Play it forward: Nov. 1-7 on your sports calendar

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

MONDAY

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MLB: World Series Game 5: San Francisco at Texas, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:

Memo to Texas fans: Wearing glasses with facepaint is lame. Especially one game from elimination.
Meanwhile …
The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell points out that the Rangers’ Cliff Lee had a 1.26 ERA in eight post-season games over the last two years coming into this World Series. After Game 1, it was up to 11.57. All a blur. “Put that in your MIT baseball simulation formula, make the computer whir through a million permutations and tell me how that changes your seam-head view of who’s going to win this Series,” Boswell wrote. After refusing to bring back Lee for Sunday’s Game 4 – in 227 major league career starts, Lee has never pitched on three day’s rest — Texas manager Ron Washington has him for this one — and perhaps the last one of the Rangers season, back up against Giants ace Tim Lincecum, who might be able to wrap up the series MVP award with another sharp effort.

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NBA: Clippers vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Just in case Spurs guard Tony Parker comes to town in hopes of finding a new place to house himself and his TV-star wife whose name escapes us at the moment, Donald T. Sterling has some pertinent information to pass on. Among the latest parcels of ads he’s bought to support the local newspaper economy — this one being an “announcement” that “appears as a matter of record only” — the Clippers owner sends the message that his corporation has $550 million in credit toward the acquisition of property. In three states. Spread out amongst five banks. So, are we supposed to be a) impressed, b) depressed or c) pressed to call for him to now cash in the Clippers and just focus his attention on buying run-down housing projects while pretending to care about who he picks to live in them?

NFL: Houston at Indianapolis, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

Peyton Manning heaved it for 433 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans in the season opener — but Houston won, 34-24, giving it a shot at a rare season sweep over Indy. The importance of Houston’s win means holding the tiebreaker advantage over the Colts, and standing 5-2 when it’s all done. Middle linebacker Brian Cushing, who missed that opening win because of a four-game suspension, will be wearing the sideline audio device in his helmet and making line calls. Good luck with that against Manning.

TUESDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Any unusual reaction this time to O.J. Mayo when he’s introduced before the game? Meanwhile, Pau Gasol’s brother, Marc, has had an ankle problem and might not be up to kicking it tonight.

Documentary: “Marion Jones: Press Pause,” 5 p.m., ESPN:

The John Singleton-directed work shows how the former track star is trying to come back as a long-distance good-doer based on redeeming her past PED usage and lying about it to federal investigators. “She’s the toughest woman I’ve ever been around,” says former Daily News sports columnists Ron Rapoport in the piece, who doesn’t believe that it was the “bad men” in her life that steered her toward the BALCO suppliers. “She knew exactly what she was up to. She was in control.”

Series: “E:60,” 4 p.m., ESPN:

The premise for Lisa Salters’ story is that the Lakers’ Pau Gasol “is the NBA’s least known — but perhaps it’s most intriguing — superstar.: So they spend some time together in his native Barcelona, playing the piano, visiting the opera, reliving the days he thought he’d be a doctor. Interviews with Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Kevin Durant and close friend Rafael Nadal also try to confirm that not only is Gasol a Renaissance Man, but he hasn’t gone soft.

WEDNESDAY

MLB: World Series Game 6: Texas at San Francisco, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:

Who thought there’d be a chance for ball retrevals in McCovey Cove in November this year?

NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

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A day after a small margin of Californians pick a new (and possibly old) governor to sit in charge in Sacramento, the real Kings of the state capitol have their own agenda. DeMarcus Cousins has a shot at giving the Kings back-to-back Rookies of the Year, following Tyreke Evans. Start the campaign now.

NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

The first official L.A. revisit of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder, who are a respectable 14-to-1 odds to win the NBA title. Play the Clippers every night, and it goes to 1-to-5.

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NHL: Ducks vs. Tampa Bay, Honda Center, 7 p.m,. FSW:

Did you know: The Ducks have a Ladies Ducks team? Last week, high-school senior Alison Pankowski (right) committed to Princeton next fall and will compete in the ECAC and the Ivy League for the Tigers’ women’s team. She’s been with Lady Ducks since age 8. This comes after high school junior Kaliya Johnson, another Lady Duck since 8, made an early committment to play for Boston College in 2012.

THURSDAY

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College basketball: UCLA vs. Westmont College, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., BruinTV.com:

This one against the little school from Santa Barbara counts in the standings?

