Coming Sunday: 82 reasons why … JoePa won’t die

Or, will live forever.

One way or the other, Penn State’s football coach, who turns 82 on Sunday and landed today with his team via one of those flying machines, as it starts preparation for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against USC, ain’t going away.

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We’ve made a list that’ll be in Sunday’s paper and the website, starting with the fact he just signed a new three-year deal, and he’s paid a discounted rate of $512,000 a season.

In other words, Penn State can’t afford to lose him. Otherwise, they’d be shelling out $4 mil a year for someone far less … well known.

Enjoy the effort.

By the way, a blog started called JoePa’s Virtual Birthday Party (linked here) appears to have started a list that is looking for “82 Reasons Why We Love JoePa.”

We understand the concept. We in no way stole the idea for the list we’ve put together. Otherwise, we’d have just abandoned it and moved on to something less daunting.

UPDATED SUNDAY AM:
==A link to the column (linked here)

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Dock Ellis (1945-2008)

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MLB.com confirms a report (story linked here) that former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis has died in Victorville. He was 63 and suffering from liver damage, said his former agent, Tom Reich.

Diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, Ellis, a former Gardena High standout, went on a waiting list for a liver transplant seven months ago.

==Ellis’ bio from the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary, where he was enshrined into the Hall of the Eternals in 1999 (linked here)

==Ellis’ Wikipedia entry (linked here)

==His career stats on Baseball Reference (linked here)

==The famous story of him pitching a no-hitter against San Diego while claiming to be on LSD (linked here).

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The media learning curve: Dec. 12-19

Stuff we’ve gleaned at the Media Learning Center this week before some of us head home for the holidays and the end of this ’08 stanza, trying to figure out just why fruit cake is made (not how, why):

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==ESPN.com’s facelift should be complete in early January (linked here).

==Why CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson refuses to vote for the Heisman Trophy any longer, as well as the Davey O’Brien Award (linked here).

== ESPN ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber (on her monthly column linked here) wonders whether the network analysts will be “muzzled” since it has a new relationship with the Bowl Championship Series. We asked that same question when the BSC-ESPN announcement was made, and ESPN/ABC Sports chief George Bodenheimer insisted there’s a separation between church and state with the networks. John Skipper, the ESPN executive VP of content told Schreiber: “The answer is emphatically no, which is borne out every day on our media right now.”

==ESPN loves to give Terrell Owens airtime, then sorta complain about it (linked here). Meanwhile, ESPN reporter Ed Werder doesn’t trust T.O. (linked here) as far as he can run to him for a quote.

== CBS and Turner may be scheming together to land the 2016 Summer Olympics (linked here).

== Sports Illustrated reviews the year in sports media (linked here), including a review of the new flick, “The Wrestler,” with Mickey Roarke.

==SI.com’s Peter King has the background (story linked here) on why NBC would drop the San Diego-Tampa Bay game to show Carolina-N.Y. Giants last Sunday. Which makes some sense, since King works on the NBC pregame show.

==This weekend’s college bowl games start, with David Hasselhoff singing the national anthem at the Las Vegas Bowl (linked here).

==Did more people actually watch USA Network last week than ESPN? That’s preposterious, screams Billy Simms at the Heisman show (linked here)

== Robert Flores, the Tony Danza of “SportsCenter,” in the words of Deadspin, which we wish we thought up (linked here)

== More 3D-BCS rigmarole (linked here)

==Some of the media’s sports (and non-sport) boners of 2008, from RegretTheError.com (linked here).

==Dr. J. and his daughter, together on TV Sunday (linked here)

==Pete Carroll’s 12-plus minutes on “60 Minutes” (linked here).

==Why Kings’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller needs to update his iPod (linked here)

==And more problems for Lenny Dykstra’s media empire (linked here)

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The media learning curve: More to the media, and everyone else, flexing its muscle

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Spinning off today’s column about why those in the upper ends of the media circles could have even more influence as the economic decline declines (linked here), we’ve got these notes to add, for our other two cents:

==ABC Sports/ESPN boss George Bodenheimer’s reaction to being named No. 1 on the latest Sports Business Journal’s 50 Most Influencial People in Sports Business: “Recognition like this is really more about the creative and hard-working people of ESPN than any one individual. Teamwork is essential to whatever success we’ve enjoyed.”

