Why we dig this MB Open, and how history here always seems to repeat itself

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Following up on today’s column (linked here):

Without the flip scoreboards at each court, the fans weren’t all up to speed on who was winning during the early matches at the retro-Manhattan Beach Open on Saturday morning.

“What’s the score?” someone yelled out at Sean Rosenthal and Aaron Wachfogel as they were battling to win a second-round match.

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Rosenthal turned to the fan sitting on the baseline.

“It’s 11-3,” he said. “It’s been 11-3 for a long time.”

The sideout scoring will do that to you. You take the awesome with the bad. And the awesome element to this year’s tournament can’t be denied. We’ve gone old-school, old-rule. And old school rules. Sometimes.

Without the AVP’s rules, the CVBA and the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recs department had run of the beach this weekend for the 50th anniversary of the first MB Open, back in 1960, when Mike Bright and Mike O’Hara won the first of their five in a row.

The event actually took place before ’60, according to the Artie Convillon book, “The Manhattan Beach Open: The Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball: 1960-2006.” He writes about how there were unsanctioned events in ’58 and ’59, but “since its onset, this event has been regarded as the most prestigious beach volleyball tournament on the circuit.”

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And, even before the 2010 version, there were issues, Convillon notes.

Not just when the sun would go down, it’d be dark, and tournament wasn’t finished.

In ’86, the AVP decided to hold an event in Cape Cod, so it send half of the best players there instead of Manhattan Beach. In ’88, none of the top 32 AVP players were in the MB Open because they were on the national Olympic qualifying tour.

In ’96, the AVP put pressure on the city to start charging for tickets. In ’97, the MB Open was actually moved to Hermosa Beach, because of the same problem. In ’98, it was actually not held, but the city decided to hold its “old-school” event. AVP players weren’t allowed to play — so former AVP legend Tim Hovland got together with Brandon Teliaferro and nearly won the the thing, losting to Pepe Delahoz and Sean Scott.

From a fan’s perspective, it’s not so much win-win. You don’t get the high-end players, but there’s no sensory overload, with just a few pop-up tents from some local sponsors.

One was from John Elway’s car dealership. Fill out a form, put it in the hopper, and you could win an autographed football from the Hall of Famer. That is, if the autograph didn’t fade from the ball sitting in a glass case right in the sun’s glare all day.

As a result of the thin field, we can get 47-year-old Brent Frohoff and 45-year-old Scott Ayakatubby back on the beach, drawing some of the biggest cheers on the day.

“This is just awesome,” said 51-year-old Kevin Cleary, who formed the AVP back in 1983 and was competing in his 34th consecutive event.

So was the talent all over the beach.

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== An Easy Reader story on how the AVP fell apart financially (linked here)

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The Bears have gotten into the Chargers and Raiders exhibition picnic baskets again

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We tried to check out the Chargers-Bears exhibition game from San Diego last Saturday night. The local listings had it on at 6 p.m., KCBS-Channel 2. But it didn’t air until 11 p.m. that night instead.

What were we thinking? Trying to watch practice football on a Saturday night. We’re talkin’ about practice.

The reason for the delay, of course — the Chargers didn’t sell out the game. It was just the Bears. They still control the NFL’s L.A. TV market, or at least have enough claim to it that, geographically, we’re going to do this dance again as to who gets priority viewing in NFL’s kingdom.

Thursday at about 6 p.m., the pronouncement came down that the Chargers’ exhibition game this Saturday against Dallas had sold out — therefore, KCBS-Channel 2 could show it live. And it will.

And as a result, the Oakland Raiders’ home practice game against the Bears has been bumped from live at 5:30 p.m. to midnight (with replays Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) on KTLA-Channel 5. Even if it had sold out, it wasn’t going live here against the Chargers.

A loyal Simi Valley reader emailed this morning, having been through this year after year but confounded that it could actually take place in the exhibition season, and inquired: “Do you have the names/number of anyone at the NFL office in Manhattan to whom we might complain about the NFL’s annexation of Los Angeles by San Diego?”

It’d start with pestering the NFL Network offices in Culver City first. Save yourself the long-distance charge. Surely, someone there could explain more …

Set your jaw, and your Tivo. The NFL season is here, to mess with your time-slip.

