Play It Forward: Aug. 1-7 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, NFL Network, 1 p.m.:

Congrats to enshrinees Ed Sabol, Shannon Sharpe, Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger and Deion Sanders get the Century 21 yellow jacket treatment in Canton, Ohio, without the exhibition game the next day to preen about. For our money, though, we’d prefer to focus a little less on them and little more on Les Richter, maybe the least known of the seven going in by today’s NFL fan.

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The Rams’ 6-foot-3 linebacker from 1954-’62 came to L.A.. after 11 players were traded to the expansion Dallas Texans to get him. Then the Rams had to wait two years while he served in the military. When he arrived, he made eight Pro Bowls in nine seasons, collecting 16 interceptions, but also played some center, and handled the placekicking duties earlier in his career, leading the team in scoring in ’55 and ’56.

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He never missed a game in his 112-game career, despite taking 14 stitches after being hit in the head with a helmet during a skirmish in Baltimore, playing with six preseason games and all 12 regular season games with torn cartilage in his knee in 1958, and twice playing with a broken cheekbone in ’61. “It’s always puzzled me why Les was not in the Hall of Fame,” said Frank Gifford. “I don’t know any linebacker in that era who even compared to him. When you prepared to play the Rams, Les was the guy that you really game planned for. He was their defense. He was successful in business, he was successful in life and was a great person.”
Before he died a year ago at age 79, Richter was also the first president of Riverside International Raceway and then a NASCAR executive. He was on the list of 25 nominees under consideration for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. Again, well deserved for a man who made his mark with his own Richter scale.

MONDAY

MLB: Dodgers at San Diego, 7:05 p.m., Prime:

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With Comic Con come and gone, what’s the catch here? The somewhat superhero performance of Clayton Kershaw (12-4), of course. Having just racked up four wins in July, he could use four more in August and September to reach 20 — and there’s a great chance he can win two this week alone. He hasn’t faced the NL West-trailing Padres yet this year, but he comes in walking far fewer than he’s striking out, a huge problem even earlier this season before he made the All-Star team. Unless you fit in a trip to Del Mar on the way down, plan for a letdown in games Tuesday and Wednesday (both 7:05 p.m., Channel 9), no matter who’s been traded away by then.

NFL: “Ed Sabol: King of Football Movies,” NFL Network, 5 p.m.:

An hour-long documentary on the man who created the way you see the NFL today. With repeats (tonight, 9 p.m., as well as Saturday at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.)

TUESDAY

MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., Channel 13:

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It’s a banner day for Ervin Santana — a shot at going Johnny Vander Meer on the baseball world, following up on his freaky no-hitter last week in Cleveland by facing a Twins team that he hasn’t met up with season and is only 2-3 in his career, allowing a .283 batting average. The banner they’re giving away, by the way, commemorates the team’s 50th anniversary, with pictures of some 15 Angels on it. None of whom are Santana.

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After the middle game Wednesday (7:05 p.m., FSW), they’re giving away a plaid O.C. skater hat (Thursday, 7:05 p.m., FSW). One with a flat bill. Like how Santana does it.

MLB: St. Louis at Milwaukee, 5 p.m., MLB Network:

That Cardinals shortstop looks familiar. But it’s not David Eckstein.

Swimming: ConocoPhillips National Championships, at Palo Alto, Calif.:

The event at Stanford University’s aquatic center will have Olympic gold medalists such as Jason Lezak, Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay in the field. Universal Sports has coverage today and Wednesday, while NBC has it Saturday (1-3 p.m.) and Sunday (2-3 p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

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MLS: Galaxy at Portland, ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.:

Ask Becks if he knows “The Lumberjack Song.” And will he be humming it tonight. The Timbers, in their first season with the league, actually have this guy as their mascot.

WNBA: Sparks vs. Connecticut, Staples Center, noon, NBA TV:

This is the first of six in a row at home is the annual summer camp day promotion, hoping to get as many kids into the joint. The home run continues against Maya Moore and Minnesota (Sunday, 5:30 p.m., NBA TV), which is a Gospel Night post-game concert with Tye Tribbitt.

