The clock’s ticking on Fox and DirecTV? Where do we direct our exasperation?


There’s more confusion than confirmation trying to figure out what will happen on Tuesday, Nov. 1 – the DirecTV deadline when the satellite dish system says it could drop a group of News Corp channels that include sports-friendly Prime Ticket, Fox Sports West, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Deportes, Fox Soccer Channel and all the other Fox Sports Net regional cable group.

DirecTV, with 18 million subscribers, has posted warnings on its programming menu that these channels will be “suspended” if a deal is not reached, claiming that News Corp is asking for as much as 40 percent subscriber increase.

“We hope to resolve this situation before any action is taken, but we will do what’s necessary to protect our customers from excessive and unwarranted fee increases,” DirecTV said in firing the first public shot.

Fox’s reply is that DirecTV “has given us no chance to respond before taking an unnecessarily aggressive posture and going public.”

Fox’s over-the-air network (KTTV-Channel 11, which handles NFL coverage) and the Big Ten Network are not supposed to be lumped in here, but depending on who you believe, they could be added later.

DirecTV, which up until 2008 was one-third owned by News Corp, has actually been one of the main advertisers during Fox’s coverage of the World Series, providing the blimp coverage overhead.

If this is just the latest public sniping in the name of consumer protection, where viewers are always caught in the crossfire, we suggest riding it out.

In September, 2009, DirecTV dropped Versus in a dispute with Comcast. By the time the NHL playoffs started in March, 2010, it reappeared.

Taking away Lakers broadcasts on FSW could have been a major L.A. trump card in this blind-man’s bluff, but that’s not even on the table right now in this marketplace.

Maybe we throw up our hands and empty our pockets again. But as rights fees given to sports properties continue to jump, even in this economy, we’ve come to realize that we eventually pay for it.

Then, we share a group shower to wash off other people’s greed.

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Plop, plop, fizz, fizz: So this is how Steve Physioc has been staying employed lately

The former Angels play-by-play man and a regular part of Fox’s college football coverage should know first-hand about how these negotiations with News Corp and DirecTV have been going, based on his sources.

Or, he’s only getting one side of the story.

This website,, was was put up by a consortium of cable systems trying to scare customers into dropping DirecTV and joining them as a Nov. 1 deadline approaches in what could theoretically lead to drop channels such as Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket, Fuel, Speed and Fox Soccer Channel. Furthermore, they’re saying Fox’s KTTV-Channel 11 in L.A. could also be part of this.

Here’s how Phyz lays it out:

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The three stars of the NHL book game, at least for today

Excerpts from three recently released hockey books we’ll put out there as something to read between periods:


The book: “The Lives of Conn Smythe: From the Battlefield to Maple Leaf Gardens: A Hockey Icon’s Story.”
The author: Kelly McParland
The publishing info: McClelland & Stewart, $32.99, 370 pages.
The background: The man who built the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Maple Leaf Gardens (celebrating its 80th anniversary on Nov. 12) during the Great Depression, his life as a soldier in both World Wars, including a time as a prisoner of war in Germany in 1917, molded his attitude toward being a hockey executive. His life is divided into four sections: Poor boy, builder, warrior and mogul.
The excerpt: Page 197: “Just weeks before the orders for D-Day bean appearing, he stormed up to London and demanded an end to the constant efforts to oust him. … Smythe finally received the reassurance he’s south and was promised he’d be allowed to lead his batter when it went to battle. The pledge held, and in June, as the successful assault on Normandy took hold and the Allied armies moved inward from the beaches, he received orders to prepare to embark for France. It was the culmination of all he had been working for, but at the last moment he almost blew it. With the guns and equipment ready to go, the men occupied their time with regular softball games. A few days before they were to leave, Smythe was guarding third base when the ball came to him just as a runner was barreling from second. He stood his ground and the runner, trying to dislodge him, knocked him right through the coach’s box, breaking four ribs. Smythe passed out, then came to long enough to hear the men discussing plans to get him to a hospital. He insisted they find a civilian doctor, knowing if he was taken to a military hospital he’d almost certainly be prevented from going to France. The men got him to a compliant doctor, but word got around anyway and a colonel turned up at Smythe’s bedside warning that he’d have to report this situation. “My holster was right beside the bed,” Smythe recounted. “I reached over and put my hand on the revolver and said, ‘Now listen, I’ve been through two and a half years to get here. If I’m not going, you’re not going.” He was once again allowed to keep his command, with his ribs heavily taped. … He was strapped into the seat of a gun wagon and hoisted ashore at the end of a crane.”


