Babe Ruth’s earliest known jersey already at record $1.528 million during auction ending Saturday

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Photo credit: SCP Auctions

A Yankees’ Babe Ruth jersey from 1920 — just after he was purchased from the Boston Red Sox, and once displayed at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore — has reached a record $1,528,993 during bidding at SCP Auctions that ends this weekend.

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The Ruth “New York” wool jersey has already eclipsed the record for a game-worn jersey sale and could pass the $2.8 million paid in 2007 for a pristine T-206 Honus Wagner tobacco baseball card, said SCP Auctions president said David Kohler. There have been 18 bids submitted as of this morning.

The Robb Report pointed out that when Ruth was sold to the Yankees in December, 1919, the price was $125,000 — equal to about $1.6 million in today’s figures.

Lot No. 741 (linked here), which was before players wore numbers and is stitched with Ruth’s name on the collar, will run through Saturday.

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SCP Auctions (linked here), which recently handled the sale of the Kirk Gibson 1988 bat and jersey from the Game 1 World Series home run and the last bat used by Lou Gehrig to hit a home run, is also auctioning the Ruth’s 1930s Yankees game-worn cap owned (and worn in a game) by former Yankees’ pitcher David Wells. That is currently at $208,868 but it has not reached its reserve price (linked here).

The auction also includes an extensive baseball collection of nearly 500 cards owned by the Detroit Tigers’ Dmitri Young, which ends Friday. Young’s collection includes what’s said to be the only 1955 Roberto Clemente Topps rookie card ever graded PSA 10 Gem Mint ($185,030) (linked here).

The sale includes a 1954 Hank Aaron Topps Rookie card PSA 10 Gem Mint ($139,015) and the only 1963 Pete Rose Topps rookie card ever graded PSA 10 Gem Mint ($98,525).

Young collected every Baseball Hall of Fame rookie card from 1948 to 1990, as well as other well-known rookies, and wants part of the auction proceeds to go to the Dmitri D. Young Foundation that will host baseball and softball camps and clinics, support of Boys and Girls Clubs and sponsor programs and scholarships for student athletes and their families in Ventura County.

The auction also includes the cap worn by Bobby Thomson in 1951 when he hit his “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” home run for the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers (current high bid: $74,022) and a 1938 Babe Ruth Brooklyn Dodgers game-word road uniform (current high bid: $73,205)

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Play It Forward: May 14-20 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/Matt York)
Phoenix Coyotes’ fans have their white-out shirts ready during the first period of Sunday’s Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference finals against the Kings in Glendale, Ariz.

NHL Western Conference finals: Kings vs. Phoenix:
Game 2 at Phoenix, Tuesday at 6 p.m., NBC Sports Network;
Game 3 at Staples Center, Thursday at 6 p.m., NBC Sports Network;
Game 4 at Staples Center, Sunday at noon, Channel 4:

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The local Phoenicians are understandably proud of their Coyotes’ ability to fight and claw their way to the next-to-last round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The former Winnipeg Jets, once coached Wayne Gretzky and without an owner at the moment, could otherwise be a franchise wandering in the desert. This is no mirage. “It’s definitely getting crazy out here, especially after the games. Everyone’s rooting for them,” Aaron Hernandez, manager of McFadden’s restaurant and bar across from Jobing.com Arena, told the Associated Press this week. “It’s kind of like a Cinderella story. You don’t hear as much about them as some of the other teams, but they’re making up ground.” It’s a team ranking last in league attendance, but first in the Kings’ vision of a trip back to their first championship battle in 19 years, against either the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils. As the Kings have a 1-0 series lead and having won nine of their 10 playoff games so far, they’re the fifth team in Stanley Cup history to win their first six games on the road. The heat will be turned up even more for Games 3 and 4 back at Staples Center that comes with another rare national TV appearance on Sunday afternoon amidst the crowd already there for the final stage of the Tour of California bike race.

MONDAY

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NBA Western Conference semifinals: Lakers at Oklahoma City, Game 1: 6:30 p.m., TNT:

Metta World Peace is on another peace mission: Trying to quiet the OKC crowd who’ll welcome him back with open elbows for the first time since his elbow came thundering down up on the Thunders’ James Harden in the next-to-last regular-season game, leading to a seven-game suspension. Maybe Derek Fisher can be the peace-maker in all these negotiations? Meanwhile, Mike Brown is back on the clock, saving his job after that Game 7 win against Denver. Right, Magic? Game 2 is back at Oklahoma City on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., TNT), followed by a ridiculous back-to-back Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center (Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., TNT).

