It sounds like a movie we’ve already seen, something with Elisabeth Shue … “Gracie,” was it?
Naw, this one kicks more butt than anything Shue did.
The documentary “Kick Like A Girl,” about a third-trade soccer team called the Mighty Cheetas that defied gender prejudice to compete with the boys, airs Wednesday on HBO at 6 p.m. with various repeats. But TiVo it now before it slips away.
The plot: After two undefeated seasons against girls’ soccer teams their age and older, Utah’s Mighty Cheetahs want a new challenge.
Cheetahs coach Jenny Mackenzie chronicles the adventures of these third-grade underdogs as they set out to prove their game skills and overcome the skepticism of opponents and parents in the inspiring family documentary.
The film is narrated by Mackenzie’s 8-year-old daughter, Lizzie, who manages to play despite battling juvenile diabetes, giving herself an insulin shot up to seven times a day.
The Mighty Cheetahs win their first three inter-gender games, surprising many of the boys, who admit the girls have officially “creamed” them. Shouting from the sidelines, the boys’ parents find a girls’ victory more difficult to digest. After watching the Mighty Cheetahs dominate on the soccer field, the boys, the parents and the audience alike come to find that “kick like a girl” can be a big compliment after all. As one of the boys observes, “If my friends say ‘you kick like a girl,’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah, that’s nice. Thank you!’ ”
Check out the movie’s official site: http://www.kicklikeagirlmovie.com/
Photo by Tim Hoffarth Lauren Hoffarth, 5, looks at the tribute to Nick Adenhart outside of Angels Stadium before Monday’s game.
Things we learned over the last couple of days enjoying the time off with family, friends and many new non-strangers:
== It’s been almost two months now since the tragic passing of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, but the collection of hats, photos, candles and other memorabilia that tastefully decorate the “mound” outside the entrance of Angel Stadium lives on as a touching tribute, which we were able to see and ponder before and after Monday’s Angels-White Sox contest.
What started as a very small place to put flowers and grew into a massive gathering place to mourn in the days after has evolved into a small shrine that fans circled around and gazed at in the time after the Angels’ fireworks show ended Monday.
Angels exec Tim Mead said the team has decided to let it remain “as long as the fans continue to call for it,” with just occasional housekeeping. It has weathered the nearly 50 days and nights since April 9 when Adenhart and friends Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart were killed in the car crash in Fullerton following Adenhart’s impressive performance in his first start of the season.
Survivor Jon Wilhite continues to recover, his condition upgraded to “fair” as he undergoes speech, physical and occupational therapy at a rehabilitation center. Oakland A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki, who played with Wilhite at Cal State Fullerton in 2004, put together an auction last weekend during the Titans’ three-game homestand against Long Beach State to raise money for his rehab costs.
“Our hearts go out to all the families of those involved in this terrible tragedy,” Suzuki said. “I only hope that the money raised will alleviate some of the cost that Jon and his family will be faced with during his long rehab process.”
The A’s are also hosting an online auction at oaklandathletics.com in June, and two more fundraisers will happen in July and August at Oakland Coliseum.
Donations can be made to the Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund, account 3980643658, at any Wells Fargo Bank branch, or to a tax deductible account set up through Manhattan Beach Little League by mailing a check to: Manhattan Beach Little League, P.O. Box 3512, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, with “Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund” written in on the memo line.
Part of the post-accident surgery and six-week hospital stay included a rare operation on April 15 that reattached Wilhite’s skull and spinal column.
Last week, Suzuki said he was exchanging text messages with Wilhite, who texted him to tell him he was discharged from the hospital.
“That’s obviously great news,” Suzuki said. “But he’s still looking at a long, tough and not-inexpensive process of getting healthy again.”
Mead says he speaks with Wilhite’s uncle a couple of times a week and reports that Wilhite has returned home and will continue with out-patient therapy but his “outlook is bright and positive.”
== Our new favorite athlete: Wesley Korir.
Not so much for winning the L.A. Marathon in a record 2 hours, 8 minutes, 24 seconds. But for the fact (story linked here) that he ordered two tuna sandwiches from the local Subway store after winning — one to eat right then after the race, and one to eat later that night. Upon leaving the shop, he saw a homeless woman asking for help. He gave her one of the sandwiches.
