The extacy, and agony, of trying to watch a Manny granny

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

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Dodger Stadium fans, on Manny Ramirez bobblehead night, cheer as Ramirez pops out of the dugout to pinch hit during Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati. For some L.A. TV viewers, that’s all they saw on Prime TIcket … until he was celebrating a grand slam moments later.

There was some confusion in parts of L.A. on Wednedsay night — did Many Ramirez really hit a pinch-hit grand slam, or did my TV set just seize up?

For some, it was both.

After sorting out emails over who had which service, and what part of town they lived in, then finding more evidence on blogs across the city, it seems as if Time Warner Cable through parts of the San Fernando Valley and the Westside froze up as Ramirez was in the ondeck circle preparing to face a new Cincinnati Reds pitcher.

After a commercial, when the audience came back to the game, Manny was in the dugout getting mobbed, the fans were going nuts, and Vin Scully was commenting about the noise being the loudest he’s heard in 20 years.

Those who have the cable service’s HD channel saw it happen; those who didn’t missed it on their Prime Ticket channel. DirecTV, Charter cable and others were all fine.

A customer living in Culver City apparently had a problem and sent this email to LAObserved.com:

I phoned Time Warner twice last night to inquire/complain and was placed on hold forever both times; finally gave-up. I phoned Time Warner again this morning and the customer service rep was trying to blame the problem on Prime Ticket. Once again, I was placed on hold for a significant period while the rep did more “research,” so I hung-up and called back demanding that a supervisor source the problem and call me back with an explanation; stop wasting my time….I will certainly be demanding a reduction in my cable bill for this month since it was clearly a Time Warner issue.

Later, a Time Warner subscriber wrote to say he finally got a reply about the problem and was told he’d get a $10 refund on his bill because of the error. For his “inconvenience.”

A mention of the snaffu was also mentioned on LAist.com (linked here, with some nasty commentary).

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Does 07-23-09 mean anything to you? Ten years ago, it did to someone

A quick note from Aaron Levine, the Calabasas High and Stanford grad and next biggest TV sportscaster-in-waiting working these days in Seattle:

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As a 17-year-old intern at Fox Sports News, he was asked to promote a numerical oddity that, at least fans of John Elway, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky could appreciate.

Ten years ago on this day, it was 07-23-99.

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“Today, I’m very excited that I’m in a position to use the television/internet medium to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of the best sports days in history that no one ever noticed. It’s a numerological rarity that will likely never happen again.”

It’s linked here.

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Although, this was 10 years before Manny Ramirez seemed to make No. 99 his own in L.A. sports lore.

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Our Daily Dread: 30 years ago, rumblings of this new ‘mind boggling’ all-sports cable channel, actually bidding on the ’84 Olympics from L.A.

We stumbled across this in the Sports Illustrated vault, a story published on this day in 1979 (linked here):

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Last winter, Getty Oil paid $10 million for a majority interest in a hitherto unknown and practically non-functioning little cable TV company in Plainville, Conn. called The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, Inc., or, more informally, ESPN.

Indeed, Getty’s decision to underwrite the firm seems to have had more than a few overtones of extrasensory perception and supernatural insight: ESPN may become the biggest thing in TV sports since “Monday Night Football” and nighttime World Series games.

ESPN plans to launch the nation’s first 24-hour sports network by Dec. 1, a nonstop telethon that will ultimately result in 8,760 hours of annual programming — every single possible hour, and seven times as many hours of sports as the three major networks combined now air in an average year.

ESPN will present a mind-boggling (and, perhaps, numbing) flow of games, matches and contests, ranging from live tennis from Monaco shown at 3 a.m. to taped NCAA football games on view from 8 a.m. to midnight on most autumn weekends to a mixed bag of volleyball, water polo, fencing, crew, etc., etc.

As 23-year-old ESPN vice-president Scott Rasmussen puts it, “What we’re creating here is a network for sports junkies. This is not programming for soft-core sports fans who like to watch an NFL game, then switch to the news. This is a network for people who like to watch a college football game, then a wrestling match, a gymnastics meet and a soccer game, followed by an hour-long talk show–on sports.”

