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:


(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.


(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.


“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.


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:


(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


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


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:

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


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


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.


“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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