Media people

Sports scribes abuzz with speculation about TJ Simers

simers-howard-grab.jpgAs I pointed out Thursday, LA Times sports columnist TJ Simers hasn't written since June 13 and the paper has not bothered to print the usual "{Insert name] is on vacation" sentence in place of his column. Members of the sports department have been gossiping among themselves about the sarcastic columnist's status all month, wondering whether Simers' absence is voluntary. The speculation moved onto the web over the weekend with a post at sports blogger Larry Brown's site saying that Simers' bosses took exception to a video he participated in for Mandalay Sports Media. In the video, Simers officiates a free-throw competition between his daughter Kelzer and ex-Laker Dwight Howard. Simers did a column which the Times ran, and for those who don't follow him, it's common for Simers to include family members in his pieces and the stunts he sometimes sets up. What possibly makes this different is that ten days later, news broke that Mandalay is developing a TV comedy based on Simers' life. He has only done one column since. Here's the video:

Now a site called AwfulAnnouncing, citing unnamed sources, says that Simers is essentially benched and that a meeting with editor Davan Maharaj — and without the sports editor, Mike James — "did not go well." Another potentially climactic meeting is scheduled for this week, the site says. I've heard that as well from sources tied to the newsroom, with the meeting set for Tuesday — and I also heard that Simers came into the office last Thursday, when the showdown would have occurred except for the absence of an HR rep.

According to AwfulAnnouncing, the publisher has supposedly been gunning for Simers out of friendship for ex-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. The timing is pretty weird for that, given that McCourt has become largely irrelevant -- and Simers bashed him mercilessly for years when he did matter without anyone moving seriously to fire him. But that's how the site is framing it.

The site picked up the Simers buzz tonight as a hot topic. It's to be noted that, as far as I know, Simers has not talked about his status at all and the Times told AwfulAnnouncing that it had nothing to say on the subject except that he is currently employed by the paper.

Also noted, Simers suffered a TIA stroke in March at the Dodgers' spring training base in Glendale, Arizona.

Screen grab of Simers with Dwight Howard

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Media people stories on LA Observed:
Walking through 4,000 photographs with Annie Leibovitz
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Joe Frank, somewhere out there
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Michael Bloomberg
Put Jamal Khashoggi Square outside the Saudi consulate on Sawtelle
Here's who the LA Times has newly hired*