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

6e13ff5963f6491e1f0f6a706700cd51

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.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Play It Forward: Oct. 29-Nov. 4

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

MIKEBROWN-new-offense-in-ONE-NIGHT

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.

BEST OF THE REST:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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: www.megenerationbook.com.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

’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?”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Play it Forward: Oct. 22-28 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

62729-643e5f827903621d1e0f6a706700e265.jpg

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Detroit Tigers’ Delmon Young hits an RBI single in the first inning during Game 4 of the American League championship series against the New York Yankees.

World Series: Detroit vs. San Francisco62731-2012-world-series-feat.png

Game 1: Wednesday at S.F., 4:30 p.m.
Game 2 Thursday at S.F., 4:30 p.m.
Game 3 Saturday at Detroit, 4:30 p.m.
Game 4 Sunday at Detroit, 5 p.m.
(All games on Channel 11)

With all this time for the Tigers to wait again for the start of the World Series, coming off a sweep of the Yankees, why shouldn’t the fans of Detroit look back on that season of 2003 and have a good laugh. A 43-119 finish was enough to be included in the new book, “You Stink! Terrible Teams and Pathetic Players,” where authors Eric Wittenberg and Michael Aubrecht credited those “Scaredy Cats” as having one of the worst 15 seasons in MLB history. Dmitri Young, the former Rio Mesa High of Oxnard star, was on that team — and had a .297 average with 29 homers and 85 RBIs. “A few years down the road, I can look back and say this was the beginning of a dynasty,” Young said at the end of that year. “This was the beginning of the rebuilding process. We started from scratch with flour, eggs and sugar.” Unfortunately, with his personal live in disarray, Young was cut loose from the Tigers’ roster late in the 2006 season before they made an unexpected playoff run that found them in the World Series – yes, just three years after his statement.

62730-ca6b633878a1601d1e0f6a706700fd7c.jpg

Last week, younger brother Delmon Young was the batter whipping the Tigers’ fans into a frenzy. The ALDS MVP sported a .353 batting average, with two homers and six RBIs. This Young also had his personal problems. Consider that back in April, the former Camarillo High star and MLB No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003 was suspended seven days without pay by the leaguefor an altercation and arrest outside the team hotel after a night of drinking. The Tigers stood by him and it has paid off. Batting behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the potent Detroit lineup, Young, primarily as the DH, hit 18 homers with 74 RBIs. “It was family and true friends who stepped up when I was at my lowest,” Dmitri, 12 years older than the 27-year-old Delmon, told the Detroit News last week. “And for Del, it was the same thing. But he just went right back into the fire. It didn’t kill him, so it made him stronger. Anyone that’s dealt with any type of adversity, this is what happens when you don’t quit. … And look what happened. … Del was the ‘Yankee Killer.’ … Me being a big brother, am I proud? Extremely, extremely proud.”

Dmitri says he plans to be at every game of the upcoming World Series, which starts Wednesday in San Francisco.

MONDAY

NBA exhibition: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Which Clippers will sit out this one?

NFL Week 7: Detroit at Chicago, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

 62733-suhcutler.jpgIn the Bears’ 37-17 win over the Lions last November, all heck seemed to break loose. Jay Cutler had his helmet ripped off by Ndamukong Suh. The Lions’ Nate Burleson shoved the Bears’ Tim Jennings out of bounds after an interception of a Matthew Stafford pass in the fourth quarter. While that was going on, Stafford grabbed D.J. Moore by the helmet and threw him to the ground, but Moore ended up getting ejected. And Devin Hester returned a punt 82 yards for TD. He’s still one back of tying Deion Sanders’ NFL record for all-time returns for TDs (19), having already set the record with 17 kickoff returns for TDs. Yes, there are dimwits who still boot the ball to him, just for entertainment’s sake.

TUESDAY

62734-keegan-bradley_r640x320.jpg

Getty Images

Golf: PGA Grand Slam of Golf, first day, 1 p.m.:

From the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda, you’ve got defending Masters champ Bubba Watson, defending U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, defending British Open champ Ernie Els and … not the defending PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy, but the ’11 winner, Keegan Bradley, instead. Bradley, who won this four-man event a year ago, will sub for McIlroy because he says he committed long ago to play in the Shanghai Masters, which starts Thursday (and he’s going to Turkey after that for an exhibition match against Tiger Woods in China on Oct 29). McIlroy was part of the 2011 field, with Charl Schwartzel and Darren Clarke, who couldn’t catch Bradley. TNT also has the second day of play Wednesday (1 to 4 p.m.).

