A Los Doyers opener, looking more like an orange-and-black tie affair

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No need to add any extra mustard to the new Doyers Dog. Maybe tabasco?

New traditions collide with old habits, like old rivalries adding new players. Or switching them.

You, Juan Uribe. Read the sign. No fraternization with the opposing team.

There’s no such signage? Sorry, then it’s implied — prior to entering the batting cage to take some pregame cuts, it’s not cool to be over near the Giants’ dugout exchanging back slaps with the guys you once bonded with and won a World Series. Your diamond-crusted ring will come in due time.

Meanwhile, find a place on the Dodgers’ infield. Third base, tonight. Second base, later. You ever catch?

It’s already foreign enough to ask fans to come to an Opening Day that goes along with a 5 p.m. first pitch on a Thursday. Add to that the Foreigner song “Urgent” blaring over the speakers while the Dodgers get loose on the field below.

What’s the emergency? Urgent care can wait. Where’s Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’?”

(Hang on, Placido Domingo is standing next to Nancy Bea Hefly at her press box organ position, practicing his rendition of the National Anthem. It doesn’t get more bizarro. It’s just One Tenor. That’s all they can afford these days.)

The Giants are el gigante, champions of the baseball world.

The Dodgers are . . . introducing a new slogan. No more “My Town.” Now, you complete the phrase, “It’s Time For . . . ”

“New owners,” says one young fan, old enough to know better.

“A World Series in my lifetime,” adds another, one who’s pushing 20.

“A Kool-A-Koo,” says an oldtimer, refereing to the ice cream sandwich that would go well on this 90-degree-plus setting.

Sorry, they’re gone. Care for a frozen yogurt in a plastic helmet?

Here’s another new diversion: Doyers Dog, aka the latest heart attack waiting to happen. Another act of deception.

Here, you take your traditional Dodger Dog, except replace the meat-and-byproduct 12-incher with an all-beef wiener. Add chili, nacho cheese, chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. And a larger bun to accomodate it all.

It’s just $8, or three more than the “regular” dog. And just a buck seventy-five more than the Veggie Dog, but guaranteed to cut at least three months off your life expectancy.

Does any of that make sense?

“Eight bucks?” said one customer as he ordered one.

“Yup,” said the friend who was with him. “Someone’s gotta pay for this McCourt divorce.”

Most major credit cards accepted.

It took us 13 bites to finish the one we dare ordered. Two legs to steady it on our lap. And at least as many napkins.

If only head chef Joseph Martin could have made this thing bacon-wrapped. With whip cream and melted butter.

There’ll be none of that at the new Healthy Plate Carts chalk full of arugula salads with toasted walnuts and goat cheese. There are also turkey burgers available for the first time, on whole wheat buns for crying out loud.

Over at the Stadium Club, there’s also a new drink called the “Charge” can be served up — Absolut vodka with a Sobe Full Throttle energy drink.

You take your caffeine when you can get it. It could be a long season.

And no more Canter’s Deli on the field level. The Dodgertown Deli replaces it, serving up its own hot pastrami on a French roll with pickle chips, or barbecue roast beef.

Russell Martin, you’re missing some fun here.

So there’s your new additions to the Dodgers roster. Along with Aaron Miles. Marcus Themes. Tony Gwynn Jr. Hector Giminez. Mike Hawksworth. Mike McDougal. And Lance Cormier.

Hold your applause until the entire roster is announced and they can introduce themselves to each other on the third base line.

Burp.

And that 2-1 win to wrap things up: Nice drama. They’re on pace for … well, you do the math.

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These aren’t the new Doyer Dogs. And shouldn’t be consumed. But they may cause heartburn.

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Coming next month (aka, tomorrow): The Ruthian task of 30 baseball books in 30 days … and we promise more than just the jacket sleeve reads

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The latest email from the famed J. Peterman Company (yes, we still check this stuff out, if only for the product writeups) boasted of a spring cleaning sale that included the authentic Hillerich & Bradsby Louisville Slugger made to Babe Ruth’s May 29th, 1935, specifications: 36 oz. in weight, dry. Exactly 35-inches long.

“Surprisingly graceful at the grip, less so at the barrel,” says the description (linked here). “Built like the Babe himself.”