MLB: World Series Game 7: Texas at San Francisco, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:

Thanks to the game-winning RBI by Atlanta’s Brian McCann at the ’10 All Star Game in Anaheim, the Giants have the right to play this last one at home. If it gets this far.

NHL: Kings vs. Tampa Bay, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Lightning strike twice: Thursday in Anaheim, today in downtown L.A., and, with the best record in the Eastern Conference, going up against the best, so far, in the West.

Horse racing: Hollywood Park Autumn Meet, 7 p.m.:

Four days after the close of the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park, they’re back in business for a 31-day meet (through Dec. 19) with a night event in Inglewood. Just in time for early-bird betting on the Breeders’ Cup.

FRIDAY

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NHL: Ducks vs. Pittsburgh, Honda Center, 7 p.m., KDOC:

When Sidney Crosby comes to town, the measuring sticks come out. “On our last road trip, judging from some of the other coaches’ comments and some of the other media going in, we’re still playing games where the other team is using it as a measuring stick,” said Pittsburgh coach and former Kings player Dan Bylsma. “Nashville … St. Louis used those words before the game and in the media. Tampa Bay, their coach said it before that game. That’s why the pace and intensity of those games were really high and really good hockey games.” Pace yourselves, Duckies. This will have to do as your Winter Classic. The Pens skip the Kings and move over to play Phoenix before going home in their only trip to this time zone all season.

Horse racing: Breeders’ Cup Day 1, 1 p.m., ESPN2:

It’s warm-up day, with the first six races of the weekend going off: The $500,000 Marathon (1:10 p.m.), $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf (1:50 p.m.), $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint (2:30 p.m.), $2 million Filly & Mare Turf (3:10 p.m.), $2 million Juvenile Fillies (3:50 p.m.), and $2 million Ladies’ Classic (4:30 p.m.).

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NBA: Lakers vs. Toronto, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Kids today must think the Raptors were named after a group of rappers instead of dinosaurs. Which are about as extinct around Toronto these days as Chris Bosh.

NBA: Clippers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:

No guarantee Carmelo Anthony will still be satisfied with his status on George Karl’s squad this deep into the season.

SATURDAY

Horse racing: Breeders Cup Day 2, 10:30 a.m., Channel 7; 12:30 p.m., ESPN:

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On the BreedersCup.com website, it says: “With every gallop, her legend grows. With every race, she stays perfect. And with every incredible victory, she transcends the sport of racing.” With every adjective, Zenyatta’s chances to repeat in the $5 million Classic seem to be all the more suffocating. If it’s our last chance to give a hand to Zenyatta, the horse that stands 17.2 hands tall, we can deal with it. But the fact that because of ABC’s college football commitment, the great race of the day is delegated to ESPN — the $5 million Classic, at 3:45 p.m. — is missing something big here. Zenyatta’s attempt to reclaim the Classic and finish 20-for-20 makes for as compelling TV as you can muster on a pigskin Saturday. ABC has the first three: The $1 million Juvenile Turf (10:50 a.m.), $2 million Sprint (11:30 a.m.) and $1 million Turf Sprint (12:15 p.m.). Switching to ESPN, the $2 million Juvenile (12:55 p.m.), $2 million Mile (1:40 p.m.), $1 million Dirt Mile (2:20 p.m.) and $3 million Turf (3 p.m.) lead into the Classic.

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College football: UCLA vs. Oregon State, Rose Bowl, 4 p.m., Versus:

In a crazy game on Halloween a year ago in Corvallis, the Bruins came back from a 19-3 fourth-quarter deficit to tie it up with 2:06 left, only to see them Rodgers kids come back to haunt them.

College football: USC vs. Arizona State, Coliseum, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Not counting a victory they had to vacate in the ’05 season, the Trojans have a 10-year winning streak against the Sun Devils, outscoring them 360-174. And including a 50-0 win at ASU in ’88, USC has gone 15-4 in the last 19 meetings. Last year? A mere 14-9 triumph.

College football: Texas Christian at Utah, 12:30 p.m., CBS College Sports:

The BCS’ No. 3 team plays the No. 5 team, both undefeated. On a network that’s now offering a free preview with a bunch of cable systems. Otherwise, it’s on DirecTV Channel 613, Dish’s Channel 152 and a couple of other cable companies that we’re not even sure where to find ‘em.

NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, Staples Center, 7 p.m., Channel 13:

A new Kings’ TV deal sticks this one over on the network that’s more popular on this night for showing back-to-back reruns of “House,” “That ’70s Show” and “The Unit.”

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NBA: Clippers at Utah, 6 p.m., FSW:

Someone fill in Blake Griffin about how the locals in Salt Lake City really think they’re high and mighty.

College basketball: USC vs. Point Loma Nazarene, Galen Center, 2 p.m., USCTrojans.com:

We understand the little Christian school in San Diego has a great nursing program.

SUNDAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:

You bring $24.95 to Staples Center an hour before tipoff, and Jeanie Buss will scribble her name into copies of her new book, “Laker Girl: From Pickfair to Playboy to the Purple and Gold,” possibly dotting the “i” in her first name with a tiny heart. The book publishers say this is “the never-before-told story of the Buss family and of one woman’s rise to the top in a man’s world. It is also a behind-the-scenes journal of the 2009-10 Lakers season, a year in which the franchise captured its 16th world championship.” Phil Jackson has written the forward. But will he someday write the final chapter?

NHL: Ducks vs. Nashville, Honda Center, 5 p.m., Prime:

It’s on the schedule. It must be played.

NFL: Dallas at Green Bay, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after watching his team lose to Jacksonville: “I’m dumbfounded that we are 1-7. I thought we had one of the top competitive teams in the NFL. I’m very, very sorry to our fans.” Uh, Jer, you’re only 1-6. Maybe he’s already figured this one is done. And maybe he should check with his accountants on what he actually spent to build Cowboys Stadium for the upcoming Super Bowl.

NFL: Indianapolis at Philadelphia or Kansas City at Oakland, 1 p.m., Channel 2:

The Raiders failed to sell out last week’s game. What makes you think this one will matter to them?

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Running: New York City Marathon, 6 a.m., UniversalSports.com; 11 a.m., Channel 4:

It definitely beats a six-hour “Jersey Shore” Labor Day marathon on MTV. According to the official website, this year’s group of “celebrity” runners include “Today” show weatherman Al Roker, chef Bobby Flay, CBS “Survivor” star Ethan Zohn, Howard Stern sidekick Robin Quivers and Subway sandwich guy Jared Fogle.

MLS playoffs: Western Conference semifinal Game 2: Galaxy vs. Seattle, Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN2:

The Galaxy saw how much noise that 36,000 can make in Seattle. Can 27,000 in Carson duplicate that? And pardon our MLS ignorance, but why are the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes, who finished fifth and sixth in the Western Conference, playing in the Eastern Conference playoffs?

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Coming Sunday: Marion Jones, a Q-and-A

UPDATE: The full Q-and-A is in today’s editions (linked here).

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If the truth can set Marion Jones free, she’s about to find out.

The most famous female athlete of the 1990s won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics — only to return them after an admittance of performance-enhancing drug use.

She did her six months in federal prison for committing perjury and has put herself on the fast track to right her wrongs.

A new, non-tell-all autobiography that came out this week aims to let all those who may have known Jones since her days in Palmdale and Thousand Oaks that she’s changed. That’s also the message conveyed in a new documentary by John Singleton called “Press Pause” that debuts Tuesday on ESPN.

Measured now by her missteps and trying to attone in ways beyond the hours of required community servicel, Jones lives in Austin, Tex., with her husband Obadele Thompson and their three young kids.

Jones took some time last week to talk about a few things in her life — especially what she hopes to accomplish with her new book called “On The Right Track” (linked here) and how the public might react to the documentary about her (linked here).

A sample of the Q-and-A that will appear in Sunday’s newspaper and on our website:

Q: How have you been able to juggle all the family duties?

Jones: My family is doing great. The three kids – they’re 7, 3 and 16 months – I mean, life is definitely busy enough as a mom and a professional athlete and now as a writer. It’s an exciting time for my husband, too. Oba has a book, ‘Secrets of A Champion’ that has been printed and will come out soon. I really have a lot of positive things in my life and really feel blessed.

Q: In the book you wrote about a trip you took while in prison, on the so-called ‘ConAir,’ flown out to San Francisco to testify in a hearing. Part of the trip was a bus ride through Palmdale, where you grew up, on the way to a prison stop in San Bernardino. Have you had any chances recently to stop by any of your old homes so see how things are going?

