A (self-serving) appreciation of weekly media sports column, thanks to a bunch of sports broadcasters who refrained from throwing food at me

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Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers
Why you don’t let a sports writer get up in front of a group of sportscasters and try to make a speech. It’s quickly obvious why you’re a writer. Especially when you go off script.

It’s really, really nice to be recognized and appreciated.
And even nicer to be employed.
Survival of the fittest isn’t really the best way to address the current extinction of the mainstream sports media columnists, particularly those native to the Southern California market.
There are too many other factors in play here.
As Bob Miller introduced me at Monday’s 21st annual awards lunch for the Southern California Sports Broadcasters, the group appreciates the fact I’m the last remaining weekly columnist in the area writing about the media. They’ve given me this nice glass microphone as their token of that.
I hope not to break it by accident as I clear a space for it on my desk populated with stacks and stack of papers and things.

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Play It Forward: Jan. 30-Feb. 5 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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Super Bowl XLVI: New England vs. N.Y. Giants, Sunday in Indianapolis, 3:30 p.m., Channel 4:

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Neither the Patriots nor the Giants are like a virgin when it comes to Super Bowl history — not like Madonna, who will be the one dragged out this year for the 12-minutes-of-agony halftime show. More to the point, aside from their names, there’s not a lot new when you’re putting New England and New York together in the same sandpit. What’s old is what everyone wants to talk about. Like how the Giants outlasted the Patriots in Week 9, 24-20, at Foxboro, Mass., when Eli Manning capped off a final drive by hitting Jake Ballard on a 1-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left. “I knew we would win,” Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. “It definitely took me back to the Super Bowl.” That would be the older news, when Manning rallied the Giants to a 17-14 victory in the 2008 title game, hitting Plaxico Burress on a 13-yard TD with 35 seconds to go and ending the Patriots’ perfect season. “I’d rather be down by three with a minute-thirty (left) than up by four with a minute-thirty with Tom Brady, with their offense on the field,” Manning said after the recent regular-season win. “You like those situations where you have an opportunity to go win the game.” Now, on the field where his brother, Peyton, may never play again, Eli will be the Manning on the spot. The Giants, just 9-7 in the regular season, have been playing elimination football since having to win three of their last four games just to make the playoffs, then snatching three playoffs victories — the last two on the road. The 13-3 Patriots didn’t beat anyone with a winning record until the AFC title game — including that rout of 8-8 Denver in the first round. But they haven’t lost since the last meeting with the Giants, pilling up 10 in a row and averaging more than 35 points a contest during the stretch. Since each team has suspect defenses — the Giants have given up 376.4 yards a game, which is better than the Patriots’ 411.1 a week — this could get pretty offensive. Like, say, Madonna dragging out her training bra-cones. They say revenge games make for better storylines. Even if a Packers-Broncos matchup might have been far more compelling.

MONDAY

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NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Russell Westbrook said he hopes his decision to make a long-term commitment to stay with OKC will end rumors of a rift between him and fellow All-Star Kevin Durant. “I wish it would have never started,” the former UCLA standout said at a press conference to announce his five-year, $80 million contract extension. “Me and Kevin get along great on and off the floor, and now we’re going to be together for at least five more years. Hopefully we can stay together.” Meanwhile, Eddie Johnson of HoopsHype.com came out with his top 25 players in the NBA at this moment. While Durant wedged himself in at No. 4, Westbrook has made it to No. 12. “If Westbrook realized 17 and 10 is better than 20 and 5, he would be considered the second best point guard on the list (behind No. 10 Chris Paul),” wrote Johnson. “He is the best athletic PG I have ever seen, but his demeanor on the court is deflating and needs to change if he ever wants to move up further on this list.” Humpf.

TUESDAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. Charlotte, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

And you thought the Washington Wizards were bad? These Bobcats lost twice to the Wiz last week, have an eight-game losing streak and, at 3-18 coming into this week, stand with the worst record in the league. Despite the fact 21-year-old rookie guard Kemba Walker (20 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) recorded a triple-double the other night. But then again, we know what kind of trouble — with a capital T — the Lakers seem to have with Charlotte over the years.

WEDNESDAY

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

The Kings come off an All-Star layoff that lasted, what, nine weeks? And Jonathan Quick isn’t even well rested, having been forced to play in Ottawa for the annual exhibition. One of the few Blue Jacket victories this season was just a couple of weeks ago at Staples Center, when goalie Curtis Sanford recorded the team’s only shutout, 1-0, in an afternoon contest where Quick had to take the loss, giving up that one late goal.

NBA: Clippers at Utah, 7:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:

The Clippers were in Salt Lake City just a couple of weeks ago — and embarrassed in a 29-point loss where the Jazz had a 56-36 advantage on points in the paint, 16 off dunks — five of which were alley-oops.

