Coming Friday: JB, from the heart

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An excerpt from the new autobiography from James Brown, the CBS NFL studio host, called “Role Of A Lifetime”:

All generations are searching for answers and looking for them in the lives of high-profile examples — whom society lifts as role models — who too often live by relative values and are themselves looking for guidance. You and I live in a world that all to often operates under the overriding template of self-promotion, embracing a “Hooray for Me” attitude, and which measures success in increasingly small time snapshots dotted with markers of temporal value. From a lifetime of experiences — both good and not so good — I have learned that a life of real significance will not be found by following that path.

There probably isn’t a better sportscaster out there than Brown to host this weekends Arete Awards of Courage in Sports, which airs Sunday at 3 p.m. — a time slot usually dedicated to things that can’t possibly rate up to an NFL game on another network, so are usually filled with infomercials or off-brand travel shows.

At least TiVo this one — it’ll include 17-year-old Thousand Oaks native Zac Sunderland and a revisit to his solo trip around the world on his sailboat — and read more about the life of JB in Friday’s media column.

== More on Brown’s book:
== A Q-and-A with him after a signing near his home in Bethsda, Md., in October (linked here).

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Our Daily Dread: Would you dare call the Galaxy the MLS version of the Yankees?

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We did. And Allen Hopkins, maybe slowly at first, tried it on and seemed to agree.

“That’s a very fair comparison,” the ESPN MLS sideline reporter said. “You can draw parallels with the Steinbrenners and their conglomerate and what AEG is going with Tim Leiwecki is doing around the glove. I know AEG and the Yankees have talked about doing business down the road.”

Hopkins thought about it more.

“That’s a great comparison.”

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Think more: The Galaxy made the playoffs in the first 10 years of the MLS. Then they missed the last two seasons. This year, they had the off-the-field controvery between their two stars, David Beckham and Landon Donovan, over a book. Suddenly, the team plows its way to the Western Conference title and is one win away from getting back to the MLS Cup.

Kinda like the Yankees, winning so much at the end of the ’90s, then having a dry spell, then winning the World Series earlier this month with their A-Rod, Jeter, Sabathia, et. al., filled roster.

“I know the Galaxy has two rings and would love 25 more. But that’s the thing — can you buy a championship?” said Hopkins. “I know a lot of people in the MLS want to see the big-picture, sexy model survive because we know we can always get those gritty, gutty feel-good teams. It’s time people want to see the most-hated team in the Galaxy. For years, they felt the Galaxy got the breaks and advantages. You probably feel the same way about the Yankees.”

We’ll see how it plays out when the Galaxy faces Houston at Home Depot Center in the Western Conference final, with a shot of playing in Seattle for the Nov. 22 MLS Cup.

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Hopkins, the West Hills resident who used to cover the Galaxy more intensely — he was the FSN West game analyst from 2003 through 2006, actually getting an MLS title ring with the team in ’05 — has more to say in a quick Q-and-A before you find him again on the sidelines reporting on Friday’s game (8 p.m., ESPN2, opposite ESPN’s coverage of the Lakers-Nuggets game from Denver):

== More on the Galaxy-Yankee comparison:

“The Galaxy was he team that put the MLS on the global media map because of Beckham. I know a lot of people internally will not admit it, but they hope to have people eat crow if a team like the Galaxy wins. This season was ripe to implode from the start but they got down to it and I knew at the end of the day, they’re such special players that they knew they’d have to work together. That goal sequence (in last Sunday’s Galaxy-Chivas game, leading to the Galaxy penalty kick) was a world-class run and ball from Beckham, and a first-class touch by Landon getting it to (Mike) Magee in a good spot — that wasn’t so much different from a Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol finding a Trevor Ariza to finish it.

