L.A.’s NFL Week 13 TV schedule: Detroit … poor, poor Detroit … no really, poor …

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Gobble. Gobble. Gobble.

Gurgle.

Is there a bigger shooting-fish-in-a-barrel game than the Titans, coming off their only loss of the season, going to Detroit on a short week to face the winless Lions, who cling to this tradition of hosting Thanksgiving Day games despite the fact they’ve given America nothing to be thankful in return?

Detroit … what a place to be in this economy. The NFL has yet to announce a bail-out plan for the Lions, and sending Tennessee in for this holiday feast is simply mean.

“Based on records, if 0-11 Detroit beats 10-1 Tennessee, you would have to throw this game into the argument of being one of the greatest regular-season upsets in the history of the National Football League,” said CBS’ Jim Nantz, who has the honor duty distinct displeasure of calling this game. “It would definitely have to be right up there, if not the biggest of all, if Detroit was able to spring that upset. Now to make this clear, I’m not comparing this to Namath and the Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III, or anything like that that has happened in the post-season. I’m dealing with records. Based on that, this would have to rank right up there.”

So tune in to see history, and stay for the public flogging.

Now, pass the cranberries that look like the inside of a tin can and let’s get on with the rest of the week:

THURSDAY:

== 9:30 a.m., Channel 2: Tennessee at Detroit (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms).
== 1 p.m., Channel 11: Seattle at Dallas (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver)
== 5:15 p.m., NFL Network: Arizona at Philadelphia (with Bob Papa and Cris Collinsworth)

SUNDAY:

== 10 a.m., Channel 11: N.Y. Giants at Washington (with Kenny Albert, Moose Johnson and Tony Siragusa). Fox also has in this window: San Francisco at Buffalo, New Orleans at Tampa Bay, Carolina at Green Bay.
== 10 a.m., Channel 2: Indianapolis at Cleveland (with Dick Enberg and Randy Cross). CBS also has Baltimore at Cincinnati and Miami at St. Louis.
== 1 p.m., Channel 2: Denver at N.Y. Jets (with Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon). CBS also has Pittsburgh at New England and Kansas City at Oakland. Fox also has Atlanta at San Diego.
== 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Chicago at Minnesota (with Al Michaels, John Madden and Andrea Kremer)

MONDAY:

== 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Jacksonville at Houston (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser)

MEANWHILE, IN WEEK 14:

The league announced today that NBC has used its flex scheduling privedges, dumped New England at Seattle for Dec. 7, and picked up Washington at Baltimore from the CBS lineup. The Pats-Seahawks game moves to 1 p.m. on CBS for those ticketholders in the greater Seattle area who had plans for that Sunday afternoon. They’ve now been changed.

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Raiders-Chargers, in a third dimension

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The NFL Network has scheduled a Thursday, Dec. 4 telecast, pitting the Chargers and Raiders from Qualcomm Stadium that, depending on your cable service, will be available to very few viewers.

Same with a 3-D version broadcast of the game, unless you’ve got some connections.

The Burbank-based 3ality Digital LLC (home site linked here) says it will coordinate with the Beverly Hills-based ReadD company for the first-ever live broadcast of an NFL game in full digital 3D.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal (linked here), there will be one theatre in Los Angeles carrying the game, along with one in New York and Boston, where those in the audience can see things only with special 3-D glasses. Unfortunately, it is closed to the general public, open only to invited guests — particularily, consumer-electronic company reps.

The story claims this is a preliminary step on what is likely a long road to any regular 3-D broadcasts of football games.

“We want to demonstrate this and let people get excited about it and see what the future holds,” says Howard Katz, NFL senior VP of broadcasting and media operations.

RealD specializes in bringing advanced digital 3D projection capabilities to cinemas worldwide. It has more than 100 exhibition partners and more than 5,500 worldwide screens are committed to install RealD’s platform.

“As boxing fans once gathered at local theatres to see heavyweight title matches in the era before pay-per-view and plasma televisions, RealD’s new technology will give audiences another reason to head to the theatre,” explained Michael Lewis, chairman and CEO of RealD in a press release. “The continued box office success and the strong audience response to films released on RealD’s platform have shown that consumers crave a premium 3D cinematic experience. We look forward to giving fans of live events the opportunity to feel like they’re in the front row without even being there.”

