The Angels’ special souvenir for (possibly) 4,400 fans this season


Since the Angels and I celebrate our 50th anniversary this year togther — we both officially arrived in the summer of ’61 — anything the team may do to commemorate this number will bring special attention here.

The first big deal: All Rawlings baseballs used at Angel Stadium will have a special 50th anniversary logo.

Go ahead, Torii, keep fouling off those pitches.

The Angels estimate that during an 81-game home schedule, more than 4,400 baseballs are put into play. Home runs and foul balls are keepers to whomever scoops them up. But also know that batting practice balls that make it into the stands could have this stamp on them as well.

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The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 7-14


More Kamenetzky comic relief, as from today’s list of the best and worst of L.A sports talk hosts opens the 19th annual poll (linked here):

The Sklar brother connection, and what they’ve been able to do as comedy writers and actors who also work on ESPN, have helped the Kamenetzky brothers convince bosses that they can deliver the goods as well.

“We don’t use them as a model,” says Brian.


“The only this we can borrow from them is how a brother thing can work,” adds Andy. “People ask us all the time, ‘How are you different? I don’t know if we are that much. But we’re not actors.”

And on what it’s like being on the Laker beat:

“It’s a team that no one ever stops caring about,” says Andy. “But you can also forget that sports is supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to be having a good time. You go back to when we covered the Dodgers in 2006 and ’07. That was a grind. Baseball is a grind. The clubhouse was no fun. But this is very enjoyable, and with the way we cover it, it’s stays fun. If we just played it straight all the time, we’d get burned out and bored.”

And on that note, more notes:

== The NFL TV lineup for the AFC and NFC semifinal games:


= Saturday:
Baltimore at Pittsburgh: 1:30 p.m., Channel 2, with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf; Dave Sims, James Lofton and Steve Tasker on Westwood One (570-AM)
Green Bay at Atlanta: 5 p.m., Channel 11, with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver and Chris Myers; Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli and Scott Kaplan on Westwood One (570-AM)

= Sunday:
Seattle at Chicago: 10 a.m., Channel 11, with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa; Kevin Kugler, Mark Malone and Hub Arkush on Westwood One (570-AM)
N.Y. Jets at New England: 1:30 p.m., Channel 2, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms; Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross and Kevin Kiley on Westwood One (570-AM).

== So, who are football’s “chattiest” NFL broadcasters? The Wall Street Journal, which kind of screwed this premise up when it came to baseball broadcastes (naming Scully the wordiest, without taking into account he works alone the first three innings of the simulcast), says it is not Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (linked here).

== ESPN2′s Australian Open coverage starts Sunday (4 p.m.) and runs through the mens’ final on Saturday, Jan. 29. ESPN2 will do record schedule of 124 live hours, plus nearly 50 additional in afternoon reairs, the most in the net’s 27-year history with the event. hasr 600 hours live for seven courts, available on demand after completion as well. Cliff Drysdale and Dick Enberg are the lead match callers, with Chris Fowler as the studio host with Chris McKendry. Match analysts include Darren Cahill, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Patrick McEnroe, with Pam Shriver as a reporter and Tom Rinaldi on features.

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Meanwhile, Tennis Channel secured a new contract with Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport before it airs nearly 30 hours of live match play over the next two weeks, plus 75 hours of studio shows (starting with a daily show at 5 a.m. most mornings). Navratilova will team with Bill Macatee with Davenport also analyzing matches, doing features and doing interviews, plus do features on the network’s site. Leif Shiras and Justin Gimelstob will also handle match calls. ESPN is producing the coverage used on Tennis Channel.

== The Kings’ official website ( has started a video series called “Undisputed,” which focuses on eight players with insight and perspective on their lives and careers. The first profile, on Jack Johnson, is up now (, with future features planned for Dustin Brown (Jan. 26), Matt Greene, Anze Kopitar, Michal Handzus, Jarret Stoll, Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds.

== TNT’s NBA doubleheader on MLK day includes having the studio set parked at Staples Center with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, plus Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller on the Boston-Orlando game (5 p.m.), and Marv Albert, Mike Fratello, Steve Kerr and Craig Sager from the Lakers-Oklahoma City game (7:30 p.m.).

== How ESPN breaks down its first season of shooting 3D in college football, including Monday’s national title game (linked here).