“I feel like God has given me the talent of running to show people his love,” Korir said in the column by the Daily News’ Jon Gold (linked here). “I’ve been thinking for months about going back to Kenya and starting a program to help youths understand their lives. People blame poverty. ‘Oh, we’re poor.’ I was poor. But I didn’t let poverty keep me down. You can do it, I want to go back and show them that it’s been done.”
== If you caught any of the ABC coverage of the Indianapolis 500, explain how Vitor Meira is engulfed in flames one second, but is back on the track moments later without having lost a spot in the lead lap (see video above). That may be more unanswerable than how Danica Patrick finished third overall.
Meira was later carried off on a stretcher — but that was only after he crashed into a wall later, which appears to have ended his season (story linked here; photo below). Meira broke two vertebrae in his lower back during a crash with rookie Raphael Matos — only because Matos clipped Meira trying to pass him on lap 174, sending Meira’s car sliding along the wall.
== There’s a story soon down the road soon on Stan Cline, the artist from Winnetka whose nostalgic portraits of former (and current) Los Angeles landmarks jump off the canvas in a brilliant, colorful way — one that doesn’t necessarily try to recreate a photograph in as much as it vibrantly captures so much character and personality. You look at the pieces and that moment in time becomes alive.
After years of running through his gallery at different arts fairs around town, we were moved to purchase a print in Hermosa Beach this weekend of his rendition of the old L.A. Wrigley Field — a place torn down 40 years ago last March. We also tried to recapture some of its glory — past and present — in a column (linked here) as well as some blog postings (linked here and here).
Stan and his wife (longtime Daily News readers) will make it out to about two dozen events this year around Southern California (check the schedule on his site linked here to see the prints in their full glory, and save on shipping costs), Also view his gallery at his site (linked here) and order online.
In addition to reproductions of so many historical L.A. places, any of his prints of Dodger Stadium, a USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum, Santa Anita racetrack (left) or the old Gilmore Stadium (right) will certainly dress up any art collection. Even when put next to old photographs of the same place. Your eye will immediately go to the painting before the photo because there’s more fun there.
== We regrettably missed the moved-out-of-Denver WWE “Monday Night Raw” show last night from Staples Center, or the telecast of it (TiVo was too full of Lakers, Dodgers, Indy 500 and L.A. Marathon for one weekend … oh, right, Senior PGA Golf, too).
We were amused to hear that, in addition to a “showdown” between Vince McMahon and the phoney Stan Kroenke, the featured match consisted of five “good guys” in Lakers jerseys against five “heels” in Nuggets jerseys, while actors dressed as Jack Nicholson and Dr. Jerry Buss watched ringside (watch it here). These “Lakers” at least weren’t routed by nearly 20 points — which means that the series won’t end at Staples Center on Wednesday night.
Or … was the highlight Monday when a wrestler who came into the ring with a Clippers’ jersey (Baron Davis’ No. 1), leading the broadcasters to comment: “What kind of idiot would wear a Clippers’ jersey?”
If the Clippers ever wanted equal time — and maybe it’ll come in tonight’s WWE show, also at Staples Center — there could be a team of “plantation owners” — lead by owner Donald Sterling – facing off against a team of “slaves” led by Elgin Baylor and … you fill in the blanks.
Apparently, enough people still watched the Lakers-Nuggets Game 4 (instead of the WWE Raw) to give ESPN’s teleast an 7.1 overnight rating. Saturday’s Game 3 did a 5.4 rating (8.725 milllion viewers) to become ABC’s most-viewed NBA Conference Final game ever (a 2006 Detroit-Miami Eastern Conference game had 8.19 million viewers with a 5.5 rating).
The fact that Charles Barkley nearly killed a spectator with an errant shot on the golf course (above) shouldn’t discourage you from watching the conclusion of the Golf Channel series, “The Haney Project,” where golf swing guru Hank Haney tries to fix the worst swing in golf — belonging to Barkley. It all comes to a merciful end tonight (7 p.m.) when the former NBA hacker has to decide if he’s improved enough to keep trying to play.
