Like two kids in a man-sized Hot Wheels … on track for some G-force fun, they’re thrown for a loop

They made it look like child’s play.

Tanner Foust, a three-time X Games rally car gold medalist who fancies himself as a TV personality, and Greg Tracy, a Hollywood stunt driver who, like Foust, has work in “The Bourne Ultimatum” on his resume, accepted the ultimate kid-proof challenge – the ginormous Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare, set up in a parking lot this afternoon across the street from Staples Center.

A one-and-done sidelight to the X Games’ run in AEG-ville was this six-story recreation of Mattel’s iconic loop the loop track, one originally made for three-inch-long cars for kids with small-scale thrill-seeking budgets.

About 125 tons of orange-painted plywood, held together with screws and prayers, was assembled for the 39-year-old Capistrano Beach resident Foust and the 44-year-old Long Beach native Tracy to get their tires around and, with luck, defy some gravity.

They were each assigned a customized four-cylinder Mitsubishi that, according to the specifications given by Mattel, were AD9 turbocharged with 375 horse power, six-speed manual transmission and 550 pounds of torque.

It probably means they were built not to crash.

The yellow car driven by Foust was tweaked for power. Tracy’s green machine was geared up for speed.

The spectators in the afternoon sun were geeked for something beyond gnarly. No Hollywood CGI affects allowed.

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How L.A. Valley College Hall of Famer Tim Knappen continues to inspire the campus’ athletes — even those who can’t keep up with him — as he battles Parkinson’s

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David Crane/Staff Photographer
Tim Knappen sits down for an interview at the L.A. Valley College athletic department offices on Wednesday.

Tim Knappen probably shouldn’t be attempting this.

But then, who’s ever been able to stop him from doing anything a bit absurd?

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Lying flat on his back on the soft-cushioned couch in the waiting room at the L.A. Valley College athletic offices, it hardly matters that the 63-year-old is dressed in a button-up shirt and blue jeans.

He takes a few exaggerated exhales, tightens his core muscles, squints his eyes and proceeds to rip off about 20 crunches, alternating his right elbow to his left knee, and vice versa, in less than half a minute, in rapid fire moments.

It should be pointed out that Knappen is about nine years into trying to crunch away Parkinson’s disease. It’s something that forces him to take three types of medications, three times daily. His stomach is often upset. He coughs. His left arm tremors during times when he’s trying to sit still.

He’ll tend to stop in mid-sentence to search his memory for the right words.

Yet, this is the point where you’re watching, and before you realize it, you’re at your own loss for words.

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Weekly media column version 06.29.12

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What’s included in this week’s media column (linked here): The previously blogged column about how NBC says if and when there’s a race to determine the final spot in the women’s 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, it’ll be there. Live? Probably. Where? Who knows.

What’s not included:

== Sports Business Daily reports that ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage (yawn) did a 2.3 overnight rating, down 8 percent from last year. Hardly a surprise. Could have been worse.

== And Chris Berman was “surprised” by being asked to do NFL play-by-play. OK, let’s see what false modesty tastes like today (linked here).

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== ESPN poker analyst Norman Chad on his poker prowess last Sunday in Vegas (linked here). (He can laugh all the way to the bank, coming away with some money and a sixth-place finish in a World Series of Poker Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low event last week at the Rio in Las Vegas – it was a $2,500 buy-in that started with nearly 400 competitors. Chad tweeted out: “Breaking News: The Mayans might know what they’re talking about — I JUST CASHED.” The payout was followed by Chad, in his weekly syndicated column (linked here) asking for pokerati civil behavior moving forward: “Poker is at a crossroads — the game is under siege, both from outside forces and from within. As a poker community, we either can step up and be more productive citizens or step back and lurk in the shadows of mainstream America. … Let’s understand that it’s just a game — granted, a wonderful, complex, multi-skillset game — and stop treating it like nuclear science; nobody just split the atom here, somebody just was smart enough to figure out that Seat 8 three-bet with 7-6 off-suit.”
That has to work better for ESPN’s coverage as well.

== Erin Andrews’ contract at ESPN expires Saturday. How much do you care if she busts loose? (linked here and linked here).

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Apparently, the 34-year-old non-menber of our recent 40 women who raised the bar over the last 40 years of Title IX has already busted loose (linked here). And she did get an Aaron Sorkin shoutout in the first eposide of HBO’s “Newsroom” as a recent date for leading character Will McAlvoy (linked here).

== Joe Buck teams with Eric Karros and Ken Rosenthal to call the Dodgers-Mets game from Dodger Stadium on Saturday (4:15 p.m., Channel 11, going to 40 percent of the country.