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More on the Sports Museum of Los Angeles

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We’ve seen references, erroneously, to is as the L.A. Sports Museum, this place that Gary Cypres has put together with his own money to house his $30 million collection of sports memorabilia. He said he didn’t want to put his own name on it, but he does have an idea some day of selling naming rights to the museum that we’ve featured in today’s column (linked here). Also check out photographer David Crane’s slide show of the place (linked here).

One of the prized items that Cypres has on display is the Dodger uniform that Babe Ruth wore in 1938, when he was a first-base coach for the Brooklyn franchise, hoping to land the next manager’s job (it eventually went to Leo Durocher).

Last week, a Ruth Brooklyn Dodgers uniform was sold at auction for $310,500, purchased by SCP Auctions for one of its clients. It was said to be the last professional uniform worn by Ruth (story linked here).

David Kohler, the SCP Auctions owner who was gracious enough to show us his Lakers’ collection at his home in Orange County this past summer, made the distinction for us — Cypress bought his Ruth home jersey through a Sothebys/SCP Auction in 2005. This road uniform is for a different client.

Kohler also passed along this incredible item that he just acquired: The ID wallet card that Ruth carried around when he was a member of the Boston Red Sox (1914-1919), written in his own hand:

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Shaking in their snow boots: To ski or not to ski

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By Lusa Rathke
The Associated Press

KILLINGTON, Vt. — Forget the Rockies. With the economy in a tailspin, eastern skiers may be staying closer to home this winter.

Destination resorts out West are reporting slower-than-normal reservations, while New England ski areas say their business appears to be benefiting from the downturn — although resort operators everywhere are nervous.

“We were going to (go West), but this year, I don’t think we’re going to, unless the market turns around,” said 49-year-old Sue Martin, of West Greenwich, R.I., who was skiing Friday at Killington.

With lift tickets $40 to $80 a day, plus the expense of lodgings and meals, although deals can be had, ski areas are particularly vulnerable as discretionary income falls. University of Vermont economics professor Art Woolf predicts it’ll be a rough year for the industry.

“You can save a lot of money by not going on vacation,” Woolf said. “It’s a discretionary expenditure that’s kind of lumpy. If you decide to go skiing you’re going to pay $1,000, $2,000, whatever it is for the trip, so you can save a lot of money by not undertaking that activity.”

Continue reading

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Curlin, the stud

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By Jeffrey McMurray
The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin will stand at stud next year at Lane’s End, a Kentucky horse farm owned by a former U.S. ambassador to Britain.

Will Farish announced Friday the richest racehorse in North America will become a stallion at his Versailles farm, where Curlin’s sire, Smart Strike, is already a breeding star.

Curlin will command a stud fee of $75,000 his opening year, half what Smart Strike receives. But its $10,000 more than the fee for Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown.

“Curlin’s performance on the track, his pedigree and his conformation make him the most exciting sire prospect to retire in many years,” Farish said in a news release.

Curlin’s majority owner, Jess Jackson, announced last week he was retiring the horse after perhaps one last race. Jackson has bid $4 million to buy out the 20 percent interest in the horse he doesn’t already own, but the complicated ownership dispute is being worked out in court.

Although Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables had looked into the possibility of standing Curlin itself, by choosing Lane’s End, the horse will live at what Jackson calls the nation’s premier stallion farm.

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“He is one of the best examples of the breed — fast, strong, and durable,” Jackson said. “I predict he will make a substantial contribution to our sport through his gene pool, and I am looking forward to seeing his foals compete and possibly exceed his unequaled race record.”

Curlin has won 11 of 16 career starts, plus a pair of second and third place finishes. The only time he finished out of the money was his fourth-place finish last month in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, which he was attempting to win for the second straight year.

Despite that loss, Curlin’s career includes wins at the Preakness Stakes, Jockey Club Classic, Stephen Foster Handicap and Dubai World Cup. His career winnings of $10.5 million have passed Cigar to make him North America’s richest racehorse in history.

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An MLB maple bat resolution?

