A conversation Dodger fans might be interested in eavesdropping … if only

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Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall sat across the desk from Kirk Gibson in the visiting manager’s office four weeks ago, as the team had just won back-to-back games to open a series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park to move into a tie for the National League West lead.

“‘I told him, ‘Wait until the talent (in the farm system) comes up,’” Hall said.

“Gibby looked at me and said, ‘We have talent. It’s called heart.’”

You know Gibson’s ties to the Dodgers. And the ones that Hall once had.

Enough said.

Ten of the players on the Diamondbacks’ current 25-man roster weren’t around when Arizona opened its season in Colorado on April 1.

The rest of Hall of Famer Terry Ringolsby’s column on FoxSportsNet.com (linked here).

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Fox wants you to care about soccer and MMA after NFL now

Some Sundays, Fox has an NFL doubleheader. Other Sundays, it’s a single game, either 10 a.m. or 1 p.m.

Instead of a KTTV infomercial in that slot opposite a CBS NFL game this year, Fox wants you hooked in soccer and the UFC.

Fox starts airing Barclays Premier League matches on Sunday, Sept. 18 with a tape-delayed coverage of Manchester United vs. Chelsea, followed by Tottenham-Arsenal (Oct. 2) and Chelsea-Liverpool (Nov. 20). The games will air either from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., but will also be live earlier in the day on Fox Soccer. The coverage goes up to Super Bowl Sunday for a live game on Feb. 5, starting at 7:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 30, leading up to the first UFC live primetime match on Fox set for November 12, the network will show a “UFC Primetime” show that previews that upcoming Fox matchupin, which should be announced Friday. The Primetime show airs from noon to 1 p.m. or from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. depending on the NFL game picked to air on Fox.

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Jim Rome Is Missing … and should be burning about it

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Jim Rome was on vacation last week from both his syndicated radio show and his “Jim Rome Is Burning” afternoon half-hour TV show on ESPN.

But this week, the TV show is curiously absent, even with him back on the radio (KLAC-AM 570 9 a.m. to noon).

Next week, the TV show isn’t scheduled either, replaced by “SportCenter” episodes.

A network spokesman says Rome’s current “hiatus” is related to coverage of the U.S. Open. But that’s already over on ESPN2.

Why would that matter?

Because starting Sept. 12, ESPN2 will have a new lineup (linked here) – ripping “JRIB” from the 1:30 p.m. ESPN slot, and replacing it with “news and information studio programming” in that time period.

Say what you will about the definition of “news and information studio programming,” but the ESPN lineup will move “Around The Horn” to 1 p.m. and “Pardon The Interruption” to 1:30 p.m. on Mondays, going head-to-head with “JRIB.” The rest of the week, it’ll be back to 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. slots.

Two new shows – “Numbers Never Lie” at 12:30 p.m. and “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable” at 1 p.m. – will lead into “JRIB,” with “SportsNation” following it.

Highly questionable, indeed. Allegedly.

Except when you think of Rome’s roots, his original talk show, “Talk2,” was on the ESPN2 channel when it was known so hipply as “The Deuce.”

Meanwhile, Rome is still celebrating his own version an ESPN misdirection from last week at Del Mar (linked here).

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Tonight’s finale of ‘The Franchise’ … and why all great things must come to an end

Admit it: Even a Dodger fan can come to appreciate the added value of watching Showtime’s summer documentary series, “The Franchise,” (linked here) which follows around the San Francisco Giants during their post-World Series season of 2011.

The Giants have produced a fairly decent encore. “The Franchise” deserves one as well.

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But tonight’s 10 p.m. entry marks the last of eight episodes, only because that was the agreement made before this all started with Mike Tollin’s production company and with the decision makers at Major League Baseball. Even then, it stretched a couple weeks past its deadline.

“Since this was the first year of trying it, it’s really walk before you run,” executive producer Tollin said today from his Valley-based office.

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“It was a big leap for the Giants and Major League Baseball to give us this kind of access, and they were comfortable with this treatment. It was so unprecidented that they agreed to give us a chunk of the season, but to cut it off before the pennant race started.”

A sort of baseball version of “Hard Knocks,” except that it is a live turn-around series that takes place during the regular season, “The Franchise” ended up covering eight months of the Giants’ journey. Aside from the opening special that debuted in July, the eight were two more than they’d agreed to extend it to in mid-August because of the successes in all areas of production and viewer reception.