==After Golf Channel’s coverage today (noon to 3 p.m., replayed from 6-to-9 p.m.), NBC takes over the final two rounds (weather permitting) of the Tiger Woods hosted Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. Dan Hicks and Roger Maltbie anchor the coverage Saturday and Sunday (noon to 3 p.m. each day), with Gary Koch, Mark Rolfing, Dottie Pepper and Jimmy Roberts. A special feature scheduled for Saturday’s coverage includes a recap of Woods’ U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pones that includes interviews with caddie Steve Williams, swing coach Hank Haney and agent Mark Steinberg. Woods will watch the feature for the first time in the booth with Hicks and Maltbie and comment on it after seeing it.

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==The Lakers’ road trip that takes them from Miami (tonight) to Orlando (Saturday) to Memphis (Monday) to New Orleans (Tuesday) before returning home for Christmas Day against Boston means Spero Dedes, the team’s radio play-by-play man for KLAC-AM (570), will miss his first NFL Network studio duties on the Sunday morning pregame show from the Culver City offices. Alex Flanagan will fill in on the NFL show, and “I may pop in for a segment from our hotel in Memphis, but I’m not sure just yet,” Dedes said. “It’s the first show I’ll miss, and hopefully the last.” He’s good to go with the NFL Net through the conference championships. Last Sunday, Dedes did both the newly expanded “NFL GameDay Morning” show (from 6 to 9 a.m.) before taking a nap and then calling the Lakers-Minnesota game from Staples Center at 6:30 p.m.

==Mike Breen and Mark Jackson call tonight’s Lakers-Miami game for ESPN (5 p.m.), a prep work assignment for the Lakers-Celtics game they’ll call (with Jeff Van Gundy) on Christmas Day from Staples Center (Channel 7, 2 p.m.).

==ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio is the subject of a network piece rather than the guy asking the questions when the show “NFL Films Presents: Sal Paolantonio” airs Monday at 10 p.m. on ESPN2 (replaying Wednesday at 11 a.m.). NFL Films president Steve Sabol asks the questions focused on Paolantonio’s new book, “How Football Explains America,” currently the No. 1 football book selling on Amazon.com. We reviewed it and did a Q-and-A with Paolantonio recently (linked here with additional blog coverage here).

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==They say it’ll be a parody of ESPN’s “Greatest Game Ever Played” documentary that aired last Saturday — it’s Kenny Mayne reviewing footage of “The Worst Game Ever Played,” last year’s rain-soaked mudbowl in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and Dolphins. The Steelers won, 3-0, on Monday Night Football. The “Mayne Event” segment of Sunday’s ESPN “NFL Countdown” includes interviews with the MNF crew and actor Samuel L. Jackson.

==Beth Mowins and Karch Kiraly do the broadcast of the NCAA women’s volleyball final (Stanford vs. Penn State) on Saturday, ESPN2 at 5 p.m.

==The final ’08 episode of HBO’s “Real Sports” (and episode No. 141) is a roundtable review of the year that debuts Tuesday at 10 p.m. with many replays. Bryant Gumbel, Mary Carillo, Frank Deford, Jon Frankel, Bernie Goldberg and Andrea Kremer talk about pro tennis match-fixing, excessive drinking at NFL stadiums, skyrocketing ticket prices, Barack Obama and slaughtering thoroughbred race horses. The usual stuff.

== Versus will add the 2009 Tour Down Under cycling event, which Lance Armstrong will ride in as he begins his comeback since retiring in 2005. The race starts Jan. 20 in South Adelaide, Australia. Telecasts air at 1 p.m. each day except for the final day (Jan. 24) at 12:30 p.m., when the network will also stream the final stage live at www.versus.com.

==Daily Variety reports that Spike TV will premier a Mark Burnett-produced series on rodeo cowboys called “Toughest Cowboy” in late January. There are 12 cowboys competing in different challenges, including bareback riding, saddle bronc and bull riding, with the winner getting a ranch in Wyoming.

==NBC has the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour from Breckenridge, Colorado, putting competitors such as Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Gretchen Bleiler and Kelly Clark in snowboarding and freeski events in the Superpipe and Slopestyle. Competition airs Saturday (1:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). Competition also airs tonight and Saturday at midnight on USA Network.

