Banner-vision: Up, up and … to stay

The Kings’ website has released a video of what it looked like during  last Saturday’s banner-raising ceremony at Staples Center — from the perspective of the banner.
You may have notice that before the Stanley Cup championship signage was hoisted above the team bench, a couple of technicians attached a camera to the middle of the post.
Above is the result. Maybe don’t watch if you have a fear of heights.

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Dodgers, TWC deal ready to go, reporters reportedly report

Time Warner Cable, not Fox Sports/Prime Ticket, will emerge  aligned with the Dodgers in a new cable TV partnership starting in 2014 — but only to help the team launch its own channel, sources reported to Bloomberg News this morning.

No deal has been signed — rumors are that it was in the $7 billion range, making it the most expensive local TV deal in history — but an announcement officially could come as soon as Thursday.

Neither the Dodgers’ Guggenheim Partners nor Time Warner Cable commented on the reports.

Several things could delay the official announcement, including new reports that Fox/Prime Ticket has the right to match any Time Warner offer. The Sports Business Daily reported from its sources that “certain back-end rights” could be in place, “depending on the specifics of the contract.” SBD said one of the holdups in the Dodgers and TWC finalizing a deal last week was “trying to craft a deal that would get around Fox’s right to match.” The SBD report said Fox could match “a straight rights deal or any deal that gives TWC an equity interest in a new channel. Matching rights would not kick in if the Dodgers launch a channel on their own and get TWC to agree to carry it with no equity stake.”

Prime Ticket had whipped up a deal in the neighborhood of $6 billion for 25 years, according to reports that leaked out in late November, hoping that when word of it got out, it would be taken as a serious player in trying to extend a partnership that has lasted more than a decade. Prime Ticket had first rights to renegotiate its deal that will expire after the upcoming season.

Time Warner was able to join the negotiations when the Prime Ticket exclusive window expired in November and talks dragged on.

The immediate problem for the Dodgers will be to find channel space if it ventures off into it’s own. Time Warner Cable recently created the TWC SportsNet and Deportes channels when it obtained the long-term rights to the Lakers (as well as the Galaxy and Sparks), and then saw the anticipated growing pains of trying to get other cable and dish systems to pay as much as $3.95 per subscriber per month to carry it.

The Dodgers’ defection to Time Warner would also be another huge blow to Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket, losing both its anchor tenants and programming content providers in the matter of two seasons.

 

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Play It Forward: Jan. 21-27

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek ducks to avoid being hit with an errant ball during last Saturday’s game against Arizona. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA at Arizona, Thursday, 6 p.m., ESPN2; UCLA at Arizona State, Saturday at 1 p.m., FSW:
UCLA has watched Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams make their share of freshman mistakes yet keep the team in Pac-12 upper regions, but Arizona and Arizona State have also been banking on a particular newcomer for their success thus far.

Arizona’s Brandon Ashley defends against Utah’s Jordan Loveridge in a game on Jan. 5 in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Wily Low)

Arizona 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward Brandon Ashley has the luxury of watching seniors Mark Lyons (14.6 ppg) and Fairfax High’s Solomon Hill (13.6 ppg) do the bulk of the scoring, leaving him to pull in (according to ESPN statistics) 23 percent of the opposing team’s misses when he’s on the floor. Meanwhile, Arizona State 5-foot-10 guard Jahii Carson leads his team with 17.2 points a game and 5.2 assists a game for a team that’s been relying on its defense. In No. 7 Arizona’s 71-54 victory over ASU on Saturday, Ashley helped hold Carrick Felix, ASU’s second-best scorer, to just five points on 1-of-8 shooting. Carson had 22 points, four points and four assists before getting in foul trouble. The victory by Arizona (16-1, 4-1) didn’t vault it to the top of the conference – undefeated Oregon and Washington still have that territory – but it puts the Wildcats on even footing with the Bruins (15-4, 5-1), coming off their loss to the Ducks.
Also in the desert, USC (8-11, 3-3) has ASU (14-4, 3-2) on Thursday (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net) before Arizona on Saturday (4 p.m., ESPNU).

BEST OF THE REST:

MONDAY

NBA: Lakers at Chicago, 6:30 p.m., TNT, TWC SportsNet:
Bully for the NBA to have the 2-2* Lakers play in the annual MLK Day nationally-televised celebration, which starts with Indiana-Memphis (10 a.m., ESPN) and includes Brooklyn-New York (12:30 p.m., NBA TV) and San Antonio-Philadelphia (4 p.m., TNT) — and don’t forget the Clippers at Golden State (1 p.m., Prime). Nine NBA games in all are scheduled today.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Cincinnati at Syracuse, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Oklahoma State at Baylor, 2:30 p.m., ESPN; Georgetown at Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m., ESPN; Texas at Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
Who says college hoops has to take the holiday off?