MLB: Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

A matchup of the top-two vote-getters from last year’s NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw and former USC star Ian Kennedy — are brought together on the mound for the opener. The Dodgers then send out Orel Hershiser for Tuesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9) for a game that’s more likely to be a sellout. Oh, it’s only a bobblehead version. That’s bulldog.

MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

Former Angels Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon, trying to keep his career alive in Oakland these days, faces his old team in Tuesday’s game (4:05 p.m., FSW).

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Series: “Feherty,” Golf Channel, 7 p.m.:

David Feherty, with Bill Clinton. What’s off limits? “You obviously don’t have as many advisors as you had when you were in office,” Feherty says when greeting Clinton as he comes onto the set. “My first question is, ‘What the hell would possess you to do this (interview)?’”

NHL Eastern Conference finals Game 1: New Jersey at N.Y. Rangers, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

This series have your attention now? Game 2 is back at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (5 p.m., NBC Sports Network), with Games 3 and 4 in New Jersey (Saturday, 10 a.m., Channel 4, and Monday, May 21).

TUESDAY

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NBA Western Conference semfinals: Clippers at San Antonio, Game 1, 6:30 p.m., TNT:

The battered Clippers have a short respite after a Game 7 win to escape the first round, playing their sixth game in 11 days. The Spurs, winners of 14 in a row, will have had eight days off before this one. “We earned ourselves this break,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said Sunday. “Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.” The Clippers lost two of three meetings in the regular season, but won their last meeting 120-108 on March 9 when Chris Paul had 36 points and 11 assists, but the Spurs were without Tony Parker. That win in San Antonio was also the Clippers’ first in a decade, ending a stretch of futility that spanned 18 games. Game 2 at San Antonio is set for Thursday (6:30 p.m., ESPN), but the Clippers got the short end of Games 3 and 4 back-to-backs at Staples Center. The first is crammed into the 12:30 p.m. slot Saturday for Channel 7 (while the Lakers get the prime-time slot) and the second is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday — unless the Kings-Coyotes playoff game doesn’t run long into overtime.

WEDNESDAY

MLB: Dodgers at San Diego, 3:35 p.m., Channel 9:

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Why bother? The Dodgers have already won six of seven against the Padres, which helped produce a 9-1 start to the season. Interestingly, Padres starter Clayton Ricard (1-5) has his only win of the season against the Dodgers — that single loss they suffered in their first 10 games — and he is back to start the first of this brief two-game series on a strange Wednesday afternoon first pitch. These early starts must be some kind of consilatory response to the players whose long fly balls almost always get knocked down by the heavy marine layer at night. That is an issue, although Padres third baseman Chase Headley has denied a report that he and former teammate Ryan Ludwick engaged in a clubhouse altercation with pitcher Mike Adams last season after Adams told them in a team meeting to quit complaining about the Petco Park dimensions. ESPN.com’s Tim Keown did a story last week about changing ballpark dimensions and said Adams “lashed out in a postgame rant” against Headley and Ludwick, with a scuffle resulting from it. Headley denied that any argument ensued, and San Diego manager Bud Black backed Headley’s account. Thursday, the Dodgers-Pads go back to a 7:05 p.m. first pitch (on Prime), as the Padres come into the week with the NL’s worst record (12-23), 11 1/2 games behidn the Dodgers in the West Division, a major-league worst 109 runs (barely more than three runs a game) and 29th in all of baseball with a team .221 batting average.

MLB: Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

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A gorgeous Peter Bourjos bobblehead is offered up to those attending. And the center fielder may even be starting in this one. Or, could he be traded, according to the rumors? “We constantly field calls about players, but we are not actively shopping Peter Bourjos or looking for a fit for him,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. “We believe he’s an asset to us.” The two-game set ends Thursday with a day game (12:35 p.m., FSW).

