Following up from ideas we collected last weekend (linked here), a few more have trickled past us:
HOW TO MOW DOWN YOUR GAME
The item: The Weed Wacking Golf Driver. The background: It’s a common scenario: You’ve driven your ball into some tall grass off the side of the fairway. Buried it, in fact. The only way back is bringing out the rescue club. Or … if only you had a weed wacker or something to help you out. Check that second driver in your bag — the one with the false bottom. With the help of six AA batters, the golf course maintence department will kick you off if they see this baby come out. Watch the video. The price: $39.95 at Hammacher Schlemmer.
FINDING RELIEF WITHOUT A RULEBOOK
The item: The UroClub. The background: “This may sound like a joke, but it’s not,” says the description.”I am a Board Certified Urologist, practicing in Florida, a place where golf is played year round. Every day I hear these same complaints from my patients because they suffer from urinary frequency (a condition that can begin in men, as early as their mid 30s). Even if you don’t have this problem, let’s face it, there are not too many bathrooms on the golf course.” And let’s face it, there aren’t enough clubs in your bag already that take care of your game better than this one. Unscrew the cap at the end of the hollow club, use the towel for privacy, and aim straight. The price: $24.95 at uroclub.com
A SLICE OF OLD SCHOOL
The item: A genuine Scottish hickory putter, driver (spoon or brassie) and iron (mashie or niblick). The background: Someone has collected these gems from Scotland that were made and used between 1900 and 1920, before steel shafts replaced the wood hickory in 1925. Each is restored using original techniques and materials, such as the white linen thread pulled through tar used for whipping — the string used for fastening the sheep or cow leather grips to the shaft. There are certificates of authenticity, including model details such as the maker’s cleek marks, model series, and face type. Why would you ever play with them? Because, that what they’re meant to be used for. The price: $299.95 (putter), $349.95 (driver) and $299.99 (iron) at Hammacher Schlemmer
THE MINI-ME VERSION
The item: My Mini Golf The background: More than just a Fisher-Price version, and more for kids of all sizes — with adult supervision, because everyone needs to test their putting skills. A collection of German-tough plastic pieces form your own minature golf course in the living room, backyard or wherever a flat surface can be found. Bridges, towers, mazes — with clubs, balls and scorecards included. Maybe find a dealer in Holland to provide the windmills. The price: From $169.95 to $299.95 depending on how many things you need, from Oceanside-based StartingTimeGolf.com.
WHY GRANDPA WON’T COME OUT OF THE BATHROOM
The item: The Potty Putter. The background: There’s always time to practice your putting, so why not while you expend your natural hazards. Stop farting around and enjoy your own private course of action. The price: $19.75 at amazon.com.
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW, KDOC:
More than a quarter into the season — 23 games — these two finally go head-to-head, the first of six meetings, and the first time Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller calls a Kings TV game in Anaheim. The Ducks can actually vault past the Kings in the Pacific Division standings with a win.
College basketball: USC at Texas Christian, 5 p.m.:
The BCS-ready football team has been the focus at TCU, but its basketball team is 4-2 so far, and 3-0 at home taking on a Trojans team coming off a two-point loss in Nebraska.
NFL: San Francisco at Arizona, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Is it Tuesday yet? Two 3-7 teams tied for last in the NFL’s worst division are just two games out of the NFC West lead. That makes this one … unwatchable? “If you think it’s going to be a bad Monday night game, I wouldn’t watch,” San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis said in a conference call with Arizona reporters this week. “But for me, I think it is going to be a good Monday night game. I really don’t pay attention to who’s going to be watching.” The Denver Broncos will be watching — with their video crew.
NBA: Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
Their most recent meeting in early November focused on Pau Gasol registering his third double-double of the season (21 points, 13 rebounds) and holding his brother, Marc Gasol, to two points after the first quarter (11 total, on 3-for-8 shooting) in the Lakers’ 19-point win. They also shot 60.9 from 3-point range (14-for-23) that day.
NBA: Lakers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9:
A rematch of the season opener when the Lakers actually saw Yao Ming take the court (nine points in 24 minutes) and had to score 35 in the fourth to lock down a two-point win.
NBA: Clippers vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Who gets the tickets that Tony Parker usually leaves at will call for Eva Longoria? Maybe one-time Clipper Brent Barry. The Spurs (with a league-best 14-2 mark) are 7-0 on the road so far.
NHL: Ducks vs. Florida, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
Even in a 4-3 shootout win at Tampa Bay last Saturday, the Panthers went 0 for 4 on the power play and has failed to score in 37 straight opportunities. “The Panthers don’t simply have the worst power play in the NHL; they may have the worst power play in the world of hockey,” wrote Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski. To prove his point, he compared the Panthers’ 6.4 power-play percentage rate to those who have the worst rates in the American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, Central Hockey League — and Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Yup, it stinks.
College basketball: Duke vs. Michigan State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
The capper to the three-day ACC/Big Ten Challenge could have featured the nation’s No. 1 and 2 teams until the Spartans lost last week in Hawaii.
