15 years later, can we compare the ’12 TWC SportsNet-Lakers launch to the ’97 FSW2-Dodgers’ debate?

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It happened in the middle of August, 2001.

During the Dodgers’ 13-1 win over the visiting Montreal Expos, Shawn Green hit three homers and drove in seven runs. After his second homer, he handed one of his batting gloves to 14-year-old Lauren Cane of Chatsworth, sitting in the dugout seats near the Dodgers’ on-deck circle with her sister Reagan.

Lauren’s emotions over receiving the gift were so priceless that Vin Scully began to do play-by-play on her expressions during the Fox Sports West 2 telecast.

Her parents watching the game at home must have been just as excited, right? Not really.

“We have Time Warner Cable,” Cane told a Dodgers employee at the game.

Stories like this come to mind when trying to connect the dots in time, starting with the current launching situation of Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Deportes to a Southern California population of Lakers fans as a focal point.

No new movement has taken place in the talks between TWC and the group that includes DirecTV, Dish, Charter, Cox, AT&T Uverse or Verizon FiOS, meaning tonight’s Lakers’ exhibition game in Las Vegas won’t be on those competing entities, and likely the same for the remaining exhibitions leading up to the Oct. 30 season opener (which is on TNT against Dallas).

That story more than 11 years ago was framed around what had become the latest Time Warner Cable carriage dispute, here with the two local Fox Sports West channels — now rebranded as Fox Sports Net and Prime Ticket. TWC was one of several companies that balked at a surcharge forced onto them, so it stopped showing Dodgers games starting in July and through the end of the season. The Angels, too, were eventually cut off to TWC subscribers for the second half of the season on FSW.

FSW2 actually launched four years earlier, in 1997, if we’re attempting to draw a better comparison to this TWC SportsNet/Deportes scenario.

That business decision seemed logical, but drew plenty of pushback from cable operators who didn’t want to incur extra fees just because Fox Sports West had gobbled up the local TV rights to the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks and needed more channel room for all the overlap.

DirecTV was a small-time player back then, in the infancy of its existence, but gaining momentum as an alternative for those tired of watching cable company dominance. Players like Time Warner had far more real estate protected, but it was being challenged.

The local sports TV landscape might be a bit different in the last decade or so, but a lot of the moving parts to the art of the negotiation really haven’t changed, which allows for some educated guessing by experienced negotiators on how this latest mele may play out.

“It’s all relative, because things have grown so huge with what’s financially at stake, but in a lot of ways I don’t think it’s that much different,” Kitty Cohen, the former vice president and general manager of FSW and FWS2 at the time of the second channel’s launch, said this week.

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Reeves Nelson v. Time Inc. a no go, says judge

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A lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Reeves Nelson against Time Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, and senior writer George Dohrmann has been dismised by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy, the magazine says.

Murphy ruled Tuesday that Nelson could not proceed with his defamation lawsuit against Sports Illustrated and Dohrmann in publishing of the story “Not the UCLA Way” (March 5, 2012 issue of SI, linked here). The story chronicled the decline of the UCLA program in recent years, including conduct by Nelson that preceded his dismissal from the team late last year by coach Ben Howland.

The court’s lengthy ruling, according to SI, “cited to evidence of Dohrmann’s reliance on numerous sources and other extensive work in researching and writing the article.”

Nelson sought $10 million in compensatory damages, plus $10 million in punitive damages for how he was portrayed.

SI released a statement: “We have stood behind the reporting of our Pulitzer Prize winning writer since day one. We are pleased that after reviewing the case, the court agreed it should be dismissed.”

Dohrmann said he used 11 sources in his story.

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How classic would it be to watch some of the Kings’ games from last season? FSW has ‘em

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(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Jarret Stoll celebrates teammate Willie Mitchell’s goal against Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo in the second period of Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal game in Vancouver on April 11.

Since the current NHL lockout knocked out a host of games that Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket were prepared to air, starting last Friday, the networks have put together a schedule of “classic” edited-down games from last season that will go on instead.

