What’s included in today’s year-opening sports media column (linked here): Predictions for the 2012 sports media year. Focused more on how the time is now to batton down the hatches for Time Warner Cable’s list of intended goals. That creepy logo just won’t stop looking at us.
What’s not included:
== A reminder that the reminted NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) has several reairs of its outstanding 90-minute documentary “Cold War on Ice: Summit Series ’72″ that debuted on Jan. 2, revisiting the eight-game series 40 years ago between the Canadian NHL All Stars and the USSR national team.” Ross Greenburg, the former head of HBO Sports, produced this one for the NBC Sports networks.
== CBS Sports Network will reair of the 90-minute Showtime documentary “A Game of Honor” narrated by Gary Sinise on Sunday at 7 p.m., highlighting the season-long journey of the Army and Navy players leading up to their annual rivalry football game.
== The New York Times reports that the Nov. 4 New York Marathon will announce a new TV deal with ESPN2.
== Daily Variety reports (linked here) that Fox Sports will start its own original programming division.
Maybe the reason why the Lakers didn’t sign former UCLA star Baron Davis as a backup point guard recently was because they knew something that other NBA teams didn’t.
The Charlotte Observer observed something else when reporting on why Davis, now a member of the New York Knicks, wasn’t in uniform when playing Charlotte’s Bobcats on Wednesday night.
From USA Today’s “Game On!” blog (linked here), the explanation of why the Observer referred to a “herniated disc” as something far more serious had to come from the newspaper’s damage-control team. In this case, from executive sports editor Mike Persinger (linked here):
“Observer reporter Rick Bonnell wrote the preview box, and in it he wrote that Davis, a former Charlotte Hornet, is recovering from a ‘herniated disc’ in his back. The box was edited by an experienced copy editor, the reporter’s first line of defense, and moved along in the production process as written.
“The next stop was a final read by a second editor, another experienced employee who recognized that ‘herniated disc’ doesn’t conform to the newspaper’s style for that type of injury, and that it should be ‘herniated disk.’ That editor tried to type in the correction, but ended up with an unfortunate typo.
“Because part of that second editor’s job is to send stories to the typesetter, the typo was moved along without another set of eyes to catch the error, and that led to what you saw in today’s paper. And no doubt to a lot of snickering.
“Baron, get well soon.”
Davis tweeted out: “Thanks Charlotte Observer for announcing my new injury. Still able to workout with it. Lol.” He added: “That was a joke people. Excuse the person from the Observer who made a Typo. I was Just having fun. My Goldmember is not herinated. Lol.”
Reader response to the typo on the Observer website included:
From mfrost503: “At least the typo wasn’t made with a bulging disc.”
From Parker Ciambrone: “They say ‘Please refrain from profanity, obscenity’ in the comments, but they can put it in the paper?”
On Dino Costa’s SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio show Wednesday night, Larry King discussed how things are shaking out for those who want to be the next owner of the Dodgers:
“I am part of … Dennis Gilbert’s group. I think there’ll be about seven groups bidding. It’s going to go over a billion. (Steven) Cohen, from New York, big hedge fund guy, he’s in. Magic Johnson has a great group with him. Spoke to Magic the other day and he’s very … everyone thinks they are going to get it. They vetted everyone. What they’re doing this year, is they vet you before the bidding so that once the bid is accepted by (Frank) McCourt and the bankruptcy judge and the league, you’re in. It used to be that you were in and then they vetted you. Now, they pre-vet you.
“(The bidding’s) going to go over a billion. McCourt will pay off his debts. He’ll probably come out making about $200 million and leaving the town … The investors, it’s not just you buy it for a billion. Then you’ve got to put money in. You know, we should be, the Los Angeles Dodgers, should be bidding on [Prince] Fielder. We’re the Los Angeles Dodgers! It’s the second biggest city in America. It’s got great baseball history. It’s a shame that’s what it has become.”
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Joe Torre, right, talks with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig during a news conference last February to announce Torre’s new position as the MLB executive vice president of baseball operations, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Unless Manny Ramirez can convince his knitting circle to form an LLC and submit a robust business plan, there can’t be any more surprise entries in the Dodgers ownership sweepstakes.
Right? Hopefully? Please?
Then again, it does beg the obvious question: Where were all these supposed heavy hitters about eight years ago when Frank and Jamie McCourt seemed to be the only option that Commissioner Bud Selig had when it came to handing over the keys to Dodger Stadium?