Entertainment Weekly’s Lynette Rice wrote (linked here) back in July that San Francisco fans” weren’t exactly thrilled to hear” about the Showtime series because “hardly any famous person does a reality show without looking like a tool” and it would distract from their priorites of trying to repeat.

It has been the complete opposite.

“The Franchise” was able to give incredible insight into the current season as well as inserting back-story details on player injuries, managerial decisions, front office manuevering, laundry room pranks and all the peek behind the curtain stuff that you’d only know about if you were a daily beat writer covering the team. And even then, you didn’t get half the access.

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The fact that the Giants do have so many “misfits,” as manager Bruce Bochy likes to call them, made it even more enjoyable. A feature, for example, how how reliever Brian Wilson was raised by a father who died of cancer, and explains why he gives him teh cross-armed salute after every save he registeres, really means something after seeing it explained.

More background on second baseman Freddy Sanchez, the former Burbank High standout and one-time NL batting champ, who has to sit at home in Arizona and watch games from his TV set as he rehabs, are exceptional insights into how a player tries to keep grinding but really is kept apart from his teammates during the process.

The same with injured pitcher Barry Zito (Pierce College, USC) as he carries the weight of his contract with him every time he goes out to the mound — only to have another physical setback.

The series ends tonight as the Giants seem to be losing their grip on the NL West, as the acquisition of Carlos Beltran isn’t quite preventing the Arizona Diamondbacks from climbing over them in the standings.

But another intriguing backstory comes out in tonight’s episode — infielder Mark DeRosa, a clubhouse leader with an $8 million salary who has been injured all year and even going back to 2010, finally coming back, getting a key hit, stealing a base and scoring the winning run in a game against Houston that seems to give the team renewed hope.

Recaps on the season so far from surprise All-Star pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, infielder Pablo Sandoval, rookie Brandon Belt and Zito will also be in tonight’s episode.

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“This whole experience has been a postive one, and the players say they’ve enjoyed it, it hasn’t been an intrusion,” said Tollin (his IMBD.com link here), who developed a relationship with the Giants’ front office when he did the “Bonds On Bonds” series for ESPN nearly 10 years ago, and is known more around Hollywood for his production with partner Brian Robbins of such movies as “Coach Carter,” “Radio,” and “Varsity Blues,” as well as do several ESPN “30 For 30″ documentaries.

“I hope we’re back again, maybe with a different team, and extend it through the season.”

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Lets just ware the stinkin(apostrophe optional)’ tshirts and see whose gonna notice

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“Lets go USC!” seems to send the message that someone had USC in its grasp and then decided to let it go free.

“Let’s go USC!” is more likely the message Old Navy meant to convey on their $24.95 women’s (or womens) T-shirts for sale on its (not it’s) website. But they’re (not their) not there any more.

Nor are the shirts dedicated to UCLA, Michigan, Arizona … There’s a whole slew of re-dos as someone in the store’s Superfan Nation clothing line didn’t do a spell check on the logo before sending it to the hot-iron. They’ll add the missing apostrophe ASAP.

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An Old Navy damage-controller said the store is replacing the faulty T-shirts, and have posted the message above when you try to click on the misspelled designs that are still up on the website.

Naw, not good enough for us.

We actually want the wrong ones. And we’re willing to pay more for them. At least $25.

The more you look at this shirt, the more correct language it probably seems to be for those who only text or Tweet or email most of their lives now. As spelling is less and less important to those doing the communicating, maybe this shirt is really ahead of its (not it’s) time.

Whatever happens, just don’t (not dont) ship all the boxes of these things some third-world country where kids are running around with Dodgers 2009 NLCS championship T-shirts.

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No more horsing around: All the Dodger employees who talk for a living are coming back

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Since the announcement over the weekend that Vin Scully would return for his 63rd season, and Jaime Jarrin would be back for his 54th, it pales in comparison to any announcement that the other six Dodgers broadcasters will also come back for 2012.

But they will be. The team said so tonight.

Rick Monday, who replaced the late Don Drysdale in the middle of the 1993 season, will come back with Charley Steiner to continue doing games on radio for KABC-AM (790). Monday will start his 27th season, while Steiner, who replaced Ross Porter in 2005, is set to come back for his eighth season.

On the TV end, Eric Collins and Steve Lyons have had their deals renewed. This will be the fourth season for Collins, and the eighth for Lyons, doing games for Prime Ticket and KCAL Channel 9 on the road where Scully stays home.

On the Spanish-language side, Fernando Valenzuela and Pepe Yniguez will come back. Valenzuela, who does all home games and those on the road against NL West opponents, will start his ninth season as a broadcaster, while Yniguez will be in his 15th season.

