Stan Van Gundy: Lakers’ move ‘smacks of panic’ … so, is he still a candidate to get the job?

Stan Van Gundy, already mentioned as a possible candidate to become the newest Lakers head coach, said it today after hearing the news about the team’s decision to fire Mike Brown as the head coach:

“Ridiculous. Understand what the Lakers have done since the end of last year. Organizational decisions to change the entire coaching staff. Three assistants were replaced. Organizational decision to bring in two great players, in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Organizational decision to change the offense. That’s a lot of changes. What did you think? After five games everything would be running smoothly? If you are not committed to your coach, make the change in the offseason.  To waste training camp, and make the change now, it smacks of panic.”

Van Gundy, serving as an analyst for tonight’s NBC Sports Network coverage of the Ohio State-Marquette Carrier Classic, coached new Lakers center Dwight Howard in Orlando the last five seasons before he was fired last summer. The two lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2009.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel makes a case for Van Gundy’s hiring by the Lakers, although Van Gundy told the Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz that the Lakers’ dismissal of Brown was “the most ridiculous firing in the history of the NBA.”

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DirecTV’s noble cause vs. Laker fans crying for their channel: Have we reached the tipping point?

Well, bully for DirecTV.

At a moment when every cable and telco system that matters in Southern California has decided that it can’t afford not to broker a deal with Time Warner Cable to carry its Lakers-loaded SportsNet and Deportes package – from Charter to Cox, from AT&T U-verse to Verizon FiOS, to a Campbell’s soup can and a fibrotic string – we’re down to the last two satellite providers standing.

Can they take the heat and dish it out at the same time?

DirecTV, 30 million strong nationwide with nearly 2 million in Southern California, appears to be digging in with a stance that it refuses to be bullied into taking the hottest regional sports channel on a basic-tier level with a hefty price tag just because everyone has it.

As DirecTV CEO Mike White said during a third-quarter earnings call with shareholders this week:

“Rising programming costs . . . is clearly the most significant issue facing distributors today.  . . . Our customers bear the brunt of these exorbitant price increases and it’s just not sustainable. . . .

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What we’re reading: An itch for Jewish jocks — and maybe the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer

The book: “Jewish Jocks: An Unorothodox Hall of Fame”
The authors: Edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy
The publishing info: Twelve Books/Hatchette Book Group, 285 pages, $26.99
Where to find it: At the publishers’ sitePowells, Amazon, Barnes&Noble
The essence: Of course, we know the line from the movie “Airplane!” where the stewardess hands the passenger a leaflet of “Famous Jewish Sports Legends” when asked if she had any light reading material (see video above).

But that’s just a nice one-liner. This joke is much more rich.

“‘Jewish Jocks’ is, of course, a Jewish joke,’” Foer and Tracy write in the introduction, “but not in the way you might have thought . . . (the joke) is that our pantheon includes people who, in some cases, couldn’t even run the bases: the gangster who helped fix the World Series (so-called “American Shylock” Arnold Rothestein, in 1919), the idealistic ping-pong player (Marty Reisman); the nerdy general manager (Theo Epstein). They get to be counted, too.”

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L.A.’s fourth All Sports Film Festival: 3 days, 50-plus entries, action required


A documentary by frequent HBO “Real Sports” contributor Jon Frankel about the repercussions in the ongoing NFL concussion issue is one of the highlights of the 50-plus entries from 10 countries that are part of the fourth annual All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.

In “American Man,” Frankel’s focus is on former Alabama fullback Kevin Turner, who spent eight years in the NFL in the 1990s and after suffering countless concussions is, at 42, battling with ALS.


Frankel, who did the 2007 film, “Hellfighters,” about a Harlem high school football team that made it into the Tribeca Film Festival, says his newest doc is “laid out not as a science piece. I see it as a portrait of a man who, as fate would have it, may be taken down by the very game he loves and gave him so much in life. The game giveth and, perhaps, as science may one day conclusively prove taketh away. 

