Our Daily Dread: Serena earns more respect

Serena Williams found out today that she became the sportsworld’s all-time $ugar mama — amassing more prize money than any other female athlete in history by making it to the finals of the women’s singles and, with sister Venus, winning the women’s doubles at the Australian Open.

She’s got nothing to be embarassed about. Not at all as she was that night at the ESPY Awards a few years ago when Jamie Foxx serenaded her with a soulful version of a song about how he wanted to be her tennis ball.

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There was a moment during her semifinal victory on Thursday against Elena Dementieva when Serena’s ear ring came loose, and she had to stop and pick it up. Why bother? Just buy another one.

Just calculating things from prize money alone, Serena has already eclipsed $23 million. That’s more than Annika Sorenstam won during her LPGA career, which she just decided to end so she could go start a family.

Of course, this is a kind of record that’s all relative. When Billie Jean King and Chris Evert were winning women’s tennis titles on just as regular a basis, they weren’t even getting paid close to what the men were making. And even that, in 1960s, ’70s and ’80s dollars, it’s hardly comparable to today’s hauls.

You wonder what kind of money a Dorothy Hamill could have made as a figure skater if she wasn’t doing so much in the amateur world. Or what Michelle Kwan today has in her account — not from prize money, per se, but just endorsements and all the other perks that have come from her ability to skate.
You put Serena’s career take to what Tiger Woods made in 2008 alone. It’s almost identical. That’s a huge discrepancy, but it does put things into context.

Serena, who said remembered earning $240 for her first pro tennis check, from Quebec City, in 1995, admitted that lately, she’s not spending as much around town on shopping sprees as she might have before.

“I really cut back,” she said, while carrying a $12 American Apparel Inc. bag in Melbourne. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s everywhere in the media, but I am.”

Maybe because she knows that in these uncertain times, every penny counts. And she’s got a lot of pennies in the piggy bank. Hopefully, it paves a road of opportunity for female tennis players long after she’s done playing as well.

You got two cents to add to this? If you’re not up for leaving a comment, email thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com with an opinion.

A recap of the week’s Daily Dread spitballin’:
== Monday, Jan. 26 (linked here)
== Tuesday, Jan. 27 (linked here)
== Wednesday, Jan. 28 (linked here)
== Thursday, Jan. 29 (linked here)

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The Media Learning Curve: Before anything blows off the tee on Sunday at 3:25 p.m., we’ve got a few more things to kick around

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NBC’s five-hour-plus pregame show might be a little more tolerable if not for the fact it appears as if they’re trying to break the record for most kids crammed into a VW Beetle. Didn’t that go out in the ’70s with Keith Olbermann’s black hair parted down the middle?

We’ve registered our official lamentation (today’s media column linked here) — fully aware that the NFL Network has a 6 1/2-hour shindig of its own starting at 8 a.m. But we go on with more notes. Those of which that follow weren’t good enough for the printed word of ink and recycled newsprint:

== Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason (with John Dockery, Mark Malone, Jim Gray and Tommy Tighe) have the radio call of the Super Bowl for Westwood One radio (linked here) which is available on both KLAC-AM (570) and KTLK-AM (1150) in Southern California, as well as KAVL-AM (610) in Lanscaster.

== OK, one more thing on that NBC “Day of the Peacock” — at the game’s conclusion, and after an episode of “The Office” planned for 7:30 p.m. (with a Jack Black cameo), KNBC Channel 4′s Fred Roggin challenges you to watch a half hour of his “Hall of Shame,” all full of moonshine and nonsense.
Then, bedtime.
Perhaps “Dateline NBC” can investigate later why anyone would even endure himself or herself through such pain on one full calendar day.

== ESPN’s Chris Berman was given the Pat Summerall Award at the annual Legends for Charity dinner benefitting the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Thursday in Tampa. The award goes to, according to the mission statement, “a person who has demonstrated character, integrity and leadership both on and off the job throughout their career.”
ESPN will reair Berman’s “Swami” segment, aka “The Two Minute Drill,” during various “SportsCenters” today, which will include interviews that he personally conducted throughout the week. Even crazier is how that combover reacted in the light Tampa breeze (linked here and video below here: )

== For the record, Berman predicted a 27-17 Pittsburgh victory. But if you get a chance, look at the graphic they’ll put up that reflect how his predictions in the AFC and NFC title games went two weeks ago.

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The curious cause of Larry Fitzgerald Sr.

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There have been some neat, feel-good stories written about Larry Fitzgerald Sr., father of the Arizona Cardinals receiver with the same name, and a sports editor for the African-American weekly newspaper called the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

One by the Washington Post’s Mike Wilbon (linked here). By ESPN’s Rick Reilly (linked here). By USA Today’s Jarrett Bell (linked here). A week before, by the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaunessey (linked here).