For the Kings, it’s start with the first-round 2012 Stanley Cup playoff games against Vancouver. It goes like this:

Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Game 1 at Vancouver, a 4-2 victory
Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.: Game 2 at Vancouver, Dustin Brown’s two short-handed goals and Jonathan Quick’s 46 saves put the Kings up 2-0.
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.: Game 3 home vs. Vancouver: Brown scores the only goal and Quick made 41 saves, and some how the Kings are up 3-0 on the No. 1 seeds.
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 9:30 p.m.: Game 5 at Vancouver: Jarret Stoll’s OT goal clinched the series.

The Ducks are going farther back in the time machine — to 2003, their Stanley Cup title march — on Prime Ticket:

The four so far set:
Tonight, 7 p.m.: Ducks at Detroit, Round 1 Game 1, April 10, 2003. Ducks win in triple overtime.
Tonight, 9:30 p.m.: Ducks vs. Detroit, Round 1 Game 4, April 16, 2003. Ducks sweep the Red Wings out of the playoffs with an overtime victory. Jean-Sebastien Giguere saved 165 of 171 shots in the series.
Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.: Ducks at Dallas, Round 2 Game 2, April 26, 2003. Mike Leclerc’s overtime goal gave the Ducks a 2-0 series lead.
Tuesday, Oct. 23, 9:30 p.m.: Ducks vs. Dallas, Round 2 Game 6, May 5, 2003. Sandis Ozolinsh’s late goal clinched the series and launched the Ducks into the conference finals.

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Now it’s Anaheim’s turn to boo-in on Lakers-TWC SportsNet sitaution

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During the Lakers’ first home exhibition game of the season, last Saturday against the Jazz at Staples Center, fans booed frequently whenever a Time Warner commercial was shown on the scoreboard video screen.

Anaheim, it’s your call.

As of today, the need to see the Lakers’ fourth stop in the eight-game exhibition season tonight against Utah at the Honda Center did not facilitate any resolution in negotiations between TWC and all other dish and cable outlets in Southern California for the distribution of its SportsNet and Deportes channels.

Lakers coach Mike Brown, an Anaheim Hills resident, told the Orange County Register on Monday that even he was confused about whether he received games at home on his DirecTV service.

“I’d like my wife and kids to be able to see me coach, you know?” he said. “How’s that whole thing working, anyway?”

Well, you know … Like always. It takes time. And hand-wringing.

DirecTV, Dish Network, Cox, Charter, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse are the main providers who have so far refused to pay the $3.95 per subscriber, per month fee asked by TWC, based in El Segundo. Expect more to happen as the Lakers’ first regular-season game exclusive to TWC happens on Halloween night when the team plays in Portland, the day after the season begins at home against Dallas on TNT.

Lakers spokesman John Black: “We expect that Time Warner will reach deals with other TV providers in the near future, but I cannot give you an estimate on when.”

The Lakers’ next stop — in Las Vegas, to play Sacramento on Friday — is another part of the TWC SportsNet and Deportes coverage area that receive games. On Oct. 25, the Lakers have an exhibition game in San Diego, where their games are televised as well.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers began a 45-day negotiation period Monday with Fox Sports West to possibly renew their local TV rights deal. They have until Nov. 30 to figure out a resolution starting after the 2013 season, or else TWC is expected to jump in and begin overpaying for those rights as well — it has already given the Lakers a reported $3 billion deal to own their local TV carriage for the next 20 years.

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Play It Forward: Oct. 15-21 on your sports calendar

UPDATED: Monday, 2 p.m.

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

MLB playoffs:

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National League Championship Series — St. Louis vs. San Francisco:
Game 2: Monday at San Francisco, 5 p.m.
Game 3: Wednesday at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Thursday at St. Louis, 5 p.m.
Game 5*: Friday at St. Louis, 5 p.m.
Game 6*: Sunday at San Francisco, 1:30 p.m.
(all games on Channel 11)
*-if necessary

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American League Championship Series — N.Y. Yankees vs. Detroit:
Game 3: Tuesday at Detroit, 5 p.m.
Game 4: Wednesday at Detroit, 5 p.m.
Game 5*: Thursday at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Game 6*: Saturday at New York, 5 p.m.
Game 7*: Sunday at New York, 5 p.m.
(all games on TBS):
*-if necessary