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The Media Learning Curve: Aug. 13-20

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More after today’s media column (liked here) … hurry, the weather’s finally nice and the beach is calling:

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== More from Mark Sandulli, the ESPN senior coordinating producer of baseball — both MLB and Little League — on how replay could be implimented in big-league games should someone see the value of it as it’s presented in the Little League World Series over the next week:

“We’re getting to a place where it’ll just be a matter of who pulls the trigger first on this to get us there. You won’t have to huddle up and go into a room to see a replay – we could give it to them on PDAs. It’s very easy.

“Major League Baseball has its concerns, but I don’t see any downside on supposed delays it will bring.”

Little League president and CEO Steve Keener, in explaining the decision to expand replay, said in a statement: “Our volunteer umpires do a terrific job as it is, and always have, in their one and only opportunity to umpire in the world’s greatest youth sporting event. So we let them know this is just another tool to help them do their job. This retains not only the human element in the process, but the volunteer element.”

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When televising the Little League World Series as part of “Wide World of Sports” in the 1980s, ABC started miking managers and using an umpire camera. In 2002, every LLWW game was televised by ESPN. This year, up to 65 games of the tournament, both baseball and softball, will be televised.

Here’s the full text of the Little League Baseball World Series Video Replay Rule (linked here).

== Doug Mann, the Thousand Oaks-based stat man extraordinaire for Bob Miller and Jim Fox on Kings’ games (among other things), passed along another story that Dan Avey told him about at a recent get-together at Miller’s home:

On one road trip, Kings public relations man Mike Hope was allowed to travel, which was somewhat rare in those days. The team was staying in Chicago.

“Dan decided that Mike deserved to have a good room and changed the rooming list, giving Hope the room assigned for General Manager Jake Milford, which happened to be a very nice suite,” Mann explained.

“Dan did not stop there. He then had quite a bit of very expensive food and drink sent up there, billed to the room. Then he had Jake Milford accompany him to the room and watched as Milford could not believe that Hope got such a great set-up and he was left with a lousy single room.

“Dan still had to explain the bill for room service which later showed up at The Forum.”

== A baseball schedule: Fox sends us the Angels-Twins from Minnesota on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11, with Angels analyst Jose Mota teamming up with Fox Sports North’s Twins play-by-play man Dick Bremer and reporter Ken Rosenthal , only going to 19 percent of the country. Most get Kenny Albert and Tim McCarver for Atlanta-Chicago; ESPN also has Angels-Twins on Sunday night (5 p.m., with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan). TBS has San Francisco-St. Louis on Sunday (11 a.m., with Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and David Wells).

== Vin Scully, on Troy Tulowitzki’s mullet, has made the rounds (linked here)

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== The Angels’ Victor Rojas is one of only two full-time baseball broadcasters who can be classified as a minority? Hmmm. We never even looked at it that way. But this guy at BizofBaseball.com did (linked here). But that doesn’t count Spanish-language broadcasters. “(One) explanation could be that once play-by-play announcers gain their position, they don’t leave. Jon Miller (Giants) and Vin Scully (Dodgers) are prime examples; both have been calling games longer than most players have been alive,” writer Matthew Collier adds. … “Nonetheless, other major sports leagues have achieved gains in minorities in prominent play-by-play and color-analyst positions.”

== More discussion on whether tweeting is actually reporting (linked here). Hint: If you have to ask, then it’s not.

== How do you view Jim Gray at this cruddy point in his power-tool career? Check this out (linked here). “He’s a great interviewer but he also rubs people the wrong way sometimes,” says Howard Deneroff, Westwood One’s executive producer of sports.

== Antonio Cromartie, you’re on HBO “Hard Knocks” … can you name all your children, and remember their ages? How many kids do you have aged 3?

So, was it restaged? (linked here)

== Fox’s broadcast teams announced for the upcoming NFL season: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman & Pam Oliver; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston & Tony Siragusa; Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, Jim Mora Jr. (new addition) & Laura Okmin; Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick & Charissa Thompson; Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan & Chris Myers; Ron Pitts, John Lynch & Nischelle Turner; Chris Myers/Chris Rose & Kurt Warner (new addition). Warner’s first game: Oct. 10, when Arizona plays host to New Orleans.
Fox also notes: Buck and Aikman, who’ll call their third Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2011, in Dallas, surpass Pat Summerall and John Madden as the network’s longest tenured broadcast team. Stockton, Pitts and Albert are the only three to be play-by-play guys full time for Fox since it started in 1994.

