Like magic: Guys calling your TV games this football weekend

UPDATED: THURSDAY 9.28.11 at 4 p.m.:

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College football games of note on Saturday:

== UCLA at Stanford, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket: Joel Meyers, Brian Baldinger and Jim Knox
== USC vs. Arizona, Coliseum, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket: Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt and Petros Papadakis.
(Papadakis makes a video with USC running backs coach Kennedy Pola where the former Trojans fullback tries to do every-day drills and blows out a hamstring … linked here … it’ll appear on a future Prime Ticket “Lane Kiffin Show” episode)
== Washington at Utah, 4 p.m., FSW: Ron Thulin, JC Pearson and Jeremy Bloom
== Notre Dame at Purdue, 5 p.m,. ESPN: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
== Alabama at Florida, 5 p.m., Channel 2: Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson
== Nebraska at Wisconsin, 5 p.m., Channel 7: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews
== Texas at Iowa State, 4 p.m., FX: Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster (and then this crew goes to Kansas City to do the Vikings-Chiefs NFL game at 10 a.m. for Fox on Sunday).
== Air Force at Navy, 9 a.m., Channel 2: Ian Eagle and Randy Cross
== Auburn at South Carolina, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2: Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
== Michigan State at Ohio State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Heather Cox
== Clemson at Virginia Tech, 3 p.m. ESPN2: Mark Jones, Ed Cunningham and Quint Kessenich
== Texas A&M vs. Arkansas in Arlington, Tex., 9 a.m., ESPN: Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman, Urban Meyer and Shelley Smith

The NFL on Sunday:
== Detroit at Dallas, 10 a.m., Channel 11: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver.
== Pittsburgh at Houston, 10 a.m., Channel 2: Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf
== Miami at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 2: Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
== New England at Oakland, 1 p.m., Channel 2: Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
== N.Y. Jets at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tafoya

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Just give Keyshawn the damn loaf of bread and he’ll try to keep your zero trans-fat nephew employed

Two ex-USC stars, Keyshawn Johnson and former Heisman winner Reggie Bush, have put their bread together to open another branch of Panera Bread — store No. 6 in their own personal chain, opening October 8 in Ventura (4910 Telephone Road).

Now, bring back the Cowboys for training camp and avoid any yeast infections.

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Pledging to employ, according to the press release, some 50-to-75 more people in the comminity, the group of Johnson, Bush, Dennis Northcutt, Anthony Henry and Terence Newman are the NFL faces who’ve combined to get out the giant scissors and take ownership in the stores that stretch up to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Camarillo.

You probably know the menu: Bread, chicken, sandwiches, bread, soups, salads, bread, bagels, patries, free Wifi and bread. Tip your bus boys, please.

Keyshawn, the “renassance man” (listen to the video above) who works for ESPN and had his own reality show where he could redecorate your home, once opened his own great soul food restaurant in 1999 on Restaurant Row in Beverly Hills called Reign.

Appetizers went for $11; entrees were as high as $29.

“I’ve never failed at anything and I don’t expect to fail at this,” said Johnson, still playing in the NFL at the time, upon his restaurant opening. It closed four years later.

He’s now the CEO of the First Picks Bread Company, a Panera Bread developer in Southern California. Henry joined forces with Johnson because they share the same wealth management firm, RGT Capital Management.

SmartMoney.com says that Johnson’s Panera stores grossed an estimated $10 million in sales in 2010, with sales volume 10 percent higher than what’s typical for the company.

It also reports that he consults with developer Ed Roski to target franchise locations that have “good traffic patterns, high college-education levels among local residents and proximity to Target stores.”

First Picks Management describes itself as a group founded in 2006 as “a business development company for the enterprises of professional sports athletes and select high net-worth individuals. The group invests intellectual, human and financial capital into promising businesses for the prudent development and management of enterprises. To date, they have partnered with over a dozen professional sports athletes and business entities to achieve these objectives. They work with start-up entities as well as seasoned brands. More info: www.firstpicksmgmt.com

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If your school’s not ‘eligible’ for the next ESPN ‘bracket buster’ schedule manipulation event, it must really be terrible … or too big to qualify

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One hundred and forty two.