The stick (item No. 3224) had been listed at $249. Now it’s $88.

Thanks, but we’ll wiff on that one (besides, we already have one, with a certificate of authenticity).

But the thing that really caught our eye — one of those bait and switch-hit kind of deals — was the sale of baseball sleeves.

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You know, “the real thing,” as they’re described.

“They were plain and ordinary, nothing to think about twice. (Or so I thought.) But now I realize they were unduplicatable. I still have mine, and a few emotions, dating from my days in professional baseball.

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“When we wore our sleeves, it was always the best time of the year. We were beginning to feel up. I laugh at the imitations today. They have pseudo names like ‘river shirts,’ ‘punting jerseys,’ ‘henley pullovers.’

“Sleeves, the real thing, have never been available to the public except through this company of mine. They are considered a bit too expensive, except for pro teams.

“I don’t think they are too expensive. Not when you see the price of the imitations.

“Sleeves are, were, and always will be comfortable and engaging to wear; lightweight; warm, not hot; not itchy, not sticky, not fussy. Sleeves are good-looking in the way things are when they aren’t trying to be good-looking.

“And now you don’t have to play professional baseball to get one.

“Authentic Baseball Sleeves (No. 1949), for men and women. Two-button placket. Fray-proof hem. Made of two layers of good cotton, to wick away moisture; outer fabric has minute pores, like pigskin.”

You had us at “sleeves.” And the $59 price tag. In blue or red. Dodger or Angel colors.

While we await that order to land on the front porch — the last time we had one of these was … was it wool? — we’ll start pouring past the book jacket sleeves of our latest batch of baseball books, trying to uphold something of a tradition we’ve done the last three years.

The criteria for books that we will include is somewhat loose, but trying to limit it to baseball literature that came out either very late last year or in the three months of 2011, things that are both well covered as well as things we think we’ve uncovered.

Several well-publicized books have some out since that April, 2010 list — including biographies of Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle. Maybe we’ll get to them, but it’s not a priority at this point.

The reason is to celebrate another start of baseball, springing ahead.

Just to refresh your memory, a look back on the previous year’s lists:

== From 2010: (linked here)

== From 2009: (linked here)

== From 2008: (linked here)

== In 2007, an abbreviated look at the baseball media that took us here: linked here, here, here and here. And here … and here …. and this one here. … and here

Now, if we just just find some Peterman stirrups to go with this … and why do we think sending an email to John O’Hurley will somehow get us an in?

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The Tao of Scully con’t: His stamp of approval

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Following up on the response to a column we did in January (linked here) — enlist broadcasters from across the board to tell us what they can learn about the craft of play-by-play by listening to Vin Scully do a game today at the age of 83 — we’ve had more responses that we wanted to include as the Dodgers start the 2011 season, with Vin doing the first and last three innings on KABC-AM (790) for Thursday’s opener against the Giants from Dodger Stadium that’ll be on ESPN:

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== Dick Enberg, Emmy winning voice of all major sports for CBS, NBC and ESPN for the last 50-plus years, a former play-by-play for the California Angels and UCLA basketball, the one-time assistant baseball coach at San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge), and current voice of the San Diego Padres:

“Returning to the game last season and being able to observe Vin in action, I was totally impressed with the fact that he is one of the first to the ballpark. He is outstanding at 83, because he works at it.

“He anticipates and is prepped to make the right call because he invests time in thorough preparation. His greatness isn’t an accident. One would think that a man of his enormous talent could walk into the booth, grab a scorecard, the media notes, and do the broadcast. And Vin could…and we wouldn’t know the difference. But HE would.

“His professional pride and drive for excellence is born out of relishing his homework.
Simple stuff, but applicable to anyone, young or old, in our profession. I have learned the same lesson.

“Get there early and know as much about that single game as you can. That combined with talent and experience can help author a winning performance.”