THURSDAY

Golf: PGA Byron Nelson Championship, first round, noon, Golf Channel:

The tournament’s late host would have turned 100 a couple of months ago. A year ago, it was then-24-year-old Tour rookie Keegan Bradley who made a name for himself by winning this event in a playoff, foreshadowing his PGA Championship title four months later. Bradley’s top finish this season: Second at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera last February. CBS has the final two rounds.

Golf: LPGA Sybase Match Play Championship, Day 1, 3:30 p.m. (delayed), Golf Channel:

A year ago, Suzann Pettersen held off Cristie Kerr for a 1-up victory, sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Golf Channel has this whole coverage from the Hamilton Farm Golf Course in Gladstone, N.J., leading up to the final day (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

FRIDAY

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WNBA: Sparks at Seattle, 7 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56, NBA TV:

No need yet to stop wearing your jersey supporting Candace Parker (left) with one for rookie and next-biggest-thing Nneka Ogwumike. New free-agent guard and four-time All-Star Alana Beard might end up as the biggest off-season acquisition anyway, even thought she sat out the last two seasons with foot and ankle problems. The Sparks start their 16th season in the 12-team WNBA. Where has all the time gone? This marks the second consecutive year that the Sparks will play in the league’s only opening night contest, with other WNBA teams in action starting Saturday. The season starts earlier than usual so the top players can compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The WNBA takes a 33-day midseason break from July 14 through Aug. 15.

MLB: Angels at San Diego, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

Interleague already? It shapes up as an all-Valley battle, as Simi Valley native Jered Weaver faces former Crespi High standout Jeff Suppan (2-1, 1.69 ERA), who has revived his career at age 37 after 16 seasons with the Padres. Suppan was recalled from Triple-A Tucson on May 2, after signing a minor league deal during the offseason following a season with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha. Last week in Phiadelphia, Suppan made his 415th career start and ranks fourth among active pitchers behind Jamie Moyer (635), Livan Hernandez (474) and Kevin Millwood (421). Check in on the rest of the series Saturday (7:05 p.m., FSW) and Sunday (1:05 p.m., FSW)

MLB: Dodgers vs. St. Louis, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

The only NL-vs.-NL matchup of the weekend, and something here makes no sense, these defending World Series champion Cardinals rid themselves of Albert Pujols, have manager Tony LaRussa retire, and then have one of the NL’s best starts to the 2012 season. Must be that reliable guy still playing shortstop — Rafael Furcal — plus Carlos Beltran filling in the void in the lineup. The Cards, 12-7 on the road, have outscored opponents by 65 runs coming into this week, more than 30 runs better than any other NL team. The series also goes Saturday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9) and Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN).

SATURDAY

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Horse racing: The 137th Preakness, 3 p.m., Channel 4:

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New York Times horse racing reporter Joe Drape wrote about I’ll Have Another a day before the Kentucky Derby: “Santa Anita winner has overachieved but there won’t be any magic here.” Then I’ll Have Another won the race. d of I’ll Have Another, who of course went on to win the Derby. “I did hear about that particular prediction,” said owner J. Paul Reddam. “At first when you read what the pundits say it can kind of be a little bit unnerving because it will be different from your own opinion and you wonder how much bias you have. But if you go and you look, you’ll see that that particular writer had him last, but somebody else had him first.” Added trainer Doug O’Neal: “How do you win the Santa Anita Derby and not be one of the top five choices?” Here’s another chance for I’ll Have Another to take a Triple Crown victory at Pimlico in Baltimore, with Mario Gutierrez aboard — after he’s already been to Dodger Stadium to throw out a first pitch coming off a Kentucky Derby victory. Will Mike Smith and Bodemeister give up the lead this time?

MLS: Galaxy vs. Chivas, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2:

After their White House visit on Tuesday, the Galaxy limp home with a record that looks like a bad area code (3-5-2). Maybe David Beckham takes everyone out for real fruit smoothies and frappes at Burger King afterward?

SUNDAY

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(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Peter Sagan celebrates his Stage 1 win next to second-place finisher Heinrich Haussler, left, during the Tour of California start in Santa Rosa.