The book: “My First NHL Goal: 50 Players and the Goal that Marked the Beginning of Their NHL Career.”
The author: Mike Brophy
The publishing info: McClelland & Steward, $17.95, 254 pages
The background: From Jean Beliveau to Steve Yzerman, and all the great ones in between (including The Great One), they tell the first-person account of their first NHL goal.
The excerpt: Page 251, Luc Robitaille on his goal on Oct. 9, 1986, on a pass from his childhood hero, Marcel Dionne: “Our first game was at home against the St. Louis Blues, and Pat Quinn, our coach, decided to spread the scoring around a bit. Dave Taylor was going to play with Jimmy Carson and Marcel Dionne was going to play with me. The third line had Bernie Nicholls. When the game started, he started Bernie’s line and then went with Taylor’s line. Then something happened and he went back to Nicholls’ line, and I remember sitting on the bench and suddenly it’s been over four minutes and I’m going crazy because I haven’t been on the ice yet. Marcel leaned over and said, ‘Don’t worry, our chance is coming, kid … It’s coming, kid.’ About 30 seconds later, Quinn called for our line to go next. The centers always changed first, so Marcel jumped over the boards. Then whoever was the left winger came to change, so I jumped on the ice. Someone dumped the puck in and the Blues goalie, Rick Wamsley, went behind the net and played the puck to his left along the wall. I saw that Marcel anticipated it, and Wamsley didn’t get good wood on the puck. When I saw that, I hurried as fast as I could to the front of the net and yelled as loud as I could, ‘Marcel! Marcel!’ because the goalie wasn’t there yet. Marcel saw me and passed it, and in one motion I tipped it into the empty net. … It was the greatest feeling.”


The book: Star-Spangled Hockey: Celebrating 75 years of USA Hockey”
The author: Kevin Allen
The publishing info: Triumph Books, $24.95, 214 pages
The background: Filling a 2010 Olympic hockey roster with U.S.-born NHL players is a pretty significant feat. The organization that began as the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States is ready to tell its history, including the 1938 Chicago Black Hawks’ Stanley Cup win with a U.S. coach, Bill Stewart, and a goaltender from Minnesota, Mike Karakas, the 1980 “Miracle On Ice,” and the emergence of the women’s national team.
The excerpt: On Angela Ruggiero, the Simi Valley native, making her mark: “In 2005-06, Bill Ruggiero was playing for the Tulsa Oilers in the Central Hockey League when he dialed up his older sister Angela and made a pronouncement that was clearly designed to convince her to visit him. ‘You are better than our defensemen – you should come and skate with us,’ Bill Ruggiero said. Angela took Bill up on his offer, skated with his team and was surprised to later receive a call that the Oilers wanted her to play a game. She jumped at the opportunity. .. On January 8, 2005, she played for the Oilers in a 7-2 victory against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. She played more than six minutes, recording an assist and a plus-2 rating to become the first woman other than a goalie to make more than a token appearance in a North American men’s pro league … “To be honest, I blended into the men’s game. Remember, this is minor pro, not the NHL. There are guys who were shorter than me, or skinner than me. I was in the middle.” She came away feeling satisfied but regretful that she didn’t accept the offer she received to play in the CHL on a regular basis. She wishes now she would have tried that after the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. “I felt like I fit in,” Ruggiero said. “I do actually think I could have played there.”

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HBO docs on the must-see list


ESPN’s got its weekly documentaries released this time of year — not “30 For 30″ any more, but more spill over from its project that concluded earlier this year.