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NBC says ’12 Games from London will all be live … as far as new sports boss Lazarus sees it

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By Rachel Cohen
The Associated Press

NBC’s Olympic coverage in London will look very familiar, with one major twist.

For the first time, the network plans to show every event live in some form — even if it’s just raw video streaming online. But the prime-time broadcasts will still use that traditional formula of human-interest features and taped competition.

The man behind that coverage will be someone steeped in the NBC philosophy of packaging the Olympics for a wide audience. NBC announced today that “Today”
executive producer Jim Bell would serve in that role for the 2012 Games.

He fills the spot held by Dick Ebersol, who resigned as chair of NBC Sports Group in May. Earlier in his career, Bell was coordinating producer for NBC Olympics under Ebersol.

“That’s what our approach on the Olympics has been and what it will continue to be,” said Mark Lazarus, who replaced Ebersol atop NBC Sports Group. “Having Jim do that for the Olympics assures we’ll have that sensibility.”

Except the prime-time programming bearing that sensibility will no longer be the first opportunity viewers have to watch who wins the gold. Ebersol was adamant even as he left NBC that showing events live during the day would hurt overall ratings.

But to Lazarus, the sports fan of today demands immediacy — and that doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive to highly stylized broadcasts aired when people are most likely to be sitting in front of the TV.

“I believe in that, and that will be some philosophical shift from my predecessor,” Lazarus told The Associated Press.

Continue reading

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The Kings go retro with their new sweaters … but not as far back as we’d like

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Purple is apparently pass.

It’s back in black, white and silver. Gretzky-era garb. And less freezer burn.

The Kings officially announced their changing of the color combos again, using the scheme that was worn as an alternate jersey the last two seasons. On the road, they’re going all white.

Fork out the dough, fans. You’re getting some new stuff to buy up.

Anyone who has a kid in the Jr. Kings program has caught wind of it. They’ve had to order new jerseys for the upcoming season that match up to these.

“There was an overwhelming sentiment from our fans and from our players that has led us to this change,” said Luc Robitaille, the team’s president of business operations.

“Our fans really like the late ’80s and early ’90s era Kings uniforms which are very similar to this uniform. As a player, the colors give you an attitude and an edge. (Team GM) Dean Lombardi and I talked a lot about it with the players and they love it. We feel our fans believe in it as well.”

Bruce McNall believed in it.

The once imprisioned owner ditched the long-time purple and gold to this color palate after he orchestrated the trade for Wayne Gretzky from Edmonton in 1988. Back then, he had a “Los Angeles Kings” chevron logo on the front.

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It’s evolved to purple, black and white to combine the two looks, but this time, they’ll take the “L.A.” crest as well as the recent crown logo (not the really cool one from the ’60s through the ’80s) and put them on there instead. Thankfully.

The Kings will break out the new road sweater on Sunday, Sept. 11, at the L.A. Kings Hockey Fest ’11.

For our tastes, we’ll stick with the Forum deep blue and shocking gold that started it all (as per Jack Kent Cooke’s directive and color description), and Rogie Vachon once wore with purplish pride. As did Robitaille (who actually wore all three previous color combos during his three stints with the team).

== A history of the Kings’ sweater and logo changes over the years (linked here).

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Play It Forward: Aug. 29-Sept. 4 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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College football: USC vs. Minnesota, Coliseum, Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; UCLA at Houston, 12:30 p.m., Prime:

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Top 12 reasons why USC and UCLA won’t be playing in a bowl game this year: No. 1 — The Trojans are on probation; No. 2 — The Bruins won’t win six games. You can fill in the other 10 reasons as the new, improved Pac-12 begins its existence. Actually, there’s a lot of deju vu in the air. No matter that the Trojans are in some people’s Top 25 rankings, or that UCLA is No. 53 in the USA Today Sagarin ratings, the season starts with more questions than answers. Can USC keep pretending to play for pride, with no payoff at the end except for personal stats? “We can’t do anything about the cards we were dealt,” safety T.J. McDonald, the son of former USC defensive back Tim McDonald, told Sports Illustrated in its Pac-12 preview issue. “But we can go out there and dominate.” The Golden Gophers are first up for the Trojans, who collected a 32-21 win a year ago in Minneapolis that started with a Marc Tyler 3-yard TD run in the first quarter. Tyler, of course, won’t be along for the ride this time, suspended by coach Lane Kiffin for Internet transgressions. Watch for Dillon Baxter to begin his own case to remain a starter standing behind Matt Barkley. Meanwhile, in Houston, the Bruins begin to purge the 4-8 finish from a season ago with a game against the Cougars. Last year, UCLA knocked out two quarterbacks — including star slinger Case Keenum — and handled then-No. 23 Houston a 31-13 stinger at the Rose Bowl. Jonathan Franklin ran for three TDs and 158 yards in 26 carries. Keenum comes in with 13,586 total yards, fifth all time and only 3,500 away from the No. 1 spot, as well as 107 TD passes, which is eighth-best in NCAA history.