== Before Auburn lined up for an eventual game-winning field goal against Oregon in Monday’s BCS title game in Glendale, Ariz., did we hear ESPN play-by-play man Brent Musburger right?

“This is for alllllll the Tostitos.”

Said a Tostitos official: We had nothing to do with it, but we sure appreciate it (linked here). discovers Musburger acutally used the line in 2002:

Wrote Eric Deggins at the Indiana National Sports Journalism Center (linked here): “Who knew a bad joke about a title sponsor could bring so much pain? It seems, in retrospect, a classic case of an announcer getting in the way of the story instead of telling it. … Let’s hope that the avalanche of criticism coming Musburger’s way these days ensures we won’t be carping over the same line in 2021.”

And that wasn’t the worst thing that Musburger did, according to the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir (linked here): “If Musburger’s performances at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and the B.C.S. title game Monday night are exhibits of the State of the Brent, it is clear that he has veered from the factual precision needed to maintain his status as ESPN’s No. 1. college football announcer.”



== Dick Vitale said it in a press release issued by ESPN with the announcement that he had his contract extended through the 2014-15 season:

“There is nothing greater than walking into an arena and feeling the excitement and energy of a big-time college basketball game. I can’t thank ESPN enough for allowing me to be a kid at heart by giving me the opportunity to sit courtside for games I would pay top dollar to see. I’m living a dream. I’ve been extremely blessed to work with so many beautiful people and to talk about the game I love.”

Vitale joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season — just after the network’s September 1979 launch — and he called the network’s first major NCAA basketball game, a 90-77 DePaul win over Wisconsin. More than 1,000 games later, he’s still talking.

But are we still listening?

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Coming Friday: The start of the 19th annual best/worst of L.A sports media … complete with a shrimp running on a treadmill to the Benny Hill theme song

It was the last thing Brian Kamenetzky pulled up on his laptop before we left the ESPN Radio studios over at L.A. Live and headed over to Staples Center for the start of the Lakers-Cavaliers game on Tuesday.


“Have you ever seen the shrimp on the treadmill to the Benny Hill theme song?” he asked.

Hmmm. No, but I’m sure I’m about to.

Cue the 1 minute, 29 second video.

“Guess how many views it has,” Andy Kamenetzky asked.

“A hundred thousand?”

“One point three six … million,” said Brian.

How strange, I wondered, having just finished a Caesar salad with shrimp at the ESPN Zone hours earlier.


And with that, the interview with Andy and Brian Kamenetzky, whose “Land O’ Lakers” blog (linked here) has taken off into a weekend radio show, a regular podcast (or, podKast as the station calls it) and chat, and a Facebook post-game show, has some to a ending like no others.

The Brothers Kamenetzky just might have a corner on the market for multi-media double-helix platforms. It’s in their DNA.

Andy and Brian are two fresh new faces to the annual Top 10 list of L.A.-based sports talk show hosts (while honorable mention a year ago). There’s another newbie in the Bottom 5 this year — anchoring the list, no less. Not to give any hints, but we’ve maxed out on all the others who could be there, then picked this host who already has us punchdrunk.

With that, the first of the four-part annual series arrives, followed by the TV anchors/reporters, the game analysts and the game play-by-play men. If only this blog and website would allow readers to submit their own ideas, thoughts, and complaints about the guys we rank…

Prepare to be dazzled.

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Dodgers create a place to honor 9-year-old Christina Green, one of the Tuscon victims, daughter of Dodger scout John Green

Today from the Dodgers’ media department:


In response to the overwhelming offers of support for the family of Dodgers scout John Green, the club today created an email address where family, friends and members of the community can share their thoughts and feelings on the tragic passing of Christina Taylor Green. Those memories, thoughts and condolences, which can be sent to, will be compiled in a memorial book for the family.

Letters can be sent via mail to: Dodger Stadium, c/o the Green Family, 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90090.

Christina was one of six people killed over the weekend when a gunman fired at U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s ”Congress on Your Corner” meeting.

John Green and his family — which includes his father, Dallas Green, the former Phillies manager — have also created a charitable memorial fund to honor the life and memory of Christina, which will be held by the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

“Our family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for our sweet Christina,” said Green. “This memorial fund will ensure her legacy for the children in our community.”

Those wishing to make a donation in memory of Christina Taylor Green may do so by logging on to the website of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona at and clicking on the link to the Christina Taylor Green Memorial Fund. They can also contact the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona by email at, or by calling (520) 545-0313.