Cycing: Amgen Tour of California, final stage, 10 a.m., Channel 4:

Stage eight of the annual bike ride across the state starts near Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, up Santa Monica Blvd., north on Doheney through West Hollywood, hang a right on Sunset, and then head past the entrance to Dodger Stadium over to Grand and Caesar Chavez avenues, where a five-mile circuit begins through Chinatown, past L.A. City Hall, the Biltmore Hotel, Disney Hall, the Music Center, and a finish at LA Live. Come early (8 to 9:30 a.m.) and you can pedal your own bikes on the course. For real. The winner will likely be treated to the Kings-Coyotes Game 4 across the street at Staples Center afterward, and maybe will hang around for the Clippers-Spurs Game 4.

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Q and A: Lakers’ Matt Barnes can remember his mom through his Athletes vs. Cancer foundation

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Matt Barnes lifted his jersey to show the tattoo he has of his mother, Ann, across his abdomen.

It’s actually something that the Lakers forward refers to as “a mural” — her image, with wings of an angel. He had it put there two years ago.

“This keeps her around,” he said.

Four years ago this November, Barnes started a foundation, along with a website, called Athletes vs. Cancer. That coincided with the anniversary of the Nov. 27, 2007 passing of Ann Barnes, just five days after Thanksgiving and 26 days after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

Mother’s Day doesn’t get any easier for the former UCLA star, but knowing that he’s doing more to help others get checked early for cancer, to prevent the kind of pain that the 32-year-old once went through while watching a loved one suddenly slip away, can make him feel much better about his mom’s memory.

Barnes discussed this special day and his foundation after Lakers practice the other day:

Q: What has Mother’s Day meant to you over the last couple of years?

A: You never want to say you take your mom for granted, because you think she’ll always be there. That’s just the kind of sense you have. I think the day means more now. She was my best friend, someone who I could confide in, who had the answers. She always everybody’s mom when I was growing up. The whole neighborhood it seemed relied on her as a mother figure. Mother’s Day now is a lot more special to me than maybe it used to be.

Q: What makes you smile when you think about your mom these days?

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A: Seeing my kids (twin 3-year-old boys boys Carter Kelly and Isiah Michael) every day – I know how much she loved kids – and seeing my girl (Gloria Govan) and what a great mother she’s become. My kids were actually born a year and a month after she died. Seeing my family and knowing that meant everything to my mom. I think I do have a greater appreciation for family now. That makes me think of her on a daily basis.

Q: When your mom found out she had the lung cancer, you were playing for the Golden State Warriors, she was living in nearby Santa Clara. How did she take the news and then relay it to you?

A: She went in to the doctor about five times in a year-and-a-half complaining of shortness of breath, not feeling right and always tired. She was an overweight woman, so they told her to start eating right and working out. She did, and lost 75 pounds, but she still felt terrible. There were no CT-scans, no blood work, none of those kinds of tests taken. One day, she had a minor heart attack at work, and had to get rushed to the ER. They had all her vital signs down and tried to get her out of there in a couple of hours, but she happened to run into the doctor as she was leaving – the same doctor that had just done knee surgery on my dad (Henry) – and she told him that she still didn’t feel good. So they went to take a scan to see what they could see, and there was so much cancer that the scan was just blurry. She had four different kinds of cancer at the same time. She was once a smoker, but she hadn’t smoked in 10 years. So that’s a possibility of how she did get it. But there was never really any reason they found out after she was diagnosed. And she only lasted 26 days after that.

Q: What led you to starting the foundation, rather than any other way to honor her?

A: My family and girlfriend started it a year after my mom passed, and really just to raise awareness about the preventative side of cancer. We want to get people to know their body, know what to look for, be aware of signs. A lot of people think they’re sick and let it go, but sometimes it’s much more serious.

Q: What kind of success stories do you have so far from Cancer vs. Athletes?

A: A neighborhood friend of mine, through the foundation, we caught his throat cancer and got that taken care of. We take mobile screening units and go to the inner cities and provide screenings for the people who can’t afford it, or don’t have insurance who really sometimes don’t want to know what could be wrong with them. It’s the old saying, ‘Knowledge is power.’

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Photo left: Matt Barnes, right, in a family shot from nearly eight years ago, with his younger brother, Jason (far left), mother Ann, father Henry, and sister Danielle. Matt is holding his nephew Jayden (Danielle’s son).

Q: You’ve sold T-shirts on the website, some with sayings like ‘If cancer can’t beat me, what makes you think you can?’ That seems like a great way to promote the cause.