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High school football: National college signing day: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., ESPNU; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network:

Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel is part of the CBS coverage, and new Bruins head man Jim Mora Jr., is supposed to be one of the coaches interviewed to assess their team’s talent haul. On ESPN’s coverage, the network says at least 10 players, four of whom are ranked No. 1 at their position on the ESPNU 150, will make the college commitment decisions live on their show.

THURSDAY

College basketball: UCLA at Washington, 6 p.m., ESPN2; USC at Washington State, 7 p.m.:

The fact that the Huskies share the lead in the Pac-12 to this point is beside the point. The last time the Bruins won in Seattle, freshman Trevor Ariza scored five of his 21 points in overtime to secure a victory in 2004, upping UCLA’s overall mark to 11-17. Nate Robinson had 18 points and Brandon Roy had 16 for the Huskies.

NBA: Clippers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:

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Nuggets coach George Karl said it about the fact his team plays in L.A. tonight, then goes home the next night to meet up with the Lakers, then has to fly to Portland for the third game in three nights on Saturday: “That has to be the most sadistic three games that the NBA doled out this year. If anyone else has three tougher games in a row, I’d like to hear about it.” Add to the fact that the Clippers and Nuggets played each other just the other night.

FRIDAY

NBA: Lakers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

The Grammy Awards are just around the corner, meaning this is the first of six in a row away from Staples Center for the Lakers until Feb. 12. Meaning, they sweep, and they’re finally over the .500 mark on the road. Sure. Ninety-two points was good enough for the Lakers to beat the Nuggets on Dec. 31. Ninety wasn’t enough to beat them in Denver on Jan. 1. Either way, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol enjoyed large point production in each.

NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m., FSW:

The first of six in a row on the road for the Kings, who’ve already defeated the Blues twice this year, once with each goalie. It’s the Blues’ first game since Jan. 24 — 11 days off — and they’ve lost two in a row, to Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Men’s college volleyball: UCLA at USC, Galen Center, 7 p.m.:

The latest USA Today poll had the 9-1 Bruins (4-0 in the MPSF) at No. 3 and the 4-3 Trojans (3-3 in league) at No. 5, but that was before they had a three-game match losing streak in there.

SATURDAY

NBA: Lakers at Utah, 6 p.m., Channel 9:

The Lakers’ first (and, for a long time, only) road win of the year happened on Jan. 11. Here in Salt Lake City. In overtime. Thanks to 40 points from Kobe.

NBA: Clippers at Washington, 4 p.m., Prime:

And the Clippers start a six-game roadie in D.C, again missing an invite to the White House, but allowing themselves a chance to marvel at just how spectacular a dunker JaVale McGee can be.

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NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame announcement, 1 p.m., NFL Network:

Two former Los Angeles Rams — running back Jerome Bettis and defensive end Kevin Greene — join former Los Angeles Raiders receiver Tim Brown among the 12 candidates up for induction. Expect former coach Bill Parcells to get enough love for enshrinement.

NHL: Kings at Carolina, 4 p.m., FSW:

Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward tied a franchise record with his 2-1 win against the Jets last week. He’s given up two or fewer goals in nine consecutive games (5-2-2, 1.54 GAA), tying the single-season Hartford/Carolina record established by Arturs Irbe in 1999 and by Kevin Weekes in 2002.

College basketball: UCLA at Washington State, 2 p.m., USC at Washington, 8 p.m., FSW:

The last time that the Trojans won in Seattle? Just last March, 62-60, when Jio Fontan scored 20 points and Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Those were the days.

Series: “Feherty Live from Super Bowl XLVI,” Golf Channel, 10 p.m.:

Before the second season of David Feherty’s chat show begins in late February, he’ll do this hour-long special, performing before a live theater audience and bringing on folks from the sports and entertainment field.

SUNDAY

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Bowling: Chris Paul Celebrity Invitational, 1 p.m. ESPN:

The Clippers’ new kingpin does his annual charity event on the hardwood, taped a couple of weeks ago at Lucky Strikes in L.A. Live. Blake Griffin, Reggie Bush, Michael Strahan, Jerry Ferrara and Drew Carey joined in.

Golf: PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., final round, noon, Channel 2:

Don’t waste this opportunity for some pre-kickoff golf on Super Bowl Sunday from the course where yelling is encouraged.

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How Kim Gilbert plans to paddle her way back into table tennis’ Olympic-sized pool of talent again

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Staff photo by David Crane

Along with a little bravado, Kim Gilbert has a lot of history on her side.

Now it’s just a matter of how far that, and the 47-year-old’s reputation as once being one of the country’s top competitors in table tennis, will take her this time at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

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There’s a story she has clipped from the Daily News dated July 23, 1986, along with a photo of her looking intense as she’s winding up to slam a return. Gilbert was routinely whipping male competitors at the then-Hollywood Table Tennis Center in the middle of a career that had already taken her to victories in U.S. Open and Olympic Festival tournaments.

Her resume from 1981 on had included junior, state and national level championships.