Golf: PGA Chevron World Challenge, first round, Sherwood Country Club, 1 p.m., Golf Channel:
“The idea of Tiger Woods doing social media (is) as absurd as John Daly doing ‘Project Runway’,” the New York Times’ Lynn Zinser wrote after a tweet from Woods — “What’s up everyone. Finally decided to try out twitter!” — suddenly landed in cyberspace nearly two weeks ago. A year after his world collapsed on him, he’s trying to make himself more user-friendly, writing opinion pieces in Newsweek, doing radio interviews (OK, just one) and perhaps even listening to PGA Tour commish Tim Finchem, who according to a report in Golf World is “under pressure to improve (TV) ratings before the Masters and is reaching out to Tiger Woods to play more than he normally does in the first quarter of the year.” Those running the show at Sherwood Country Club are just glad Woods has committed to showing up in Thousand Oaks for this one, after he bailed out a year ago. Ads claiming this $5 mil event has “the world’s greatest golfers” in the 18-man field seems only to be missing new No. 1 Lee Westwood and No. 4 Phil Mickelson. Woods, at No. 2 in the current world rankings but without a win this season, is joined by No. 3 Martin Kaymer, No. 5 Steve Stricker, No. 6 Jim Furyk, No. 7 Paul Casey, No. 8 Luke Donald, No. 9 Graeme McDowell, No. 10 Rory McIlroy, No. 11 Ian Poulter, No. 12 Matt Kuchar, No. 14 Dustin Johnson, No. 17 Hunter Mahan, No. 20 Zach Johnson, No. 24 Anthony Kim, No. 26 Bubba Watson, No. 32 Camilo Villegas, No. 39 Sean O’Hair and No. 46 Stewart Cink. But no John Daly. Golf Channel has the second round, while NBC has the final two Saturday and Sunday.
Golf: LPGA Championship, first round, 10:30 a.m., Golf Channel:
Yani Tseng, Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Cristie Kerr and Jiyai Shin have a shot at becoming the 2010 Player of the Year coming into this final event of the year in Orlando, Fla. And you wonder why the LPGA doesn’t generate much media attention? Golf Channel carries all four rounds.
Soccer: FIFA 2018 and 2022 World Cup host country announcement, 7 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN:
The U.S., led by honorary chairman Bill Clinton, will find out from FIFA president Sepp Blatter if it has the goods to host the 2022 World Cup (it is competing with bids from Japan, Australia, Korea and Qatar). The USA Bid Committee is quite eclectic: Board directors include soon-to-be-ex-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, comedian Drew Carey, former boxer Oscar De La Hoya, actors Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, director Spike Lee and former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger … oh, and soccer players Landon Donovan and Mia Hamm. Meanwhile, there are joint proposals by Spain and Portugal, plus Belgium and the Netherland, Russia and England to host the 2018 Games.
NBA: Miami at Cleveland, 5 p.m., TNT:
To ensure LeBron James’ safety, plenty of extra police officers, both uniformed and undercover, will be there to keep order, inside and outside the arena — and possibly next to the Miami Heat’s bench. “Honestly, I’m a little bit afraid,” one member of the Cavs organization said to ESPN.com. “Some people don’t care. Their mentality is ”I’ve got to get this off my chest.’ There’s so much negative energy around this game. People aren’t excited about the game itself. They’re just like, ”I can’t wait to do something.’”
NHL: Kings vs. Florida, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Kings have lost two in a row at home after that 8-0 start, but still have killed all 38 power plays at Staples Center this year. Last season, the Kings won in a shootout at Florida, 4-3, with Jack Johnson registering the only goal in the decisive penalty shots. The Panthers didn’t play their first OT game this season until last weekend.
College basketball: UCLA at Kansas, 8 p.m., ESPN:
As part of the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series, these two meet up in the glamor spot. The Bruins come off an 0-2 trip in New York at the NIT Tip-Off event, and would drop to .500 with a loss here.
NFL: Houston at Philadelphia, 5 p.m., NFL Network:
Wish we had Matt Leinart’s seat for this one.
NBA: Lakers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Lakers only beat these Kings by 12 points back in early November. The Clippers just finished them off by nearly 20 points on Thanksgiving Day.
NBA: Clippers at Denver, 6 p.m., Prime:
Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith agreed the other night on TNT that Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been playing all out – even though he’s fourth in the league in scoring and on pace for career highs in rebounds and steals. “How can you say that?” Anthony told the Denver Post. “I don’t pay those guys no mind. I know what I’m doing.”
NHL: Ducks vs. Detroit, Honda Center, 7 p.m., KDOC:
The Red Wings’ 40-year-old Mike Modano, who signed with his hometown team after spending his entire career with the Dallas/Minnesota franchise, will miss a bunch of games after having a tendon in his right wrist severed from a skate blade in a recent game.
College football: USC at UCLA, Rose Bowl, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Neither team goes to a bowl game, win or lose. Both teams come off a disappointing performance the previous week — the Trojans had a wet blanket thrown over them by a mediocre Notre Dame squad, and the Bruins blew their 17-0 lead at Arizona State. Who’ll take their frustrations out on the other most? Maybe all you need to do is go back to last year’s game, when it looked like USC would just run the clock off with a 14-point win — and then Matt Barkley launches a long TD pass, Pete Carroll laughs it up, the Trojans sideline dances, and the Bruins players come out past midfield to scream at them. There’s still fight left in this crosstown feud.
Then again, of all the storylines to rehash this week, the shootout 20 years ago will have to come up. In that 1990 game at the Rose Bowl, USC’s Todd Marinovich hit Johnnie Morton with the 23-yard touchdown pass, 16 seconds left, in a 45-42 Trojans victory, where the Bruins’ Tommy Maddox set a school record by passing for 409 yards. Prime Ticket replays this game at noon on Friday, and today has a marathon of Trojan-Bruins games from ’93 (9:30 a.m.), ’96 (12:30 p.m.) and ’99 (1:30 p.m.). On ESPN Classic this week, they’re replaying the 2004 and ’05 games (Monday, 2 and 5 p.m.), the ’81 game (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) and the ’87 game (Wednesday, 10 p.m.).
College football: Oregon at Oregon State, Channel 7, 12:30 p.m.:
The Civil War battle is the last hurdle for the Ducks’ path to the BCS title game, and the unpredictable Beavers could keep everyone guessing.
College football: SEC title game: Auburn vs. South Carolina, 1 p.m., Channel 2; ACC title game: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State, 4:45 p.m., ESPN; Big 12 title game: Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, Channel 7, 5 p.m.:
Auburn wins, and its in. Next season, add a Big Ten and Pac-10 title game played on this day.