Jones: Palmdale was where I went to elementary school, and obviously I didn’t get to see much of it on that trip. That really wasn’t very enjoyable. I’d love to get back more to Thousand Oaks and Rio Mesa on a family vacation, but that would be tough.

That all seems so far away right now.

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Q: There’s so much written in the book about the other women prisoners that you encounter at Carswell (right), giving their names, their stories, how you wanted to teach classes to help them better themselves. You’ve said you want to do more now to improve the conditions of women’s prisons. There’s an attitude that the people in prison are there to be punished so the conditions don’t need to be all the supportive. From your experiences, how can you help change that?

Jones: I’m so glad you asked about that. I’m really passionate at this point about the idea of prison reform. You know how people think, ‘They did the crime, let ‘em do the hardest time.’ OK, yeah, you’ve broken a law, you serve your time. But then they are released, and living amongst you, and you haven’t given the tools or resources to be better people, through educations or work skills, so they can provide for their families. Some of these women are in the institutions, and all they’re doing is wasting their time, doing nothing constructive. They’ll just revert to the same lifestyle because they don’t know anything else. It’s very sad.

I was blessed to be a college graduate and have the ability to see that they can do more if they’re given the proper resources, to be part of the community again.I’m doing a lot of research now about how we pour more resources into the federal system. I mean, this may seem like it doesn’t affect you. ‘No one in my family will ever end up in prison.’ But you never know, it could be your neighbor or your son’s girlfriend or someone you work with. You’ve got to have a vested interest in this as a member of society.

Q: So from any of your research, what do you think you can do to make a difference?

Jones: I’m in the process of looking for organizations that I can partner with, get their stories out there, share my experience, use my voice. When I was in prison, some of the women there talked to me and shared their stories with the hope that, because I have a voice on the outside, people will want to hear what I have to say.

Too many times, you’ll hear, ‘Aw, there’s just prostitutes or drug-heads or the bottom rung of our society in there.’ Before you jump to a conclusion and make any ignorant or rash comment, take a break – remember, that’s what I’m trying to get out there – find out what you can about the situation and make a smarter response. I’ll do whatever I can do to talk about awareness and change.

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It’s Out of the Question: Seat-fillers are needed

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Spoiler alert: USC has yet to sell out all its available Coliseum seats — capacity is 93,607 — for Saturday night’s nationally-televised, prime-time contest featuring a squad everyone without a computer believes is the bestest college football team in the country.

And, surprisingly, it’s not the reduced-to-spoiler Trojans.

Another point to shred upon lightly: For the third time in four home games, the San Diego Chargers have failed to sell out their local 71,294-seat concrete-fancy facility, resulting in a local TV blackout — which includes the L.A. market.

And one more bloody thing: They’ve exported/banished another NFL game to London this weekend, yet our version of bangers and mush — the faltering 49ers and beleaguered Broncos — will likely play before a capacity of 90,000 at the new Wembley Stadium since the last three American football games in England have been played to sellouts, even before the league pimped out uber-model Marissa Miller as this year’s game spokesbabe.

As the NFL postures about putting one of its field operations back in the greater Southern California area, does any of this factor into the fractured equation?

Are we supposed to believe that a league more deft at lifting our wallets than one of Charlie Sheen’s paid-for companions would prioritize sending one of the existing struggling franchises across the pond for season-long international exposure before it puts one back near the fountains of the Echo Park paddle-boat wading pool?

Maybe the NFL’s ability to flex its power out here is more like comparing a P90X workout with one done with a Shake Weight. But isn’t the strength of the league, outside of its TV muscle, having as many expanding rear ends in those end-zone seats as possible?

And if there remain lingering hints that L.A. isn’t ready to recommit — along with S.D.’s ongoing situation seen as a poor reflection of the state economy’s rebound — what would compel the NFL to put anything here on any kind of pseudo-fast track?

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== Know any Giants fans out there who could turn our used Manny dreadlock wigs into fake beards?

== That Dave Anderson? The most marginal major leaguer who Lasorda once used as a decoy in the on-deck circle before sending Gibson up to hit in the bottom of the ninth in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series? He’s the third-base coach of the American League champion Texas Rangers?

== The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the “world’s largest Halloween gathering” as 508 costumed folk who attended a party at a Blooming, Ind., bar last year.

