Play it forward: May 31-June 6 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

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(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Tomas Kopecky celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period of Game 1 on Saturday.

NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Game 2: Philadelphia at Chicago, 5 p.m., Channel 4:

The stat they kept showing during Game 1: Since the NHL went to a best-of-seven final in 1939, the team that won the opener of the series went on to become the Stanley Cup champion 77 percent of the time. But after watching the Blackhawks grind out that Game 1 victory, and knowing these Flyers don’t quit so quickly . .

MLB: Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, 6 p.m., Prime:

An hour earlier start, for the post-game holiday fireworks. Kids, remind your parents of this, especially if you’re expecting to land a Manny Ramirez batting practice jersey given out to the first 15,000 youngins. Come earlier and see Andre Ethier actually taking real BP before what’s supposed to be his first game back from the DL.

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MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 11 a.m., FSW:

The Angels already have it rough on the road. They’ll end up flying 50,509 miles this season — the most of any team in the big leagues. Now, we’re stunned that they still have to start this 14-day, 14-game road trip. You, too? U2 bailed out on their June 6-7 concert at Angels Stadium — Bono, needed emergency spinal surgery – so that need for a week’s lead time to build an elaborate stage is gone. But the Angels can’t bail on their commitment for this undesirable road trip. Starting in K.C., where we’ve heard, the streets have no name.

TUESDAY

MLB: Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:

John Ely, who couldn’t have done much better in his last outing at Chicago, got his first big-league win against the Dbacks back on May 11 when he outlasted Dan Haren. Who is today’s scheduled thrower for Arizona again.

MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 5 p.m., FSW:

WEDNESDAY

NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Game 3: Chicago at Philadelphia, 5 p.m., Versus:

The series shifts to a place where bullies may still be living on Broad Street.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, noon, Prime:

A nooner, sooner or later, helps the local economy. Besides, summer has officially started.

MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 5 p.m., FSW:

Quick, name the Royals’ manager. … Dick Howser? Whitey Herzog? Tony Pena? Yeah, we’re not sure, either, but we know one guy was already canned.

THURSDAY

NBA Finals, Game 1: Lakers vs. Boston, Staples Center, 6 p.m., Channel 7:

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The 12th Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals breaks a tie with the Dodgers-Yankees as the most common championship matchup in the four major sports. Tyler Conway at the BleacherReport.com (linked here) decided to rank the previous 11 in terms of which were the best of all time, starting with No. 11:

== 1959 (Celtics sweep, 4-0; the only sweep in the whole meetings);

== 1965 (Celtics win in five in a best three-out-of-five series; where their Game 4 win wasn’t seen to completion, since ABC cut away to previously scheduled programming).

== 2008 (Celtics win in six, including a 39-point win in the finale);

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== 1968 (Celtics win in six);

== 1963 (Celtics win in six; in Bob Cousy’s last season);

== 1987 (Lakers in in six);

== 1966 (Celtics win in seven, because the Lakers fought back after being down 3-1 to push it to the limit, but Bill Russell had 32 rebounds in Game 7);

== 1969 (Celtics win in seven, after the Lakers won Games 1 and 2, and Jerry West was named series MVP);

== 1985 (Lakers win in six, and exorcize the Celtic curse);

== 1962 (Celtics win in seven, an overtime Game 7, where Russell had 30 points and 44 rebounds, Elgin Baylor had 44 and West added 30),

== The best: 1984 (Celtics win in seven, taking Games 2 and 4 in OT, Rambis is clotheslined . . . they don’t make ‘em like that any more).

MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 11 a.m., FSW:

Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Zack Grienke, who’s off to a miserable 1-5 start despite a 3.57 ERA, should go on this day against the Angels’ Jered Weaver. And if you take out interleague play this season, Grienke’s ERA goes down to about 2.50.

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MLB: Dodgers vs. Atlanta, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:

It’s Matt Kemp Action Figure night giveaway. Figure this one out — Is Kemp really the Green Hornet, or are those just grass stains?

FRIDAY

NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Game 4: Chicago at Philadelphia, 5 p.m., Versus:

The Flyers, who won only 41 of the 82 games they played in the regular season, are hoping to become only the third team with a .500-or-worse record to win the Stanley Cup. One of the previous two: The 1938 Blackhawks, at 14-25-9.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Atlanta, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

The Dodgers are promoting the start of this three-game series as ” ’70s Night,” and Greg “Barry Williams” Brady will sing the National Anthem and God Bless America. Maybe as Johnny Bravo. Because he does fit the suit.

MLB: Angels at Seattle, 7 p.m., FSW:

Three more with the Mariners, replaying last weekend’s series, but this time, Cliff Lee’s turn in the rotation is skipped. Shucks.

SATURDAY

WNBA: Sparks vs. Seattle, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., FSW:

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Part of a “Get Outside & Play LA” campaign, the Sparks will go outdoors at the tennis stadium facility to play the Storm. What if there’s a storm? “Playing outside, beneath the stars will ensure an unforgettable evening for our players and fans,” said Sparks President Kristin Bernert. “But the game also provides a terrific opportunity for our athletes to inspire kids of all ages to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.” Tennis, anyone?