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== Mike Breen, the ABC voice of the NBA and, like Scully, a Fordham University graduate:

“After all these years — what has it been, 60-plus? — every single game is done with such energy so no matter when the game is played, if the Dodgers are in a playoff race or it’s spring training, there’s still the feeling that there’s no other place he’d rather be than in that booth. To me, that’s the greatest compliment you can give. You want people who are watching and listening to know: I’m in the best place there can possibly be. Anyone who’s done this (play-by-play) knows they have other things going on in their lives, things that are on their mind outside the booth. But to come in with that same attitude night after night, that’s a thing that’s very underrated. It’s a very hard thing to do.

“Also, here’s a man with one of the most wonderful voices on the planet, let alone in broadcasting, but he makes silence a big part of who he is. If he didn’t stop talking, no one would complain. But silence is a major part of his style. There was a game I was watching him do, when it was decided on the final at-bat. He didn’t say a word the whole at-bat until it was strike three and the game was over. That was the most magnificent silence you could have, with the tension building, and the crowd into it. And he doesn’t say a word. It was absolutely brilliant. When you get a chance to listen to him, it’s just amazing what silence can do to enhance the moment. In an NBA game, you can maybe do it when there’s a big shot, instead of trying to scream over the play. That’s as important as anything.

“The other thing you can learn is that you can’t do it like him. As much as you want to copy and learn, God gave him a talent that He didn’t give to anyone else. As much as we may try to be like him, it’s impossible.”

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== Bob Papa, voice of the NFL’s New York Giants and the lead play-by-play for the NFL Network who has also done boxing for HBO, does an NFL daily radio show and hosts the Masters for Sirius-XM Radio (and is also a Fordham alum):

“One of the great joys of being on the road is coming to the West Coast, flipping on the TV and if there’s a Dodger game, there’s the warm and comforting voice of Vin Scully.

“Everytime I hear him, I go through a checklist of reminders as a broadcaster: Preparation, letting the game breathe, be understated, let the fans enjoy the competition. They’re not tuning in to hear me scream.

“And with him as a Fordham man, there’s that connection we have, so whenever there’s a chance just to be around him, he adds so much style. Not just with baseball. Remember when he called golf for NBC? Or the NFL on CBS? There was a certain dignity about the event, no matter what the stakes. That resonated with me. He always has the same even keel and temperament. In a way, he really is the voice of sanity.”

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== Bill Macdonald (linked here), a Prime Ticket/FSW employee since the start of the network 25 years ago, calling USC and UCLA football and basketball, the Arena League Avengers, and a fill-in on Lakers TV and radio:

“Growing up in Southern California, like many others, Vin was one of the voices of my childhood along with Chick and Dick Enberg. And consequently was one of the reasons I fell in love with not only sports but sportscasting.

“His command of the English language is remarkable and the eloquence and class with which he delivers those words mixed in with just the right amount of excitement and drama for a sporting event is unmatched.

“After all these years the passion and excitement he has for the job, for baseball, and most of all for the fans is inspiring.

“Baseball has a much different rhythm than other sports, and not only does Vin have probably more material to choose from when providing information or storytelling, but it’s the way he seamlessly integrates and weaves those stories and anecdotes throughout the course of his play by play which is the perfect model for a broadcaster.

“Plus, the time and patience he has for all who want to stop and say hello to him, wish him well, take a picture, relay a story … it’s wonderful to see as he is gracious with and to everyone. It’s been great just getting to know him a bit over the years on a personal level and be able to hang out with him at the ballpark as just one of the fellas. That’s a Vin Scully that can be a lot of fun.”

== Randy Rosenbloom, the Valley-based sports director at LA 36, the radio voice of Fresno State basketball, and a three-time Olympic broadcaster for NBC on volleyball and rowing from 1992-2004, in addition to calling college football, college basketball and Wimbledon:

“I’ve been listening to Vin Scully since the 1959 World Series when the Dodgers defeated the Chicago White Sox. For over a half century he has made a great impression on me and his fan base.

“Everyone knows that he is the master of his craft painting a picture as a play-by-play announcer. But what makes him rise above the rest? Without question, it his great ability to talk to you on a very personal level. He is unparalleled at having a conversation with you, and you thinking it’s just you and him.

“You always hear broadcasters say they want to talk to you like it’s two guys in the bar. Well, Vinnie does that except he does it with a sensational vocabulary and a terrific voice.