== NBC arranged for Al Michaels do interview Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre to air at halftime of Sunday’s Minnesota-San Francisco exhibition (Channel 4, 5 p.m.) NBC will add Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison to the booth with Michaels and Cris Collinsworth to get viewers through the second half of the game.

== If ESPN’s Jenn Brown is trying to be the next Erin Andrews, she’s off to a spectacular start (linked here).

== On that note, the USC Center for Feminist Research did another look at slanted coverage of women’s sports in the media (linked here). Here’s more on it (linked here).

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== CBS College Sports hired recently fired Texas Tech coach Mike Leach as a game analyst, working with Roger Twibell on telecasts this season. Also, ESPN says that analyst Craig James, who was involved in Leach’s eventual firing, won’t be covering any Texas Tech contests this season. James’ son, Adam, who remains as a wide receiver at Tech, filed a complaint last season against Leach about how the coach handled James’ post-concussion symptoms.

== ESPN is going to revive its 12-games-in-24-hours tip-off marathon to start the college basketball season on Tuesday, Nov. 16. It’ll actually be 20 games live (including one women’s game) over ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. The schedule:

Tuesday, 9 p.m.: Miami at Memphis (ESPN)
Tuesday, 11 p.m.: St. John’s at Saint Mary’s (ESPN), Steve Lavin’s first game at St. John’s.
Wednesday, 1 a.m.: Central Michigan at Hawaii (ESPN)
Wednesday, 3 a.m.: Stony Brook at Monmouth (ESPN), with a 6 a.m. tipoff local time.
Wednesday, 5 a.m.: Robert Morris at Kent State (ESPN), with an 8 a.m. local tipoff.
Wednesday, 7 a.m.: Northeastern at Southern Illinois (ESPN)
Wednesday, 9 a.m.: Oral Roberts at Tulsa (ESPN)
Wednesday, 11 a.m.: La Salle at Baylor (ESPN)
Wednesday, 1 p.m.: Virginia Tech at Kansas State (ESPN)
Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.: NIT Season Tip-Off (from Villanova): Marist at Villanova (ESPNU)
Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Ohio State at Florida (ESPN)
Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Women’s Tip-Off Classic (from Hartford): Baylor at Connecticut (ESPN2)
Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.: CBE Classic (from Durham): Miami (Ohio) at Duke (ESPNU)
Wednesday, 5 p.m.: Butler at Louisville (ESPN)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: NIT Season Tip-Off (from Knoxville): Belmont at Tennessee (ESPNU)
Wednesday, 7 p.m.: South Carolina at Michigan State (ESPN)
Wednesday, 7 p.m.: CBE Classic (from Spokane): San Diego State vs. Gonzaga (ESPN2)
Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.: NIT Season Tip-Off (from L.A.): Nevada or Pacific at UCLA (ESPNU)

== NBC follows up (Saturday, 1-3 p.m., and Sunday, 1-2 p.m., on Channel 4) with a wrap of this week’s Pan Pacific swimming championships from Irvine. Ted Robinson, Rowdy Gaines and Alex Flanagan call it.

AND FINALLY:

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== Save the date: For the next ESPN “30 for 30″ documentary — Ron Shelton’s piece on Michael Jordan’s journey into minor league baseball during the mid ’90s, debuting Tuesday at 5 p.m. on ESPN — Shelton ventured to the Lancaster JetHawks home field to interview Mike Barnett, Jordan’s hitting coach with the Double-A Birmingham Barons and currently the hitting instructor for the Houston Astros, the major-league affiliate for the Cal League’s Jethawks. That’ll be Barnett, wearing a JetHawks cap during the interview.

Shelton also went on the air with JetHawks’ play-by-play man Jeff Lasky for the pregame show and said he used to come to the Antelope Valley to write, and many of his screenplays were done at an old hotel in Lancaster.

A further review of the doc coming next week.

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Why J. Edgar Hoover was interested in the USC-Alabama game 40 years ago

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By Jay Reeves
Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Forty years ago, Alabama football fans watched USC and a black running back named Sam Cunningham trounce coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Crimson Tide in a game widely credited with helping start the integration of Southern football.

Fans weren’t the only ones watching Alabama football back then.

The FBI, apparently with the approval of then-director J. Edgar Hoover, was secretly keeping an eye on a civil rights lawsuit filed by blacks against the legendary coach during the same period.

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Documents released to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act show that for almost two years, agents tracked the suit filed by a prominent black lawyer against Bryant, the University of Alabama and others to make Bryant recruit black football players.