College football: Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette, 5 p.m., ESPN2:

The Red Wolves of ArkState have already lost to Oregon (57-34) and Nebraska (42-13). The Ragin’ Caguns have stumbled against Oklahoma State (65-24) and have Florida on the schedule coming up Nov. 2. Otherwise, these two Sun Belt schools are on target for an appearance in the CVS 24 Hour Pharmacy and Self-Serve Photo Processing Bowl in Xanadu, S.C., if the game and city really existed.

WEDNESDAY

62735-dd138b62c674ab1d1e0f6a7067003a42.jpg

NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Clippers, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet, Prime:

The exhibitionists that come out, enticed by those in attendance who can’t afford a regular-season ticket, could turn this into something more than just another practice game. Let’s be careful out there, guys. The real first meeting isn’t until Nov. 1. That means you, Dwight Howard.

THURSDAY

NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Sacramento, Valley View Casino in San Diego, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet:

The Clippers must be afraid to make these practice-game trips to San Diego, for fear someone will recognize them and deman they return to their original domain. Playing this one in a casino can be a gamble for either team, no matter what great view of the valley is — oh wait, that’s just the name of the old San Diego Sports Arena. Kinda un-clever, isn’t it?

NBA exhibition: Clippers at Denver, 7 p.m., TNT:

It’s also a practice game for the boys in the TNT studios.

NFL Week 8: Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:

The Vikings improved to 4-0 at home after putting away the Cardinals on Sunday.
The Bucs have only played twice on the road this season — and lost both.

FRIDAY

Movie: “Chasing Mavericks,” opens citywide:

The life of Santa Cruz surfer Jay Moriarity is played out by actor Jonny Weston, chronicling his quest as a 15-year-old to conquere what’s considered to be American’s most dangerous wave, with help of local surf legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). Even if you’re not into surfing, watch it for the cinematography. More info: LiveLikeJay.com.

SATURDAY

College football: USC at Arizona, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:

62736-c21cf69ead4b951d1e0f6a706700b8e7.jpg

Last year at the Coliseum, Matt Barkley registered a school-record 468 yards passing and connected on two of his four scores with Robert Woods (255 yards) in a wild 48-41 win. Nick Foles (41-for-53, 425 yards) threw his fourth TD of the game with a minute left to pull the Wildcats one touchdown away. Fifth-year senior Matt Scott, from Corona Centennial, has taken over for Foles this season and in a 52-17 win over Washington on Saturday night, he threw for four TDs. USC has won nine of its last 10 meetings against the Wildcats and haven’t lost in Tuscon since 1999.

College football: UCLA at Arizona State, noon, FX:

The Bruins’ 29-28 win over the then 20th-ranked Sun Devils last season at the Rose Bowl came only after freshman Alex Garoutte’s 46-yard field goal try at time ran out fluttered and fell short. If it comes up again, Garoutte has hit only six of 10 field goal tries this season, with a long of 43 and a miss at 51 already. His miss at 43 last week against Oregon could have given his team an early lead against the Ducks, who ended up running away with a 43-21 victory that only looked closer because of two ASU TDs in the fourth quarter. Sun Devils QB Taylor Kelly is eighth in the country with a 168.6 passing rating.

College football:
Florida vs. Georgia, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Texas Tech at Kansas State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11
Notre Dame at Oklahoma, 5 p.m., Channel 7
Mississippi State at Alabama, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Colorado at Oregon, noon, Pac-12 Network
Oregon State at Washington, 7:15 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Washington State at Stanford, 3:15 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Cal at Utah, 6:45 p.m, Pac-12 Network
Tennessee at South Carolina, 9 a.m., ESPN:

We still aren’t supposed to call it the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party,” but this “Classic” in Jacksonville, Fla., takes extra interest after the Bulldogs stunned the Gators, 24-20, a year ago after losing the previous three in a row. And four games on the Pac-12 Network? That’ll boost the push to get it into DirecTV homes again.

SUNDAY

NFL Week 8:
San Diego at Cleveland, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Oakland at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
New Orleans at Denver, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11
Washington at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m., Channel 11
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 10 a.m, Channel 11

The Giants have have already lost to the Cowboys, on that special opening day, after Tony Romo threw for 307 yards and 3 TDs in a 24-17 victory at the Meadowlands. The Cowboys have gone 2-3 since then, but that includes last Sunday’s 19-14 victory over Carolina. Romo’s 82.1 passing rating is just 19th best in the league; Eli Manning’s 94.9 is seventh best.

MLS: Galaxy vs. Seattle, Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN:

The Galaxy’s final game of the regular season comes three days after they have to journey to Suarez, Mexico to play a CCL game against something called Isidro Metapan (7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel).

