Five (or more) things we learned last weekend (and beyond): Oct. 26-31


A spectator has a message for Hurricane Sandy before Sunday’s Eagles-Falcons game in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Some 30,000 feet above the Midwest somewhere, heading toward a Pacific Ocean sunset:

1. Hurricane Sandy was some piece of work. We had the displeasure of making its acquaintance, the so-called “storm of the century” that added three extra days of non-sight-seeing in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the weekend. A big windbag with a nasty personality, coming and going as it pleases like many of those who already reside in the Northeast part of the country, it left some pretty graphic made-for-TV devastation, granted, if you had a TV powered up to see it. We were only inconvenienced by a lot of fallen trees, electrical surges transforming into outages, and a lot of scary noises in the night. No harm, no foul moods. Just lots of hunkering down and feeling bad for those much closer to the coast. What could have made it an even bigger sports mess is if the New York Yankees won the AL championship and were assigned to host the middle three games of the World Series. Game 5 would still be on hold – assuming the San Francisco Giants hadn’t swept them away as easily as they did the Detroit Tigers (a result we weren’t able to ascertain until early Monday morning because of blackouts). It would be kind of a flashback to the 1988 Earthquake Series between Oakland and San Francisco – meaning the Giants could have been involved in the last two World Series interrupted by a natural disaster, not counting the Bud Selig Frankenstorm that canceled the entire 1994 Fall Classic.  Sitting here on a wifi-equipped flight back to L.A., crammed in a middle seat because that’s all that was available, with a carry-on bag full almost all of dirty laundry because of underwear rationing the last few days, there’s some guilt involved in just being to just pack up and leave the mess behind. The sports fans of this region will need their fix of Eagles and Sixers, Jets and Giants, Knicks and Nets, Celtics and Patriots, ASAP, if only as a diversion from the mess they’re in for the next weeks and months. No stunner that the Nets just canceled their Brooklyn home opneer. No way is it safe, on many levels, to expect people to be able to make it over there. Actually had time to take a cab ride into downtown Philly this AM, seeing the homes for the Sixers, Eagles and Phillies in one piece. Independence Hall was closed due to a lot of tree damage, but that’s to be expected. This one’s going to take awhile to dig out from.

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Play It Forward: Oct. 29-Nov. 4

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



NBA regular season opening week: Lakers at Clippers, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet, Prime, ESPN:

Opening night: Lakers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT; Clippers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Also: Lakers at Portland, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet; Lakers vs. Detroit, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet; Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:

You’ve got a decent idea by now on how these revised Lakers’ and Clippers’ rosters shape up. But what kind of shape will coaches Mike Brown and Vinny Del Negro by midseason? The USA Today’s NBA preview guide has Brown and Del Negro already among seven coaches who “have to get things going or they could be gone before the season ends.” Brown, the guide says, is “too nice,” which led to adding Eddie Jordan as an assistant to toughen up the defensive mind-set. “They are all-in on a title run, and if it seems Brown is not the guy to get them there, he could be gone by midseason.” TNT’s Charles Barkley added last week: “There’s a ton pressure on him, to be honest. The Lakers gotta win now. That’s just the way it is.”

Vinny Del Negro

Del Negro “isn’t in jeopardy as much as he isn’t secure. . . . . If things go badly – and there was times last year when it was clear Del Negro did not run the locker room – a midseason change could happen. There is no doubting expectations are high, so early struggles or an outright collapse could cost Del Negro.” TNT’s Reggie Miller adds: “Any time you’re in L.A. coaching marquee players, there’s pressure to perform, and the Clippers are still expected to win even if they are the Lakers’ little brothers. They’re expected now to fill the building. Is the same pressure that’s on Mike? Both have to win and keep the fan base solid.” Their first head-to-head strategy session comes a couple games into the regular season – the first of four meetings that set the tone for how long they both can expect to enjoy this 2012-13 ride.


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Weekly media column version 10.26.12

It’s in this week’s media column: Less than a week to go before the Lakers’ first regular-season game on Time Warner Cable SportsNet … are you plugged in?