Building a file, agents followed the court docket and snipped stories from newspapers about the case, sending the findings to the agency’s office responsible for investigating civil rights crimes.

The FBI won’t explain why it was interested in a civil lawsuit by a black student organization against a prominent white football coach. The agency kept track of possible civil rights violations and often monitored public figures and civil rights leaders under Hoover.

But one of the FBI forms in the Bryant file is marked twice with a handwritten capital “H” — a clear indication that Hoover both saw the document and approved of the snooping, said author Curt Gentry, who wrote “J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets,” a definitive biography on Hoover and the FBI under his leadership.

“He was the only one in the bureau allowed to use the ‘H’ initial,” Gentry said. “It means he saw it, and he obviously approved it if he didn’t do anything to stop it. He didn’t personally approve everything, but something like that he certainly would have known about.”

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Bryant, one of America’s best-known sports figures at the time, already had won three national championships with the Crimson Tide. The black lawyer who sued him, U.W. Clemon, right, had made a name for himself by taking on Alabama’s all-white establishment in numerous court fights over desegregation and police brutality. He later would become the state’s first black federal judge.

Clemon said in a recent interview that he never knew of the FBI monitoring until informed by AP. He had his suspicions about why it was authorized, however.

“Bear Bryant was a god in Alabama in those days; maybe it was just a matter of keeping up. And you have to recall the thinking of some of the Southern FBI agents at the time,” Clemon said. “Maybe they thought I was doing something illegal. Maybe they just wanted to pursue it because black people were suing Bear Bryant.”

The agent who sent notes on the Bryant case to Washington died years ago. A retired agent who once worked in the FBI’s Birmingham office, Larry A. Long, said in an interview the bureau likely monitored the Bryant case because it claimed violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Another painful look at the death of Mike Penner/Christine Daniels, from the lens of L.A. Weekly

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The current issue of L.A. Weekly that came out today contains a very thorough, yet even sadder account of the final days of former Los Angeles Times sports writer Mike Penner, whose live as transgender Christine Daniels apparently left him heartbroken over the life he felt he threw away and led to his suicide in 2009 at age 52.

The “tragic love story” (linked here) by freelance writer Steve Friess (linked here) takes more of the angle that Penner, after changing to Daniels for about a year, became depressed and confided with friends that the breakup with his wife, Times sportswriter Lisa Dillman, left him far more damaged and depressed than he’d imagined it would be.

“Christine died of a broken heart,” a friends is quoted in the story. “She wasn’t confused about whether she was meant to be a woman. Any other reading of the situation is disrespectful to her memory.”

This account follows one that Times staff writer Christopher Goffard wrote for the paper in March of this year (linked here) that was the first to reveal the means by which Penner took his own life, explaining in more detail about his private torment despite his public appearance.

The L.A. Weekly story also tries to get an explanation as to why Penner’s “Woman In Progress” blog had disappeared from the Times’ website. A story last June in GQ magazine (linked here) impiled that the Times took it down upon Penner’s request. L.A. Weekly reports that the Times policy of preserving its records prevented it from being erased, but “at some point the archives vanished. We have been unable to retrieve the posts or determine who deleted them.”

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What, ESPN bias about BCS teams? You’re hearing it wrong

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By Rachel Cohen
The Associated Press

With each victory on the way to starting 9-0 in 1996, Army’s football players and coaches were convinced this would be the one that launched them into the polls.

It took until that ninth win for them to slip into the AP Top 25.

“Week after week, we’d think we were going to get into the rankings, but you’d have some ESPN guy saying, ‘West Point, they’re playing a powder-puff schedule,’” recalled New Mexico coach Mike Locksley, an assistant on that squad.

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Passionate fans will always bristle when they feel the talking heads on TV are disrespecting their favorite team — that’s part of the fun of sports. But the topic is especially prickly in college football, where human voters help determine who plays for the national championship.

For fans already fretting that some commentators may hurt their beloved school in the BCS standings, a new wrinkle arrives this season. ESPN, home to endless hours of college football debate, takes over the broadcasts of the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls and the title game.

It’s just more fodder for the great American tradition of conspiracy theories: Get ready for insinuations that ESPN is hyping particular teams that it believes would draw higher ratings in the BCS contests.

“Any time you have the human element involved, that’s a possibility,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Dave Miller said of voters being swayed by the analysts on TV. “But we don’t have any directive or any goal of trying to influence that we need to get this team in or that team in.”

