Five things we learned this past weekend: Oct. 5-7

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(AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)
Dwight Howard, right, shares a laugh with new Lakers teammates Andrew Goudelock, left, and Darius Morris in the first half of Sunday’s exhibition game against Golden State in Fresno.

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve:

1. How did the Lakers’ main players look trying to master Mike Brown’s new Princeton offense? Was that ridiculous final score in favor of the Warriors an indication of what really happened? Honestly, we have no clue.

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We could have used an Ivy Leaguer with a few connections to hook up those of us with DirecTV, Dish, Charter, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Cox – anything but Time Warner Cable, which proudly aired Sunday night’s Lakers’ exhibition game in Fresno. Until then, we’ll sit back and pretend we know what’s going on by a) listening to games on the radio (but not on the 710-AM website), b) reading the newspaper (there’s a novel idea), c) talking to friends who have TWC SportsNet (and maybe asking to borrow their password so we can access things online) or d) letting others do the whining for us. Actually, it’s even a bit deceptive to say that Time Warner late last week signed up Bright House Communications to take the channel, because that’s a company with just a tiny slice of the Lakers’ coverage market (Bakersfield), TWC used to own it, and now it negotiates on Bright House’s behalf. “I think the most confusing part of all this is the name Time Warner Cable as the name of the channel,” said Lakers business chief Jeanie Buss. “I would be upset as well if I was in an area that was only serviced by Cox Cable so I wouldn’t even have the option of switching to TWC.” Confusing, amusing and, really, a result of the Lakers’ own choosing. And that’s before hearing about Reeves Nelson’s air ball on a free throw that missed so badly, it went under the net.

2. The fix is in at UCLA, which, already teetering on the edge at No. 25 in the AP Top 25 poll, couldn’t even get a cursory “others receiving votes” after its 43-17 collapse at Cal on Saturday. Be thankful if you didn’t have the Pac-12 Network to watch how it all unraveled. You could have seen all the drops that the Bruins’ receivers had, and then wondered why the team already has two defensive players who have caught passes for a TD on offense. USC, meanwhile, could have salted away a lopsided victory Thursday night in Salt Lake City, but made the degree of difficulty look far more important with its 38-28 decision over Utah, still enough to slink up from No. 13 to No. 11 in the AP poll (thanks to losses by previous No. 3 Florida State and No. 5 Georgia dropped them farther than No. 4 LSU dropped after its loss to No. 10 Florida). It could have pushed Matt Barkley back into the Heisman talk, but then, Geno Smith’s four TDs in a win over Texas should keep the West Virginia quarterback as the lead dog for another week (24 TDs total this season without a pick for the 5-0 Mountaineers). In all, nine Top 25 teams lost on Saturday – that hasn’t happened since Oct. 18, 2008. Yet we’ve already got our first group of bowl-eligible teams: Ohio University was the quickest to 6-0 only because its win over Buffalo was earlier in the day than victories captured by Ohio State, South Carolina and Oregon. Don’t celebrate too early. Last season’s Illinois team started 6-0, finished 6-6 and all that was left to feast on was UCLA in the Kraft Hunger Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

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(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
A woman speaks to a another spectator after being hit with a bottle as fans from the upper deck threw trash onto the field after a umpire call during the eighth inning of the NL wild card game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday in Atlanta. The game was stopped after officials decided Braves’ Andrelton Simmons was out on the infield fly rule and fans littered the field with debris. The Cardinals went on to win 6-3.

3. The infield fly rule, according to the MLB’s section 2.00 of the rulebook definition of terms, is “a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. . . . when it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare ‘Infield Fly’ for the benefit of the runners. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.” MLB rulekeeper Joe Torre immediately ruled that the Atlanta Braves’ protest would be denied after a botched infield fly call didn’t help their cause in Friday’s do-or-die NL Wild Card game against St. Louis. The ump erred. But then, so did the Braves – three of them in the course of the contest. That’s why they lost. Not because of some slow-triggered ump added down the left-field line. Braves fans who want to litter the field with bottles, cans and foam tomahawks only showed their ignorance. Not a classy way to show Chipper Jones the final exit.

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4. The Indianapolis Colts of 2012 are going to be your New Orleans Saints of 2005. Colts coach Chuck Pagano, hospitalized with what’s been called a treatable form of leukemia, inspired the team with a letter this week asking them not to dedicate a game to him but just even its record to 2-2 by capturing a win over Green Bay. Thanks to a late field-goal miss by the Packers, which followed rookie quarterback Andrew Luck’s two-minute-drill TD drive, the comeback victory was accomplished, erasing Aaron Rodgers’ heroics. The Colts’ victory was so important, Fox stayed on with its post-game show nearly 10 minutes long to make sure viewers saw how it ended. So was all the “Chuckstrong” support that was evident throughout the stadium.

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5. St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher may have been nominated for the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year award by the American Mustache Institute – he’ll find out if he won at the AMI’s Oct. 27 “Stash Bash” in Mesa, Ariz., But honestly, the former Taft High and USC standout has nothing on Philadelphia Eagles head man Andy Reid. With or without the application of Miracle Grow, Reid’s labia sebuculas (that’s Latin for “lip sweater”) rivals a tackling dummy, surpassing Craig Stadler, nearing Wilfrod Brimley and not far from having to change his name to Yosemite Sam. Coo-coo-ca-choo. Reid was shown in a Fox montage during Sunday’s Eagles-Steelers game of those with facial hair “from the expertly sculpted (Steelers coach Mike Tomlin) to the unruly.” Reid has said he stopped trimming the walrus look after the passing of his L.A. Marshall High offensive line coach Andy Cheschelski, as a way to honor him as well as another one of his prep coaches, Danny Hime. “Those guys have been watching over me since I was a kid, and I really appreciate all they’ve done for me in my life,” Reid recently told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “My wife doesn’t even know why I’m doing this.”

And a bonus thing we learned:

== Brand new episodes of “Cougar Town” are coming to TBS this January. So the series hasn’t just died a natural death on ABC? Sorry to hear that.

Finally, our favorite photo(s) of the week:

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(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning sniffs smelling salts on the sideline in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game at New England. When he woke up, the Broncos still were on the wrong side of a 31-21 score.

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