MONDAY

Tennis: U.S. Open, open round, 1-to-8 p.m., ESPN2:

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Don’t go looking around Flushing Meadows for Sam Querrey. The Thousand Oaks High grad, who couldn’t defend his title at the ATP’s L.A. Open last month because of lingering effects of cleaning bone fragments out of his right elbow, told organizers of the Grandest Slam of U.S. events that he’ll have to pass here, too. “The arm gets fatigued after about an hour of playing, and I don’t have the strength to be able to play a three-out-of-five set match at a high level yet,” said the 23-year-old Querrey, whose ranking has fallen to No. 79 after going as high as 17th in January. “I think an extra three or four weeks would be beneficial for me.” Novak Djokovic comes in as the men’s No. 1 seed for the first time in a major, but he has a shoulder injury that forced him to retire in his last tournament. Americans Mardy Fish (seeded 8th), Andy Roddick (seeded 21st), John isner (28th) and James Blake, plus wildcards Ryan Harrison, Bobby Reynolds, Donald Young and Robby Ginepri, are going to get strong backing, but not much else. On the women’s side, former champs Serena Williams is seeded 28th and Venus Williams isn’t even on the radar among the seeds. That means No. 4 seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus could meet Serena in the third round. “Poor, poor, poor Victoria Azarenka,” said John McEnroe, who’ll be doing color commentating for CBS during the event, starting with the womens’ third round on Saturday and Sunday (8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day).

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MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

The last mid-week day game of the season comes up in the series finale (12:10 p.m., Prime), so watch how many fans actually hit the concession stand in the eighth inning to load up on $1 Dodger Dogs for the ride home. Clayton Kershaw goes tonight in search of win No. 17. The middle game of this series is Tuesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9).

MLB: Angels at Seattle, 7:10 p.m., FSW:

Joel Pinero back in the rotation? The AL West needs the Angels to stay competitive, and this four game series continues Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (7:10 p.m., FSW each game).

World Track and Field Championships, 3 p.m., Universal Sports:

Allyson Felix’s 400 meter final race is today; she’s also targeting the 200 meter final Friday before the 4×400 relay on Saturday and 4×100 relay on Sunday (both on Channel 4).

TUESDAY

WNBA: Sparks vs. Seattle, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

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Comedian Jay Mohr, filling in for Jim Rome on his syndicated radio program last week, surmised that more people likely watched the George Lopez weeknight talk show that TBS just canceled than have watched any WNBA contest, even a finals game. This one is televised. Lopez isn’t anymore. Break even? The Sparks also play at Phoenix this week (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV).

WEDNESDAY

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MLB: N.Y. Yankees at Boston, 4 p.m., ESPN:

The chess match continues on the MLB Network for the opener (Tuesday) and the closer (Thursday) of this series, too.

THURSDAY

Golf: Deutsche Bank Championship, first round, noon, Golf Channel:

Winner is paid in German money? From Norton, Mass., with the final two rounds on NBC.

MLB: Dodgers at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m., Channel 9:

It’s a make-up game from a rain out back in May. Turns out to be the first of 11 straight on the road in 11 days in four cities.

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College football: UNLV at Wisconsin, 5 p.m., ESPN; Murray State at Louisville, 3 p.m., ESPNU; Kentucky at Western Kentucky, 6:15 p.m., ESPNU:

Yes, these count.

FRIDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Atlanta, 4:35 p.m., Prime:

They’ll finish it with games Saturday (4:10 p.m., Channel 9) and Sunday (10:35 a.m.).

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

No more Jim Thome to worry about. The series finishes Saturday (6:05 p.m., Channel 13) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW).

MLB: Arizona at San Francisco, 7 p.m., MLB Network:

The channel also has Saturday’s matchup (6 p.m.) for the NL West leaders.

NFL exhibition: Oakland at Seattle, 7:30 p.m., NFL Network:

Everyone plays tonight — it’s the last slate of games before the real ones begin next week.

College football: TCU at Baylor, ESPN, 5 p.m.:

Not on The Longhorn Network.

