Like magic: Guys calling your TV games this football weekend

UPDATED: THURSDAY 9.28.11 at 4 p.m.:


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.


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. 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:

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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


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.


“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:

Continue reading

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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.


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 …


== 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.”


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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