MLS: Galaxy vs. Houston, Home Depot Center, 5 p.m., FSW (delayed, 10 p.m.):

Not in the same facility as the Sparks’ game — but wouldn’t that be cool? A day after President Obama welcomes the defending MLS champion Real Salt Lake on a White House visit, the Galaxy face the team that they had to beat to get to that title game, before losing to them Lakers. So, even if they’d have won that title game, they couldn’t have made it for that D.C. trip because of this game on the schedule. See how things all work out. (Then the Galaxy gets to play Real Salt Lake at thier place next week).

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MLB: Dodgers vs. Atlanta, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

The last time L.A. will ever see Bobby Cox get thrown out of a game in person? Maybe tonight. We hope.

MLB: Angels at Seattle, 1 p.m., FSW:

Saunders vs. Snell, like last Sunday, Part II.

SUNDAY

NBA Finals: Game 2: Lakers vs. Boston, Staples Center, 5 p.m., Channel 7:

“We remember more than anything losing on our home court, a situation where we had some defensive lapses and they took advantage of it,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Celtics. “This year, we have homecourt advantage, and we look forward to the rematch with great intensity.” Meaning, going to Boston after this without a 2-0 advantage would be less than advantageous.

NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Game 5: Philadelphia at Chicago, 5 p.m., Channel 4:

They’ll still have the Michael Jordan statue outside the Untied Center in a Blackhawks’ jersey. Because, at some point in his career, he probably thought he could be a professional hockey player.

MLB: Angels at Seattle, 1 p.m., Ch. 13:

Have you got your freakin’ gnome in the mail yet? Me neither.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Atlanta, Dodger Stadium, 1 p.m., Prime:

The last time L.A. will ever see Chipper Jones play in a Braves’ uniform? Maybe today.

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Running: San Diego Marathon, starts in Balboa Park, finish at Sea World, 6:15 a.m.:

AKA, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy among the performers, and a bunch of Elvi streaking around. The group that dresses up in Elvis costumes wants more participants, offering this suggestion about proper attire: No wig, no glasses, no outfit… Not a Running Elvi. There’ll be about 20,000 on the course, plus 30 stages with live music and 2,000 cheerleaders. According to the website (linked here), the participant perks include: Flat, scenic marathon & 1/2 marathon course, live local music every mile, spirited cheer squads lining the course, it’s a Boston qualifier, perfect running weather – 60s at the start, 70s at the finish, an exciting vacation destination, food and refreshments at the start and finish line, plentiful course support and aid stations, a fantastic finish line festival, free admission to post-race concert, a T-shirt, a medal, a certificate, age-division winners and one free beer at the finish-line festival. They sure buried the lead on that one. Keep that in mind — the Rock n’ Roll marathon is now a nationwide series, coming to L.A. on Oct. 24.

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This crAZy immigration deal, and how sports fits in

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A few things to read that came across our radar in the last couple of week:

== Gregg Doyel, the CBSSports.com national columnist, wrote about Arizona doesn’t deserve all the negativity directed toward it in light of this senate bill 1070 — there’s a lot of messed-up things happening there already that isn’t getting publicized (linked here).

“Move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona? That seems rather drastic considering our entire country is split right down the middle over that immigration law, according to polls, and that residents of Arizona are similarly split. One in three white people in Arizona oppose this law. One in five Hispanics favor it. Read those two sentences again, and then tell me this issue is simple. ”

After he wrote it, he got more responses (200-plus) than any other piece he’s written this month.

== Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times had a follow up to Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s response to a question about the law (linked here).

“If the Lakers, who have given this community so much joy and excellence, close their eyes to Arizona’s affront to so many of its members, then at least one disappointed fan will be withholding his support, and inviting as many others as will listen to do the same.”

== Jeff Schultz, an L.A. native now writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, blogged about it (linked here) and seized on Jackson’s follow up quote:

“This issue came up again Monday. Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson released a statement that read, “I have respect for those who oppose the new Arizona immigration law, but I am wary of putting entire sports organizations in the middle of political controversies.”

“This followed his previous comments: “I don’t think teams should get involved in the political stuff. … Where we stand as basketball teams, we should let that kind of play out and let the political end of that go where it’s going to go.”

“He’s got it right. So does the baseball commissioner. Bud Selig: visionary.”

== By the way, here’s the law (linked here)

We’re trying to get our head around this as well, from a sports perspective, with the Lakers still involved with the Suns, and the Dodgers about to take on the D’backs early next week. We’re writing more about it Sunday.

The intersection of L.A. and Arizona, and sports and politics, isn’t going away.

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The Media Learning Curve: Trying to watch the curveballs, but the curves get in the way

According to Medialife.com, on an “intensely competitive night” in TV land, ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” finale was 27 percent down from last spring’s season ender and dipping from Monday night’s final performance show. The 3.8 rating for adults 18-49 (9 to 11 p.m. EDT), according to Nielsen overnights, was the lowest finale rating ever for “DWTS.”

“The show may have been hurt by the strong competition or the fact that there wasn’t much suspense in the episode — everyone knew Nicole Scherzinger would win,” the story said.