That’s now many schools have been made “eligible” to be considerd for the final 26 teams that will be invited to add a game to their college basketball schedule in February so that ESPN can televise it and give it a little more RPI cred before March Madness begins.

In what ESPN now calls the “Sears BracketBusters” event set for 13 games played between Feb. 17 and 19, the three-day “event” will play out on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or lame-old ESPN3. So you’re not even guaranteed a game that’ll be on TV.

The matchups are purely picked by ESPN, while a committee of Conference commissioners determines the additional non-televised games. Because as it turns out, after the 26 teams are picked for the ESPN platforms, the other 116 not chosen will be paired off as well for a game. Because they’re already locked in.

Two West Coast Conference schools (including Loyola Marymount) and nine from the Big West (including Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State) are here in an event that only pulls hungry birds from the the mid-major conferences. There are no teams from the ACC, Big East, Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten.

Each team picked has already been designated a home or road team. LMU and CSUN are a home team; Long Beach State goes on the road. Somewhere.

ESPN likes to point out that 13 teams from this event last year made it to the NCAA tournament, and VCU won five games once it got in. CSUN was a “Bracket Buster” from 2009 that made it into the tournament field, as was Long Beach State in 2007.

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The baseball gospel according to Gibson’s followers

Ryan Roberts’ trip around the bases Tuesday night following an improbable grand slam that capped the Arizona Diamondbacks’ two-out, six-run comeback in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Dodgers was so Kirk Gibson-esque.

Capped off by pumping his left arm as he neared second base and headed for third. He pointed toward Gibson, in the Arizona dugout, the entire time.

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“Some things rub off,” Gibson said, cracking a grin. “He deserved to do it.”

Vin Scully, calling Roberts’ homer against the Dodgers, didn’t use the words “improbable” or “impossible” as he did when Gibson hit his 1988 World Series Game 1 homer for the Dodgers to beat the Oakland A’s in the bottom of the ninth.

(On KTAR-AM in Phoenix, Greg Schulte’s call went something like this: “Roberts a drive … deep left field … Diamondbacks win! … Are you kidding me!? … Are … you … kidding … me? A grand slam by Roberts and the Diamondbacks are still alive … You are kidding me. This crazy, folks. Absolutely crazy. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. It’s been that kind of a year.”)

Roberts was an 8-year-old kid in Texas when that happened. Most of the 25 players on the D’backs current active roster were little kids when it happened. One — pitcher Jarrod Parker — wasn’t born yet, but his presence was felt as well Tuesday. He worked 5 2/3 scoreless inning and gave up just four hits in his debut.

The Gibson mindset in these Diamondbacks harkens back to when he carried the Dodgers as the NL MVP in ’88, before his post-season heroics.

“We just play until the final out,” said reliever Micah Owings, who somehow improve to 8-0 despite giving up five runs to the Dodgers in the top of the 10th.

The D’backs are the comeback kids of ’11, with 48 of them this season.

Is it all because of Gibson?

We asked the three MLB studio analysts for TBS about that as they prepare to start their postseason coverage:

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TBS play-callers for the MLB postseason: No E.J., and no Scully (who plans to ‘shut up for a while’)

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First, our prayers go out again to Ernie Johnson Jr, who won’t be part of the TBS MLB postseason calling games or manning the studio. A month after the passing of his father, former MLB pitcher and play-by-play man Ernie Johnson Sr., and four years removed from his own battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, E.J. will pass on doing games starting this week because of a new family matter.

His 23-year-old son, Michael, has been coping with muscular dystrophy and has been hospitalized in intensive care for the last two weeks. Ernie and his wife, Cheryl, will take time now to be with Michael, who was adopted from Romania.