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The JetHawks see the error of their ways

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The Lancaster JetHawks of the California League had planned another only-in-the-minor-leagues promotion for tonight’s game at the home field against the Lake Elsinore Storm.

As of Tuesday, the team scheduled an “Umpire Appreciation Night” — giving out 500 pair of what they were calling “umpire” glasses. Not to imply the field arbitors needed some optical assistance in making the calls, right? That couldn’t incite any kind of anamosity between the umps and the home team, correct?

Early this afternoon, a brief announcement was made to amend that part of the deal.

“Upon further examination of our planned promotion for tonight, we realized the distasteful and offensive nature of the umpire appreciation night aspect of it. Our California League umpires exhibit a great work ethic and do an excellent job on a daily basis. Out of respect for these Minor League Baseball umpires, we will not distribute eyeglasses to the first 500 fans.The rest of the elements of Optometry Appreciation Night will proceed as planned.”

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Your 2009 ESPN/ABC/ESPN2/ESPNU/ESPNETC. college football schedule

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Now that the Disney family is done deciding which Pac-10 games to take for this fall’s lineup — and the USC-UCLA game ain’t there — FSN will have its choice of where the conference falls in with its weekly package, leaving the rest of the games to sort themselves out elsewhere.

There’s no way in heck we’ll print the entire ESPN/ABC/ESPN2/Etc. schedule here. It’s far too meandering, with many TBAs. There are in excess of 400 games picked and tossed around (including ESPN Classic, their mobile phone service, their pay-per-view serive, the online streaming … somewhere else on SkyLab …)

If we’re giving you a brief list of highlights, here it is:

== The BCS title game on ABC at 5 p.m. on Jan. 7 from the Rose Bowl.

== A mess of stuff on Saturday, Dec., 5, including the ACC title game (in prime time on ESPN), the Big 12 championship (in prime time on ABC), the Conference USA championship game (replacing a USC-UCLA contest, on ESPN), and three Big East games.

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Our (non) Daily Dread: Nice job, Nece

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Of all the stories you’ll find in this week’s Sports Illustrated, flip to the very back and pay attention to one that senior writer Phil Taylor did about Ryan Nece. Then pay it forward.

The former UCLA linebacker (bio here) and son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and USC great Ronnie Lott, walked into a Tampa restaurant with $4,000 cash recently — an amount some athletes save up for a couple of hours at a Vegas crap table.

Nece, who landed a business economics degree during his time in Westwood, put $55 (the number of his jersey with the Detroit Lions last season) into 70 envelopes and gave them to everyone he had brought to the table. His instructions: Use the money to help someone and encourage each someone to pay it forward, to help the goodness grow.

Writes Taylor: “It might seem surprising that a little-known, out-of-work linebacker — the 0-16 Detroit Lions chose not to re-sign Nece — could inspire such an outpouring of generosity, but his anonymity is part of the appeal. We’re used to celebrity athletes writing a huge check for a worthy cause or calling on famous friends for a charity event, but when a journeyman proves that wealth and fame aren’t essential, when he reminds us that the grand gesture isn’t the only one with a lasting impact, who can ignore that message?”

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Erin Andrews, peephole video, and why you’re probably Dumas material to try to watch it

The TVweek.com Bizwire moved a story linking to opposingviews.com (linked here) where journalist ethics are debated about this scandalous story.

To get you up to speed: The video was taken without her knowledge or consent while she was in a hotel room. It appears that the video was taken though a hole in a wall, the article says.

“Web sites routinely run celebrity photos that can be argued as having invaded their privacy, such as shots of them sunbathing in their backyards, taken with a long telephoto lens. Perhaps [deciding to publish this material] has much do with the what is legal and what is not, and if there is a threat of legal action. In this case, ESPN general counsel David Pahl sent [a] letter to at least one website.”

While many sites did provide the video, TMZ, which is notorious for running scandalous photos, did not. TMZ said: “We will not publish the video nor did we purchase it. It’s a clear invasion of privacy.”

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The ABA in L.A. … and on Versus

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Apparently, there is an American Basketball Association team in Los Angeles known as the Slam. Where this team plays, who’s on it, who coaches it … kind of a mystery, if you go to their official site (linked here).

