In case of fire, save Scarlett Johansson

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Hopefully, you saw the story this week about Flo Bernstein, the 87-year-old woman who lives on Ridge Drive in the Mountaingate neighborhood of the Sepulveda pass.

She was evacuated early Thursday morning, just after 1 a.m., when she smelled smoke coming into her home. A fire broke out, bringing about 400 firefighters in to fight the blaze, that would grow to about 100 acres near the famed museum as well as close to Mount St. Mary’s College campus, and would close the 405 Freeway for four hours.

Flo had time only to pull on a sweatsuit, grab some shoes and papers sitting on the table, and then do something crazy — she packed four boxes of her son’s baseball cards, which he gave her to keep safe. He’d been evacuated from his home in Porter Ranch after a fire last week broke out.

“I grabbed the cards this morning — that’s why I didn’t get my glasses,” she told the Los Angeles Times reporter.

The value of those cards? Who knows. Probably priceless.

Now the question: Would Flo have tried to save that collection if it had the rookie cards of Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel or Christina Ricci?

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Last but not least, we don’t ever want to hear Trevor Denman have to say the word ‘Booyah’ again

Off as the 49-1 longshot in today’s Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita after opening at 30-1, Booyah actually had the lead for quite some time over 3-1 favorite Zappa before giving it up on the backstretch, fading on the turn, and ending up — BOOYAH! — last in the field of nine, far behind 25-1 Muhannak (won won it to pay $26.80).

Thank goodness.

Kenny Mayne, part of the ABC broadcast of the race, the first of today’s Breeders’ Cup slate, said he called colleague Stuart Scott to get a tip on the race and he said … you can figure it out.

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From Booyah’s track record (linked here), it was a tough run to figure out. He’s been a steady customer at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park (where he won an allowance race in July ) and Fairplex (a big $125,000 race win in his last jaunt). But going into the whole Breeders’ Cup, the Daily Racing Form’s early odds — before the actual setting of the fields — had the 4-year-old colt as the longest of all longshots — 50-1.

Daily News horse racing writer Kevin Modesti told us before hand that Booyah’s win at the L.A. County Fair was big, but that was a 1 1/8-mile race, and the Marathon is 1 1/2 miles, nor is Fairplex as an impressive place for a Breeders’ Cup prep. His trainer, Jerry Fanning, 75, is a Southern California fixture whose career is dotted with upset wins — Little Reb over Affirmed in the 1979 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, Croeso over Copelan in the 1983 Florida Derby, Desert Wine over John Henry in the 1984 Hollywood Gold Cup.

Not this trip.

Did the horse get his name from Scott’s cliche catch phrase? Was it from watching Jim Cramer on “Mad Money”? (see this link).

No matter. Booyah blew it. At last.

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The Goodell news: NFL broadcasters feel financial pinch

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By MATTIAS KAREN
The Associated Press

LONDON — Broadcasters are already seeing a drop in advertising revenue for NFL games because of the global economic crisis, league commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday.

At a conference on the globalization of sports held ahead of Sunday’s NFL game in London, Goodell also reiterated that the league will face challenges in the current economic climate, but that the NFL is “incredibly strong” and should weather the downturn relatively unscathed.

However, he said network partners are already reporting that advertisers are pulling back, both on a local and national level.

“The sales market is different than it was even several weeks ago,” Goodell said during a panel discussion with Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the English Premier League. “We see it primarily on a local level, which I think is through a large extent a reflection of what is happening in the automobile industry. But it has now in the recent weeks gone to the national level. It’s had an impact. The fortunate thing
is that it hasn’t had an impact on our viewership.”

Goodell did not give any specific figures for the advertising drop, and was not available for media interviews after the discussion, which was moderated by CBS announcer Jim Nantz.

Goodell said he was confident that ad sales for the games would stabilize even in the
short term, adding that holding onto sponsors would be a bigger long-term problem for the league.

“That’s something we are evaluating, whether there will be a long-term change in the way companies invest in sponsorships, and how they do that,” he said. “And that could impact us well beyond 2009.”

But even with all professional sports already feeling the squeeze of the credit crunch, Goodell was confident that the NFL’s products should stay in high demand.

“It’s hard to see that people are going to give up quality in a time like this,” he said. “I think we are the ones who have the potential to come through it the strongest if we’re
intelligent about it.”

The NFL is staging its second game at Wembley on Sunday, when the New Orleans Saints face the San Diego Chargers. The game is a way for the NFL to continue its growth abroad. The NBA and NHL have also staged games in Europe over the last two years.

But with the Premier League already established as one of the most popular in the world, Scudamore said he didn’t feel threatened that American sports would take away
revenue from football.

“I don’t see really that we’re competing,” Scudamore said. “I think it’s an awfully big pond out there that we all fish in.”

