Coming Sunday: A tribute to Jack Kramer

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A couple of hundred tennis dignitaries, players and fans gathered at the UCLA Tennis Center on Saturday afternoon to give one last farewell to legendary figure Jack Kramer, who died at 88 on Sept. 12.

A funeral was held for him last week and he was buried in Santa Monica. Another memorial was held at the golf course he created, Los Serranos in Chino Hills. Saturday’s was the third, and final, gathering for family and friends to remember his impact on the game he helped push forward from the 1940s to present day.

The focus of Sunday’s column is the impact Kramer had on the life of Tracy Austin, the former U.S. Open champion who grew up at the Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates.

Among the things said in tribute Saturday to Kramer, survived by his five sons and eight grandchildren:

== Son Bob: “It was a fabulous and glorious end, but he got a bad call late in the fifth set. He didn’t argue it. ”

== Barry MacKay, a former Davis Cup player and broadcaster: “The best promoter the game of tennis ever has had, and ever will have.”

== USTA Southern California Section President Bill Kellogg : “Jack was all about celebrating life, and he was truly a champion of the game.”

== US Open Tournament Director Jim Curley : “Every one of us who makes our living in professional tennis owes a debt of gratitude to Jack.”

== Eddie Merrins, the long-time PGA teaching pro at Bel Air Country Club, comparing Kramer to legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden : We in golf like to claim Jack Kramer just like you in tennis do.”

== Charlie Pasarell, another promoter and former UCLA player, who spoke of idolizing Kramer: “When I came here from Puerto Rico, playing with that wooden Jack Kramer racket, the first thing I wanted to do was to meet my idol. In the world of tennis, Jack Kramer was a giant. Nothing less. More importantly, Jack was a good man, a champion in life.”

== Eldest son David, who runs the Los Serranos Golf Club: “He was a champion not because he came in No. 1. His life was a gift to us, and we accept in all gratitude.”

== Former women’s champion Pam Shriver: “:When I was 9 growing up in Baltimore, my coach taught me the Jack Kramer forehand. When it was working, it was a deep, sliding hard flat approach shot.”

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Our Daily Dread: (Almost) nothing artificial about how the MLB operates … turfwise

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AP File Photo
In 1966, artificial turf is installed at the Astrodome in Houston.

By Ronald Blum
The Associated Press

Maury Wills remembered back 43 years to that April night when he became the first batter to hit on artificial turf in a major league game.

Even when the green rug was novel, he didn’t like it.

“I’m a traditionalist,” said the Dodgers speedster, who opened that night at Houston’s Astrodome with a single off Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. “I’m still an old-school guy. I believe baseball was meant to be played outdoors and be played in the daytime.”

Turns out, most others think baseball is better on grass, too. The sport’s turf wars are nearing an end.

Once regarded as magic carpets that would eliminate bad hops and minimize rainouts, artificial surfaces are going the way of the dead ball and complete games.

After the Minnesota Twins play their Metrodome finale on Oct. 4 and open Target Field next April 12, just two non-grass fields will remain in the major leagues: the Rogers Centre in Toronto and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

That’s down from a high of 10 artificial surfaces, in 1977-78 and again from 1982-94. While colleges and high schools actually are installing more faux fields — to accommodate multiple sports — artificial turf is unloved by Major League Baseball.

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OK, Gannon, you can come back to Raider camp … but don’t look Al Davis in eye

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The Associated Press

ALAMEDA — The Oakland Raiders backed off a demand made to CBS that quarterback-turned-game analyst Rich Gannon be banned from the team’s facility for production meetings before Sunday’s broadcast.

The Raiders initially told the network that Gannon was not welcome at production meetings for Sunday’s game against Denver because of constant criticism of the organization in recent years.

“He’s repeatedly said that they should just blow up the building and start all over again,” senior executive John Herrera said Friday. “He hasn’t done that once or twice, but has done that repeatedly. He continually attacks the owner (Al Davis), he continually attacks the organization in every way that he can. After listening to all of that for the last several years, why would you want him in your building when all he does is attack the organization that made his career.”

Herrera said later Friday that he stands by his criticisms of Gannon but that “because of league rules, we have relented.”

