A Visit to the SportsNet LA Studio


It was the best board meeting ever. I sat beside Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra in the Hawaii meeting room while watching the Dodgers take on the Giants at the SportsNet LA studio in El Segundo, CA on Wednesday night. Nadia Gonzalez, Manager of Communications for TWC Sports Regional Networks and Andrew Fegyveresi, Senior Director, Public Relations hosted Lasorda’s Lair along with fellow Dodger bloggers from True Blue LA, Dodgers Nation and  ThinkBlueLA. We had the opportunity to talk baseball while watching the Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner matchup over tacos with two of my favorite Dodgers. It doesn’t get better than that.

This was my second visit to the SportsNet LA studio. Last year’s Australia Opening Day viewing party was an all-nighter. That’s when I met Orel for the first time, and it may be no coincidence that Clayton Kershaw was on the mound that morning as well. I didn’t have the chance to ask Orel to sign my SportsNet LA ball then, but I brought it back on Wednesday to hopefully be autographed.

This visit was special, because we had the opportunity to be on set while they filmed the Access: SportsNet pregame show with hosts John Hartung, Nomar Garciaparra and Orel Hershiser. Orel even joked about turning the camera around to show us on screen, and I was all ready for my television appearance.

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There was no cameo this time, but I really enjoyed watching Orel, Nomar and John film the show from behind-the-scenes. Of course I was right in my element. While the Dodgers are a forever love of mine, cinema-television is my passion. Director of Studio Operations Peter Bothe explained the inspiration behind the stage design for Studio C. The four-camera set was designed to represent the beauty of iconic Dodger Stadium, and the Dodger Vision screen is the marquee piece. The clubhouse area is where Larry King shoots his show, and elements of the set are adaptable like the mobile desk which can be repositioned for varying shots and features.

Being on set was fun, and Orel was the entertainer with his infectious humor. I almost withered away when Orel tossed a baseball and hit me (he didn’t throw his fastball thankfully) while I was sitting in the clubhouse area of the set. Then he put his hands out for me to toss it back to him. I paused and couldn’t believe that I was playing catch with Orel Hershiser. Is this life?

After the footage was shot for the pregame show, we were treated to tacos and an intimate chat with the on-air team. The discussion included Orel’s idea and concept for a men’s necktie service where you could trade-in ties with a portion of the proceeds to go to charity. The three hosts all had snazzy ties I must say.

Is “batting around” nine or ten batters? Orel says nine.

On the Access: SportsNet set with Orel Hershiser, John Hartung and Nomar Garciaparra. Photo: Stacie Wheeler

Then Orel and Nomar gave us really intriguing discussion points on pitching and hitting while we were watching the game. They both really are experts in their respective baseball specialty, and they both offer priceless insight into the game which stems from their successful careers.

It was a memorable night, and I’d like to thank SportsNet LA for inviting us to get a look at the creative work which goes into making the programming for the television channel. Even though the distribution issues have been frustrating to fans, the content which SportsNet LA is producing is unlike anything we have seen for the Dodgers. The exclusive Dodger network is producing new shows constantly, and I hope that in the future everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy not only the games themselves but also the original programs which SportsNet LA produces which include exclusive interviews (Connected With…, Larry King At Bat) , historical documentaries, classic games (Timeless Dodgers), behind-the-scenes coverage (Backstage: Dodgers)  and of course pregame and postgame coverage.

If we can put aside the stalemate in the distribution of SportsNet LA amongst the cable providers in the Los Angeles area for a moment, you can see that the content that SportsNet LA is producing is really the first of its kind for Dodger coverage on TV.

Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra signed my SportsNet LA launch ball. Photo: Stacie Wheelr

Vin Scully commented during the series with Seattle:

"“When I was calling football,” he said, “we’d be in a production meeting, and the producer would say, ‘This game is going to 70 percent of the country.’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t want to hear that.’ I didn’t want to hear those percentages. To me, I’m always talking to 100 percent of the audience — and every game is like the World Series.”"

SportsNet LA continues to work hard to provide entertaining Dodger coverage whether or not everyone can see it yet.

"“The fans here have been unbelievably supportive,” said Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ president. “To not deliver these games for them is a bitter pill that we’re trying every day to fix.”"

Hopefully SportsNet LA will be widely distributed soon so that the fans can see the legendary Vin Scully in what could be his final season in the broadcast booth as well as all of the wonderful Dodger-related programming that SportsNet LA produces.