A: I know, but we’re sold out of them right now. A lady from Ohio came up with that, and I have a clothing line, and she brought it to our attention and we worked with her on proceeds going to her and the foundation.

Q: In past years, you’d also get a mohawk haircut during the playoffs, and it was written that you did that to honor your mom as well. But you didn’t this year.

A: Naw, I think everyone made a bigger deal out of that. This year I really wanted to focus on coming out and playing basketball. I skipped out on that this time.

Q: You wear the rubber bracelets, though, in her honor but (looking at his wrists) . . . where are they?

A: My sons took them from me this morning. They always want to wear those red rubber bands so they have them now.

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(AP Photo by Mark J. Terrill)
The Lakers’ Matt Barnes, right, defends Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series last Tuesday at Staples Center.

Q: With all these things you have to remind you about her, what about your mom triggers the strongest memories?

A: My mom and dad would make a lot of road trips to UCLA when I was there, and it was really nice when I was at Golden State, they were close enough to come. I really had an up-and-down career and with the Warriors (in 2006-08) was really the first time I got an opportunity to play. They drove down every single game. They got to be part of a ‘We Believe’ playoff run we had against the Dallas Mavericks. To see her smile and, really, she was really one of the only people, besides my family, who believed in me. She’d keep telling me to keep grinding, keep sticking it out. I’m so glad she got a chance to see me play in that playoff series and establish myself as a player.

Q: Without getting too personal, are you able to visit your mom somehow on Mother’s Day?

A: She was cremated and her ashes are at my dad’s house in Northern California. So my family up north will get the chance to spent time with her this year. Hopefully we’ll be headed to Oklahoma City that day.

More:

== Athletes vs. Cancer website (linked here).

== Athletes from the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB, including the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, the Kings’ Dustin Penner and Anza Kopitar, and the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, thank their moms on Mother’s Day via a story on ESPNW.com (linked here).

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Lightning strikes in a new IBA season opener

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Your Los Angeles Lightning (linked here) starts its fourth season as a team, but the first in the International Basketball Association with back-to-back games against the Battle Creek Knights at the Gilbert Sports Arena on the campus of Cal Lutheran.

Tonight’s tip off at 7 p.m. is followed by a game Sunday at 6 p.m.

The Lightning started in the International Basketball League in 2008, winning it in 2009, but joined the 12-team IBA this season. The league started playing games on March 14.

The roster includes former NBA players Lamond Murray, Toby Bailey (left), Bryon Russell, Fred Vinson, Juaquin Hawkins, Darrick Martin and Tyus Edney. Russell, a former Lakers forward, is expected to start Saturday with last season’s top scorer, 6-8 guard Trayvon Lathan (26.4 points a game). California State senator Tony Strickland, a 6-foot-5 forward out of Whitter College, is also on the team roster.

The Lightning plays 12 of their 14-game schedule at home, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 16. The two road games are in Las Vegas on June 1-2.

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It should be easy for everyone to get up for Lakers-Nuggets Game 7 … even Metta World Peace

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NBA Game 7s are actually kind of easy for fans to get up for. And the TV networks covering them.

The Lakers, with Metta World Peace easing his way back into the starting lineup, have no choice now but to follow suit or face their second embarrassing post-season exit in as many seasons after back-to-back championship runs.

The Lakers stretched this first round of their Western Conference quarterfinal match up against the no-name Denver Nuggets long enough so that World Peace can come back from a seven-game suspension in some kind of rescue mode to play in Saturday’s seventh game at Staples Center.

The players tried to maintain a sense of calm during this afternoon’s practice in El Segundo, but most of the reporters wouldn’t let them off that easy.

Much of the discussion was focused on reaction to why Kobe Bryant said after the 113-96 Game 6 debacle Thursday night in Denver that World Peace was “the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with a sense of urgency and no fear . . . I’m looking forward to having that by my side again.”

Was that a slap at the lethargic play of Pau Gasol (1-for-10 shooting 3 points 3 rebounds in Game 6) and Andrew Bynum (4-for 11, 11 points, 16 rebounds)?

“I don’t know,” Gasol said. “A lot of times an opinion is determined by the timing of things. Obviously we’re all happy to get Metta back . . . and I’m glad Kobe relies on him that much. . . .