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Tums Fast Relief 500, Martinsville, Tenn., 11 a.m., ESPN:

The return of Dale Earnhardt Jr., after sitting out two weeks with concussion-like syndrome will be the sidebar story to this one as Brad Keselowski tries to extend his seven-point lead over Jimmie Johnson with just three races left in the season after this. Back on April 1, Ryan Newman came out with the victory at Martinsville, his only win of the 2012 season. Keselowski has never led a single lap at Martinsville in his two career races.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Five things we learned this past weekend: Oct. 19-21

62739-25432a7ec6c3ac1d1e0f6a706700d083.jpg

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, all on the court at the same time, during the second half of the Lakers’ 99-92 exhibition loss at Staples Center against Sacramento on Sunday.

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve heading back into the work week:

62738-b3c3c2bdc676ab1d1e0f6a706700b609.jpg

1. “Godzilla took Tokyo. King Kong conquered New York. Los Angeles, Dwight Howard has arrived.” That was the lead by USA Today’s Adi Joseph on the news service’s blog post early Monday after the first D-Howard sighting in Laker gold of the season – yes, another exhibition loss. In 33 minutes, Howard scored 19 points (8-for-12 shooting), had 12 rebounds and four blocks. And five turnovers. And just 3-for-8 at the line. He hasn’t played in six months. He snatched an alley-oop pass from Steve Nash for his first points, and did another with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Check, check and check. And his back checked out OK. Now, about Antawn Jamison hitting a shot or two.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Dwight Howard, right, jokes with head coach Mike Brown prior to their exhibition game Sunday at Staples Center.

2. Was Matt Barkley really out of the Heisman conversation? If so, quarterback sneak him back in, no matter what is said by self-proclaimed Heisman blog specialists. The six TD performance against Colorado (yes, we know) put him back on the national radar as far as ESPN’s knee-jerkers were concerned. Seems that West Virginia’s Geno Smith picked a bad week to throw his first two picks of the season in a lopsided loss to Kansas State, led by their own trophy candidate, Collin Klein, and now No. 3 in the BCS poll. In Barkley’s favor going down the stretch: USC, which inched up to No. 9 in the poll (but only an average of No. 16 by the computers), gives him a chance to shine against Oregon and Notre Dame, both currently in the top 5. Klein doesn’t have that kind of marquee opponent the rest of the way.

62740-c2b2f7b2ac0f901d1e0f6a7067007ad0.jpg

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood pulls away from the BYU defense in the second half of Saturday’s 17-14 win in South Bend, Ind.

3. Was Notre Dame really out of the national championships conversation? Perhaps, but not so much anymore. The Irish’s 17-15 win over BYU didn’t do a lot for style points, but it displayed the team’s tough mentality. Next question: Can the Irish offense put up enough points against the Oklahoma defense next week? Get past that, and it’s three easy pieces (Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest) before it shows up at the Coliseum to play USC with a possible 11-0 record.

62741-d6369a6dc5e3a81d1e0f6a706700b2e3.jpg

4. Would the San Francisco Giants have finished off the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series in fewer than seven games if they activated Melky Cabrera, the league batting champ (no matter what he or Bud Selig says) who is, by all rights, allowed to be added to the team’s roster? His replacement in left field, Gregor Blanco, is hitting just .212 in the postseason, and a meager .158 (3-for-19) in six games against the Cardinals. Cabrera, after serving a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, is persona-non-grata now in San Francisco – which is rich since, because of him, the Giants stand to have a home-field advantage in the World Series if they knock off St. Louis in tonight’s Game 7. The real benefactor of Cabrera’s absence: Pablo Sandoval (above) — aka, the “Come Through” Panda — moved up to the No. 3 spot, and hitting .320 this series, with two homers and five RBIs with one more left.

62743-145447265_crop_exact.jpg
62742-d95d61e9b076a41d1e0f6a706700e6ce.jpg

5. Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder calling ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steele his main squeeze is apparently a bigger deal than any of the state’s 10,000 lakes. He posted a tweet – then deleted it — confirming the relationship when a fan asked about it. When reporters started gathering around his locker after Friday’s practice, Ponder had to ponder his reasons for even letting the Steele out of the bag. “This is big news, huh? Good Lord.” Ponder is 24. Steele is 26. “I’m proud of the relationship,” added Ponder, who has been called “Mr. Steele” by his teammates now. “I can brag. I’ve got bragging rights, I believe.” Steele really can’t be bragging, though. Dating an athlete while working at a network . . . not a great career move. We’re not sure even Erin Andrews did that. Then again, we’ve seen Steele’s arm during a few “College GameDay” episodes. Ponder has something to worry about.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

This band of bothers … how do we get rid of our yellow-fever “Livestrong” shackles?

