Behind The ScenesSportsCenter

Robert Flores gets ‘Francona’ed’ on his way to LA SportsCenter studio

Tuesday’s 1 a.m. ET SportsCenter had its usual fill of highlights, discussion and the ever-popular #SCTop10.

It also contained the amusing highlight lead-in above, playing off Cleveland Indians manager (and former ESPN analyst) Terry Francona’s struggles with finding his new home park, Progressive Field, for Monday’s home-opener.

“We try to take advantage of opportunities to do different things whenever we can,” said Anchor Stan Verrett. “Sometimes it gives us a chance to get out of the studio and do some fun things. We have to pick our spots. The show is SportsCenter, not Saturday Night Live, but used sparingly, the skits can keep the show fresh. We are fortunate to have a creative team here, and the pre-production time to get things done.”

Here’s a glimpse of how “This is Lost Anchor” came to be:

At about 7 p.m. PT, Senior Producer/Editor (Preditor) Anthony Honkus is presented with concept by Highlight Producer Jason Brooksby, who sold Producer Lisa James and Coordinating Producer Greg Dowling on the idea.

“[Anchor] Robert Flores, who normally anchors in Bristol, [Conn.], now finds himself in Los Angeles. . . far away from his normal routine,” Brooksby said. “The lead allowed us the opportunity to tell the crazy Francona story, make the link with Robert’s situation visiting LA and make it memorable for the viewer.”

“The thing is,” Flores said. “I have a terrible sense of direction. I get lost with a GPS. So the idea that I would get lost in the LAPC isn’t that big of a stretch.”

While Brooksby went about securing the hot dog mascot (he knows people who can get things), Flores and Verrett wrote up the script as Honkus set up the cameras, lights and alerted the “extras” — SportsCenter staffers — of the plan. By 8 p.m., shooting began with Flores acting lost. At 8:20, Researcher/Stats & Info specialist/direction-giver Alvin Anol and Flores shot their “scenes.”

The next 90 minutes saw more shooting and preparing, including the newsroom and make-up room portions. Honkus pulled together music, worked on the “Chaplin-esque” special effects and began editing while Flores, Verrett and the rest of the team put the finishing touches on the show.

“I think the benefit of doing something like this, is that it’s a chance to poke fun at ourselves,” Flores said. “It also gives viewers a small look at our ‘backstage’ surroundings. When the idea was first pitched to me, that iconic scene from This Is Spinal Tap immediately came to mind. The ending is a slight nod to that.”

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