Haney and Barkley play their final nine holes together, with Julius Erving among the people who join them for a hole. After Erving says he might work with Haney to improve his distance, Barkley reacts: “Hank only works with me and Tiger.”
The show takes a strange twist when Jo Ann Rose, a Golf Channel viewer from Pickerington, Ohio, arrives to thank Barkley for inspiring her to play golf again. She says she saw the first episode of “The Haney Project” and, after laughing, “it dawned on me that if you were not afraid after years of embarassment and hurt, then why should I be afraid to get back out on the course?” Rose had just taken up golf with her husband when a major illness forced her to quit.
Even Tiger has a hard time trying to capture the essence of Barkley’s swing:
About a half-hour into a endless game of “duck ‘n’ cover” with another set of user-friendly waves along the Redondo Beach shoreline, the numbness in the legs began to raise questions about the dumbness of the idea.
Yet, as much as we’d hope the Body Glove rash guard would fully guard us from any and all frigid anxiety, there’s really never a wrong time to take the first Boogie Board ride of the summer.
Even if the water temps hadn’t got past the feel of a melted Otter Pop.
It was about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and the typically murky marine layer wasn’t doing a very good job of discouraging the early risers from diving into the Memorial Day weekend with a flashback to a high school science lesson in harnessing thermal energy.
Off to the left of the lifeguard stand, the silver-tipped swells seemed to suit the wet-suited surfers just fine. Even a paddle surfer – that’s a guy crazy enough to stand on the board and use a long oar to cut through the water like a kayaker – stayed unfazed. Of course, he was above it all.
To the right, the joggers with the baggy sweatsuits who kicked up the soggy sand as they ran stayed focused to their iPods, blocking out the elements with their minds, forging ahead to achieve bigger goals. Maybe even training for Monday’s marathon.
Straight ahead, the swells simply looked too swell to pass up.
From the selection of Boogie Boards stored away in the garage, we went with the Baja 42.5 Morey model. Dinged and dented, bashed and gashed, slightly warped and a bit bruised, it has stood the test of summertime past. And fall. And occasionally a test run in December. The Velcro on the leash worked just dandy, despite all the sand caked on.
It’s been my floatie of choice for years now. One can never grow bored with this particular board.
First, you gotta give it to the surfers. The surfboard requires balance, agility and no fear of the flying fins. Gotta laugh at the body surfers. They’re simply swimmers who go with the flow – and usually end up with a bigger face full of seaweed that they’d bargain for.
With the Boogie Board, the hybrid vehicle of off-shore transportation, there’s no roof racks or tow clamps needed for the car to get it to its destination. No waxing on or waxing off.
Grab it and go. Try to keep up.
The essence of the Boogie Board – aside from the obvious – really comes from paddling out beyond the buoyant clump of surfers, past the rough-n-tumble waves, and out to the serene calmness of the environment. Stop and smell the saltwater. Take hold of the top and bottom edges of the board, tuck your legs under it and, using it like a large laptop, roll with the rhythm.
If you’re lucky, a school of dolphins will pass by – in between you and the shore. Don’t panic. Watch, quietly.
A guy who seemed about my age came roaring past me on his longboard. On his way back out, he skimmed by and smiled.
“How’s it goin’?” I asked.
“Sweet,” he said with a big grin.
No further explanation needed.
At one point, the gray, green sea suddenly turned a true blue – the sun broke through and lit up the scene like a movie-set spotlight. I spun around back toward the sand to see the brightness overhead. Just at that moment, a strange shadow crept over my left shoulder – it was about a five-foot wave that decided to appear without notice.
A couple of cartwheels later – unlike riding the Nemo submarine ride at Disneyland — I’d landed ashore in a muck of disorientated mess. Most of that due to having the snot knocked out of me.
A wiser person may have taken that as a sign to head back to the beach chair, dry off and regroup.
Someone who has waited too many months for the start of summer to begin had better plans.
Back into the water. The ride isn’t finished. It’s just started.