The one this week, “The Real Rocky,” is followed up by “Unguarded” on Tuesday, Nov. 1, about the live and times of former basketball player Chris Herren and his path on drug and alcohol addiction.

Apologies for not giving a better heads-up on the HBO documentary that debuted last night, “Prayer For A Perfect Season,” about the 2010-11 basketball team at St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J., where coach Kevin Boyle tries to keep the Catholic school relevant amidst all the social problems in the neighborhood. It’s directed by Marc Levin , the 1998 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for “Slam.”

The doc replays on HBO on Friday (8 a.m. and 5 p.m.), Sunday (8 a.m.) and at various times and dates in November. HBO2 has replays as well, and it’s on HBO On Demand.


Coming up next week: “Marathon Boy,” which debuts on Nov. 3.

The HBO press release description: “Six years ago, in an impoverished corner of India, an orphanage director and a slum boy captured the imagination of their country. Plucked from obscurity and thrust into the national spotlight, Budhia Singh ran 48 marathons by the age of 4, winning thousands of fans and making headlines around the world. But what started as a remarkable rags-to-riches saga morphed into a tale of greed, corruption and broken dreams.”

HBO has it on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. with many replays as well.

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ESPN goes E.A. full throttle with USC-Stanford; Chargers on Monday night opens up the field


Some potential 3D televised football coverage for this weekend on your L.A. flatscreens:

College football Saturday:

== USC vs. Stanford: Coliseum, 5 p.m., Channel 7, with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews (following the ESPN “GameDay” appearance at 7 a.m.)
== UCLA vs. Cal: Rose Bowl, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket, with Bill Macdonald, J.J. Stokes and Chris McGee
== Arizona at Washington: 7:30 p.m., FSW, with Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt and Petro Papadakis
== Washington State at Oregon: noon, FSW, with Joel Meyers, Brian Baldinger and Jim Knox
== Georgia vs. Florida from Jacksonville: 12:30 p.m., Channel 2, with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson
== Wisconsin at Ohio State: 5 p.m., ESPN, with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
== Michigan State at Nebraska: 9 a.m., ESPN, with Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman, Urban Meyer and Quint Kessenich
== Illinois at Penn State: 12:30 p.m., ESPN2, with Carter Blackburn, Brock Huard and Lisa Salters
== Purdue at Michigan: 9 a.m., ESPN2, with Beth Mowins, Mike Bellotti and Shelley Smith
== Baylor at Oklahoma State: 12:30 p.m., Channel 7, with Bob Wischusen, Bob Davie and Jeannine Edwards
== Oklahoma at Kansas State: 12:30 p.m., ESPN, with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Heather Cox
== Missouri at Texas A&M: 9 a.m., FX, with Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster

Sunday NFL:

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: Miami at N.Y. Giants, with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf (instead of Jacksonville-Houston and Indianapolis-Tennessee on CBS or Minnesota-Carolina, Arizona-Baltimore and New Orleans-St. Louis on Fox).
== 1 p.m., Channel 11: Detroit at Denver, with Dick Stockton, John Lynch and Jaime Maggio (instead of Washington-Buffalo in Toronto)
== 1 p.m., Channel 2: New England at Pittsburgh, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (instead of Cleveland-San Francisco and Cincinnati-Seattle)
== 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: Dallas at Philadelphia, with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tafoya (still expected to attend after the passing of her father this week in Manhattan Beach).

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SI excerpt: Leiweke belives Beckham ‘will be here again next year’


David Beckham’s five-year contract to play Major League Soccer with the Galaxy ends after the upcoming MLS Cup, and Sports Illustrated’s Grand Wahl writes in this week’s issue that if the 36-year-old leads his team to a championship, “his American experiment will be validated — and he might choose to stay Stateside despite offers from Europe next season.”

Wahl quotes AEG president Tim Leiweke: “I think David is loyal to us. Despite all the rumors and bulls— out there about David going to France or the Premier League, David only leaves the Galaxy if David and we decide that.

“In fact, I believe David will be here again next year. People can make any offer they want. The loyalty he has to this club because of the way we have treated him and stood by him is going to be rewarded if we so choose to continue with David.”