ESPN did a piece on her to record her reflexes and she broke the Olympic Festival record with a .14 of a second reaction time. By comparison, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps fastest reaction time off the blocks was .64 of a second.

She could have made a North American team that would be part of the 1988 Summer Olympics, but because of limited female spots did not make the final cut.

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Gilbert regrouped for the 1992 Olympic team, which would be made up of U.S.-only players this time. But just before the trials, the heel of a shoe she was wearing broke. She slipped on a curb in Santa Monica, braced herself with her right arm on the concrete and shattered the forearm into 15 pieces.

“I was devastated,” she said.

After four years of surgeries to rebuild it and another two years before she was brave enough to try playing again; Gilbert realized it was too painful and just wasn’t going to happen. She had to quit a game that she took up at age 14 while at Palisades High, and included intense training for two years in France and England during that time.

“I had to reinvent myself,” she admitted.

That meant the next 18 years of working in marketing, producing benefit concerts, and starting up a file management business.

Recently, while working for Dial800, a Los Angeles based marketing optimization firm, she took up the game again after turning down a complimentary offer to join a local gym.

“I was shocked — it felt as if I left the game for just a couple of minutes,” Gilbert said. “You’d have never known I hadn’t played in so long. Complete muscle memory.”

She then began training and eventually coaching at the Gilbert Table Tennis Center in Los Angeles. The muscles in her arm that had atrophied became stronger just from playing.

She soon hooked up with actress Susan Sarandon, who started a SPiN Hollywood nightclub inside the Mondrian Hotel that included the desire for table tennis experts to put on exhibitions and avail challenges to their patrons.

Gilbert was added to the weekly line-up of pros, taking on high-end clients who wanted to learn the sport. There is trend afoot through SPiN whereby ping-pong is being used in business as a way of breaking the ice between executives because on the “court” everyone is made equal by virtue of their competitive spirit and enthusiasm for the game.

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As her skills improved, she grew confidence and secured corporate sponsorship with Dial800 and Hama Sushi of Venice to compete in the 2010 and 2011 U.S Open championships again – and was a semifinalist in the over-40 divisions.

Her performance against some of the top-ranked players in the country was good enough for her. Even better was the support of her employer Dial800 who has built a culture that believes in a living and working balance and is delighted to support Kim’s efforts with both a flexible scheduling and actual event sponsorship.

Soon enough, Gilbert got an invite to the 2012 Olympic trails, set for Feb. 9-12 in Cary, North Carolina (linked here).

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The current U.S. Table Tennis rankings automatically put the top 10 women into the Trials – that includes Thousand Oaks teenager Ellen Hwang and Arcadia teen Erica Wu. Gilbert has been seeded No. 12, meaning she’ll have to play some extra qualifying matches. All matches will be best of four out of seven games to 11 points.

Let’s be realistic. The odds of Gilbert making the U.S. Olympic table tennis team at age 47 are stacked against her at best.

“But in competition, anything can happen. I know I can give some of these girls a run for their money – and I’ve got nothing to lose” the Los Angeles native admitted the other day. “I’m gunnin’ for them, and they’d better watch out.”

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Staff photo by David Crane

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The ‘Luck’ that went into HBO’s latest miniseries

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(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Dustin Hoffman arrives at the premiere for the HBO series “Luck” on Wednesday night at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The first episode airs Sunday.

By Beth Harris
The Associated Press

David Milch had the script for a horse racing drama kicking around in his head for 30 years. The screenwriter and producer was just too busy living it to put words to paper.

As a 6-year-old, Milch first accompanied his father to the racetrack in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He was too young to wager, but Milch’s father worked things out anyway.

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“‘You want to gamble, don’t you? Well, you can’t gamble because you have to be 18 years old,’” Milch (right) recalled his father telling him. “‘I’ve set it up with Max the waiter. He’ll run your bets for you.’”

That mixed message sent Milch off on a lifelong fascination with the track and an eventual gambling addiction. Along the way, he owned two Breeders’ Cup champions.

Milch’s portrait of horse racing’s seedier side comes to life in the drama series “Luck,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, debuting Sunday on HBO.

He couldn’t write it sooner “because I had to quit gambling,” he said.

The nine-episode first season was filmed at sun-dappled Santa Anita in Arcadia, an art deco racetrack set against the San Gabriel Mountains. Milch has won and lost money there, but he said he never hit the betting windows during shooting.

“You can’t do what we were doing and conduct yourself that way,” he said. “It’s disrespectful to the material and distorts everything that you’re doing. I had to let that go.”

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Weekly media column version 01.27.12

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Staff photo by Brittany Murray
At a booth in the Redondo Beach Cafe, Daryl Evans can camp out near a wall of Kings’ memorabilia that includes his signed jersey. And his protein smoothies on the menu.

What’s in today’s media column: A feature on former Kings’ “Miracle on Manchester” hero Daryl Evans (linked here), and the Top 10/Bottom 5 list of the game analysts in Southern California.

