The Media Learning Curve: Dec. 24-31

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Following up from today’s year-end media column (linked here):

== Orange County Register writer Kevin Ding wrote on his Lakers blog the other day (linked here):

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“Hey, Will Selva of ESPNEWS. Glad you liked my last column so much. Try not to plagiarize it next time.”

Ding explained that when he got to his hotel room late Tuesday night after the Lakers-Spurs game, he flipped on ESPNEWS’ “Highlight Express” show and “imagine my shock” when Selva used the first several paragraphs of a story he did a couple days earlier.

We’re pleased that ESPN has since suspended Selva, an anchor whose name we’d have otherwise never known if not for Ding’s discovery (he’s been there three years?) Others have been fired for such offenses. At least Selva owned up to it.

And Ding brought attention to something that is far too prevalent in the sports media rush to repurpose paragraphs in the rush to get an assignment done. You can’t take that thing as a “compliment,” as some suggest, and just ignore it.

== Check out the year-end sports media best and worst from SI.com’s Richard Deitsch (linked here)

== As ratings will predictably drop during this year’s college bowl season — some, because almost all the games, including the BCS championship, has moved to ESPN, and others, because they’re just poor matchups — the Wall Street Journal (linked here) researched which teams over the last 10-plus years have lived up to their drawing power, and which haven’t.

The winner: USC, on probation this season. The worst: Virginia.

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== Universal Sports recognizes the recent passing of Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan by airing nine of his works, starting Saturday (6 p.m.) with his piece on the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics — the original “Sixteen Days of Glory,” that focuses on Carl Lewis (above), Edwin Moses, Rowdy Gaines, Mary Lou Retton, Zola Budd and Joan Benoit. It follows in subsequent days airing Greenspan’s documentaries on the ’88 Calgary Winter Games, the ’94 Lillehammer Winter Games, the ’96 Atlanta Summer Games, the ’98 Nagano Winter Games, the 2000 Sydney Summer Games (includes a piece on Tommy Lasorda), the ’02 Salt Lake City Winter Games, the ’04 Athens Summer Games (with UCLA’s Lisa Fernandez), and the ’06 Torino Winter Games.

FYI: The U.S. Olympic Committee established a scholarship in 2007 at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts to honor Greenspan, and his family asks that any donations be made to that fund. For more information: erica.hutchinson@usoc.org.

AND FINALLY:

== Former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner appears on NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” (linked here) as the 11th season of the weight-loss reality show starts Tuesday.

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The 39-year-old Gardner, who won gold in 2000 and the bronze in 2004, weighs in at 474 pounds and has developed high blood pressure and sleep apnea, could win $250,000 with his business partner joining him on the show if they out-lose 20 other contestants.

“The day that I won the bronze medal in the Olympics, I thought, ‘You’ll never step on a scale again, live life and enjoy, take a year or two years off,’” Rulon said in a promotional video, explaining his appearance on the show. “I allowed myself to really lose track of what I was doing and finally got to a point where I couldn’t look in the mirror.”

He now works as a motivational speaker and runs a training center and fitness gym in Logan, Utah.

Gardner and partner Justin Pope have been taping the show in L.A. since September but managed to keep it all a secret.

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In the grand scheme of things, does it matter that L.A. gets the Chargers’ final game of the year? Yes.

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Half-truths, false advertising and more lip service about why living in an NFL-free Los Angeles environment doesn’t provide all the Utopian benefits you’d come to rely on after all these years:

On the final day of the NFL’s regular season, some of you will warm up the tubes in your TV set, wait for the picture to finally flicker on and, after fiddling with the needle-nose pliers to make the broken dial line up with the No. 2, have every reason in the modern world to go absolutely bonkers.

The San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos game is on, and the Tennessee Titans-Indianapolis Colts game isn’t.

Continue reading

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Play it forward: Dec. 27-Jan. 2 on your sports calendar

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

MONDAY

NFL: New Orleans at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

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The 12-2 Falcons hold a two-game lead over the 10-4 Saints in the AFC South but a New Orleans victory. Falcons QB Matt Ryan also has a 19-1 record at home — he was injured the last time the Saints came to town and left with a 26-23 victory on their way to the Super Bowl.

NHL: Kings at San Jose, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

The first of two games in one week against the surging Sharks, but each of them are in different calendar years. Weird.

NBA: Clippers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., Prime:

The Clippers’ two-game road winning streak could be the longest since Bob McAdoo was brave enough to be a Buffalo Brave.