A rep from the company has been called in for Sunday’s NFL game at New Orleans’ 80,000 seat Superdome, thinking there’s a chance the record will be broken there.

Doesn’t the 175,000 dressed up as hillbillies and bobbing for lugnuts on the infield at Talladega for Sunday’s NASCAR harvest festival count for something?

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The Media Learning Curve: Oct. 22-29

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In an interview this week with Broadcasting & Cable magazine (linked here), UFC visionary/president Dana White flexed his plan to have a 24/7 channel dedicated to the MMA scene within the next two years.

Already seeing how popular it has become, not just on pay-per-view, but with regular shows on Versus and Spike TV, White said: “A lot of people don’t realize we are in a half a billion homes around the world. You know all the things we’ve been through in the United States, but this sport travels well. Cricket will never be big here and the NFL will never be big around the world. But we are all human beings and fighting is in our DNA.

“We get it and we like it. So we are working on a couple moves now and should be in a billion homes around the world in the next couple months.”

White’s implication is that UFC, whose contract with Spike TV is up next year, will be a more consistent product on a non-cable channel, with Fox’s and NBC’s names dropped as the main enabler as a Saturday night event.

“I don’t disagree with that,” White says. “We’re in the middle of this stuff, we can’t talk about it, but it’s all common sense.”

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We’re really not sure what common sense has to do with anything UFC related, except that attempt by CBS to do what amounted to a minor-league version of MMA with Gus Johnson inhailing his microphone didn’t play well to that network-savvy audience base.

And, apparently, after reading this, HBO won’t soon be in the MMA business.

With last Saturday’s heavyweight triumph by Cain Velasquez over Brock Lesnar, a Mexican-American, inroads into the Mexican audience could be seized upon.

“Cain winning the title and holding the title is a big deal for the Latino market,” White tells SI.com. The L.A. Times’ Lance Pugmire also wrote that Velasquez’s win give the UFC “footing in its quest to widen an audience too often stereotyped in the U.S. as a group of white, 20-something beer drinkers.”

Thursday, Versus announced it will expand its UFC partnership to include four more UFC-run World Extreme Cagefighting events live in 2011. The WEC was created to showcase lower weight-division fightersr. Versus has two more live WEC events this year on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16.

“We have a great relationship with the Versus network, and we look forward to working with them to give UFC fans even more free fights in 2011,” White said in the press release.

No one should be blindsided by White thinking UFC could operate its own network, and probably sell it to any cable or dish system. Perhaps the Arts & Entertainment Channel could merge with MMA for the Mixed Martial Arts & Entertainment Channel.

That might bloody up the competiton.

Meanwhile, with all due respect to today’s media column (linked here), we have more notes before we tap out:

== A clip from Sunday’s episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” where Bob Simon talks to Zenyatta jockey Mike Smith about her chances of being known as the greatest horse of all time if she can repeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6:== Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis and Rebecca Haarlow are on the Fox Sports Network broadcast of UCLA-Arizona on Saturday at the Rose Bowl (FSW, 12:30 p.m.) The 5 p.m. USC-Arizona game with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews goes to 79 percent of the country on ABC; the other 21 percent get Ohio State-Minnesota.

== The Onion’s take (linked here) on how a “nation” is “disappointed” by a “great World Series matchup,” which includes this fake quote by a fan named Paul Rockwell of Uniontown, Pa.: “The worst thing about this World Series is that with the outstanding ability of the Giants and Rangers to hit, run, and field, and with no real asshole to root against, it just feels like a celebration of baseball. And that sucks. Do you know why that sucks? Because I’m a horrible, shallow person, and while I like to think of myself as a fan, I only get off on storylines and personalities completely unrelated to the game itself.”

== The L.A. NFL TV lineup this weekend:

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Sunday:
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: Green Bay at N.Y. Giants (with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, instead of Carolina-St. Louis and Washington-Detroit).

= 10 a.m., Channel 2: Jacksonville at Dallas (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. CBS has Denver-San Francisco from Wembley, England with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf in this window, as well as Miami-Cincinnati and Buffalo-Kansas City.)

= 1 p.m., Channel 11: Minnesota at New England (with Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman, instead of Tampa Bay-Arizona and Seattle-Oakland.

= 1 p.m., Channel 2: Tennessee at San Diego (with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts)

= 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: Pittsburgh at New Orleans (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer … with a Guiness Book of World Records rep reportedly on hand to validate it as the largest Halloween gathering in human history).