NHL: Kings vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. FSW:
The Red Wings sit second in the NHL with 3.45 goals a game, but their top scorer, Johan Frazen, is 25th in the league with 10 goals. “The key to our early success has been balanced scoring,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “We aren’t looking for the same people every night to do the scoring for us.”
NFL: Oakland at San Diego, Channel 2, 1 p.m.:
Security at Qualcomm Stadium will make new TSA procedures seem like foreplay.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Montana, Pauley Pavilion, 7 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Texas, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
This could have been a cool doubleheader at Staples Center.
NHL: Ducks vs. Phoenix, Honda Center, 5 p.m., Prime:
The Ducks handed the Pacific Division-leading Coyotes a 6-4 loss last week to end a six-game losing streak.
NBA: Clippers at Portland, 6 p.m., Prime:
Do the Clips regret giving Marcus Camby away to the Blazers last year? Greg Oden doesn’t seem to mind.
A mini want-list for those beginning to see the struggle ahead in trying to find the perfect holiday gift for the imperfect sports fan:
ON THE HIGH END:
THE ART OF THE EXPRESSION
What: Desk sculptures. Where: MarshaTosk-FiguresInSpeech.com The background: This is called “Tee With Lemon.” Get it? “When the economy tanked, people’s stress was palpable,” artist Marsha Tosk writes on her website, explaining her series of office-desk artwork called “Figures In Speech.” “I felt compelled to alter the focus of my work to meet the changing needs of my community. … The work elicits a smile from everybody. The sculptures are colorful and whimsical. … A smile is the perfect response to my art.” Raised eyebrows, especially at what it costs, are even more appropriate. What do you think it would cost you to reverse engineer this thing and make one yourself? She’s got another – a cow with a bunch of holes in it. Get it: Holy cow. Like what Harry Caray used to say. The price: $750, plus shipping and handling.
ONE COOL RIDE What: A drivable ice chest. Where: CruzinCooler.com The background: How to turn a 50-quart cooler into a functional riding machine, albeit not street legal but a parking-lot vehicle capable of hitting 13 mph. Non-power steering, disc brakes and foot pedals are standard. Gas or electric options (take the later, and invest in the 1,000-watt model, which is more in line with what you see people zipping around on in a Walmart). Slightly more for a seat back and heavy-duty lock. And please note: Rider capacity limit is 250 pounds. The price: $399 to $799 (depending on accessories).
THE BANNED SHOES
What: The APL Concept 1 Where: AthleticPropulsionLabs.com The background: When the NBA ruled these 15-ounce kicks couldn’t be used in its league because the spring-loaded “Load ‘N Launch” technology provided an “undue competitive advantage” in vertical leaping, Gravity-Challenged Blacktop Baller took notice. Adam and Ryan Goldston, the twin former USC basketball walk-ons from Montclair Prep, are reaping the benefits, already selling out many sizes. They even have T-shirts for sale honoring the banned substance they’re selling. The price: $300.
Also: A company named Spira (SpiraStore.com) claims that its spring-powered shoes (one coil in the heel, two in the front) have been banned from the Boston Marathon. From $79.95 to $114.95. Nearest distributor: Foot Solutions in Sherman Oaks.
MORE EXPRESSIONABLE ART
What: A rare Mickey Mantle signed baseball Where: GreyFlannelAuctions.com The background: From the website description: “Circa 1991, near mint to mint. The Mick has signed this ball on the sweet spot in blue ball point pen and wrote the phrase (as you can read) beneath the signature. This unique Mantle keepsake was signed and annotated in front of a professional who was part of his inner circle. In his letter of authenticity, he says he “recalls having a discussion about medium points and fine points as better for signing. Mick was using medium points mostly, early in the relationship. On one occasion the pen had a little extra ink and the ‘Mickey Mantle’ he wrote was not its normal perfect specimen. So Mick added under his autograph, ‘F—-d Up’ and gave the ball to me.”
What a treasure. The price: Current bid: $1,200. Ends Dec. 8.
A BIT MORE SENSIBLE:
SHARE THE LAKER MOMENT
What: Lakers Adidas jacket Where: NBA.com, Staples Center’ Team L.A. store. The background: Those Adidas satin zipups that the Lakers wore during their opening night ceremony may look like a Boys Scout windbreaker with all the patches on the back, but it’s really mean to be a collector’s item. The squares represent all 16 of the Lakers’ championships. The price: $125.
MORE THAN A TAILGATE TABLE
What: USC or UCLA party table. Where: TailgateToss.com The background: The company makes the foldable 2 foot-by-8-foot tables for tailgate parties that look like the football grid, with school logos, that can be also used for beer pong and regular table tennis (with the optional net). Also with Dodgers and Angels logos. The price: $129.99
Also: A game called “washer toss,” only in the Dodgers, Angels and UCLA logo, is also sold by the company. Think of it as throwing a quarter into a cup from a distance. Price: $59.95.
ON THE LOW END:
BLING IT ON
What: A shot a Ron Artest’s 2010 Lakers championship ring. Where: RonArtest.com or CelebritiesForCharity.org The background: The Lakers forward decided that, to raise money for mental health awareness, he’d use his head and give away the size 11 ring he just won (he actually wears a size 15, so he ordered it smaller just for this). And it’s not just the ring: It’s a flight to L.A. to watch a Lakers game from two premium seats, two nights at a hotel, and $1,000 spending money. The winner will be announced on Christmas Day. The price: Starting at five tickets for $2 each ($10), up to 100-plus tickets at .75 cents each.