Checks may be sent to: The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in Memory of Christina Taylor Green, 2250 E. Broadway Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85719

A public memorial service for Christina is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Tucson.

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That’s Indy-tainment: Welcome to L.A.


Parnelli Jones, could you ever see this happening in your lifetime?

IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today it will open an office soon in Santa Monica to, as the press release says, “make further inroads into the media and entertainment industries.”

Because the 2001 Sly Stallone movie, “Driven,” still is considered the best-made IndyCar related film of all time.


In a place of the country where STP sounds more like a thing you don’t want to catch from a hooker rather than a famous brand of motor oil, Sarah Nettinga will manage the new office and become Senior Vice President of Media and Entertainment for IndyCar Entertainment. Why her? She’s done similar projects with Hollywood in her previous role with NASCAR.

Nettinga has a proven track record, as they say in the business. She developed and produced film and TV shows with third-party producers, managing production for NASCAR for three motion pictures — “NASCAR 3D: The Imax Experience,” for Warner Bros., “Herbie: Fully Loaded” for Disney and, as an executive producer on “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” for Sony.

Nothing to do with “Cars”? The kids still really connect to that.

For TV, she was responsible for six series, with the most groundbreaking being “NASCAR DRIVER: 360″ for FX.


Prior to joining auto racing, Nettinga was a production executive at Warner Bros. International Television Production. She also has worked for Columbia Tristar Television, CBS, Petry Television, Westinghouse International and Sony International Television in roles that involved development, sales, production, branding and marketing in the entertainment industry.

“Sarah has a substantial set of relationships that will get us off to a running start,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said. “She has a detailed understanding of this landscape that blends sports and entertainment.

“If we want to grow the sport, we need to be fully vested in relationships with the entertainment community that can tell the storylines of our sport.This will be a one-stop shop to pursue opportunities and make deals across multiple business lines and entertainment outlets.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus: “Having an IndyCar office in Los Angeles will provide our sport and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a strong presence in an important global community. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a great story to tell in 2011 as we prepare for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 (on May 29).

“In addition to the business reasons to have an office in Los Angeles, it is a very fitting location because many of the celebrated stories and personalities associated with the Indianapolis 500 over the last century have deep roots in Southern California.”

The 2011 IndyCar season starts March 27 in St. Petersburg, Fla.. After a stop in Alabama on April 3, it returns to Long Beach’s street track for the third time from April 15-17.


According to the site (linked here), there are nine films already out there (the last in 1969 called “Winning,” with Paul Newman and Robert Wagner) that feature the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There had been talk a couple of years ago about a movie called “500,” (linked here), about the creation of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, that would hopefully be finished by 2011. Not to be confused with “500 Days of Summer.”

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The “Lights” on for fx’s latest boxing drama


It’s tough to find much negative written about the new FX 13-episode series, “Lights Out,” (linked here) premiering tonight (10 p.m.) and running through April 5. In boxing circles, anything that promotes the sport by trying to find the soul of the participants always is a reason to feel optimistic about future story arcs and series renewals.

Maybe more in a way that past reality series like Oscar de la Hoya’s “The Next Great Champ,” or Sly Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard’s “The Contender” over the last five years found that connecting viewers to the personal lives of the fighters made for more compelling TV, “Lights Out” picks one guy — the ficticious Patrick “Lights” Leary — and shows his story about trying to make a comeback in the ring at age 40 after all his money has disappeared in bad investments and he’s left to make embarassing public appearances just to make ends meet.

A comparsion to the new Mark Wahlberg movie, “The Fighter,” isn’t far off, either.

Leary (played by Holt McCallany) quit the sport on the insistence of his wife, Theresa (Catherine McCormack) after he lost his last fight in a controversial ending. He thougth he had his family that includes three girls set for life with his earnings until the business decisions of his brother/manager Johnny Leary (Pablo Schreiber) don’t pan out, forcing Leary to seek out his father and former trainer (Stacy Keach) to get him up and back in the gym, pushing for a rematch against Richard “Death Row” Reynolds (Billy Brown).


Some have already compared this to NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” as well for the family dymanic playing into the sports angle (keep an eye on Meredith Hagner as oldest daughter Ava Leary).

The show is rated TV-MA for graphic violence, explicit sexual activity and crude language. Otherwise, for being about boxing.