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== On whether he feels any kind buzz in the soccer community about Friday’s game:

“I do. You know what it is? In L.A., it’s easy not to be a soccer apologist, to be connected to the game. In other parts of the cuontry, you have to justify and fly the flag. I do sense a buzz. The players are very excited about playing at home — especially on Friday the 13th. It’ll be fun. Given the crowd last Sunday, when the Galaxy do it right, it’s a marquee place. Houston will play the underdog, but you know the league wants to see L.A. in Seattle with Beckham.
“You may begrudge Beckham, but as a player, he’s excellent. And at the end of the day, they’re just playing soccer, not having a photo shoot or a run from the paparazzi obstacle course. He’ll win his matchups if you don’t pressure him. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. (Scottish midfielder) Stuart Holden on the Dynamo roster could be the next big thing in U.S. soccer. They’ll have a handful of very good and some excellent players and that’s a good formula.”

== On whether the previous two Galaxy-Houston games — a 1-0 Galaxy win at home; a 0-0 draw in Houston — provide a good indicator for what could happen Friday:

== I don’t think so because when I look at those two games, neither the coaches nor the players will take much stalk in it. The regular season and the playoffs are such different animals. The best team isn’t always the one that wins. It’s the hot team. Both these teams could have won the conference title up until the last game. On the other side, Real Salt Lake needed a win to get in. Here, you have two teams that put all the excuses and the reasons of the regular season behind them.
“I do expect a very tight and cloase game, though. The defensive mistakes you saw the Galaxy make (in the first leg against Chivas), they made amends in the second game. The one thing about Houston — they lost eight times in the regular season, all by one goal. They never got blown out, nor did they blow anyone out. They have a very veteran approach. I won’t be surprised if it takes more than 90 minutes to play this on Friday. They’re experienced enough to know about the emotions. And sometimes, these conference championship games are more fun to watch than the actual championships themselves. They can be more intriguing. I know in games like this I’d have a hard time keeping the contents of my stomach down. The teams that are successful acknowledge it’s a big game, but they look at it as a normal game.”

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Our Daily Dread: The latest, grabbing a straws, Scully non-story … but one you apparently need to know

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Photo by James Doss; www.havecamera.org
Vin Scully speaks to the audience at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society in Beverly Hills on Tuesday.

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It comes up every off season now, apparently a reporting hoping to trip Vin Scully into saying this will be his last season behind the mike for the Dodgers. It happened again Tuesday, when he addressed something called the Hollywood Radio & Television Society in Beverly Hills.

Thus, another story (linked here).

More specific, another non-story.

Scully would do best to just avoid talk of this, and he tries. There’ll be some reporter who twists his intentions, scrambles up a story that lacks any real substance, just to create some kind of panic in the community.

Knock it off. Please.

If the “news” this week is that Scully says he’ll do the 2010 season, then decide, fine. Because in November, 2010, he’ll probably say that he’ll do the 2011 season, then decide. On and on.

Yes, he’s almost 82 years old. But he knows it’s a year to year thing. Anything he predicts is silly.

He doesn’t know how his health will be. Or that of his wife. Or his family. Or who’ll own the team. Or …. a thousand other things.

If it’s God’s will, then God willing, he’ll return.

Why is that so hard to understand?

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Do we need to start making a list of who’ll replace him someday? That changes year to year as well, depending on who’s contract is up, who’d be willing to give it a shot, who’d want to avoid being “the” replacement and would then be on the short list as the “replacement’s replacement” (see: Chick Hearn, Lakers).

“I’m trying to figure out if I can walk away,” he said. “I’m the horse pulling the wagon with a lot of people on the wagon, so I’m really not sure. God willing, I’ll do next year and then we’ll just have to wait and see.”

There’s obviously trepedation among Dodger fans that he’ll someday leave. That’s inevitable. If they can control it, he’ll leave after they do. That’s quite selfish.

Let it go.

Stop worrying about future and enjoy the moment, or else, when Vin does decide it’s time, you’ll have missed something special.

Above, Vin Scully speaks to the audience at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society in Beverly Hills on Tuesday.
Photo by James Doss
www.havecamera.org

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Your NFL Week 10 TV schedule: Add another night to the fire this week

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On the NFL.com official site, they call this “rivalry weekend,” noting there are Patriots-Colts, Bengals-Steelers and Packers-Cowboys.

“Week 10 has the makings of being a classic,” they say.