62724-SMALLDSC02403.JPG

The yellow rubberized wristband on my left arm caught the attention of the women scanning all my of Ben & Jerry’s frozen yogurts containers in the supermarket check-out stand Saturday morning.

“Hey, live strong!” she blurted out, holding up her own left arm to display her yellow bracelet.

A few seconds after I swiped my ATM card, I figured out what provoked this band-bonding moment — she was implying that we both were in public support of the “LIVESTRONG” slogan to fight cancer on behalf of cycling marvel Lance Armstrong.

I didn’t have the heart to correct her.

“CHEAT TO WIN,” it said on my piece of silicone.

I slip this one on once and awhile for a reminder — don’t believe everything you read, don’t get sucked into everything that seems to be the perfect solution, don’t be surprised when athletes fail to live up to the ridiculous standards we often expect of them.

I shouldn’t be caught off guard with others still don’t get the message.

Back in 2006, after Floyd Landis was stripped of his Tour de France victory, the “CHEAT TO WIN” parody bracelets were produced by The Onion, the satiristic and savvy “Nation’s Finest News Source” that seized upon the opportunity to make fun of the Armstrong phenomenon that had become a Nike-induced fashion accessory.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike were behind cranking out these $1 scraps of rubber into a mult-million dollar fundraiser in the name of cancer-curing research.
Presidential candidates sported them, as well as all the top-flight actors and actresses, Olympic athletes and anyone else who wanted to be on part of Team Armstrong.

Wikipedia even has a page for it (linked here).

It led to spin-offs of different colors, raising awareness upon awareness of other diseases that needed our funding.

Yellow fever must have been one of the causes we failed to fully acknowledge.

While we were kept aware that Armstrong had to keep fighting off doping allegations that came with every one of his seven Tour de France titles, his tests kept turning up positively negative.

This past week, something snapped back.

The latest “overwhelming” evidence produced by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency forced Armstrong to decide it was time to step down as chairman of this charity he founded 15 years ago. Nike was one of several who dropped him as a corporate sponsor quicker than a chain coming off a sprocket.

What a nice strong-arm tactic by the uber-company that had created this global marketing icon. Phil Knight might has as well have been leading Armstrong away to shame jail with wrists bound by “LIVESTRONG” bracelets.

So, Phil, what do you propose we do with all these Armstrong bands of support now?

At the Livestrong online store (linked here), the thing that comes in three sizes continue to sell — 10 for 10 bucks, 100 for $100. Because the hundreds of millions of dollars already raised isn’t enough.

At the Onion store, the “CHEAT TO WIN” bands aren’t around any longer. Try eBay.com.
Which one speaks louder now?

The one athlete who may have changed a huge segment of the sporting population into believing that he could power through against the C-word makes any us now mull over our own C-words: Conflicted, confused and probably even more cynical.

Wendy Adams of Manchester, Penn., told CNN (linked here) this week that she and her sisters wore the bracelets when their dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004. He died a year later. The family respected his wishes by having him cremated wearing the bracelet.

But Adams said she can’t wear hers anymore. She now refers to the seven-time Tour winning* (to be determined) Armstrong as “a liar, a manipulator.”

Some have taken to adjusting their bracelets to darkening out the “V” so it reads “LIE STRONG.” A few years ago, some guy started cranking out black “LIVE WRONG” bands. Not to mock those who had cancer, but have a laugh at the expense of those who dropped out of Corporate America to get on their bikes and live in the mountains.

With mountains of evidence now apparently sending Armstrong to retreat from Corporate America, there’s a larger mountain of yellow wristbands that must be dealt with.

Use them to hold the trash can liner in place? Stretch them around the stack of Armstrong biographies on your book shelf as you donate them to the local library, to be shelved under “sports,” “history” or “supernatural occurrences”?

Scrap that. The stupid thing is Nike actually has a program on its website (linked here) that could help here.

It has been soliciting used or broken “LIVESTRONG” bracelets for years as part of its “Reuse-a-Shoe” program. They’ll crush ‘em up and regenerate them into material used to resurface a playground.

The best answer is to recycle, at a time when our most notorious cyclist will soon be trying to reinvent himself and restore his image in the court of public opinion.

Of course, those who want to keep the bands as a reminder that they or someone they love actually beat cancer, more power to you. Let the grieving process continue as you read more about Armstrong’s legacy.

Those of us who keep our “CHEAT TO WIN” band nearby as a reminder of things we can’t fix, maybe more compassion for us. Our grieving process is a daily issue.

