Blog and Roll
With his handwritten notes at the ready, ten-time Golden Mike award winner Rich Marotta delivers daily his fast paced, articulate and always entertaining sports updates. Since 1991, as KFI's sports authority, Rich writes and broadcasts seven morning sports updates on Bill Handel.
Rich's input on Bill Handel is not limited to his much respected sports updates however as Rich is often called on by Bill to give his unique perspective on news and current events. Rich also takes every possible opportunity to mention how much he loves the music of Bruce Springsteen.
In 2011, Rich received the high honor of induction into two Halls of Fame. In January, he became only the 26th inductee into the Southern California Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Then in June, he was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame.
Spending three years with the Los Angeles Kings, 11 years with the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders and four years with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers makes Rich the only sportscaster ever to have been a part of the regular broadcast teams of three major league sports franchises in Los Angeles.
Rich is a four-time Emmy award winner for his television work on KCAL doing boxing ringside color commentary and Raiders preseason play-by-play. Also, as ringside commentator for FOX Sports Net's weekly Sunday Night Fights, KCAL's Fight Night and host of Rich Marotta's Neutral Corner boxing talk show on AM 570, he is considered one of the nation's foremost boxing experts. It is no wonder the L.A. Daily News called Rich Marotta "L.A.'s most versatile sportscaster."
Rich was recently named recipient of the Sam Taub Award, given annually to the "Broadcaster of the Year" by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Rich has two children, Angela and Joey. He is married to the lovely "Helen of England."
This blog may contain profanity and/or material considered inappropriate. The views expressed in this blog are the opinions of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of KFI AM-640 and Clear Channel Radio.
I hate moving, but I did it this week. Actually I bought my new home back in November. We started remodeling (and emptying out my bank account), shortly after that. Everything cost more than I thought it would. The house didn't even need that much, but this was our big shot at getting a house just the way we want. Little by little we brought stuff up to the new house. Its only about a mile away from where we've been living. I thought being a long, slow move would make it easy. Wrong. Moving is stressful man. I hate stress, therefore I hate moving.
Now that I've moved, I can go back to having some fun. I've got some great fun weeks coming up. First blues guitarist and vocalist Joe Bonamassa in concert. Then next its Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band which now numbers 15 musicians and singers. Then the following week, its Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s next fight as he takes on Puerto Rican tough-guy Miguel Cotto.
I'm thinking of finally joining the twitter world. I feel like I might be missing out on a lot. The last straw was last Saturday night. I did the pay-per-view telecast of last weeks Brandon Rios-Richard Abril Lightweight title fight at Mandalay Bay. I had Abril winning easily, as did my two partners on the telecast. However, the judges awarded the fight to Rios in an outrageous decision. I heard the boxing "twitter-world" blew up after the fight, but since I am not in that world, I did not get to see all those comments. So I think I'll finally join up. However, being accustomed to receiving hate mail from some of our lovely listeners who have a different political bent than mine, I may have to steel myself for hate-tweets as well.
A little bit of this and a little bit of that:
Political stuff: I'm a little sad Santorum dropped out of the Republican presidential race.I was dreaming of a brokered convention and political chaos.......I think Romney is going to have a tough time shaking that Governor Etch-a-Sketch tag. If you thought the Romney attack ads were bad during the primary process against his own party members, wait until the general election. It's going to be real ugly
Heres how I handicap the GOP Vice-Presidential race:
Paul Ryan : 2-1 He actually seems to be running for VP
Marco Rubio: 3-1 Future star, tea-party loves him
Susana Martinez: 10-1 Nations first Latina Governor, helps with women/Latinos
Bob McDonnell: 20-1 Virginia governor wants it, but he excites no one
Chris Christie : 25-1 He's not a #2 type of guy
Rock and roll stuff: Caught a Foreigner concert the other night. Their music still stands up strong. One hit after another: Cold As Ice, Double Vision, Hot-Blooded, Dirty White Boy, I Want to Know What Love Is........Anxious to see blues icon Joe Bonamassa in concert next week......Its almost "Boss Time" in L.A. Two concerts end of April for Bruce at the L.A Sports Arena....Gonna see Crosby, Stills and Nash in September. Bet that concert will be political as hell....Its my year for seeing the classic rockers. Also have tickets in hand for Van Halen, Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis.