What’s classic is there isn’t much grumbling about how the NFL Network starts Year 4 of its six Thursday night football game package this week. Or that there are even a couple on Saturdays and one on Christmas night (with the Chargers involved) between Weeks 10 and 16.

Are we, as humans, in tune yet with Thursday night NFL? Hard to stay. Depends, probably, on your cable or dish system.

Or how much you embrace “The Office,” “Grey’s Anatomy” or anything else that interrupts your Thursday routine.

L.A. viewers will see all those aformentioned rivalry games. Plus more. Because we can.

THURSDAY:
== 5:20 p.m., NFL Network: Chicago at San Francisco (with Bob Papa and Matt Millen)

SUNDAY:
== 10 a.m. Channel 2: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, as opposed to Buffalo-Tennessee or Jacksonville-N.Y. Jets.)
== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Detroit at Minnesota (with Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan and Chris Myers, as opposed to Atlanta-Carolina, Tampa Bay-Miami or New Orleans-St. Louis).
== 1 p.m., Channel 11: Dallas at Green Bay (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver, as opposed to Seattle-Arizona or Philadelphia-San Diego; CBS offers Kansas City-Oakland in this window as well).
== 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: New England at Indianapolis (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andre Kremer)

MONDAY
== 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Baltimore at Cleveland (with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski) .. news flash: Browns name Brady Quinn as their new starter. What could possibly go wrong there?

Bye: Houston, New York Giants.

And bye the way: The rest of the NFL Network schedule for those who aren’t up to speed:
Week 11: Thursday, November 19, 5 p.m.: Miami at Carolina
Week 12: Thursday, November 26, 5 p.m.: New York Giants at Denver
Week 13: Thursday, December 3, 5 p.m.: New York Jets vs. Buffalo in Toronto
Week 14: Thursday, December 10, 5 p.m.: Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Week 15: Thursday, December 17, 5 p.m.: Indianapolis at Jacksonville
Week 15: Saturday, December 19, 5 p.m.: Dallas at New Orleans
Week 16: Friday, December 25, 4 p.m.: San Diego at Tennessee

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Your Week 11 L.A. college football TV choices: The Fox Soccer Channel doesn’t even want your football team

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Just to make it clear, that’s FCS, Fox College Sports, not FSC, Fox Soccer Channel, doing this weekend’s UCLA-Washington State football game. DirecTV Channel 617, right between FUEL and The Mnt. network.

And, to be more specific, it’s FCS Pacific. Not Atlantic. Or Central. Just us.

In a season of Horned Frogs, Broncos, Yellow Jackets and Bearcats, you’ve officially buried the Bruins. Congratulations. Although, if you’re spinning the remote later in the evening, a replay will be shown on Prime Ticket at 7 p.m.

This is the time of the college football season when, if you’re not playing with the big boys, it gets tougher and tougher to track down your games.

USC’s game against Stanford, for example, would have most likely been a ABC regional game from the Coliseum. But then USC lost two weeks ago. Now they say it’s going to FSN West, since ABC would rather take Iowa-Ohio State, and ESPN snagged Arizona State-Oregon.

Although, on our TiVo menu, it says the Trojans-Cardinal game is on Prime Ticket. Again, one branch of the local net has flipped it over to the other side.

There’s more turnover here than (fill in your own punchline).

Take your pick from some other slim pickins, and find Fort Worth on the map if you’re interested in College GameDay:

THE LOCALS:
== Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket No. 9 USC vs. Stanford, Coliseum (with Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis)
== Saturday, 2 p.m., Fox College Sports Pacific, 570-AM (replay on Prime Ticket, 7 p.m.): UCLA at Washington State (with Steve Physioc, Yogi Roth and Samantha Steele)

TODAY
== 4 p.m., ESPN2: Ohio at Buffalo (with Todd Harris and Charles Arbuckle)

WEDNESDAY
== 5 p.m., ESPN2: Toledo at Central Michigan (with Eric Collins, Ray Bentley and Robert Smith)