College football: Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.: Air Force vs. Georgia Tech, 2 p.m., ESPN:

Independent thinkers will find something else to do today.

TUESDAY

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NBA: Lakers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9:

Obviously, scheduling the Heat on Christmas Day was set up as a trap game for the Lakers, who were looking ahead to their first meeting of the year with the Spurs. Tim Duncan’s guys have put together the best record in the league thus far by . . . we’d tell you, but it’d be boring. Even more strange, the Clippers actually handed them one of their three losses this year.

NHL: Ducks at Phoenix, 6 p.m., Prime:

In their last meeting, Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 39 saves and handed his former team a 3-0 shutout.

College football: Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando: West Virginia vs. North Carolina State, 3:30 p.m., ESPN; Insight Bowl, Tempe, Ariz.: Missouri vs. Iowa, 7 p.m., ESPN:

The Hawkeyes geared up for their trip to Tempe by suspending receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos when police found out he had unlawful possession of perscription drugs and was “keeping a drug house.” He’s Iowa’s career leader in receptions and receiving yards, an All-Big Ten first-team pick with 10 TDs this year.

NFL: Minnesota at Philadelphia, 5 p.m., Channel 4:

Are you wusses ready to play yet?

WEDNESDAY

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College basketball: UCLA vs. Washington State, Pauley Pavilion, 8 p.m., FSW; USC vs. Washington, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., USCTrojans.com:

So this time next year, the Bruins and Trojans could be opening the Pac-12 regular season against Utah and Colorado?

NBA: Lakers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Channel 9:

The Hornets have enough problems just looking for an owner. The league runs the show now, with Jerry Buss technically funding a 1 / 31 share of it. But don’t beat yourself up over that.

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

Nope, not interested.

NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 6 p.m., Channel 13:

When they last met at the Coyotes place in late October, there was an announced crowd of only 6,706.

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College football: Military Bowl, Washington, DC: Maryland vs. East Carolina, 11:30 a.m., ESPN; Texas Bowl, Houston: Baylor vs. Illinois, 3 p.m., ESPN; Alamo Bowl, San Antonio: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, 6:15 p.m., ESPN:

That game in San Antonio . . . shouldn’t USC be there? Illinois is back in the postseason action for the first time since the 2008 Rose Bowl against the Trojans.

THURSDAY

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

FIrst of eight in a row at home through Jan. 15.

College football: Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Tex.: Army vs. SMU, 9 a.m., ESPN; Pinstripe Bowl, New York: Syracuse vs. Kansas State, 12:20 p.m., ESPN: Music City Bowl, Nashville: North Carolina vs. Tennessee, 3:40 p.m., ESPN; Holiday Bowl, San Diego: Washington vs. Nebraska, 7 p.m., ESPN:

Not enough bowl games here played in baseball stadiums. Try harder.

FRIDAY

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

If this one goes into a couple of overtimes, it could spill into 2011, and Larry Brown will be waiting to replace Doug Collins.

College basketball: UCLA vs. Washington, Pauley Pavilion, 1 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Washington State, Galen Center, 3 p.m., FSW:

These four will meet again at the end of the regular season, with it matters for Pac-10 tournament seedings.

College football: Meineke Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.: Clemson vs. South Florida, 9 a.m., ESPN; Sun Bowl, El Paso, Tex.: Notre Dame vs. Miami, 11 a.m., Channel 2; Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.: Georgia vs. Central Florida, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Atlanta: South Carolina vs. Florida State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN:

See, USC did make it to a bowl game.

SATURDAY

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NHL: Washington at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m., Channel 4:

The fourth year of a televised outdoor hockey game, this one inside the Steelers’ NFL home of Heinz Field, shows that things have snowballed. Even up against the day of college football. “New Year’s will never be what it once was when all the consequential bowls had greater cache,” said Bob Costas, the host for this event. “Each of them now is reduced somewhat by the presence of the BCS championship game. They all kind of fade a little. This might not have been possible 10 years ago to put anything against the lineup. Now the landscape has changed. Because the Winter Classic has worked out so well the first three years, it can more than hold its own.” So can the HBO “24/7″ series leading into this. All three previous episodes are played on the network from 7-to-10 a.m. Check ‘em out.

NHL: Kings vs. San Jose, Staples Center, 6 p.m., FSW:

There’s an outdoor sheet of ice at LA Live just waiting for a game to break out. Meanwhile, Jim Fox must break out his lucky loud New Year’s Day jacket.

