Pepperdine guard Keion Bell (6-foot-3) wins the slam dunk contest by jumping over seven people (three teamates, four spectators) over the weekend at the Malibu campus, which held a Midnight Madness event over the weekend:
– Steve Rosenberg
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
MLB: ALCS Game 3: Texas at N.Y. Yankees, 5 p.m., TBS:
As the series shifts back to New York, this would be the perfect time for the Yankees to have Roger Clemens throw out the honorary first pitch — then hand the ball to Andy Pettitte, standing behind him near the mound. Awkward? It’s a moment that might make George Steinbrenner roll over in his monument. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Rangers’ Cliff Lee will cause more problems. He comes back into play after some ALDS Game 5 rest. Lee, two stops ago as a member of the Phillies, dominated the Yankees in last year’s World Series. In Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, he was the first starting pitcher to throw a complete game without giving up an earned run against the Yankees in opening game of a postseason series, striking out 10. Lee came back to win Game 5. All Pettitte did was win Game 3 and decisive Game 6 winner. The beauty of all this scenario: In the offseason, Lee is a free agent. Again. And the Yankees desperately want him. “I don’t think I’m going to have to do much recruiting,” said current Yankees ace CC Sabathia. “He knows what it’s like over here. I’ve talked to him a bunch.” Meaning, by 2011, Lee will have been employed by five teams in less than three years, and possibly have been to two World Series in between.
NFL: Tennessee at Jacksonville, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Those Jags off in Jacksonville are still among the first teams mentioned when there’s talk of moving someone to L.A., especially after having seven of their eight home games blacked out last season for failing to sell out before the 72-hour deadline. On Friday, they still hadn’t sold the last 2,000 tickets for this one against their division rival. Somehow, they disappeared over the weekend, now the game’s on. And the Jags squad will tumble for you.
MLB: NLCS Game 3: Philadelphia at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Channel 11:
Who’s the bigger boob, the one who thinks it’s been chilly in Philly for the first two games of the series, or the one who think’s it’ll warm up once you hit the sunshine of San Francisco in autumn. Cole Hammels, the second “H” in the H20 Phillies’ rotation, might be even colder standing on the mound with all those warmed-up Giants fans so excited just to be there and having an excuse to not work. He’ll have plenty of support.
MLB: ALCS Game 4: Texas at N.Y. Yankees, 5 p.m., TBS:
The Yankees have so much faith in A.J. Burnett, they’ll let him pitch tonight, only because it’s a seven-game series, and they need to give Sabathia another day to rest up. The Rangers’ Tommy Hunter is supposed to be the other pitcher in this non-marquee matchup.
NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Utah at Anaheim Honda Center, 7 p.m., Channel 9:
As long as the Ducks are out of town again, let’s try to sell the O.C. on NBA basketball again with a game that has no meaning in the grand scheme of things, but will induce a good number of people to actualy buy tickets. Why not just rent “Orange County” on Netflix and call it even.
NBA exhibition: Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. Prime:
In all honesty, the Lakers should be performing their layup lines here, and the Clips should be in Anaheim. If you really want to make things fair.
Golf: PGA Grand Slam of Golf, 1 p.m., TNT:
You’ve got a reunion of the four guys who won the four Grand Slam events this year. Except, Masters champ Phil Mickelson said his psoriatic arthritis is flaring up, so Ernie Els will replace him. And British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen says he can’t make it because he trashed ligaments on the outside of his left ankle, so David Toms is replacing him. U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, and PGA Championship Martin Kaymer of Germany say they’ll be there. Where is there? The Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda. Oh, and Ernie Johnson, who has called this event for many years on TNT, won’t be there, either. He’s doing the ALCS. The final go-round is Wednesday from 3-6 p.m.
NHL: Kings vs. Carolina, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
It took the Hurricanes until December 7 to win their first road game last season. They lost their first 13 away games. Then they opened this season stopping Minnesota 4-3. In Helsinki. Hollywood may look just as good.
NHL: Ducks at Columbus, 4 p.m., Prime:
Columbus’ day was over weeks ago.
MLB: ALCS Game 5: Texas at N.Y. Yankees, 1 p.m., TBS:
C.C. Sabathia was 8-3 in day games this year with a 2.67 ERA, and is 44-26 lifetime in the sun (3.20). He’s also 11-2 in Yankee Stadium this season.
MLB: NLCS Game 4: Philadelphia at San Francisco, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Joe Blanton still pitches for the Phillies, but doesn’t fit into the team’s new marketing plan. He may not even make this start if Halladay has a say and the Phillies are desperate.
College football: UCLA at Oregon, 6 p.m., ESPN:
In preparation for the nation’s No. 2 team in new BCS rankings, Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel has suspended kick returner Josh Smith (second in the conference in kickoff return yardage with 383 yards and sixth in yards per return with 27.4), and F-back Morrell Presley, a key part of the Pistol offense, for tonight’s game before a failed drug test. That’s it? What’s the big dealio. It’s not like they used a handicap placard or anything. Whatever confusing uniforms the Ducks of Oregon wear tonight will be enough to mess with the Bruins’ heads in this nationally-televised battle. But then, that’s what they said about UCLA going to Texas.
NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 7 p.m., FSW:
The city of Glendale, Ariz., says it finally reached a deal with investor Matt Hulsizer that will pave the way for him to buy the team and keep it anchored in the desert. Glendale set a Dec. 31 deadline to find a buyer or else the NHL would listen to offers to move the team, with Winnipeg widely seen as a front-runner to get its franchise back. And no one wants to be making roadies to Winnipeg again. Hulsizer is being asked to pay $165 million, apparently after having misplaced his discount coupon.
NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Golden State in San Diego, 7 p.m., Channel 9:
The Warriors will feeling like the Globetrotters’ version of the Washington Generals by the time this week is over.
NHL: Ducks at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Prime:
The chances that the Ducks can pull their record up to .500 after this one?
MLB: NLCS Game 5: Philadelphia at San Francisco, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:
It could be a rematch of Game 1. For fun.
MLB: ALCS Game 6: N.Y. Yankees at Texas, 5 p.m., TBS:
Back in Texas on a high-school football Friday, prepare to see some empty saddles.
NCAA women’s soccer: UCLA vs. USC, Coliseum, 7 p.m.:
They’re promoting this as a chance for the Women of Troy to break an attendance record by playing their rivals at the cavernous Coliseum. They say they need more than 15,000. And the first 2,500 get a free scarf. Someone better bring a table soccer game for halftime.
NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Golden State at Ontario, 7 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:
They’ve been to London, Barcelona, and now, the Ontario that’s not in Canada. At least this marks the final Lakers’ final practice game. Barnes, you know the Triangle by now?
Mixed martial arts: UFC 121, Honda Center, 5:20 p.m.
In the fourth UFC event ever held in Anaheim (after Nos. 59, 63 and 76), the headline bout is current “baddest man on the planet,” heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar, taking on unbeaten challenger Cain Velasquez. Former champ Tito Ortiz is on the undercard. Forrest Griffin? Dang, the top-ranked light-heavyweight is still hurt, and they tell us he’s not expected to come back from a shoulder injury until early next year, when he’ll likely take on UFC middleweight champ Rich Frankin in UFC 126. That said, pick up Griffin’s new-ish book, “Be Ready When the Sh*t Goes Down: A Survival Guide to the Apocalypse” (linked here). You’ll laugh. You’ll laugh. You’ll laugh some more.
NHL: Kings at Colorado, 5 p.m., FSW:
The game will not be shown on the Staples Center jumboscreen. The joint is booked for a Shakira concert.
NHL: Ducks at Detroit, 4 p.m., KDOC:
The Red Wings already have a 4-0 win over the Ducks, back on opening night. They really have to meet again so soon?
MLB: NLCS Game 6: San Francisco at Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Giants’ scheduled starter, Jonathan Sanchez, already has beaten Roy Halladay and Cole Hammels in matchups during the regular season.
MLB: ALCS Game 7: N.Y. Yankees at Texas, 5 p.m., TBS:
Look up the performances of Jeter, Posada and Riviera in Game 7s over the years. This deep into the series, if it does go this far, can’t be friendly for the Rangers.
College basketball exhibition: USC men’s Cardinal and Gold game, Galen Center, 12:30 p.m.:
It beats shirts vs. skins.
MLB: NLCS Game 7: San Francisco at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:
If the series gets this far, Giants reliever Brian Wilson will be in position to be the series MVP.
MLS: Galaxy vs. FC Dallas, Home Depot Center, 5 p.m., FSW:
Your Galaxy, a runner-up last year for the coveted Supporters’ Shield, can still clinch it with a win in this regular-season finale. A loss here, combined with a Real Salt Lake win or tie against Colorado on Saturday, means the Galaxy would fall to second in the Western Conference and have to play Dallas again in the playoff opener. “We are bummed out,” Landon Donovan said after the Galaxy’s 3-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday, “but we still control our own destiny and next week means everything.”
NFL: New England at San Diego, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2:
You’d think a Tom Brady sighting would help the Chargers sell this one out. If not, CBS always at Oakland at Denver in this time slot to fall back on.
NFL: Minnesota at Green Bay, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:
Maybe there’ll be some new evidence about Brett Favre texting Faith Hill, as played by Jayne Lynch.
Just stumbled upon these late one night during a parallel search, but the more you watch, you become fascinated not with the two latch-key kids who have nothing better to do with their time until mom comes home, but the spectators in the background who must be shouting things like, “Watch out for the hot tub!” or “Dude, you almost hit that sprinkler head!” or “When can we get a drink out of the garden hose?”
They’re the ones with the cellphones up capturing this non-sanctioned bout from all angles.
Also read the comments below in each one after they’re done to read the crowd’s scoring of the fights. Even more hilarious than the fights themselves.
Until we find new ones, here are the silliest of the 25 or more already posted:
The Associated Press
IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have promoted former reality TV show winner Jesse Holley to the active roster, added after the team released offensive lineman Robert Brewster.
Holley, a wide receiver out of the University of North Carolina, was the winner of a show hosted by former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin that guaranteed the winner a spot in Cowboys’ training camp in 2009. Holley spent all of last season and the first month of this season on the practice squad. He could be active Sunday against Minnesota to play on special teams.
Brewster was a third-round pick last year who missed all of last season on the physically unable to perform list. He started a preseason game and saw action in one regular-season game.
We again extend our thanks again to all of those, especially in Dodgerblogville, who’ve sounded off on the fan-ownership concept we tried to layout this week (linked here).
As the third installment of the responses, we visit three of the most-visited Dodger fan sites, trusted voices who’ve probably seen and heard it all already:
== Rob McMillin, editor of 6-4-2 blog (linked here):
I have always been of the belief that MLB wouldn’t allow a Green Bay Packers scenario because of a proscription on public ownership; the real reason is that business is good,
MLB doesn’t want an undifferentiated mass of people it largely doesn’t know running a team, and there will be no shortage of buyers available should the Dodgers end up on the auction block.