Sports stuff: I'm happy to be doing a pay-per-view boxing show this Saturday night from Mandalay Bay in las Vegas. Lightweight buzzsaw Brandon Rios, out of Oxnard headlines against Richard Abril, a Cuban fighter who made the big mistake of slapping Rios after a press conference a couple of months ago. We're also going to televise the return to the ring of the great Juan Manuel Marquez in Mexico against a Russian, Sergei Fedchenko. It is the first time Marquez has fought since, in my mind, he defeated Manny Pacquaio last year but was denied the decision by the judges. We will actually call that fight from Vegas after the fights at Mandalay have been completed. Its my first time working with Brian Kenney, former longtime studio host of the Friday Night Fights who has now moved on to Major League Baseball Network. Former world champ Raul Marquez is the third man on our broadcast team. The fights, promoted by Top Rank, will be distributed by HBO........I really love the feeling surrounding the Dodgers this year. I think they might have enough to take the division. As for the Angels, they might be a monster in waiting. I expect them to win the American League pennant
Back in 1990, I was at the Forum one day, and Magic Johnson was down there for the Lakers morning shootaround. I asked Magic if he would mind calling my son Joey at home and wishing him a Happy Birthday. Well Joey was at school, so Magic just left a wonderful, long message on the answering machine for a kid he did not know. Joey told his friends for weeks but then finally gave up because, as he said, "No one believes me." Point of the story though, thats the kind of guy Magic Johnson is.
I can't tell you how many nights after Laker games in the early 80's that some young sports reporters, myself, Big Joe McDonnell, and Steve Futterman, along with one quite old reporter Biff Elliott, would sit around Johnson's locker and talk with him. We would ask him questions and questions and questions until long after all the other players had departed. No matter how exhausted he was, he'd answer every one, even the dopey ones. Then he'd simply ask, "Is that it guys?", and since even we couldn't think of anything else, he'd get dressed. That's the kind of guy Magic Johnson is.
I can't lie. I'm as jazzed as everyone else about Magic Johnson's group becoming the new owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. There's a great excitement and feeling in L.A. when the Dodgers are a strong team, and this was a huge step in that direction. Magic, the name itself just conjures up success and championships and smiles and laughs, and now hope once again for the Dodgers. I just don't see any down side to this ownership change. Taking Magic out of the equation for a moment, it gives the Dodgers a solid financial foundation with the extraordinarily successful Guggenheim Partners, plus a proven successful sports executive in Stan Kasten. Then you mix in Magic Johnson and you have the perfect storm. Magic is not a baseball man, but it's not going to matter.
Magic flat out gets it. He gets: 1) Winning, 2) Business, 3) PR, and most of all 4) L.A. The late, great owner of the Raiders Al Davis, who knows something about winning, once told me, "Magic dominates the concept of winning more than any athlete alive." He'll be talking to the players, infusing his own enthusiasm and winning attitude. He's already done that for the fans. I haven't heard this much positive talk and optimism and hope about the Dodgers in many, many years. The interesting thing is, the Dodgers, because of their financial situation, haven't been able to go out and really improve themselves this past off-season. That too will now change. They have money to operate and really compete. Magic has already said when there are important free-agents out there, the moment they become available, he'll be knocking on their doors, and when Magic Johnson comes knocking, that door is opened, and someone is listening. He has something to offer in the boardroom too because he is a very successful businessman. He knows how to connect with people. He's steeped in the community, and knows how to reach the different levels of Los Angeles. Sure he's got a lot of rich, famous friends, so sports and entertainment celebrities will once again find the Dodgers a hot ticket for them. Then there's the other side. Magic can help a charity, shoot some hoops with youngsters in the poorest communities, or call a kid he doesn't even know to wish him a happy birthday. What's not to like?
In early May, I'll head to Vegas for a big fight card featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr. against Miguel Cotto, and then in June, it's back to Vegas for Manny Pacquaio's battle with Timothy Bradley. One of the great joys of big fight weeks is simply hanging around the press room, visiting with the boxing people who converge on the fight site. There are stories and laughs galore. Boxing, for all its faults, has some of the greatest characters and fun people to be around in sports. However, the ranks are slimming.
Over the past weekend, we lost Bert Sugar, a boxing historian and author straight out of Damon Runyon. Sugar died at the age of 75 from cardiac arrest, and in recent months had been suffering from the effects of lung cancer. Sugar was a fixture at the big fights. Every time we would do my old boxing show "Rich Marotta's Neutral Corner" live from a big fight, we'd make sure to have Bert on. He could put the fights into perspective not only because he stayed on top of the current game, but because of his knowledge of the sport's history. He was a wordsmith, and very, very funny. Bert was immediately recognizable in his fedora, with cigar in his mouth, and often wearing those awful plaid pants. Fans sought out his autograph and his opinions, and he gave both freely. Sugar loved it!
Not that long ago, I had both Bert Sugar and the great trainer of champions Angelo Dundee on my show together to discuss the book they had co-authored, "My View From the Corner". The stories were fantastic. Now they're both gone, Angelo having died just a couple of months ago. In fact, the past year has been very tough on the sport. First former Junior Welterweight Champ, and a frequent broadcast partner of mine, Genaro Hernandez died of cancer. Then we lost Nick Charles, the talented boxing blow-by-blow commentator on Showtime, also from cancer. After that it was one of the giants, former heavyweight champion Smokin' Joe Frazier who left us, followed by Dundee and Sugar. Every one of those gentlemen had a personal effect on me, other members of the media, the fans and most certainly the sport of boxing. The boxing press room will never be the same.