“This was never intended to a be offered as a referendum on football. Nor is it about a man dying — but a man still running and trying, with one more burst of energy, to reforge his legacy.”

“American Man” screens Friday  at 8 p.m., making its West Coast debut. It premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival and has made stops in Fredricksburg, Tex., San Antonio, Indianapolis, and twice in Alabama, including Birmingham, Turner’s hometown, where it won best documentary.

ESPN Classic has aired it once (Oct. 23) and  will do again Nov. 24.

This year’s L.A. Festival includes a special audience Q-and-A session Friday with producer, director and writer Peter Farrelly (4 p.m.), most notable to sports fans for directing the Jimmy Fallon-Drew Barrymore “Fever Pitch” movie in 2005 with the Boston Red Sox as the major vehicle. Continue reading
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IBWAA says: Trout’s MVP status a cut below Cabrera’s

The Associated Press

Mike Trout, AL Rookie of the Year? Of course.

Trout, AL MVP? Not here.

If the debate over whether it would be “new school” vs. “old school” in determining who had the better year in the American League, maybe the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America isn’t such an automatic given as being the former over the later.

The IBWAA announced Monday that its voting members selected Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, who reached the Triple Crown for the first time in the last 45 years, as the league’s Most Valuable Players. The Angels’ Trout finished second.

In the National League, San Francisco’s Buster Posey was voted MVP, ahead of Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.

In results announced earlier, Tampa Bay’s David Price and the New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey were voted the AL and NL Cy Young Award winners, Trout and Washington’s Bryce Harper were the AL and NL rookies of the year, and Baltimore’s Buck Showalter and Washington’s Davey Johnson were the AL and NL managers of the year.

The IBWAA was established 2009 by Howard Cole, editor of, to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the BBWAA, whose awards in the same categories will be announced over a period of time starting Monday, Nov. 12, with many of the votes expected to fall in line with the IBWAA selections.

Or will they? For the first time in history, the BBWAA will announce their five finalists in each league for the MVP Award and the three AL and NL finalists for the Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards. That will come on the MLB Network at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

In both cases the IBWAA and BBWAA voting took place before the playoffs began.

IBWAA members include Barry Bloom,; Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports; Fred Claire, former Dodgers GM; Joe McDonnell,; Ramona Shelburne,; the Daily News’ J.P. Hoornstra and Jill Painter, the L.A. Times’ Kevin Baxter and prominent baseball authors Paul Dickson, Peter Golenbock, Josh Pahigian and Dan Schlossberg.

And yes, me as well.

The complete voting rundown for each category:

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By our calculations, it should be a 45 percent discount at the UCLA store …

An online ad for the UCLA campus sports apparel store that ties a 5- percent saving for every Bruins touchdown scored in the previous Saturday game at the Rose Bowl should have resulted in a huge payoff today.

Except for the fine print.

The Bruins racked up nine touchdowns in a surprising 66-10 win over Arizona. But that doesn’t compute to a 45-percent discount (please, check our math on that one).

The cutoff for the promotion is 5 TDs, it says here: “*Maximum discount is 25%. No other discounts apply. Not valid on textbooks, diploma frames, Limited Edition Merchandise, or UCLA Store gift cards. Subject to in-stock merchandise. Online offer valid 12:00am to 11:59 (PST) Monday following a home game.”

Officials at UCLA note this online promotion has been going on for several years, and anyone bringing a ticket stub to the UCLA store on the Monday after the game can receive the same 25 percent (maximum) discount.

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Five things we learned this past weekend: Nov. 2-4

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

1. There’s that Sports Illustrated cover, the college football issue that came out in late August, spotlighting  the Trojans’ returning quarterback with the headline: “USC’s Matt Barkley Is Back – and He Didn’t Stay To Play in the Holiday Bowl.” If your educated guess is that the Trojans somehow qualify to play in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27, the AP preseason No. 1 team should consider it self to be fortunate. How ‘bout a hookup with the Longhorns of Texas in San Diego two days after Christmas? We’ll even let the Longhorn Network air it exclusively. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — that’s already happened to many times so far. Sure, there’s a shot at the Rose Bowl dangling out there, but the first of a possible four games to end the season starts with a homecoming Saturday against Arizona State that has now gone off the radar with the Pac-12 Network picking it up with an early noon kickoff. The week after is USC-UCLA, and the Bruins have overtaken the Trojans in the BCS polls (18 and 19). A rematch with the BCS No. 3 team at their place in the Pac-12 Championship is doable. Then … ever been to El Paso?