== The Arizona D’backs have sent play-by-play man Daron Sutton away… for what? (linked here). Wearing the wrong shirts (linked here and linked here)? Sutton is on Fox’s regional coverage of the Diamondbacks’ game at Minnesota on Saturday, along with Brewers analyst Bill Schroeder, but it now appears that the Dodgers’ otherwise available Eric Collins will replace Sutton (linked here).

== Dick Enberg continues to feel some hubba-hubba backlash (linked here).

== TBS has the first look at the 2012 All-Star Game rosters on Sunday at 10 a.m. in a studio show hosted by Matt Winer and including Dennis Eckersley, Cal Ripken and David Wells.

== If you’re going to be critical of something Vin Scully does, make sure to repeat it over and over again (linked here).

== ESPN has a videographer working the X Games again named Kameraman (linked here)

== How the America’s Cup can make itself more TV friendly (linked here). NBC has live coverage of the America’s Cup World Series (Sunday, 11:30 a.m.) featuring the match racing final and fleet racing final. It marks the first U.S. network broadcast of America’s Cup racing in 20 years.

== NBC Sports announced a 10-year media rights extension with the Amaury Sport Organisation to keep covering the Tour de France through 2023. NBC Sports Network stays as the exclusive U.S. TV home, along with airings on NBC.

== The Kansas City Star says Len Dawson, the former Chiefs QB and longtime TV personality, will have a rare double: He’s going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame again, as a broadcaster, 25 years after his induction as a player. Dawson is the 2012 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, one given not long ago to Berman.

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== Find yourself drudging over to Grantland.com every day for seven-hour readings just don’t fit anymore into your semi-busy schedule? Wish there was a way to get the “best of” that’ll work into one extra-relaxing trip to the latrine? Missed the first two issues already of the Grantland Quarterly? We’re guilty. We’ve ordered issue three on McSweenys.net, although we’re told it’s also in Barnes & Noble and in other major independent bookstores. Long-form sports and culture writing, on a website, strains our backs, eyes, inner-workings and we’re just used to paying for quality writing, so it works in our best interested to read, belatedly, about the New York Giants’ Super Bowl win, the “rise” of Jeremy Lin with the New York Knicks and an update on the passing of Whitney Houston. Timely? No, but timeless writing, we’re told, holds up well in any stapled publication. You can also buy Issue 1 (reduced from $25 to $19.95) and a bundle of Issues 2 and 3 (which run $25 each, but combined are $40 – so do it at the very least for its eBay.com investment value in 2013, and before the U.S. Postal Service takes up this business model as a viable option for survival). So, was that paragraph long enough to get that piece of information across?

== Up for some more summer baseball reading? Larry LaRue, the Seattle News Tribune’s Mariners beat reporter since 1988, following an eight-year stint covering the Angels for the Long Beach Beach Press Telegram, has an ebook out called “Major League Encounters” (linked here at Barnes & Noble). He reads a chapter below:

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Where can you own your ‘own’ Stanley Cup

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A few places, we’ve discovered.

It depends on how big you need it. And if you’re given up on the stupid inflatable ones, but something you can actually hold over your head.

When the Stanley Cup playoffs started in April, NBC and the NHL unveiled a version in New York that was 21 feet tall and more than 6,000 pounds that acted like a water fall (linked here). They also created some 48-pound chocolate versions (linked here).

You can’t get them anymore, apparently. Neither could the Rangers.

Those other La Coupe Stanley replicas that are accessable:

Actual size: This guy on eBay.com who won’t admit where he’s from (linked here) offers one same height (almost three feet) and weight (about 35 pounds) for $100. Not really That’s the down payment. Total cost: $1,700. It’s paper mache and chrome paint (that’s the finished product, above). Materials alone, he says, cost him $500. It also takes up to a month to make. Your call.

Two feet tall: One on NHL.com is very shiny (linked here). Cost: $325. It includes white gloves to handle it, an “authentic” table cloth to display it, a “protective” bag to store it, a certificate and plaque. But no Kings logo on it. It’s as close to original as you might find. On Bizrate.com, we found one even less expensive — one listed for $400 that you can get for $290 (linked here). That might be the winner in this size option category, although we’re not that impressed with the logo.

One foot tall: The Bradford Exchange (linked here) has one that’s kinda cool with the team logo, team name and Stanley Cup champions logo, for $120, plus $14 shipping.

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Eight inches tall: The most popular one is the Hunter version selling at the TeamLAStore.com (linked here) for $41.38. Add another $10 for standard shipping. It has the much cleaner look with the painted pewter medallion logo and date. Most collectors seem happiest with this one. It’s also offered on Amazon.com, sold by NoseForTheNet (linked here) goes for $50, plus shipping. A version at FansEdge.com (linked here) is also available for $50.

== Less than eight inches: A “paperweight” version on NHL.com (linked here) fails to give the dimensions, but lists it at $19.95, suggesting the photo attached (5 1/2 inches) from Forever Collectable may be actual size.