Live music is just my favorite pasttime in life. I'd just about rather go to a great concert than anything. Believe it or not, it is even better than the exquisite, almost orgasmic experience of working with Handel in the morning. So recently when I went to three shows in eight nights, it was a great time for me. Here are my reviews:
FLOGGING MOLLY: Sold out for weeks at the Grove in Anaheim, the crowd ranged from 18 to 70 and everybody was ready. Unfortuantely for those in the higher age range, there were no seats, everything was standing room. As is now the custom, the younger fans converged in front of the stage where the moshing became a little wilder and a litlte more physical with each song. The band was, as always fantastic. Fliogging Molly has been together so long, are constantly on tour and take great pride in their music, so they always are muscially right on target, and give a full effort. They never just mail it in. As a ticket buyer, I appreciate that. as I detailed in my earlier blog, the sound was just horrible, and that took some of the edge off the concert for me. Most of the fans didn't seem to mind, but for those of us who actually like the words to their music,. it would've been nice to be able to hear frontman Dave King actually singing. And I know its not that the band jsut plays loud and out of control, because in all of the other concerts of Flogging Molly, hearing the singing has not been a problem. So I will grade the concert a B+.
PETER FRAMPTON: Frampton is going through an unbelievable resurgence in interest and fandom. In fact, as his 35th Anniversary Tour of the magnificent Frampton Comes Alive album has unfolded, he's been playing to sold out houses everywhere. He was the subject of a feature piece on the CBS show, Sunday Morning and now is popping up in commercials. What blew me away was the crowd reaction. Overwhelming! The fans went nuts, screaming and dancing and singing. He seems completely revitalized by it. As for the music, in a word, perfect. Frampton is a tremendous guitar stylist, and his voice sounds just as it did on the night I heard him at The Forum in November of 1976 when his album came out. I thought two phrases from his songs were appropriate:"Something's Happening" which actualloy is the name of the first song he plays, and in Frampton's case, something very definitely is happening. I saw a show of his two years ago, and it was nice, the music was good, the fans enjoyed and they went home. This was different, a rebirth of Frampton with full enthusiasm on both sides of the stage, his and ours. The other phrase is from the song "Show Me the Way", in which he sings "I can't believe this is happening to me". I'm sure he is actually feeling that. Concert was well over two hours, much of it taken up by doing the full album of Frampton Comes Alive. He's confidant enough in his music that a CD of the full concert is available to fans 15 minutes after the show, and the quality is shockingly good. I can tell you, there was a long line to get that CD. Grade for the concert: A+
RAIN: The Beatles Tribute band has been together for years, and they recently had their show on Broadway. They are slick, they are totally together on stage, emulate the Beatles movement and way of speaking, and do a great job capturing their musical sound. Rain plays note for note the Beatles songs in their different phases, and the music is accompanied by a nice video presentation as well. They did need to prompt the fans to clap their hands, or to stand and dance (let's face it, the crowd is older for this one), but a good time was had by all. If you are a Beatles fan, you'll like it. Grade: B
And now its time for another edition of "What I Like and What I Don't":
I like rock concerts. I don't like terrible sound such as we got in the Flogging Molly concert recently at the Grove in Anaheim, normally a great place to go to a show. I don't know who mixed that show, but the bass was so loud and the drums so amplified that we couldn't even hear the singing of Dave King. Everybody was complaining. I've seen four Flogging Molly concerts, one in a showroom at Lake Tahoe, one outdoors at The Greek Theatre, and one in a small club, The Knitting Factory in Reno. So, I know what a good Flogging Molly concert sounds like, and the one at The Grove was not it.
I like road trips and hotels. What I don't like are showers that have soft water, making it hard to actually rinse the soap off. In fact, it never feels like you have rinsed it off. For that matter, I don't like the showers that have the shower about five feet high, so those of us who are not Billy Barty's height have to crouch to rinse.
I like baseball. What I don't like are 6 weeks of spring training exhibition games.
I like a beautiful, soft snowfall. I don't like shoveling my driveway.
I like real girl rock and rollers like Chrissie Hynde, Steve Nicks, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett. I don't like overrated phony divas like Brittany Spears and Ashleigh Simpson. I especially don't like female artists who use the exact same formula as the others, in other words, the diva sings and dances in front with ten or fifteen other dancers behind her all doing the same steps. Soooo boring.
I like MSNBC. I don't like that MSNBC fired Pat Buchanan, whose politics I may detest, but could give me a differing point of view, and actually make me laugh too.
I like mini-skirts. I can't think of anything I don't like about mini-skirts.