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Jeff Behnke, Turner Sports’ executive producer, made the announcement on a conference call this morning with reporters. He also gave out the four broadcast teams that will begin dong games with the ALDS on Friday (unless there’s a one-game playoff for a wildcard spot to be played Thursday):

== Brian Anderson, left, the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers since 2007, will do lead play-by-play now, with analysts Ron Darling and John Smoltz, on whatever series the New York Yankees are involved in, as well as the NLCS round that follows. The 40-year-old Anderson called Roy Halladay’s post-season no-hitter last season and has done many TBS Sunday afternoon broadcasts.

== Dick Stockton , a longtime Turner employee, will for some reason continue to be with Bob Brenly, likely on the top NLDS matchup (think Philadelphia vs. whomever).

== Don Orsillo, with the Boston Red Sox, will be paired with Buck Martinez, perhaps on a Red Sox series. There’s nothing to preclude that from happening.

== And Victor Rojas, who has been with the Angels’ on FSW for the last two seasons, will be paired with Joe Simpson on the “fourth team” doing whatever series is deemed apparently less appealing.

Uh, OK …

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== Also, Craig Sager, Tom Verducci, KCAL/KCBS anchor/reporter Jaime Maggio and Sam Ryan of the MLB Network will be on site at games as reporters.

Behnke said it in regards to why someone like the Dodgers’ 83-year-old Hall of Famer Vin Scully, Bob Costas or the New York Mets’ Gary Cohen weren’t included in the mix:

“I’ll just blanket it by saying we looked at and considered everyone. Sure, there are legendary voices out there and unbelievable broadcasters, but it’s more of a factor of scheduling conflicts and availability. When you go through the process and hit all the points we need to go through with our decisions, that’s what we’ve done and we feel comfortable whith where we’ve landed.

“They’re all great voices — and Vin is the legend of all legends.”

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So, not even a consideration of having him work a couple of innings on any of the four series? Or is he free to play golf this winter?

“That’s probably hard to do in the middle innings, and even harder with L.A. not being in the playoffs,” said Behnke. “Look, if we were in L.A. and he was available, absolutely we’d do something. The fans love him and baseball people would love him as they always have.”

But not enough to even submit an inquiry, apparently. But they were able to ask Rojas, who would be included even if the Angels had been in the playoffs. Rojas was added originally as a sideline reporter but promoted once Johnson couldn’t make it.

Despite the online petition launched in June to persuade Fox to include Scully in their World Series coverage (linked here) — there are more than 7,600 signatures and it has Joe Buck’s blessing (linked here) — there seems to be nothing new with that angle.

When we asked Scully about whether Fox had asked about the possibility, and whether he’d be open to it, he replied: “No to all questions. I plan to shut up for a while.”

Our loss.

The TBS schedule could start with a Thursday wildcard game. Here are the scenarios the network offered today:

1:07 p.m. — A.L. wildcard tiebreaker: Boston at Tampa Bay
5:07 p.m. — N.L. wildcard tiebreaker: Atlanta at St. Louis

Friday’s games:
1:07 p.m. — ALDS Game 1: Boston or Tampa Bay at Texas or Detroit
5:37 p.m. — ALDS Game 1: Detroit or Texas at New York

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Could you please wear a tinier, blacker cocktail dress with prostitutional heels that shows slightly more skin … unlike in your recent Self mag fitness spread?

Erin Andrews, promoting herself on ABC sister station “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Monday night, because she can:

Go find Part II at your own risk.

Does YouTube have some kind of filter that can be uploaded to tone down the nasalness of her voice that most (including Kimmel) seem to tolerate in normal conversation but really isn’t conducive to listening to somewhat pertinent information presented during inane, longwinded questions during a college football post-game interivew?

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Play It Forward: Sept. 26-Oct. 2 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Brewers’ clubhouse comedian Nyjer Morgan reacts as he is doused with bubbly after Milwaukee clinched the NL Central title with a win Friday night.