True or false: D-Fish was spotted in a small panic at a local Costco before heading to Denver, trying to buy jump shots in bulk? Despite the fact he ran past the guy at the front door (who strangely looked like Sasha Vujacic) in 0.4 seconds without flashing his membership card? Would it have been easier for him to just ask the guy in the hairnet with the tray of manufactured salmon-and-olive cracker samples (who strangely looked like Jordan Farmar) where they keep the eight-gallon jugs of Kaopectate?
== By the way, not to look too deep into a Nike ad, but what does make Kobe Bryant’s “unstoppable” so unstoppable? Does that apply to the next couple of days when the Mamba has some supervised downtime in the greater Denver area and decides to go looking for the back-alley joint where Kenyon Martin got those ruby red lips tattooed on his neck?
== How’s this for a plan: Next time a Laker player misses a critical free throw at a crucial juncture in a playoff contest, he doesn’t step away from the line and slap hands with his teammates, who seem to be offering him a hearty congratulation for his lack of ability to sink an uncontested, flat-footed shot from 15-feet away as the home crowd goes silent to help him concentrate?
== Can Doc Buss do something now to guarantee that, somewhere down the road, George Karl replaces Phil Jackson? Or does that need some special daughter approval?
== Chris “Birdman” Andersen: So this is what happened to Macaulay Culkin?
== Has Blake Griffin began his search at LegalZoom.com to find anyone with the juice to a) draw up an effective cease-and-desist court order to keep any Clipper employee from coming within 1,000-feet of his private workouts before next month’s draft – refer to the case of Danny Ferry v. Elgin Baylor somewhere on the books — and b) work a pre-nup with Donald Sterling just in case there is nothing in the federal anti-trust habeas corpusing rules that preclude Mike Dunleavy from insisting he must come to L.A. (the alternative: All-Star point guard in the Greek League) and live in some low-cost high-rise that encourages all ethnic backgrounds and children to flourish in perfect harmony?
== When trying to figure out the exact date when Manny Ramirez returns to the Dodgers’ lineup, is it more accurate to first check the master MLB calendar, or yield to Manny’s illogical biological clock?
== The Dodgers’ top long-ball producer currently resides in the magic No. 8 hole? And you worry about Joe Torre batting the pitcher eighth on occasion?
== Has Torre considered having Matt Kemp participate in the new Sunday Jr. Dodgers Kids Run the Base program – not as an instructor?
== Would you be more enticed to watch Sunday’s Indy 500 if you could see Danica Patrick on the pole?
An incredibily unproductive week of inhaling the freshness of media news and exhaling the carbon dioxide of warmed-over cliches used to express the delight of so much NFL media news in one week in May that basketball, baseball and hockey had to step aside for some of it.
In this last week before summer ’09 begins, we can turn off the tanning light knowing that:
== Rick Reillyseems to be stealing from himself, or maybe he’s just freshening things up from a 2003 column for SI (now that it’s 2009 and he’s at ESPN … aw, the beauty of a google search and the SI.com vault) (linked here)?
== Linda Cohn has a fan club, and we’re not in it? (linked here)
== Is the prerequisite for being involved in the new Michael Irvin reality show having an ability to barf? (linked here)
== Jon Gruden was the best person ESPN could find for “Monday Night Football”? (linked here) Even Joe Theismann wonders if he’ll stay longer than two years (linked here). Peter King writes that Gruden has really rocked the boat at the NFL Net for bailing out on ‘em (linked here). Others have found that Gruden’s a bit of a hyprocrite when it comes to his love for ESPN (linked here). And happy trails to Tony Kornheiser , who says it was the plane travel, but then admits, he wants to go out with Madden and Favre (linked here). Is he the last of the sportswriters-turned-analysts (linked here)?
== Fox (linked here) and CBS (linked here) are digging in for two more years of NFL games, meaning more of Howie Long and less of Thurston Long … yet, are we better off for this?.
== A new Fox sitcom with Michael Strahan either sounds awesome (linked here) or like the worst show ever (linked here).
== Fox also has talked MLB (or visa versa) into an earlier start for the World Series (linked here). Maybe it can do something to help local broadcasters when they want to air a game opposite of the network on a Saturday afternoon (linked here)
== Shaquille O’Neal didn’t get enough broadcast journalism training at LSU, so he’s trying to find an excuse to go to Syracuse (linked here).