What’s not in today’s column: A couple of footnotes to the “Miracle on Manchester” game.

Did you know: Evans was assessed a 10 minute misconduct penalty, as were a handful of others, after a scrum broke out with 9:56 to play and the Oilers up, 5-2. Evans happened to be on the ice and grabbed another Oilers player — and back in those days, everyone who didn’t go back to the bench was given penalties. The incident occured when Wayne Gretzky was either pushed or took a dive into the corner, leading to his teammates coming to his defense.

Here’s a video clip of that from the Kings’ telecast, with Bob Miller and Nick Nickson describing it:

So with less than 10 minutes left, and Evans out for at least the rest of regulation, you’d have thought they’d have gone back to the dressing room and started to hit the showers.

“I didn’t think it was over,” said Evans, who just witnessed the two teams slug out a 10-8 game — the Oilers’ victory to open the series. “Maybe I was just a naive kid coming out of junior hockey, but we were only town three goals. If could get another …

“Being so young at that time (21 years old), I learned to appreciate what actually transpired. Now looking back, wow, it’s really something special. Just look at the personnel at that team – and that’s the best thing that ever happened to that team. We made them. We taught them a lesson they didn’t like and made them dig in their heels and go other way. Maybe it was a defining point in franchise history for both teams.”

Here’s how it played out:

And there’s this video tribute that the Kings put together when honoring Evans earlier this year as part of their “Legends” series:

More of Evans in the community:

== A skate and strategy session with a youth group:

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== Visiting with a long-time fan at last week’s 5K run at Staples Center — someone who’s proud to say he saw the “Miracle on Manchester” first-hand:

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== Part of another blood drive:

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== And helping out a young fan with … a fishing pole?

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Coming up next Friday: The best and worst of the play-by-play guys. Scully vs. the field. Who’s got the best odds?

Photo credits: Los Angeles Kings, Kings Care Foundation.

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Coming Friday: The best/worst of L.A. game analysts is fit for a former King

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Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Kings
Daryl Evans, right, has been working with Nick Nickson on the Kings’ radio broadcasts since 1999.

Friday’s third installment of the 20th annual best and worst of the L.A. sports media focuses on the game analysts. We’ve got a feature on Kings radio man Daryl Evans – nearly 30 years after his game-winning goal capped the Miracle on Manchester, he’s about to reach a milestone of 1,000 games as a broadcaster. That’s a career he never really thought he’d be getting into so deep, but he’s adapted and made it work.

More than just an Interesting side note: Evans and Jim Fox are two of some 20 former Kings players who moved into the broadcasting field after their NHL playing days, spanning the last two decades.

Through research by statistician Doug Mann, who works with Fox and Bob Miller on the FSW telecasts, more than a dozen of them are still in the broadcast business, believed to be the most in any sport who are alums of the same team

Evans, a right-winger drafted by the Kings in 1981 and in L.A. through 1985, has been the radio analyst since 1999. Fox, a right winger drafted 10th overall by the Kings in 1980, played all nine NHL seasons in L.A. until 1990 when he began as a Kings broadcaster on TV.

The Kings’ alumni list in broadcasting includes:

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== Mike Alison: Right wing for Kings from 1987-’90; worked as Kings radio analyst from 1995-’98.

== Pat Conacher: Center for Kings from 1992-’96; worked on Anaheim Ducks radio.

== Darren Eliot: Goaltender drafted by Kings in 1980, played in L.A. from 1984-’87; works a studio analyst for Fox Sports Detroit on Red Wings broadcast, also worked for Versus and Fox Sports South on the Atlanta Thrashers telecasts.

== Brian Engblom: Defenseman for Kings from 1984-’86; former Kings radio analyst from 1991-’95, works as color analyst for Winnipeg Jets, worked at ESPN, Versus and Columbus Blue Jackets TV.

== Ray Ferraro: Center for Kings from 1995-’99; worked for ESPN and NBC as a studio analyst, now with TSN.

== Garry Galley: Defenseman drafted by the Kings in 1983, played in L.A. from ’84-’87; works at CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and is a TV analyst for the Ottawa Senators.

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== Butch Goring: Center drafted by the Kings in 1969, played in L.A. until 1980; works as an analyst for the N.Y. Islanders TV on MSG Network.

== Tony Granato: Right wing for the Kings from 1989-’96; worked for Minnesota Wild TV. Sister Cammi was a Kings radio analyst in 1998-99.

== Stu Grimson: Left wing for the Kings in 2000-’01; works as a color analyst for Nashville Predators radio, worked as studio analysis on Stanley Cup playoffs for ESPN.

== Glenn Healy: Goalie drafted by the Kings in 1985 and played in L.A. until 1989; a reporter for TSN’s coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs, game analyst for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

== Kelly Hrudey: Goalie for Kings from 1989-’96; works on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada studio team, also did HNIC radio analysis.

== Tom Laidlaw: Defenseman for Kings from 1986-’90,filled in as Kings radio analyst in 1990-’91 season while injured.