THURSDAY
== 3 p.m., ESPNU: Ball State at Northern Illinois (with Dan McLaughlin and David Jon Berger)
== 4:30 p.m., ESPN: No. 24 South Florida at Rutgers (with Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Erin Andrews)
== 6 p.m., ESPNU: Texas Southern at Grambling State (with Charlie Neal and Jay Walker)

FRIDAY
== 5 p.m., ESPN2: No. 25 West Virginia at No. 5 Cincinnati (with Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich)
== 5 p.m., ESPNU: Temple at Akron (with Justin Kutcher and Tom Luginbill)

SATURDAY

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== 7 to 9 a.m., ESPN: “College GameDay” from Fort Worth, Texas, site of No. 16 Utah at No. 4 TCU. For the record, this is the fourth time this season “GameDay” has originated from a game not shown on the ESPN family of networks, and it is the third Mountain West Conference site in four weeks. With Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard. And Herbstreit having to jet out of there and get to …. Pittsburgh?

== 9 a.m., Channel 2: Tennessee at Mississippi (with Craig Bolerjack and Steve Beuerlein)
== 9 a.m., FSN West: No. 2 Texas at Baylor (with Bill Land, Dave Lapham and Emily Jones)
== 9 a.m., Big Ten Network: Michigan at No. 20 Wisconsin (with Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin and Charissa Thompson)
== 9 a.m., ESPN: Michigan State at Purdue (with Dave Pasch, Bob Griese and Chris Spielman)
== 9 a.m., ESPN2: No. 7 Georgia Tech at Duke (with Pam Ward and Ray Bentley)
== 9 a.m., ESPNU: Florida State at Wake Forest (with Clay Matvick and David Diaz-Infante)
== 9 a.m., ESPN Classic: Northwestern at Illinois (with Mike Morgan and Jon Berger)
== 9 a.m., CBS College Sports: No. 15 Houston at Central Florida (with Matt McConnell and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila)
== 9:30 a.m., Versus: Missouri at Kansas State (with Ron Thulin, Kelly Stouffer and Lindsay Soto)
== 10 a.m., ESPN360.com: No. 21 Virginia Tech at Maryland (with Dave Weekley and Danny Kanell)
== 11 a.m., The Mtn.: No. 22 BYU at New Mexico (with Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler and Keenan McCardell)

== 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: No. 10 Iowa at No. 11 Ohio State (with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Holly Rowe)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN: No. 14 Miami at North Carolina (with Bob Wischusen and Brian Griese)
== 12:30 p.m., Channel 2: No. 1 Florida at South Carolina (with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN360.com: Nebraska at Kansas (with Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPNU: Idaho at No. 6 Boise State (with Todd Harris and Charles Arbuckle)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN360.com: Boston College at Virginia (with Ryan Rose and John Gregory)
== 12:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: Delaware at Navy (with Tom McCarthy and Randy Cross)
== 12:30 p.m., FSN Northwest: Washington at Oregon State (with Tom Glasgow, Steve Preece, Rashad Floyd and Angie Mentink)

== 3 p.m., The Mtn.: UNLV at Air Force (with James Bates, Todd Christensen and Natalie Vickers)
== 4 p.m., Versus: No. 17 Arizona at Cal (with Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker and Lewis Johnson)
== 4 p.m., ESPN: No. 2 Alabama at Mississippi State (with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews)
== 4 p.m., ESPN2: Auburn at Georgia (with Mark Jones and Bob Davie)
== 4 p.m., ESPNU: Louisiana Tech at No. 8 LSU (with Eric Collins and Brock Huard)
== 4 p.m., FSN West: Texas A&M at Oklahoma (with Joel Meyers, Gary Reasons and Jim Knox)
== 4:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: No. 16 Utah at No. 4 TCU (with Tom Hart, Aaron Taylor and Lauren Shehadi)
== 5 p.m., Channel 7: Notre Dame at No. 12 Pittsburgh (with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters)
== 5 p.m., ESPN PPV/ESPN360.com: Texas Tech at No. 19 Oklahoma State (with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox)

