third shots. “Smartcart,” used last year, is a custom-fitted golf cart with a 72-inch mobile screen to illustrate golf swings, difficulty of holes and so forth. CBS will also have the super slo-mo “SwingVision,” bunker cams and aerial drone coverage.

“I’m most excited that we can used the technology on all 18 holes,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said. “The ARL Virtual Eye, where you see at the side of the screen exactly the flight of the ball on a 3D model, really, really does show you where the ball goes and the trajectory of the ball. It really sets up what the golfer did with that tee shot and then what he has to deal with for a second shot.

“I like all the technology a lot. I think that for the viewer at home it gives him and her really the best view of the golf course and how that particular player is playing the hole.”

SPIETH IS SPECIAL

Jordan_Spieth_February_2015
Jordan Spieth will be gunning for a career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship on Aug. 10-13. (Erik Charlton photo)

After winning the British Open, Jordan Spieth will be looking to complete a career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship.

“Golf could be on the precipice of one of the greatest achievements in the history of sport,” CBS anchor Jim Nantz said. “It’s a responsibility that we’re really happy to have in our hands.”

CBS analyst Dottie Pepper believes Spieth’s comeback win at the British Open opened the public’s eyes to Spieth’s ability and potential.

“The context I learned for the impact of his win at the Open was that he was above the fold on the sports page of the New York Times,” Pepper said. “That, to me, tells you all you need to know about impact. And it was the tease on the front page. So when golf moves into that space, that means you’re doing something right.”

TNT will show the first and second rounds of the PGA Championship next Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. PDT. CBS will have the third and fourth rounds at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Nantz and Pepper will be joined by Verne Lundquist, Bill Macatee, Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch, Gary McCord, Frank Nobilo, Peter Kostis and Amanda Balionis.

WHAT IT WAS WAS FOOTBALL

The NFL was set to rumble back into action at 5 Thursday night with the Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio, and the Dallas Cowboys facing the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a chance for viewers to reunite with NBC’s Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.

The game, of course, is secondary at best to the atmosphere the surrounds the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the upcoming inductions which are to take place Saturday (ESPN, 4 p.m.).

Thursday’s NBC telecast will include live interviews with all seven inductees: Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones; Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner; kicker Morten Andersen; running back Terrell Davis; safety Kenny Easley; defensive end Jason Taylor and running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

UP & DOWN THE DIAL

Jac Collinsworth, son of Cris, will join ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown as a features reporter. Jac has worked as an assistant sideline producer for NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecasts and has done digital and syndicated football work at Notre Dame. … NBC and NBCSN will show 99 NHL games next season, down from last season’s record-high 106. They start with the champion Pittsburgh Penguins hosting St. Louis on Oct. 4 on NBCSN. NBCSN will also show the first home at the Detroit Red Wings’ new Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 5 and the Vegas Golden Knights’ first home game against Arizona on Oct. 10. The Los Angeles Kings appear 10 times, all on NBCSN; the Anaheim Ducks appear four times, also all on NBCSN. …

ESPN says its coverage of the El Clásico Miami soccer game Saturday between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid was seen by 836,000 viewers, the network’s most watched non-U.S. international friendly match. … The Dodgers and New York Mets will be on national TV twice this weekend, at 1 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1 and on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball for the second week in a row (5 p.m.). … TBS will show Nationals-Cubs at 11 a.m. Sunday. …

The final races of Usain Bolt’s career will come this weekend at the World Track and Field Championships from London. Bolt first runs in the men’s 100-meter heats at 10:30 a.m. Friday, live on the new Olympic Channel with coverage of the final at noon Saturday on NBC. Bolt is also expected to compete in the 4×100 relay, which NBC will show at noon Saturday, Aug. 12. … NBC and Motor Racing Network will feature Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race from Watkins Glen from four different vantage points. NBC’s Leigh Diffey and Steve Letarte will call it from the traditional position above the finish line, MRN’s Mike Bagley and NBC’s Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman will report from separate locations around the track.

How sportswriting ruined sports for me

Having been a Dodgers fan all my life, you’d think this moment — when the team is the best in baseball and can seemingly do no wrong — would be one of the best of my life.

You’d be wrong.

Despite the fact that I trace my Dodgers roots clear back to the womb — when my mother no doubt jumped up and down when Brooklyn won its only world championship as she was pregnant with me — I can’t completely abandon myself to the sheer joy of this 2017 baseball season.

Why? Because I’ve been a sportswriter. That’s why.

There are many sports fans who think that the ideal job for them would be to become a sports reporter or broadcaster. What better way could there be to be around the team you love?

Actually, nearly any.

Jim at Dodger Stadium press box
Covering Opening Day at Dodger Stadium in 2015. Do I look like I’m having fun?

Objectivity is instilled so deeply into a journalist — yes, even a sports journalist — that the urge to push for any team to win is something that is constantly being crushed to a pulp inside him. The rule is “No Cheering in the Press Box.”

It became such a second-nature thing with me that even when one of my sons played sports in high school, I felt very reluctant to cheer for him lest someone in the stands catch me and wonder about my impartiality. And this at a time when I was only occasionally covering high school sports.

Being a sports reporter, like other kinds of reporting, tends to make you cynical. It happens mostly because you start seeing the unsightly underbelly of sports. On any level, from the big leagues to Little League, purity is a scarce commodity. People who appear nice on the field are bullies in the locker room. Hall of famers can be bums.

You stop taking things at face value. You question things. You become sarcastic.

Hey, and I’m a nice guy. Imagine what happens to guys who aren’t so nice.

So here’s where I am with the Dodgers. I had the opportunity to cover a few Dodgers games over the course of my 33-year career at a relatively small newspaper. If you took all the games I covered in that time, it wouldn’t even make up half a season’s home schedule.

Despite my upbringing as a Dodgers fan, my main thought every time was not to mess up. Since I covered so few games, virtually no one knew me, cared about me or talked to me. There was no one who went out of their way to show me how to get somewhere or to give me tips. Everyone knew more than I did.

No one had to worry about me cheering in the press box. I was just trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything or do something stupid.

When the Dodgers won the games I was covering, I was happy inside, but stone-faced outside. As I got older, I started dreaming about retirement, about the day I could watch a game, in person or on TV, and feel free to completely lose myself in the emotion. I started wishing I could care only about the sports and the teams that I wanted to care about and ignore everything else.

Three months ago this week, I didn’t retire but was laid off. I’m fairly free at this moment to watch any Dodgers game I want to and to get as geeked out about them as my wife can tolerate.

But total abandon hasn’t come. For some reason, I’m still holding back. Even though it seems the Dodgers couldn’t lose if they tried, I can’t completely give myself over to them. It’s not their fault, it’s mine.

I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s because this isn’t retirement; I didn’t leave on my own terms. Maybe it’s because the next job I get might also be in sports and I don’t want to forget how to be objective. Maybe I remain cynical because, after listening to the incomparable Vin Scully for so many years, I can’t stand how Orel Hershiser refuses on TV to find any fault in any Dodger.

It may also be because the Dodgers haven’t been to the World Series since they won it in 1988. Sure, the team has been successful, winning, in fact, four consecutive division titles, but the door to the Fall Classic has been locked to them. That can’t help but make a guy cynical.

The Dodgers are on a pace to win 114 games this season. All I can think about is how the two teams holding the all-time record of 116 wins did not win the World Series. The 1906 Chicago Cubs lost the Series to the Chicago White Sox. The 2001 Seattle Mariners didn’t even make it to the World Series, losing in the American League Championship Series to the New York Yankees.

When you’re a cynical sportswriter, you embrace the worst-case scenario.