The itch to pander, which is always a bad idea, is doubly bad in baseball because unlike football, the draft is important but not for picking out college or high school stars (who may or may not turn into pro stars), but for eventually recognizing, through attrition, those who may become stars.
== Howard Cole, editor of BaseballSavvy.com (linked here):
Well, I’d love to see Dennis Gilbert get the Dodgers, but if it’s going to be a large group of Los Angeles citizens, I’d just as soon buy the club myself. I figure, if the team is worth $800 million, I can round up 100,000 of my closest friends, who’ll each chip in 8,000 bucks. I’d be managing partner, of course.
My first act of business, with fanfare, would be the removal of “Don’t Stop Believin” from the stadium play list. Next, parking fees reduced to $10, Eric Collins goes to the Clippers, Mike Scioscia replaces Don Mattingly, and Sandy Koufax gets his statue at long last.
In honor of $150,000-a-year hair stylists, and as a final tribute to Dennis Mannion, Fantastic Sams kiosks ring the Reserve Level.
== Jon Weisman, from ESPNLosAngeles.com Dodger Thoughts (linked here):
I give all due credit to Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News for raising the topic of community ownership of the Dodgers and giving it a realistic appraisal. It has generated a lot of online conversation.
Having said that, can I tell you just how much I hate this idea? I don’t just mean that it’s unrealistic, which it is, as pretty much everyone concedes. I mean it is really, really unappealing to me.
Don’t construe my response as an endorsement of anyone named McCourt as owner – far from it. But fan ownership to me is completely not the answer in my mind. It is the fire that has the potential to make the frying pan look comfy.
Has everyone gotten amnesia about what it’s like when a group of Dodger fans talk about what’s best for the team? Opinions, to eschew a coarser term, are like snowflakes – none are the same. Now imagine millions of them at once. The cacophony of disagreement would be deafening. And yet somehow, a person or persons hired by the fans to run the team would somehow transcend all of this and make everyone happy? I’m not buying that for a second. Yes, they would put the Dodgers’ interests over swimming pools, but the thrill would end there.
The last thing I want to do is make this a political discussion, but as an example, we do gather as a community and choose someone to run something rather near and dear to us – it’s called the city of Los Angeles. And as we can say, some things would get solved, but it’s not like all our problems go away.
Given the impatience of most of the fan base in Los Angeles, the instability for the Dodgers in almost every aspect of the organization would probably be like nothing we’ve ever seen before (which is saying something in this era). In my mind, community ownership would essentially turn the Dodgers into a political football – a sport I have no interest seeing the team play.
The best hope for the Dodgers is for a responsible ownership to come in and support a responsible front office. That in itself is much easier said than done, but whatever happens, if we have stuff to complain about, at least we’d be complaining at them, not at each other. On the upside, we could end up with something like the Lakers, whom I think are fine to consider a role model in this respect – not perfect, but much better than what a few million co-owners would achieve.
My vision of community ownership brings to mind the final moments of “The Graduate,” with Ben and Elaine on the bus, having finally gotten together, and saddled with those gloomy “Now what?” expressions on their faces. And even so, I give Ben and Elaine more hope than I’d give the fans who own the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The John Schulian anthology of the great John Lardner (pictured left) is something we highlighted in today’s media column (linked here) as best we could — we were almost inspired to call Lardner the “Cezanne of sportswriter” but thought better of it.
We couldn’t pull it off like Lardner. Or Red Smith. Or Jim Murray. We realize our limitations, and we got it out of our system years ago. We think.
We’ve also come to realize that Schulian (pictured right, and linked here), who also did a marvelous book in ’05 called “Twilight of the Long-Ball Gods” (linked here), may have some time and distance away from the daily grind of the sportswriting game, but he knows what he reads is quality, for-the-ages stuff, and what goes to the side of the media exit ramp as litter.
“It would be an odd fit if he were writing today,” said Schulian of Lardner, who died in 1960 a month before his 48th birthday, as dying young seemed to run in his family. “He was so unque. Todays sportswriters, the columnists, they’reall pounding their chests and rending their garments and howling at the of their lunge every day. ‘This football program is terrible, that general manager has to be fired, trade this guy, trade that guy.’ And the next day they contradict themselves
“The artistry has gone out of column writing. There’s little if any premium placed on being a wordsmith, on being an entertainer, on surprising people. The columnist all seem to follow the lead of sports-talk radio and that to my way of thinking is a fool’s mission. That’s just people passing on gossip and getting upset that Tim Wallach wasn’t named the Dodgers manager. And then you ask: Have you ever seen Wallach manage one game? Did you go to Albuquerque and watch him to see his genius? No, they’re just running off at the mouth because it’s something to stir up the natives.”
Putting Lardner up against today’s writers reveals that.
“What I see almost is manipulative work: You beat up a guy in print and then write a weeper,” said Schulian. “Then you submit it and get an award.”
The beauty of having not just access to Schulian’s book, but also the quickness of the Internet and websites such as Powells.com and Abebooks.com to track down lost copies of “The World of John Lardner,” “Strong Cigars and Lovely Women,” “It Beats Working” and “White Hopes and Others,” gives much more depth and context to Lardner’s work.
You sample the jar of candy, and you want more. And before you know it, it’s Christmas on your doorstep.
The one I’ll indulge in briefly was called “Thoughts on Radio-Televese” from 1959 New Yorker Magazine, found in “The World of John Lardner,” as Lardner writes about how those who do interviews on TV or radio seem, at that time, to be butchering the language — stuff that today might not even be caught in anyone’s audio filter.