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Play it forward: Jan. 10-16 on your sports calendar


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


College football: BCS national championship, Glendale, Ariz.: Oregon vs. Auburn, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:


At last. Like a Victoria Secret fashion show, we get to see what the Ducks are wearing to the prom. They had 12 different looks during their 12-0 run this year, and of 1,280 combinations that can be created from four helmets, five jerseys, four pants, four shoes and four socks — plus a throw-back uniform — they’re supposed to be coming out with a never-seen-before throw-back ensemble that will dazzle Cam Newton to no end. A helmet that looks like a molded man-hole cover, accented with neon green socks is what Nike designer Todd Van Horne came up with after consulting with Ducks coach Chip Kelly. Van Horne said he tried to create something “that will actually look like blur on the field.” The top two undefeated teams going head to head outside of Phoenix will create enough of a buzz.

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

In a division where a couple wins or losses can push you to the top or bottom very quickly, the recent five-game losing steak — all at home — pushed the Kings out of the eight of Western Conference contenders. Now that it’s over — barely — how about turning over an old Leafs team that has the fourth-fewest wins in the league right now?


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


Cavs coach Byron Scott was told by team trainers that Daniel Gibson, the former USC guard who’s their team’s third-leading scorer, shouldn’t make this current five-game trip because of a throbbing ankle injury. Anthony Parker and Leon Powe also stayed home. Antawn Jamison may still be upright, but maybe it’s soon time to activate Brad Dougherty and Jim Cleamons. Yet, as any Staples Center ticket-buyer knows by now, this is the perfect chance for the Lakers to mail home a stupid loss.

Series: “SportsDome,” Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.:

The series premiere of a show that if ESPN thinks this is the more sincerest form of flattery, they’re sadly mistaken.

Series: “Lights Out,” FX, 10 p.m.:

A 40-year-old washed up fighter wanted to return to the ring, against his family’s wishes. Drama ensues.


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


Yup, we’ve heard LeBron James reference his team recently as the “Heatles” (rhymes with Beatles). For those who missed all the fuss on Christmas Day, he brings his boys back for an encore. We’re betting the Clippers keep it closer than a 20-point embarrassment that the Lakers suffered.

NBA: Lakers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9:

The equally inept Warriors recently finished a 2-3 road trip where Monta Ellie and Stephen Curry did a lot of damage.

NHL: Ducks vs. St. Louis, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:

The Ducks end a six-game homestand, still wondering how they’ll survive without Ryan Getzlaf, and sniffing around for a replacement (Maxium Lapierre?)


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

i-f7cee4ea87bcb3877af9b1e9c989051d-dodgers puck.jpg

The Kings are actually promoting this as “Dodger Pride” night, and it is against the Blues. The Kings are also giving away special pucks commemorating the day if you use the promo code DODGERS to buy certain seats. If you’re one of 50 who spring for a $150 ticket, you sit in the 100 level, VIP access to a catered locker room suite next to the Kings dressing facility and a chance to meet whatever Dodger players show up.

College basketball: USC at Oregon, 8 p.m., FSW; UCLA at Oregon State, 5:30 p.m., Prime:


Tune in to watch the Trojans help the Ducks break in their new $250-million gym, having finally abandoned MacArthur Court. And depending on how that BCS game goes, see how much bile the students have left to spew on these longtime rivals.

Golf: PGA’s Sony Open in Hawaii, first round, Golf Channel, 4 p.m.:

Those with a Sony 3-D TV can watch special coverage of the 17th and 18th holes at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu on Saturday and Sunday via Golf Channel.


NBA: Clippers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Bay Area fans must be in Giant heaven watching two L.A. teams come through in the last three days. And then destroying their teams.

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


Make sure Jordan Farmar doesn’t leave that ring in the box behind when he and Sasha head off into oblivion.


NFL playoffs: Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 1:30 p.m., Channel 2; Green Bay at Atlanta, 5 p.m., Channel 11:

The Steelers may not plod all the way to the Super Bowl, but they’ll be most represented in bars everywhere. On, Pittsburgh moved the most merchandise, with Troy Polamalu owning the top-selling jersey in the league. Take that, whoever the star of the Atlanta Falcons is.

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

The homestand ends, and with it, most likely, another shootout against the Oilers.