== 7 p.m., The Mtn.: Wyoming at San Diego State (with Bill Doleman, Robert Griffith and Molly Sullivan)

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== 7:20 p.m., ESPN: Arizona State at No. 13 Oregon (with Terry Gannon and David Norrie)

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RVH: RIP

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Longtime L.A.-based sportscaster and UCLA grad Rod Van Hook passed away after a long illness, according to LARadio.com. He was 61 and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Van Hook worked as a sports anchor at KFWB-AM more than two decades — 1979 to 2000 — as well as KMPC-AM (1972-78) and KSPN-AM (2000-06), winning three Golden Mike awards. He most recently worked at Sports USA Radio doing the scoreboard show during college and NFL games broadcast over the network.

He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in English and U.S. history. He was also a Santa Monica High alum.

Said former colleague Bill Seward: “Rod was a charming human being and a first-rate sports anchor. He was a trusted source of radio sports news for countless Angelenos over the past several decades.”

Larry Kahn, who hired Van Hook to do the scoreboard show at his Sports USA radio company for two seasons — he could not do it this year because of his health — said he was “the best scoreboard update guy ever on radio. And also one of the nicest people in an industry filled with huge egos. He knew his stuff, did his work professionally and never complained.”

Brian Golden, who worked with Van Hook at Sports USA Radio, once described him as ” the kind of smooth pro who thinks the purpose of the scoreboard show is to inform you, rather than impress you with his standup comedy skills or otherwise promoting himself over the games themselves.”

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Play it forward: Nov. 9-15 on your L.A. sports calendar

MONDAY

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On the day Luc Robitalle is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (with Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and Brian Leetch), the Kings can’t get out of George Halas International Midway Airport. And it’s the only game played in the NHL tonight. And the game’s on a network no one with DirecTV can get. What the puck?
NHL: Kings at Chicago, 5 p.m., Versus, 1150-AM.

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Isiah Thomas, you’ve run out of time. Again. Let’s see what kind of team you’re going to put on the court as a head college basketball coach. We’ll hold our giggles to a minimum.
College basketball: Florida International at North Carolina, 4 p.m., ESPNU

This is going on, as well.
NBA: Clippers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

From today’s USA Today: To hype its “Legend of Jimmy The Greek” documentary debuting Tuesday, ESPN’s Monday night NFL pregame show reunites Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Irv Cross– who worked with Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder on CBS’ NFL show in the 1980s — in a comedic skit. They’ll preview the Pittsburgh-Denver game as if it is decades ago, so when ESPN’s Tom Jackson, the ex-Bronco who retired 23 years ago walks on the set a surprised George says, “Shouldn’t you be at the game?” while Musburger announces: “We have some breaking news. Tom Jackson won’t be playing tonight.”
NFL: Pittsburgh at Denver, 5 p.m., ESPN

TUESDAY

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The Bruins beat NAIA Concordia in a poor exhibition of their skills, victorious by one point last week. Now they take it up a notch. Will they be completely humbled by Humbolt State in this one?
College basketball: UCLA vs. Humbolt State, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., www.uclabruins.com.

We’ll bank on 21-year-old Joe Cada against 46-year-old Darvin Moon for the $8.5 mil top prize.
World Series of Poker, main event, at the Rio in Las Vegas, 6 p.m., ESPN

WEDNESDAY

The Kings’ longest roadie of the year continues into places that don’t deserve NHL mention.
NHL: Kings at Carolina, 4 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM.

Yup, and this one’s on the schedule.
NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m, Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

THURSDAY

Four days after their last win (against New Orleans), the 6-1 Lakers take on the (currently) 6-1 Suns, who’ll be playing at home against New Orleans the night before — meaning Phoenix could be leading the Pacific Division when this takes place.
NBA: Lakers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT, 710-AM.

The NFL starts playing Thursday night games. For those working toward the Thanksgiving holiday.
NFL: Chicago at San Francisco, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network.