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== Marty McSorley: Defenseman for Kings from 1988-’96; worked as a Fox Sports West studio analyst on Kings’ broadcasts from 2005-’06, was a San Jose Sharks game analyst for FSN Bay Area.

== Larry Murphy: Hall of Fame defenseman drafted by Kings in 1980 and played in L.A. until 1984; works as a game analyst for Fox Sports Detroit on Red Wings’ telecasts and a studio analyst on the NHL Network.

== Ed Olczyk: Center for Kings in 1996-’97; works as game analyst on NBC national telecasts and on Chicago Blackhawks games for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV.

== Charlie Simmer: Left wing for Kings from 1977-’85; game analyst on Rogers SportsNet in Toronto for Calgary Flames’ games, former analyst for Phoenix Coyotes.

== Pete Stemkowski: Center ended his career with the Kings in 1977-’78; works as part time game analysis for N.Y. Rangers on ESPN radio, worked in TV and radio on San Jose Sharks games).

== Murray Wilson: Left wing ended his career with the Kings in 1978-’79; works as game analyst on the Montreal Canadiens’ English-language radio broadcasts.

Honorable mention: Barry Melrose, who coached the Kings from 1992-’95, went to ESPN as a studio analyst and has been there almost continuously since 1996.

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Dios mo! TWC about to go backdoor on Clippers coverage, and then make it in a language where “Bingo!” has no translation

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It already has a deal to carry the Lakers on English and Spanish-language channels, starting this fall.

It’ll begin doing Galaxy games in March.

Sooner or later, it will be announced that it also has snagged the rights to the WNBA’s Sparks.

Before it begins to claw its way into the Dodgers’ TV future, Time Warner Cable announced today a way to position itself with the Clippers — starting immediately.

Seven Clippers games between now and April 16, and including the one tonight against the Lakers at 7:30 p.m., will air in Spanish on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 858.

They’ll use play-by-play man Roger Valdivieso and analyst Francisco X. Rivera.

TWC sent out this information about 10 minutes ago. Thanks for the heads up.

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Laker fan vs. Clipper fan, 2012, and how to determine the lines of demarcation

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Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images

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A Lakers-Clippers head-to-head matchup at Staples Center has taken on a much different vibe since the lockout ended in November and all heck broke loose getting the rosters set for the 2011-12 season.

To use a circus analogy: Today’s Clipper fans are apt to show up early to watch the acrobats warm up, then be dazzled by the trapeze artists. No clowning around.

The Lakers fan arrives when he sees a way to make a grand entrance, takes in some of the freak show outside the main tent, then hangs out around the giant elephants to see if it’ll start flapping their ears and actually fly.

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C’mon, show us something we’ve never seen before.

Lob City vs. Rob Lowe still seems to be a rough line of demarcation between what a Clippers and Lakers fan banks on going into the second of three regular-season matchups Wednesday night. As we enlisted the help of those who would know — fans, broadcasters, team execs, more fans — we’ve concluded that the boundaries might also might also be determined by:

VIP PARKING COSTS:
Clippers fan: $50
Lakers fan: $200

AVERAGE TICKET PRICE:
Clippers fan: $104.71
Lakers fan: $171.75

COURTSIDE TICKET VALUE:
Clippers fan (for Jan. 30 vs. Oklahoma City): several choices between $365 and $2,600 on StubHub!
Lakers fan (for Jan. 31 vs. Charlotte): Only two offered on StubHub! for $5,136. Each.
Note: One listed for more than $6,000 on StubHub for tonight’s game

FAVORITE JERSEY TO BE SEEN IN:
Clippers fan: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul
Lakers fan: Magic Johnson

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TYPICAL APPAREL:
Clippers fan: Lob City T-shirt and jeans.
Lakers fan: The exact same Lob City T-shirt, only it’s blank. And costs $200. To go with $500 jeans and $600 sunglasses to be worn indoors.

PRE-GAME MEAL:
Clippers fan: Yard House
Lakers fan: Katsuya

POSTGAME HANGOUT:
Clippers fan: The Pantry
Lakers fan: WP24

TATTOO COUNT:
Clippers fan: 47
Lakers fan: 1 (that can be seen)

ARRIVES TO GAME:
Clippers fan: Ford Explorer with 200,000 miles on it
Lakers fans: A leased Mercedes Benz, with rollover mileage allowance.

TYPICAL COMPANION:
Clippers fan: Wife/brother or sister/son or daughter
Lakers fan: Hot blonde “niece”

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OFF-COURT DIVERSION:
Clippers fan: Clipper Darrell, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp (a friend of Blake Griffin)
Lakers fan: Jack Nicholson, whoever sits next to Nicholson

WHERE CAN I SEE THE OWNER?:
Clippers fan: Courtside (next to Billy Crystal)
Lakers fan: Skybox (next to Playboy bunnies)

STATE OF MIND:
Clippers fan: Contrarian with short-term memory loss (“I’ve told you we were just a point guard away from being great!”)
Lakers fan: Smug frontrunner (“Remember, we traded Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol”)

REACTION TO A 9-5 RECORD:
Clippers fan: We’re on our way!
Lakers fan: We’re on our way to the worst season ever.