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College football: TicketCity Bowl, Dallas: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern, 9 a.m., ESPNU; Capital One Bowl, Orlando: Florida vs. Penn State, 10 a.m., ESPN; Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla.: Alabama vs. Michigan State, 10 a.m., Channel 7; Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.: Michigan vs. Mississippi State, 10:30 a.m., ESPN:

See what Costas was talking about?

College football: Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Texas Christian, 2 p.m., ESPN:

Refrain from being badgered into watching this affair between the Big Ten tri-champ (it lost to Michigan State) and the highest-ranked, non BCS-title team that the Rose Bowl had to take. Talk about ruining a tradition beyond repair.

College football: Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

How much Bailey’s Irish Cream does it take for a viewers to get through a UConn football game? That Outback Bowl out back in Tampa could have swapped out the participants and perhaps saved itself for some better prime-time-ish viewership.

Mixed martial arts: UFC 125 in Las Vegas:

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, coming off back-to-back wins over BJ Penn, defends his title in a rematch against undefeated No. 1 contender Gray “The Bully” Maynard in the main event. They’re also throwing in a featherweight co-main between title holder Jose Aldo and Josh “The Fluke” Grispi. The local Appleby’s may be holding a UFC viewing party, so check it out.

SUNDAY

NFL: Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Channel 11, 10 a.m.; Miami at New England, Pittsburgh at Cleveland, Channel 2, 10 a.m.; Chicago at Green Bay, Channel 11, 1 p.m.; San Diego at Denver, Channel 2, 1 p.m.:

Really, after all that, we have to see the Chargers end the season? The NFL schedule (linked here) says that on the day both Fox and CBS get a doubleheader, the later could also have Indianapolis-Tennesse in the late window.

NFL: St. Louis at Seattle, Channel 4, 5:15 p.m.:

The game NBC picked this one off Fox’s schedule to see if it’s true that a sub-.500 team can actually qualify for the playoffs. Pete Carroll hasn’t ruled out Matt Hasselbeck, but Charlie Whitehurst may be the QB for his 6-9 team against the 7-8 Rams.

NBA: Clippers vs. Atlanta, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime: Lakers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:

At least have the Jumbotron show NFL games to the fans in the stands that mean something.

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The Media Learning Curve: Dec. 17-24

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John Ourand at the Sports Business Journal offers a list of sports media predictions for 2011.

If we didn’t agree with most of them, we’d have avoided repeating them here (and wishing we only thought of them first):

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== The NFL will decide to expand to an 18-game season, selling a new package to a cable network. And once the league’s current TV deals end in 2013, NFL Network will wind up with a full season’s worth of games. The NFL will carve out another 18-game schedule that it will shop to Comcast (who’ll put it on Versus), Turner and Fox (for FX).

== The NHL will split its media rights package between ESPN and Comcast (on behalf of Versus and NBC).

== Comcast will pay less but still pick up the Olympic rights for the 2014 and 2016 Games (for NBC)..

== ESPN gives up on plans for a 24/7 3-D channel.

== Versus will change its name to something that incorporates the NBC Sports brand. Something like “The NBC Sports Network” or “SNBC.” With a couple of Notre Dame football games farmed out to it.

== CBS College Sports will expand its programming lineup beyond just college sports.

== Fox will roll out more regular-season prime-time baseball games. And possibly signed Jon Miller to call games.

== Small sports channels will lose subscribers. Distributors ill drop channels that don’t attract viewers.

== NASCAR TV ratings have hit bottom.

Jim Gray, you take it from there.

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Following up on today’s column on how ABC and ESPN eats up Christmas Day NBA games (linked here), there’s more to fill in:

== The graphic included in today’s print edition that goes with the lead media story reads like this:

How the Lakers have done from a viewership standpoint by appearing on every ABC Christmas Day games since 2002:

Year and Opponent: Game rating (Homes) vs. Final ABC NBA season rating

2002 vs. Sacramento: 4.5 (7.4 million) vs. 2.7
2003 vs. Houston: 4.1 (7.1 million) vs. 2.4
2004 vs. Miami: 7.3 (13.1 million) vs. 2.3
2005 vs. Miami: 4.8 (8.1 million) vs. 2.2
2006 vs. Miami: 3.5 (5.4 million) vs. 2.0
2007 vs. Phoenix: 3.5 (5.9 million) vs. 2.2
2008 vs. Boston: 5.3 (9.9 million) vs. 2.4
2009 vs. Cleveland: 4.4 (8.3 million) vs. 2.3
Note: All eight games were the highest-rated of that NBA regular season on ABC.