What: U.S. Men’s Water Polo team calendar. Where: USAWaterPolo.org The background: The U.S. Men’s Water Polo team’s 2011 calendar is called “12 Months of Hunk.” Adjust your Speedo and meet Loyola Marymount’s Andy Stevens (those are the goalkeeper’s trunks on the cover), plus Pepperdine’s Merrill Moses and Jesse Smith, USC’s Tommy Corcoran and JW Krumpholz, and UCLA’s Adam Wright. Even better, this counts as a donation, which goes toward the national team’s training for the London 2012 Games. Wait, the women’s team doesn’t have a calendar? Yet, they all posed naked in the recent ESPN “Body Issue”? The price: $15.99.
IT’S A FLASK? DON’T ASK
What: A fake set of binoculars for your drinking pleasure. Where: Binocktails.com The background: Since they continue to ban alcohol from most college arenas and stadium, sneaking in something to keep you warm has become a game. Here’s the winning piece. Two 16-ounce containers, disguised as a pair of binoculars. A double-chambered blast. The only real problem we see: The company’s website is plastered on the strap, revealing the obvious. The company also offers one that looks like a camera and a cellphone. But they, of course, are much smaller. With no glaring warning sign. The price: $19.99.
RETRO RAIDERS MONOPOLY
What: 2008 Version of Raiders Monopoly board game. Where: eBay.com and Barnes&Noble.com The background: There are a couple versions out there, so beware. The current one on OaklandRaiders.store.yahoo is with a silver box, has Al Davis in the spot at Boardwalk and John Madden on Park Place. But look up the ’08 version – a black box, with Raiders players on the cover, and, to Davis’ chagrin, Marcus Allen is on the Boardwalk, and JaMarcus Russell is on Marvin Gardens – right before the “Go To Jail” square. Seriously. The price: $34 on eBay; $45 on Barnes&Noble.com
The only physical reminder of the USC-Notre Dame football rivalry in Trojans athletic director Pat Haden’s office is a photo snapped of the Coliseum scoreboard after the 1974 game:
Freeze frame, 55-24.
“Someone gave me that,” admitted the quarterback on the winning side that historic game, thanks plenty to another AD — Anthony Davis. “It’s really the only thing I have. I didn’t save a lot of things.”
So if memories serve us correctly, that must have been the most memorable moment for him of all the annual meetings. What could be anything better?
“I asked Cindy to marry me after that game,” Haden said, “and she’s still crazy enough to be with me 34 years later.”
With four kids, five grandkids, and dozens of new “old” friends now hitting him up for tickets.
USC fans give thanks today for Cindy Haden, coaxing her husband into breaking away from a nice cushy life practicing law and broadcasting Notre Dame TV games to accept this new challenge. Otherwise, Pat Haden wouldn’t be scrambling around town this Thanksgiving weekend like a turkey with his head cut off – fielding ticket requests, greeting visiting dignitaries, checking in with the school’s compliance officers and attending other Trojan games before viewing today’s 82nd meeting through the prism of the school’s fresh-cut athletic director.
Having been a fan, a player, an alum and announcer, how do things change this year?
“I do have a much more vested interest this time,” said Haden, whose black-and-blue Friday schedule includes attending the annual USC-Notre Dame luncheon downtown and going to Westwood for the Trojans’ womens volleyball season-ender against UCLA.
“As a USC alum, I was always hoping we’d win. As a broadcaster, I was always calling it down the middle, but in my heart of hearts, I’d hope USC would win.
“But having come to know these players and coaches, watching how hard they prepare, I definitely have a lot more at stake. Losses hurt a lot more, and wins are much sweeter from this position.
“And, against Notre Dame, there’s even more at stake.”
His Irish Catholic mom was disappointed that he picked USC over Notre Dame – “Ara Parseghian probably would have made me a strong safety,” Haden says, noting Tom Clement was the Irish quarterback at the time. Stanford, closer to where his parents lived, was also in the mix.
Trojans coach John McKay was able to persuade him to join his son, J.K., to be part of the decision process of the three national titles that always seemed to be at stake when USC played Notre Dame from 1972-74.
Last summer, Haden was able to coax J.K. into joining him in running USC athletics, digging the university out of the NCAA muck.
With Haden’s new job title comes hosting duties in his Coliseum luxury suite. Until the second half.
“It’s a social event during the game, a lot of donors, some just kinda watching,” he said. “By the fourth quarter, I need to be on the field, by myself, really concentrating on what’s going on.”
The new culture of NCAA compliance implies Haden has to be a bit more discretionary about how he fills ticket inquiries.
“I can always rustle up something if I need to; I’ve got a few in my back pocket all the time,” Haden admits.
Are you brave enough to ask him for an entry pass to a game that’ll be close to a 90,000 sellout, and more memories ready to be made?
“Talk to Heather, my assistant,” Haden said. “She’s a good guard dog. It depends on how nice you are.”
== ESPN.com’s Mark Saxon talks to Haden about the ethical rigors of his new job (linked here).
An abbreviated wrapup of the week’s news in the sports media, an annex to our annual Dubious Dozen of the Sports Media awards (linked here):
== Jon Miller, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past summer, has told ESPN he’ll have none of the Sunday Night Baseball radio gig, thrown out there as a consolation prize to the network taking him off the weekly TV package after 21 seasons. Miller has told the San Francisco Giants that he’s now available to do all 162 games for the first time since he was hired by the team in 1997.
“I’m going to just do the Giants games; that’s it,” he told the Oakland Tribune. “I’m excited about just being able to focus on one thing. … I appreciated their offer, but ultimately after talking with my wife and my family, the best thing for me and for all of us was to just do the Giants.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise of Fox or the MLB Network tried to hire him on a limited basis for some West Coast games.
== How the rest of your weekend of NFL in L.A. TV schedule lays out:
= Sunday: = 10 a.m., Channel 11: Green Bay at Atlanta (with Thom Brennaman, and Brian Billick). Fox also has Carolina-Cleveland and Minnesota-Washington in this window. CBS has Jacksonville-N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh-Buffalo and Tennessee Houston here. = 1 p.m., Channel 2: Miami at Oakland (with Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker). CBS also has Kansas City-Seattle in this window. = 1 p.m., Channel 11: Philadelphia at Chicago (with Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa). Fox also has St. Louis-Denver and Tampa Bay-Baltimore here. = 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: San Diego at Indianapolis (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer) = Monday: = 5:30 p.m., ESPN: San Francisco at Arizona (with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski).