Monday:

= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Houston at Indianapolis (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden).

The Chargers’ blackout, in addition to those that will happen Sunday in Detroit and Oakland, mean there will be 13 blackouts in the first eight weeks this NFL season. Cincinnati avoided a blackout this Sunday by delivering after getting a 24-hour extension. There were 22 total blackouts last season.

== Part of ESPN’s dolling-up its coverage of the Miami Heat’s first home game tonight (against Orlando, we’ve been allowed to reveal) – Hannah Storm will host special “SportsCenter” segments throughout the day, throwing it to reporter Rachel Nichols when appropriate, Magic Johnson will do an exclusive interview with Heat president (and his former Lakers coach) Pat Riley for the pregame show (at 4 p.m.) and NBA Finals A-team Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy will call it, with reporter Doris Burke.

Oh, and in the second game of the TV doubleheader, the Lakers play their first road game, in Phoenix, a rematch of last season’s Western Conference final, and the assignment goes to Dan Shulman, Hubie Brown and Lisa Salters.

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== With ESPN.com pushing its “Heat Index” barometer, taking the temperature of the Miami Heat every screen refresh, FoxSports.com has started its own “Heat or 3Peat” season-long comparison of LeBron James’ new team again the Lakers’ pursuit to win its third NBA title in a row. Billy Witz, the former Daily News staff writer, will follow the Lakers (on FoxSportsWest.com) while Bill Reiter has been assigned to the Heat (through FoxSportsFlorida.com).

“Neither reporter is writing game stories. That’s not what this is about,” explained FoxSports.com Editor-in-Chief Rick Jaffe. “We’re looking for them to write what amounts to a book chronicling the inner-workings of each team over the season’s eight months, with each story filed being the latest chapter.”

Witz is also going to be incorporated in Fox Sports Radio programming (on 570-AM) and on the Lakers’ pre and post-game shows on FSW. Witz’s latest piece on Ron Artest raffling off his championship ring (linked here).

As for Reiter’s bio: The last four years as the sports enterprise reporter for The Kansas City Star, a reporter for The Des Moines Register and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has written for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Washington Times and The (London) Express and, according to Fox sources, he once interviewed former President Bill Clinton at a urinal.

== If you’re looking for one, big comprensive, researched and typo-free preview of the NBA TV season, go to SI.com’s Richard Deitsch (linked here).

== The NBA’s “League Pass” announced a “Three-Point Play” bundle for out-of-market games available on TV, the Internet and mobile phones, with a free preview ending Tuesday. The entire NBA League Pass goes for $179 if purchased by Tuesday. The online app (which includes a live DVR function) is $109 with the mobile pass going for $44.

AND FINALLY:

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== What could Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash possibly have in common with Opie Taylor? The Sundance Channel’s documentary series, “Iconoclasts,” that airs Saturday (9 p.m.) puts Nash with film maker Ron Howard to talk it out.

Some excerpts:

Nash, on going to the basketball route: “I had one scholarship offer — Santa Clara. So I went to Santa Clara and tried to make the most of it and had a great experience. But not really until after my sophomore year were people starting to warm to the idea that I would be a pro basketball player even though I felt all along that I was going to do it… There are not a lot of 6-2 white point guards from Canada in the NBA so I can ynderstand why a lot of people thought that was a misguiding pursuit, but I felt like maybe it was time there was one.”

Howard, on how sports worked for him as a child actor: “When I would get off early from the ‘Andy Griffith Show,’ I lived about a mile from a gym in Burbank. It was this important equalizing for me because there was a lot of teasing … I’d always have to get into fights when I’d go back to public school from having been on the set. Sports was an equalizer. It played a really important role in my life.”

Flash ahead to Season 3, Episode 6 of “Happy Days” — “After being embarrassed at Arnold’s in front of his date by a couple of hoods named Frankie and Rocko, Richie turns to the Fonz for advice, and soon decides that he wants to learn jujutsu to defend and stand up for himself… ”

It’s the circle of TV life.

== AND REALLY, FINALLY:

== We made note of Edward R. Murrow Award winner Lance Orozco from Cal Lutheran’s KCLU a few weeks ago (linked here). But it was nothing like the attention he got from David Letterman. And Matt Damon:

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Marion Jones puts her faith in John Singleton

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Credit: ESPN Films
Marion Jones, left, and John Singleton walk outside the walls of Carswell Federal Prison during a recent visit to the place Jones spent six months.