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A shovel pass …. or not

Recalling a line from “South Park,” where Butters once profoundly said: “You know, you can call a shovel an ice-cream machine, but it’s still a shovel, Mom and Dad. Ah, and you can call a lie whatever you want, but it’s still a no-good stinkin’ lie!”

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The Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta — Steamed over a practice brawl, a Canadian Football League lineman stomped off the field, then stormed back moments later brandishing a shovel before he was stopped by a team official.

As Edmonton Eskimos defensive tackle Xzavie Jackson marched toward teammate Aaron Fiacconi on Thursday, general manager Danny Maciocia stepped into his path. The GM gently put his hand on Jackson’s chest and gestured toward the shovel.

“I just said, ‘What are you planning on doing with that? Do you realize the repercussions?’” Maciocia said Friday. “I’m almost sure he had already come to that conclusion.

“I don’t think he would have carried out an incident where he would have swung a shovel and tried to strike someone.

The bizarre fight began when Fiacconi, the starting center and a CFL veteran, was working out at three-quarters speed while Jackson, a spot starter and practice-squad player, was going at a faster tempo. After a bit of banging, Fiacconi began punching Jackson. No teammates intervened and Jackson, a former Missouri star who had stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals, thundered away.

As Jackson yelled and whipped off his practice jersey, he walked past a nearby dumpster. He spotted a long-handled metal shovel, grabbed it and headed back at Fiacconi.

Jackson rejoined the Eskimos at practice Friday, sporting sunglasses and a bandage over a swollen eye.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “That’s not me. That’s not my character. I know I could’ve made a better choice. I’ve apologized to my teammates and that’s all.”

Fiacconi accepted the apology.

“We’ve made our peace,” he said. “In the end, I doubt he would have done something with the implement.”

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The Media Learning Curve: Sept. 18-25

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A website called Bookmaker.com — we’ll take it for what it’s worth — that has now posted odds of which broadcast team is next likely to split up, because of retirement, coaching job opportunity or just plain lousy.

Why they’s waste their time on this, or would coax bets out of degenerative gamblers, is another story for another time on another website.

We just pass on this info, for entertainment purposes only:

The favorite: Fox’s NFL team of Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick and Charissa Thompson — a 31-percent change of disssolving. So soon?

No. 2, at 27 percent:
= NBC’s Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer
= Fox’s Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa
= Fox’s Dick Stockton, Charles Davis and Laura Okmin

No. 3, at 25 percent:
= ESPN’s Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden

No. 4, at 20 percent:
= CBS’ Jim Nuntz (cq) and Phil Simms
= CBS’ Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf
= CBS’ Ian Eagle and Rich Gannon
= Fox’s Chris Myers and Trent Green

No. 5 at 19 percent:
= CBS’ Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts

No. 6 at 14 percent:
= NFL Network’s Bob Papa and Matt Millen (who have not even done a game together yet)

No. 7 at 13 percent:
= CBS’ Kevin Harlan and Soloman (cq) Wilcots
= Fox’s Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver

Did they miss anyone? It’s just NFL guys and girls, so … why isn’t Jillian Barberie Reynolds Cougar Mellencamp (we should have just stopped at cougar) in this list somewhere?

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Other stuff we learned:

== The 49ers highlight our L.A. NFL Week 3 viewing (linked here)

== JoePa highlights our L.A. college football Week 4 viewing (linked here)

== A million fools followed Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s unanimous decision comeback (linked here)

== Brian Billick wants to make chicken salad out of chicken droppings for his SpaceFace friends (linked here)

== Joe Buck colorfully takes down Craig Sager, for obvious reasons (linked here)

== We didn’t see Sean Salisbury, as advertised, on our Temptations-Dream Lingerie Football League TV broadcast last Friday … but we know now he’s busy planning legal moves and writing a tell-all book (linked here). He’s a USC journalism major. So watch yourself.

== Someone misses John Madden already? (linked here)

== Former Daily News columnist Mike Ventre has Jets fans steammed…. but that’s his job (linked here)

== “Shaq Vs.” actually kicked some tail … if you compare it to other sports reality shows that aired this summer … on ABC … on Tuesday nights … when Ross Porter was doing a Dodger game (linked here).