== Someone with a lot of time on their hands at CBS has also determined that the coverage of Miami-Oakland will be the network’s 5,000 game (in its 51-year history of doing games for the league). Its first was on Sept. 30, 1956 — Pittsburgh beat Washington, 30-13, with Jim Gibbons and Arch McDonald doing the call for the Redskins’ audience and Joe Tucker and Bob Prince doing it for the Steelers.
== Someone also at CBS thought it would be appropriate (again) to have a Victoria’s Secret model on the set for the NFL pregame show, promoting the fashion show that the network will carry (Tuesday, 10 p.m.). This year’s ultra-skinny chum: Lily Aldridge. Sorry, but Lesley Visser and Sam Ryan are also on the show reporting from various cold-weather cities, wearing appropriate attire.
By the way: Has anyone really missed Jillian Reynolds on Fox’s NFL pregame show this year?
== The college football games of note this weekend:
= Auburn at Alabama (Channel 2, 11:30 a.m., with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson)
= UCLA at Arizona State (Prime, 12:30 p.m., with Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis and Rebecca Haarlow)
= Arizona at Oregon (ESPN, 4 p.m., with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe)
= Boise State at Nevada (ESPN, 7:15 p.m., with Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore)
== ESPN’s “College GameDay” (7 a.m.) goes to Stillwater, Oklahoma prior to ABC’s coverage of Oklahoma at Oklahoma State that night.
= Michigan at Ohio State (Channel 7, 9 a.m., with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Quint Kessenich).
= Michigan State at Penn State (ESPN2, 9 a.m., with Todd Harris and Tim Brown).
= LSU at Arkansas (Channel 2, 12:30 p.m. with Craig Bolerjack and Steve Beuerlein).
= Florida at Florida State (Channel 7, 12:30 p.m, with Bob Wischuse and Brian Griese)
= TCU at New Mexico (Versus, 1 p.m., with Ted Robinson, Kelly Stouffer and Lindsay Soto).
= Oregon State at Stanford (Versus, 4:30 p.m., with Ron Thulin and Glenn Parker)
= Notre Dame at USC (Channel 7, 5 p.m., with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Shelley Smith, which is opposite Oklahoma at Oklahoma State with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews and goes to 67 percent of the country)
== ESPN2 has the year-end championship of men’s tennis, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, live from London on Sunday (7:30 a.m.) with Cliff Drysdale and Patrick McEnroe.
== Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward spend the weekend in Las Vegas calling HBO’s boxing tripleheader (Saturday, 6:45 p.m.) of Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis, Andre Berto vs. Freddy Hernandez and Celestino Callero vs. Jason Litzau.
== The PBA season starts Sunday (10 a.m., ESPN) with the Brunswick Pro Bowling PBA Cheetah Championship, the first of five championships in a row that air on Sundays in that time slot. Rob Stone and Randy Pedersen call it.
== Bob Uecker, who goes into “Studio 42 with Bob Costas,” (today, 5 p.m.), says this about his Hall of Fame broadcasting career: “I love baseball Bob, and I mean, where would I be without baseball anyway? I love doing the games, and I love doing radio. I really love doing radio and there’s nothing wrong with doing television by any means. But I love doing radio where you can’t see what’s going on…”
== Compared to the 0.7 rating that the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake did for the MLS Cup in 2009, last Sunday’s 2010 version between Colorado and Dallas did just a 0.4 rating (748,000 viewers), which calculates to a 43-percent drop. For a game with two relatively unknown teams, up against a N.Y. Giants-Philadelphia NFL game on NBC, that’s understandable to a degree, but hardly a good reflection on overall league interest.
There are answers: Let the team with the better record host it instead of a town where there’s no interest. Let the Galaxy and New York Red Bull play in a preliminary game, no matter what their records were. Or, play the game with no goalies.
Only 12 make the cut for the 2010 Dubious Dozen of the Sports Media, which we are compiling again for its annual post-Thanksgiving Day appearance on Friday.
A hint: Jim Gray and Jay Mariotti have stupidity in common. As do Hannah Storm, Oprah Winfrey and Inez Sainz.
Just a couple months after he was voted into the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, ESPN decided not to rehire “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man Jon Miller.
Ridiculously, that didn’t make the list.
Neither did KNBC-Channel 4 sportscaster Fred Roggin, who earlier this month refused to show highights, or even give the final score, of the San Francisco Giants’ clinching the World Series, saying he was going to make it as “painless as possible” for Dodgers fans — and instead showed highlights from the Clippers’ game and some high-school football from the previous week.
Nor did the NFL Network, which hired Joe Theismann to help call its Thursday night games.
Inexplicably, these also missed out, but are worth bringing up here to get you in the right frame of mind:
The culprit: The NBA.
The crime: In January, after the league suspended Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas for pretending to shoot his teammates with his fingers pointed in the form of a gun, NBA officials asked Getty Images, which distributes photos taken by the league-paid photographers, to remove the picture that had been taken of Arenas in the act.
The picture had already been available and posted on many websites.
After receiving media inquiries about the photo, Getty called the NBA back. The league agreed to make it available again.
An NBA spokesman said the photo “was taken down because we thought the actions depicted in the photo were insensitive given the circumstances. Upon the request of news organizations, we made the photo available for their editorial use and it will remain available.”
The aftermath: Bridget Russel, a spokeswoman for Getty Images, told the New York times that the NBA’s contract with its company means that “it was their photographer and they own the copyright. It’s their right to pull the image.”