== ESPN Radio sends Kevin Calabro and analyst Dr. Jack Ramsay to call Saturday’s Lakers-Heat game.

The rest of the day’s ABC/ESPN NBA lineup:
Stuart Scott, Magic Johnson, Jon Barry and Mike Wilbon do the ABC pregame show.
Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown do Boston-Orlando for ABC (11:30 a.m.)
Dan Shulman and Doris Burke call the Chicago-New York game for ESPN (9 a.m., a noon tipoff at Madison Square Garden), which will also be on ESPN 3D.
Mark Jones and Tim Legler do the Denver-Oklahoma City game for ESPN (5 p.m.), while Terry Gannon and Fran Fraschilla are at the Golden State-Portland game for ESPN (7:30 p.m.)

== ESPN Classic offers a 12-Hour NBA Christmas Marathon that starts today at 9 a.m. with the Denver-Oklahoma City game from 2009 and includes the ’04 Lakers-Heat overtime game (5 p.m. Saturday) and the ’09 Lakers-Heat game where Kobe Bryant’s last-second shot wins it (8 p.m.).

== The NFL TV schedule the rest of the way this weekend for L.A.:

=Saturday:
= 4 p.m., NFL Network: Dallas at Arizona (with Bob Papa, Joe Theisman and Matt Millen).

=Sunday:
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: San Francisco at St. Louis (with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa) instead of Detroit-Miami or Washington-Jacksonville. CBS also has N.Y. Jets-Chicago (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms), Tennessee-Kansas City, Baltimore-Cleveland and New England-Buffalo in this window.
= 1 p.m., Channel 11: N.Y. Giants at Green Bay (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) instead of Seattle-Tampa Bay.

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= 1 p.m., Channel 2: San Diego at Cincinnati (with Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker) instead of Indianapolis-Oakland (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf) or Houston-Denver.
= 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Minnesota at Philadelphia (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer)

=Monday:
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: New Orleans at Atlanta (with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski).

== Remember the 2010 NAPT Bounty Shootout poker tournament that took place at the Crystal Casino in mid November? Neither do we, but ESPN2 will televise it Sunday at 6 p.m.

== HBO replays seven of the year’s best fights (that it covered) starting Monday at midnight and playing out over four nights. It begins with Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley and concludes with Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito (Thursday, 10 p.m.)

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Your eBay holiday bargain of the week: 33 Dodger bobbleheads for $1,250

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Or best offer?

It’s a posting by someone named supermexxicn13, a top-rated seller with hundreds of previous sales. And he’s got every Dodger bobblehead given away at Dodger Stadium over the last 10 years.

By it now for $1,250 (an average of $37.87 a statue). Or make a more normal bid (linked here).

Shipping is free.

If you need a checklist, here it is:

2001:
Tommy Lasorda 4/4/2001
Kirk Gibson 6/9/2001
Fernando Valenzuela 7/29/2001

2002:
Paul Lo Duca 5/31/2002
Shawn Green 7/18/2002
Hideo Nomo 8/24/2002

2003:
Eric Gagne 5/2/2003
Brian Jordan 7/1/2003
Fred McGriff 9/12/2003

2004:
Eric Gagne 4/30/2004
Don Newcombe 7/23/04
Don Drysdale 8/20/2004

2005:
Cesar Izturiz 6/1/2005
Jeff Kent 9/29/2005

2006:
Ron Cey 6/2/2006
Fernando Valenzuela 6/23/2006
Steve Garvey 7/28/2006

2007:
Nomar Garciaparra 4/26/2007
Rafael Furcal 7/6/2007
Russell Martin 8/2/2007
Tommy Lasorda 9/14/2007

2008:
Joe Torre 4/25/2008
Takashi Saito 6/5/2008
Brad Penny 7/25/2008
Joe Beimel 8/21/2008

2009:
Casey Blake 5/20/2009
Manny Ramirez 7/22/2009
Matt Kemp 8/19/2009
Manny Ramirez 9/16/2009

2010:
Andre Ethier 5/18/2010
Jonathan Broxton 6/8/2010
James Loney 7/20/2010
Matt Kemp 8/17/2010

Not included: The Dodger Dog Bobblehead, which goes for $30 in this eBay auction (linked here)

The dates for the 2011 bobblehead giveaways:
May 17
June 1
June 14
July 7
July 26
August 9

Keep up with all that is Dodger bobblehead at this site (linked here)

And where to find that Dodger bobblehead T-shirt above (linked here)

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Play it forward: Dec. 20-26 on your sports calendar

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(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
Connecticut celebrates in the final seconds of its 81-50 win over Ohio State in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

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

MONDAY

NFL: Chicago at Minnesota, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

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Why wouldn’t the Vikings have moved this to, say, their future home of L.A.? Paramedics will be standing by with snow shovels and chest paddles to treat those who needed to be here. Our plans include smuggling some Peppermint Schnapps into our living room.