The BCS games were previously on Fox, which wasn’t likely to be accused of conflict of interest because of its lack of other college football programming. ESPN’s contract gives it the package for the next four years; it already had the Rose Bowl on partner ABC.

“You always have to be careful,” Miller said. “Perception can be reality.”

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Consider new analyst Mike Bellotti’s take on his hire: “I think in some ways they’re bringing me on with the intent to even off the perceived East Coast bias,” the former Oregon coach and athletic director said.

But to Bellotti and his new colleagues, the difference between perception and reality is simple.

“The No. 1 thing is your credibility,” he said, and obvious bias would instantly undermine that.

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Jamie’s forensic golden ticket?

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By Anthony McCartney
Associated Press Entertainment Writer

Jamie McCourt’s attorneys said today they have located a document showing she has an equal stake in the ownership of the Dodgers and that the revelation will dramatically alter a bitter struggle for the team amid McCourt’s divorce proceedings.

The attorneys filed a motion in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to allow a 2004 property agreement as evidence during a team ownership hearing scheduled to begin Aug. 30.

Jamie and Frank McCourt remain locked in a hard-fought divorce, with the ownership of one of baseball’s most storied franchises hanging in the balance.

Today’s filing contends that newly discovered documents correctly spell out the team’s ownership, granting Jamie McCourt a stake. The agreement was located after a forensic analysis of other documents in the case revealed that another copy of the 2004 agreement improperly included an exhibit designating Frank McCourt as the Dodgers’ sole owner.

“I think that this motion is going to blow the case out of the water,” said Dennis Wasser, one of Jamie McCourt’s attorneys.

Frank McCourt’s attorney, Stephen Susman, downplayed the filings’ significance.

“Jamie and her lawyers have truly become desperate and are now using their court filings as press releases,” Susman wrote in a statement. He said all versions of the agreement should be considered by the judge.

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More on Dan Avey

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The story goes that Dan Avey had never seen a hockey game before he got on the air and analyzed live Kings contests with play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald in 1969, the third season of the team’s existence.

“I had heard that, but I’d have never thought that by the time I started working with him,” said Kings current Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller, who teamed with Avey from ’73-’76 (that’s Miller on the right, Avey on the left, from the Forum back in the day).

“He was always so knowledgeable and well prepared. He was a professional broadcaster, and back then, if you were a good salesman, he could have sold himself (for that job).”

Avey, a longtime San Fernando Valley resident who died last Sunday at the age of 69 after a five-year battle with cancer (story linked here), didn’t have to sell himself on the Southern California radio community after the resume he built, leading to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.

i-f9a4a552c27df0bd0e8170c832a34109-!cid_20BBBE1CA9054666A2D3789509117724@DB1YX6D1.jpg>(As some remember, the Walk of Fame didn’t get it right the first time. They had his name in stone as “David Avey” until it was noticed before the ceremony, and then altered to make it correct).

A well-rounded sportscaster, newsman and co-host, Avey, who lived in Studio City and Sherman Oaks for most of the last couple of decades, will be best remembered in sports circles for the six seasons spread between 1969 and 1976 he spent on the Kings’ radio and TV broadcasts, at a time when hockey was still new to the area, and breaking Miller into a position to where he’s now into his fifth decade.

“He was so helpful, and it was so easy to rely on someone like Dan when I got here, to really explain how things were done,” said Miller, who had Avey at his home in West Hills just two months ago to help celebrate Miller’s 50th year in the broadcasting business. “He was a lifesaver in the booth.”

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Miller actually started his first season with the Kings having Thousand Oaks resident Jim Minnick as his colorman, but that lasted less than three months. Avey, who left the colorman job to get off the road and run Forum operations for owner Jack Kent Cooke, returned to the booth in Dec., ’73 and stayed with Miller until he got a job at KNX-AM doing sports updates. Rich Marotta replaced him in 1976 on both the Kings’ radio and TV coverage.

David Courtney, the Kings’ public address announcer and sports update man on KSPN-AM (710), remember being a 14-year-old gofer for the Kings when he met Avey doing games with McDonald in 1971. Getting to sit next to Avey on the broadcasts, Courtney says he was able to get up the nerve to ask questions about the business.

“It was very easy to understand now what a good teacher Dan would become at Cal State Northridge and USC,” said Courtney. “there was never a stupid question, and his guidance was plentiful.”

