And in case you’re wondering, the D’backs don’t visit Dodger Stadium until May 31

i-304e14a855020238a7ba59f6e2e3d459-a9f6b019327d8207c90e6a7067003e66.jpg

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Young-Sun Song of Chicago protests at Wrigley Field today before the Diamondbacks-Cubs game.

The Associated Press

CHICAGO — Immigrant rights activists chanting “Boycott Arizona” and “Reform, Not Racism” demonstrated Thursday outside Chicago’s Wrigley Field as the Cubs opened a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Protesters are upset over Arizona’s new immigration law that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and lets police question anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. Activists nationwide have called for a boycott of Arizona tourism and businesses, including its athletic teams.

“We are here today to send a clear message to the state of Arizona that we are going to boycott” until lawmakers repeal the immigration law and stop criminalizing immigrants, said Pastor Jose Landaverde of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Church in Chicago, who was among the more than three dozen protesters outside Wrigley Field.

A small plane carrying a banner criticizing the law also circled over Wrigley.

Protesters said they’ve faxed a letter to Cubs management asking that the team’s spring training be moved out of Arizona. Cubs spokesman Peter Chase said the team was declining comment.

Immigration reform groups said they targeted the Diamondbacks, in part, because the team’s owners have supported Republican politicians who backed the Arizona law. The team said in a statement that isn’t the case.

“Although D-backs’ Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has donated to Republican political candidates in the past … Kendrick personally opposes State Bill 1070,” the team said. “The D-backs have never supported State Bill 1070 and have never taken political stances.”

Diamondbacks players and coaches had little to say about the issue Thursday beyond a few wisecracks. Backup infielder Augie Ojeda, who was born in Los Angeles and went to Piux X High School in Downey, joked about changing his last name to Jones.

“We’re here to play baseball. I’m going to stay out of the political arena,” said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch.

Most fans filing into the stadium seemed bewildered by the protest, and others said they opposed the mixing of sports and politics.

“I think it makes their cause look silly,” Cubs fan Tom McGrath said. “Our economy is in a recession, boycotting states doesn’t seem very good.”

Protesters said they plan to return to Wrigley Field for the rest of the series.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Secretariat, where are you? Check with my secretary

i-71876aab18013f3ae1f345b4936ed462-d162e48b32358107c90e6a70670032af.jpg

AP photo/Ed Reinke
Penny Chenery, owner of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, looks on at left as actress Diane Lane speaks during a news conference Thursday about the movie based on the story of the legendary horse.

By Jim Litke
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby goes off late Saturday afternoon and for two glorious minutes and change, horse racing will be back at the center of the universe. And then, like a hangover, the sport of kings will have to confront its grim prospects all over again.

Declining revenues, smaller purses, shorter fields, less wagering and even the biggest track operators in North America in bankruptcy — the odds for renewal are so depressingly long that even mighty Secretariat likely couldn’t make a dent.

That won’t stop Big Red from trying.

At least at the movies.

Coming this fall to a theater near you, “Secretariat” is a retelling of the greatest Triple Crown campaign ever, this time through the eyes of his owner, Penny Chenery, who took the reins of her ailing father’s stable against the advice of her husband and turned the old-boy, old-money, bourbon-fueled network that dominated the game on its ear.

“Seeing yourself in a movie is really weird,” Chenery said with a laugh.

Now 87 and living in Boulder, Colo., she returned Thursday to Churchill Downs, where Secretariat’s saga began. Chenery walks with the aid of a cane, but her wit remains as sharp as ever.

“They told me, ‘Penny, it’s not a documentary, it’s a Disney movie,'” she added a moment later. “I’ve adjusted to a revised version of my life.”

Then she paused again, looked to her left at actress Diane Lane — who plays Chenery in the movie — and beamed.

“I’m younger and prettier.”

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Goodell on an L.A. NFL playground: Big dollars and common sense that’ll make it work

i-10680d28557adde5881d689fb0fbdf1b-Bulldozers_thatcham_1944.jpg

NFL commissioner Roger The Dodger Goodell, a guest on the NFL Network’s “Total Access” show Wednesday night, said that for a team to return to the L.A. area there needs to be a “terrific stadium, a state-of-the-art facility which the fans here in Southern California deserve.”