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Under the category of “stuff Justin Verlander’s grandpa says” — Richard Verlander Sr., was quoted by an entertainment news service called Celebuzz that he approves of Kate Upton dating his grandson. Apparently whenever the Detroit Tigers’ defending AL Cy Young and MVP is seen in the vicinity of the SI swimsuit cover model / actress, everyone feels a need to comment on it. “I heard he has been on dates with a Sports Illustrated girl,” grandpa said. “I saw a photo – she’s beautiful. They make a good looking pair because he’s a good looking man too. I do know he’s on the dating scene. Justin is a fine boy and whoever he ends up with is lucky. He’s not only a great baseball player, he’s a great guy.” Rumors started earlier this year when the 29-year-old Verlander was on the same MLB video game commercial set with the 20-year-old actress, perhaps best known as playing a busty nun in the “Three Stooges” remake or doing “The Dougie” in a video at a Clippers game in April 2011 that went viral.

See it here:

The Michigan native was also spotted in a Comerica Park luxury box with one of Verlander’s friends, and the two were seen during a Tigers’ September roadie in Chicago. Soon, came the “Upton Girl” song parody of Billy Joel’s “Up Town Girl” (linked here): What’s really be eye-popping lately is when Verlander is on the mound. As much neck-craning as there might be for another Upton sightings during Game 3 of the ALCS, enough TV cameras will also be focused on Verlander’s performance against the Yankees, coming off a four-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in the do-or-die Game 5 of the ALDS against Oakland. He’s called the best he’s pitched in a career that includes two no-hitters. “Verlander’s so great right now, he reminds me of a Dave Stewart, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Chris Carpenter – guys who in a particular postseason, when he gets the ball, you’re going down,” said Michael Wilbon on a recent episode of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.” Added Tony Kornheiser: “He is, at the moment, the beast of beasts.” And the best at what he’s doing can come back for a Game 7 if necessary. As if the Tigers need such an insurance policy with a 2-0 lead over the Yankees going back to Motown. The Detroit starting pitchers have a streak of 29 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run in the post season, just one inning behind breaking a record held by the ’74 Athletics.

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Meanwhile, in the NLCS, the aformentioned Carpenter starts in Monday’s Game 2 for the Cardinals, trying to give them a 2-0 lead against the Giants. In 16 career playoff starts, Carpenter is 10-2 with a 2.88 ERA, part of two World Series titles, including winning Game 7 last year on three days’ rest. That followed his 1-0 complete-game win over the Phillies and Roy Halladay in Game 5 of last year’s NLDS. Carpenter is 1-0 in this post-season, going 5 2/3 innings in an 8-0 win over Washington. This, after posting an 0-2 record and 3.71 ERA during the regular season, when he came back from supposedly season-ending surgery and recovered in time for the playoffs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Carpenter is the third pitcher in major-league history to start a postseason game after not recording a win during the preceding regular season. The first pitcher to do that was the Tigers’ Virgil Trucks in 1945. He started twice in the World Series after coming back from a U.S. Navy discharge in time to pitch the last game of the regular season. The other was Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo in 2008. He missed most of that season due to knee injuries and he pitched in only four games for the Brewers without registering a decision. He started (and lost) the NLDS opener in Philadelphia.

MONDAY

NFL Week 6: Denver at San Diego, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

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For some reason, Chargers coach Norv Turner blasted a bunch of crowd noise during the team’s practices last week as they prepped for the Broncos. That was in addition to fighter jets performing in the Miramar Air Show showering down even more audio distractions on Saturday. “I anticipate our crowd to be loud,” Turner said. “They will be a big part of how we play and they can really affect the game. When you are playing a team that is no huddle and you are asking your crowd to be loud, you have to make calls, too. We have to make our adjustments. I just want them to get that feeling of the no-huddle.” No kidding. But has Turner been to a game in laid-back San Diego recently? A place that’s never a guarantee to be sold out? A key match up to watch is how Denver linebacker Von Miller, who leads the team with five sacks, lines up over Chargers left tackle Mike Harris, the undrafted rookie out of UCLA who will likely play in place of the injured Jared Gaither. “My technique needs to be good every time I go back on my pass protection,” Harris told CBSSports.com. “(Miller) is going to use his eyes to try to make me misdirect him. I just need to focus and fire that punch.” Peyton Manning’s 2-3 Broncos have lost three of four after a season-opening win over Pittsburgh, but that’s not really his problem. “The problem has been getting the ball back to our offense,” Denver coach John Fox said. “It’s something I can promise you will get better, and it will get addressed. In time, hopefully, we get it.” Denver is tied for 28th with a minus-6 turnover differential, and the defense played more than 35 minutes last weekend in a loss at New England.