College basketball: UCLA at Oregon, 2 p.m., Prime; USC at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m.:

A year ago in Eugene, Ore., the Bruins suffered a 71-66 overtime loss, as the Ducks ended a five-game losing streak. Same weekend, the Trojans squandered away a 51-45 loss to the Beavers in Corvallis.


NBA: Lakers at Clippers, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime, Channel 9:

The only reason this is a matinee instead of a prime-time affair: Both teams have to roll out of their giant beds Monday and play again. At Staples Center. Against other opponents. And the Clippers have another early start.


NFL playoffs: Seattle at Chicago, 10 a.m., Channel 11; N.Y. Jets at New England, 1:30 p.m., Channel 2;

About five weeks ago, the Jets suffered that interminable 45-3 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. “The way that they beat us up when we were there, it was a butt-kicking,” Jets safety Brodney Pools said. That’s putting it kindly. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are one win away from becoming NFC title bowl eligible.

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

How in the name of Teemu Selanni did we miss the sale of the first Ducks’ “Power Players” calendar (linked here)? Go over to Section 214 near Guest Services during intermission and get yours signed.

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Making Robinade out of more Q-and-A with Robin Yount


Expanding on today’s Q-and-A with Hall of Famer Robin Yount (linked here), why not sit back with a nice cold Robinade — that’s naturally brewed lemonade, available only in the greater Wisconsin area — and read more about his thoughts on topics of the day:

Question: So, Robinade: How do we get some out here?

Yount: I have a close friend in the juice business who’s been able to see this old-school lemonade all over Wisconsin for the MACC Fund — that’s the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, which was started in the late ’70s when I was playing and something I felt strong about and got behind. I still fly to Wisconsin maybe once a month to do things for the Brewers’ organization, and promote the drink. It’s a lot like what Paul Newman has done with all his products, making them go toward a great cause. We can’t ship it easily because it’s in the dairy case and has to stay cold, so we’re working on another version that will have ingredients in hit that give it a stable shelf life. I’m signing a lot of bottles, and it’s a lot fun because you can find it all over there in bars and restaurants and golf courses. And I think you may have heard that they enjoy drinking in Milwaukee, so there is a pub or two that has gotten behind it and use it for mixers.

(Check out the official Robinade website linked here).

Question: What today is the value of having seasoned scouts involved in a big-league organization, with all the video available and sabermetics evaluations used to put a value on players? Does the human element still mean anything?


Yount: Now you’re about to open a whole other can of worms. It’s not just scouting in high school, but baseball in the big leagues. The scouts are really the unsung heroes. The good ones who can judge talent at a young age and try to figure out everything are hard to come by.

Today, it seems to become much more uniform in the way talent is judged. We don’t factor in the human element as much as we should. But the good ones do their homework and find out the stuff that really matters. Baseball now is about getting back to the basic and playing the game the way it should be. With the connections I still have with the Brewers, I see a lot of people paid to do these front-office jobs, and there are more of them looking at their computers than I can remember.

I guess you can tell I’m not a big fan of the computer. I know they’re beneficial, but in my opinion, it takes away too much of the human element. There’s no question we still have some quality scouts out there, whose job it is to get the talent to the big leagues as quickly as possible. With the money invested in these kids today, they’d better be right. Let’s face it, a pretty good percentage of the payroll these days goes to first-round draft picks. Now, scouts have to judge kids at a younger age, and how their offensive game will be without the use of metal bats. Many players can’t make that adjustment. That sweet spot shrinks down to half the size, and they might never figure it out. A good scout will see that.


Q: Your son, Dustin, was headed on a pro baseball path. I think where your brother Larry served eventually as your agent, did you end up as Dustin’s agent?

Yount: Agent is a word that’s a little over glorified. If I had to have one, I guess I did. We had one when Larry got drafted, and I know I wasn’t in any position to negotiate my first deal. Dustin (a 28-year-old first baseman who played five years in the Baltimore Orioles system before the Dodgers recently picked him up) has probably just pulled the plug on his baseball career. I think he’s gone as far as he’s going to go and now he’s trying find a real job, working for a friend selling cars.

Q: With everything a scout’s time is invested in, would that be something you’d be interested in doing with your time in at this point in your life.

Yount: These guys are in their cars, covering games, putting in the hours. I have a lot of other interests that I guess I’m not willing to give up for a fulltime job. I don’t coach anymore – that’s another fulltime job, with no days off for eight months a year. I’d never rule coaching out, but I’d say the odds are stacked against that happening again, too.