Does a team playing in Maywood make sense? Near Huntington Park? Near the 710 and 5 freeways? With someone called “The Game”?

That said, Versus announced today it has agreed to do 11 ABA games for the 2009-10 season, on Saturday afternoons, starting Nov. 28.

This really isn’t your father’s ABA, which once featured Dr. J., started the 3-point basket and red, white and blue ball. This ABA tries to do all the same kind of trickery that the former rival of the NBA did, but this league hardly has as much impact as it once did.

This ABA, for example, has about 60 teams in cities such as New York, Chicago and Detroit, but thrives more in cities such as Beaumont, Texas.

Same ball. More info: www.abaalive.com.

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Who needs a Sports God?

The reason you haven’t heard Dave Smith doing either morning (co-hosting with Roger Lodge) or afternoon weekday sports talk shows on the Angels’ KLAA-AM 830 is pretty simple: They’ve let him go. For a couple of weeks now.

Smith’s extended contract ran out on June 30, when Angels team president/program director Dennis Kuhl told him that he wasn’t going to be renewed. He had been at the station since March 31, 2008, and had a three-month extension through the end of June.

“The only explanation I got was that they didn’t have any money,” said Smith, the Chatsworth resident and a former two-time No. 1 pick in the Daily News annual best/worst of L.A. Sports Talk Show hosts.

“I was shocked. The whole year they’d told me I was doing a great job and they’d take care of me. I’d been doing a double shift for nine months.”

And that, apparently, meant nothing much. Co-hosting from 6-to-10 a.m. — especially effective during the Nick Adenhart coverage — and then from 3 to 7 p.m. was a ridiculous thing to ask anyone to do, but Smith was willing to help the station get its feet planted.

Smith, an L.A.-based sports-talk show host for 15 years, now finds out what many former hosts already know: It’s a tough job market to find any kind of work.

“I just hope I don’t have to move out of town,” said Smith. “I’m hanging in. There was no severance pay. I’ve got another month or so but them I might be in trouble.”

Smith still has his website (http://thesportsgod.com/) that’s in need up an update on his situation.

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Shaqtacular TV: Another reality show that can’t be worth the script it’s written on

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ABC didn’t learn enough when it tried to give Shaquille O’Neal a reality TV show that tried to help little kids lose weight.

Now, Shaq loses his mind.

Something called a “reality competiton series” with Shaq trying to show that he has no skills whatsoever in anything beyond basketball, “competing” against athletes in their given sport, is scheduled to air on ABC starting Aug. 18 at 9 p.m. in a summer filler “show” called “Shaq Vs.” It starts taping Wednesday, so there’s plenty of time for him, or the “competitors” to back out, and the ABC can throw on that Tony Danza drama-sit-com pilot that’s been in the bank since ’04.

Honestly, Shaq couldn’t have competed on the new bogus “Superstars” against Jeff Kent, Lisa Leslie and Terrell Owens , (who has his own reality show on VH1 that started Monday that we’re not quite ready to decide what to make of it, other than the guy likes to show off his shirtless self and hit on his real estate agent.)

During this “series,” Shaq is supposed to challenge Michael Phelps in swimming, Ben Roethlisberger in football, Serena Williams in tennis, Oscar de la Hoya in boxing, Albert Pujols in baseball, and Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in beach volleyball. They’ll give him a handicap. He’ll provide the ensuing hijinx.

“These athletes may be on top of their game, but I am up for the challenge,” said O’Neal. “I plan to train hard and win, so look out.”

That’s the quote from the press release. So is this:

“Shaq is the only one with the athletic skills and personality to carry this unique project,” said John Saade and Vicki Dummer,who head up the ABC Entertainment Group’s Alternative Series, Specials and Late-Night department. “It’s Shaq versus the best athletes in the world, competitors who aren’t afraid of the challenge….or Shaq’s humor.”

If you’re vacationing during August and afraid you’ll miss this show, don’t worry. It’ll show up on the Comic Book Channel someday.

Also, blame Dick Clark for this. His company is in association with Media Rights Capital as the show’s producer. Shaq, of course, also is listed as a producer. Shazam.

Now, produce some viewers. Put Shaq on a new “American Bandstand.”

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