Cleaning up after today’s media column (linked here), more Q-and-A with former Galaxy player and GM Alexi Lalas, before he heads to Seattle for Sunday’s MLS Cup telecast (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.):
Q: We found this quote by you from an interview you did with the BBC: “Anybody who says that the signing of David Beckham has been failure is delusional and is not seeing the bigger picture … His impact in terms of giving the Galaxy and the MLS a platform from which to spring to the next level cannot be overstated. He has brought incredible recognition and credibility to the league.” Does his appearance in the MLS Cup on Sunday reinforce that, or have the Galaxy been a poster child for what individual-over-team concept could do when it’s balanced improperly?
Lalas: One of the best things that Bruce Arenas did when he came in was dumbing everything down. That’s a good thing. He made things simple and gave everyone expectations to set for themselves individually and collectively. He managed through the controversy of the book that came out, “The Beckham Experiment,” and used it to his advantage. That book really helped the Galaxy in a strange way. It forced Donovan and Beckham to go through public therapy that resulted in each playing better and the team playing better. Then the team made some good pickups to surround them.
L.A. has to be the favorite to win (Sunday) because they have confidence and swagger and a consistency. All that means something. When look at Real Salt Lake, it’s that proverbial box of chocolates. That makes them interesting from a TV standpoint, but you’ll never know what you’re going to get. This team could show up, or it could roll over.
The game the Galaxy played (against Houston in the Western Conference final) was a real soccer game. There were good rhytms to it. The Galaxy had tremendous pressure which, in the past, they might have broken. In crunch time they found a way to score. And with all the focus on Beckham and Donovan, the other players have participated and that’s no surprise.
Q: If the Galaxy wins on Sunday, will you feel some kind of connection to it?
Lalas: I’m a Galaxy alum, so there’s always a piece of me in them. I’m still proud of the successes we had, which goes unnoticed a lot of the time. I’ll be happy for Galaxy fans who have suffered over the last few years. I’d like to see them win. A lot of people think it’s already written in the stars, but it’s not a a fait accompli.
JP Dellacamera will call the match with John Harkes, and Allen Hopkins and Rob Stone on the sidelines.
Stone will also host on-site studio segments before and after the match and at halftime with Lalas and Julie Foudy.
ESPN will use 19 cameras, including two super slo-mos, a steadicam and skycam. The exceptional ESPN Axis replay telestrator will be available, as will new Stats LLC graphic “heat maps” that track star player movement during the match, measuring speed and total distance run.
== ESPN Classic has the “History of the MLS Cup” two-hour presentation (Saturday at 3 p.m.) that goes from the start of the league through 2008. Interviews include players and coaches who have starred in the MLS Cup, including Landon Donovan, Bruce Arena, Cobi Jones and Eric Wynalda.
== ESPN2’s coverage of the Western Conference finals last friday was the most-watched MLS telecast on the network, drawing an average of 538,000 TV homes (or 700,000 viewers), giving it a 0.5 rating. Additionally on ESPN Deportes, the match was seen in an average of 73,000 Hispanic television homes (121,000 viewers), a 1.6 Hispanic coverage rating. The previous high was Thurs., Aug. 23, 2007, in a regular-season match between Chivas USA and the Galaxy — 532,000 TV homes (658,000 viewers) for a 0.6 rating.
Other corners to kick around:
== HBO says there were 1.25 million pay-per-view buys (650,000 from cable/600,000 from satellite dish folk) from Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight in Las Vegas, resulting in $70 million generated to split up amongst those connected with it. Of that total, 110,000 buys were from Puerto Rico, Cotto’s home market. How many were purchased in the Phillipines? Not sure. HBO replays the fight — free, sorta of, if you buy HBO — Saturday at 10 p.m.
== HBO’s next “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) includes a piece by Mary Carillo on 43-year-old New York firefighter Matt Long and his ability to compete in the recent Lake Placid Ironman event — four years after riding to work during a transit strike when he was run over by a bus and impaled on his own bicycle. Long was featured in last Sunday’s presentation of the Arete Awards for Sports Courage on CBS.
== Kevin Calabro and Mark Jackson drew the short straws: They’re calling ESPN’s coverage of Denver at the Clippers tonight, 7:30 p.m.
== Latest webisode of “Mayne Street” involves missing Lakers courtside tickets, and a lot of leg room for Aubrey Plaza before she’s banished to an ESPN outlet in the Ukrane: