How the pigskin fits into this year’s Thanksgiving weekend menu


Key college football TV games in L.A. for Week 13:


== Texas at Texas A&M, 5 p.m., ESPN: With Rece Davis, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Jenn Brown


== Houston at Tulsa, 9 a.m., FSW: With Ron Thulin, JC Pearson and Jeremy Bloom
== Iowa at Nebraska, 9 a.m., Channel 7: With Bob Wischusen, Bob Davie and Jeannine Edwards

== Arkansas at LSU, 11:30 a.m., Channel 2: With Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson
== Colorado at Utah, 12:30 p.m., FSW: With Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt and Petros Papadakis
== Boston College at Miami, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: With Rob Stone and Danny Kanell

== Pittsburgh at West Virginia, 4 p.m., ESPN: With Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore

== Cal at Arizona State, 7:15 p.m, ESPN: With Mike Patrick, Craig James and Samantha Steele



== UCLA at USC, 7 p.m., FSW: With Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt and Petros Papadakis

== Ohio State at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 7: With Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman and Quint Kessenich
== Georgia at Georgia Tech, 9 a.m., ESPN: With Mark Jones and Ed Cunningham
== Rutgers at Connecticut, 9 a.m., ESPN2: With Beth Mowins and Mike Bellotti
== Iowa State at Oklahoma, 9 a.m., FX: With Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster
== Michigan State at Northwestern, 9 a.m., Big Ten Network: With Eric Collins and Chris Martin

== Oregon State at Oregon, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: With Carter Blackburn, Brock Huard and Shelley Smith
== Virginia Tech at Virginia, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2: With Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore and Lisa Salters
== Penn State at Wisconsin, 12:30 p.m., ESPN: With Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Tom Rinaldi
== Alabama at Auburn, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2: With Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson (and ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew in attendance at 6 a.m.)

== Texas Tech at Baylor, 4 p.m., FSW: With Bill Land, Gary Reasons and Emily Jones
== Florida State at Florida, 4 p.m., ESPN2: With Bob Wischusen, Bob Davie and Jeannine Edwards
== Mississippi at Mississippi State, 4 p.m., ESPNU: With Clay Matvick, Brian Griese and Allison Williams
== Washington State vs. Washington in Seattle, 4:30 p.m., Versus: With Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila
== Clemson at South Carolina, 4:45 p.m., ESPN: With Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
== Notre Dame at Stanford, 5 p.m., Channel 7: With Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox

The NFL TV games in L.A. for Week 12:


== Green Bay at Detroit, 9:30 a.m., Channel 11: With Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
== Miami at Dallas, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2: With Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.
== San Francisco at Baltimore, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network: With Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock


== Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, 10 a.m., Channel 2: With Marv Albert and Rich Gannon (instead of Houston-Jacksonville or Cleveland-Cincinnati. Fox also has Minnesota-Atlanta, Tampa Bay-Tennessee, Carolina-Indianapolis and Arizona-St. Louis in this window)


== Denver at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 2: With Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts (instead of New England-Philadelphia)
== Chicago at Oakland, 1 p.m., Channel 11: With Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa (instead of Washington-Seattle)
== Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: With Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya


== N.Y. Giants at New Orleans, 5:30 p.m., ESPN: With Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski

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The NL MVP case for Kemp: Too close to call?


At the point just west and down the hill from Dodger Stadium, where Elysian Park Drive empties into Sunset Blvd., the Dodgers a posted a billboard congratulating Clayton Kershaw for winning the National League Cy Young Award last week.

To the left of it is another billboard showing Matt Kemp in action.

There are no words on it.


Let’s fill in the blank.

If Kemp is not named the NL’s Most Valuable Player when today’s Baseball Writers Association of America voting is released, it wouldn’t be any act of vandalism against him or the team.

And if he somehow shares the award with his friend, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, there’d be no crime in that, either. With Braun hailing from Granada Hills High, there’d be a celebration in L.A. either way.

But in the Dodgers’ long-term planning department, there’s a reason why their 27-year-old center fielder was valuable enough to sign to an eight-year contract extension last week. He’s come to be worth the price of admission, if Dodger fans are actually coming to games.

But did his 2011 season hold enough value for the team’s marketing department to stand by with a billboard glue gun this morning?

Yes, because:

Continue reading “The NL MVP case for Kemp: Too close to call?” »

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Play It Foward: Nov. 21-27 on your sports calendar

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



College football: UCLA at USC, Coliseum, 7 p.m., FSW:


Matt Barkley or Rick Neuheisel: Who leaves the field after the game pretty much knowing he’s never coming back to this rivalry game?