And finally, the closing argument:

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Fred Wallin, the long-time sports-talk show host both locally and nationally, emailed Thursday quite confused.
He tried to watch the UCLA-Loyola Marymount basketball game on his DirecTV feed on Wednesday night, but the message at the bottom of the screen said the game was blacked out.
Huh?
He emailed directly to DirecTV exec Chase Carey with his frustration. One of Carey’s assistants called back and tried to figure out what went wrong, considering Wallin was told by at least one DirecTV support person on the phone that the reason the game wasn’t televised (at least to him) was because it hadn’t sold out (that’s not the reason, but it probably sounded good to someone who wasn’t media savvy about such things).
Wallin emailed late Thursday to say he finally figured out why this happened (and had happened in the past): DirecTV in Denver did some investigating and apparently Fox Sports locally did not include zip code 91362 as an area that could receive Loyola Marymount games. So anyone living in Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks were incorrectly blacked out. DirecTV said it would ask the local Fox affiliate (FSN West and FSN Prime Ticket) to correct the problem.

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Coming Friday: Who has the most influence on sports? Starts with an M …

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Give up? Surely, not the gasbags on parade. But it ain’t that far away.

It’s the media, to a great extent. Not so much the Jay Mariotti Empire. And it probably will in the coming years stay media-centric as the economy tries to recorrect itself.

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The latest list of the 50 Most Influencial People in Sports Business issued again by the Sports Business Journal — with ESPN/ABC sports chief George Bodenheimer back in the No. 1 spot for the third time in four years — is cause to reflect on how those calling the shots at the media giants haven’t lost their juice in these trying financial times.

In fact, they may even be gaining more influence as people who used to be able to afford going out to the stadiums and arenas suddenly are staying at home, buying flat-screen TVs and demanding more from their broadcast coverage.

David Carter, the executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute and chief of the consultant Sports Business Group (his link here) gives us his take on the list, which he uses for debate in his own classroom setting.

“We spend a lot of time discussing the elements of these power lists and there seems to be two kinds of entries: Those people who will always be there because of their name, regardless of their work, and the positions of jobs, regarless of who occupies them. Whoever is the commissioner of XYZ League will always be in the Top 10, but there are other folks, like the top marketing people at Coca-Cola or General Motors, who seem to be there as well. It’s a reasonably static list if you look at who’s producing and consuming sports. The TV people will be there always.”

Carter also makes clear that lists like these — Sporting News has been doing its 100 Most Powerful People in Sports since 1990 — are done mostly to create buzz.

“It’s more for fun and to debate rather than being accurate,” Carter said. “Who really runs ABC/ESPN? Wouldn’t it be Robert Iger, the head of Disney? Rupert Murdoch runs all of Fox. It’s all semantics. Don’t read too much into it.”

Unless you own a media corporation.

==A link to the blog posting earlier this week on the SBJ’s list (linked here)
==The actual SJB list (linked here)
==The list also appeared in Wednesday’s copy of Sporting News online (linked here). The Sports Business Journal/Sports Business Daily and Sporting News Today are owned by American City Business Journals.

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Dr. J, daughter come out on “Outside the Lines”

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We do like family stories around the holidays, even when then involve an NBA Hall of Famer meeting up with his tennis-playing daughter for the first time.

ESPN’s next “Outside the Lines” on Sunday (6 a.m. on ESPN, 9 a.m. on ESPNEWS) will document the relationship now between Julius Erving and his 27-year-old daughter Alexandra Stevenson, whose mother, Samantha, a former sportswriter, had a relationship with the married Erving.

ESPN.com writer Tom Friend interviews the two (some video and a version of the story is available online at ESPN.com, linked here), who had their first reunion less than two months ago.

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It came out in 1999, as Stevenson was the first qualifier to reach the Wimbledon semifinals, that this relationship occured. Erving denied being her father at first, and the estrangement lasted until the daughter reached out in October, hoping he could help find her sponsors.

Stevenson is ranked 212th in the world and plans to compete in January’s Australian Open qualifying event.

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Lenny D.’s Players Club coming unnailed?

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The New York Post reports that the high-end glossy magazine that former big-league chewer Lenny Dykstra prints for those who can afford such extravagant coffee-table publications could be in the process of getting thrown out at third trying to stretch a bunt single into a triple.

