Friday, March 3, 2017

Miller Retirement Fit For A King

The retirement announcement from Bob Miller brings such mixed emotions. Miller has called the Los Angeles Kings games since 1973 when they were clearly second class citizens in the L.A. Forum as Jack Kent Cooke's "other" team.

His play-by-play became more prominent with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky to the Kings in the late 80's while Miller moved over from radio to the TV booth.

Although health issues, including a quadruple bypass, contributed to the timing of his retirement, at the age of 78 Miller is certainly entitled to sit back and relax after more than 3,300 broadcasts. The Kings were the only pro team he broadcast, having been hired from the University of Wisconsin hockey and football play-by-play job in 1973. He is a "King" in more ways than one.

In addition, Miller's retirement closes the door on one of the most incredible runs of play-by-play voices for one city, which it's safe to say will never be topped. Personally, I was fortunate to be living in Los Angeles in the late 80's and have the most incredible lineup ever.

Let's go back to the 1986-87 season in Los Angeles. For local baseball, we had Vin Scully calling the Dodgers, with Dick Enberg having returned to call each Angels home game on radio that his busy NBC Network schedule would allow. During the NFL season, with the Raiders being in L.A., we had the legendary Bill King on the call. That was the hey day for Chick Hearn, doing his radio/TV simulcast of the Lakers games. And, of course, we had Bob Miller and Nick Nickson on the call for the Kings games.

I knew at the time how awesome that was. Of course, I had no idea that we all would still be fortunate enough to have Scully through 2016 and now Miller into 2017. We wish Mr. Miller the best of health, and the chance to enjoy every minute.

Sports fans that are frustrated with the increased costs of cable/satellite may want to watch for YouTube's proposed live TV package announcement. The site is reportedly preparing a $35 per month package including the major networks, including NFL games on computers and devices which are not phones. ESPN, FS1, NBCSN, and Big Ten Network are among those networks scheduled to be included.

Since NBC and NBCSN are included, we wonder if the CSN Networks will be included or not. However, this package, as of now, does not include the "league channels", as in NFL Network, NBA-TV, MLB Network, and NHL Network.

As important as those "league channels" are to a lot of us, they may not be worth the additional $50+ per month to many sports fans.

NBC has announced its Notre Dame Football schedule for 2017, starting on Labor Day weekend with the Saturday Sept. 2nd opener vs. Temple at 3:30 PM ET. As expected, the matchup vs. USC on Oct. 21st will be shown in prime time. However, in a curious move, NBC is moving the September 30th matchup vs. Miami of Ohio to NBCSN and to a 5 PM ET start.

A nice move by NBCSN this past Tuesday (2/28) by changing its primary national NHL game earlier that day to the Washington at NY Rangers game. This was due to the Capitals trading for Kevin Shattenkirk and that being his first game with his new team. NBCSN had been scheduled to air the Philadelphia vs. Colorado game, which it did only for Denver and a few other selected markets.

This came after last Saturday's "Stadium Series" telecast of Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh became the most watched NHL prime-time regular season game in three years. NBC came in first in the local ratings that night for both local markets.

BOSTON: CSN New England plans to expand its local studio programming starting next month. Starting on April 3rd (MLB full opening day, and NCAA Championship game night), the Network premiers "Early Edition" from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, and "Boston Sports Tonight" from 9:00 PM (or following live game telecasts) until Midnight.

Early Edition will have Gary Tanguay, Trenni Kusnierek, and Michael Felger as hosts, while Tom Curran and Tom Giles will also be joined by WEEI-FM's Michael Holley and Kayce Smith.

The shows, however, promise "social media interaction" along with highlights and reaction. Here's hoping that this new programming is better (which isn't difficult) than the CSN Chicago offering called "In The Loop". These networks don't seem to understand that fans want information. If they want to know what the fans think, they'll ask their friends.

SAN DIEGO: Looks like the San Diego media is taking a cue from St. Louis and considering interest in the Chargers to be dead now that the team is officially leaving. The Union Tribune has already released Michael Gehlken after five years of being the beat writer covering the team, which indicates that the dominant local newspapers has no plans for covering the team.

CHICAGO: WMAQ-TV Channel 5 has promoted Siafa Lewis to lead sports anchor after nearly three years with the station.

Over at WLS-TV Channel 7, long time sports anchor Mark Giangreco is serving the suspension he was given because of a political comment made on social media (not on the air). This suspension was so "necessary" that the station waited until after the ratings sweeps period for it to begin. After all, they have their priorities.

WSCR 670 The Score has renewed the contract of evening host Laurence Holmes for one more year with an option for a second year. Yet, the station continues to keep Holmes, who also anchors for 120 Sports, in the evening slot, where he is often pre-empted for Chicago Cubs broadcasts, NFL, and college basketball play-by-play.

WGN 720 has added former Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel as an analyst and to co-host the station's weekend only sports talk shows. The station is also the flagship station for the Blackhawks.

PORTLAND: KXTG 750 and 102.9 have made their 3:00 to 7:00 PM partnership of Justin Myers and Chop Homsley official. Myers replaces Fletcher Johnson, and returns to the market from KIRO Seattle where he hosted middays and was part of the Mariners pre-game and post-game shows.

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