== ESPN Chicago and Boston are already here, and Dallas is coming Monday (linked here). L.A., early next year.

== Why didn’t the latest Arboblog (linked here) take humbrage with the the fan who, with about seven minutes left in Saturday’s game at Washington, gave him a new “lucky” Hawaiian shirt to put on? … And “truth be told,” he admits to knowing on Thursday that Aaron Corp was going to start at QB ahead of Matt Barkley but didn’t say anything on the broadcast leading into it?

AND FINALLY:

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== Luc Robitaille likes the direction the Kings’ website is going … by pillaging local journalists (linked here). Others don’t.

== Former Daily News columnist Paul Oberjuerge (linked here) discusses it on his blog.

== A SportsByBrooks.com take (by Adam J) on what this hiring by the Kings of the Daily News hockey writer could mean in the big picture (linked here).

This can go one of two ways:

1) The team’s monetary support creates a conflict of interest, particularly when unflattering news pops up, and the ensuing culture of oversight creates an uncomfortable atmosphere between Hammond and the Kings’ brass, making the experiment a failure;

2) Everything goes as Hammond predicted, which is to say “well.”

If it’s 1, that’s bad for hockey and journalism… and something that, judging by everyone’s reaction to the move, something everybody can see coming a mile away.

Ah, but if it’s 2, that’s brutal news for newspapers and media outlets. After all, teams wouldn’t be siphoning off all beat writers… only the best. What would be left is an even more barren media landscape and even less of a reason to sink money into the dead paper and ink industry.

God help us all.

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Mike Strahan, the next gap-toothed comedian (and about to marry Eddie Murphy’s ex-wife)

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Michael Strahan’s new TV show, “Brothers,” begins with a one-hour pilot tonight, 8 p.m., Channel 11:

By Rick Freeman
The Associated Press

Michael Strahan could get used to the Hollywood life.

In his new career as an actor, whenever he makes a mistake or flubs a line, someone is rushing to his side with a script, offering help. It’s a bit of a change from his previous job.

“When I’m having a bad day on the football field, it probably means I have a coach cursing in my face and some guy weighs a hundred pounds more than me is punching me in the head.”

He’ll take a bad day on the set of his new show, “Brothers,” any day over one in the trenches of the NFL, where he spent 15 seasons as a defensive end for the New York Giants.

Now, like dozens of athletes before him, Strahan has crossed into scripted entertainment, putting together a sitcom with a friend he made during his playing days, Daryl Mitchell.

He’s not completely used to it yet.

“You know, probably the weirdest thing to have happened to me is people coming up and saying ‘Oh yeah, congratulations on your new show,’” Strahan said. “When you have other actors come up and say ‘Hey, congratulations on your show, heard about your show, heard it’s doing well,’ it kind of blows your mind.”

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A million home march to being duped

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One million pay-per-view buys were registered for HBO’s welterweight fight recorded last Saturday between Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez from the MGM in Las Vegas, according to HBO Sports’ bean counters.

One million protests should have been filed afterward asking for their money back.

One million buys (525,000 from cable/475,000 from satellite dish owners) represent the largest boxing pay-per-view event in 2009, generating $52 million. and generated $52 million in pay-per-view revenue.

HBO says this is only the fifth time in boxing pay-per-view history that a non-heavyweight event has attained the one million buy mark.

Know who won? We’ll avoid the spoiler alert, and you can watch it again — free, if you pay for the HBO channel — prior to Saturday’s Vitali Klitschko-Cris Arreola bout from Staples Center at 7 p.m.

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(Not) Our Daily Dread: Take the first step

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Sometime this afternoon, there will be about 2,000 crazies running up the 75-story U.S. Bank Tower — the tallest building on the West Coast — in downtown L.A. as a way to build toward a better place to live.

That’s about 1,500 steps to climb. People can watch on a Jumbotron screen if they’re not up to doing the run and just happen to be leaving work early.

The Hope Street Race Expo and Stair Climb to the Top benefits the YMCA’s Ketchum Downtown Center.