Great idea. Next, we build a giant Slip-n-Slide so when a team says it wants to move here, it’ll be easier for ’em to just quickly pass on through as they’re trying to up the ante with their current home market to get a new stadium built for them.

Goodell said of a report that a possible downtown L.A. stadium near Staples Center is in play with the Roski proposal in City of Industry: “We are not aligned in the sense of we’re exclusive to any alternative. … There are some very positive developments. One stadium’s been approved from an environmental standpoint. Another stadium is being developed in the downtown area. These are great solutions for us and hopefully will lead to a better solution overall for our fans in Southern California.”

But then the pending Collective Bargaining Agreement is geting in the way.

“Hopefully, this type of investment where you have to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly billions of dollars, into a new stadium, we can make those kind of investments, which will be good for the game,” said Goodell.

NFL Net host Rich Eisen : “So the stadium’s the cart and the CBA is the horse?”

Goodell: “It’s one thing to have approval to get a bill, but you’ve got to be able to finance it. We’re opening a stadium in New York this year which is about $1.7 billion, all privately financed. That’s a tremendous investment that the owners have to make to continue to grow the game.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

My USC town … your UCLA town … Mr. Hand, why can’t the Dodgers just make this ‘Our Town’ …

i-1052f21fa9cd4fa8401d9d7135b1ec08-092009S147.JPG

Pipe down, Spicoli.

We’re not going to turn Dodger Stadium into Grover’s Corners, with the weird kid with the Member’s Only jacket from the Slide Rule Club wearing the gray wig and a sweater with elbow patches trying to look like an old man reminiscing about his miserable New England life …

i-a6222bef68034fab14794844c64660dd-NEW my town t-shirts-USC.jpg

USC and UCLA can co-exist in Los Angeles. They have for years. Without any ugly turf wars.

They can even play Monopoly together. USC gets the sports car, UCLA gets the old shoe.

i-8ab4caa88f39dcf0adff6c5d13797922-NEW my town t-shirts-UCLA.jpg

But according to the Dodgers, each has to claim a piece of their territory. Tonight, when the Dodgers face the Pirates, it’s USC night. Friday, it’s UCLA night. They’ll give out caps and T-shirts to prove it fits into their “My Town” marketing stratetgy. That, and a $45 ticket will get you all you can eat up in the upper right-field reserved level.

There are former USC baseball players who’ve been employed by the Dodgers: Ron Fairly, Rod Dedeaux, Len Gabrielson, Ray Lamb, Bobby Mitchell. Did you know: Current USC athletic director and former Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett was drafted by Dodgers, but for some crazy reason picked pro football.

How would the world of sports be different today if he took baseball over football?

i-1dcda83e508181cea11bc4dc4b518fb0-485861599_22138d836c.jpg

UCLA players on the Dodgers’ roster over the years: Eric Karros, Todd Zeile, Tim Leary, Glenn Mickens, Dave Roberts, Ron Roenicke, Matt Young. Oh, and Jackie Robinson.

How would the world of sports have been different if Robinson took up football or basketball instead of his third (maybe fourth-best sport after track and field) choice?

The baseball venues for both schools are named after former Dodgers: Dedeaux Field and Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Jordan Hershiser, the 6-foot-8 son of former Dodger Orel Hershiser, is pitching these days at USC. He played in the recent Dodgertown Classic — where UCLA beat USC 6-1 in a non-conference game at Dodger Stadium in February.

But we could do on and on … and we should.

Me, the USC graduate, shot an email off the UCLA guy Karros about this Dodger promotion.

I have no status around the USC campus. Karros is a UCLA Hall of Famer, by the way. Two-time All Pac-10 first baseman (with the team from ’86-’88), a .365 career batting average, hit .415 in ’88 with 17 HRs and 54 RBIs. A sixth-round draft pick by the Dodgers … you know the rest. And if you don’t, he’ll get you up to speed.