But did they know Erin Andrews was on? We crossed over to discuss that in today’s column (linked here), and aren’t really proud of that. We’ve since taken a cold shower.

Otherwise, we have these warmed-over dishes:

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== Fox Sports has swiped DirecTV executive Eric Shanks to become its new president, promoting Ed Goren to to a newly created roll of vice chairman of Fox Sports Media Group starting June 1. Both report to the big cheese, David Hill.

Shanks, 38, joined DirecTV in 2004 and had created several of the company’s best interactive sports services, including the NFL Red Zone Channel.

Shanks is the third president of Fox Sports — following Goren and Hill — since it began in 1993 when the network obtained the NFL rights. He will oversee programming, production, field and studio operations, marketing, promotion, communications, business and legal affairs.

Shanks joined Fox in 1994 and before leaving to DirecTV, he was a producer at Fox Sports and VP of Enhanced Programming for the Fox TV networks. During his time at Fox Sports, he helped develop the FoxTrax glowing puck on NHL games and the yellow first-down line that is now part of all football coverage.

== ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA women’s softball playoffs continues with the UCLA-Louisiana Lafayette contests on Saturday (ESPN2, 6 p.m.) and Sunday (ESPNU, 12:30 p.m. and, if necessary, ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. for a third game) on the UCLA home field.

== ESPN has the NCAA men’s lacross championships, starting with the semifinals Saturday in Baltimore (Notre Dame-Cornell at 1 p.m.; No. 1 Virginia vs. Duke at 3:30 p.m., both on ESPN2) leading into Monday’s final (12:30 p.m., ESPN). Sean McDonough, Quint Kessenich and Eamon McAnaney attempt to legitimize this.

== The L.A., Seattle and Portland markets (10 percent of the country) get the Angels’ home game against Seattle on Saturday during Fox’s MLB game of the week (Kenny Albert and Eric Karros, 1 p.m., Channel 11). Most (77 percent) get St. Louis at Chicago (with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver).

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Meanwhile, Kevin Millar, the former Hart High player who holds out hope of playing again in the big leagues, made his Fox MLB L.A-based pre- and post-game studio show debut last Saturday with Chris Rose. Rose and Millar, who often worked together on FSN’s old “Best Damn Sports Show Period,” continue to work for the MLB Network during the week on their daily studio show. On Saturday, June 5, Fox plans to test-drive Millar as a game analyst on a Milwaukee-St. Louis telecast with Joe Buck.

Millar is also currently on the St. Paul Saints’ roster (see story linked here), but playing only when he has a chance between TV gigs. Released by the Chicago Cubs before spring training, he’s holding out a faint hope of returning to the big leagues while he also does the TV jobs. Millar actually started his pro career with the Saints after a tryout in 1993 when he went undrafted out of University High in Venice.
Millar, 38, and his wife, Jeanna, are also expecting their fourth child in June.

== FSW/Prime Ticket has its first of six WNBA Sparks games tonight (7:30 p.m. vs. Washington, Prime) with Larry Burnett and Lisa Leslie calling it.

== ESPN’s Colleen Dominguez has a piece on Sunday’s “Outside The Lines” (info linked here) about recently fired Palm Desert High softball coach Ashley Nieto, whose husband, Ron, is a registered sex offender and has been with the team as a scorekeeper and helping maintain the field. Twelve years ago when he was 39, Ron Nieto was put on probation after pleading guilty to having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old — that girl, it turns out, is now his wife, Ashley, whom Ron married six years later. “The fact that the AD and the principal knew about this and kept it from us is hard to fathom,” says Tom O’Brien, one of many concerned parents whose daughter played for Ashley.

== HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” series goes to Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage for Bob Papa and Max Kellerman calling a junior middleweight match between Timothy Bradley of Palm Springs and Luis Carlos Abregui, plus Alfredo Angulo of Coachella vs. Joachim Alcine (Saturday, 9:45 p.m., delayed).

== AND FINALLY:

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== In his latest column (linked here), ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer finally addressed how the network — as well as almost all “online media outlets” — have contributed to “an ongoing surge” of journalists citing anonymous sources.

Says ESPN Senior VP and Director of News Vince Doria : “Sources are the lifeblood of newsgathering. But by putting trust in them, we accept the inherent danger of reporting things we have neither seen nor heard firsthand. Our credibility depends on their reliability.”

ESPN.com VP, Executive Editor and Producer Patrick Stiegman adds: “As journalists, we recognize that the gathering and reporting of information has the potential to cause harm or discomfort. At all times, we should be balancing the impact of those repercussions against public interest in that information and our journalistic service to the audience.”

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Even if those ESPN people of note dance around the topic, it has to be addressed on many levels. Ohlmeyer notes that ESPN’s policy regarding anonymous sources “requires the disclosure of sources to management, if requested, and the editor or producer is then bound by the same pledge to anonymity as the reporter.”

It doesn’t necessarily justify the process by which ESPN, and probably many others, follow up on rumors or unnamed reports. By throwing as much as they can out there to see what sticks, what’s rebutted, what’s retwisted, it just adds to the confusion and abuse of information.

Let’s keep the conversation here fluid.

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