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

Somehow, Kevin Love’s T-wolves made it out of the Twin Cities just in time. The Clippers’ home losing streak sits at just three for the time being.

NHL: Ducks at Boston, 4:30 p.m., Versus:

Nothing like a little national exposure for the Anaheimers.

TUESDAY

Women’s college basketball: Florida State at UConn, 4 p.m., ESPN2:

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after an historic Win No. 88 in a row on Sunday: “If we were fortunate enough to win Tuesday night, that just means we did something in women’s basketball that’s pretty special.”

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

It should be noted: After a four-game losing string, this Bruins team is just 85 wins from tying their school winning streak.

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College basketball: USC at Tennessee, 4 p.m., Prime:

Vols hoops coach Bruce Pearl said it about the press he’s received in the wake of an eight-game SEC suspension for recruiting violations: “What I was hoping for was that some other dumbass would get on the front page and take me off the hook. I miss Lane Kiffin.” That’s just as hilarious as the way Pearl’s team has been playing lately. The former No. 7 Vols (7-2) followed a win over then-No. 3 Pitt with head-scratching upset losses to Oakland and Charlotte. See if Pat Summit has any answers.

NHL: Kings at Colorado, 6:30 p.m., Prime:

The Kings finish their roller-coaster roadie against an Avalanche team they knocked off, 6-4, back in late October, when Brad Richardson, who started the night with 30 career goals in 254 games, got his first NHL hat trick. Richardson, who missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, has been activated in time for this one. Marco Sturm could also be available by this one. Good deal. The Avs have been hot.

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

Check your tickets again. This is against “MIL,” not “MIA.” A huge difference.

College football: Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl, St. P’tersburg, Fla.: L’ville vs. Southern Mississippi, 5 p.m., ESPN:

How many ‘postrophies can they get in one lousy b’wl game?

WEDNESDAY

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

Can Yao Ming at least visit his favorite Chinatown restaurant while he’s in the neighborhood?

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College football: Maaco Bowl, Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Utah, 5 p.m., ESPN:

A Pac-10 team could have should have been slotted for this one, but not enough were bowl eligible. Instead, we’ll have to accept future Pac-12 participant Utah, against the team that should have been BCS worthy if they had a reliable field-goal kicker. That’s the gamble you take in Vegas.

THURSDAY

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

These young Oilers have one of the worst records in the league, but they have that No. 1 draft pick, Taylor Hall, right? Continue . . .

College basketball: USC vs. Lehigh, Galen Center, 5:30 p.m., USCTrojans.com: UCLA vs. UC Irvine, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Here’s the final tuneups for both teams before the Pac-10 season starts. Make it count.

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College football: Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego: San Diego State vs. Navy, 5 p.m., ESPN:

It’s a natural fit, these two, but an unnatural annual event in the bowl lineup.

NFL: Carolina at Pittsburgh, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:

Neither of these two teams are on Bill Cowher’s coaching wish list?

FRIDAY

College football: Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu: Hawaii vs. Tulsa, 5 p.m., ESPN:

It’s not an Hawaii home game, it just seems that way. The Rainbow Warriors may someday return to the Sugar Bowl (remember ’08, Colt Brennan’s team lost 41-10 to Matt Stafford and Georgia). But for now, they’ll have to settle for hosting a bunch of travelers from Oklahoma who don’t mind roasted pig in a one-horse open lei..

SATURDAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. Miami, Staples Center, 2 p.m., Channel 7:

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Santa sez: Believe the hype. Snoop Dogg sez: I believe you’re in my seat. The NBA has been dreaming of this Christmas, just like the ones it used to know when Shaq came back to L.A. loaded with gifts for the local kids. This time, the Lakers can’t really be all that excited to face a squad that may be riding a 14-game winning streak and has been whipping their opponents by nearly 20 points a contest. Yet, can the Wade-James-Bosh trio stand up to the Gasol-Bynum-Artest front line? Let’s just make sure no seat cushions are tossed onto the floor. And if this one isn’t to your taste, the NBA has four others on TV today: Chicago at New York (9 a.m., ESPN), Boston at Orlando (11:30 a.m., Channel 7), Denver at Oklahoma City (5 p.m., ESPN) and Portland at Golden State (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

NFL: Dallas at Arizona, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network:

Nope, the league’s own channel can’t flex out of this mess.