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Barkley is 2-0 in the series as the USC quarterback; Neuheisel is 0-3 as a UCLA coach. Yet, at a moment where the Bruins could win and get to the first Pac-12 title game, and the Trojans can win and still have nothing to celebrate past a 10-win season, here’s another episode of “Saturday Night Live” at the Coliseum — three times playing this annual rivalry game after dark after almost always being an afternoon affair for the city title. Last time at the Coliseum, there was almost a mid-field brawl because of how Pete Carroll’s team insisted on laughing it up in celebrating a 48-yard TD pass from Barkley to Damian Williams instead of just running out the clock with less than a minute to go. Maybe that had something to do with setting off that ugly parking lot incident before last year’s game at the Rose Bowl, when dozens of tailgaters who had all afternoon to drink it up ended up sluggling it out, resulting in two stabbings, three arrests and two police officers injured. Seems like there’s been a certain repetitiveness to the game, aside from the fact that USC has scored 28 points in the last three meetings and won them all. And if you’re looking for the usual sibling storylines: USC junior defensive back T.J. McDonald is the older brother of UCLA redshirt freshman defensive back Tevin McDonald, and USC senior defensive back Marshall Jones might end up putting a tackle on younger brother and UCLA sophomore running back Malcolm Jones, both out of Oaks Christian. Other than all that, this one means nothing much.


College basketball: UCLA vs. Chaminade, Maui Invitational, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:


Try to get your head around this, Reeves Nelson: Even if the Bruins lost this one to the NCAA Division II Silverswords, it wouldn’t be as a ranked team, and definitely not nearly the earth-shaking event as when the Ralph Sampson-led, top-ranked Virginia team came to the islands nearly 30 years ago and somehow were slayed in one of the biggest college basketball regular-season upsets ever. UCLA’s 0-2 mark pales to the 3-0 mark owned by tournament host Chaminade — no matter that their wins are over Tahiti, Western Oregon and St. Martins. They’re still wins. We’re not sure if UCLA could even register one of those in an intrasquad game at this moment. One way or another, UCLA faces Kansas or Georgetown on Tuesday, and at least one more on Wednesday (take your pick from Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee or Duke).

NFL: Kansas City at New England, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

Check it out: The last time the Chiefs faced the Patriots was the 2008 opener. Tom Brady tore up his knee, Matt Cassel came off the bench and started the rest of the way, earning himself the QB job and, eventually, some big free agency money in Kansas City after Brady returned. Now, Cassel, the former Chatsworth High standout from USC, has hurt his hand and it out for the season as the Chiefs’ QB, so the unproven Tyler Palko will make his first career NFL start.

NHL: N.Y. Islanders at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m., Versus:

Sidney Crosby’s comeback starts here, playing for the first time in nearly 11 months.


NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 4:30 p.m., Versus:


The Blues have gone 4-0-2 under new coach Ken Hitchcock and lowered their goals-against average to less than one a game.

College basketball: USC vs. Morgan State, Galen Center, 7 p.m.:

The Trojans really lost to Cal Poly the other night? Hmmmm. This second-round of the Las Vegas Invitational still isn’t in Vegas. But eventually, the Trojans play host UNLV (Friday, 4:30 p.m., and then go up against either North Carolina or the other USC known as South Carolina (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.,, or 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2, if it’s against the Tar Heels). It’s a gamble either way.


NHL: Kings at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., FSW:

Dallas started the season 11-3 but has lost five in a row and racked up 53 penalty minutes in their last defeat against San Jose. “We’re in a hole, and you can’t just jump out of a hole this deep, you have to kind of dig your way up and dig your way out and I thought we were moving in that direction,” Stars rookie coach Glen Gulutzan said. Dallas will have a new owner by the time this one is played after the league officially approved the franchise sale to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi.



NFL: Green Bay at Detroit, 9:30 a.m., Channel 11; Miami at Dallas, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2; San Francisco at Baltimore, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:

The 10-0 Packers trying to drum the Lions are no match for Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh family feud in the late-afternoon finale while eating pumpkin pie.

College football: Texas at Texas A&M, 5 p.m., ESPN:

The Lone Star Showdown is always good for putting some kind of mess in Texas.