BEST RETORT TO OPPOSITE FAN:
Clippers fan: Go back to the Forum.
Lakers fan: Go back to San Diego.

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HOW THEY DEFINE THEMSELVES AS A ‘TRUE FAN’:
Clippers fan: Had season tickets at Sports Arena … in San Diego.
Lakers fan: Doesn’t own a Lakers car flag.

REGRETS ABOUT THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY:
Clippers fan: Kobe Bryant (unless they became a Clipper fan because they were turned off by Bryant)
Lakers fan: Chris Paul

WHAT MAKES THEM RECOIL?
Clippers fan: The feeling of being snake bit
Lakers fan: Criticism of the Black Mamba taking matters into his own hands

DEFINITION OF BAD LUCK:
Clippers fan: Losing another one of their best players to injury.
Lakers fan: Not winning the NBA title.

DANCE TEAM APPEAL:
Clippers fan: Modern hot (The Clippers Spirit team is loud, proud and sexy)

Lakers fan: Retro cool (the same routines and music as they did back at the Forum, along with Lawrence Tanter’s exit line: “Laker girrrrrrrrrls.”)

THE GAME ISN’T OVER UNTIL:
Clippers fan: “Lawler’s Law” kicks in — first team to 100 points wins. How many times have the Lakers scored 100 this season? Once, in 18 games. Clippers? Six in 14 games.
Lakers fan: In a tribute to Chick Hearn, John Ireland asks Mychal Thompson if it’s time to put the game in the refrigerator. Even if many of the younger listeners on radio don’t know that that means anymore.

TRUMP CARD
Clippers fan: Buzz
Lakers fan: Banners

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Lights, please, for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on NBC from Santa Anita this time

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The Breeders’ Cup Classic is coming to prime time for the first time — at least in places due East — starting with this November’s gathering of the top thoroughbreds at Santa Anita.

NBC Sports Group and the Breeders’ Cup announced a multiyear deal for the network to televise the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, starting with the 2012 event.

This year, NBC Sports Network will televise the Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 2 and then do more on Nov. 3 before NBC picks up coverage for the $5 million Classic from 5-to-6 p.m. The races had been on ESPN and ABC in the past, although NBC aired the first races from 1984-2005.

NBC also televises the Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

“Everyone here is delighted that the Breeders’ Cup has returned home,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “Bringing back this prestigious event, combined with our long-term partnerships for the Triple Crown with Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, in addition to the Preakness and Belmont cements the NBC Sports Group as the home of horse racing.”

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Play It Forward: Jan. 23-29 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/Jae C. Hong)
Lakers coach Mike Brown, center, had to be retrained by his assistants after the Lakers’ Darius Morris was pushed by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin during their last meeting on Jan. 14.

NBA: Lakers vs. Clippers, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., FSW, Prime:

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Are style points more important at this stage of the rivalry than actual victories? The Clippers can lose a game to a team like Minnesota, but still get a wack on the fanny for making it entertaining. The Lakers can grind down the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and win by scoring just 73 points, and get wacked in the media for how ugly it looked. But the Lakers, whose deceiving nine game home winning streak was crushed by Indiana on Sunday, are going to remember how the Clippers held onto an eight-point win recently after Chris Paul (33 points, six assists and three steals) ran circles around Derrick Fisher, then pulled his hamstring in the closing minutes. It’s been a little touch-and-go ever since. The Clippers also held a 50-42 rebounding edge, including six more on the offensive end, which seems almost impossible. And Lakers coach Mike Brown still is huffing and puffing that Blake Griffin should have been kicked out for the way he knocked down guard Darius Morris after the whistle blew. If anything, when these two now get together, it’s practically a Western Conference All-Star roster, as the latest voting has determined for the Feb. 26 game. Paul and Kobe Bryant are the leading vote-getters in the backcourt, Griffin is a starter at forward and Andrew Bynum leads at the center spot. The third and final encounter for these two won’t be until April 4, or about three weeks before the end of this abbreviated regular season with the playoff spots looming.

MONDAY

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

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After this, it’s a bit of a vacation for the players for an extended All-Star break — they’re not back until Feb. 1. Seems as if they could use it. Since the hiring of Darryl Sutter before Christmas, they’ve piled up an 8-2-6 record — meaning they’ve picked up 22 out of a possible 32 points in the standings. It beats the direction they were headed, no matter how frustrating these 2-1 losses lately have felt. The Senators, who moved up to No. 8 in the latest NHL ESPN power rankings, come off a 2-1 loss in Anaheim. Still, Ottawa hasn’t allowed more than two goals in its last seven games, and have killed off all 21 opponents’ power plays during that stretch.