As well as try to erase something that they didn’t want to happen.
A STRIKER STRIKES
The culprit: Asma Halimi, a female reporter for Algerian newspaper Competition.
The crime: After the U.S. defeated Algeria 1-0 during the World Cup in July, Algerian soccer player Rafik Saifi took out his frustration on Halimi — he slapped her on his way to the locker.
Halimi hit him back, in the mouth.
She said she did nothing to provoke him, after “he reached over and hit me, so I hit him back,” she told a reporter for Yahoo.com.
“I wrote an article about him some time ago, maybe he did not like it,” she admitted.
The aftermath: Halimi filed a complaint with FIFA, but there was no public punishment announced against Saifi.
Halimi later told an Algerian news organization that Saifi had threatened to kill her, and he had slapped her once before.
Salon.com reported that a year ago, Halimi published a translation of an interview Saifi did with an Arabic paper, revealing his engagement to a French woman. Given that Algeria and its formal colonial master France have a sensitive relationship, Saifi was probably trying to keep that information out of the Algerian press.
COWBOYS BACK UP
The culprit: The Dallas Cowboys.
The crime: As if a 1-7 start to the season wasn’t back enough, the Cowboys forgot to renew their online domain name — DallasCowboys.com. According to the Dallas Morning News, the site went dormant in early November and was replace with a generic page that said the name was available to purchase. Once the Cowboys figured it out and renewed, it took 48 hours for Internet servers to recognize the renewal.
“As a result, fans visiting the website eager for news about the Cowboys’ flop in Green Bay and the status of head coach Wade Phillips were greeted with a stock image of two kids playing soccer,” the News reported.
The aftermath: ComScore research shows that DallasCowboys.com is the second-most-popular NFL website behind only the league’s main page.
The culprit: Mike Bacsik
The crime: The former major league pitcher (he gave up Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 756th home run) who produced Norm Hitzges’ Dallas-based radio show found himself in a bar watching the Mavericks lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs. Apparently having had too much to drink he tweeted about “dirty Mexicans in San Antonio” and blowing up the NBA offices.
The next day, he was fired.
The aftermath: He’s still unemployed. “Maybe things happen for a reason,” Bacsik told the Dallas Morning News.
A top 10 list for 2010′s reasons to be thankful for, from where we sit and type:
No. 10: For Vin Scully, deciding to lend his voice to the Dodgers’ soundtrack for a 62nd season, providing a security blanket for the city to cling to when the noise of the world gets too loud, and giving us at least one more year – God willing – of feeling forever young.
No. 9: Thanks to Bob Miller, another Hall of Famer, not just for his dedication to the Kings’ organization but dedication to the quality of sportscasting in the city, from nurturing the voices of tomorrow to serving as president of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.
No. 8: Thanks to those who star behind the scenes and bring a professionalism to local sportscasts that raises the bar to network level – a producer like Brad Zager or Ann Beebe, a director like Doug Freeman or Mike Hassan, a statistician like Doug Mann, a cameraman like Kurt Struve or Rob Menschel, a graphics operator like Mitch Rinehart, a stage manager like Donna Moskal and Boyd Robertson.
No. 7: Thanks to game analysts — Jim Fox, Jose Mota, Mark Gubicza stand out – who teach as well as simply explain what’s going on down there.
No. 6: Thanks to those who continue to improve the technology by which we consume sports – the video streaming on our computer, watching live games with Wifi when we’re away from the TV is incredible, the ability to call up a score and stats on our phone when we’re at an outpost seemingly far, far away.
No. 5: Thanks to those who continue to be committed to sustaining the ethics and quality of journalism that can easily become collateral damage by those caught up in the advancements of technology and the advancement of information. Not every headline on a sports news site has to start with “Report: ….”
No. 4: Thanks to those who continue to make the newspaper’s sports section – the editors, photographers, advertising reps, circulation trouble-shooters and, somewhere out there, the printers.
No. 3: Thanks to those who continue to deliver the newspapers every morning, pushing forward a daily work ethic come bad weather, national holiday or personal hardship. A man like Roger Owens, the Dodger Stadium peanut vendor extraordinaire, can relate to that.
No. 2: Thanks to those who continue to read newspapers, either in print or online.
And No. 1: Thanks to the readers who take the time to drop an email of thanks after they’ve read something that touched them enough – good or bad – to respond and join in the conversation. It’s not a one-way thing here. Be interactive.
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NFL: Denver at San Diego, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
On one side, there’s Philip Rivers with a league-best 2,944 yards passing, on pace to shatter Dan Marino’s single-season mark of 5,084. On the other, Kyle Orton, second in the league with 2,806 yards. If you thought Philly-Washington could generate points last week … In a meeting that will either help shake out the weak AFC West or muddle it further, the Chargers (4-5) try to win their third in a row to reach .500, while Denver (3-6) is coming off a 49-29 rout of Kansas City. And if you’re worried about a blackout — and, with the Chargers, you should be — the league said they sold enough tickets to get it on TV. It is just the second time in five home games that Southern California’s only NFL team has sold enough tickets to allow the game to be seen in the region.
NHL: Kings at Ottawa, 4:30 p.m., Prime:
Today’s fun fact about Ottawa: Queen Victoria had designated it as the capital of Canada on December 31, 1857. In the earlier times, Ottawa was known as Bytown, named in honor of Lieutenant-Colonel John By, who contributed a lot to the construction of the Rideau canal. However, after incorporation of Bytown as a city in 1855, the name was changed to Ottawa. They were By before Bi was popular.
NBA: Clippers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers can only have so many “Griffin’s efforts wasted again” newspaper headlines in them per month. And opposing broadcasters (like Mike Breen and Walt Frazier) admiring his abilities (above), like in Saturday’s game at Staples Center against the Knicks. The Hornets, in Sacramento last night and likely to have new backup point guard Jarrett Jack with them, have pummeled the Clippers in their last 14 meetings.