== Virtually, ESPN is bringing NBA players into their studio (linked here)
== Internet response to “Kobe Doin’ Work,” which debuted on ESPN and ESPN2 last Saturday (linked here) included this on TheBigLead.com from someone named “mrejr8234″:
“I actually recorded it but then i realized that spike (lee) … sucks and he is supposedly a knicks fan who is trying to do anything to remain relevant so i deleted it. seriously of all the direxctors, actors and producers in l.a. none of them could have made this “documentary”? they had to bring in spike lee because???? why? a 2 hour doc on marbury would have been more entertaining on so many different levels. we know that kobe’s teammates and opponents dont like him so why would we care to see him fake it like they do?”
== Steven Cohen saying he was … sorry? Damn (linked here)
== NBC ABC better make sure Rachel Alexandra runs in the Preakness (linked here)
== Girls kicking each other under the guise of MMA will be prime network fodder someday soon (linked here)
== Jim Rome goes with smacktalk against horses (linked here)
== George Brett could have his own HBO sports-talk show (linked here) But, of course, he ended up apologizing (linked here), but not for the pants he was wearing while golfing.
Beyond today’s media column (linked here) are more media notes for the money as the Memorial Day picnic kicks off our summer of stove devices appropriate for wienie roasting:
== NBC calls it the “oldest and most prestigious golf event in senior golf,” the 70th Senior PGA Championship. Sounds kinda redundant. But the network has six hours of it Saturday (noon to 3 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m. to noon) from Canterbury Golf Club outside of Cleveland. Dan Hicks and Gary Koch will anchor. Meanwhile, CBS sticks to that stale PGA Tour storyline with the Byron Nelson Classic (Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.) from somewhere in the Republic of Texas.
== Game 4 of the Detroit-Chicago Western Conference finals follows the NBC golf coverage on Sunday (noon, Channel 4) with Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. “Chicago can definitely get back in this series,” said McGuire. “The home ice crowd in Chicago is a huge ally for the Blackhawks. It’s going to be really important for them to score early and keep the crowd in it.”
== ESPN2/ABC has committed to full-on HD coverage of the WNBA this season, starting with the Sparks’ game at Staples Center against defending champion Detroit on Saturday, June 6 (11:30 a.m., Channel 7). This is the first of an eight-year contract extension between ESPN and the WNBA through 2016 — for those who think the league may just disappear. Carolyn Peck and Nancy Lieberman will alternate as game analysts and with play-by-play from Terry Gannon, Dave Pasch and Pam Ward with reporters Heather Cox and Rebecca Lobo. The Sparks have five games on the network schedule, including Tuesday, July 14 (at Connecticut, ESPN2), Tuesday, Aug. 11 (home vs. New York, ESPN2, 6 p.m.); Tuesday, Aug. 25 (home vs. Chicago, ESPN2, 7 p.m.) and Sunday, Sept. 13 (at Phoenix, ESPN2, noon),
== The Kings have procured the services of ESPN’s John Buccigross to serve as the “official host” of L.A. Kings Hockey Fest ’09, a three-day interactive festival celebrating the all that is puckish between Friday evening, August 28, and Sunday, August 30 at LA Live near Staples Center. Did you know: Buccigross, an ESPN.com writer, also is the co-author of the hockey book “Jonesy: Put Your Head Down and Skate – The Improbable Career of Keith Jones”?
== Fox’s coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 from Lowe’s in North Carolina starts at 2 p.m. (Channel 11) and has a 5 1/2 hour window, with Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds.
== ESPN has the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester Untied and FC Barcelona in Rome on Wednesday (11:25 a.m.) with Derek Rae, Tommy Smyth, and Dave Roberts. ESPN Classic will re-air it at 2:30 p.m.
== Baseball across the weekend: Fox sends the Phillies-Yankees contest from Yankee Stadium to most of the country with Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Ken Rosenthal (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11); ESPN has the Brewers at Minnesota (Sunday, 5 p.m. with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips).