I am so looking forward to next week. Two of my favorite things in life will be front and center, presidential politics and rock music. That leaves my other two favorite things, sports, and well, you know. Super Tuesday arrives in the Republican primary process with ten states having primaries for the largest haul of delegates. Good chance that Romney, Santorum and Gingrich will all win states, and who knows, with Idaho being a caucus state, maybe Ron Paul will sneak in there! If they keep divvying up the delegates, California, might at long last be a decisive or at least a significant state. Once we get past the politics of Super Tuesday, I'll be concentrating on music, as I prepare to begin my concert-attending season. On Friday, March 9, I'll be going to see one of my favorite bands, Flogging Molly at The Grove of Anaheim. One week later, I'll see Peter Frampton in his 35th anniversary tour of the great Frampton Comes Alive album which became the highest selling live album of all time. Then in April, I'll see the amazing blues guitarist/singer Joe Bonamassa for the first time. A week after that it's Springsteen at the L.A. Sports Arena on back-to-back nights Thursday and Friday, April 26 and 27. Not long after that, Van Halen in June, Doobie Brothers, Chicago and The Beach Boys in July! I love it! I'm just a prisoner of Rock and Roll!!!
I totally love the Jeremy Lin story. I have completely bought into the fun of it! Jeremy Lin, who no one had even heard of three weeks ago is suddenly the biggest name on the sports scene. Its just about the best rags-to-riches story since Rocky Balboa, and that was fake! This is real! He seems like such a great genuine kid, that I began rooting for him as I soon as I heard New York was going bonkers over an unheard of, undrafted player, and a Harvard grad at that. To become the first Asian-American to star in the NBA didn't hurt either. Although many have tried to compare the fuss made over Lin to that of Tim Tebow, its a completely different scenario. Tebow was courted by the likes of football factories like Florida and Alabama. He won the Heisman Trophy, and was a first round draft pick. No one wanted to offer Lin a scholarship out of high school, so he went to Harvard and played there while majoring in economics. No one wanted to draft him out of Harvard, so he went to the NBA as an undrafted free agent, and was cut by two teams before ending up with the Knicks, where he sat on the bench. It is my understanding Lin may have been only a few days away from being cut again, but then a desperate Coach Mike D'Antoni gave him a chance, and the rest is history. This kid is legit. He can play and he can continue on as a starter. To me, "Linsanity" compares much more to "Fernando-mania" that we experienced here in L.A. way back in 1982 than to Tebow-mania. Fernando too was an unknown. He was an immediate sensation as soon as he got a chance to start, and yes, like Lin, had an ethnic hook to him as well. I've often said that the time of Fernando-mania was about the happiest, most, fun-filled thing we've ever experienced in L.A. sports. They could use a little happiness in New York. That's why I am totally pulling for Jeremy Lin to keep it going. Linsanity forever!! (or at least a few more weeks)
Got my tickets to see Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band in Los Angeles. Naturally, I couldn't get a decent ticket from Ticketmaster, so I went through a broker and didn't get reamed too bad. Face value was $100 each, my seats costs between $200-$300 for seats just to the side of the stage in the loge. I've paid a lot more to see The Boss. Similar seats to mine are now going from $350-$550. I got tickets for both shows, Thurs-Fri, April 26-27 at the L.A. Sports Arena. Very happy. Springsteen concerts have given me some of the most exciting nights in my entire life. Hope he doesn't cancel on me at the last minute the way Tom Petty did when I traveled to Phoenix to see Petty and the Heartbreakers. Sure I got a ticket refund but that didn't do anything for me with my air and hotel. Yes, I've made plane and hotel reservations for Bruce......I really enjoyed the Super Bowl, especially because I picked and bet on both the Giants and the under. Plus I made my prediction on the air of Giants/under-54, which of course Handel will not mention since I was right, but would've been all over me if I was wrong......Now that the football season is over, I don't what I'm doing the next six months on the weekends........I'm approximately twenty books behind right now, but I just recently got two more, Chris Mathews' book on JFK, and Keith Richard's bio called "Life". Any of you out there read either one of those? I should get around to reading them in about 2015........If you want to see a great HBO Sports show, check out the six-part reality series "On Freddie Roach." HBO cameras followed Roach around for nearly a year, seeing how the greatest boxing trainer in the world, handles his life, which is complicated by Parkinson's disease. Freddie is one of my favorite people in the world, and one of the reasons is that he never lies. He always gives it to you straight. Speaking of Freddie, I believe, that at long last, his fighter Manny Pacquaio and arch-rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. will finally get together in the ring. I see it happening in November. Before then, Pacquaio has to beat undefeated Tom Bradley June 9. Mayweather must beat Miguel Cotto May 5,and then serve his jail term of three months. it will be the biggest fight since Ali-Frazier battled for 15 rounds at Madison Square Garden March 8, 1971.