We are all very thankful for this story having been told on this day:
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.
Party on some more, Westgarth.
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).