Put down the iPhone long enough to read today’s media column (linked here) — as long as you’re not involved with tweeting and/or facebooking, and expand your mind with more stuff that you won’t find at 411:
== ESPN says more than 5 million entries were submitted to its online NCAA bracket-picking contest when it closed Thursday, up 37 percent from the 3.65 million last year. Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh and North Carolina are the most popular Final Four picks.
== The MLB Network’s “30 Teams in 30 Days” look at the Dodgers airs for the first time today at 9 p.m. with Hazel Mae (pictured here, the reporter, not the blend of special tea at Starbucks) at the team’s Glendale, Ariz., site and Greg Amsinger, Mitch Williams and John Hart in the studio.
== Paul Sunderland calls both the boys and girls state basketball championship games from Sacramento for Prime Ticket tonight and Saturday. Sunderland works with Sean Farnham on the Eisenhower vs. Rocklin CIF State Div. II boys championship at 8 p.m., after Sunderland and Caren Horstmeyer do the CIF State Div. II girls title game between Brea Olinda and Carondelet at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the girls Div. I championship between Long Beach Poly and Monte Vista (6 p.m.) is followed by the boys Div. I championship between Westchester and McClymonds. John Jackson does sideline reporting.
== Fox Sports West’s Galaxy coverage begins Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with a pregame leading into the team’s opener against D.C. United from Home Depot Center. Jim Watson and Mark Rogondino call it again with Jackie Pickering on the sidelines for home games. FSWest and Prime Ticket will do 18 Galaxy games this MLS season.
== ESPN moved its Saturday live broadcast of the WBC heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Juan Carlos Gomez to ESPN Classic to air from 3 to 4 p.m. A tape-delayed version will air on ESPN2 from 4 to 5 p.m.
== AND FINALLY:
== XX Sports Radio (1090-AM) afternoon host Jordan Smith was fired this week after a rant that was more than critical about San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson last week. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that Smith was canned for making “some very unfortunate and hurtful comments utilizing unacceptable language,” said Hal Brown, vice president of programming at BCA Radio, which operates the all-sports station.
In his media column last week for the newspaper, Jay Posner reported that Smith and equally brutal partner Irwin Earl Milan were critical of the Chargers’ decision to pay Tomlinson nearly $7 million for the 2009 season, but took it further in a five-minute rant that included a reference to the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway Tomlinson hosts every year for needy families in San Diego County:
“I’m listening to Mama LT this morning with Scott (Kaplan) and BR (Billy Ray Smith), and God bless them, too, bringing up the turkeys again – do me a favor, stick the turkeys up your (bleep). I don’t care about the turkeys. I don’t care about your charity.”
Smith also said he wished Chargers bosses Dean Spanos and A.J. Smith “had the testicles like” Padres bosses John Moores and Sandy Alderson “to get rid of the aging superstar,” a reference to the baseball club’s decision not to bring back relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman this season.
As a result, some other putz named Ted Mendenhall is working with Milan for the time being.
“Look, it’s one thing if you want to go on the radio and completely dismiss the career of one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. If you want to sound like an uninformed blockhead, that’s your prerogative. But when you start criticizing people for doing community service, spending their time and money to help others, that’s crossing the line. (Which, really, shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers Jordan and Earl laughing about Chargers owner Alex Spanos’dementia.)
And what about the profane nature of the rant? It was just after 3 p.m., prime time for a kid to be in the car with a parent. Did they need to hear about turkeys being shoved where they don’t belong or Jordan saying he wished Chargers bosses A.J. Smith and Dean Spanos “had the testicles” like Padres execs did to “get rid of the aging superstar?”
“The most popular question, however, has been a version of this: What can we do to get these guys off the air? They’ve done it themselves.”