“I’ll give you two examples of him telling a story. In both instances he is clever if not brilliant and more importantly he is speaking right to you. In 1991, Andre Dawson steps to the plate and Vinnie says he has a bruised knee and is listed ‘as day to day … but aren’t we all?’ It’s the ‘we’ that ties the story and the listening public together.

“In 1989, Vinnie says, ‘How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.’ Again he brings you in by including ‘your’ breath.

“It is a lost art being in the media and being your listeners or viewers best friend. Vin Scully has never lost sight of that and because of that precise point he has millions of listeners who don’t just hear him but feel like he is one of their closest buddies.”

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== Chris “Geeter” McGee, a sideline reporter at FSW who has developed into dong play-by-play on college basketball and high school sports:

“Vin Scully has positively influenced so many of us in the play by play world. Being from Southern California, I, like so many others, grew up on Vin, and tried to imitate him while playing and watching sports when I was a kid.

“There are a couple of things that stick out when I think of Vin. His ability to punctuate a dramatic moment in a subtle way is remarkable. When Nomar (Garciaparra) hit the home run to win the game in extra innings after the Dodgers had hit four in a row to tie in the bottom of the ninth a few years ago, he let the crowd noise engage the audience without a word spoken and then as he rounded second base Vin simply said: ‘And the Dodgers are now in first place.’

“Of course, his most famous one, in my opinion, was after Kirk Gibson’s home run won Game 1 of the ’88 World Series. The ball flies into the stands and Vin makes the call: ‘She is gone’ … He waits silently until just the right moment during the Gibson trot around the bases and says: ‘In the year of the improbable, the impossible has happened.’

“I also think nobody tells a story better than Vin. His pace, his timing, and the ability to make you care about the person are second to none. Vin as the ultimate gift of history and knowledge on his side. He has lived all these moments and stories and can make us, the listener, feel like we were there with him.”

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== Sam Farber, play-by-play man for the Single-A Inland Empire 66ers:

“Vin Scully’s ability to weave a player’s backstory into the play-by-play is legendary. Personal facts buried so deep in a player’s biography that a dedicated investigative reporter would have trouble finding them sound as if they’re always on the tip of Vin Scully’s tongue. That’s not just for the superstars, that’s for the mid-season call ups and journeyman additions as well.

“Vin Scully has inspired a love of the game in generations of baseball fans, but for me as a broadcaster he shows that it takes more than a good voice to be a great broadcaster. To acquire those hidden gems that help make a random new addition to the Dodgers important to the fans, Vin Scully has to plain outwork his peers to discover the info no one else takes the time to find. He’s been doing that for decades and he inspires me to do the same.”

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A Lightning shift, from spring to winter

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After playing in the spring for its first three years in the International Basketball League, the Thousand Oaks-based Los Angeles Lightning announced it will now compete in the new 2011 IBL Winter season, which runs from mid-November to the playoffs in January.

The Lightning, which has featured former NBA players such as Lamond Murray, Fred Vinson, Darrick Martin, Bryon Russell and Toby Bailey on its roster, won the 2009 IBL Championship. Last season, the team finished 14-6.

“We have a developing business opportunity that would have created a conflict with the later part of the spring season,” said Lightning owner and GM Mark Harwell. “We felt it was time for a change. I think it will be a good fit to play during the traditional basketball season.”

The IBL starts its seventh spring season in April. The first winter season was held in 2010 with nine teams.

The Lightning will continue to play its home games at Cal Lutheran’s Gilbert Sports Arena in Thousand Oaks and plan for about 20 home games.

More information at the official team site: http://www.lalightning.net

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Is that a cop pulling us over? Nope, just a delusional motocross star

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The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Motocross star James “Bubba” Stewart (booking photo at left) has been arrested in Orlando after authorities said he tried to pull over two off-duty highway patrol troopers while impersonating a police officer.

According to Florida Highway Patrol arrest affidavits, the 25-year-old Stewart of Bartow was arrested Monday night along with 44-year-old Quinault Jehrrod of Corona.

Authorities say Stewart had red and blue lights in the dash area of his truck when he tried to pull over a car with two off-duty troopers who identified themselves. Stewart then sped off.

The troopers notified authorities and Stewart was eventually stopped at the Orlando International Airport, where he and Jehrrod were arrested.