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MLB divisional playoffs: ALDS Game 1s: Friday at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., TBS; NLDS Game 1s and ALDS Game 2s: Saturday at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., TBS; NLDS Game 2s: Sunday at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., TBS:

The Southern California Brewers of Milwaukee are where we’ll hitch our bandwagon for this postseason. The winners of the NL Central have the L.A.-based owner (Mark Attanasio) and former Dodgers outfielder-turned-Angels-bench coach as its manager (Ron Roenicke), with an MVP candidate out of Granada Hills.

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Once you get around Prince Fielder — not an easy task — it’s Ryan Braun, the potential batting champ, who hit the dramatic home run last Friday that clinched the Brews’ first divisional title since 1982 (when they were in the AL East, for cryin’ out loud). Back in spring training, Braun bought a boxing-style championship title belt and hung it in the team’s clubhouse. It remained all season long. The team became hungry, like Randy Wolf, the starting pitcher out of El Camino Real and Pepperdine with more Dodgers connections. “One thing I always hated was in spring training when you’d have these meetings and say, ‘OK, guys, we’re going to compete this year’,” said Wolf. “That’s one of the things that drove me nuts. You have to do more than compete. Competing is just trying. Anybody can try. It was something we talked about in spring training and it’s the mentality you have to have. We knew the organization had stepped up to give us a team that could win. It wasn’t like we hoped we could do it. We knew we could do it.” So now Wolf (13-10, 3.61), on a pitching staff that includes a bullpen of 6-foot-9 Kameron Loe (Granada Hills High, Cal State Northridge), former Dodgers All-Star closer Takashi Saito and one-time Angels’ rookie World Series standout Francisco Rodriguez, waits with the rest of us to see how the NL’s wildcard shakes out — Atlanta, or St. Louis? It all matters in how the first-round pairings go with the Diamondbacks and Phillies. The AL pairings are similarly up in the air as the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers wait to see if the Red Sox, Rays or Angels are coming along.

MONDAY

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

The Angels might have been the MLB’s biggest Southern California gate attraction for the first time in 50 years, but there would have been another 130,000 guaranteed for this final series if things didn’t end so painfully Sunday against Oakland. Buy your final souvenirs on Tuesday (7:05 p.m., FSW) and Wednesday (5:05 p.m., FSW). The Rangers have won six of 10 against the Angels since the All-Star break to effectively push back their closest competition. The plan is still for Jered Weaver to come back and pitch the finale, especially if the Angels win the first two and are somehow still alive.

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

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Things to know about the Matt Kemp MVP/Triple Crown watch for the last three games of the season: The Dodgers center fielder is 7-for-24 this season at Chase Field in Phoenix, with two homers and five RBI. While the D’backs get their rotation ready for the playoffs — Ian Kennedy made his last start Saturday, improving to 21-4 — the Dodgers wind down with Eveland, Kuroda and Lilly on Tuesday (6:40 p.m., Channel 9) and Wednesday (6:40 p.m., Prime).

NFL: Washington at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

We’ll take a slab of Tony Romo’s ribs to go from Tony Roma’s takeout and see if this game is all that it’s cracked up to be.

Reality show: “Dancing With The Stars,” 8 p.m., Channel 7:

World Peace is hopelessly gone. Hope Solo is left. “I wanted both of us to go far in the show and kind of represent the sports world, but unfortunately that didn’t happen that way, so I better stand strong until the end,” the U.S. women’s national team goalie told E! More eliminations on Tuesday. Save yourself, Hope. That Wilson-Phillips chick (she’s married to a Baldwin?) could be your toughest opponent.

TUESDAY

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Reality show: “The Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m., Channel 4:

We didn’t realize that we had a rooting interest until we spotted former NFL player Antone Davis (Philadelphia and Atlanta from 1991-’97) stepping on the scale in last week’s season opener to show that he dropped 32 pounds, going from 447 to 414. Here’s a testament to what can happen, again, with owning a restaurant once you retire from the game. The 44-year-old played at 349 when he was at the University of Tennessee then at about 335 in the NFL. Oh, did we also mention Anna Kournikova has been hired as a “fitness expert,” replacing Jillian Michaels?