Joe Torre’s proclamation today that he’s confident enough in becoming part of the next Dodgers ownership group that he’s willing to quit his paper-pushing job in Major League Baseball’s administration and align himself with popular Southern California real estate mogul Rick Caruso (left) may seen to only add to the confusion of what’s become a quasi-reality show: “Who Wants to be the Next Savior of Los Angeles?”
Because based on all the financials out there, buying this franchise at this juncture can’t be done for any get-rich-quick scheme.
But on our tout sheet, the Torre-Caruso entry may just be the doubleteam that makes everyone else also rans.
If the deadline to submit bids has already been extended to January 23, there could be even more intrigue. When does Time Warner Cable put in a bid, not just for the TV rights, but the whole big blue package?
As per the bankruptcy agreement, the league will approve up to 10 bidders, then turn it all over to McCourt to conduct the sale through an auction.
Then we’re all stuck with it.
If we were to handicap the field, in order of who we’d endorse at this moment based on what they have to offer, insider connections and value-added intangibles, we’d have to go this way:
== The Joe Torre Authority:
Back in April, when we spotted the recently retired Dodgers manager in a suit and tie at the MLB press conference near LAX announcing that J. Thomas Schieffer would serve as the appointed overseer of the Dodgers, the wheels began to turn.
Torre had already aligned himself with the MLB horses who’d be deciding what direction this Dodger drama would go. The thoroughbred horse owner had traded his blue-and-white jersey for jockey silks.
“When you have Joe Torre available to you, you use him,” Schieffer said at the time. “He’ll play a role of helping me understand what’s going on.”
Oh, he knows what’s going on all right.
There are few in the game today who are better aligned with Selig, who calls Torre his “a life-long friend” and one of his lead sounding boards for the last year.
Add Caruso’s spotless reputation with deep L.A. roots, and there’s the perfect companion piece. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: Nine-plus. It could only help Caruso’s odds of someday becoming mayor of L.A.
== The Magic Johnson Theatre of the Absurd:
Despite the former Lakers’ grandstanding involvement to enhance his political future, it really comes down to Stan Kasten’s expertise in team building and the Guggenheim Baseball Management finances backing it that make it a very fluid group. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: A reluctant eight. It could only help Magic’s odds of someday becoming mayor of L.A.
== Larry King and His Court:
The former talk show host and Brooklyn Dodger fan may not be the perfect crusty old visage you’d want out there for this particular group, but it keeps primary investor / well-placed season-ticket holder Dennis Gilbert working under the radar. There’s also a high-level L.A. investment bank, Imperial Capital, tied in here. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: 7.8. The 78-year-old King best announce now that he has no mayoral aspirations.
== The Out of Towner:
Hedge your bets with billionaire extraordinaire Steven Cohen, the 55-year-old Connecticut hedge-fund exec.
He’s supposed to have L.A.-based Wasserman Media Group agent Arn Tellem ready to run the team, former MLB deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg in his corner, the endorsement of big swingers Eli Broad (that’s a plus?) and David Geffen, and a reputed architecture firm drawing up new plans for a new and improved Dodger Stadium. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: Seven. Cohen would have a better upside if he was actually one of the movie-making Coen Brothers. He’s got the bounty, but some SEC things hanging over his head.
== The Peter O’Malley Full Spin-O-Rama:
The former Dodgers owner hasn’t revealed much about who’s on his team. Anyone know if Ron Burkle is hitched up here? Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: Five, and slipping. We trust his instincts. But now would be time to pull the Sandy Koufax card and announce that he’s on board or else O’Malley may peter out fast.
== The Orel Hershiser/Steve Garvey Kennel Club:
The only fancy financier that you’ve made public is the guy who runs a pet food company. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: On all fours. You’ve got to throw us a bigger bone. Lasorda?
== The Fred Claire Prayer:
The former Dodgers general manager always has the best intentions, including bringing in a former team bat boy to arrange the investors. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: Two. It’s got a better chance of a made-for-Lifetime TV script.
== The Mark Cuban Threat:
Twice thwarted in attempts to buy the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, the aptly named maverick owner of the NBA champions Dallas franchise has no need for this, except for ego stroking. Which means he could be all in at any moment. Winning chances, on a scale of 1-to-10: 0.00000001. He’s smart enough not to get rejected again.
== The Citizens Uptight Brigade:
Stanley Stalford’s public ownership group, OwnTheDodgers.com, hasn’t gone away, but it’s been told by the Blackstone Group LP, which is managing the Dodgers’ auction, that it can’t be allowed into the bidding in its current formation.
Stalford’s next plan of attack: A hybrid model.