OK, one more Griffin dunk from Saturday for the road:
NBA: Lakers vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
No bull: After the post-game show, FSW airs out “Making of the Laker Girls Calendar” special (and if you miss it, it repeats Wednesday at 7 and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.). They run $14.99 at lakerstore.com, or $10 less than Jeanie Buss’ new book. There are, as a matter of record, 22 Laker Girls, and, uh, 12 months. Don’t worry, they’ve double-teammed a few key seasons. We’re pulling for Brandi, Bria, Brilane, Bailie and Brittney to get us through until the summer.
NHL: Kings at Montreal, 4:30 p.m., FSW:
The four-game, week-long road trip comes to an end, but the debate whether Rogie Vachon belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame shouldn’t. Vachon, who played his first five seasons with the Canadiens, was traded to the Kings early in the ’71-’72 season and lasted six more en route to a 16-season career, ranks ahead of a lot of current Hall of Fame goalies in career stats — plus, he has three Stanley Cups, a Vezina Trophy and three All-Star games. “He wasn’t a big guy, yet he played so well and really, the shame is that he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame when the numbers he has are better than some who are in the Hall of Fame, and he has those seasons and those numbers with very mediocre Kings teams,” Kings Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller once said. The fact remains, Vachon’s 355 career wins are more than Hall of Famers’ Ken Dryden, Gerry Cheevers, Ed Giacomin and Gump Worsley. At least the Kings plan to honor Vachon before their game at home on Jan. 15.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Villanova, Madison Square Garden, New York, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
Lisa Honeycutt told the Daily Bruin newspaper that she booked tickets to New York a month ago, anticipating that her son, Tyler, would be with his teammates playing at Madison Square Garden on the night before Thanksgiving. Besides, she’s never been to New York City. Neither has Tyler. “I’ve always wanted to go to New York,” the sophomore forward said after a win last week against Pacific clinched the trip and a 3-0 start for UCLA. “I’ve been to Buffalo, N.Y., which I don’t think is the same thing.” No, not really.
College basketball: USC vs. Cal State Fullerton, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., USCTrojans.com:
The Trojans (3-2) head home after a tour of Springfield, Mass., for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, where they lost one by one and won another by 19, in time for a tune-up tilt with the Titans.
NBA: Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
Gobble, gobble, gulp: What Staples Center usher wants to leave his Thanksgiving dinner early so he can scan tickets for people who choose to come to this game on a national holiday?
NFL: New England at Detroit, 9:30 a.m., Channel 2:
Sorry, Maurice Jones-Drew, but we’ve become fond of Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has earned the nickname “Law Firm” because of something he had no control over: The most multi-modified name in pro sports. We hope someday when he has kids, he’ll be more considerate.
NFL: New Orleans at Dallas, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Jason Garrett’s 2-0 Cowboys now have to back-to-back games against last season’s Super Bowl opponents – the Saints and Colts.
NFL: Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets, 5 p.m., NFL Network:
The Jets hammered the Bengals, 37-0, in the last game of the ’09 season to set up a meeting in the AFC wild-card match — and then Mark Sanchez beat his friend, Carson Palmer, a second time, 24-7. On Saturday, the NFL Network will replay this game — but without the commentary by Ian Eagle, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann. NFL Films will have mikes on 15 players and coaches to provide the audio.
College football: UCLA at Arizona State, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
The Bruins have averaged less than two touchdowns a game over their last five (one win, four losses). The Sun Devils have lost three of their last four, but stayed very close to USC and Stanford in the last two defeats. On Senior Day in Tempe, Ariz., ASU plans a big halftime ceremony to reinstitute their Ring Of Honor, and pay homage to former coach Frank Kush and eight former players, including the late Pat Tillman.
NBA: Lakers at Utah, 6 p.m., Channel 9:
Jazz fans apparently a) still upset that Karl Malone once sided up with the Lakers and b) the franchise traded the eventual rights to Magic Johnson to the Lakers continue to take out their frustrations on Derek Fisher. C’mon, get over it.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Tennessee or Virginia Commonwealth, NIT final or third place game, 2:30 p.m. or 5 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2:
News that the SEC suspended Vols coach Bruce Pearl for the first eight conference games this season due to NCAA rules violations won’t affect this one.
NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 6 p.m., Prime:
Their next meeting will be the day after Christmas. More leftovers.
NHL: Ducks vs. Chicago, Honda Center, 1 p.m., FSW:
When they last met in Chicago on Nov. 14, the Ducks had their attempt at a record-tying seventh straight win squashed by a 3-2 Blackhawks win in OT.
College football: Auburn at Alabama, 11:30 a.m., Channel 2:
There could be a domino effect happen here, a game that’s followed up by Oregon hosting Arizona (ESPN, 4 p.m.) and Boise State goes to Nevada (ESPN, 7:15 p.m.).
College football: USC vs. Notre Dame, Coliseum, 5 p.m., ABC/ESPN:
Twenty-five years ago, Notre Dame led 24-0 at halftime when Irish coach Gerry Faust had his team switch to green jerseys. They won, 37-3. It was Faust’s last win against the Trojans — he quit after that season. This year, Brian Kelley, who went green in last week’s win against Army at Yankee Stadium, might consider having his squad enter the Coliseum dressed in plaid if he’s got any shot at winning that crazy looking shillelagh trophy. Notre Dame leads the series, 42-33-5, but USC has won the last eight meetings (except for that one five years ago that they’ve now had to vacate). The Trojans may still be blue after last weekend’s disappointment in Corvallis, Ore.
NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Back on Oct. 27, the Kings were frustrated in a 3-1 loss at Chitown, unable to smack anything much past Marty Turco. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 34-28, including 15-8 in the third period.
NHL: Ducks at Phoenix, 5 p.m., Prime:
Do the Ducks look ahead to Monday’s matchup against the Kings?