Documentary: “Catching Hell,” 5 p.m., ESPN:

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The saga of Steve Bartman, who still hasn’t shown his face for an interview since that fateful October day in 2003, gets a new examination by Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney. The L.A. connections — former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros played for the Cubs that season, and was in that NLDS Game 6 at Wrigley Field when all heck broke loose after Bartman upset Cubs left fielder Moises Alou, in pursuit of a foul ball. When the grumbling settled, the Florida Marlins scored eight runs in the eighth inning. “It was like all the air just came out of the place,” Karros says in the piece that replays Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN2; Friday at 7 and 9 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

WEDNESDAY

Soccer: Galaxy vs. Monaress Morelia, Home Depot Center, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:

The CONCACAF Champions League series continues with the two teams tied for second place in Group A. The Galaxy lost to Morelia 2-1 in Mexico two weeks ago.

THURSDAY

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Golf: Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open, first round, 1 p.m., Golf Channel:

The Fall Season begins in Las Vegas, at the place where Jonathan Byrd hit a hole-in-one on the fourth playoff hole just before dark to win last year’s event.

FRIDAY

NHL exhibition: Kings at Ducks, Honda Center, 7 p.m.:

Will Drew Doughty be suited up by this time?

Horse racing: Santa Anita Autumn season, first post, 1 p.m.:

The 24-day race meet runs through Nov. 6 with a four-day race week, Thursday through Sunday, on a new natural dirt main track.

SATURDAY

College football: USC vs. Arizona, Coliseum, 12:30 p.m., FSN:

The Wildcats (1-3) have not seen much of a flex alert. They’e been pounded by three ranked teams — Oregon, Stanford and Oklahoma State — over the last three weeks, outscored 130-55 in the process. A perfect opportunity for the Trojans, and their wildcat formation with Marc Tyler, to rebound from their loss at ASU.

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College football: UCLA at Stanford, 7:30 p.m., FSN:

It’s not as if the Cardinal lucked into a bye week to prepare for these Bruins, but they took it anyway. Andrew Luck has completed 67 percent of his passes and has an 8-to-1 ratio in TDs-to-INTs.

NHL exhibition: Kings vs. Colorado, Las Vegas, 6 p.m.:

The Kings head out to Germany immediately after playing in the annual “Frozen Fury” at the MGM Grand, landing in Europe on Sunday night.

MLS: Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.:

It’s Fan Appreciation Night, since the last three league games are on the road (including one against Chivas USA). Galaxy fans appreciate the fact the team has already secured a playoff spot, pointing toward hosting the MLS Cup game

SUNDAY

NASCAR: Sprint Cup AAA 400 at Dover, Del., 11 a.m., ESPN:

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Tony Stewart, who once said he’d be a “total bumbling idiot” if he won the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, is two for two already. “Got eight long weeks still, man,” Stewart said. “It’s way too early to start counting chickens.” The Big D in Delaware could deliver another reason to bank on Smoke taking the title.

NFL: Miami at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 2:

Reggie Bush, in his own version of “Dolphin Tale,” dogpaddles home to Sea World.

NFL: Pittsburgh at Houston, 10 a.m., Channel 2:

Who’s this Tate guy that keeps leading the Texans in rushing each week?

NFL: N.Y. Jets at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., Channel 4:

Gotta get the Detroit Lions in prime time before things fall apart.

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Miss L.A. Galaxy 2012: Daniella, knock ‘em dead

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Ten have made it to the finals of the Miss L.A. Galaxy 2012 contest (linked here), where the winner serves as a community ambassador for the Major League Soccer team at dozens of events throughout the year.

They’ve each recorded a video interview on the team’s website for fans to watch, mull over, and then record their votes.

There’s Emily, a wedding coordinator. Veronica is a “child life specialist.” Ashley, a public relations student, coaches softball at Malibu High.

Marina is an office specialist, Kirsti works as a “face character at a theme park, and Stephanie is finishing up a Master’s degree at USC in social work.

Ivana wants to be a sideline TV reporter. Nicole, a former Miss USA Tourism winner, aspires to be a full-time minister. Priscilla is an administrative assistant with a Tae Kwon Do black belt who would like to start her own clothing line.