TUESDAY

NHL: Ducks at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Prime:

The Ducks’ latest five-game winning surge and 8-0-1 mark in their last nine has caught our attention. Funny thing, even after this run, they can’t get within sniffing distance of the last playoffs spot in the Western Conference.

WEDNESDAY

Men’s college volleyball: Cal State Northridge at UCLA, Wooden Center, 7 p.m.:

Give your regards to 71-year-old Al Scates, winding down his 50th and final season as the Bruins’ coach. UCLA opened its season with a 3-1 win over CSUN in the UCSB Invitational, and has another one left after this against the Matadors, as well as two against USC.

Game show: “Baseball IQ,” 6 and 6:30 p.m., MLB Network:

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Matt Vasgersian, who once hosted FSN’s “Sports Geniuses,” several blackjack and poker shows, and the 2004 International Championship of Rock Paper Scissors, is called on to officiate a new game show where two participants, each representing a team they work for, square off in a baseball trivia contest with a chance to win money for charity. The bracket-style tournament that runs 31 episodes through Feb. 23 started Tuesday. Today, the Dodgers will be represented by Senior Director of Ticket Operations Seth Bluman, a West Hills resident and UCLA alum who flew out to New York for the show’s taping, with a chance to win money for the Dodgers Dream Foundation and ThinkCure. He’ll be going against Greg Marinec, the manager of client relations for the rival San Francisco Giants (in the 6:30 p.m. slot). On Feb. 1, the Angels will be repped by Shane Demmitt, the team’s assistant equipment manager who lives in Northridge and has a degree from Loyola Law School, having been a member of the California State Bar since 2002. He’ll be laying down the law against someone from the rival Texas Rangers.

THURSDAY

Golf: PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open, first round, noon, Golf Channel:

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Home-town favorite Phil Mickelson, who rallied with a 66 to make the cut for the final day at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, returns to Torrey Pines always as the one to watch, especially after losing by just one stroke to Bubba Watson a year ago. About a million miles away, Tiger Woods will tee as well to start his season, over at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates (Golf Channel also has this, at 1 a.m. live). CBS has the last two rounds from San Diego on Saturday and Sunday.

College basketball: UCLA vs. Utah, Sports Arena, 7:30 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Colorado, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m.:

Colorado (13-6, 5-2) has quickly established itself as a force in the new Pac-12, coming off a sweep of the Arizona schools and having won eight of their last 10. The only real blemish in that run — a 20-point loss at Stanford. So why isn’t the Trojans’ game on local TV? FSW has the Washington State-Arizona game instead.

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Winter X Games, 6 p.m., ESPN:

The annual snowstorm of extremism begins in Aspen, Colorado and runs all weekend. No doubt, the memory of freestyle halfpipe skier Sarah Burke, the sport’s favorite competitor who died at age 29 last week during a training run in Utah, will weigh heavily on some athletes. That’s her, above, competing in 2010. at Buttermilk Mountain.

NBA: Clippers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:

Jarrett Jack and Rudy Gay have picked up the scoring slack from the injured Zach Randolph and pushed the Grizzles to a six-game winning streak to start this week. The network doubleheader leads in with Boston at Orlando at 4 p.m.

FRIDAY

Tennis: Australian Open women’s final, midnight (12 a.m. Saturday, replayed at 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday), ESPN2:

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Of the 64 players who made it into the second round of this event, their first names included: Ursulza, Iveta, Lesia, Anabel, Olga, Alberta, Francesca, Romina, Eleni, Galina, Tsvetana, Agnieszka, Ekaterina, Kaia, Greta, Barbora, Angelique, Marion, Anastasia, Vania, Michaella, Aleksandra, Sabine, Shahar, Shuai, Sorana, Sloane and Svetlana. Yet, if the No. 1 seed prevails — a Caroline — we’ll still wonder whatever happened to Serena, the 12th seed who won this thing five times, including back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. She didn’t get to defend her title last year due to injury, and her ankle was giving her trouble coming in here before she finally lost here. With Serena Williams’ ouster, the last American hope is gone Down Under. So is it time for Caroline Wozniacki, who somehow has stayed No. 1 without winning a major, to finally capture one? The semifinals are Wednesday (6:30 p.m., ESPN2).

Series: “Jim Rome Is Burning,” 1:30 p.m., ESPN:

The series comes to an end. After the show, he is out.

SATURDAY

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Figure skating: U.S. Championships in San Jose, women’s free skate, 9 p.m., Channel 4:

Defending champion Alissa Czisny (above), healing from an injury, may still be the one to get past in a field that includes 2008 U.S. champion Mirai Nagasu and 2010 champion Rachael Flatt. Then there’s 20-year-old Ashley Wagner, who moved to Southern California from Maryland so she could train with coach John Nicks and choreographer Phillip Mills at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace. On the men’s side, defending champion Ryan Bradley turned pro, reigning Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek won’t compete yet, and Johnny Weir has got back to training but hasn’t set a return date yet. Instead, two-time U.S. men’s champ Jeremy Abbott will try to reclaim the title he lost in 2011.