John Singleton remembers being in front of the TV set nearly three years ago, with his 16-year-old daughter Justice sitting nearby, watching Marion Jones try not to cry.

He couldn’t figure out what kind of justice had just been served.

“It had such an emotional impact with all that was going on,” the famed director said Thursday afternoon from his post-production offices in Santa Monica. “Why this woman? Why was she doing jail time? Why not other people who have perjured themselves in the past?

“I felt so sad for what she was going through.”

Jones, the former Olympic gold-medal track and field star out of Thousand Oaks High, was holding a press conference outside a court room in White Plains, N.Y., having just been told she’d have to serve the maximum sentence of six years in a federal prison, 800 hours of community service and two years probation for lying to federal investigators who had questioned her in the BALCO investigation.

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The scene is included in the documentary Singleton said took nearly a year and a half to put together for of ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series. “Marion Jones: Press Pause” debuts Tuesday, coincidentally a week after the release of Jones’ new book, “On The Right Track,” which chronicles not just her prison experience but how she wants to change her life coming out on the other side of it.

Singleton didn’t need help getting up to speed on Jones’ story.

Track and field has always been part of the DNA for the 42-year-old South L.A. native. He ran 330-meter hurdles for the Pasadena Blair High track team in the mid-’80s, an experience that incorporated into the character that Omar Epps played in the 1995 film, “Higher Learning.” That was four years after Singleton’s Oscar-nominated director role for “Boyz In The Hood.”

While Singleton said he didn’t even think of running track when he attended USC’s film school, he says he’s always had an eye on the sport, which often isn’t featured on the silver screen.

Continue reading

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Get in line now for the USC-Oregon ESPN “College GameDay” experience

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Credit: ESPN
Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit are on the ESPN “College GameDay” set during a visit outside the Coliseum before the USC-Ohio State game in Sept., 2008.

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Between the time she rolls out of her downtown L.A. hotel bed at about 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and when the ESPN “College GameDay” stage outside the Coliseum peristyle entrance is finally disassembled at about 2 a.m. Sunday, it won’t sink in with ESPN operations producer Joalin Goff that she’d been on a 24-hour adrenalin rush and may have even missed watching most of the nationally-televised USC-Oregon college football game on Saturday night.

“Some crew members can go back to the hotel and take a nap, depending on game traffic,” the Southern California native said. “But as long as you keep moving, keep grinding, the end comes and then you realize you haven’t slept in a day and that’s when you start to really shut down.”

Goff’s responsibility to get the “GameDay” outdoor facility up and functional starts Thursday morning, having to orchestrate a crew of about 85 to have everything in place by Thursday night for this morning’s live segments on “SportsCenter.”

Because “GameDay” starts an hour earlier this year – the 6-to-7 a.m. PDT segment runs on ESPNU, while the 7-to-9 a.m. block is on ESPN – the lead-in set-up time “has impacted us tremendously . . . everything is backed up exponentially,” said Goff, who flew in a half-day earlier to prepare for Friday’s preproduction.

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Thousands of amped USC and Oregon fans will be sandwiched into the area between the back of the stage and the Coliseum entrance on Saturday morning, some of them lined up late Friday night to gain mosh pit access and heckle studio desk crew members Erin Andrews, Desmond Howard, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso — all of whom have a 3 a.m. cast call on Saturday. Herbstreit and Andrews later join Brent Musburger for the 5 p.m. game telecast on ABC

A new “GameDay” element includes assembling a “fan cam” up on a cable that stretches 500 feet and swivels around to capture the atmosphere. Fans also have access to a face- and body-painting booth, a DJ music booth and a mobile video game truck.

“Even though was have a great infrastructure in getting all this done, what I enjoy most about this is flying by the seat of our pants,” said Goff, who didn’t know until last Sunday morning that the crew would be coming to L.A. this weekend after having spent last Saturday in Missouri.

Nor did any of them really take into consideration there could be rain in the forecast for this Saturday morning.

“We’re rain-or-shine people,” she said. “As long as there’s no lightning, or we got rain going sideways, then we wont’ need a Plan B.”

So Plan B for this Saturday? Last weekend, when thunder came up in Missouri, they were going to use the Home Depot Bus as a indoor set. But then they realized that was one big metal structure waiting to get hit by a lightning bolt.