FRIDAY

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The Galaxy ended up as the men who stared down the Goats. Chivas was too stubborn to push themselves into the next round of the MLS playoffs, so they pushed the Galaxy instead into the Western Conference finals against Houston. David Beckham misses England’s exhibition against Brazil to see if he can help the Galaxy get into the MLS title game. Actually, the Galaxy really can’t afford to have Landon Donovan miss.
MLS: Western Conference final: Houston at Galaxy, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., ESPN2.

Now it’s the Lakers turn for back-to-back, having to fly to Denver for their first encounter with the Nuggets since last year’s playoffs.
NBA: Lakers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Channel 9, 710-AM.

The league says this game must be played on this date as well.
NBA: Clippers vs. Toronto, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

There’s still an NHL team in Atlanta? The Flames, right.
NHL: Kings at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM.

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Cal State Northridge, the two-time defending Big West basketball champs and returning three starters from last year’s team that went 17-14 and went to the NCAA tournament, are picked to finish third behind Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara in the preseason media poll. Purdue isn’t picked to win the Big Ten, either — but the Boilermakers are ranked 7 in the country coming in. Close your eyes.
College basketball: CSUN at Purdue, 4 p.m., ESPN360.com.

SATURDAY

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The Trojans could have picked an easier team than the Cardinal for a homecoming game. But then nothing seems to come very easily for USC this football season. Yet, in the BCS standings, somehow the Trojans move to No. 9 after a sloppy win at ASU. In the latest AP poll, Stanford snuck in at No. 25 on the legs of Toby Gehart (running past Oregon) while USC is at No. 11.
College football: Stanford at USC, Coliseum, 12:30 p.m., FSN West

Nothing’s automatic for the Bruins, but a win here could be.
College football: UCLA at Washington State, 2 p.m., Fox College Sports

This trip through the NHL’s Southeast Division is dandy, but when do the Kings return home?
NHL: Kings at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m., 1150-AM.

This is worth keeping an eye on as well.
NHL: Ducks at Detroit, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket, 830-AM.

Winner may face the Galaxy. And Becks could miss another trip to Europe.
MLS: Eastern Conference final: Real Salt Lake at Chicago, 5 p.m., FSC.

SUNDAY

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They went OT before the Lakers pulled it out against the Rockets last week in Houston. Trevor Ariza finally gets his ring. Now beat it.
NBA: Lakers vs. Houston, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSN West.

They say people will actually pay to attend this game. We’ll need to see it to believe it.
NBA: Clippers at Oklahoma City, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

Somehow the Colts are still unbeaten, and the Pats lead the AFC East.
NFL: New England at Indianapolis, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4.

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The next-to-last NASCAR race of the season …. will Jimmy Johnson finally put this thing away?
NASCAR: Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix, 12:15 p.m., Channel 7.

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The Media Learning Curve: Oct. 30-Nov. 6

It’s more disturbing than ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, who used to try to convince us to invest in Titleist golf balls, now pimping a website that sells you gold online (and if you act now, you get a “free investor’s kit”). Naw … that’s OK, we’ll just stick our cash under the mattress and take our chances, thanks.

It’s harder to digest than Fox Sports Net West’s Michael Eaves, labeled as “host/reporter,” standing in front of what’s supposed to be his barbecue roasting wieners and spouting off: “Hey sports fans … my job takes me to stadiums all across Southern California …. the one thing they have in common?” Aside from those Farmer John dogs you’re grilling, is it a security guard at the media gate who asks: “What the hell do you do again?”

It’s the latest incarnation of fill-the-gullet food pitchman Chris “Balloonman” Berman, enough to make one want to just stick your finger down your throat and get it over with ASAP.

Not to shoot more fllet-of-fish in a barrel, but how long ago was it that he was shouting to the heavens about his new diet, the Nutrisystem program that allowed him to drop some 40 pounds when he taped the spots:

The biggest loser in deed.

The latest ad campaign, with an even thinner Berman lining his wallet — has him screaming about Applebee’s latest “2 for $20″ meals — one appetizer, two entries, 20 bucks, with a pair of tongs straddling a side of grilled cow (and the disclaimer — beverage, tax and gratiuity not included — that goes by the wayside).