Once the new owner is decided, the Hancock Park boutique real estate investor said he will approach him about selling off a share to the public via NASDAQ – as Selig allowed the Cleveland Indians to do in 1998.
“We understand the limitations on our proposal and we’re not going to argue with Mr. Selig,” Stalford said Wednesday. “It was important to put that concept out there, but the logistics and the mechanics of this particular sale is the biggest hurdle. So we’ve gone from the world of Utopia to reality. Now instead of a pie-in-the-sky idea, we’d like a slice of the pie. And a seat at the table.”
Because for now, these fans are just fanning the flames away from the next smokescreen investment group.
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NFL wildcard playoffs:
Saturday — Cincinnati at Houston, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 4; Detroit at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Ch. 4.
Sunday — Atlanta at N.Y. Giants, 10 a.m., Ch. 11; Pittsburgh at Denver, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 2:
Take a knee and thank the TV gods that Tim Tebow’s season isn’t over. One of the great storylines of this NFL season has been born again – barely. Give the Denver quarterback a rock and slingshot and maybe he and the Broncos have a chance of taking down the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC wildcard opener. But probably not. Which makes this one all the more compelling. Despite Tebow’s ability to will the Broncos into contention for the AFC West title, they claimed their first playoff trip since 2005 despite having lost their last three in a row and watching the Raiders and Chargers give away their shots at snatching it away only because of a tier of tie-breakers. It’s cause for pause and reflection. Or, as the Global Language Monitor recently acknowledged as an English language word, Tebowing. The website recently said that the word “Tebowing” is about as hot in the language this year as “Obamamania” was in 2008. The word apparently first made an appearance on Oct. 23, when he kneeled after leading the Broncos to an overtime win against Miami. “Sports have become significant generators of new cultural trends and memes that transcend the athletic arena,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “The ESPN sports broadcasting network has widely championed the word. Jared Kleinstein’s tebowing.com website devoted to people posing in the ‘tebowing position’ has been wildly popular. The New York Times has recently carried an editorial on the subject and the Chinese search engine, Baidu.com, already has hundreds of citations for tebowing.” One other QB who could be thankful for being the postseason: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who made it, while Oakland’s Carson Palmer, the guy he replaced, didn’t.
College football: Rose Bowl in Pasadena: Oregon vs. Wisconsin, 2 p.m., ESPN:
Don’t worry. The Rose Bowl Flea Market will take place as scheduled this week on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There may be some old stuffed badgers to pick over. The last two losers of the Rose Bowl will return to see if they can get it right. Two-time Big Ten champion Wisconsin lost the Rose Bowl to TCU last year. Three-time Pac-12 champion Oregon was busted up by Ohio State two years ago before falling in the BCS title game last January.
College football: Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State, 5:30 p.m., ESPN; TicketCity Bowl in Dallas: Penn State vs. Houston, 9 a.m., ESPNU; Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.: Michigan State vs. Georgia, 10 a.m., Channel 7; Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.: Nebraska vs. South Carolina, 10 a.m., ESPN; Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.: Ohio State vs. Florida, 10 a.m., ESPN2:
Remember when the Fiesta Bowl was in jeopardy of being taken out of the BCS rotation after a scandal over bogus political campaign contributions and expense reimbursements got longtime game CEO John Junker fired? Now it has the best match up outside the BCS title game between LSU and Alabama. Let the tortilla chips fall where they may.
NHL Winter Classic: N.Y. Rangers at Philadelphia, noon, Channel 4:
Ryan Howard with some eyeblack in the Flyers’ net at Citizens Bank Ballpark might be the home team’s best chance in the annual outdoor game, as coach Peter Laviolette has been juggling goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky. Some 44,000 are expected to pack it into the baseball stadium, where it’s ideal for hockey: A predicted high of 41 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain. They’ve already moved the faceoff back two hours from the original time to make sure it’s optimial playing conditions.
NHL: Kings vs. Colorado, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Figure out a way to play this outdoors on the LA Live rink, and we’ll be right over. The Kings have won four of their last six with new coach Darryl Sutter and somehow snuck into the Pacific Division lead, although their record is only eighth-best-range in the Western Conference. Darryl Evans, the Kings’ radio analyst and the man who ended with “Miracle On Manchester” with his overtime goal, will be honored as part of the team’s Legends Night Series. Read more at this link.
NBA: Lakers vs. Houston, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
What was Kevin McHale thinking when he agreed to coach these Rockets of Houston?