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The Associated Press

NEW YORK _ Experts presented recommendations to baseball Friday that they hope will
decrease the frequency of broken bats in major league games.

The recommendations will be reviewed by Major League Baseball’s safety and health advisory committee, which includes players’ union officials.

“We’ll be announcing something soon,” baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said.

MLB collected more than 1,700 broken bats over 2 months this year and met with manufacturers to discuss quality control after commissioner Bud Selig expressed concern over the increase in broken bats among maple models. Selig can’t ban maple bats unilaterally because their use is subject to collective bargaining.

Baseball retained the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory; the wood-testing agency Timberco Inc.; Harvard professor Carl Morris and University of Massachusetts-Lowell professor James Sherwood to analyze data and design tests.

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Coming Sunday: Gary Cypres’ stuff

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Gary Cypress holds up his Honus Wagner T206 card, a Holy Grail of baseball memorabilia that some authenticators have graded out to be worth $2.8 million.

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“That’s crazy, isn’t it?” he asks, considering how much someone actually thinks the thing is worth.

You may not be able to touch it, but you can see it at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, which is really a collection of about 10,000-plus sports memorabilia items that Brentwood’s Cypres has put together over the last 25 years and finally arranged to display it to the public.

His SMLA opens the day after Thanksgiving, and we were part of a media-led tour of it the other day that will be the focus of Sunday’s column. We’ll also have a slide show put to music of what staff photographer David Crane captured through his lens (including the shots here of Cypres)

In a word: Astounding. In a few others: There’s some work to do. It could be a little more interactive for the kids. It’s very New York/Boston heavy with items, which may not necessarily have resonance with L.A. sports folk. And it’s not really in the best part of town (but near the Blue Line, across the street from the LA Mart). But those, for now are the only minor constructive criticisms we can come up with. The rest, as they say, is history, for you to enjoy.

Check out the Website (www.sportsmuseumla.com) in the meantime.

“As a collector, it’s not necessarily what’s the most expensive item,” Cypres says. “It could be a million dollar item or 20 dollars, as long as it tells a story.”

L.A. Councilwoman Jan Perry, who helped Cypres get the museum built so that it could upgrade the neighboorhood in an area that has many abandoned or older, delapidated buildings: “I can’t claim to be an avid sports fan, but I’m a fan in the lives of people who’ve achieved so much. To think of the world of Jackie Robinson or Bill Russell and see personal photographs … I don’t know where he found all this stuff.. but I’m happy he was so tenatious with our city bureacy to get it done.”

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While it sits at about 32,000 square feet, there’s another 14,000 feet that are in the plans to be added someday. Cypres wants to have it be a place where non-profits can use it for fund-raisers without having to spend all their money on facility rentals. He also wants more room for traveling exhibits.

“What’s my favorite?” he repeats a question about his collection. “Usually the next thing I buy becomes my favorite.”

It harkens back, for some of us who remember such L.A. sports landmarks, to the old Helms Athletic Hall of Fame in Culver City. That collection of trophies and artifacts ended up in a bank building lobby near LAX — Citizen Savings Bank. Which then became First Interstate Bank, and finally, when the Helms Foundation disbanded, all the assets were absorbed by the Amateur Athletic Foundation, which sits over on Adams Blvd., in L.A.

Some links to stories that have been done about Cypres:
==A 2006 L.A. Business Journal story by David Davis, when Cypres was trying to get his collection put together for display (linked here).
==A story by the Professional Sports Authenticator’s David Laurell, which really puts his collection into context with others (linked here)

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The media learning curve: Nov. 14-21

Aside from the fact that the NFL commish knows how to stand his ground (we got the proof at links here, here, here and here), and isn’t really upset that fans figured out his private line?

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We did learn (because we admit we’ve stopped watching) that Warren Sapp (he, also, of the NFL Network, as well as Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”) made the final three of “Dancing With The Stars,” and took dance partner Kym Johnson with him to Pittsburgh so they could work on their routine that’s coming up on Monday’s next show. Sapp is up against Brooke Burke (the probable winner) and Lance Bass (a strong runner-up), so the consensus may be that this will be the last dance for the former Bucs and Raiders defensive end.