Ceremonies begin at 2:30 p.m. The race is at 3 p.m.

The course record: 9 minutes, 28 seconds.

Those who stand to benefit are more than 2,000 children, families and seniors in the downtown area, including the Rampart-Westlake Montessori Preschool and Day Care Center for low-income families.

More info: www.YMCAStairClimb.org.

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The Media Learning Curve: Smell that? Merchant can get a little punchy

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The first book Larry Merchant wrote — the first of three he came out with in the 1970s — was called “…and every day you take another bite.” You fill in the first part of that title. It’s easy.

Think: “Life is a sh– sandwich …”

The book was really more about pro football in that time period — Joe Namath, Vince Lombardi, Rosie Grier, Pete Rozelle.

The crap that the 78-year-old Merchant chomps into these days is far healthier for his diet, as we wrote about in today’s media column (linked here).

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Saturday’s Vitali Klitschko-Chris Arreola heavyweight fight at Staples Center, Merchant will be there. He says he’s been looking forward to it “for a couple of years. I’ve watched Arreola and I thought from the first time I saw him, he had to be special and he has a chance to be a champion. It’s my personal observation, as well as boxing’s, that the sport needs a significant U.S. heavyweight champion, someone to look foward to.”

Unlike last week’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez fight last Saturday, also on HBO. Mayweather, after a 21-month layoff, won a 12-round decision.

Merchant says he did not look forward to watching that fight at all.

“I didn’t do it,” he said of not being part of the broadcast, “and I thought that fight was over when it was signed. I told everyone who asked me, bigger and faster beats smaller and slower every time.”

Experienced and talented beats loud, self-important and flashy in any boxing analysis ring as well. We pick Merchant any time over Max Kellerman, or whatever else is out there.

We have some backup on this one as well (linked here and linked here … thanks to Richard Deitsch at SI.com, linked here).

Rolling with the punches, we move on to other media notes of the week not newspaper worthy:

== The weekend baseball TV highlights focus, of course, on the Red Sox-Yankees series. TBS has a special airing of tonight’s game (4 p.m., from Yankee Stadium, with Chip Caray, Buck Martinez and Craig Sager). Saturday, Fox’s national/regional game has Red Sox-Yankees going to 82 percent of the country (with Josh Lewin and Tim McCarver … the other 18 percent see Cubs-Giants). Sunday, TNT goes with Cardinals-Rockies at noon, because ESPN has Red Sox-Yankees both live at 10 a.m. (with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips) and then replayed at 5:30 p.m. in what may be a first for the network.
The MLB Net has Cardinals-Rockies on Saturday (5 p.m.), and the gold-medal game of the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup (Sunday, 6 a.m.), with Twins-Tigers on Monday (4 p.m.).

== TBS was all atwitter to announce this week that all their studio and game broadcasters “will be actively tweeting during the MLB posteason” from the Oct. 7 opener all through its NLCS coverage – that’s 140-word moment by moment analysis from Ernie Johnson, Dennis Eckersley, Cal Ripken Jr., David Wells, Chip Caray, Ron Darling, Buck Martinez, Marc Fein and Craig Sager. We’d give you the Twitter feed, but we don’t see how that’ll be very productive.

== College football give-and-take of the week, from CBS’ coverage of the Tennessee-Florida game last Saturday:
Late in the contest, as Tennessee’s Bryce Brown is running and get hit by three Florida defenders:
Gary Danielson: “Look at that hit (on the replay) – a bing, a bang and a bong.”
Verne Lundquist: “Sounds like a late night college experience.”
Danielson: “Oh, no.”

==AND FINALLY:

== Fox can actually do more to promote the new Michael Strahan sit-com, “Brothers,” which debuts on its network tonight (8 p.m. on Channel 11) with the one-hour pilot. But it doesn’t have to. Consider the liklihood of this thing taking off past one season. Again, with Frank Caliendo doing an impersonation of Jay Leno on last week’s NFL pregame show, he delivered the joke: “You hear about the NFL players who have donated their brains to a research to study all the pounding to the head. They say in extreme cases, ex-players get so delusional they think they can star in a sit-com.”

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