THURSDAY

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Golf: WGA Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, first round, 11 a.m., Golf Channel:

Tiger Woods’ 11-week layoff apparently ends, since he says on his website he’s fit enough to join the field for the $8.5 million event that he won seven times in a previous lifetime. A year ago, though, he was just 78th in the 80-man field. By missing the last three months, including the last two majors, Woods has fallen from No. 81 to No. 133 in the FedEx Cup standings, and only the top 125 players qualify for the opening round of the PGA Tour’s four weeks of playoffs. This is really a test run for the PGA Championship next week in Georgia. Where, if the organizers really wanted to make things fun, they’d pair him up with Adam Scott (and caddie Steve Williams). Golf Channel has the second round Thursday (11 a.m.) while CBS has the final two rounds (Saturday, 11 a.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.). The rest of the PGA has an open invite to the $3 million Reno-Tahoe Open.

FRIDAY

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MLB: Angels vs. Seattle, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

It’s our understanding the these Mariners recently ended a 17-game losing streak, where they went from a 43-43 record to 43-60. Four of the losses in that stretch came against the Angels in Anaheim between July 7-10. They’ll have seven more to play against each other after this series that goes through Saturday (6:05 p.m., FSW, followed by a concert from Ludacris) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW). Felix Hernandez will likely miss his turn, but the Angels should meet fellow AL All-Star Michael Pineda, the rookie who they tagged for seven earned runs in five innings of a 9-3 win on July 9.

MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 6:40 p.m., Prime:

Because a snake-bit team can never face a swarm of Diamondbacks too many times in one stretch. A three-game series in Phoenix right after the All-Star break netted two losses, and this past weekend at Dodger Stadium was another non-joy ride. This three-game framework back in the desert continues Saturday (5:10 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (1:10 p.m., Prime).

SATURDAY

MLS: Galaxy vs. Dallas, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket (delayed at 8:30 p.m.):

The Galaxy doesn’t do enough trading players. This game, they’re handing out Upper Deck trading cards to the paying customers. After this, the boys have a couple weeks off before their next MLS game on Aug. 20.

Mixed martial arts: UFC 133: Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans, 6 p.m., PPV:

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The Huntington Beach Bad Boy and (perhaps) former beau of Jenna Jameson (who had twins with him a few years back), and one of the sport’s bigger names years ago once turned down this match in Philadelphia as the fill-in for the injured Phil Davis, who was in for the injured Jon Jones. Turns out, another fighter held out for money cash, which UFC president Dana White turned down, so Ortiz came back on board. Maybe to get some cash so he could repair the Rolls-Royce he banged up recently.

SUNDAY

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U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach Pier, final day:

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The mainland’s greatest show in surf ends on this day after a two-week run as the “summer’s biggest youth culture festival” with skating, BMX, music and artists. Kinda like the X Games, when it had surfing at the Huntington pier. More than 500,000 will be there on the 14-acre stretch of sand to watch John John Florence, Carissa Moore and Miguel Pupo. More info: http://www.usopenofsurfing.com/

Tennis: WTA Mercury Insurance Open, Carlsbad, final, 2 p.m., ESPN2:

They could use some insurance that top-name players are not just in the event, but make it to the finish line.

NASCAR: Sprint Cup, Pennsylvania 500, Long Pond, Pa., 10 a.m., ESPN; IRL: Honda Indy 200, Lexington, Ohio, 11 a.m., Versus:

Two hot summer vacation spots for motoring enthusiasts. Make sure the Winnebago has ample air conditioning and sewage restrictor plates.

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A Riddle, wrapped in a wet towel, inside an enigma, trying to rescue the pride of the lifeguards

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(Sean Hiller/Staff Photographer)
Alison Riddle (in red) and Tom Kieswater of the Hermosa Beach team paddle through the surf on the Dory boat leg of the Bud Stevenson Intracrew Medley Relay at the International Surf Festival on Friday night. Riddle is going to New Jersey soon to defend her title in the United States Lifesaving Association National Championships.

Riddle me this: Why aren’t lifeguard rescue competitions part of this weekend’s X Games?

There’s not much more athletically excessive than the fittest bunch of “Baywatch” 20-somethings that you’d ever want dragging you out of the water, using their bodies as floatation devices, paddling out, swimming back, getting gnashed around from the pounding waves and brave enough to ignore what’s exactly lurking in the deep blue surf below.

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“An extreme sport? It’s definitely an extreme sport – without a doubt,” said Riddle (center right, ready to start a competition), not even questioning the premise. “You think it’s easy?

“In Australia, these are the athletes they put on the Wheaties boxes.”

Even if she wanted to, the 25-year-old resident of Hermosa Beach, native of San Bernardino and defending women’s title holder in the U.S. Lifesaving Association National Championships didn’t really have the time to argue about it.