Years later, Avey helped Courtney segue into a job as a traffic reporter on KNX, a company that Courtney has remained with for the last 18 years.

Miller also still laughs about the time Avey started a fire in on a team bus in Vancouver — started with a practical joke.

The account of it is on page 62 of Miller’s book, “Bob Miller’s Tales from the Los Angeles Kings” (2006):

“One Sunday morning in 1974, when the Kings’ charter bus was leaving the Vancouver airport, Don Kozak was sitting in the front of Kings radio and television color commentator Dan Avey, engrossed in reading the newspaper. Kozak had pulled out one sectio nand lef teh rest of th epaper in the aisle between his seat and the seat of Kings trainer Pete Demers. While Kozak caught up on the news, Avey took a matchbook from his pocket, got out amatch and lit it. As quick as lightning, Avey reached between the seats and set the bottom edge of Kozak’s paper on fire. The little flame grew and bgan spitting out smoke, but Kozak was so wrapped up in his reading that he didn’t notice.

“A few moments later, his eyes zeroed in on the flames and the smoke; and he tossed the paper across the aisle — and onto Demer’s head. Demers, who is jittery even in the best of times, let out this blood-curdling scream and dropped the section where the rest of the Sunday paper sat, setting it ablaze, and ran to the front of the bus. The fire grew, reaching the armrests as the furious driver pulled to the side of the road and searched for the key to unlock the fire extinguisher. I wasn’t going to stand around; I got off the bus and waited with assistant trainer John Holmes on the side of the road.

“Back on the bus, Avey, who started the whole escapade, jumped on the paper and stomped out the fire with his feet. Meanwhile, Holmes and I were enjoying a smoke-free environment when coach Bob Pulford leaned out of the door.

“‘Get the hell back in the bus,’ he ordered gruffly.

“‘Pully, the bus is on fire,’ I started. ‘I think I’ll stand out here if you don’t mind.’

“As we returned to our seats, I heard the team laughing hysterically. The driver got up in the front and began to chew them out.”

Miller added in a phone conversation: “When Dan was stomping out the fire with his feet, it burned holes in his socks.”

It’s Miller’s remembrance of the story that the bus company sent an itemized bill to the Kings — listing the fire damage as part of it. Kings GM Jake Milford was upset that the bill wasn’t just one single charge, knowing that if owner Jack Kent Cooke had seen the itemization of fire damage, he’d have gone crazy.

And one more: Miller recalled what he still calls the “worst rejection letter” he’d ever heard.

Avey, who was living in Spokane, Wash., sent an audition tape to KFI in Los Angeles. He got a letter back from the general manager that read:

“Dear Mr. Avey, It is obvious that your path and KFI’s will never cross.”

Not long afterward, Avey got the job as the Kings’ color man — and the games were aired on KFI.

Don Barrett at LARadio.com says a memorial service for Avey is being planned for Friday, Aug. 27, at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City. Hollywood Walk of Fame photos above from Barrett’s LARadio.com (linked here)

Avey, by the way, said at his 2006 ceremony: “As I told Doug McIntyre the other morning, it feels like you’re going to your own funeral. Everybody’s all dressed up and they say nice things.”

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How Mad Dog plans to litter the landscape with more sports-talk wannabes

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Becoming a sports-talk show host must be easy.

Qualifications: Consume mass quantities of “5 Hour Energy.” Yell. Loudly. To sound assertive. And drown out any other voices that might contradict your knee-jerk opinion.

Sorry, must be listening to Steve Hartman too much lately.

Because Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has his run of the park at Sirius XM Radio, and he’s got channels to fill, it only makes sense that he hold a contest to see who could be filling slots for him.

The grand prize in a “So You Think You Can Talk Sports?” contest, which will be decided Sept. 7, is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host his or her own national sports talk show this fall” on the so-called Mad Dog Radio (Sirius Channel 123/XM Channel 144).

Friday, the five semifinalists, picked by Russo and his staff from entrants received from across the country, will get their live auditions.

“Lots of people think they can talk sports,” said Russo in a press release. “But arguing with your friends about sports and hosting a professional show for millions of listeners are two very different things. Nearly 600 people have taken their best shot at their dream job. These five emerged as the best and they are about to be given the spotlight. We’ll see who shines the brightest.”

Friday’s auditions (hear from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Russo’s show) include:

== Nick Vella of Denver, originally from L.A., who spent most of his career in the restaurant management business before moving to Colorado to pursue his dream of being a sports talk radio host. He has hosted for a local web-based radio station.