Q: What do you make of the start of Ryan Braun’s career with the Brewers, kind of making that strange circle of life connection with Milwaukee and the Valley again (Braun is from Granada Hills)?

Yount: He’s so fun to watch. We talk all the time about the Valley when I go out there. I know he spends a lot of time in L.A., and things are a lot different for him than they were for me at that age. I mean, he’s got restaurants going, and a clothing line . . . he’s enjoying the spotlight. He’s really got an entrepreneur’s interest in so many things. My interests are just about having fun.


Q: I saw a quote in Sports Illustrated where you said: “I wish I wasn’t so silly about being in public. I’d rather play baseball in front of 55,000 people than say 20 words in front of a group of 100. I wish I didn’t get so nervous and could speak. But I can’t.” Is that still true, and if so, how do you give a speech to maybe 1,500 who’ll see you get this award next Saturday?

Yount: Oh, yeah, it’s true. I do much better than I did when I was younger, but I’ve never been comfortable in front of people. I didn’t know I had to give a speech with this thing. Do I have to?

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Krafting a nice idea for the bowl season, at the end of the day


We’ve made our snarky two-cent comments, not just to why the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl seems a bit odd in the already strange-labeled college bowl season (and why is it the day before the national championship game again?), but also thrown in plenty of spare change in the true fight against hunger that exists in America.


That said, we thought it was appropriate to run this story in collection with Sunday’s Nevada-Boston College contest (a game that USC played in last year, and the Pac-10 actually has first dibs on but it didn’t have enough bowl-eligible teams this season):

The Associated Press

Sure, the folks at Kraft Foods Inc. want you to pile their Ritz crackers with cheese, pass the Planters nuts and polish off a bag of Oreos while watching any of early three dozen college football bowl games this holiday season.

But by the time the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl rolls around on Sunday, they’re aiming to tie a bowl game to a specific social cause to help fill millions of empty stomachs — as well s seats at AT&T Park in San Francisco, where No. 13 Nevada will play Boston College.

“We’re the only bowl named after a cause. We are very proud of that,” said Gary Cavalli, co-founder and executive director of the game. It started in San Francisco in 2002 as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl before becoming the Emerald Bowl.


From the Humanitarian Bowl in Idaho to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, most bowls have a charitable component. Cavalli said the difference is that no specific cause is identified.

The East-West Shrine Game, to be played Jan. 22 in Orlando, has raised money since 1925 for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Cavalli called it an all-star game rather than a bowl game.

“Part of our mission is to generate 20 million meals for hungry people throughout the United States,” Cavalli said. “It’s an opportunity for all of us to do some good while we are having a football game.”

Besides raising awareness, the bowl is donating a meal to a food bank for every ticket sold. That’s part of Kraft’s Huddle to Fight Hunger program, in conjunction with Feeding America — a nonprofit network of more than 200 food banks that fed more than 37 million people last year.

“We didn’t want to just be a marketing platform for the Fight Hunger initiative, we wanted to get involved in it,” Cavalli said.

Cavalli said 15,359 meals — at a cost of four meals per $1 — will go to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada in recognition of the Nevada share of tickets that sold out last week.

Cherie Jamason, executive director of the Reno-based food bank, said the help couldn’t come at a better time in a state with 14.3 percent unemployment and one in five children living in poverty. Jamason said they’ve helped provide food to a record 153,000 people this year, almost half of them children.

“We are really pleased and thrilled about Kraft’s commitment,” Jamason said.

She said she’s been familiar with Kraft’s participation on Feeding America’s board of directors for more than 30 years.

The closest thing to matching what the Kraft Bowl is trying to accomplish might by the one and only Mercy Bowl played Thanksgiving Day in 1961 at the L.A. Coliseum. It came following an airplane crash in Ohio the year before that killed 22 people, including 16 members of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team. More than 33,000 turned out to see Fresno State beat Bowling Green 36-6, and funds went to offset burial costs, pay medical expenses and set up an educational fund for the victims’ families and survivors.

As a post script:
== The Pac-10 has a contract through 2013 with the formerly named Emeral Bowl, which intends to match the conference’s No. 6 team against top teams from the Western Athletic Conference, Navy and Army.