He comes on the spots with the nameline Chris “Boomer” Berman” and is “kicking this off” with (actors he’s named) Dan “Wing Master” Wilson and Joe “App-Attacker” Davis — nicknames, apparently, that “Boomer” gave them, but we’re not sure, so we’ll keep the fantasy alive for you — attacking buffalo wings as the pre-meal, then a 7-ounce sirloin and a three-cheese chicken somekinda dish with noodles that looks to be about 4,000 calories.

What’s the mixed message here to those who enjoy a few good meals after 9 p.m. before heading to bed? If someone pays you to lose weight, take it. If someone also pays you to eat stuff that’s a step below Vegas buffet line food-stuff, also take it.
And, in the future, if Bounce fabric softener comes calling, Boomer should also take it. It’s more believeable (linked here).

Other stuff we got taught about while reading and eating a really big sandwich:

== Your Week 10 of L.A. college football TV viewing: Beware of the new ESPN hilariously new family show, “Holtz!” … right before “Griese!” (linked here)

== Your Week 9 of L.A. NFL TV viewing: Those who choose not to play, we thank you (linked here).

== If Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin called the Vikings-Packers game … just thinking out loud (linked here).

== Bill Walton’s legacy doesn’t have to be calling Dkimbe Mutumbo’s footwork horrible for the viewers at home. (linked here).

== Magic and Larry know how to sell a book — gang up on Isiah (linked here).

== Someone who knows someone with a wheelbarrow full of money says the economy seems to be sorta kinda getting better — quick, hit the U.S. networks up for Olympic TV rights (linked here)

== There is a Jim Rome fansite that wil elicit some laughter (linked here)

== More on TVG analyst Paul Lo Duca (linked here)

== More notes from the week to mull over, including news of a new Onion TV show linked to Comedy Central that will likely be a thorn in the side of ESPN (linked here)

== How to follow the Dodger Divorce mess (linked here)

== What to make of the “Colbert Report” supporting the U.S. speed skating team (linked here).

AND FINALLY:

== Why wouldn’t ESPN be interested in someday snatching the NCAA March Madness away from CBS if the network stupidly exercises an early opt-out with their TV deal (linked here), as USA Today reports.
ESPN started the whole thing some 30 years ago. CBS has just refined it, but more, pushed it to more frustration with this in-and-out system of first- and second-round games that now send real fans to the website instead of the real TV experience.
If ESPN has the muscle to recapture this and reformat it so there’d be games simultaneously on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic — plus ESPN360.com — we endorse it.

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“Wow” con’t: A Bruce Foster Q-and-A

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The Sydney Opera House, by Bruce Foster, for the book “Architectural Wonders: A Pop-Up Gallery of the World’s Most Amazing Marvels”

Following up to our quick review of the new book, (linked here), “Wow: The Pop-up Book of Sports” by Sports Illustrated for Kids, we tracked down paper engineer Bruce Foster, whose work must be held in your hands to fully enjoy, for a quick Q-and-A:

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Q: How big of a sports fan are you (considering your upbringing, where you live, etc.) and did that draw you into this SI project?

A: Well, I’ve lived most of my life in the South — Louisiana as a boy, Tennessee as a teen and young adult, and Texas as an adult and father — although as a young child I did live briefly in L.A. and San Diego. My dad’s sport has always been hunting rather than team sports, but my brother, David, to whom I dedicated this book, was always the real sportsman in the family. He was very very good at whatever he tried whether it was hunting, baseball little league, football, and now his son, Dalton, is carrying on that tradition in fine form.

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As for me, I was the bookish, artistic boy and didn’t get into sports much as a kid. My nose was always buried in a comic book or sci fi novel. I did enjoy football at The University of Tennessee where I went to college, and now I’m a fan of our local Houston teams. Working on the Tomlinson spread with the Titans — what with my Texas-Tennessee connection) — was a lot of fun for me. Even though it was a losing play for the Titans (and former Oilers), I enjoyed including them in this book.

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Q: How could you compare bringing sports to “life” in a book like this versus other projects you have done — which seem to be mostly making buildings and sculptures pop out of a book?