That, and the skin that thickens around the band just makes it tougher and tougher to slip off each time.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Pardon our French, but ‘Bleu Monday,’ even 31 years later, still resonates

Rick Monday hit the ball, but couldn’t see where it went.

Vin Scully doesn’t recall seeing it all that well either. But then, he didn’t think he’d be there to watch the game in the first place.

62709-Rick-Monday-Los-Angeles-Dodgers.jpg

On Oct. 19, 1981, Game 5 of the National League Championship Series became a moment frozen in Dodger history – in more ways than one.

Monday’s two-out, ninth-inning home run was the knockout punch in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Expos, punctuated by Monday throwing his fist in the air like a prizefighter as he rounded first base.

When it was over, Dodger players in the locker room at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium were singing a version of “The Happy Wanderer,” about to take a short flight to New York to begin another World Series appearance against the Yankees – one where this group would finally come out victorious.

As to how that events unfolded 31 years ago today, maybe it’s best if we let Monday and Scully use their best broadcast voices to explain it. We’ll just try to fill in the loose impediments.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Weekly media column version 10.19.12

What’s included in this week’s media column (linked here): A tightened-up version of the blog item we posted Thursday, comparing the current Time Warner Cable SportsNet/Deportes launch to when Fox Sports West broke out with FSW2 in 1997 (linked here). Check out the commercials FSW ran in trying to explain to viewers why the extra channel was needed. Simple, yes?

What’s not included:

== We admit to not being all that compelled to find out why ESPN changed up its NBA pregame show, even with keeping Magic Johnson on board. SI.com felt otherwise and you can read here why someone like Bill Simmons is included in the group (linked here) and Stan Van Gundy isn’t.

== TWC SportsNet has its first Galaxy-Lakers live doubleheader on Sunday, with the MLS team’s game at San Jose airing at 4 p.m., followed by the Lakers’ exhibition at home against Sacramento at 6:30 p.m. TWC Deportes doesn’t have the Galaxy game live since Galavision has the Spanish-language rights to it. As this is the next-to-last Galaxy regular-season game, their finale against Seattle on Oct. 28 is set for ESPN. They also have a CCL game in Mexico on Oct. 25 that’ll be carried on Fox Soccer Channel.

== Kevin Calabro, Adam Archuleta and Yogi Roth have the USC-Colorado game from the Coliseum (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network). UCLA, if you haven’t figured it out, has a bye week. Elsewhere in the conference, Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt and Petros Papadakis have Stanford at Cal (noon, Channel 11), Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen and Shannon Spake call Utah at Oregon State (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) andTed Robinson, Glenn Parker and Ryan Nece have Washington-Arizona (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

== Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox have Florida State at Miami (5 p.m., Channel 7); Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe have Alabama at Tennessee (4 p.m., ESPN); Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock are on BYU-Notre Dame (12:30 p.m., Channel 4); Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Jenn Brown have LSU at Texas A&M (9 a.m., ESPN), Gus Johnson and Charles Davis have Kansas State at West Virginia (4 p.m., Channel 11).

== The network NFL (non “Sunday Ticket”) lineup: CBS has Baltimore-Houston (10 a.m., Channel 2, with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf) and N.Y. Jets-New England (1:25 p.m., Channel 2 with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms). Fox has Washington-N.Y. Giants (10 a.m., Channel 11 with Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver, as Joe Buck is stuck on the NLCS and in no territorial condition to do another double-header with NLCS Game 6 scheduled for Sunday in San Francisco at 4:30 p.m.).

== Next episode of HBO’s “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.): A Frank Deford piece on the NFL Films legacy in the wake of the Steve Sabol’s passing on Sept. 18 (it revisits a 2007 piece that Deford did on the company’s impact), and a Bryant Gumbel probing of Michael Strahan, the “NFL on Fox” L.A.-based studio analyst who continually takes jabbing from his colleagues for replacing Regis Philbin as the new co-host of ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Michael.”

==Time Inc., has named Paul Fichtenbaum the editor of the company’s Sports Group — essentially, Sports Illustrated (plus Golf and SIKids) — succeeding Terry McDonell, promoted to a senior advisor at Time Inc., concentrating on digital initiatives. Chris Stone has also been promoted to Sports Illustrated’s managing editor. Fichtenbaum, editorial director for the sports group prior to the promotion, has been at SI since 1989.

== What’s so insane about the idea of the Long Snap Channel? (linked here). Or Gary Bettman’s surprise that the NHL lockout has generated so much publicity (linked here). Or something about Stephen A. Smith needing some kid time (linked here).

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email