Oh, and as we suspected, Sapp issued an apology to ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson, but then took a bite out of Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb (linked here) — and he did it on the NFL official website.

Otherwise, we gleaned from our blog postings this week:

== Week 13 of the college football TV season (linked here) reminds us that Barack Obama isn’t playing around when it comes to a playoff, even after ESPN locked up the BCS through 2014 (linked here) when Fox decided it was too expensive (linked here).

== Week 12 of the NFL’s TV season has some good AFC matchups, and we’re not talking about NBC’s Colts-Chargers tussel (linked here). Also, the NFL’s dirty work in the courts is never over (linked here).

== Former Red Bull GM Alexi Lalas, who still can’t believe the team is doing so well without him, will put a surge into the ESPN telecast of the MLS Cup on Sunday (linked here).

== A videotape of the Ali-Spinks bout from 1978 may hold the truth that become a “Get Out of Jail” card for a man arrested nearly 30 years ago (linked here).

== Kings TV analyst Jim Fox digs chicken soup (linked here).

== Angels radio station KLAA-AM (830) may not have Joe McDonnell, but it’s got a sports shrink on the weekends (linked here).

Also:

== We had no intention of watching all of ESPN’s 24 hours of college basketball, but some others did (linked here)

== Michele Tafoya may no longer play the “secret word” with KSPN’s Mason and Ireland, but she’s got a word or two about not being on the ESPN “MNF” sidelines any more (linked here).

== And finally, we did happen to catch Snoop Dogg on ESPN’s “Around The Horn,” at least for the opening (was it Tuesday’s show? they all seem to merge together like a ball of mud). And they allowed him to comment on LeBron James (Dogg actually made more sense than any of the panelists). And it sure seemed like Just Average Adande was in a hurry to get blasted off the show so he could “hang out” with Dogg wherever they happened to be, which no doubt allowed the former big-city columnist to get all wrapped up in exploring his inner rapper.

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The media learning curve: Spinning forward to Dickie V and Billy P, Johnny L and Timmy M, and the BCS

In addition to today’s media column (linked here), these notes would help make anyone go cold turkey on Thanksgiving:

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==Both Dick Vitale and Billy Packer will be honored this weekend in Kansas City, Mo., at the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (linked here) for their contributions as broadcasters. Vitale, inducted as a contributor to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September, said on an ESPN conference call this week that he still has a strict program that limits how much he can talk as he tries to rest his vocal cords. He had throat surgery a year ago and missed two months of the season.

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“Little things like that are going to help me prolong my career, because, I’m going to be honest with you, without it I probably would feel like my life is over,” the 69-year-old said. “I really mean it. I’m a gym rat. I love being around kids. I love being around the environment of the college game. If that’s taken from me, I really believe the party’s over. It’s done. I know I’m in the last chapter. I know time is running out. But I want to enjoy it as much as I can.” Packer, 68, retired in April from CBS after 28 seasons as its main college basketball analyst but has yet to announce what he intends to do with his career from this point forward.

== John Lynch, who officially announced his retirement from the NFL after 15 seasons earlier this week, jumps right in as an NFL analyst by joining Chris Rose on Fox’s regional coverage of the Minnesota-Jacksonville game that goes to just six percent of the country. Lynch will do games for the rest of the season, the network said.

== Next up on HBO’s “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.): Host Bryant Gumbel interviews incarcerated former Olympic sprinter Tim Montgomery. He was sentenced in October to five years in jail for herion charges, making it an 8 1/2-year time because of bank fraud on top of that.

==NBC has the last round of the LPGA’s ADT Championship — noteworthy because it’s supposed to be the farewell event for Annika Sorenstam – on Sunday at noon, where eight players from the 32-player field competing at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Dan Hicks will host NBC’s coverage, with Dottie Pepper, Gary Koch, Jane Crafter and Kay Cockerill.

==Versus will provide the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup championship (linked here) to a U.S. audience with its coverage from Montreal on Sunday (3 p.m. kickoff). Versus will pick up the coverage by TSN, the CFL’s exclusive broadcaster for the first time, when Montreal faces Calgary, called by Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor.