Beckham joined Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 but also spent two short-term loan terms with AC Milan in 2009 and 2010.

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“The L Word” doesn’t need to be used in the McCourt situation, no matter how much’s he’s pillaged, plundered and blundered


(AP Photo)
Two youths, with lampshades from a looted store, run down a street, in the Watts section of Los Angeles on August, 13, 1965. The six days of violence left 34 dead and resulted in $40 million of property damage.

Can we be Frank here?

“Looting” is a lot to live up to. Especially in Los Angeles.

It’s the phrase Major League Baseball’s lawyers apparently have resorted to in summarizing the process by which current Dodgers ownership has redistributed more than $189 million gained through the donations made by loyal fans of the team.

It’s also the foundation of an argument they’ll use in bankruptcy court starting next week when commission Bud Selig’s team tries to snatch control of the property back from last man standing Frank McCourt.

“Looting” needlessly reopens a lot of wounds around here.

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IRL’s Bernard on the $5 mil offer to the late Dan Wheldon: ‘I’m not sure why people say that played a role’


By Jenna Fryer
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Randy Bernard knows there are people who blame him for Dan Wheldon’s death, who say the IndyCar CEO pushed the series over the edge.

In the 24 hours after the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was killed in a fiery 15-car accident in the season finale, Bernard wondered if perhaps all the hate mail accusing him of sacrificing safety for the show was right.

“The last week was probably the most horrific week of my life,” Bernard told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

It’s been open season on Bernard since the accident, and his silence all last week only intensified the scrutiny on his leadership of the open-wheel series.

Now, nine days later, Bernard is able to publicly talk about Wheldon and the day all his work toward building a spectacular finale went terribly wrong minutes into the race. He still becomes emotional about it, taking a deep breath in his office at IndyCar headquarters as he recalls the controversial decision to cancel the race.

Bernard is focused on moving forward and helping IndyCar through this dark period. He says he never once considered resigning but admits IndyCar is now “in crisis, and we have to get answers.”

“In tough times, that’s when you have to be focused,” Bernard said. “You have to lead, and I know this is a time I have to make sure I am going to be very decisive, very articulate and be a leader. In tough times is where you build your character; it’s not in good times.”

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Why Vin Scully was trending on Twitter … don’t worry, he’s OK


For a brief period during Sunday night’s Fox coverage of the World Series, Vin Scully was trending on Twitter.

It was not — as many Twitter users feared — because he had died, according to an L.A. Weekly blog (linked here).

“Instead, it was because sportswriter Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) asked his followers who should be calling the games. Scully was the overwhelming choice,” the blog reported.

Posnanski, who a year ago wrote one of the best reads in a while on Scully (linked here), followed up on his own website (linked here) about the Fox coverage, mostly buring Tim McCarver.

But he included: “At some point during the night, I put up a Twitter poll: If you could choose any two living announcers to call the World Series — they have to be living, this is not some sort of imaginary exercise — who would you choose? ….

“The vast, vast, vast majority of people (of course) simply selected: Vin Scully. No second person. Just Vin. Brandon McCarthy chose Vin and someone to bring him water. Several chose Vin and Teller from Penn and Teller. And so on. I could not agree more. What I think makes Vin such a wonderful listen — and has for more than a half century — is that his voice stays in the background, the statistics he uses make sense and feel true, his stories enhance what you’re watching, he’s honest about whatever he’s seeing and he has Coltrane’s sense of rhythm.

“It’s a remarkable combination. Baseball is a tough game to announce. The action is spread out. The pace is uneven. The strategies are often intricate and not especially interesting for casual fans (they don’t call boring politics “inside baseball” for nothing). The statistics are often wonky. But there are great opportunities, too — baseball’s a wonderful game for stories, for drama, for insight. Yes, it would be great to hear Vin Scully call a World Series again. Well, hey, at least we got him to trend on Twitter for a while.”

And again, why wasn’t Scully included in the Fox coverage after all the online petitioning and media lobbying (including here?) We don’t have an answer that satisfies us.

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