The story under the headline “Dykstra Drops The Ball” (linked here) claims the current Sherwood Country Club of Thousand Oaks resident — he’s still trying to sell the former Wayne Gretzky house that he lives in (linked here) — is “leaving behind a string of unpaid bills and a constant parade of shifting editors and office addresses.”

Acting editor Chris Frankie resigned Dec. 4 along with two other staffers. Loren Feldman, former editor-in-chief of Philadelphia magazine, is the new editor.

Frankie says he’s owed back pay.

“That’s not true,” says Dykstra. “Frankie owes me money. Whatever he’s talking about is delusional.”

“That’s beyond ridiculous,” says Frankie. “How could an employee owe an employer money?”

Because, it’s Dykstra math?

The last issue of Players Club, which debuted in April of this year, was published in October, and the November issue is a year-end double issue that has yet to appear. Vendors have dropped their business with the magazine, which has also had four different printers and three editors.

==Other stuff we’ve done on Lenny, not to be confused with Squiggy (linked here)

==Even more bizarre news: Former Houston Astros closer Dave Smith, a former San Diego Stater who gave up the walk-off home run to Dykstra in the 1986 NLCS, died Wednesday at the age of 53 from a heart attack (story linked here).

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The Bob Miller Band meets Metallica

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FSN West Kings analyst Jim Fox explained to viewers coming out of a commercial on tonight’s Kings-Rangers telecast that goalie Jason LaBarbera had a new mask — this one dedicated fully to the heavy metal group Metallica.

Fox mentioned that LaBarbera’s previous mask (pictured here) also had Metallica, but included Angus Young from AC/DC and Slash from Guns N Roses, “but this time, all Metallica, he wants to stay true to his heart.”

Kings play-by-play man Bob Miller, who turned 70 in October, eventually replied: “That’s the difference between us. He has all their albums. I don’t have any of them.”

Insiders report that Miller is more inclined to download Nine Inch Nails.

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Poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor misunderstood T.O.

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This just in on ESPN’s “SportsCenter”: Part II of Stephen A. Smith’s image rehabilitative interview with Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens. On today’s 3 p.m. edition that just aired.

But first, this obtuse intro to the piece from standing-up anchor Rece Davis:

“Terrell Owens, always very newsworthy, of course. And usually mentioned somewhere in any ‘SportsCenter.’ And you can ask, ‘Why?’ Or ‘Why so much?’ Where is the truth between the narcisim of this athlete on stage and the voracious appetite of the sports-news machine, which we recognize, we’re a major part?”

The question isn’t answered because it’s time for Stephen A. to get his airtime with the interview …. after T.O. explains that owner Jerry Jones called him to tell him to be careful with what he says:

One question that’s worth documenting:

Q: How much of it is the media and how much of it you (in regards to how he’s portrayed)?
A: I been at fault at some. But I guarantee you, um, it’s like, you have a hero and you have a villian. You know. It’s like the league, the ESPN, they have their heroes and they have their villians. I happen to fall in the villian category. And that’s hard to swallow. Because I know what type of person I am. You ask the right people, they’ll tell you wholeheartedly I am a good person. … If I gotta go against all the networks in the world, then I won’t win that battle. Every pannel on every network can say I’m selfish. So what. I’m good because I do the necessary things on the field to sit up in front of you and say that I’m good.”

Maybe ask ESPN reporter Ed Werner what kind of person Owens is. (Story on Deadspin.com linked here).

==A recap of Part I of the interview that aired Tuesday (linked here).

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L.A.’s top ’08 sports moments … rock the vote

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The Los Angeles Sports Council’s annual “Greatest Moments in Sports” for 2008 in the Los Angeles/Orange County area has launched balloting at its website (www.lasports.org) allowing everyone to click a vote in 18 different categories.

Voting ends Jan. 15, with the winners announced at the fourth annual L.A. Sports Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 23, which will be televised by FSN Prime Ticket.

Again the definition of a “sports moment” — anything from a specific instant in time — such as a winning goal, hit or shot — to a special event, individual or team record, or career achievement. A media panel will select and rank the overall Top 10 moments of the year and also will select the Sportsman, Sportswoman, Sports Executive, Coach, and overall Greatest Moment of the Year.

Now, would any of the moments from 2008 make it into the 100 Greatest Sports Moments in L.A. history (determined in 1995)? (linked here).

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