Then came a few more from Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star (linked here), and Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Trbune.

Fitzgerald was even on Wednesday’s episode of “Inside the NFL” on Showtime. And he’s got his own website (linked here).

It must be cool to be him right now.

But amidst all that, there’s a piece by Josh Levin for Slate.com (linked here) that kind of puts it into better perspective.

“The point isn’t that Fitzgerald Sr. is a bad guy because he failed to disclose a relationship,” writes Levin. “It’s that he’s always happily blurred the very line that Reilly et al. say he refuses to blur.”

Just read some of the stories that Fitzgerald Sr. has written the last few weeks (linked here, off his own site).

Unbias? Call it what is it. It’s not Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism here.

Levin concludes that maybe the best piece on the subject was done earlier this month by the New York Times’ Joe LaPointe (linked here), who wrote: “No matter what happens on Sunday, Larry Sr. will evaluate his son’s performance not as a journalist but as a parent.”

UPDATED FRIDAY, JAN. 29:

CNBC’s Darren Rovel gets a response to Levin’s story from Fitzgerald Sr. (linked here). Fitzgerald basically calls Levin “a hater.”

OK, sorry to bother you with … facts.

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Coming Friday: If the kickoff was at noon Sunday, would NBC’s pregame show replace “Saturday Night Live?”

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We’re going to break down NBC’s full day of Super Bowl XLIII coverage this Sunday, but we also want you to know that the NFL Network and ESPN deserve as much equal time for their junk-o-dazzlement.

Fact is, as we park ourselves on the davenport Sunday, we’ll probably graze more frequently to the NFL Net during its 6 1/2 hours live before and two hours live after, as well as look in on ESPN for its four-hour pregame, than we will for NBC’s bus-load of baloney.

There are 17 NFL Net analysts: Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, Rod Woodson, Steve Mariucci, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Sterling Sharpe, Brian Baldinger, Jamie Dukes, Solomon Wilcots, Kara Henderson, Scott Hanson, Bob Papa, Randy Moss (not the Patriots receiver) and Fran Charles.

Here’s the deal:

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Kobe finally makes a magazine cover in his favorite sport

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It’s the Feb. 9 cover of ESPN The Magazine, showing Kobe Bryant, The Soccer Player.

He grew up in Italy, becoming a FC Barcelona fan.

“I’d go to the park to play basketball,” he tells the mag, “but there were mini goals under the baskets, so I’d end up playing soccer with the other kids first. I became a Barca fan a few years ago, when Ronaldinho was there. I watched him when I was in Rome in 2005 and he was doing stuff I’d never seen before.”

Bryant admits he has a “great collection” of soccer jerseys and signed balls from Pele. Plus a picture with Diego Maradona.

“I just enjoy the game and its influence. If you look at European basketball players who great up playing soccer, they see our game differently — the angels, the cuts. I enjoy watching that,” Kobe continued.

Which explains why Pau Gasol and Sasha Vujacic know where he’s going to pass them on a fast break. It’s all about ball movement.

What a beautiful game. Basketball.

We also read (linked here) where Kobe is going to be on the cover of Feb./March Complex Magazine. Say what? It’s a metropolitan men’s style/lifestyle mag. Which probably means no kickball allowed.

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Papadakis isn’ t the favorite ‘Joe’ any more … it’s Strahan and Glazer

Petros Papadakis took that Spike TV show “Pros Vs. Joes” through its first three seasons. Cultivated an audience. Nurtured the contestants after they were mangled by Randy Colture. Talked Jose Canseco through some tough times.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough. It’s time to hand the ball off to Jay Glazer and his very close friend, Michael Strahan.

A new production company has taken over the reality series where regular guys (“Joes”) compete in skills competition against recently retired athletes (“Pros”), and Strahan, coming off his first year as a studio guy on the Fox NFL set, is the new host, with Glazer, the Fox NFL insider, down on the field doing interviews.

The A. Smith & Co. folks, led by former Fox Sports Net exec Arthur Smith, will be the executive producers. The company actually put the word out last month for new contestants (linked here) with a Jan. 16 deadline already come and gone.

Season 4 is supposed to be labeled “Pros vs. Joes 4: All-Stars,” where competitors from the past come back. There’s a fresh angle. The other twists is there will only be one sport showcased in each episode instead of the variety as in previous seasons. Each episode has three skills competitions and a three-on-three scrimmage pitting the Pros against the Joes. The sports for this season are four episodes on football and four on basketball.

The eight episodes are supposed to start production around town next month.