==NBC reports that, going into its final Notre Dame home football game coverage of the year, the ratings for its Irish games has been 2.3, a 15 percent increase over 2007 (when the team finished with a school-worst eight losses). Notre Dame (6-4) is already bowl eligible before it takes on Syracuse, then heads to the Coliseum to face USC on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

==Winter X Games 13, set for Jan. 22-25 in Aspen and Snowmass, Colo., will add a women’s skiing slopestyle event as well as snowmobile best trick. There are 15 hours of live programming on ESPN and ABC.

== Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, Lennox Lewis and Harold Lederman will call HBO’s coverage of Ricky Hatton vs. Paul Malignaggi and James Kirkland vs. Brian Vera (Saturday, 7 p.m., live) from Las Vegas.

==FS Prime Ticket announced it will carry two CIF-Southern Section football playoff games — Friday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Dec. 5 — before airing the Pac-5 championship game from Anaheim Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 13. Game times and team match-ups will be announced approximately one week prior to each game. Chris McGee, John Jackson, Dain Blanton and Jackie Pickering will provide the commentary, with Lindsay Soto on pre- and post-game. For the third year in a row, FS Prime Ticket will also follow up at Home Depot Center in Carson for the CIF State championships starting on Friday, Dec. 19.

AND THE CLOSING ARGUMENT:

From The Onion Sports (story linked here):

November 20, 2008

BCS Picture Made Clearer By Pretending Certain Teams Don’t Exist

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NEW YORK–Faced with ongoing criticism of what many believe is a flawed system, representatives from the Bowl Championship Series assured college football fans Wednesday that the NCAA football title picture becomes much less complicated when one simply pretends certain teams do not exist.

Yes, Boise State and Utah are undefeated, but if there are no such teams as Boise State and Utah, considering them for a national title shot becomes a nonissue,” said David Frohnmayer, chair of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, who acknowledged that many BCS voters already used a limited version of the technique.

“Furthermore, if the University of Oklahoma is able to beat Texas Tech this Saturday, we are fully prepared to act as if there is no such institution as the University of Oklahoma, since if there were it would confuse the entire picture unnecessarily. And, as always, no matter what happens with the rest of USC’s season, we will pretend that any team that comes between them and a BCS bid is imaginary.”

Concluded Frohnmayer, “The BCS works.”

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More NFL news from the FCC ruling class

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Tomorrow’s media column will condense the previously posted Q-and-A with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell into a newsprint-readable format. But with that came an update today on the league’s pending FCC ruling against the cable companies in question, if it matters how you view this whole issue with the NFL Network getting resolved.

We’ll refer you to a Broadcasting & Cable story on the thing:

An FCC administrative law judge has ruled that a trial will go forward on program discrimination complaints against Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Brighthouse, but that it will start fresh with the facts of the cases and cannot be finished within the 60-day time frame proposed by the FCC.

The FCC’s Media Bureau last month had concluded that the complainants in a half-dozen program access complaints, including the NFL, WealthTV, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, had made Prima facie case that Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse had violated the FCC’s rules against discriminating against outside vendors in favor of an affiliated network.

But the FCC also said there were several factual disputes that it could not resolve, and so set all for adjudication, with a decision required within 60 days. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would have preferred the FCC bureau act on that prima facie evidence, but the other commissioners wanted to take the further step of referring the complaints to FCC judges to make the call.

In an opinion, a copy of which was obtained by B&C, FCC Judge Arthur I. Steinberg granted cable operators’ request for more than 60 days, saying the FCC’s time frame “cannot be achieved” given the “extremely complex proceeding involving six separate program carriage complaints” against four defendants. The operators had said 60 days was unrealistic and insufficient.

The NFL’s response to the news:

NFL Network is pleased that the Administrative Law Judge has rejected Comcast’s attempts to delay this proceeding through a needless appeal to the full Commission — an appeal that sought to challenge the clear legal standards that support the NFL Network’s complaint. We’re particularly glad to note that the ALJ’s order did not accept Comcast’s position that it was exempt from the statutory prohibition against discrimination because of its contract with the NFL Network . We will now turn to proving our case in the ALJ factual hearing, and will do our utmost to help the ALJ complete the hearing expeditiously, as he has promised to do.

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