EK received the email. Responded. More typing ensued:

i-0a99a073f8c60a781ebc97a62438e0de-NEW LA USC Hat FINAL.jpg

TH: EK, gotta hand it to you, the Bruins are off to a crazy start this baseball season. What was it, 12 wins in a row to start the year? 15? I lost track .. all I know is I was at Dodger Stadium two months ago for the UCLA-USC game and saw first hand how solid this Bruins team is. How do you explain this abberation in UCLA sports history — uh, and maybe overlooking that 16-4 loss to Long Beach State the other night?

EK: This aberration in sports for UCLA? Women’s Gymnastics just won a National Title…..adding to over 100 National Titles…where is SC? And Coach Savage and the baseball team didn’t want to peak too early…….lose a few and go to Arizona and take two of three from the Wildcats and retain the 5th spot in the country…

TH: Really, you’re pulling the gymnastics card? You don’t want to “beyond baseball” in this argument. And that stale national titles argument … If you’ve got to count trophies to feel good about yourself … Focus on baseball for a minute — it used to be USC’s dominant sport, like UCLA’s basketball program. And we won’t even venture into football …. I got my ideas about what’s happened to USC’s glory on the diamond. What do you think? Do scholarship limitations have anything to do with the state of college baseball programs — especially private vs. public universities? Can Chad Krueter fix this? You played with and against him, right?

i-3ff55389e9be20dc75b71de22bf64283-NEW Karros_UCLA_1.jpg

EK: Focus on baseball? With the state of the team at SC maybe intramural activities ought to be the focus……And our basketball program, we had to have a down year to let the teams in the Pac-10 catch up. You’ve got the scoop on SC, when are the sanctions being handed down? By the way…UCLA just beat Irvine in baseball…

TH: And USC’s baseball team just lost another one, to that juggernaut UC Santa Barbara… after losing two of three to Oregon … but then there’s news that USC’s women’s golf team will go to the post season for the 12th year in a row in search of an NCAA title … oh, wait, that’s South Carolina …. and there was a UCLA player taken before a USC player in the recent NFL draft … and … wait, I keep giving you more amo. … hold on, was Rick Neuheisel really telling the fans who showed up at the Rose Bowl for last week’s spring game that the team was going to win the Pac-10 championship and “see you back here on January 1″? Apparently the Football Monopoly in L.A. really is over. As least UCLA has that going for ’em.

EK: I like our football team in the hands of “Rick” and even more so that Pete has migrated north. …. football will be like it was in the 90’s, as it should … anyhow, enjoy your evening tonight as it may be the only benefit of supporting SC, a Dodger game….

TH: Thanks. hope you make it out Friday for … oh, that’s right, you’ve got a committment to make a buck up in Seattle for a Fox MLB broadcast. Say hi to Pete for us if you run into him at a Starbucks.

i-461e55a0b07392d87ff583adbd054630-091409JO336.jpg

The Dodgers will have that famed USC women’s basketball coach Michael Cooper throw out the first pitch tonight (no Lisa Leslie?) Garrett and USC men’s coach Kevin O’Neill will also be there. No Lane Kiffin? Friday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will throw out the first pitch on UCLA night, with AD Dan Guerrero (a former Bruins second baseman) and basketball coach Ben Howland hanging around.

If you get a ticket for the Dodgertown section, you get the T-shirt, plus all-you-can-inhale Dodger Dogs, pastrami sandwiches, chips, popcorn, nachos, drinks … go to www.dodgers.com/mytown for more info.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

30 baseball books in 30 days of ’10: Day 29 — Pastore visits his past, and frankly, it’s a pretty amazing transformation

i-64df2ea5b1e8cb0f9701b4db58b00297-41qLJVcPEqL__SS500_.jpg

The book: “Shattered: Struck Down, But Not Destroyed”

The author: Frank Pastore (with Ellen Vaughn)

The vital stats: Focus On The Family publishing, 225 pages, $13.99

Find it: On the publisher’s website (linked here). Also on Amazon.com (linked here)

The pitch: Chapter One:

“It was a clear blue day in Dodger Stadium, perfect for baseball. And my life was perfect, too.
“At age 26, I’d been pitching for the Cincinnati Reds for five years. I had a beautiful wife, a young son, and a baby on the way, a decent fastball, and he cars, condos, and cash of the good life in the fast lane. My dreams had come true.
“I was cruising to a 3-1 victory, with two outs in the eighth inning. I threw a 2-1 fastball on the outside of the plate, something I’d done a thousand times before.
“It’s odd how life can change forever in the blink of an eye.”