“Perhaps the most startling aspect of radio-televese is its power to more freely in time, space, and syntax, traposing past and future, beginnings and endings, subjects and objects. This phrase of the language has sometimes been called backward English, and sometimes, with a bow to the game of billiards, reverse English. …
“Dizzy Dean (said), ‘Don’t fail to miss tomorrow’s double header.’ Tommy Loughran, a boxing announcer, was exploring the area of the displaced ego when he told his audience, ‘It won’t take him (the referee) long before I think he should stop it.’
“Ted Husing was on the threshold of outright mysticism when he reported, about a boxer who was cuffing his adversary smartly around, ‘There’s a lot more authority in Joe’s punches than perhaps he would like his opponent to suspect!’
“It is the time dimension, however, that radio-televese scores its most remarkable effects. Dizzy Dean’s ‘The Yankees, as I told you later …’ gives the idea … (phrases like), ‘Mickey Mantle, a former native of Spavinaw, Oklahoma’ … (Vic Marsillo, a boxing manager, who says:) ‘Now, Jack, whaddya say we reminisce a little about tomorrow’s fight?’ …
“It is occasionally argued in defense of broadcasters (though they need and ask for no defense) that they speak unorthodoxly because they must speak under pressure, hasily, spontaneously — that their eccentricities are unintentional. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Their language is proud and deliberate. The spirit that has created it is the spirit of ambition Posterity would have liked it. In times to come, our forebears will be grateful.”
And to think, Rick Monday was only 14 years old when this was written.
“Floyd Caves Herman, known as Babe, did not always catch fly balls on the top of his head, but he could do it in a pinch. He never tripled into a triple play, but he once doubled into a double play, which is the next best thing. For seven long years, from 1926 through 1932, he was the spirit of Brooklyn baseball. He spent the best part of his life upholding the mighty tradition that anything can happen at Ebbets Field, the mother temple of daffiness in the national game.
“(In 1945), Branch Rickey and Leo Durocher lured Babe Herman, then forty-two, from his turkey farm in Glendale, California, to hit a few more for the honor of Flatbush. A fine crowd turned out to watch the ancient hero on the first day of his reincarnation.
“‘It looks like they haven’t forgotten you here, Babe,’ said one of the players, glancing around the grandstand.
“Mr. Herman shook his head. ‘How could they?’ he said with simple dignity.”
John Schulian admits that one of the reasons why John Lardner could have had it better than most sportswriters in the last 50 years was because, well, the subject matter was less subjective.
“Today’s player won’t let you see a side of them that the players did during the era when Lardner wrote,” said Schulian, whose book, “The John Lardner Reader,” is out point of focus in today’s media column (linked here).
“Players today are so walled off and make enough money where they can live in a parallel universe. This money has fed their paranoia. You do have all the TMZs of the world and Entertainment Tonight and kids running around with iPhones looking to catch players in compromising sitautions. And it’s clearly not too hard to do,. But there’s not even any charm to these athletes. What charm is there shooting yourself in the leg?”
But among the writers today who Schulian does admire — he makes the call that award-winning Joe Posnanski (and that’s actually a releatively recent photo of him, pretending to be an old-time writer) whose recent profile on Vin Scully (linked here) was one of the best we’ve read in a long while, is one his favorites.
Now, you make the call.
Posnanski’s current SI.com cover story on the 32 great sports calls of all time could have been an easy rehash read (linked here). These lists have been done for years, updated, reconfigured. But what Posnanski does here is taking it, again, to another level.
“Is the CALL great or is the MOMENT great? And does it even matter?” Posnanski asks.
“In the end, I think there is something ineffable about the greatest calls, something that — when taken out of the moment — might not seem so magical. Is “Havlicek steals the ball!” really so brilliant a four-word sentence? Is ‘There are no flags on the field!’ such a fascinating insight? Is ‘The Giants win the pennant!’ shouted again and again brilliant craftsmanship?
“I think it’s the moment, the unrepeatable moment, that makes those calls breathtaking and chilling and wonderful. It is the singular dalliance between elation of the voice and wonderment of the moment and power of the words. Was Verne Lundquist’s ‘Yes!’ ever so powerful as when Christian Laettner hit the shot that beat Kentucky?
“One short and familiar word — the word you long to hear when you propose marriage, the word Marv Albert says with such authority when shots dropped — was infused with something hard to describe when Lundquist said it. But it’s still just a word. Does saying ‘Yes!’ really constitute one of the greatest calls in sports history?
“In a word: Yes.”
Spoiler alert: Both Scully’s call of Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series Game 1 homer for NBC, and Jack Buck’s call of it for CBS Radio, tied for No. 5 all time. Scully also has football call that made the Top 10, and another Dodgers’ call that was a No. 17, another call about an ex-Dodger that was No. 19.
And he was probably short changed.
We’ll let you investigate the rest…
== We’re already thinking that the mainstream media’s coverage of the TIger Woods’ affair, going back to using TMZ photos from his car crash outside his home on Thanksgiving night, was setting the tone for future sports journalistic endeavors.
From that, we think the Brett Favre-Jenn Sturger saga, which was don’t even feel like touching for various reasons, is more an outgrowth of the Woods’ mess, but there are those who see it more as another starting point for today’s information gathers, writes Eric Deggans of the Indiana Unversity National Sports Journalism Center (linked here).
We also direct you to the piece that Dan LeBatard did for TheBigLead.com (linked here), and that Richard Sandomir did for the New York Times (linked here), where he quotes ESPN’s Vince Doria senior VP and director of news: “To me, that was a public acknowledgment that it had reached a point where the NFL considered the impact. Reaction of that sort lifts a story to where you can report it.”