Previous Bowl Games:
2009 — USC 24, Boston College 13
2008 — California 24, Miami 17
2007 — Oregon State 21, Maryland 14
2006 — Florida State 44, UCLA 27
2005 — Utah 38, Georgia Tech 10
2004 — Navy 34, New Mexico 19
2003 — Boston College 35, Colorado State 21
2002 — Virginia Tech 20, Air Force 13

== Hunger statistics, provided by the Kraft Hunger Bowl staff:

1 in 6 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 kids struggle with hunger.
49 million Americans and 16.7 million children are affected.
There are 27% more Americans struggling with hunger now, than 4 years ago.
Feeding America’s network of food banks feed 37 million Americans every year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors.
For every $1 donated, Feeding America helps provide 7 meals to Americans facing hunger.
Kraft Foods’ new title sponsorship of the Fight Hunger Bowl is part of a three-year agreement with the San Francisco Bowl Game Association. With annual revenues of approximately $50 billion, Kraft Foods is the world’s second largest food company.

== More on Feeding America (formerly, America’s Second Harvest, linked here)
== More on Feeding America’s relationship with the Los Angeles Food Bank (linked here)

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On the fly with Robin Yount and the Hall’s gray areas


Coming Sunday: An extended Q-and-A with Hall of Famer Robin Yount, the former Taft High star and 20-year Milwaukee Brewer shortstop and center fielder who will be honored next week by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in Century City wit their “Scout’s Dream Award.”

Among the topics we ran past Yount was this week’s Baseball Hall of Fame vote — one that saw Bert Blyleven get in after 14 tries, and sent another loud message about steroid users (or those even suspicious of it) with the deflated votes cast for players like Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmiero and Juan Gonzalez.

Yount, ahead of the curve on the power-hitting shortstops of his time due to working out with weights and strenghtening his 6-foot, 165-pound frame with large forearmsk, was asked how he would make a statement if he had a Hall of Fame vote:


“We do eventually have a vote when it’s left to the veteran’s committee and not through the sports writers, but as far as what everyone sees in voting now, that’s a tough call.

“We’re just seeing the start of these guys coming up for election, and to me, it looks like (the writers who vote) are holding that era up to a standard — either higher, or lower, I’m not sure which way you’d phrase it — considering the stats they’ve put up. I’ve never looked at the stats — does McGwire have enough home runs to make him a Hall of Famer? And most came later in his career?

“That’s a tough period to judge, and personally, I hold it against us, the players, as an industry for not getting together on a drug testing policy that worked quick enough. The players who played prior to when steroids were illegal now have this held over their head. Let’s face it, we are professional athletes performing as we’re expected to be at the highest levels, and there were no rules against the stuff. So how to do you hold that against them?

“Now that drug testing is in place, and you’ve had guys found guilty because they’ve somehow beat it, then you can hold it against them. But even there, there’s a gray area. Like with Barry Bonds. He’s never been found guilty and he did so much early in his career.

“McGwire is in that gray area, too. Personally, if it’s just me, if the player did it prior to testing — and you can adjust the stats because they were all inflated — the baseball historians know there are different eras in the game. Stats have changed dramatically over time. The baseball people know about this era having drugs, and everyone hitting the ball out of the park. So, that was that time … now hopefully we get that cleaned up and can move on to getting back to a level playing field.

“But if we’re saying this is the era when this happened, it’s not fair to hold it against some players when we didn’t police it.”


Yount insists that his Milwaukee Brewers’ owner, Bud Selig, can’t be blamed for how this has all evolved in the role of commissioner, either.

“I can tell you, he was trying to get testing done much sooner, but the biggest obstacle was the players’ association. Let’s face it, I still look at myself as a player, but we were a union and that was the biggest stumbling block to getting (the union) to agree.

“The way Bud is perceived is the same as being the president of the United States. He’s just the president of baseball, and he takes the heat for all the things that go wrong.But the fact was that as hard as Bud tried to get things done, it took more time and went years further than it should.

“The game is as strong as ever and more successful than it’s been with any other commissioner. He can take all the heat you want to give him, but under his watch, the game has grown leaps and bounds. It’s not been all positive, but there’s still far more good than bad.

“And nobody loves the game and more passion for it than Bud. I’ve known him some 30 years now, and I know he lives and dies baseball. Maybe we’re totally opposites. I love the game, but I don’t die with it like he does.”

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