College football: Arkansas at LSU, 11:30 a.m., Channel 2; Iowa at Nebraska, 9 a.m., Channel 7; Boston College at Miami, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Pittsburgh at West Virginia, 4 p.m., ESPN; Cal at Arizona State, 7:15 p.m,, ESPN; Colorado at Utah, 12:30 p.m., FSW:

Tyler Wilson’s Razorbacks (10-1), up to No. 3 in the BCS, benefit most from the losses last weekend suffered by Oklahoma State, Oregon and Oklahoma, moving up to this battle against the No. 1 Tigers for the latest game-of-the-year matchup (three SEC teams in the top three spots now?) See how Arkansas players react while mourning the death of freshman tight end Garrett Uekman.


College football: Ohio State at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 7; Oregon State at Oregon, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Penn State at Wisconsin, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Notre Dame at Stanford, 5 p.m., Channel 7; Alabama at Auburn, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2; Washington State vs. Washington in Seattle, 4:30 p.m., Versus; Georgia at Georgia Tech, 9 a.m., ESPN; Florida State at Florida, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Clemson at South Carolina, 4:45 p.m., ESPN:


Urban Meyer might not be the best person in the ESPN/ABC booth for the Buckeyes-Wolverines, considering, well, you know, he could be the next Ohio State coach. And if there’s a way to check out the new ESPN documentary, “Roll Tide/War Eagle,” do so before tracking down the Alabama-Auburn rivalry renewal game.

NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

The Blackhawks were the first team to 12 wins after 20 games in the Western Conference, second in the league with an average of 3.4 goals per contest, sparked by Marian Hossa. And suffering a 9-2 loss against Edmonton last Saturday.


NFL: Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4; Denver at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 2; Chicago at Oakland, 1 p.m., Channel 11; Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, 10 a.m., Channel 2:

The Tebow traveling circus comes to San Diego for an important AFC West matchup. The Bears stay in the AFC West as well. By the way, New England is also at Philadelphia today. Think anyone cares about that one anymore?


Tennis: ATP Barclays World Tour, final match, 9:30 a.m., ESPN2:

Mardy Fish must feel like a fish out of water in the season-ending men’s pro tennis event, having to go up against Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. But being Top 8 in the world means he’s qualified to be at the 02 Arena in London. Djokovic enters with the daunting record of 69-4 this year and 10 titles, more than $10 million in winnings, and having secured a place in this thing way back in May. The world top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan are also set to be here (their final is at 7:30 a.m. on Tennis Channel).

College basketball: 76 Classic final, from Anaheim, 6 p.m., ESPN2:

Boston College, Santa Clara, Villanova, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington State are among the schools that came over on Thanksgiving break. The semifinals are Friday. The third-place game is today at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Then we all go to Disneyland. Sooners coach Lon Kruger won this tourney a year ago — as coach at UNLV. And the Lobos’ Drew Gordon played in this event before — while at UCLA.

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The Russell-Gehrig bat auction doesn’t quite reach half-mil mark


The Louisville Slugger that Lou Gehrig used in a 1939 exhibition game against the Dodgers to hit his last home run in a Yankees uniform yielded $403,664 as the SCP Auctions’ November sale closed on Saturday, the Orange County-based company reported.

There were 16 bids made on the bat that originated from the estate of actor Bing Russell, which had been in possession his daughter, Jill Franco. She is the mother of former MLB player Matt Franco (Westlake High) and the brother of actor Kurt Russell.

A story featuring the story behind the bat was in last Sunday’s L.A. Daily News (linked here).

The record high for a baseball bat at auction was $1.265 million in 2005 for the one Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run at old Yankee Stadium on opening day in 1923.

A bat once owned by Shoeless Joe Jackson ($577,610) and the one Kirk Gibson used to hit his 1988 World Series Game 1 homer ($576,000) also broke the half-million mark.

SCP managing director Dan Imler had estimated that the Gehrig bat had “all the characteristics of a record-setting piece.”

Two other items from the Russell family were sold: A 1941 Joe DiMaggio game-used bat that was signed by the New York Yankees team ($21,780) and a 1938 Babe Dalghren game-used Louisville Slugger ($3,691).

The largest piece of sports memorabilia at the auction was $460,741 spent on a 1974 ABA New York Nets championship ring that belonged to Hall of Famer Julius Erving.

The 144-item Erving collection brought in more than $3.5 million, which included the sale of his 1983 76ers NBA championship ring ($244,240), as well as his NBA All-Star rings from 1978 ($238,853), 1983 ($218.977) and 1984 ($218,977). Erving’s 1976 Nets ABA championship ring ($195,396), his 1980-81 NBA Most Valuable Player trophy ($177,632) and his 1975-76 ABA MVP trophy ($173,102) also went in the sale.

The winning bidders request to remain anonymous, SCP Auctions reported.