Steve Sax of the Dodgers lined the pitch back at him. Pastore put his right arm up to protect his head. The ball crushed his elbow “like a hammer hitting a glass bottle.”

He asked God why he would let that happen, “and that made me madder still. Prayer was for weaklings and losers. … I didn’t believe in God. I was raging at Someone who didn’t exist.”

i-7b9a4974ec2943b2f5019cff28ab3a02-frankpastone.jpg

Don’t stop here and assume this is using a baseball autobiography disguised as a witness talk to brow-beat the reader into beliving in a higher power. It’s simply a man’s journey — one who believed he was an invincible pitcher on a successful team making great money and having all the spoils of victory — and how he didn’t feel fulfilled.

Pastore, who today has a daily talk show on KKLA-FM (99.5) (linked here) that focuses “on the intersection of faith and reason,” has a way of presenting his journey without making it uncomfortable or unreasonable. He had all the same push-back doubts about those who came at him with a Bible and a belief of something better. He grew up with no faith, in a family very dysfunctional, with a God-given talent of throwing a baseball.

How would he use that talent?

He was a Southern California kid from the ’60s and ’70s — West Covina, Upland, went to high school at Damien. Had his mom pretend to be Catholic so they could get into the private school. He had a girl he wanted to marry — his friend’s little sister, four years younger than him — from a strict Catholic family.

As for that game used in Chapter One, and repeated in detail in Chapter 24 — he was defeating Fernando Valenzuela on his home turf — this was actually the second time in his career where that kind of “Ahhh” moment hit him. Both were at Dodger Stadium.

Three years earlier, on a Saturday nationally televised game, Pastore’s son, Frankie, was born a month early, rushed to the hospital with underdeveloped lungs and given a 50-50 chance of surviving his first week. Reds manager John McNamara gave him the choice to skip his turn, but without much sleep, Pastore decided to pitch that day for the Reds against the Dodgers. He went 7-plus innings and got the win. And his son survived.

Pastore writes:

“This was life and death — a flesh-and-blood situation — and Frankie pulled at something inside of me. I began to realize, in a way that I couldn’t or wouldn’t even articulate, that I may have had all the external signs of success, but there was something wrong. Something was missing. There was a hole in my life that ‘more’ wasn’t filling. … I began to lose faith that baseball would eve rmake me happy and fulfilled.
“I remember looking around the clubhouse at the players one day … most of these men had become rich and famous (but) only a few were happy. That was very disturbing. … The only guys who seemed to be ‘together’ were the guys I regularily made fun of behind their backs: those religious fanatics who brought the Bible into the locker room … those born-again Jesus freaks who believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Somebody rising from the dead.”

There are stories of Pastore learning life lessons from his boyhood idols, Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver. There’s even a better story later when Pastore is released by the Reds — called into manager Pete Rose’s office and told the news. Pastore takes it so passively that Rose becomes enraged.

“‘This God s— isn’t going to help you! So many guys get into religion and this Bible s—. This game of life is about looking out for number one … And here you are with all this ‘Jesus loves you’ crap.'”

Pastore answers: “I do know that God has a plan for evertying. … why do you think He choose you, out of all the players in the world, to be the one to break Ty Cobb’s record? I’m going to pray for you.”

And then you know about what happened to Rose …

i-85937aa528b3ae2f03845cd6ed34d960-528390101.jpg

How it goes down in the scorebook: Pastore tells his life story better than we could ever try to replicate here, but it’s in a personable, inviting way that explains his process of challenging himself and his family, rebounding not just from that incident as a player but several times in his post-baseball career, when the IRS blindsided him, and when he was disillusioned by the politics going on at the Christian-faith university he taught at, Biola. Thanks for sharing.

Also: Pastore has a book signing at Barnes & Noble stores in Orange on May 15, in Torrance on May 22 and in Glendale on June 4.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email