SUNDAY

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NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 6 p.m., FSW:

Even if you believe the numbers — it’s all even in the all-time series now at 43-43-4 after the Ducks took a 2-0 win a few weeks ago in Anaheim — the fact the Ducks have more Stanley Cup victories in a shorter time frame really gets under the Kings’ fans skin. On the day after Christmas, it’s back to getting into a fightin’ mood.

NBA: Clippers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, noon, Prime:

In their previous loss to the Suns back on the day after Thanksgiving, the Clippers fell behind by 21 after the first quarter in Phoenix. And some 17,000 Suns fans still witnessed it.

College football: Little Caesars Bowl, Detroit: Toledo vs. Florida International, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

This could be done in 30 minutes or less.

NFL: Minnesota at Philadelphia, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:

NBC opted out of the previously-scheduled Chargers-Bengals bash for more Favre-Vick panache.

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It’s Out of the Question: What’s wrong with the Bowl Cuban System?

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Why has the rejection of Mark Cuban trying to fix the BCS system turned into a mini Cuban Dismissal Crisis?

The billionaire maverick simply says he’ll his load up a bank account and then let the NCAA work out a 12- or 16-game college football playoff system.

Make too much sense already?

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Pac-10 chief Larry Scott says this plan is doomed: Tuition-strapped schools, especially those in the state tax-payer systems, simply aren’t going to be swayed by cold, hard cash.

Huh?

“It’s a mistake to assume the impediment to a playoff is money,” he insists. “This is about a broader set of priorities benefiting schools and student-athletes.”

Bill Hancock, the BCS cartel’s current director of operations and, apparently, oxygen deprived from all the sand he has been eating since his head seems to be buried in it, adds: “Given how much support our current system has among university presidents, athletic directors, coaches and athletes, I don’t think any amount of financial inducement will make people abandon the BCS.”

When did the NCAA ever turn down greenbacks?

Or decide it the best interests of the student-athletes was a top priority?

Apparently, the BCS bozos assume they can print enough funny money with their own system in place – one that allows TCU and UConn a spot at the adults’ table, while the remaining house of cards celebrating the consolation prizes brings more headlines lately for languishing ticket sales and D-list title sponsors?

It’s not like Cuban doesn’t have other socially conscious objectives on his agenda. With the Super Bowl coming soon to his homedown of Dallas, he has given the city $100,000 for a graffiti clean-up program.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

So is NCAA taking him up on his offer and cleaning up its corrupted system that merely sends bowl CEOs on all-expense paid trips to Tahati.

== These Lakers must be so well-oiled at this point they just add any Joe Smith off the street and still be a title contender?

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== What gives D.T. Sterling the right to heckle his Clipper players from his rented seat? As long as his checks don’t bounce, why should the players care?

== Jimmer Fredette: The starting point guard for the BYU team that meets up with UCLA in today’s John Wooden Classic, or a new line of toddler clothing at Kids R Us?

== Would it help get Brett Favre back into shape if he was sent out there with a shovel to start moving snow out of the Vikings’ newest playing facility?

== Shouldn’t Michael Vick be ordered to own a dog as part of his rehab, if only to be forced to clean up after it?

== Considering that an injury will prevent snowmobile champ Levi LaVallee from trying the latest New Year’s Eve extreme stunt – he was going to vault his rig a world-record 300-plus feet across a water gap in San Diego – hasn’t this whole Red Bull-oney circus event already jumped the shark?

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The Media Learning Curve: Dec. 10-17

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Because we’re a list maker and a risk taker, we’ll go over the one that Eric Deggans did for the the Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center site (linked here): The Top 10 Sports Media Stories of 2010.

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No. 1: Tiger Woods and Brett Favre define new era in sports gossip reporting.
“Remember when journalists were too principled to admit paying for sources? Welcome to the Internet age, where Gawker Media owner Nick Denton can breezily announce his Deadspin sports site paid $12,000 for voicemails of superstar Favre hitting on a pretty sideline TV personality and nude shots sent to her by text message of a man who may be him. Golf superstar Woods already opened the Pandora’s Box, cheating on his wife so brazenly it only took a 2 a.m. car crash for gossip site TMZ to unravel it all (though TMZ honcho Harvin Levin insists they didn’t pay for their Tiger scoops). Considering that Favre’s indiscretions happened in 2008 and Woods cheated for years, there may be a host of superstar athletes sweating over how fast the sports reporting game has changed, and the skeletons left in their closets to unveil.”