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Alyssa Milano will agree to touch you at an NFL game

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And hopefully, you’ll buy some of her clothing in the process.
The clothing that she’s selling, still, to make ends meet.
The Major League Baseball professional stalker (Brad Penny’s former fiance, Barry Zito’s former squeeze, Carl Pavano … girlfriend to be named later … where do we stop?) has involved herself in a contest with NFL.com, tied into her line of women’s apparel, but somehow, it also involves a winner meeting her at the Dec. 7 49ers-Jets game in San Francisco.
Details: (linked here).
No print-out cease and desist orders were attached. Although, the contest rules say it’s an “opportunity” to meet her at the game. Maybe we pass on the game and just to go drinks at her hotel afterward.
OK with Tony Danza?

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World Series Game 2: Tampa Bay 31.3, Philadelphia 30.7

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We’re tied 1-1 going into Game 3 — both in which participating city posts the biggest audience, and which team posts the greatest number of runs in that particular game.
The trend is quite spooky.

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Nationally, Fox reports a somewhat dangerously disappointing 8.1 national rating and 13 share (12.8 million viewers) for a Game 2 on a Thursday night up against network competition that was taking away more viewers than Game 1′s Wednesday.

That’s also a tick away from the lowest-rated World Series game of all time — 8.0 for Game 1 of the 2006 event.

Still, Fox had its best Thursday prime-time night since April 10. Maybe Los Lonely Boys, who did the national anthem, should have stuck around for a full-on concert.

“Now with the series tied at a game apiece, we’re looking forward to interest building as the games continue and the drama unfolds,” said Fox Sports executive producer Ed Goren.

Looking forward and praying are interchangable at this point. Fox needs a series going at least six games to have any impact on profits and ratings.

The 8.1/13 is down 27 percent from last year’s Game 2 (Boston-Colorado, 11.1/18) and down 30 percent from 2006 Game 2 (St. Louis-Detroit, 11.6/18 which was on a Sunday with an NFL lead-in). The first two ’08 games average an 8.7/14, down 19 percent to 2007 and down 11 percent to 2006.

After Tampa Bay/St. Pete and Philadelphia, the other Top 10 markets for Game 2:
Fort Myers, Fla., and Orlando, Fla. (each with 13.1/20), St. Louis (11.5/17), Charlotte, N.C. (10.3/15), Boston (10.1/16), Minneapolis (10.0/16), New York (9.8/15) and Milwaukee (9.7/15). Note: No major market West of the Ol’ Mississippi in that group.

Los Angeles trickled in below the national average at 7.7, bringing its two-game total to 8.0, tied for 30th among the 56 metered markets with Salt Lake City, Hartford, Miami and Portland, Ore. And that was with Hart High grad James Shields (above) performing well for the Rays as their starting pitcher.

The series moves to Philly for Games 3, 4 and 5 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night, the last night of which competes with an ESPN “Monday Night Football” game. At least it doesn’t involve the Eagles or Bucs.

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About this free taco thing….

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We may need Robert Shapiro to explain how this works, but the fact that someone stole a base in Game 1 of the World Series means Taco Bell will make good on a promise to give out a free taco to anyone who shows up at one of their places of business between 2 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

We, of course, won’t try stopping at just one. But how do we achieve this improbablity?

According to the fine print in the rules posted on MLB.com (linked here):

Participating Taco Bell restaurant manager reserves the right to deny Free Taco to any person he/she reasonably believes has already received a Free Taco or has engaged in any other fraudulent activity.

We like the loop-hole sound of that…

Meanwhile, CNBC’s Darren Rovell (linked here) has crunched the crunchy-taco numbers and determined that it could be as many as 2.75 million tacos given away nationwide in that four-hour window.

It is close to Halloween, and there is a chance we can find several costumes to wear for each visit …

So, what if I bring my billy goat to get a free taco and am denied?

Read on for all the fine print (which we’ve actually posted in little, bitty type so that we can’t be accused of … using bigger type than intended):

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The media learning curve: Looking back on Oct. 17-24

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We didn’t learn much outside of today’s media column (linked here), but what we did will stick with us forever.

Such as:

==Week 8 of the L.A. NFL TV schedule diverts to England, where David Beckham may actually be at this moment, playing football (linked here). And why listening to rumors can get you into trouble (linked here).

==Week 9 of the L.A. college football TV schedule diverts away from No. 1 Texas facing No. 6 Oklahoma State, which isn’t cool if you’re a USC fan trying to find out if there’s another easy way to climb back into the BCS title race (linked here).