A: My work is actually quite broad with a very wide variety of subjects as well as a diverse group of illustrators such as children’s author/illustrators Mo Willems, Charles Schulz and Marjorie Priceman, comic artist Wil Eisner, modern fine artists Elizabeth Murray and Ginny Ruffner, as well as adult market artists like Chuck Fischer.
As for media, paper engineers can design with greater fluidity with traditional illustration as opposed to photography since its more labor intensive to re-invent photography, filling in missing areas that illustrators can just draw as needed. In this book there were many complications in working with photography, especially people, but the retouching artists at SIK are super talented. Bringing these great moments of reality to paper motion entailed going through a lot of photographs to choose the right one or group of photos of the same moment so that we could lift pieces to fill in the gaps. We actually had many other sports in consideration, but in the end had to pare it down to a group that was diverse, had wide appeal and was possible to translate into pop up.

Q: Were the SI shots you had to work with among the best sports photography you’d seen?

A: There is no doubt about that. SI has an incredible library of fantastic shots from which to choose.

Q: How long did it take from concept to finishing it?

A: This book actually moved faster than most books I’ve worked on. When SIKids contacted me in November 2008, we already were behind schedule to meet Fall ’09 lists, so everyone was very motivated to get it done quickly. We knew that the principle work had to be completed by March and we didn’t get approval to start until early December, so that means from beginning to end it only took four months before color correction and printing began.
The SIK team was able to do all the prepress work as well, so the printer in China was handed fully designed, color corrected files and proof sheets extremely early compared to the norm. If your readers aren’t aware, all pop up books are hand assembled, usually in Asia where the work force is highly trained to do just this task. Most pop up books take a year at least to develop.

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Q: What kind of time does it take to put together just one concept? Was the the one with skateboarder Danny Way jumping over the Great Wall the toughest to engineer?

A: Each subject had its own characteristics, some taking longer than others. Some took only a week to design, some several. And there were a few sports scenes that I explored before ultimately discarding them. I’d say that the Red Sox spread was actually the most difficult. Not only for me, but for the photo artists. Trying to get a real Fenway Park to pop up in several directions was tough! And the artists had a particularly difficult time finding photos of all the areas needed to fit my templates. And yes, we are all aware that they didn’t win the pennant at Fenway. This is more of an homage to the team that finally broke that famous curse. Placing them inside their legendary home just seemed a great setting. So if you will, notice the team is actually sitting on a platform instead of the actual playing field. Like a commemorative statue, almost.

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Q: Any other things you wanted to add about the production of this book and whether you feel it’s just as much for adults as kids?

A: This is a great, great collection of sports moments. But there are of course many more. I’d love to work on a sequel. Perhaps another one can include say…. hockey!…. But that will be up to SIK and the sports fans out there.
As for who this book is for, well, Sports Illustrated Kids magazine may be intended for a younger audience, but these sports moments transcend age. This book could have been produced for adults by Sports Illustrated just as well. Every sports fan, no matter age, is going to want this book once they see it. The background information and graphics about these athletes and great sports moments that surround the popups are incredibly informative and interesting.

== More of Bruce Foster’s work at his blog (linked here)

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From the book, “In the Beginning, the Book of Genesis,” the seven days of Creation, with each disc representing a day and including a pull out excerpt from Genesis about that particular day.

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Rodney King v. Officer Laurence Powell, in the ring? Please, no….

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The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Rodney King says boxing is helping him stay sober.

King, whose 1991 video taped beating by Los Angeles police helped spark South Central riots a year later, is among a group of D-list celebrities barnstorming the country as part of the Celebrity Boxing Federation.

He and former major league baseball player and steroid user Jose Canseco headline a card tonight at a Springfield hotel.

King will be fighting former basketball player, Derek MacIntosh. Canseco will be up against local amateur boxer Todd Poulton.

King says he decided to get involved in these exhibitions to make some money, stay in shape and stay sober. He’s hoping eventually to get a match with Laurence Powell, one of the police officers involved in his beating.

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