No. 2: The Decision marks new low for LeBron James and ESPN.

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No. 3: NFL ratings skyrocket.
“Given the high quality of most home-theater systems, it’s no surprise professional football games have been the most-watched television shows of the week.”

No. 4: NFL stands tough on blackout policy as recession lingers.
“Why not just carve out an exemption for economically challenged communities and take credit for helping the working man?”

No. 5: Mike Wise’s fake tweet mostly proves he doesn’t understand Twitter.
“In trying to mock how fast sports websites pass along inaccurate news items (the Washington Post columnist) only proved how little he understands the new media ecology.

No. 6: Dave Kindred takes on hypocrisy of Red Smith Award for Mitch Albom.
“I’ve never met or even spoken to my fellow columnist on this website. But I read in awe as he used superstar writer Mitch Albom’s own acceptance speech to – in his words – raise a little hell about Albom receiving one of the highest sportswriting awards in the country five years after admitting he fabricated the lead to a Sunday column. Lots of writers have groused about Albom’s ego and occasional hypocrisy; Kindred let the man’s own words do most of the talking.”

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No. 7: Ines Sainz and Jenn Sterger revive talk of sex and sexism in sports.

No. 8: George Steinbrenner’s hidden legacy as a media pioneer.
“In a world where everyone has a channel, whoever owns the best content is king.”

No. 9: Jay Mariotti felled by same excess he criticized as a sports pundit.

No. 10: ESPN’s 30 For 30 documentaries.

Heck of a job on this … kinda reminds us of our dubious dozen. Maybe we should be more evolving and involve all the media stories of the year, dutiful and dubious.

Naw ….

And now, a delayed reaction to today’s media column (linked here) about ESPNU’s coverage of the UConn women, the SI “media” issue and other stuff:

== The NFL’s week on L.A. TV:
Sunday:
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver), instead of Washington-Dallas, New Orleans-Baltimore, Arizona-Carolina or Detroit-Tampa Bay.
= 10 a.m., Channel 2: Jacksonville at Indianapolis (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf), instead of Kansas City-St. Louis, Buffalo-Miami, Cleveland-Cincinnati, Jacksonville-Indianapolis and Houston-Tennessee.
= 1 p.m., Channel 2: N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms) instead of Denver-Oakland. Fox also has Atlanta-Seattle in this window.
= 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Green Bay at New England (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer)
Monday:
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Chicago at Minnesota (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden). Monday’s game marks the 29th anniversary to the day (Dec. 20, 1981) that the Vikings played their last home NFL game outdoors, a 10-6 loss to the Chiefs in their final game at Metropolitan Stadium. ESPN says the telecast will begin with a Frank Gifford MNF vignette highlighting the 2009 MNF season finale when the Bears defeated the playoff-bound Vikings 36-30 in overtime in frigid late-December conditions at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Thursday:
= 5:30 p.m., NFL Network: Carolina at Pittsburgh (with Bob Papa, Joe Theisman and Matt Millen)

== Mixed in with ESPN’s college basketball coverage on Saturday: Dave Pasch and Bob Knight call USC’s game at No. 3 Kansas (ESPN, 9 a.m.), while Dave Flemming and Miles Simon do Loyola Marymount’s home game against Florida State (ESPNU, 8 p.m.).

== Lakers radio play-by-play man Spero Dedes deviates from the team’s current road trip (leaving Philadelphia after Friday’s game and returning to Toronto for Sunday’s game) to call Saturday’s South Carolina-Ohio State game in Columbus, Ohio, for CBS (Channel 2, 11 a.m.) with Bill Raftery.

== A rundown of the CIF state high school football games tonight and Saturday on FSW:
= Today, 4 p.m.: D-IV Championship: Brookside Christian (Stockton) vs. Bishop’s School (La Jolla) with Chris McGee, Mike Pawlawski and Courtney Jones.
= Today, 7:30 p.m.: D-I Championship: Palo Alto vs. Centennial (Corona), with McGee, Pawalski and Jones.
= Saturday, noon: D-III Championship: Escalon vs. Madison (San Diego), with McGee, John Jackson and Jones.
= Saturday, 3:30 p.m.: D-II Championship: Folsom vs. Serra (Gardena), with Jim Kozimor, Petros Papadakis and Dan Dibley.
= Saturday, 7:30 p.m.: Open Division Championship: De La Salle (Concord) vs. Servite ( Anaheim), with Kozimor, Papadakis and Dibley.
Brody Brazil and Jackson host the between-game desk.