Can, or want?
== The MLB playoffs — the ALCS starts tonight on TNT, while Fox has the NLCS starting Saturday — wormed only two for-sure day games out of the first eight, with two more that could happen if either series gets to a sixth game. Monday’s third game of the ALCS, as well as Games 2 and possibly 7 of the NLDS will go up against the NFL.
Fox reconnects Joe Buck with Tim McCarver on the NLDS, starting in Philadelphia on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The pregame will include Chris Rose with Eric Karros and former Phillies reliever and current MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams for the first two contests.
TBS has Ernie Johnson Jr. with Ron Darling and John Smoltz, plus Craig Sager roaming around for the ALCS. By now, Smoltz must have figured that no playoff-bound team needed his services.
== More on Mel Kiper Jr., and what he does or doesn’t do with his draft reporting on ESPN: The Sports Business Daily points out that the SI.com report makes it clear that this isn’t the first time a mainstream media outlet has questioned Kiper’s ties to agent Gary Wichard.
Wichard, who reportedly is the focus of a current NCAA and NFLPA investigation, was linked to Kiper in an April profile on Kiper in The Washington Post, but Kiper denied that he overhyped Wichard clients.
Going back to 1996, the Denver Rocky Mountain News published a profile of Kiper by Joel Buchbaum, the late Pro Football Weekly draft analyst.
“Let’s put it this way, there are certain players who Mel seems a little high on, and very often, they’ll belong to certain agents,” Buchsbaum wrote, adding that Wichard was one of those agents. Kiper insisted that even though he and Wichard had been friends for 15 years, “if I don’t like a player, I don’t care who his agent is.”
== And for those still wondering: Lakers radio play-by-play man Spero Dedes was a late call doing CBS’ Kansas City-Indianapolis with Dan Dierdorf was because studio anchor James Brown was unable to work because of illness, and Greg Gumbel was called back to New York to host the pregame show.
Dedes said he arrived with the Lakers on Friday afternoon from Barcelona after an 11-hour flight and got the call from CBS a few hours later, finding himself back on a plane headed to Indianapolis from L.A. on Saturday at 6 a.m.
With the Lakers’ regular season coming up, Dedes’ NFL gamecalls will probably be curbed unless he’s able to work it into his schedule, as he was during the first five weeks of the season.
== Your L.A. NFL TV lineup for this weekend:
= 10 a.m., Channel 2: San Diego at St. Louis (with Don Criqui and Steve Beuerlein, which, on the CBS ranked games in this window, would seem pretty low after Baltimore-New England with Nantz and Simms, Kansas City-Houston with Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker, Miami-Green Bay with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts or Cleveland-Pittsburgh with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots).
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: Atlanta at Philadelphia (with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, over Detroit-N.Y. Giants with Dick Stockton and Charles Davis; Seattle-Chicago with Chris Myers and Brian Billick or New Orleans-Tampa Bay with Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan)
= 1 p.m., Channel 11: Dallas at Minnesota (with Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman; CBS also has two games in this window: N.Y. Jets-Denver with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, and Oakland-San Francisco with Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon).
= 5:20 p.m, Channel 4: Indianapolis at Washington (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer)
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Tennessee at Jacksonville (with Mike Tirico, John Gruden and Ron Jaworski).
== Barry Thompkins and Petros Papadakis have the USC-Cal game for Prime Ticket on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., again likely blacked out by those who have the Dish Network. Those folks can always tune into KSPN-AM (710) and hear Pete Arbogast refer to Trojans tailback Allen Bradford as “LenDale White” has he has the last couple of weeks. Going back to the USC-Washington game, Arbogast not only miscalled Bradford as White, but the ballcarrier was actually Stanley Havili.
== For ESPN2′s coverage of Minnesota at Purdue (Saturday, 9 a.m.) Brian Griese will work with his dad, Bob Griese, as the analysts for Dave Pasch. Too bad it isn’t Michigan against Purdue. ESPN has Carter Blackburn, Brock Huard and Mike Bellotti for Oregon State-Washington at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, right after Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit call No. 1 Ohio State at Wisconsin (4 p.m., ESPN instead of ABC).
== An Associated Press story about poor TV Azteca reporter Inez Sainz saying she didn’t want to venture into NFL locker rooms anytime soon actually was listed as the No. 3 headline on ESPN.com’s front page for a long while Thursday (linked here).
They had a news conference near Universal Studios to allow her to admit: “I’m not going into the locker rooms anymore. It’s not a good place right now for me. I don’t want to be in there. … I need to wait one month to work again because I don’t want to be the focus. I’m not looking for that kind of publicity. It affects my career and development in the States.”
The AP story also noted she was wearing “a black-white-and-lime green sequined mini skirt and white blouse” on Thursday.
Top Rank, meanwhile, is looking for some publicity. It sent out a release that “international sports reporter” Sainz will host daily behind-the-scenes features for the international broadcast team during the week leading up to the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito world super welterweight title pay-per-view fight in Dallas on Nov. 13.
The release says Sainz “will utilize her vast experience interviewing sports personalities from around the globe in producing fresh and insightful reports” that will be available online as well as fed to TV outlets via satellite. Top Rank president Todd duBoef is quoted: “Ins will be a valuable addition in providing sports fans unique stories on the fighters and the event during fight week and the fight broadcast itself that we have never had before. Inasmuch as she is bilingual and has the experience of covering major sporting events worldwide and has interviewed the top athletes in those events, she will help enhance our coverage of Pacquiao vs. Margarito and attract a wider audience to the sport of boxing. Top Rank feels very fortunate to have her for this event.”