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Hey, look: FS West redefines its Angels coverage

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A year ago, Fox Sports West did 100 Angels games, with 75 of them in high definition. The rest were scattered about on KCOP Channel 13, as well as taken away for national telecasts by ESPN and Fox network.

The ’09 schedule gets better.

FS West reports today that it will ramp up to 125 games this season (plus five spring training contests). Expect an announcement sooner rather than later that a good percentage of them will be in high def. Negotiations and number crunching are continuing in the FSW offices.

The first spring game is March 28 (1 p.m., vs. Seattle). The regular season opens on Monday, April 6 from Anaheim against Oakland (6 p.m.)

The broadcast teams of Rory Markas and Mark Gubicza, plus Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler, are back as well.

Next step for the regional network is to figure out how many Dodgers games it will carry versus how many will be carried on KCAL-Channel 9, and how many of those will be in high def.

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And U, 2 can boot up a Super Bowl commercial

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It seems weird that the NFL Network has to buy time on NBC to advertise its existence during Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII, but maybe it’s a trade off — the NFL Net will give NBC all the commercial time it wants on its network, that maybe a fraction of the world will actually see.

To make sure everyone watching the Super Bowl remembers the NFL Net spot, it revealed today that the band U2 will have the soundtrack to a spot with its new single, “Get On Your Boots.” It’s the first single from U2′s new album No Line On The Horizon, will be released as a digital download on February 15.

(So take that Springsteen and your halftime show grab to sell your new CD).

The NFL Net ad shows Raiders running back Darren McFadden beginning a training run that continues through the NFL offseason — the combine, the draft, training camp and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Also in the ad are Raiders teammates Justin Fargas and center Chris Morris, plus USC’s Brian Cushing and Texas’ Brian Orakpo participating in a combine. All were shot during a day-long filming in L.A. recently.

Give the song a listen here (warning: It kicks tail with the speakers cranked up):

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Our Daily Dread: Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck … Ciao?

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With the economy the way it is, maybe it’s not really news that David Beckham is hinting about defaulting on a loan.
Even with the ginormous size of his wallet.

After putting the biscuit in the basket two games in a row for AC Milan, that little club team over in Italy, Our Favorite Becks officially said in his little whiny voice that his time at the Home Depot Center might be numbered.

“To play here is the dream of any player,” he told an Italian newspaper. “But deciding is not easy; it’s a situation that requires time. I am under contract and I have a lot of respect for the Galaxy. But the possibility to play at Milan is something special. I knew I would have fun but I didn’t expect to have so much fun.”

So here’s the funny thing: The Chief Bender from England who Galaxy management had shipped over special delivery to revive interest in the Major League Soccer is finally paying dividends by scoring goals thousands of miles away.

Now, he has some new street value, and media credibility. And how England may want him back on its national team before the 2010 World Cup.

The surprise, of course, is that he actually stayed around to talk to the press. That’s something he hasn’t really been fond of doing during his time with the Carson Kickballers.

If AC Milan is prepared to offer a reported $6-million-plus to pay off Beckman’s commitment to U.S. soccer, it only proves that everyone has a price. What’s Beckham worth to you, Leiweke?

If you’re running the Galaxy, do you demand he fulfill his five-year contract? Or do you cut your losses – and the losses have been piling up – and start from scratch, again, to rebuild the future of American soccer?

Maybe, with an American player.

From our narrow perspective, we hope Beckham returns, for three more years.

Especially if it’s three more non-playoff years for the Galaxy.

Becks has been like the George W. Bush of sports personalities — instant comedy fodder for his lack of, uh, achievement.

Not that we want soccer to go away. It’s a great sport for our kids, and a boost to the orange wedge industry.

We’re just a little tired of seeing all those No. 23 jerseys selling at a brisk pace to unsuspecting loyal customers. Patrons who believe in the fact that a contract is a contract.

You have an opinion to kick around on this? If you’re not up to leaving a comment, fill the inbox at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

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Have you ever seen a man more disappointed about a potential (free) lap dance?

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This is Fabio Capello, coach of the English National soccer team. He’s Italian. He was in Milan for a taping of an Italian TV show that involved dancers performing around him.

Maybe it’s the Italian version of “Make Me Laugh,” and he’s determined to win the pot of lira.

Capello happened to also be in Milan to watch David Beckham play soccer on this Tuesday. He is trying to assess Beckham’s performance to see if it’s fit for the English team again.

The other news is that Beckham could be called up by Capello for a friendly against Spain on Feb. 11. That would equal Bobby Moore’s record of 108 England appearances.

So, yes, it’s a very titillating story. One with a lot of curves to get around. A story with legs.

Or is it? OK, we think he smiled in this photo below …. Loser.

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