== “The Climb: UConn’s Quest for Perfection,” a documentary four-part series on the women’s basketball team that aired during the 2010 postseason in March, will re-air on ESPNU on Sunday from 5-7 p.m. prior to a reair of the UConn-Ohio State game (which is live at 2 p.m.).

== CBS annual one-hour special, “Championships of the NCAA” (Saturday, 10 a.m.) includes video of USC’s men’s water polo title, as well a stories and highlights from cross country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball. Sam Ryan hosts.

== A real-time coverage of a Jan. 15 no-limit Texas Hold ‘em poker tournament in the Bahamas (albeit, on a one-hour delay) is ESPN2′s next step in taking televised card playing to another level. The World Series of Poker is edited and aired on tape-delay, which prevents cheating and tightens the event for broadcast. This one is supposed to allow views to see things as they happen – including longer lulls – while knowing what cards the players are holding. “For the first time viewers at home will see a poker telecast from start to finish, with all the strategy of world-class poker players playing in real time and completely unedited,” said Matt Volk, ESPN manager of programming and acquisitions.

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Could the SI cover jinx KO ‘The Fighter’? Naw. Then it would be another media story …

Perhaps Sports Illustrated’s decision to go this week with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale from the new movie “The Fighter” as a “Year in Sports Media” cover for the second year in a row might be a sign a big media company legitimizes the compelling influence of the big media in today’s sports world.

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Or, maybe it’s just good timing.

SI associate editor Adam Duerson said in an e-mail the magazine certainly “didn’t feel tied” to making this the cover piece, following Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert in the speed skating outfit a year ago. But it was “kind of a perfect storm” in having a “fantastic movie, arguably the best in sports of the decade with a close release date and an amazing story behind it.”

This is the sixth year SI has expanded its “Scorecard” section for a sports-media theme retrospective of the year.

“We’d be kidding ourselves if we acted like broadcast networks, blogs and internet coverage weren’t an enormous part of the sports experience,” Duerson said. “If we could watch sports in a vacuum, maybe there’d be no need for this issue. But we don’t.

“As an editor of the Scorecard section, I can tell you that plenty of stuff occurs throughout the year that can’t hold up on its own as an item or review. But come the end of the year, packaged as a whole, I think readers enjoy the roundup.”

The 13-page theme spread starts with a Steve Rushin piece about a new media company called StatSheet that has created software converting basketball game summaries into a template story.

And as for the way the section ends — with a small commercial touting a list of 13 SI-related books that were pushed or written by the magazine’s writers — Duerson responds:

“The issue looks at what we consider the highlights of 2010 regardless of what company they were tied to. That said, I don’t recall many items in the package that Time Inc./TimeWarner/Warner Bros. was involved in. In fact, I’ve noted blogs that seemed surprised at how much love we gave ESPN.”

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Cuban rules baseball … it’s not what you think

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(AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
Industriales’s fans cheer during a game last week against Pinar del Rio during opening day baseball at the Latinamerican stadium in Havana, Cuba.

Peter Orsi
The Associated Press

HAVANA — When Armando Rivero took the mound for Industriales with the score tied in the top of the 10th, he was already in a deep hole: Villa Clara had runners on first and second with no outs — all before the first pitch of the inning.

Opening day in Cuba offered a new rule that tries to prevent extra-inning games from going on forever. But the Olympic-style format has irked many purists on this baseball-crazy island who say it cheapens the sport.

Under the rule, teams begin the 10th and any subsequent innings with two men on base. Managers get a one-time restart, meaning any hitter can lead off. After that, the lineup stays in place.

Think soccer penalty kicks, NHL shootouts or — perhaps the closest analogy — overtime in college football, where teams start within field goal range at the 25-yard line and trade possessions

The object in the top Cuban league this season is to make it easier to score, thereby shortening games that often top four hours.

“I don’t like it,” said 66-year-old Sixto Ramirez, wearing a blue Industriales cap as he watched a recent game from field-level seats behind third base. After six decades of coming to Havana’s El Latino Stadium, the tiebreaker strikes him as “cold” and clinical.

“We are committed to … a traditional game,” Ramirez said. “When there’s a tie in the ninth, it should keep going. There’s nothing wrong with 15 innings.”

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