TUESDAY

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NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Utah, Honda Center in Anaheim, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet:

Will Anaheim ever have its own hoops franchise? This would have been a better place for the Lakers to play the Sacramento Kings. You can always try to dazzle the O.C. crowd by having these appearances that don’t count in the standings but at least generate parking revenue.

Soccer: 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying: U.S. vs. Guatemala in Kansas City, Kan., 4:15 p.m., ESPN2:

A victory or draw for the Americans at Livestrong Sporting Park – again, without the injured Landon Donovan — sends them off to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying. But there’s still some crazy math that that could presumably occur that knocks the U.S. out of one of the top two spots in this Group A long before many could have expected. These two ended up in a 1-1 tie back in June when Marco Pappa scored on a free kick in the 83rd minute to prevent a probable American victory provided by a Clint Dempsey goal.

College football: Louisiana-Lafayette at North Texas, 6 p.m., ESPN2:

Yup, they’re playing on Tuesday nights now.

WEDNESDAY

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

The assumption is the Clippers will return in one piece from their trip to China — or, if not, at least Crazy-glued together after that bonding experience.

Golf: Series, “Our Longest Drive,” 7:30 p.m., Golf Channel:

With their friend Mike’s ashes in tow, three Chicago golf buddies named Dan, Jim and Vic take a 5,500-mile journey of self-discovery in an RV, ending up at the Arctic Circle to play one last round of golf together. All are past retirement age, each with health issues and no previous experience traveling in an RV,it’s apparent they’re not ideally suited for this trek. But they’ve turned this into a six-episode series, focused on the wooden box with the remains of the day. More on the series (linked here).

THURSDAY

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NFL Week 7: Seattle at San Francisco, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:

We do enjoy ourselves these twice-annual Pete Carroll vs. Jim Harbaugh matchups. In his first year with the 49ers a year ago, Harbaugh bags both victories, 33-17 on opening day in San Francisco, and 19-17 in Week 16 in Seattle. Their second meeting this season is in Week 16 on Dec. 23. So that’s the deal.

College football: Oregon at Arizona State, 6 p.m., ESPN:

The Ducks and Sun Devils are two of three teams left in the Pac-12 with an undefeated conference record. Just two left after this one.

NBA exhibition: Boston at Brooklyn, 5 p.m., TNT:

Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Mike Fratello and David Aldridge visit the new arena in Brooklyn. The Net effect: If they don’t concentrate too much on the game and show more architecture, we’d be OK.

FRIDAY

NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Sacramento, Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet:

A Vegas excursion is a gamble for any NBA team. Especially when the Maloof brothers aren’t such hot shots anymore having had to give up all that ownership of the Palms Hotel.

College football: Connecticut at Syracuse, 5 p.m., ESPN:

You think we enjoy listing these games to fill out a date with a hole in it?

SATURDAY

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(Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
USC’s Marqise Lee makes a diving catch in the end zone in front of Colorado defensive back Greg Henderson at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo., during the Trojans’ win over the Buffaloes in 2011. And this catch didn’t even count — he landed out of bounds.

College football: USC vs. Colorado, Coliseum, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

For some reason, this was declared a 93,607-seat sellout back on Oct. 9. Maybe because those who have DirecTV, Charter Cable, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse knew they’d be blacked out. Since an aberration in the schedule at Washington State allowed Colorado to take an improbable 35-34 victory, the Buffalos have amassed just 31 points in their last two losses while giving up a total of 93 points to UCLA and Arizona State. On a Friday night in November a year ago in Colorado, Matt Barkley threw for 318 yards and six TDs in a 42-17 victory.