Inasmuch as Top Rank didn’t want to, it also sent an attached photo with the release, used here.
Well played, Inez. From the photo, we’re not clear: Is that your working outfit, or is this before you’re headed out for your 5-year high-school reunion?
To follow up more on this (linked here), we have a little more of that:
== Terry Cannon, director of the Baseball Reliquary:
While it’s a fun idea to think about (who wouldn’t want to open up their stocking on Christmas Day and find a few shares of stock in the local baseball team?), there’s no possible way MLB would allow public ownership of a franchise. The idea would not even be considered by MLB’s Commissioner and Executive Committee, who would view public ownership as not being “in the best interests of baseball.”
The Major League Constitution clearly defines the Commissioner as having the authority to take any action he deems necessary “in the best interests of baseball,” which gives him sovereign power. Of course, the truth is that the current Commissioner rarely does anything to help the game itself. What he does is use his power to reward, and to pad the pockets of, the owners he works for, and to punish those he disagrees with.
MLB, in essence, is an oligarchy run by control freaks. The owners are wealthy and powerful men who have one interest: to preserve their wealth and power. They also want to be united and of the same opinion when it comes to any matters concerning the game’s structure and finances. Their power is rooted in unanimity, and dissident owners are quickly censured.
Bill Veeck is the classic example of an owner whose views constantly clashed with the baseball establishment, but that was an earlier generation. MLB does not want another Bill Veeck in their midst. That’s why I’m convinced someone like Mark Cuban will never own an MLB team. He’s just too off-the-cuff, too much of a loose cannon for the tight-lipped millionaires and billionaires who run the business of baseball.
But MLB would most likely view public ownership as even more onerous than Mark Cuban. The thought of a totally unknown quantity sitting across from the owners in the MLB boardroom — and, God forbid, it might even be a baseball fan like you or me — would cause many a sleepless night for the bigwigs that run the Big Show.
There’s no doubt that the McCourts are an embarrassment to Los Angeles and to MLB, and I’m sure their activities are being monitored closely by the Commissioner. But don’t expect the Commissioner or any owner to “pull an O’Malley” and actually state an opinion about the mess in Los Angeles. The fact is that although the Dodger brand is being tarnished with each passing day under the McCourt ownership, the franchise’s value may be higher than ever and the divorce is not negatively affecting the pocketbooks of other owners.
So why should the owners worry? I mean, after all, if they survived steroids and came out making more money than ever, what harm will be done to them by the McCourts’ incessant bickering?
In the meantime, here’s my suggestion for down-in-the-dump Dodger fans who are agonizing over whether or not to buy those season tickets or multi-game packages. Everyone should take the money they are thinking about spending, pool their resources, and turn the tables on the McCourts.
Let’s hire Vladimir Shpunt, the Russian psychic, set him up in front of a photo of the lovely couple, and have him send negative energy to the McCourts to get them the hell out of town. Now that’s an idea Bill Veeck would have embraced!
== Josh Fisher of DodgerDivorce.com (linked here):
The premise is that you and I will lay out some of our money to buy a piece of the team. I see two threshold problems:
First, while I’m certainly against using public money to make this happen, we must recognize that the same financial issues the state faces are affecting many of us, too. Simply put, the same way there are fewer billionaires ready to buy the Dodgers outright than there were a few years ago, there are also fewer civilians, as it were, prepared to lay out thousands for an interesting piece of paper.
The second problem, of course, is a technical one. It would be awfully tough to pull this off. … While there might be nothing that explicitly forbids public ownership of a Major League franchise, that approval process would seem to serve as a de facto prohibition, should MLB choose to use it as such. Baseball often has enough trouble reining in small ownership groups. Imagine how it feels about a group of thousands.
One of the several tracks on repeat during the McCourt trial was Jamie McCourt’s supposed unwillingness to submit to the structures of ownership: the personal guarantees, indemnifications, invasive background investigation, et cetera. The point is that Baseball really likes keeping the club small and private. Full disclosure is not Baseball’s strong suit. …
The takeaway, in my opinion, is that we really do view the Dodgers as something much more than a business, and we would like whoever or whatever controls the Dodgers to feel the same. Nothing would be a purer solution than for the fans themselves to own the team, but that’s unlikely for a host of reasons. Instead, we’ll hope for the next best option: that whoever owns the Dodgers, McCourt or otherwise, reestablish a connection with the city that has been lost over the last decade.
== Roberto Baly, from VinScullyIsMyHomeboy.com (linked here):
The fans in charge? Let’s be honest, that would be scary.
It would be cool to be like the Green Bay Packers. But let’s wake up, it’s not going to happen.
If the Dodgers do get on the market, I would like a couple of ownership groups to be involved. I’m asking for business men and women from Southern California. You can have a majority owner and several minor owners.
I wouldn’t want them to run the team. Hire someone with baseball experience and name him or her President of the club. The President will be in charge with all baseball duties. The general manager needs to go to the President before making any baseball on the field moves.
Then, you hire another person that’s in charge of the business side of baseball. You see, you hire several people and form a great group. If you have the correct people, you will succeed.
Let me give you an example. Jerry Buss is the majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. But they have many minority owners that includes the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Magic Johnson.
AEG does a great job in Staples Center and fan experience. It can happen with the Dodgers too.
== Ernest Reyes, editor of DodgersBlueHeaven blog (linked here):
I have thought about how cool it would be to be a part owner of the team for years. Imagine the Green Bay model in L.A.