NBA: Lakers at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9:

A road trip to Milwaukee isn’t the same as one to Miami or Orlando. But it counts the same in the standings. So this one counts, considering what happened last week in, say, Miami or Orlando. The Lakers are only 1-6 on the road so far. And that’s being generous.

Documentary: “Namath,” HBO, 9 p.m.:

Remember how much Bobby Brady wanted to meet his hero, Joe Namath? If faking sickness was the way to do it, we’d already considered it. He was no Wes Parker, but … “In the mythology of pro football, Joe Namath is Arthur,” says Steve Sabol, the president of NFL Films, who helps produce this 90-minute piece on how the former New York Jets (and one L.A. Rams) quarterback made his legendary mark on the game. “He pulled the proverbial sword from the stone and the NFL became the Camelot of American sports.”

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Still, all “Broadway Joe” did was guarantee his team would win Super Bowl III. He lasted 13 years in the league, made the Hall of Fame, and, at 68, has a Twitter account (@realjoenamath) and a website (www.broadwayjoe.tv). Those who talk about his life and times in the piece range from ESPN’s Suzy Kolber to former players Ben Davidson and Fred Dryer, to actress Ann-Margret. Says Dryer: “That guy was very important to the game of football as a cultural icon, and how he brought professional football into the television era and with it a whole degree of excitement … The likes of him will never ever, ever pass this way again.” He hasn’t been watching Tebow?

Tennis: Australian Open men’s final, midnight (12 a.m., Sunday, replayed at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Sunday), ESPN2:

Roger Federer won the fan vote on the Aussie Open official site: He is officially the “biggest heartthrob on the men’s tour,” taking 36 percent of the poll. His rival, Rafael Nadal, was second with 33.7 percent. Imagine how many hearts would be thumping if these two, seeded third and second respectively, met in the semifinals (which air early Thursday, 12:30 a.m., ESPN2, replayed at 9 a.m. and early Friday, 12:30 a.m., ESPN2). That would leave the victor to likely face — who else — Novak Djokovic.

College basketball: UCLA vs. Colorado, Sports Arena, 1 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Utah, Galen Center, 8 p.m., Prime:

How ugly have the Utes (5-14) done it so far? Of the 344 teams ranked, they’re 336th in the country in points per game (56.4) and 338th in rebounds a game (29.3) as a team. Anyone doing worse? The Trojans. They’re 341st in points (54.0) and 342nd in boards (28.6).

College football: Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., 1 p.m., NFL Network:

Ten players from the Pac-12 will be there, but none from USC or UCLA. Watch for Washington running back Chris Polk and Arizona quarterback Nick Foles.

SUNDAY

NHL All-Star game, Ottawa, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Channel:

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They’re going with that “fantasy draft” format again, as the home-town Senators’ Daniel Alfredsson and the Boston Bruins’ Zdeno Chara pick their squads during a show on Thursday. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and the Ducks’ Corey Parry are the only two local reps. You just hope that Quick doesn’t get some strange vertigo injury like the one that affected the Ducks’ Jonas Hiller for the entire second half of last season after he took a couple pucks to the mask in last year’s annual exhibition.

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NFL Pro Bowl, Honolulu, 4 p.m., Channel 4:

Here’s another annual exhibition where the fans don’t get a vote in who plays. Why not? Of all the changes that could be made for this, that’s one we’d endorse. Otherwise, it’s s $45,000 to each player on the winning side, and $22,500 to the losers. Everyone seems to win. And what would prevent the AFC from adding Tim Tebow to the roster, just for the sake of ratings? Just have him hold on the PATs.

NBA: Lakers at Minnesota, 4 p.m., Channel 9:

You’re not going to allow Kevin Love to pop open for a 3-pointer at the top of the key with the game on the line, now are you? Free up Darko instead. The other weird thing about the Timberwolves — despite a losing record, they have a winning point differential.

NBA: Clippers at Denver, 5 p.m., Prime:

The Nuggets are second in the league averaging better than 104 points a game, and first in team assists. The guy to watch out for: Al Harrington, off the bench. He had 29 in a win over Washington last week, and has scored at least 25 points as a sub almost 20 times in the last three years.

Series premiere: “Luck,” HBO, 9 p.m.:

The first of nine episodes in the David Milch-Michael Mann produced series that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte in the setting of some crazy horse racing and gambling storylines, filmed at Santa Anita Park. Hoffman plays Chester “Ace” Bernstein, released from three years in federal prison and plots revenge. He’s met by his driver and bodyguard, Gus Demitriou (Dennis Farina), who fronts as the owner of the $2 million Irish horse that Ace just bought. Nolte plays a trainer-turned-owner Walter Smith, Jill Hennessey is there as a track vet, Gary Stevens is veteran alcoholic jockey Ronnie Jenkins … scandal ensues.

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