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College football:
Stanford at Cal, noon, Channel 11
South Carolina at Florida, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Florida State at Miami, 5 p.m., Channel 7
LSU at Texas A&M, 9 a.m., ESPN
Purdue at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 7
Michigan State at Michigan, 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
BYU at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., Channel 4
Kansas State at West Virginia, 4 p.m, Channel 11
Alabama at Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPN
Kansas at Oklahoma, 4 p.m., FSW
Washington at Arizona, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Utah at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

It’s tough to figure out how the new configuration of the Pac-12 dictates that Cal and Stanford have to play the “Big Game” before November rolls around on the calendar. Here’s the part that really doesn’t add up: UCLA, set to play Stanford on Nov. 24, could have played the Cardinal this week instead of taking a bye. That would have left both the Cardinal and Golden Bears free to play each other on Nov. 24 – a date that Cal has open.

NBA exhibition: Clippers at Utah, 6 p.m., Prime:

Got enough Jazz yet?

SUNDAY

MLS: Galaxy at San Jose, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet:

The first Galaxy game on the new sports channel is their first game in more than two weeks, with only one left in the regular season. Will Landon Donovan be given a clean bill of health to play? San Jose has clinched first in the Western Conference and could be inspired to win the Supporter’s Shield, which belonged to the Galaxy last season.

NBA exhibition: Lakers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:

By this point, the Lakers could be 0-5 in the exhibition schedule, and few would have seen it. Unless you paid the top-dollar to attend home games like this. It’s the only time a team named the Kings will see the inside of Staples Center in a while.

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NFL Week 7:
Baltimore at Houston, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Washington at N.Y. Giants or Green Bay at St. Louis, 10 a.m., Channel 11
N.Y. Jets at New England, 1:25 p.m., Channel 2
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4

“We want to be a team no one wants to play,” New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said after his 3-3 team’s 35-9 win over Indianapolis last Sunday. “And, we’re on our way.” Talk to us after this one.

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas Speedway, 10 a.m., ESPN:

The first of the last five events of the season will go again without Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will sit this one (as well as last Sunday’s in Charlotte) because of a concussion diagnosis. Clint Bowyer’s win last week in North Carolina puts him back in the Chase hunt, 28 points out of the lead as he comes to his home track.

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Five things we learned from the weekend: Oct. 12-14

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

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(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy avoids Missouri defensive back E.J. Gaines while running for a short gain during the second half of Saturday’s game in Columbia, Mo. The Crimson Tide won 42-10 to improve to 6-0 and take the top spot in the first BCS poll of the season.

1. The first BCS poll tells us things we already sorta knew — Alabama is on a roll, the Big Ten has no worthy candidates (mostly because 6-0 Ohio State is ineligible), and USC is afloat at 10th, third-best in the Pac-12 (and, interestingly, better than the No. 11 spot they have in the AP tabulation). Then there are things we really can’t compute — the Big 12 has seven teams in the Top 25, matching the SEC? Florida State sits at No. 14, despite the fact the Harris Poll has the Seminoles eighth and the USA Today coaches’ poll has them 10th, but the six computers give them an average of 28th, with only one having them in the Top 25? Oregon might be No. 2 in the two human polls, but the computers push Florida past the Ducks because of an average of No. 6 on the computers (the range there is anywhere from No. 3 and 10). Things have plenty of time to shake loose. The Ducks are saving their quacks with a back-loaded schedule, which could be more beneficial if it is to reach the title game against Alabama (which, despite unanimously seeming to be No. 1, is bizarrely only No. 5 on the Anderson & Hester data card, behind Florida, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon State). Sounds like those two nerds have some explaining to do. The Trojans are scattered anywhere between No. 6 and No. 15 on the computers. Not to be a half-empty guy, but the season’s only half-done. Too much system overloads will likely take place.