== These really are outstandingly bitchin’ ESPN spots for the NBA Finals (especially the one with Kobe feeding Shaq on that dunk against Portland in the Western Conference finals of 2000) (that one is linked here):
Following up today’s media column on Doris Burke (linked here), more of her talking about her approach to the job of being in a unique position — a female doing NBA games — with photographic evidence that she does know how to smile (the secret: ice cream):
== On whether the fact she’s a woman in this men’s TV world is still a story: “I think it’s still a story, but I don’t know how much longer. For not just a male but for a female, it’s still an unusual circumstance to hear a woman on an NBA game other than in the sideline role. It’s not something that happens with great frequency, but it doesn’t surprise me. I’m not offended. ”
== On the dynamics involved in how a male viewer comes to accept a female broadcaster on a live sporting event: “That’s an interesting discussion and I really think it might be a generational situation. I was at a Big East media day in October, and Jim O’Connell (long-time Associated Press basketball writer) stopped me — and it wasn’t far removed from last spring when I was doing color on NBA games — and he made a point to tell me: ‘I think it’s important that I tell you from someone of my generation, while I found it strange to hear your voice the first few times, as I listened I thougth you did a good job.’ For someone like him so is so respected, that made me happy. Another time recently at the Hall of Fame in Springfield (MA), when I was there for Dick Vitale’s induction, (Detroit Pistons GM) Joe Dumars said he enjoyed listening to me. Those kind of things mean something to me. I think it’ll take time and the more it happens, then generationally, it’ll change and become less unusual. It’ll take its natural course and get to the point where it’s simply not talked about.”
== On whether she has discussions with her bosses about the advancement of female sportscasters: “Between my work schedule and my two kids, those aren’t the disucssions I have (with them). I try to be prepared and see where that takes me. I was told recently that there’s a female who’s being considered for the Charlotte Bobcats fulltime color job, Stephanie Ready (linked here), and those kind of things make me excited. Progress is progress.”
== On what kind of feedback she gets from her kids: My son Matthew texted me from the golf course today and said, ‘Nice job last night.’ I know his friends say some things to him about occasionally seeing his mom on TV and for the most part I think they’ve been positive. I always worry about the reaction his friends have. I don’t want to make life for a 14-year-old any more difficult than it has to be.”
And a quote from Bob Rauscher, ESPN’s vice president of NBA production: “We believe Doris’ commentary and analysis resonates well with our audience. She has a deep knowledge of the game and an ability to articulate her insight in a meaningful way, qualities which are paramount in broadcasting.”
John McCoy/Daily News Staff Photographer Doris Burke catches Lakers coach Phil Jackson for a question before the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s NBA Western Conference finals at Staples Center.
Get used to Doris Burke. Doing sidelines on the ESPN and ABC coverage of the Western Conference finals, she’ll also join the Mike Breen-Jeff Van Gundy-Mark Jackson team when the network airs the NBA Finals starting early next month. She was already a game analyst on a Lakers-Jazz first-round contest, and has been doing NBA calls for the last couple of years.
And get used to Jeanne Zelasko. Her first gig as a play-by-play voice for the Dodgers was Wednesday night from the Vin Scully Press Box, when the Dodgers put her with former player Mark Sweeney to cover the contest against the Mets as part of the team’s WIN program, giving women a stronger voice in the sports community.
Both take their jobs seriously, but also realize that if they’re not having fun doing the broadcast, the audience won’t either. So we’ll see how both approach their jobs in Friday’s media column.
Some other required reading about Burke from national media sources over the last few years, mostly about how and why it’s tough for a female to make a mark in the man’s TV sports world:
== Her ESPN bio (linked here)
== A piece on her a couple of weeks ago by the Dallas Morning News’ Barry Horn (linked here)
== A piece on her last year by the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir (linked here)
== A piece on her in 2004 by USA Today’s Michael Heistand (linked here)
== Why are some guys not able to handle the voice of a woman doing “their” games, wonders Deadspin.com’s Drew Magary ? (linked here)
And if you missed Zelasko’s debut, listen to the archived replay at dodgers.com/win (linked here).