“We don’t have any lightning in the forcast, so we’ll stay with the set and keep the talent as comfortable as long as we can,” she said.

Goff and the rest of the crew, meanwhile, will have to fend for themselves. Until they “go vapor” sometime early Sunday morning, then wait to find out where they’ll be headed next week.

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What we know, or still don’t, about ownership of the Gibson ’88 home run ball

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CNBC Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell combs through the responses received (linked here) after asking, in light of the Kirk Gibson auction of his bat, helmet and uniform, whatever happened to the ball.

Of the 250-plus emails, and 31 people who claimed to have it or know where it is, the most convincing evidence with video and a photograph leads to Ed Moran, who says his uncle Carlos got it, and they have this blogspot with some interesting evidence (linked here).

Rovell also seems to have found someone taking ownership of the red breaklights that you can see in the video beyond the right-field pavilion, in the parking lot, that show a stream of cars leaving early.

“I don’t have the ball, however, I was the ‘poor sucker’ in the parking lot! I was 14 years old at the time and my dad made me and my brothers leave early to catch a flight back home to Salt Lake,” writes someone named Tommy Allen. “Needless to say, I didn’t talk to my dad for a long time. Of course we joke about it now, but it still hurts when I read articles like yours. Thanks for bringing back the pain!”

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Because we’re not smart enough to give X-Gamers another venue to break their spirits

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What’s being called the inaugural World Record Summit — action sports, mixed with those tried-and-true elements of music and celebrity — has been set for April 17, 2011 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, it was announced today.

The event (linked here), a product of AEG, will be a two-hour pay-per-view show with a lineup of athletes that hasn’t been announced yet, but “promises to be a who’s who of the action sports world,” according to a press release from WRS.

On the official company website, there’s also the promise that this “first-of-its-kind event represents the dawn of a new era in action sports and entertainment for fans around the world. Let the insanity begin.”

We’re almost insane enough to think people will be interested in attending this event at the HDC, which saw its venue eliminated from the recent X-Games production last September for the first time.

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How the World Fishing Network may finally get on our sonar: Season 3 of Mariko Izumi

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This channel called the World Fishing Network has a show called “Hookin’ Up With Mariko Izumi,” and it starts its third season on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

“With her rod, reel and bikini packed, Mariko Izumi is once again traveling the globe in pursuit of fishy adventures,” says the WFN press release, which also refers to her as “the world’s sexiest angler.”

Her 2010-2011 travel dossier: Boca Grande, Fla.; Ocean City, Maryland, Toronto, Lake Powell, Ariz., St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Cabo San Lucas in Mexico; Langara Island in British Columbia, Canada, Atlanta and Denver.

The Nov. 15 episode, for example, takes her to her hometown of Toronto in celebrating Canada Day and fishing for salmon with her dad and best friend.

Launched in December 2005, WFN is in about 20 million homes. Maybe after this blog post, it’ll be 20 million and one.

More info: www.wfn.tv/hookinup.

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TNT says twice as many were interested in watching LeBron James’ new team crash and burn in its opener than witness the Lakers taking their bows

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Your winning lottery numbers last night: 1-3-6. Except with that, you currently stand 0-1, with 0-for-82 on the horizon.

If viewership to TNT’s NBA regular-season doubleheader proved anything Tuesday night, it was that curiosity in villians may still be a better draw than the celebration of conquering heroes.

The network’s coverage of the Miami Heat-Boston Celtics game did a 4.6 rating — more than 7.4 million viewers in 5.3 million homes — making it the most-watched regular-season game in cable TV history (ahead of the Lakers-Bulls game on Feb. 2, 1996).

Meanwhile, the Lakers’ opener at home against Houston as they begin their back-to-back NBA title defense had a more rational 2.4 rating — 3.7 million viewers in 2.8 million homes. It was also shown with a post-10:30 p.m. EDT tipoff.

The combined numbers — 3.5 rating, nearly 5.5 million viewers and 4 million homes — are the biggest NBA opening night doubleheader in Turner’s 27 years.

In the markets of interest, the two games fared best in Boston (17.1), Miami (15.5) and Cleveland (10.6) instead of L.A. (9.7) and Houston (7.4).

TNT’s data comes from Nielsen Media Research Live + Same Day data stream.

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