This could have been in the column:

mea_culpa_300x260== USC football play-by-play man Pete Arbogast did right to offer up an apology this week to those he thought he may have offended during last Saturday’s 50-6 victory against Colorado contest at the Coliseum. In a discussion late in the game with analyst John Jackson as the Trojans were building a 30-point lead, Arbogast posed the question: Do you think, given a decent college line on both sides of the ball, could the best high school team in Southern California beat this Colorado team? Jackson didn’t think that could happen. Arbogast said he thought it could. “I felt bad about even bringing it up almost as soon as it was out of my mouth, but then it’s already out there and I couldn’t take it back,” Arbogast explained this week. Arbogast said he heard afterward there were some “ruffled feathers” about the comment – many of the Colorado roster is made up of Southern California athletes. He  called in apologizes to officials at Colorado and USC, as well as to Tom Feuer at Fox Sports, the new executive producer of the KSPN-AM (710) broadcast. “I never meant for it to get blown up like this, so I hope we can just put it to bed,” Arbogast said. “Colorado football has been great in the past and will be in the future. It’s all very cyclical like most college sports. I really didn’t mean to make light of them.” Colorado sports information director David Plati said Arbogast “took it upon his own to call me, was very sincere in his apology, which I accepted, and then I told him it was water under the bridge. A very classy move on his part and not one we on the SID side of the aisle get very often.”

== Ken Levine, the former KABC DodgerTalk co-host and a play-by-play man for the Seattle Mariners the last two seasons,  signs copies of his new book, “The Me Generation . . . By Me (Growing Up in the ‘60s) Monday at the Grove Barnes & Noble (7-to-9 p.m.). More on the book:

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‘100 Things Lakers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’: Springer can add 101 …

NEW17ZZNUFPYL._SL500_AA300_Steve Springer, the longtime former Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times who has written several books about the team’s history, notes that there were no local broadcasts of Lakers games in the team’s first season in L.A. in 1961.

It wasn’t until the end of the second round of the playoffs, when owner Bob Short called then USC broadcaster Chick Hearn at 2 a.m. on early morning in March, and asked if he would fly to St. Louis to call Game 5 of the Lakers’ series with the Hawks.

The Lakers had drawn just only 7,802 fans for the two postseason games played at the L.A. Sports Arena before that. After Hearn’s call, they had 14,844 for Game 6 back home.

“Nobody ever questioned the value of a Laker broadcast again,” said Springer.

In light of the latest Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Deportes deal holding up a wider distribution of Lakers games to Southern Californians with the regular season starting a week away, Springer said he couldn’t blame the Lakers for signing the TWC deal, nor could he fault the cable company for paying the rights fees that it did.

“The $120 million a year they are receiving from Time Warner is, with revenue sharing and the luxury tax, the difference between making and losing money. You can’t blame Time Warner for buying control of the hottest team in town. Direct TV and the others are just going to have to negotiate a deal or watch their subscriber list shrink drastically among those who can get TWC.”

Springer, whose most recent Lakers book was co-authoring Jeanie Buss’ autobiography, has a prediction for how this could end:

“Politicians will soon be racing to the nearest camera to be the first to threaten legal action or propose legislation to break this deadlock. Could there be a better or surer way to get votes than by putting the Lakers back in the homes of their constituents?”

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Them’s fightin’ words: TWC defends its position

Time Warner Cable defended its price point and basic-cable strategy of its SportsNet and Deportes channels on Wednesday night after distributors Cox Cable and DirecTV released statements protesting both issues.

Cox Cable, with about 1 million customers in Orange County, San Diego, Las Vegas and the Palos Verdes peninsula, said the reported $3.95 per subscriber per month rate is “one of the highest wholesale prices that we have seen. . . . it is extremely expensive for basically a one-team channel.”

El Segundo-based DirecTV, second to Time Warner in Southern California distribution, said similar reasons are why a deal has not been struck yet as the Lakers’ first regular season game on the channels is set for Oct. 31.

There are 6 million customers in the Lakers’ TV territory that goes north to Fresno, south to the Mexican border, west to Hawaii and east to Las Vegas.

A TWC statement sent out Wednesday night by spokesperson Amy Summers from their El Segundo offices said that “any assertion that we are the highest-priced regional sports outlet in the country is simply untrue; as a significant buyer of regional sports across the country, we know that there are higher priced regional sports networks including Root Sports that we buy from DirecTV.

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