On a side note, a Dodger team owned by the city would be a nightmare. Imagine future elections centered around whether the Mayor would fire the manager or should the team go into rebuilding mode. Local politics would become more unbearable than you could imagine.
== Eric Stephen, editor of TrueBlueLA.com blog (linked here):
While I think fan ownership is an intriguing idea, I wonder in the end just how effective the execution of a plan can be. I liken this to fan walk-outs. In theory, it sounds like a great idea to make a stand, but not enough people are willing to follow through.
Count me as a skeptic. Even if there were enough fans willing to take the leap into ownership, and it could be achieved in some sort of organized way, I don’t think it would be approved by MLB. I think the best bet for the Dodgers is either to get a new owner without the massive debt load of Frank McCourt, or for an equity partner to ride in on a white horse and help utilize one of the top operating revenues in the league.
== The editors of SonsOfSteveGarvey.com (linked here)
Sure it’s a pipe dream. But fans can dream, can’t they?
== From reader Al Sheahen, Sherman Oaks:
Tom Hoffarth’s well-researched column is right. Why should assorted billionaires own sports teams that rightly should belong to the communities who support and identify with the teams?
For every Jerry Buss who wants to win, you get others who use their teams to boost their egos and use as tax write-offs.
The McCourts are pinching every penny they can. The Dodgers finished a distant fourth in the National League West this year and prospects for 2011 are even dimmer. Dodger free agents are going to walk. The McCourts are treating the Dodgers, not as the civic institution it should be, but as their own private piggy bank. And they just rubbed our nose in it by raising ticket prices.
Green Bay got it right many years ago. It virtually sold the Packers to a group of taxpayer/investors throughout Wisconsin. The team is a civic institution. It will never leave Green Bay. The team has had more on-field success than any other NFL franchise. It makes money.
Why can’t Los Angeles do the same?
== From reader Robert E. Stenson of El Segundo:
There is an old Irish expression that goes “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” This line is frequently heard after the speaker has tossed back a few too many pints and then made some tragically stupid decision like going home to tell his wife that he is not going to the Christening for his sister-in-law’s baby on Super Bowl Sunday because she was an idiot for scheduling it on that day.
It would appear that Mr. Hoffarth and Councilwomen Hahn may have been bending the elbow one too many times at their favorite Los Angeles public house when they came up with this retread of an idea.
While I could fill a similarly voluminous column with reasons against public ownership, I will instead revert to the hackneyed rip off of David Letterman’s Top Ten List of why you don’t want citizens owning the Dodgers:
10. 9.8 million people showing up to games saying “Don’t worry, I don’t need a ticket, I’m an owner.”
9. The cost of stocking the refrigerator and bar in the owner’s box.
8. Expanding the clubhouse to accommodate all of the owners for the presentation of the World Series trophy.
7. Scott Boras buying shares and then, through a proxy fight, forcing the Dodgers to sign all of his clients to 20-year guaranteed contracts.
6. I can’t find a job in Los Angeles but at least I own part of a team that pays its average player $3.9 million.
5. Having a stock certificate on my wall as a daily reminder that I can’t afford to go to a game.
4. Knowing that I was stupid enough to throw away my money by buying the stock as opposed to just having it taken from me through taxes.
3. Now every time Hoffarth writes a bad column about the Dodgers, it won’t just be fans sending him hate mail, it will be owners.
2. The new team slogan, “Are you feeling blue now?” will hit just a little too close to home as an owner.
1. Out of 33 million people in this state, we decided that Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown were our two best choices for governor.
“Stanley Ketchel was twenty-four years old when he was fatally shot in the back by the common-law husband of the lady who was cooking his breakfast.”
It’s not just John Schulian’s opinion that those are quite certainly the 25 most perfect words ever written by a sportswriter — John Lardner’s lead to a story entitled “Down Great Purple Valleys” from a 1954 issue of True Magazine, about the former world middleweight boxing champion, who some say was the best ever in his class.
In Schulian’s new book, “The John Lardner Reader: A Press Box Legend’s Classic Sportswriting” (linked here), equally esteemed sportswriter Dan Jenkins agrees. About Lardner being in a class of his own as well.
“It’s my strenous opinion that any newspaper or magazine sports scribe over the last fifty years who is worth his weight in typewritter ribbons — or delete keys nowadays, I should say — has studied the works of John Lardner, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived … Literary giant is more accurate,” Jenkins writes in the forward to Schulian’s book.
Roger Kahn, of “The Boys of Summer” fame, did the 1961 anthology of Lardner’s work, published a year after Lardner’s death. Kahn recently wrote in his 2004 book, “Memories of Summer: When Baseball Was a Art And Writing About it was a Game,” that the best Lardner lead he ever came across was on Bill Veeck after he recently purchased what was considered to be just about the worst team in baseball at the time: “Bill Veeck bought the St. Louis Browns, under the impression the Browns were owned.”
Schulian, who says he first read Kahn’s book on Lardner in 1972, adds in his own re-intro: “John Lardner has been forgotten. That’s as wrong as wearing white socks at a funeral.”
We’ve caught up with Pasadena-based Schulian, a former sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Daily News, included in the “Sports Illustrated Fifty Years of Great Writing” and frequent “Best Sports Stories” anthology, who reinvented himself as a Hollywood TV scriptwriter but tends to most of his days now trying to bring a new generation up to speed on some of the best writing that can’t be left behind.
Friday’s media column will get into the legacy of Lardner, the oldest son of legendary humorist Ring Lardner .