Both men agreed to talk to officers and according to the affidavits, Stewart admitted to activating the lights and Jehrrod to hiding them in his backpack when officers pulled them over. Stewart told officers that he got the lights at a flea market.

Jehrrod was charged with tampering with evidence. The charge against Stewart is a first-degree misdemeanor. Jehrrod’s charge is a third-degree felony.

Both were taken to Orange County jail and released after posting cash bonds.

Stewart rose to prominence as one of the few African-Americans participating in the sport of motocross and super cross racing. He was named the American Motorcyclist Association Rookie of the Year in 2002 during his debut professional season and has since won multiple AMA super cross and motocross titles.

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The network spin from Hershiser, Karros on the Dodgers’ 2011 prospects

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Orel Hershiser and Eric Karros, you’ve got first crack at a live, in-game assessment of the Dodgers’ 2011 prospects as the cloud of ownership hangs over Don Mattingly’s first season as the manager.

Hershiser, the Dodgers’ 1988 Cy Young Award winner from their last World Series title team who is part of ESPN’s coverage in Thursday’s opener against San Francisco and will be back on Sunday (ESPN2, 5 p.m., with Dan Shulan and Bobby Valentine), said the disappointing part of franchise ownership “will be questions of whether there is enough capital to spend later in the season to put the team over the top if they’re in a position to win.”

And without a hot start, “those distractions and disappointments will be something they have to answer every time they enter the locker room. I think the players need to put blinders on and not worry about that situation.”

Hershiser said the only comparable front-office thing he experienced as a Dodger was during the April, 1987 Al Campanis-”Nightline” interview that led to the general manager’s firing.

“That’s the only time I saw (Dodgers owner) Peter O’Malley set foot in the locker room,” said Hershiser. “Whatever we had to deal with as far as the front office, it was always in a low-key, classy manner. Peter was never in the limelight, and handled everything with much class and finesse. So now to have someone at the forefront out there, in all that negative light, it’s disheartening to say the least.”

Adds Karros, the L.A. Dodgers’ franchise leader in home runs who’ll be in the Fox broadcasting booth with Kenny Albert doing the Dodgers-Giants game on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11) as well as returning as the KCAL Channel 9 pregame studio analyst during the regular season:

“When Mr. O’Malley sold the club and we went through a different environment there back in ’97 and ’98, the players only dealt with all that when they were asked about it, and it wears on you.

“As a former Dodger, or even a fan of baseball, sure, I’d like the focus to be on what’s happening on the field. It is what it is. You think of all the historic franchises and you’d just like to see things go well, but they’re not picture perfect. There was a time in the 1970s when the Yankees organization wasn’t run well.”

As for Mattingly stepping in, Karros says “when he first faces adversity, that’ll be the true test, whether it’s the team struggling or off-the-field issues. I don’t think he’s been presented with that yet.

“He’ll be given some resources, but if you’re looking at someone who could be a rookie manager with either the Pirates or the Dodgers, you take the Dodgers’ job 10 out of 10 times.”

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More on the power of Laureus

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Getty Images for Laureus
Karen Washington, right, of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in the Bronx, N.Y., gives a tour of the neighborhood to Laureus members Edwin Moses and Monica Seles in 2005 to explain how their Fight Back Project has helped the local youth in the area.

More from today’s column (linked here) on how the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has been trying to focus more recently on helping the children of the U.S. after doing so much good around the world over last 10-plus year:

== Edwin Moses, on how he saw poverty around him while he was traveling around the world as an athlete, and how he sees it differently now:

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“When I was competing, we’d always stay at the nice hotels and eat at the nice restaurants. Even in places like Kenya, we’d see all the best the city had. But in the car rides through the town, we’d pass by the street urchins, go through the crime areas. Maybe we’d have someone take us on a side trip to the slum areas. We’d see kids playing in water that, if we were to put our hands into it with a cut, we’d be dead in two days.

“I was very aware of a lot of poverty around, but now it’s something I see very differently. And we’re doing something about it. We look them in the eye and say: We’re coming back and we’re going to help you. How many times have they heard that, but haven’t had anything delivered? We’re committed to three- and four-year projects. This is what we do. We make those kinds of commitments.”