College basketball: USC at Nebraska, 2 p.m., FSW:
A matchup made for the gridiron.
College football: Oregon State at Stanford, 4:30 p.m., Versus:
If only the Cardinal could get another shot at Oregon’s Ducks instead.
United Football League: Championships game, 9 a.m., Versus:
If we even knew the names of the five teams in this league right now, we’d included the top two contenders here.
Canadian Football League: Grey Cup, 3:30 p.m.:
In Edmonton, it’s Montreal’s Alouettes against Saskatchewan’s Roughriders. Montreal a chance for a second straight Grey Cup and this is a rematch of a dramatic 2009 game. No team has won back-to-back Grey Cup titles since the Argonauts did it in 1996 and 1997.
NFL: San Diego at Indianapolis, 5:15 p.m., Channel 4:
The trend continues: Whomever plays in Monday night prime-time seems to have a game the following week in prime-time on Sunday. NBC decided to keep this one; it could have tossed it aside in its first week of flex scheduling.
NFL: Philadelphia at Chicago, 1 p.m., Channel 11:
Fox moved this one from an early window to a later one — to try to get more eyes on Michael Vick. The last time the Bears’ defense faced Vick, he was with the Falcons, and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was assigned to shadow him. It worked.
NBA: Clippers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW
We did mention that the new Laker Girls calendar was on sale at the Team LA store? On Ashley, on Angel, on Leah and Lana; go Taylour, go Katie, go Octavia and Dara. Why isn’t there a Clippers Spirit Girls calendar to compete with this one? Over at Clippergirl.com (linked here), you can get a free Betty Crocker 2011 calendar. Betty cooks.
Following up with a few more questions from today’s Q-and-A (linked here) with the Kings’ enforcer:
Q: When did you decide that taking the enforcer role would be your ticket to moving up in the youth hockey leagues?
A: Not until I was really 17 or 18. I was in junior B, never really fought before, but then i got into a few fights in training camp, against some pretty tough guys. In the preseason, we got into a few situations where the boys were kinda looking at me to do something. So, well, fine with me. And the fights went well. So I kind of got the role by de facto. And it helped that I scored a few goals, too.
Q: Who did you admire most in that role while you were growing up?
A: I’m pretty lucky being from the Windsor area, where Bob Probert, Tie Domi, Warren Rychel were all there … I don’t know what’s in the water but it seems like everyone there has something a little wrong with them. To me, Propert was the toughest guy of all time, but he could also chip in on the scoreboard. Marty McSorley, in this organization, has been big. Looking back to the ’93 Finals, he was a key component to getting them there.
Q: What was the smartest advice you ever got about playing the enforcer role?
A: You have to take what is said — or unsaid — by your organization. We take pride in keeping everybody here safe, a real watch-your-back mentality. That’s great for me to know, that I can err on the side of protecting my teammates. Over the years I’ve learned as much by watching the guys on the other team as I have from doing it myself. My first year in college, I hadn’t done it much, and it was a different level of fighters. So it was quite an adjustment in the AHL. Last season I didn’t have to fight as much which allowed me to work on some of my other skills and that’s a big reason I was able to make the jump this year. I’ll fight whomever and whenever I have to, but as long as I can keep improving on my skills.
Q: The game recently you had against the Islanders – two fights in the third period, 12 penalty minutes, after having just two penalty minutes to that point all season – was that an adrenaline rush?
A: Actually I was kind of surprised how giddy I was after the game. I was frustrated not having a fight this season. They say it’s impossible to get into a slump in my role, but that’s where I was. It really was a real relief.
Q: In the preseason, you got into a fight with Colorado’s David Koci and he ended up with a broken jaw. Did that affect your psyche when it came to fighting again after that, make you hesitant at all?
A: Not really. Over the years you end up hurting some guys. Sometimes, it’ tough, but it’s one of those things. You end up talking to the guy later, and everyone knows the deal. If it happens, it happens. It’s part of the job. There is that brotherhood, but by the same token that’s our choice. It’s how we choose to make a living. I did see (Koci) the last time we were in Colorado. He’s doing well and he’ll be back soon. He’s a good guy. Everybody knows. I’m sure I’m going to get mine one day but I hope it’s not for a long time.
And about being hesitant, that really wasn’t the case. I was asking every day to get in there and play. It wasn’t for a lack of trying at any stretch.
Q: In reading some of your blog postings on TheHockeyNews.com, one of the books you mentioned that you enjoyed was called “Survivor,” by Chuck Palahnuis — who is also the author of “Fight Club.” Did you ever read that book, and how did that affect your fighting mentality?
A: Unfortunately, I haven’t read ‘Fight Club,’ but I’ve only seen the movie. I do have it on my bookshelf, and it needs to get onto the reading list. I know David Finch is a heck of a director, but no matter how good a movie is, inevidably the books are better.
Q: The Kings have a “Fight Club” link on their website now, with a stockpile of old hockey fights. You can even request fights from the past. Are there any fights you’d heard about in the NHL and always wanted to see?
A: There are a few old ones, mostly between Bob Propert and Troy Crowder. They were absolutely epic. I think there were three of them. One time Crowder caught Propy coming off the ice at the end of his shift and took it to him. I know Proby wasn’t happy and came back at him.
Q: There was the story recently about how after Probert died, his brain was donated to science to see the effects of the pounding it took on him. Is that stuff kind of scary?
A: For sure. It’s been in the news a lot today, with everyone bigger, faster, strong. You’ve got to be aware of it and the leagues are doing as much as they can. It’s one of those things where gotta want to be safe as possible but it’s still a risk you run — even if you’re just driving a car.
== A profile on Keith and Kevin Westgarth, during their playing days in Princeton (linked here).
== Kevin Westgarth’s blogs on TheHockeyNews.com (linked here).