College football: Sugar Bowl in New Orleans: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
The Sugar Bowl committee decided to take the 13th-ranked Wolverines and 17th-ranked Hokies, passing up No. 8 Boise State and No. 11 Kansas State in the process and putting their credibility on the line. “We thought every team we had an opportunity to select presented us with certain unique credentials,” Sugar Bowl chief executive officer Paul Hoolahan said. “In the final analysis, we just felt the two teams we have chosen really give us in the long run the best opportunity to put together a matchup that will provide a very exciting football game.” Tech, meanwhile, has has trouble selling its 17,500-ticket allotment.
NBA: Clippers vs. Houston, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Chances of Chauncey Billups being up to playing in this one? Check his groin yourself.
College football: Orange Bowl in Miami: Clemson vs. West Virginia, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
The 15th-ranked Tigers and 23rd-ranked Mountaineers made it this far. They might as well let them play it.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Arizona, Honda Center, 8 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Arizona State, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m.:
The Wooden Classic, in early January? That’s how UCLA decided to digest it this year rather than have it against a non-conference foe in December. So this one against the defending Pac-10 champ Wildcats is designated as the annual event to honor the legendary coach. “We just want to kind of keep it going and hopefully next year we’ll get a chance to get it back more on course with four teams and two games,” said Nan Muehlhausen, Wooden’s daughter.
College basketball: BYU at Loyola Marymount, 6 p.m., Prime:
These post-Jimmer Cougars are playing their first season in the West Coast Conference, and already have a win over USD. The Lions (8-6) won their conference opener against USF on Saturday.
NBA: Lakers at Portland, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, TNT:
The Blazers, which started 3-0 before losing to the Clippers last Sunday, may be even better without Brandon Roy.
NHL: Kings vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Last matchup: A 4-3 win against the Coyotes on the day after Christmas, against former Kings goalie Jason LaBarbara.
High school football: Under Armor All-American Game, 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
Taft of Woodland Hills defensive tackle/offensive guard Antwaun Woods, committed to playing at USC next season, will be part of this annual exhibition in St. Petersburg, Fla.
NBA: Lakers vs. Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Staples Center, FSW:
Lakers radio analyst Mychal Thompson gets to see his son, Klay, play for the first time in person as an NBA player. The Warriors took him in the first round out of Washington State. Thompson’s other son, Mychel, out of Pepperdine, has stuck with Cleveland so far.
College football: Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Tex.: Kansas State vs. Arkansas, 5 p.m. Channel 11:
The sixth-ranked Razorbacks were left out of a BCS bowl because of a rule that precludes three teams from a single conference from making a BCS game. Then again, the Cotton Bowl should be a BCS game, and the Fiesta shouldn’t.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Arizona State, Honda Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The last time the Bruins were 0-3 to start conference play was in 1987-88, yet that team rebounded to finish 12-6 and tie for second in the conference. However, they missed the NCAA Tournament, and it cost Walt Hazzard his coaching job.
NHL: Kings vs. Columbus, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW:
The two just met back on Dec. 15, when the Kings nabbed a 2-1 win with a pair of third-period goals to end a five-game losing streak.
NBA: Clippers vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Brandon Jennings (22.7 points a game so far) seems to be feeling like his old self again for the Bucks.
Series: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:35 p.m., Channel 4:
Charles Barkley is the host. Or if he’s a no show, it’s Keenan Thompson dressed as Charles Barkley. Sir Charles hosted the show’s first 2010 episode as well, 16 years after he did his first one coming off an MVP season with the Phoenix Suns.
College football: BVAA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.: SMU vs. Pittsburgh, 10 a.m., ESPN:
SMU coach June Jones thought he had the once vacant Arizona State job. Then the school turned him down and took Pitt coach Todd Graham, who talked to ASU officials after Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson declined to give him permission to do so. Graham then sent a text massages to his players that he was leaving after just one season.
High school football: U.S. Army All-American Bowl, 10 a.m., Channel 4:
Locals involved in this one include Oaks Christian defensive back Ishmael Adams (headed to UCLA) and receiver Jordan Payton (pictured), plus Crespi offensive guard Jordan Simmons (USC) at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
NBA: Lakers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
Gasol vs. Gasol, once again.
College basketball: USC vs. Arizona, Galen Center, 2:30 p.m., FSW:
The Wildcats’ Solomon Hill (Fairfax High) comes back home as the team’s top scorer, rebounder and assist man.
College football: GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala.: Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State, 6 p.m., ESPN:
The MAC and Sun Belt champions get to play on the eve of the national title game. You go, daddy.