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They won’t dish out Lakers: Last two TWC SportsNet holdouts are two non-cable giants

Cox Cable, with more than 1 million customers in Orange County, San Diego and Las Vegas, agreed to terms Sunday with Time Warner Cable for distribution of the new TWC SportsNet and Deportes, the two companies announced Sunday night during the Lakers-Detroit Pistons game at Staples Center.

That locks in all the cable companies for the channel that has exclusive regional TV rights to the Lakers, leaving just the two major dish providers — DirecTV and Dish – as the holdouts.

Cox is the third-largest distributor in Southern California (1.2 million), behind Time Warner (2.3 million) and DirecTV (1.7 million). Dish has about 850,000 subscribers.

Since the TWC SportsNet and Deportes launch on Oct. 1, Charter Cable (360,000 subs), Verizon FiOS (500,000), AT&T U-Verse (450,000) did not come aboard until the last week. There are also about 700,000 who have no cable or dish service, but rely on free channels via an antenna.

Cox and DirecTV had both been public about their resistance to pay a reported $3.95 per subscriber per month for the two channels. DirecTV has also resisted adding the new Pac-12 Network, which has resulted in fans of USC and UCLA football missing a chance to see their teams play on certain weekends. The Trojans’ next game Saturday at the Coliseum against Arizona State will be on the Pac-12 Network.

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Play it Forward: Nov. 5-11 on your sports calendar

Pauley-Pavilion-seating-prvHighlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:


College basketball season openers: UCLA vs. Indiana State, Pauley Pavilion, Friday at 8 p.m., Prime Ticket; USC vs. Coppin State, Galen Center, Friday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network; Cal State Northridge vs. Pepperdine, Matadome, Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Loyola Marymount vs. Pacifica, Gersten Pavilion, Friday at 7 p.m.; Long Beach State vs. North Alabama, Pyramid, Saturday at 3 p.m.:

Pauley-Pavilion-under-board-prvWhen the $5 million Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion opened on the UCLA campus for its first basketball game on Nov. 27, 1965, the Bruins’ freshman team, led by Lew Alcindor, knocked off the varsity squad in an exhibition, 75-60. That varsity team just came off back-to-back NCAA titles. Forty-seven years later, the place is about to have another giant awakening. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (the former Alcindor) is expected to be among the former UCLA greats who’ll christen the refurbished building, now expanded from 12,800 to 13,800 seats at the mere cost of $136 million. The pending arrival (waiting for NCAA approval) of two new star freshmen – Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson – to go along with transfer Larry Drew II (Taft High) and 6-Pauley-Pavilion-goldseat-prvfoot-10 twins Travis and David Wear is enough for AP voters to rank Ben Howland’s team at  No. 13 in the preseason polls. The reason UCLA starts this year against Indiana State – it’s the school where John Wooden coached before he came to L.A. and won 10 national titles. And they’ve set aside a yellow seat in the late coach’s honor.

Aside from the season openers for the Trojans, Matadors, Waves, Lions and 49ers, there’s also the exotic first games from three Navy ships — the USS Midway (San Diego State vs. Syracuse in San Diego, Friday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket), USS Bataan (Georgetown vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday at 6 p.m., NBC Sports Network), the USS Yorktown (Ohio State vs. Marquette in Charleston, S.C., Friday at 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network) – as well as in Kaiserslautern, Germany (the Armed Forces Classic: UConn vs. Michigan State, Friday at 2:30 p.m., ESPN) and in Brooklyn (Kentucky vs. Maryland, Friday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN).


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