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How the Ironman can bring someone like Tracy Tucker-Georges to her knees — but not stop her

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Tracy Tucker-Georges poses during a hike in February earlier this year.

She’s already is an ironman.

Or, to be more gender specific, an ironwoman.

It’s just that a lot of the starch has been taken out of Tracy Tucker-Georges lately.


Sunday was supposed to be her second consecutive Arizona Ironman competition – a 2.4 mile swim in Tempe Town Lake, a 112-mile bike ride in the Sonora Desert, and then a 26.2 mile marathon around Tempe. The hope was to improve on her time of the 15 hours, seven minutes and 37 seconds that she logged a year ago.

Recent knee surgery – again – has prevented the nurse who works at an orthopedic sports medicine practice in Van Nuys from taking part. She instead made the trek as volunteer, to root on her friends. Just as she did in 2008 – and then, on a dare, signed up to run in in ’09.

By going back this time, she fears the worse – that she’ll get sucked into registering for the 2012 race when applications are available starting Monday.

“It’s a slippery slope, you know,” said the 47-year-old mother living in Northridge with two teenaged daughters and a husband, Chris, who works in commercial real estate.

Her story has already been told, to some degree. Tucker-Georges is featured in the new book called “You Are An Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon.” (The Viking Press, $27.95, 290 pages, linked here)

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Author Jacques Steinberg, a New York Times journalist, set out to examine why seemingly average people without a lot of athletic background submit themselves to the insanity of this particular event, especially when the financial costs would seem to be as high as the toll it often takes on the participant as well as the family.

For the most part, Steinberg wrote, taking part is “essential to keeping them physically and mentally healthy, if not alive.”

Tucker-Georges fits the template. But in this book, she takes readers on something of an unexpected detour.

Spoiler alert: She’s the only one of the six who doesn’t actually make it to the ’09 race that Steinberg builds up to, having injured her knee in a training race at Camp Pendleton.

Tucker-Georges is almost tuckered out, constantly full of determination butting heads with anxiety, using self-effacing humor and colorful language to keep her head up. But she’s definitely wired to keep trying.

To date, Tucker-Georges has had five knee surgeries, including tearing both ACLs twice. It’s caused her once to lament on her blog ( “I feel like I really picked a bad sport to fall in love with.”

She explained: “I’m a mess. My body, I feel, keeps failing me. I’m one step away from knee replacement. This has been a constant fight with my body, and I’m really trying to find ways around it, because I want to continue this. Even if I have to come to grips with the fact I may never run again – if I have to walk the marathon, then I will. I won’t quit.”

Tucker-Georges’ internal tug-o-war resonates with those who’ve even briefly contemplated an attempt at such a body-battering gauntlet, one that’s far more simple survival than trying to finish first in the field.

Why would she keep beating herself up over this?

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In another blog entry, included in the book, she writes:

“I get worried that I am just a 44 year old, plain suburban mother, married with two teenaged girls, who averages 15 miles per hour on her bike. Seriously, are there not hundreds of thousands of people like me trying to get by in life and train for an Ironman, too? This is where the insecurity lies: that I am a nobody! Average Jane! Who would be inspired by me and my training for an Ironman?

Then, she answers her own question:

“Perhaps other Average Janes or Joes. Perhaps some of the people I work with who think it’s ‘insane,’ but who have a certain respect for me knowing what I am doing. Or maybe my dauther’s friends who think I am ‘awesome.’ Maybe I just need to accept it: I am signed up, gonna do the training and do my best to kick some Ironman ass! And by ‘kick ass,’ I mean, get to the finish line with some semblance of a huge smile on my face and try to do the ‘running man’ down the finish-line chute! My daughters get really embrassed by my dancing when I do it … so I thought it would be appropriate.”

The grind of the journey is as important as the euphoric destination.

She believes very much that she’s a product of her zodiac sign: A strong-willed Scorpio who is extremely passionate, not afraid to try something if it helps her learn more about herself.

“It’s crazy, it’s insane, I know,” she said. “I know my doctor would say it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing. But that’s what I want to do.”

The more she’s traveled in the last few months, some of it on tour for the book, another trip last month to Kona, Hawaii to witness firsthand the Ironman World Championship, the more she realizes that her story makes an impression.

“I don’t take complements well,” admitted Tucker-Georges, who did the 2006 L.A. Marathon and frequently trains with triathlons. “But it is neat to hear people say they’re inspired. One of my co-workers did her first 10K after it, and she told me that I was her inspiration.

“It doesn’t have to be an Ironman. Just get out there and do it. It’s awesome.”

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