== Moses, comparing the emotions he feels now accomplishing something as a humanitarian than when he was an athlete:

“Being an athlete with that lifestyle, and then getting into investment banking, those were the first things where I found some satisfaction. It’s avocation. You don’t have to think about how much work is involved, you just do it. In the last 10 years, I’ve gotten the same kind of energy surge as I did when I was running. Then, you’d ge tup and train, go through physical therapy, deal with injuries and compete. Maybe this is as close as I’ll get to that lifestyle again for the rest of my life. It means a lot to be a leader of such an organization like this. I guess when you want someone looking at your tombstone, you want them to know that you really made a difference.”

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Photo by Getty Images for Laureus
Marcus Allen, left, and Edwin Moses entertain the children with an exercise in the boxing ring during their visit at SV Stahl Schoeneweide in Berlin, Germany last November as part of a Laureus Sport for Good Project.

== Marcus Allen, on the group’s mission and why he wanted to be involved:

“The problems we have in the U.S. may be hidden more because we are such a rich nation, but there are kids out there all the time who fall under the radar andl need help. It might not be as blatant as some of the countries torn by civil war or extreme poverty, but there are neightbhods in the U.S. screaming out for foundations to do something for these kids. If we don’t invest in our kids, we’re bound to get in more trouble paying for them more in the long with the prison systems.

“We want to make more people aware of what we’re trying to do, partnering with other organizations and that’s a challenge for us, even with this economy as it is. Kids are still at risk and the fight must go on.”

== Allen, on how individuals can help:

“We need to scream our story. It’s unfortunate that controversial stuff travels faster than Volunteering with the organizations that are already out there is a great start to helping get the word out. It’s as simple as this phrase: Tell them, and they’ll forget; teach them, and they’ll remember. Now involve them, and they’ll understand.

“It’s incumbent for people to understand what we’re doing. Once you’re involved and have a personal interest, you can understand how important it is. We’re a cause greater than ourselves.

For us, it’s more important to be something more than just a grand slam winner, or a perfect 10 or a gold medalist. There’s something greater in life. That’s why we’re so involved in this.”

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More on the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation:

Founded: 2000

Mission statement: The belief that whatever the social problem facing a community, sport provides and effective vehicle by which transformation can happen. The Foundation’s aim is to fund and promote the use of sport as a tool for positive change.

Major sponsors: Daimler and Richemont.

Athletes involved: The group (linked here) includes chairman Edwin Moses, Marcus Allen, Nadia Comaneci, Marvin Hagler, Dan Marino, Tony Hawk, John McEnroe, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Monica Seles, Katarina Witt, Alberto Tomba, Daley Thompson and Mark Spitz.

More information: www.laureus.com

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Play it forward: March 28-April 3 on your L.A. sports calendar

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

MONDAY

MLB exhibition: Dodgers vs. Angels, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:

You’ve paid full price for tickets to this practice game, and your reward: The first 20,000 fans get a magnet schedule. And first crack at the post-Manny concession stand purchases.

NHL: Ducks vs. Colorado, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:

They’ve iced down the NCAA’s West Regional champions, and brought in the Zambonis. Back to hockey business.

TUESDAY

MLB exhibition: Angels vs. Dodgers, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

Last chance to visit the Anaheim facility until the Angels’ home opener, which isn’t until a week from Friday.

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

Are the Kings going to have to limp toward the playoffs without Anze Kopitar? A five-game road winning streak is on the line for the team against an Oilers’ squad that they’ve beaten three times already this season, and now have one of their top scorers, Dustin Penner.

WEDNESDAY

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

The Mavs have two games in two nights at Staples Center. A perfect chance for Mark Cuban to bring his new pal, Charlie Sheen, down to his floor seats.

NHL: Ducks at Calgary, 6:30 p.m., FSW:

Their last meeting two Saturday’s ago: The Ducks pulled out a 5-4 OT win thanks to Corey Perry.

MLB exhibition: Dodgers vs. Seattle, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m.:

Because the Dodgers and Angels didn’t want to extend the Freeway Series one more game? Or just a way to get Ichiro some L.A. exposure?