“He brings defense and energy, passion . . . those will help you win a Game 7.”

Continue reading

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That bad taste the Lakers’ left in Game 6 ….

For those who missed the TNT coverage of Thursday night’s Lakers-Nuggets Game 6 and watched the Bill Macdonald-Stu Lantz presentation:

Said game analyst Steve Kerr: “This just doesn’t look like a championship team.”

From the studio, Shaquille O’Neal on Andrew Bynum’s and Pau Gasol’s lack of scoring: “I don’t know where they were…but when you are a part of a one-two punch, your numbers have to go up at least five or ten points, they have to dominate the game. Tonight, they did not play big. Playing against Denver they looked evenly matched.”

Charles Barkley follows up: “If I was Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, I would have said ‘Hey our man is sick, we are going to get it done tonight.’ The Lakers didn’t compete tonight.”

Kenny Smith on who will win Lakers-Nuggets Game 7: “I was rolling with the Lakers all the way up to this point. This is the toughest decision I’ve had in a long time while watching basketball. Talent-wise, I would say the Lakers should win this because they’ll be at home. But the last four or five minutes of Game 6 and the expression on guys’ faces and the way they acted, I’m actually, for the first time, rooting for a team to win…the Denver Nuggets.”

Shaq on Lakers-Nuggets Game 7: “Experience wins the series. I’m going with experience [with the Lakers].”

Barkley on Lakers-Nuggets Game 7: “I’m going with George Karl. Their bench and coach are going to win them two extra games and they are going to win this series 4-3.”

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Weekly media column version 05.11.12

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What’s part of this week’s media column (linked here):

The NHL on NBC is supposed to mean that sport of hockey has reached big-time status, according to the network employees who now control the Kings’ TV future, so if you’re having trouble finding games on your outdated remote control … who’s problem is that? And then we reissue the recent blog post about some plans Time Warner Cable has for its two new channels launching Oct. 1 that could include you likely having to pay more for Lakers, Sparks, Galaxy … and Dodgers?

What isn’t in today’s column:

== KCAL-Channel 9 ended up doing one more Lakers’ playoff game than it might have expected after the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead over Denver in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

Following that Game 4 victory last Sunday, KCAL ran this video tribute thanking the team for its relationship over the last several decades (but didn’t do it again after Thursday night’s Game 6 loss):

== Jim Lampley’s first installment of “The Fight Game” half-hour studio show arrives at midnight Saturday on HBO, following the replay of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight from last Saturday.

== “UFC on Fox 3,” which went up against the live Mayweather-Cotto bout last Saturday, did a 1.7 overnight Nielsen rating, the lowest for a UFC on Fox broadcast so far. It’s down 37 percent from the second fight card that aired in January and more than half of the 3.5 rating from the one-hour debut show on Nov. 12.

== The thought of a regular Stephen A. Smith-Skip Bayless regular debate platform on ESPN’s “First Take” is just too much to take. But the network says it will happen full time starting June 4. At least it’s a show we don’t normally try to find every morning.

What’s even tougher to take seriously is how their contrived debates start and end, as documented in an L.A. Times’ Calendar section story this week by Steven Zeitchik (linked here). Note the behind-the-scenes tweeking of the question posed to them to create a situation where they both don’t agree.

If this is the network’s seed planting for the day when Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon walk away from “Pardon The Interruption,” then there’s no debate here: We’re not interested.

== By a freakish accident of turning the TV on to a channel that we had been watching when it was shut off the night before, we actually did witness former NFL player Terrell Owens appear on the “Dr. Phil” show the other day, facing three of the four women he’s had children with.

We thought it was Frank Caliendo doing a Fox NFL pregame show sketch.

Painful? For everyone. Maybe as we get in touch with our feelings about all this, we’ll allow FoxSports.com writer Peter Schrager to put it into the appropriate words (linked here):

We’re supposed to feel bad for Terrell Owens. It’s been the theme of every reality TV show he’s ever done (and there have been a few), every “exclusive” interview he’s sat down for, and every magazine feature he’s had written on him in the past two years. Every Drew Rosenhaus-planted story on ProFootballTalk, every NFL.com podcast about his NFL workout at a high school in California, and every “Where will T.O. end up?” poll question online — it’s always about T.O.’s bad fortune and what he’s doing right “this time.”