2. From top to bottom — and you don’t have to very far to hit bottom — the NFC West remains the strongest division in the NFL, and that’s after San Francisco got thumped by the visiting N.Y. Giants and Arizona had a chance to win in regulation but failed to hold off Buffalo in OT. The same division that had a 7-9 team claim the division championship two years ago has four teams at .500 or better and a combined 11-2 record at home – yes, both those losses came Sunday. Seattle’s squeezing New England is the one that should get everyone’s attention. Especially fans of the 3-3 Patriots who might remember when Pete Carroll was coaching their team.

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(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Tigers’ Omar Infante dives back into second as New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano reaches to tag him in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the American League championship series on Sunday. Infante was called safe on the play by umpire Jeff Nelson. Below, Yankees manager Joe Girardi argues with Nelson before getting ejected.

3. The umpires aren’t the reason why the Jeter-needy New York Yankees are in an 0-2 hole against the Tigers in the American League Championship Series heading back to Detroit. (Start with the combined .112 batting average that A-Rod, Cano, Swisher and the Grandy Man have so far in the post season — with 38 whiffs). But that’s how it’s going to sound from irritated Bronx fans who become sudden proponents of televised replays helping to get the calls right.

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“In this day and age there is too much at stake, and the technology is available,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “That’s what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better.” Rewind his comments again. He makes perfect sense. And nothing’s going to change. At least not tomorrow. Former Yankees (and Dodgers) manager Joe Torre, now the MLB executive VP of baseball operations, would be just as irked if this happened to him. But on the other side of the argument, Torre says that the league is “looking into it. . . We have to make sure we don’t make a knee-jerk reaction to something that’s, you know, already we settle this tag play at second base, and all of a sudden we find, you know, something else comes up and something else comes up, and the game goes on and on forever and forever.” Sort of like his response.

4. Joe Buck has some motor skills. The Fox play-by-play man was already scheduled to be in San Francisco to call the 49ers-New York Giants’ NFL game Sunday, with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Candlestick Park. But after the St. Louis Cardinals rallied to knock out the Washington Nationals on Friday in the NLDS, that meant the San Francisco Giants was the highest seeded NL team, so Game 1 of the National League Championship Series would be played Sunday at AT&T Park — a 5 p.m. start, also on Fox. Buck signed off at the end of the 49ers loss at 4:27 p.m., found his way to a cable car, and made the trek to the China Basin in time for the 5:15 p.m. first pitch of the baseball game. Studio pregame host Matt Vasgersian called the Fox aerial coverage of Buck’s journey “part Steve McQueen, part Rose Bowl parade.” Then the Giants went ahead and lost to the Cardinals, 6-4, meaning Buck shouldn’t expect any more favors from anyone related to Bay Area Rapid Transit during the rest of the NLCS.

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5. NHL lockout beards aren’t nearly as enjoyable as NHL playoff beards. They tend to itch much more. They’re grayer. And they don’t give you any discounts if you’re so lonely for a hockey game that you zip East on the 10 Freeway and end up attending an Ontario Reign game. The Kings’ double-A East Coast Hockey League affiliate got thumped, 4-0, against the Stockton Thunder in their home opener on Saturday. Next up: The San Francisco Bulls on Wednesday. Good tickets starting at 10 bucks (or $50 on the glass, plus a $3 facilities fee and $9.25 “convenience fee”) are still available.

== And our top photo(s) of the weekend:

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(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Ben Spies of the U.S. falls off his Yamaha during the MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Motegi, north of Tokyo, on Sunday.

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Apparently, Vic ‘The Brick’ isn’t diverse enough for ‘Loose Cannon’ status … ain’t that a shame

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The noticeable absence of Vic “The Brick” Jacobs from the KLAC-AM (570) “Loose Cannons” mid-day show, co-hosted these days by Steve Hartman and Pat O’Brien, has resulted in more than a few inquiring e-mails of concern.

Not having listened to the show for weeks (sorry, perhaps it’s more like months, a combination of when KSPN-AM 710 switched Mason and Ireland to a noon start, the start of the MLB playoffs, and the regular healthy dose of NPR’s KPCC or KCRW), it’s not a surprise that the station either on or off the air hasn’t explained to listeners why a long-time L.A. radio fixture like Jacobs has been taken off as any kind of host.