==This weekend’s Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita may not have its first openly gay race horse (linked here), but the schedule is set (linked here).
And just for the heck of it: What is NBC showing on Saturday instead of the Breeders’ Cup this year?
10-to-11 a.m.: Cartoons “Turbo Dogs” and “My Friend Rabbit”
11 a.m.: Knowing your Heritage: Hispanic College Quiz Show
11:30 p.m. Foreclosed Homes Auction in your area informercial
Noon: Houses for $300 informercial
12:30 p.m.: Paid programming
1-3 p.m.: Figure skating
3 p.m.: “Extra”
4 p.m.: “Access Hollywood”

==CBS needs a new MMA partner (linked here).

==Sometimes, baseball does draw more TV viewers than football (linked here).

==A sweet Obama-McCain Fox intro for its World Series (linked here), but not a sweet national rating for Game 1 (linked here)

==More background on Ken Rosenthal’s impact on the Fox baseball coverage (linked here).

==Chris Berman is one busy dude this weekend (linked here).

==What Fox will do if there’s a power outage during its World Series coverage (linked here).

==HBO’s “Real Sports” includes prison rodeo in its jurisdiction (linked here).

==Your SI cover may say Kobe, but it really could have more (linked here).

==Why we tried again, but just can’t listen to another USC football game on radio (linked here).

==And why the Onion Sports uncovered something we didn’t know about Tropicana Field (linked here).

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The media learning curve archs forward: More on Rosenthal, Coach K, Costas and Tafoya

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In addition to today’s media column on Fox baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal and the disjointed Breeders’ Cup coverage on ESPN2/ESPN and ABC this weekend (linked here), we’ve got it on good word that:

==TNT’s Kevin Harlan, Doug Collins and Cheryl Miller will call the Lakers’ season opener (exclusive to the cable channel) against Portland from Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. after the Cleveland-Boston contest (with Marv Albert, Mike Fratello, Reggie Miller and Craig Sager).
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown will call the Lakers-Clippers contest from Staples Center at 7:30 p.m., following its network coverage of Phoenix-San Antonio, and repeat it at midnight. But since ESPN does not have exclusivity, KTLA-Channel 5 will also have it (from the Clippers’ vantage point, since it is their season opener) and KCAL-Channel 9 carries it as a Lakers’ road game. FSN Prime has a detached Lakers’ live show at 6:30 p.m., leading into Ducks-Red Wings coverage.

==CBS hired Greg Anthony as its top NCAA basketball studio analyst starting in December. He replaces Clark Kellogg, who is replacing Billy Packer as the lead game analyst. Anthony, the former UNLV star, was on ESPN’s NBA studio show since 2002.

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What the Hall? More props for Coach Wooden

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After his Hall of Fame playing career at Purdue, and before he became established as a Hall of Fame coach at UCLA, John Wooden spent two seasons at Indiana State, guiding the Sycamores to a 44-15 record between 1946-48.

That, apparently, is worthy of Hall of Fame mention as well. Some 60 years later.

Thursday, the 98-year-old Wooden was one of six picked for induction into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame. He’ll be invited to the ceremony in March 2009.

Wooden, a native of Hall, Ind., was also the school’s athletic director and baseball coach during his time at Indiana State.

He actually did achieve something major while he was there:

In 1947, Indiana State was invited to play in the NAIB Tournament, but Wooden refused, citing the organization’s policy banning black players. Clarence Walker , an African American from East Chicago, Ind., was on the ISU squad.
After the NAIB changed its policy, Wooden took his team to the ’48 final, losing to Louisville with Walker on the roster.

Wooden left to UCLA in 1948, spent 27 seasons in Westwood, posted 620 wins, 10 NCAA titles … you know the rest. Except that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer was also inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (1964), the Indiana State Athletics Hall of Fame (1984), the Purdue Hall of Fame (1994) and the UCLA Hall of Fame (a charter member in 1984).

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Girls kickball at the Coliseum: Not a pregame to the Lingerie Bowl

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Don’t be embarassed by admitting that, against all forces of nature, you’re geeked up to heading out to the Coliseum on Friday night to watch No. 3 UCLA face No. 9 USC in a women’s soccer match.

It’s all about the rivalry, and a rematch of the ’07 NCAA semifinals (which USC won and went on to take the title)? Sure, that should be enough incentive.

A 7 p.m. kickoff? It beats going to another overhyped high school football game.

The chance to see a girls kickball game in such a huge, vapid venue? OK, we’ll bite.

The real the reason you’ll break out $7 for an adult ticket, and another $8 for parking (does that add up right) is because you could be one of a (hopeful) 15,000 who watch this thing, which would break the NCAA record for a women’s soccer game.

You realize what 15,000 will look like at the Coliseum? Yes, like an L.A. City high school football championship game. Maybe.

The current NCAA women’s record of 14,410 was set … we’re not sure … let’s look it up … 1999, the championship match between North Carolina and Notre Dame in San Jose. Wasn’t there. Doesn’t register.

Just gotta look at the big picture here. Be part of something much bigger than you or I individually. Or, hide in the bathroom and wait for next Saturday’s USC-Washington football game.

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