OK, girl with the straight black hair, dark-rimmed glasses and perfect red lipstick, you’re up:

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“Hi, my name is Daniella. I’m a licensed funeral director, licensed embalmer and I love cupcakes.”

Contest over. Sorry, everyone. Thanks for showing up.

Daniella’s got this one dead to rights. She takes the cake.

“Working as a mortician, it is a great conversation starter, right?” Daniella Marcantoni continued to explain over lunch the other day. “Some of my friends call me Morty. Or Tish. Or Mortica. I do collect Frankenstein stuff. I like Halloween. But there are lots of people who aren’t embalmers who like that, too.”

The 26-year-old from Chino Hills, in the funeral industry for the last six years, was recently promoted to be viewing room specialist at Rose Hills mortuary and cemetery in Whittier.

She is very dedicated to the dead. And dead serious about the importance of this contest.
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McCourt calls MLB’s petition to order the sale of the Dodgers ‘offensive’

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Major League Baseball filed a petition today with the federal judge in Delware handling the Dodgers’ bankruptcy demanding that the team be sold before it is deemed no longer a part of the league.

In response, owner Frank McCourt called the motion “meritless,” “offensive” and “a last resort” through his financial communications firm.

A hearing in the case is set for Oct. 12.

The MLB attorneys argue that McCourt “cannot hide the Dodgers in bankruptcy court forever” as he continues to use the team to resolve his personal financial issues. In addition, the MLB contends that McCourt’s plan to auction the team’s television rights without league approval, a motion filed on Sept. 16, is a breach of the Dodgers’ existing contract with Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket and could lead to the team’s ouster from the league.

McCourt has been holding out that MLB commissioner Bud Selig will approve a multi-billion media deal with Fox Sports that provides him financial stability for years to come. Selig’s refusal to do so, based on the belief that McCourt will use advances from that rights deal to pay legal fees in his recently high-profile divorce from Jamie McCourt, will severely damage the team’s innerstructure. McCourt also contends Selig’s actions led him to the bankruptcy filing on June 27.

“The sale proposed in the media rights motion – the centerpiece of the team’s sole reorganization strategy – is dead on arrival,” the MLB petition read. “No one will pay (the Dodgers) to broadcast . . . games if the club is not part of Major League Baseball. Consequently, the (Dodgers’) path in this case is a dead end or worse.”

The league also argues that McCourt is trying to circumvent its authority, which could leave the judge in the position of determining whether the federal bankruptcy code trumps the MLB’s constitution.

“Bankruptcy is not a vehicle for rewriting the rules of sports leagues like Major League Baseball,” league attorneys said.

In a statement issued through Kekst and Company in New York, McCourt said the MLB action “is another step in the commissioner’s continuing effort to cause the sale of the Dodgers notwithstanding that the Dodgers can and will be successfully reorganized as outlined in the recently filed media rights marketing motion.

“In United States bankruptcy reorganization cases, liquidation is the last resort, not the first option.”

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Ex-King Simmonds on the banana incident: ‘You learn to deal with it’

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(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley)
Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds scores on Detroit Red Wings goalie Jordan Pearce during the shootout of an exhibition game in London, Ontario on Thursday night.

The Associated Press

TORONTO — An incident where a banana was thrown on the ice as Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds was about to take a penalty shot in an exhibition game Thursday was called “stupid and ignorant” by the NHL today.

Simmonds, traded by the Kings to the Flyers in the offseason, said he’s “above this sort of stuff” after the banana was thrown from the stands in London, Ontario, as Simmonds was skating toward Detroit goalie Jordan Pearce.

“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” he added. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”

Despite the disruption, Simmonds scored in the shootout, but the Detroit Red Wings went on to win 4-3.

“We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for
the game,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement today. “The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario.

“It shocked me and I knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” said Simmonds, who is from Toronto. “It was certainly unusual.”

He also scored with less than a minute left in the third period to make the score 3-3.

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