== About five inches? A Christmas ornament, also on NHL.com (linked here) goes for $14.95. That’s about as small as you’d want, right?

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ESPN locks down Rose Bowl rights through 2026 — or 14 years beyond the Mayan calendar

It’s not really a coincidence that just a couple of days after the new college football playoff system format was announced, a 12-year TV rights extension for ESPN and the Rose Bowl was announced, carrying things through 2026.

The current deal runs through the 2014 BCS title game at the Rose Bowl and will be the last under the present system, coming a couple of weeks after the Jan. 1, 2014 Rose Bowl game. The extension guarantees the network of having meaningful games with title ramifications for years to come, no matter how the upcoming four-team playoff structure falls into place.

There were no financial terms released.

“As we usher in the new era of a college football playoff, it is gratifying to know that the Rose Bowl will continue to be the premier bowl game in college football,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “With the signing of this landmark long-term broadcast agreement with ESPN, the history, tradition and success of the Rose Bowl game will be assured for many years to come.”

The deal also means the Rose Bowl game will stay on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. (or Jan. 2 when New Year’s Day is on a Sunday) and features the champions of the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

ABC and ESPN have had the Rose Bowl rights since 1989 after a long run on NBC.
“The Rose Bowl Game is one of sport’s most meaningful and celebrated events,” ESPN president John Skipper said. “Extending our relationship long term with such a prestigious brand will play a significant role in the way fans continue to define ESPN.”

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If it was Carl Lewis vs. a thoroughbred horse, would NBC get that live?

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(AP Photo/USA Track & Field)
The third-place finish of the women’s 100-meter final last Saturday at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., shows a photo-finish camera, shot at 3,000-frames-per-second, how Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, in foreground, finished in a dead heat at 11.068 seconds.

When the most bizarre storyline to date in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials did a freeze-frame on us last Saturday – a dead head produced by Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for the third and final qualifying spot in the women’s 100 meters – L.A. viewers had to wait three hours for NBC’s tape-delayed coverage to actually witness it.

Granted, the race was all way up in Eugene, Ore. In the same Pacific time zone window.

NBC, which a week ago had no problem with live hole-to-hole coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament in San Francisco so it could get prime-time East Coast viewing, was forward-thinking enough with the track and field trials to air it live to anyone interested East of the Vegas strip.

As the USA Track and Field officials put on a Monty Python-like skit in coordination with the U.S. Olympic Committee to figure out a tie-breaking procedure – none is listed in their book of rules for such a rare occurrence – one option discussed, but not yet decided, is having Felix and Tarmoh compete in a match race. Officials want that to happen Sunday, a day after the two finish their competition in the 200 meters qualifying and finals, so that the final Olympic team can be announced. Bob Kersee, the coach for both runners, is lobbying to have it take place Tuesday.

Imagine the possibilities for an NBC reality-show like sendoff on Sunday.

Maurice Green, the famed Olympic male sprinter, said earlier this week: “You tell me, NBC couldn’t sell that to all its sponsors and put on a 30-minute show about it? … tell NBC to give them $2 million and have a runoff … and it’s going to be highly publicized and they’re going to get great publicity from it.”

You’ve got that, or the Bob Costas coverage model.

“This is a rare circumstance where you could tell a story beautifully in the space of 10 minutes, or maybe less,” said NBC’s prime-time Olympic host. “You explain the race, show the proceeding one, explain the dynamics of this . . . the fatigue factor and if there was any injury factor involved . . . and once you set the stage, you run race, you interview the winner and loser and you’re done with it. It’s self-contained in about 10 minutes.”

Or, in less the time it takes Howard Stern to vote someone off on “America’s Got Talent.”

Sunday, NBC is locked and loaded again with tape-delayed coverage of the track and field trials, giving KNBC-Channel 4 a window of 7-to-8 p.m., as the events take place live from 4-to-5 p.m. in Eugene. The closing ceremonies are set for 4:55 p.m., after the men’s 200-meter final.

KNBC follows with tape-delayed swimming trails from Omaha, Neb., from 8-to-9 p.m., followed by tape-delayed gymnastics trials from San Jose from 9-to-11 p.m.

Over at the companion NBC Sports Network – remember that one, Kings’ fans? – there is neither track and field nor or gymnastics airing, only some swimming qualifying in the 3-to-4 p.m. window. That’s followed by the CNBC “Sports Biz: Game On!” show hosted by Darren Rovell, who has already announced he’s abandoning the NBC business model and going back to ESPN to report on this beat. NBC Sports Net could break in live easily in the 4:30 p.m.-to-5 p.m. window, pre-empting a repeat of an IndyCar feature show.