Soccer: U.S. vs. Costa Rica, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., ESPN:

The U.S. roster includes the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and Chivas’ Heath Pearce. Home field advantage.

SATURDAY

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College football: LSU vs. Oregon in Arlington, Tex., 5 p.m., Channel 7:

It’s simply scandalous: LSU’s suspensions versus Oregon’s suspicions in a full-throttle, Pac-12-SEC matchup that sure smells like a bowl game. It’s enough to pull the first “College GameDay” crew out after summer hibernation, making Cowboys Stadium the place to be at 6 a.m. (on ESPN, 7 a.m. on ESPN). The Ducks’ spotlight is on the return of LeMichael James, leading the nation in rushing a year ago (1,731 yards) and third in the Heisman voting.

College football: Utah State at Auburn; 9 a.m., ESPN2; Akron at Ohio State, 9 a.m., ESPN; Northwestern at Boston College, 9 a.m., ESPNU; Indiana State at Penn State, 9 a.m., Big Ten Network; South Florida at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., Channel 4; BYU at Mississippi, 1:45 p.m., ESPN; San Jose State at Stanford, 2 p.m., Comcast Bay Area; Florida Atlantic at Florida, 4 p.m., ESPNU; Boise State vs. Georgia in Atlanta, 5 p.m., ESPN; Tulsa at Oklahoma, 5 p.m., FX; Colorado at Hawaii, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2:

As Andrew Luck would have it, the highly rated Stanford Cardinal starts the season on Opening Weekend, along with the first looks at Oklahoma, Boise State, Notre Dame, BYU, Florida, Georgia and Colorado.

High school football: Oaks Christian vs. Bellevue, 8:30 p.m., Prime:

They always get the prime TV game, don’t they?

Series: “Game Time: Tackling The Past,” Channel 4, 8 p.m.:

A brief synopsis of the premiere episode of something that looks like a G-rated “Eastbound And Down” meets “North Dallas Forty”: Pro football star Jake Walker (played by Ryan McPartlin, from “Chuck,” who also played football at the University of Illinois) is living the dream…or so he thinks. The veteran tight end is on pace to set the all-time receiving yards record and a probable spot in the Hall of Fame. While working out at training camp, Jake receives an unexpected call from his brother Dean (Josh Braaten, “Semi-Pro”) – their father Frank (Beau Bridges) has suffered a major heart attack. Jake immediately leaves practice and returns to Riverton, N.C., the small hometown he’s avoided for nearly 15 years. Memories of glory and regret flood his mind as he returns to the family and friends he abandoned in pursuit of his career. Jake dutifully visits his dad and brother, but all the hurt and misunderstanding from the past begins to resurface, leaving him counting the days until he can return to his team. Then Jake’s agent calls: His contract is not being renewed amid concerns about his surgically repaired knee. To avoid the media circus, Jake extends his stay in Riverton, and, trying to make the best of it, starts reconnecting with the community — like his high school sweetheart, Sarah (Katie Carr). He takes over his dad’s high school coaching job. By the time Jake gets a new contract offer from another team, he’s not sure he wants to leave. OK, that wasn’t brief. But now you don’t really have to know what you’re missing since it’s up against some prime-time college football.

SUNDAY

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Series: “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO, 10 p.m.:

In the episode called “Mister Softee,” Larry David has a flashback to a painful childhood memory after hearing a particular song played by a passing ice-cream truck, causing him to flub a key play in a softball title game. He’s only got one person to turn to for support: Bill Buckner.

College football: Marshall at West Virginia, ESPN, 12:30 p.m.; SMU at Texas A&M, Prime Ticket, 4:30 p.m.:

The Aggies have two Doak Walker candidates in their backfield. If you care to find out who they might be.

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Oh, and by the way, Jaime Jarrin is comin’ back … Year No. 54

Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrn will return to the broadcast booth for his 54th season in 2012, he announced during today’s broadcast on Univision Radio KTNQ 1020. He, unlike fellow Baseball Hall of Famer Vin Scully, continues to call all 162 games at home and on the road for the Spanish-language station.

“The Dodgers have invited me back for another season, so you will have to be by my side again,” Jarrn joked with analyst Fernando Valenzuela on air during the second inning. “I love what I do. It’s something I love and it brings me great joy to work alongside you and Pepe Yiguez. I’m pleased to serve the Spanish-language community and really share baseball with them – such a beautiful and pristine sport.”

Jarrn, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998, started with the Dodgers in 1959, the year after they moved to L.A. from Brooklyn.

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