According to sources, he will be used more as a “reporter” covering the Lakers, going to all practices and games and doing updates. That’s probably a safer place to put him so he’s not in O’Brien’s way, taking O’Brien’s airtime, or making O’Brien frustrated.

Another adjustment includes David Vassegh, with the Dodgers’ season finished, focusing on the Clippers.

What does a Jacobs-less “Cannon” show sound like? One reader has called it something geared to “male menopause,” with all the ’60s and ’70s bumper music to appease the hosts who might be a better fit on KRTH-FM.

Sources also say there’s a search going on for a new third “Cannon” member, with an emphasis on a diversity hiring. If three over 50 white guys aren’t moving the needle, why would just two?

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Weekly media column version 10.12.12

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Photo by Michael Owen Baker/
Daily News

What’s included in this week’s media column (linked here): A shortened Q-and-A with Kings’ Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller, who today celebrates his 74th birthday but without a ring ceremony at Staples Center. It’s from the earlier blog post on Thursday. The sidebar is a condensed version of the blog post also Thursday on “Kings Insider” Rich Hammond leaving his post after three years.

What’s not included:

Continue reading

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Q&A: Bob Miller’s birthday party on Friday seems to be missing something — oh, right, a Kings’ banner celebration

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Michael Owen Baker/Staff Writer
Bob Miller has a room full of memories at his West Hills home.

A Hollywood party planner couldn’t have arranged things much better in Bob Miller’s favor.

The NHL first scheduled the Kings’ 2012-13 season opener against the New York Rangers at Staples Center on Friday — Miller’s 74th birthday.

And since the Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster wouldn’t be called upon to call the game for Fox Sports West — the NBC Sports Network had the contest to televise nationally — it meant he could join his wife Judy and members of his family, receive the gift of a Stanley Cup championship ring, watch the banner raised to the rafters and soak in this coronation that would mark the start of his 40th season with the team.

Somewhere along the way, a party pooper popped up.

This latest NHL lockout has locked Miller as well as every other Kings fan from the arena tonight, canceling this game as well as the first two weeks.

Miller’s backup plan could have included watching his 6-year-old grandson Brennon go to hockey practice in Simi Valley, but he’s opted to push the party with his family to Sunday and go out to dinner with friends Friday. Then call it a night.

Checking in with Miller at his home in West Hills on Thursday morning, he wasn’t going to let a little rain dampen his parade:

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Was the NHL about to compromise the integrity of Kings’ ‘Insider’ Hammond?

UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. Thursday

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Rich Hammond, the former Daily News’ hockey writer who the open-minded Kings hired three years ago to cover their games and practices with free editorial reign, left his position as the writer for the “L.A. Kings Insider” blog to take a job with the Orange County Register to cover USC football and basketball.

On the surface, the career diversion looks pretty straight forward.

But speaking before a sports business class at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism on Wednesday night, Hammond elaborated that recent pushback from the NHL for a story he did during the current lockout resulted in him reconsidering how effectively he could continue to work in that role.

Hammond’s Sept. 17 post was a Q and A with the Kings’ Kevin Westgarth, the most visible of the team’s players as he worked with the NHL Players Association during Collective Bargaining Agreement talks. Westgarth was candid in his opinions about both sides of the negotiations.

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“The league wanted the story taken down,” said Hammond, who stressed the Kings organization did not take issue with it. “Technically, they were saying that as a team employee, I had to abide by their rules of not discussing the lockout.”

The story remains posted (linked here) as discussions between the team and league continued. Still, Hammond wondered about maintaining the integrity of the blog if future restrictions or threats were ever put to him again.

In the meantime, he had renewed discussions from the Register about the USC beat and decided to take it, explaining only on his last post for the Kings’ blog (linked here) that “the timing and situation” was right for him to “move on . . . the decision is mine and the Kings in no way pushed or encouraged me to leave.” He said that during the lockout, he was not in danger of being laid off.

“It’s my choice, for a number of reasons,” he said. “I will leave on good terms.”

Hammond told the USC class that the team would have preferred he stayed but he “was not totally convinced the Kings could make (this situation) have a good ending.”

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