== A John Lardner bio (linked here)
== Another interesting bio, including in an amazing listing of a donations his daughter made of her father’s personal correspondence and other effects to the Newburry Library of Chicago (linked here)
== An National Public Radio show interview Schulian did recently on his Lardner book: (linked here)
== Columnist Stan Isaac’s review of the Lardner Reader (linked here)
Wednesday’s column (linked here) may not have hit it out of the park on public ownership of the Dodgers, but it found a gap and drew a nice assortment of reader email, and we’re thankful for that.
Absurd as the premise may be to some, we also went the self-abusive route and sent the column to several Angelinos whose opinions we think matter. You might be surprised by their responses.
== Radio personality and wine taster Tom Leykis (linked here):
First of all, my roots with and love for the Dodgers run deep, starting with my late aunt, Bernadette O’Mara, who went to school in Brooklyn with Peter O’Malley.
Although I grew up in New York City, one of the reasons I knew I would end up here in Los Angeles was listening as a 9-year-old to Vin Scully doing play-by-play on NBC-TV of the 1965 World Series against the Twins. Vin had such a hold on me that, when I found out that he was a graduate of Fordham University in the Bronx, I did whatever I had to do to become accepted as a student of their communications program so I could try to learn to be great in the way I knew that Vin was great.
As a kid, all I heard was people telling me what carpetbaggers they thought the O’Malleys were for wanting to come to Los Angeles. And all I wanted to do was to follow them here. And I did. Meeting Vin for 5 minutes in the Dodgers’ press box at Dodger Stadium was one of the greatest, most important moments of my life. I love Dodger Stadium, ‘Dodgertalk’ on the radio, 300 pound cholos who wear blue T-shirts that say ‘Los Doyers,’ Dodger Dogs (grilled only, please), stories about the early days at the Coliseum, and I worship at the altar of Sandy Koufax, who is one of my personal heroes in so many ways I can’t count them all.
That is why what has been happening to the Dodgers the last few years is almost too much to take. Lip Gloss Night. Mannywood. Obnoxiously loud music. Fights, out-of-control drinking and inappropriate behavior in the stands. $15 parking and $4.50 Dodger Dogs. 60 different (and mostly mediocre) players on the roster every season. And the Dodgers are further away from the World Series than they were 10 years ago under Fox, and getting even further away.
If the Dodgers were to be sold to the public in the form of shares in order to rid us of the current ownership (whoever that currently is), I would happily buy my shares. I do believe that dividends should be paid and I do believe that those who own shares should benefit from their investment.
I also believe that shares should be non-transferable so that anyone who wanted out would simply sell their shares back to the collective, the way they do at my tennis club, so there would be no shares on eBay, etc.
I believe that those who attend games or buy season tickets should be allowed to own more shares than those who don’t attend since those who do attend contribute more to the team financially than those who don’t.
I think we all agree that further development of Chavez Ravine is bad for Dodger fans and worse for the surrounding community of Elysian Park. As a public entity owning the Dodgers, we could stop this. Judging by the lousy job City Hall is doing with our city’s finances, the City of Los Angeles should be forbidden to own even one single share of stock in a publicly owned ballclub.
I would love to see such a movement for public ownership of the Dodgers succeed. Unfortunately, I do not believe that commissioner Bud Selig will ever allow his fiefdom to be penetrated with public ownership no matter how good our argument as a community. So I guess that what I really hope for is that someone who loves L.A. as much as I do such as Eli Broad or David Geffen will do the right thing for our community and run our team, not as a silly example of vanity and excess, but in the way that good citizens of means do such good for our community.
I would gladly do it if I had a billion dollars. Since I don’t, I am prepared to do whatever I can to help whoever will end this public nightmare that has been created at the most Beautiful Ravine on Earth. And if Mr. McCourt won’t sell, we have to do what is the hardest for those of us who love the Dodgers to do and that is to stay away from Dodger Stadium until it becomes financially untenable for him to hold onto the team. Let’s see how intransigent he can be if attendance drops by a million or two.
== Comedian Matt Iseman, host of the Versus show “Sports Soup” (linked here):
The McCourts have turned the once-proud Dodgers into an incompetent team that regularly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As citizens of L.A., we cannot allow the Dodgers to encroach on the territory so ably and reliably filled by the Clippers. We must purchase back los Doyers.
To sweeten the deal, we can give the McCourts their own reality show on E! called ‘Courting with the McCourts’ … Jamie can court her employees while Frank goes to court to prove he not only owns the Dodgers but also holds the deed to the Louisiana Purchase.
Plus, if we owned the team, I could ask Vin Scully to call my drive to the ballpark and that would make the traffic on the 5 so much more bearable.
I am in. Where to I give my check for $97?
== Chad Moriyama, editor of MemoriesOfKevinMalone.com Dodger blog (linked here):
I’m a bit of a skeptic by nature, so I have to wonder whether fans would be this committed to begin with. I assume that the divorce story is mainstream enough to disgust even the most common fan, but whether that’s enough for them to actually take action or not is something else entirely. After all, these are the same fans that were asking for Frank McCourt’s autograph last month, so I’m not exactly on solid ground with the majority of fans.
Perhaps what worries me more than anything is the fact that the skeptics aren’t so much typical “haters” or naysayers. In fact, they are quite accomplished and I get the feeling they know how this would shake out.
And even if the legal issues weren’t there, I wonder if it would be for the best in the long term anyway. While true that it would avoid disasters like the current ownership, I don’t think community ownership is ever going to be as effective as a single owner, though I absolutely wouldn’t mind being wrong.
I will say that this would make a great story, and in the short term, I don’t see how it could be any worse than the road of doom and gloom that most Dodgers fans are already heading down.