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Riddle had just finished her day job – she’s a fulltime sales rep for a pharmaceutical company – and sat at a Redondo Beach eatery sipping a glass of water with ideas of getting out to the beach before the sun set to work in one more training session before this weekend’s Intracrew Medley Relay and Judge Taplin Three-Mile Lifeguard relay competitions at the International Surf Festival in Hermosa Beach.

She’d already been up since a 5:45 a.m. swim session in an El Segundo poll to start her day.

Then, after putting in her sales shift on Tuesday night, she’s flying to New Jersey with about six dozen L.A. County Lifeguard team members to defend their team title as well as her individual championship.

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Dan Avila/USC Sports Information
Alison Riddle scored 27 goals in her four years playing water polo USC, as the team reached the NCAA Tournament all four years, finishing second in 2006 and ’08, and third in ’05 and ’07. She received the coach’s award as a freshman in 2005 and a senior in 2008.

Like Riddle, they come from all kinds of water-sport backgrounds – swimming, surfing, rowing. Riddle might not have received better training for her current part-time lifeguard job than what she got in college sports.

“You can’t be a lifeguard without being an athlete,” she said. “You’re used to having massive girls climbing on you, and trying to kick you off. Water polo at USC was so competitive and focused. I’m extremely competitive but if it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.

“I just feel so comfortable in the water, I know I can use those same skills to help other people.”

If only some of us who look at the sport of lifeguarding weren’t so Hasselhoff-ed about it.

A year ago, ESPN the Magazine did a story listing six “unsung heroes” of sports. Riddle, who has only been competing in the national lifeguard competition since 2009, came in second.

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First up was the U.S. Lawnmower Riding champion, Jayson Mikula (left).

Behind her, the list included the Grand Slam of Darts champ, the Grand Slam of Cornhole champ and the International Shuffleboard Team champ.

Somehow, the world champion of competitive whistling apparently wasn’t unsung enough to knock Riddle out.

“Lawnmowing beat me? Really?” Riddle asked aloud. “Do I think they were making a joke of all this? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m going to go with ‘no,’ if only for own pride.”

Pride, and courage, is pretty much what a lifeguard around here has to show for their work. While L.A. County Lifeguards pay well, only 150 are fulltime (out of 900), and the test to become starts with a 1,000-meter ocean swim.

The test to becoming the individual national champion in lifeguarding involves piling up enough points in different disciplines. Riddle, who has trained in Australia and competed in Japan and Egypt, flat-out won five of the 12 events she entered at last year’s event in Huntington Beach.

One of them was the Iron Woman competition – a 100-meter beach sprint, a 400-meter swim, a 600-meter paddle board and the 800-meter Surfski race.

And that was with minimal experience on the last of the four elements – it involves staying up on an 18-foot-long kayak contraption that’s only about as wide as the seat, paddling with carbon-fiber oars and working the back rudder with foot pedals.

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Alison Riddle competes in the Skisurf, keeping her balance as she comes in from the surf.

“You get just a little tippy on that,” Riddle said, “and you’re sideways.”

And underwater. With a bunch of lifeguards watching from the shore not so much willing to run out and fetch you unless their instincts get the better of them.

“Alison is one of the top lifesaving athletes we have,” said Jay Butki, the LACOLA Surf Racing team manager. “She has incredible skill and expertise.”

And heart.

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Much of Riddle’s time is also spent campaigning for lung cancer awareness and research through the LUNGevity organization (linked here). The disease inexplicably took the life of her younger sister, Adriane, at the age of 20.

She had been playing water polo at San Jose State University before coming home with the diagnosis, as the family tried to come to terms with how someone her age who didn’t smoke and was athletic could be taken down by something that claims more women than breast or ovarian cancer.

Through her experience watching her sister try trial studies with different medications, Alison gravitated toward working as a rep for AstraZeneca, able to explain first-hand how their pharmaceutical can prolong the quality of life.

Alison Riddle couldn’t rescue her sister. But she’s found her passion to be the best in her field, combined with the compassion to want to save other’s lives, goes to the extreme each day.

And maybe, she’ll even get to hang an X Games medal around her neck, once lifeguard rescue is deemed worthy.

“I’d love it,” said Riddle. “Bring it on, Tony Hawk.”

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Alison Riddle comes in from the surf after competing in the paddleboard competition in the Southwest Regionals in Seal Beach last weekend.