== Josh Bertaccini of Aberdeen, South Dakota, a N.Y. native who has been a sports radio host in Syracuse, North Dakota and Arkansas and currently works for a station in South Dakota.

== Jim Murray of Wakefield, Mass., who has an off-air role for a Boston area radio station.

== Joe Pisano of Sugar Land, Tex. who has worked in standup-comedy and acting, growing up on Long Island, N.Y.

== Lindsay Sullivan of Louisville, Colo., the only female in the bunch, who works “in the restaurante business” these days.

Clips of the finalists will be on www.sirius.com/maddogradio to be voted upon. Two of these five will be back on the air Aug. 31, to co-host with Russo, before the winner is chosen.

Following a week of on air training with Russo, the winner will get his (or her) own show — eight three-hour shows on Mad Dog Radio this fall.

That’s it? All that work, for eight shows?

Because Russo fears they’ll be better than him?

Meanwhile, why Pat O’Brien feels he’s suited these days to co-host a sports-talk show with Hartman and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs without a proper tryout (linked here).

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Picture this: USC football, in beauty B&W

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The book: Historic Photos of USC Football

The author: Steve Springer

The essential info: Turner Publishing (linked here), 216 pages, $39.99

The lowdown: Springer, the former Los Angeles Times sportswriter and author of seven books, including one on USC-UCLA football history, was forwarded an email from a friend who saw a posting on Craigslist recruiting someone to help put this book together. All the photos had been acquired by the publisher, through various sources. Now, all it needed were some identifications, context, and history.

Springer was apparently the right man at the right time. And with extensive help from USC sports information director Tim Tessalone, this comes out as a great coffee-table book for Trojan fans to take with them to Hawaii for the season opener over Labor Day weekend — and then, perhaps, use as a boogie board while enjoying the rest of the vacation.

Some of these pictures, you’ve seen before. But in larger-scale presentation, on high-stock paper, the photos are more like pieces of art, with the detail stunning in some cases.

Remember Turd, the mascot dog? “Gloomy Gus” Henderson, smiling? “The Wild Bunch” in full costume? Those cheesy publicity shots, of guys running, jumping and diving into the camera — without padding to land on.

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On page 126, there’s a stock photo of head coach Don Clark, taking a knee, with is staff surrounding him. Springer notes: “The key figure in this shot, however, is the man second from right, first year assistant John McKay, who replaced Clark a year later.” True enough. But how about the other guy, second from left. It’s Al Davis.

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On page 140, there’s running back Mike Garrett, going through a gauntlet of well wishers, most likely during a senior day celebration. See the kid down on the bottom right with his arm stretched out? Pete Arbogast? The current Trojan play-by-play man has said that’s actually him.

On page 179: There’s Sam “Bam” Cunningham, diving right at you, from the 1973 Rose Bowl.

Of course, many of these shots have been in color, and those watercolor-like prints that have been published before are pieces of art unto themselves. But here, in black-and-white, it looks more like a visual documentary, the first 100 years of USC football, coming up to a shot of Paul McDonald in action in the 1980 Rose Bowl.

What Springer came away from this after working on this: “It seemed, after looking at these pictures, that they had much more fun back then. They were just guys on a Saturday afternoon playing football. Sure, there was pressure, and it was USC, but the photos especially from the ’20s and ’30s, it was a whole different time.”

Springer said Tessalone was invaluable in identifying people and teams in the photos — many which came to them without any information.

“We’re looking at a game from 1952, and there’s an arm trying to tackle a USC running back,” said Springer. “It looks like it could be a Notre Dame player. But Tim would say, ‘See that stripe on the uniform, that’s Florida.’ There were a couple of photos we couldn’t use because it was just impossible to tell who they were playing.”

Springer also became resourceful thanks to the Internet. USC dropped football, from 1911 to 1913, and one of the photos was of Trojans playing rugby, with just the ID: USC vs. St. Mary’s. Springer did a Google search and found a 1914 Spaulding Collge Rugby guide, which helped him pinpoint more information about that photo — it took place at Manual Arts High School, near the USC campus.

Classic, classy stuff.

Like Marion Morrison (top).

Did you know: Turner Publishing has done similar books about the football history of LSU, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

Post script: Springer’s next book, coming out in November, is with Jeanie Buss, called “Laker Girl: From Pickfair to Playboy to Purple and Gold” (linked here)

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