THURSDAY

MLB: Dodgers vs. San Francisco, Dodger Stadium, 5 p.m., ESPN:

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Enough San Francisco residents have supposedly raised $8,000 to hire a plane that will fly a banner over Dodger Stadium during Opening Night that reads “Giants 2010 Champs: BEAT L.A.” How original. Have they seen the movie “Battle: Los Angeles” yet? There are plenty of local residents capable of shooting objects out of the sky that seem to be the least bit threatening. It’s no wonder the World Wide Leader in Sports rearranged the schedule and created this event to open the season, setting up a late-afternoon showdown that’ll feature Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum firing pitches from sunlight to shadow that should create eight scoreless innings before the bullpens get involved.

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Here’s your Hollywood ending: Bottom of the ninth, ex-Giant Juan Uribe drives in the game-winning run off the black beard of Brian Wilson (but we’re not sure if he’ll even be healthy enough after an injury-plagued spring training). The four-game series resumes Friday (7 p.m., Prime), Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2).

MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 1 p.m., FSW:

Opening Day starter Jered Weaver, who led the majors in strike outs last year but lost a salary arbitration hearing in the offseason, puts his focus back on a very young Royals team that doesn’t have 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke as its star thrower any more. The Angels and Royals make it a four-game series with appearances on Friday (5 p.m., Channel 13), Saturday (10 a.m., FSW) and Sunday (11 a.m., FSW).

MLB: Detroit at N.Y. Yankees, ESPN, 10 a.m.; San Diego at St. Louis, ESPN, 1:15 p.m.:

Do we not allow the Cincinnati Reds to play the first game of the season any more? While the Reds do open at home against Milwaukee today, the Tigers-Yankees and Nationals-Braves get the early start.

NBA: Lakers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:

Squashing the Mavs’ final hopes for a runner-up finish in the Western Conference is Plan A.

NHL: Kings at Vancouver, 7 p.m., FSW:

There are some who think the Sedin twins could finish 1-2 in the league’s MVP voting — they’ve been 1-2 in the scoring race. Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and the Kings’ Jamie Quick nearly have the same goals-against-average at 2.21, top five in the league.

Golf: PGA Houston Open, first round, noon, Golf Channel:

Anthony Kim parred the first hole of a playoff with Vaughn Taylor to win the event a year ago, his third PGA title. This is the last event before the Masters. NBC has the third and final rounds Saturday and Sunday.

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Golf: LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage, first round, 9 a.m. to noon and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Golf Channel:

Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, a Southern California native, on how she started the tradition of the winner of this event jumping into the pond beside the 18th green: “It was on my second win there in 1988. I made a winning putt and I looked at my caddie and it just happened. I said, ‘We’re going into the water,’ and he said, “Cool, kid.” It was rocky and murky, and there were birds in there. The Russian judge probably would have given us a 2 for our jumps.” And now, it’s common place. Everyone into the lake — except those who don’t win this thing. The LPGA field from last week’s event at Industry Hills goes up the 10 Freeway towards Palm Springs for the first major of the season. Golf Channel covers the entire USGA event through Sunday.

College basketball: NIT final: Alabama/ Colorado vs. Washington State /Wichita State, 4 p.m., ESPN:

Can Klay Thompson give the Pac-10 some paltry title hope? Only if the Cougars make it out of Tuesday’s semifinals.

FRIDAY

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NBA: Lakers at Utah, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

The Jazz win this one, and they’re still in the mix for the playoffs. April Fool’s.

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

The Clippers win this one, and they’re still in the mix for the playoffs. See above.

SATURDAY

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College basketball: NCAA men’s Final Four in Houston: Virginia Commonwealth vs. Butler, 3 p.m.; UConn vs. Kentucky, approx.. 5:45 p.m., Channel 2:

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Never has a Final Four been without a No. 1 or No. 2 seed – we’ve got a 3, 4, 8 and 11. There’s your lottery numbers of the week. And you’d not only lying if you had VCU coming this far, but you’d be delusional as well. Having somehow squeaked into the First Four and then, traveling through Dayton, Chicago and San Antonio, have knocked out a team from the Pac-10 (USC), Big East (Georgetown), Big Ten (Purdue), ACC (Florida State) and Big 12 (Kansas), the Rams meet up with the champions from the Horizon League, who’ve remarkably enough have been here before. ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who like most of us mocked VCU’s inclusion in the tournament to start with, said Sunday: “There’s nothing I’ve ever seen like it in NCAA Tournament play. For VCU to have won five straight games in the tournament, four of them in double digits, is absolutely incredible.” And that’s an understatement.