NBC is protective, of course, of its prime-time viewership, especially in light of the fact that last Sunday, while doing the tape-delayed track and field coverage in the West, the national ratings were 20 percent down from the 2008 track and field trails.

Mark Lazarus, the incoming chairman of the NBC Sports Group after the departure of the tape-delayed yogi Dick Ebersol, said Wednesday that a Felix-Tarmoh runoff is “a compelling story, but we will have to wait and see the timing and where it could be embedded (in NBC programming) for what’s sure to be a very exciting 12 seconds or so.

“Once a time and day is determined, we’ll absolutely make sure we bring it to the American population. We’re anxious for the time to be set so we can tell the people how to consume it.”

Or force feed, depending on your gag reflexes.

Jim Bell, the NBC Olympics executive producer, says the network’s “goal for that event will be to make that available live on one platform or another across country regardless of what time zone. It may not be live on television but we’ll do our best on technology and timing when we’re made aware of when it is to make it available.”

How’s your NBCOlympics.com video streaming machine working?

Lazarus said NBC has “not been asked, but we’ve express what our hope would be (for the race parameters) and we await the decision of those governing bodies.”

One other option put forth by New York Times track and field writer Jere Longman makes as much sense as any at this point. He wrote this week (linked here): “Listen up, NBC. Here’s an idea for cross-platform promotion. Send Tarmoh and Felix to the swimming trials. First one to reach the wall in the 100 freestyle goes to London.”

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Matthew Freakin’ Perry already had the Stanley Cup at his house?

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www.hhof.com

According to the Hockey Hall of Fame website, it has happened. Check out the shots from the site link “Stanley Cup Journal”, which is updated every Tuesday and Friday from mid-June to the Kings raise its championship banner at Staples Center in mid-October.

Posts so far show it after Game 6, then at Dodger Stadium, the parade in downtown L.A., and NHL Draft. Expect this Friday to show where it went in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.

The June 22 link, however, is so far most disturbing. Matthew Perry, whose performance as a presenter at the NHL Awards Show was undeniably below average, is shown taking a sip from the Cup (apparently at the urging of Anze Kopitar, above), while actors Eric Stonestreet, Michael Vartan, Colin Hanks and the Galaxy’s David Beckham (with wife Victoria) also take their pictures with it in somewhat less compromising positions.

Thursday, Kings players are taking the Cup to Children’s Hospital, where Dustin Brown, Luc Robitaille, Tim Leiweke, and broadcasters Jim Fox and Bob Miller will accompany it.

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Donde esta la biblioteca de beisbol? Pasadena

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Before or after the Baseball Reliquary presents its annual Shrine of the Eternals induction ceremony, check out the Pasadena Central Library (285 E. Walnut, Pasadena) display called “Baseball By The Books, which runs July 3-30.

The exhibition puts a spotlight on baseball-related books, fiction and non-fiction, published since World War II, along with photographs, illustrations, artifacts and documents related to certian books.

Terry Cannon, the Baseball Reliquary executive director, says there are also short essays written about some books, including pieces by Marty Appel (on “The Glory of Their Times” by Lawrence Ritter), Jean Hastings Ardell (on “A Day in the Bleachers” by Arnold Hano), Ron Kaplan (on “The Tao of Baseball” by Go), Bruce Markusen (on “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton), Andy McCue (on “The Southpaw” by Mark Harris), and Mike Shannon (on “The Long Season” by Jim Brosnan). Other books highlighted include two of our favorites — “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn, and “Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon and The Big Show,” by Neal and Constance McCabe.

Admission is free. Library hours are Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1-to-5 p.m. The exhibition, is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

The Reliquary’s Shine of the Eternals induction is at the Pasadena Central Library on July 15 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium.

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Your NCAA championship leaderboard final results: Pac-12 rules (no thanks to Colorado or Utah)

Arizona’s victory in the Collge World Series leaves the Pac-12 with nine NCAA titles during the 2011-12 academic year — most in the country, and one ahead of the SEC’s eight.

Eight was also the total of runner-up spots that the Pac-12 had in championship games.

All while USC’s football team was on probation. The Trojans’ won titles in men’s water polo and men’s tennis. UCLA was victorious in women’s volleyball. Cal won the men’s and women’s swim titles, Stanford won the women’s soccer and women’s water polo titles and Oregon won women’s indoor track and field.

For the 11th time in the last 12 years, the Pac-12 has led or tied everyone in NCAA championships. The Big Ten won six titles, the ACC four, the Big 12 two and the Big East one. Other conferences accounted for the other six titles.

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Get behind the ladies who are behind Title IX cause, says Frank Deford, ’cause ‘that’s how you pick up chicks’ (wink, wink)

From Monday night’s episode of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central (to put this interview with famed sportswriter Frank Deford in its proper context … with that comment above wedged in at the end of the interview past the 5:30 mark):

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