But watching Owens go up against three of his “baby mama’s” — and there’s a fourth, somewhere — in front of a live studio audience, I couldn’t feel bad for Terrell Owens. It just wasn’t possible …

I’m not sure what was accomplished for either side, minus the notoriety and face time of being on a syndicated talk show at 3 p.m. on a weekday.

I watched the entire thing. I’m not really sure why. It was the same reason you watch an episode of “Hoarders” on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I suppose. It had that car-crash quality.

As others were poking fun at Owens on Twitter, I had no jokes to crack; no quips to deliver. The whole situation was just sad.

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Becks and the boys at the White House on Tuesday, so get that “Obama 1″ Galaxy jersey ready

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The Galaxy may be no where near the top of the MLS’s Western Division, but the fact they won the MLS Cup a year ago means they’ll punch a ticket to the White House and a presidental greeting on Tuesday at 11:05 a.m. PDT, it was announced today.

President Obama will not only shake hands with David Beckham, Landon Donovan and whomever else he pretends to recognize on the current team roster, but First Lady Michelle Obama will take the opportunity to bring players onto the South Lawn at noon PDT for a soccer clinic for students are part of her “Let’s Move!” program.

Kids part of the group will come from the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success programs in DC, Houston and Miami, and the America SCORES programs in DC, St. Louis and Denver.

The Galaxy will be circling through the DC area after playing in Montreal on Saturday. They already played a game against DC United on March 18 at Home Depot Center, but with the new MLS schedule, they won’t be playing at DC United this season.

Galaxy fans may remember that President Obama rousted coach Bruce Arena out of bed a couple days after the team won the MLS Cup to congratulate him, perhaps not aware that he and the team were in Jakarta, Indonesia, for an exhibition game.

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Time Warner’s new SportsNet y the Deportes channel … all systems bueno?

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Just 143 days between now and the launch of the two new Time Warner Cable Southern California sports channels on Oct. 1, so any testy tug-o-war involving cable and dish distribution agreements that play out in the media will certainly cause some customer angst.

David Rone, the TWC Sports President in charge of creating content for these two new English- and Spanish-language superchannels to be called Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, won’t guarantee a bumpy-free ride toward sports TV utopia.

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“Obviously, our hopes and desires are this is as smooth a process as possible; one can’t predict, however, how smooth that happens,” Rone said today after the official launch date of the two channels was announced. “We hope to start the process early enough such that we give our distribution partners, and prospective distribution partners, enough lead time to do the deal and educate the market place to where the networks are going to be found.

“As it relates to the angst of the customers, that depends on how quickly we get the deals done. For Time Warner Cable subscribers, they’ll know it’s coming to them for many years to come.

“If there is subscriber angst, then it will be communicated to those who don’t have a relationship and it drives the dynamic in getting it done.”

So for those who aren’t subscribers, wait, wonder and worry. Especially if you’re fans of the Lakers, Galaxy or Sparks, the three long-timer signees in a combined mult-billion-dollar rights deal that make this channel happen sooner rather than later.

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Melrose: Kings in six over the road-kill Coyotes, starting Sunday

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Barry Melrose, the Kings’ coach during their last run this far into the Stanley Cup playoffs, has picked the Kings to win their first two-round series against Vancouver and St. Louis.

Why change it up now?

Expecting to see the Kings top the Western Conference No. 3 seeded Phoenix Coyotes in six games (and then face Washington in the finals), Melrose, the longtime ESPN NHL analyst, has found a way to equate this Kings’ roster to the one he had some 20 years ago — even though there was this guy named Gretzky on it that seemed to attract most of the attention.

“Both of them got hot at the exact same time,” Melrose said this morning of the two Kings’ teams. “They were a lower seed, never had a home series in the playoffs, and played very strong in the last month. It’s always a case of playing well at the right time. That’s when as a coach you want your team to peak. You get roll and it all comes together.”

The only down side to picking the Kings at this moment, Melrose says, is because of the long layoff they’ve had after sweeping the Blues. There will have been a full week of no games between that Game 4 win and the start of the series against Phoenix on Sunday (5 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Game 2 in Phoenix will be Tuesday (6 p.m., NBC Sports Network), with Game 3 and 4 at Staples Center to be determined.

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