NHL: Kings vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 1 p.m., Prime:

The Kings’ 3-2 regulation win over the Stars a couple of weeks ago – it came on Michal Handzus’ goal with 20 seconds left – prevented a three-point game.

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

This Kendrick Perkins experiment seems to have some weight behind it for the Thunder.

NHL: Ducks at San Jose, 7:30 p.m., KDOC:

The Sharks have knocked off the Ducks twice already this year, with one more meeting next week.

MLS: Galaxy vs. Philadelphia, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Union-busting activities are encouraged here. Because the Philadelphia team’s nickname is the Union. OK?

SUNDAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:

The Nuggets are 12-4 since shipping Carmelo Anthony off to New York (while the Knicks are 7-11 with him), and they’re closing in on actually gaining a home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

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

Three of the Ducks’ final four games of the regular season are at home, starting with this one.

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College basketball: NCAA women’s Final Four in Indianapolis: Games at 4 and 6 p.m., ESPN:

Two-time defending champion UConn, not to be upstaged by the success of the school’s men’s team, has to knock out Duke in Tuesday’s East Regional final to make a return trip. All the rest of the No. 1 seeds are alive as well: Tennessee, Stanford and Baylor.

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Nader’s latest crusade doesn’t add up

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In the bizzaro world of Ralph Nader - the Princeton and Harvard-educated attorney, author, lecturer, activist and four-time candidate for President of the United States, according to his Wikipedia page – the stench of college sports is overwhelming.

There’s a dire to “de-professionalize,” he insists. Especially right now, while we’re amidst what he calls “the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships.”

Start by getting rid of all the preferential athletic scholarships. Set up a need-based financial aid system that athletes can use, like every other student.

That will restore academic integrity. It’ll even end a “win-at-all-cost” mentality for high school, middle school or elementary school kids – whose hoping for a free ride to college in exchange for their ability to generate income for sports programs.

We need to “be able to use the term ‘student-athlete’ without snickering,” Nader says.
“It’s time for our college athletes to be true students on campus, not athletes on athletic stipends with sports – not education – as their top priority and obligation.”

True enough, the system in place now is pretty flawed. The athletes who attract the entertainment dollars aren’t equitably compensated.

But all that Nader’s gameplan lacks is common sense.

Eliminating opportunities for those in need hurts the greater good in the bigger picture. And he misses an essential point: For almost 99 percent of college sports, it is about the amateur athlete, not the budding professional.

NCAA reform, we’d buy into that. Even if the idea leads to someone like Pat Haden, who has managed to make some major philosophical changes in the way USC runs its sports programs now, as a prime candidate to run college athletics’ governing body and bring some missing perspective.

Or is that pushing things too far?

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== How about this Victoria’s Secret a new line of MLB women’s clothing – including a three-pair “hipster” pantie pack that features team logos (including the Dodgers and Angels) on the front and phrases like “Caught Looking” and “Meet Me In The Dugout” on the backsides? Is $25.50 a good package deal?

== How much longer can Ohio State’s basketball team’s run toward an basketball title divert attention from the black-and-Buckeyes athletic department getting Jim Tressel prepared for his permanent golden handshake, with the hopes that Urban Meyer will be waiting to swoop in and save face?

== Butler University, an independent, coeducational, liberal arts and sciences facility with 4,650 students, founded in 1855 in Indianapolis by attorney and abolitionist Ovid Butler, has won eight of its last NCAA hoop tournament games? Hear that UCLA?

== Are we supposed to be paying attention to the Barry Bonds’ trial, or the clinical trial he must have put himself through to lose three hat sizes since we last saw him?

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== Is the portrait of Pedro Martinez that has been unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., going up next to the one of Delino DeShields?

== And now, the top 10 coolest things about being in Fontana this weekend . . . No. 10 . . . Any suggestions?

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