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The P12 media announcement aftermath

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Following up to today’s media column (linked here) on how Larry Scott got the Pac-12 Network situation finalized in New York rather than L.A. this week, the Sports Business Daily excerpted a column by CBSSports.com’s Bryan Fischer that we tend to believe actually happened, rather than what appeared to be Scott holding out his announcement so that it could have been orchestrated better in the larger media market:

Negotiations “were almost literally around the clock, wrapping up just past 4 a.m. Wednesday.” Scott said, “We had a virtual handshake over the phone at 10 a.m. That’s when I knew we had a done deal. But I only got confirmation from my general counsel right before the press event at 5 p.m. that it was signed.”
Scott on Tuesday was “aware of how the negotiations were going when he took the stage at the Fox Lot in Los Angeles for Pac-12 Media Day, but kept things under wraps in case things happened to unravel.”
Fisher noted Time Warner Cable Exec VP & Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer was one of the “key people who helped the process move along from beginning to end.”
Financial terms of the deal were not announced, but the networks are “expected to make money in the short term and the conference’s unique position of wholly owning everything have positioned them to be rewarded well into the future.”
Additionally, the fact that Scott “helped bring together two major competitors and four cable operators” as distributors of the regional networks is “one reason why other companies looking to partner with the Pac-12 are eager to buy into the master plan.”

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Your alternative to the ongoing NBA lockout, the dwindling WNBA talent pool, and the Spearmint Rhino’s outrageous cover charges

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LBL.com
The Lingerie Basketball League started with an exhibition doubleheader last Saturday at the Venice Beach outdoor courts. My mom apparently took this picture since all the people’s heads are cut off.

Oh, the floor burns …

It’s something called the Lingerie Basketball League, a distant cousin from the football version, and it stages its opening night of league teams with a doubleheader Friday night at the Montclair Prep gym (8071 Sepulveda, Van Nuys), when your L.A. Beauties meet your L.A. Divas at 7 p.m., followed by your L.A. Starlettes staring down your L.A. Glam at 8:30 p.m.

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The admission price (or cover charge, you decide what to call it) is $20 for each game, or $30 for both. Then there’s the $40 ticket for a “premiere seat” at both games. No drink minimum.

Add to that something we’ve never seen posted for an advertised athletic event: Only 18 and older are admitted at the door. Cash payments only.

(You don’t think that’s Jerry West’s wife used as the LBL logo, do you?).

According to the official website, the names of some of the 38 “players” who have agreed to participate include (linked here) Kamilah, Autianna, Zipporah, Chaffron, Sukari, Maricris, Tyhler, Delmar, Lexi, Jo Jo, America, Dachota, Erene, Krystle, Crystal and Krystal. And Koya. All their measurements are listed for your imagination.

Erene is from West Hills and CSUN. Crystal is from Newhall and Pierce College. Krysal is also from CSUN.

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Then there are hard-looking gals like Shannon Watson (linked here), a 5-foot-11 blonde from Manhattan Beach and El Camino College, who is a Pisces, 34-25-35, Caucasian, and is a model who has “worked all over the world, most recently in Korea.”

Snap!

There are rules. No touching, errrr … (linked here)? Aside from the high-school 3-point line, a 35-second clock and two 20 minute halves, there’s a “Red Light Special” where a player has “a 60 second opportunity to score a bonus point.”

Oh, and “a fight for possession of the ball results in an actual jump ball between the two girls.” No possession arrow? Then let’s keep on fighting.

The league hopes to make it with its four teams through Sept. 2, afterwhich a title game will be decided upon.

So bring plenty of single dollar bills to the opening doubleheader and make sure the league survives to see a champion crowned.

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Your NFL 90-hour, get-you-up-to-speed show

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Meanwhile, back at the NFL Network …

After a nine-hour live block of shows called “Back to Football” on Friday, the league-owned channel says it will begin coverage around the clock of the free-agent signings, starting at 3 p.m. with “NFL Total Access.” It continues Saturday and Sunday starting at 6 a.m., followed by NFL Total Access at 4 p.m.

Among the reporters on the beat (with their Twitter accounts): Albert Breer (@albertbreer), Jason La Canfora (@jasonlacanfora), Michael Lombardi (@michaelombardi), Scott Hanson (@hansonscott), Steve Wyche (@wyche89), Michelle Beisner (@beisnermichelle) and Stacey Dales are around the league. Rich Eisen (@richeisen), Fran Charles, Kara Henderson (@karahenderson), Paul Burmeister, Jamie Dukes (@jamiedukes), Warren Sapp (@qbkilla), Mike Mayock, Charles Davis (@cfd22) and more are in the studio.

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