TUESDAY

NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center,  7:30 p.m., Prime:
The top two teams in the Western Conference have meet once already – on Nov. 21, OKC took a 117-111 overtime victory, highlighted by Kevin Durant going 19 for 21 at the line en route to scoring 35 points. “He doesn’t need any help scoring,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told official Kevin Fehr after one call. The first 18,000 fans at the game get a nifty Chris Paul bobblehead. Will he be in unform as well? The Clippers’ week continues at Phoenix (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT, Prime) and at Portland (Saturday, 7 p.m., Prime).

WEDNESDAY

NBA: Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
*Odds are fairly good the Lakers are 2-3 in their “new season” by the time this one starts.

THURSDAY

GOLF: PGA Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines in San Diego, first round, Golf Channel, noon:
Tiger Woods might look into getting some of the title sponsor’s insurance before he cracks open his PGA season here. He missed the cut at last week’s European event in the United Arab Emirates because of a 2-stroke penalty from a rules infraction, but still received his $3 million appearance fee. After this stop, Woods plans to skip Phoenix, Pebble Beach and the L.A. event at Riviera before the WGC match play event in Arizona. CBS has the final two rounds Saturday (noon to 3 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 3:30 p.m.)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount, 6 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Just a peek at the WCC standings and …. oh, who needs this more, the 1-4 Waves or 1-5 Lions?

FRIDAY

NHL: Ducks vs. Vancouver, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:
The Ducks get no favors having to play the Canucks twice in their first three games, and this one counts as their home opener after playing today in Calgary (6 p.m., Prime), and then back at home against Nashville (Saturday, 7:30 p.m, FSW).

SATURDAY

NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 5 p.m., FSW:
The Kings’ loss in the season opener at home was an aberration – meaning, most of this early abbreviated regular-season schedule is set on the road, starting with trips to Colorado (Tuesday, 6 p.m., FSW) and Edmonton (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., FSW). Then comes a rematch of the Western Conference finals. Think any animosity has thawed for Coyotes fans perhaps reigning boos down on Dustin Brown?

TENNIS: Australian Open, women’s final, women’s final, 6 a.m., ESPN2:
When Maria Sharapova ousted Venus Williams in the third round of the Aussie Open last week with a 6-1, 6-3 victory, she acted almost as if she won the whole thing — a loud shriek, fists in the air, bent on her knees. Jon Scott of Tennis.com called it conduct “’unbecoming a champ.” The only way that the second-seeded Sharapova, the ’08 Aussie Open winner, can meet the other Williams sister, third-seeded Serena, is in the final. Then, all shrieks are on. The women’s semifinals are Wednesday (6:30 p.m., ESPN2);  the men’s semifinals are early Friday (12:30 a.m., ESPN2) leading into the final Sunday (6 a.m., ESPN2).

FIGURE SKATING: U.S. Championships from Omaha, Neb., women’s free skate, 9 p.m., Channel 4:
Arcadia’s Mirai Nagasu, ranked 12th in the latest world rankings, has changed her training regime – no more long drives to Cathedral City to go to Frank Carroll’s training center, and staying closer to home with two new coaches while attending Pasadena City College. “After nationals last year, I took a lot of time off and thought about what I wanted to change,” said the 19-year-old, the 2008 U.S. champion who was seventh at last year’s event.” The main thing that struck hard was the drive and how tiring it was. To make it all the time didn’t feel it was well worth my time. I decided I wanted to make a change. Even though Frank and I worked really well, a lot of distractions came in the way. I wanted to start fresh again, and I decided going to a rink close to my house would be a better idea. I’ve been in the gym way more; four (extra) hours a day makes a big difference. You might not know it, but just sitting there in the car takes a big toll on the body, even if you’re not burning any calories. I think it’s been helpful to me to get out of the car and hit the gym.” The 2012 winner Ashley Wagner, training in Aliso Viejo and attending Saddleback College, is ranked third in the world and comes in as the favorite. Alissa Czisny, the U.S. champion in ’09 and ’11, is ranked 11th, but has withdrawn from this event because of an injured hip. The network also has the women’s pairs free and dance free (noon, Channel 4), and the men’s free skate (Sunday at noon), where Jeremy Abbott returns as the three-time U.S. champion (2012, ’10 and ’09).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Senior Bowl from Mobile, Ala., 1 p.m., NFL Network:
Nope, no Matt Barkley. Instead, it’s a UCLA-heavy representation with  running back Johnathan Franklin, defensive tackle Datone Jones and punter Jeff Locks. USC’s lone rep: DB T.J. McDonald. The other marquee names include Michigan QB turned WR Denard Robinson, Oregon running back Kenyon Barner, Wisconsin running back Monte Ball and Oklahoma QB Landry Jones.

SUNDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
ABC can’t flex out of this one?

NFL: Pro Bowl in Honolulu, 4 p.m., Channel 4:
Seriously, this could be the last NFL All-Star game ever played.  Some will depend on how many tickets are sold at Aloha Stadium. Most will depend on the quality of play. This has been a game of run and pass — those who don’t run from it will simply ask for a pass. Aaron Rodgers has already backed out, and he’ll be supposedly replaced by Eli Manning on the NFC squad, with the primary job of handing it off to Adrian Peterson. The AFC says Peyton Manning will be there, hooking up again with Reggie Wayne. Andrew Luck? No luck.

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Respect Bettman’s excused absence … Cartman must have OK’d it

 

Kings fans follow a procession of carrying the Stanley Cup into Staples Center before Saturday’s season-opening game. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman watched from a balcony above. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Something just seems wrong about the Kings’ first championship banner-raising ceremony when there’s far more Eric Cartman than Gary Bettman.

Man, oh, man.

The NHL’s top executive could recuse himself from being part of the pregame ring distribution to all the Kings’ players at center ice before Saturday’s delayed season opener at Staples Center?

Apparently, that’s in his power play.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

If this happened to be another episode of the Lakers trumpeting their latest title, wouldn’t NBA commissioner David Stern have put on his best lipstick for all the TV time he’d be receiving?

That’s not how Bettman skates.

And it has absolutely, positively nothing to do with being the central figure in the latest NHL work stoppage, one that cost thousands of arena ushers, parking attendants, security folks and ticket takers around the country weeks and weeks of wages they could have used over the holidays while the league went dark for fourth months haggling over how $3 billion would be equally distributed?

No, no, no. Not in the least. Continue reading

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Lance, Oprah: The Hangover, Part 2

Apparently, Lance Armstrong is still in need of a fix.

But it’s likely to be a back-peddling process that will need to go far beyond any damage control that Oprah Winfrey can offer at this point.

The take-away from the second part of a two-part interview televised Friday on the OWN channel will be that Armstrong showed a more emotional distress from Winfrey’s line of questioning — especially when explaining how he had to tell his 13-year-old son not to keep defending him against those who accused the former seven-time Tour de France winner of taking illegal drugs.

A night after being a bit more calculating and defiant but admitting guilt when questions were put to him about past indiscretions, he showed some more human moments when he revisited his “most humbling moment” — when his Livestrong foundation not only asked him to step away as chairman but also leave the board several months ago.

But then again, it needs to be put into context.

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It’s Out of the Question: And now some random acts of fact checking …

Fishing around on the Internet today — not catfishing, just to be clear — we found this note in the Nov. 5, 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated, under the headline of “Random Act of Kindness:”

“When a mutual friend told him about Bridget Smith, a 12-year-old Notre Dame fan who was dying of a brain tumor, Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o — whose girlfriend died of leukemia last month — composed an emotional e-mail to the girl’s parents, who read it to her just before she passed away. ‘It was just a bright spot on the saddest day of our lives,’ said Louise Smith.”

The note is credited to an editor at the magazine, who, today, probably wishes it wasn’t.

Presumably, that information was drawn from what was called a “Fox Sports Exclusive,” written by FoxSports.com’s Greg Couch on Oct. 25, 2012, about this little girl from Detroit. Yahoo.com picked up on the story and applauded it. The story so moved the publishers of American Athlete magazine that they made Te’o its “Athlete of the Week” for Nov. 30.

Go to Couch’s story online, by the way, and you’ll find it was “updated” at 7:21 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Lance, Oprah: LOL

If Lance Armstrong was supposed to be coming clean, why do we feel the need to shower after this?

Maybe the tears will come in Part 2 Friday. But any remorse that viewers might have expected from the disgraced seven-time Tour de France cyclists were not to be found in the opening act of tonight’s 90-minute interview with a surprisingly tenacious-at-times performance by Oprah Winfrey.

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Got Gottlieb? Got a minute …

Some days, you Google yourself up a menu of Doug Gottlieb and you’re not certain if by some mistake you’ve stumbled onto Gilbert Gottfried.

He’s a couple weeks into his new CBS Sports Radio gig, manning the noon-to-3 p.m. slot behind Jim Rome, but the things that have drawn the most reaction for Gottlieb lately are his “CBS Sports Minute” updates that are inserted during the day on various affiliates.

So, without an outlet in L.A., what are we missing?

The purpose is to give a quick take on a topical subject. And, in turn, a reaction to it. Monday, Gottlieb made a comparison to Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez experiencing his first NFL playoff victory to when former Laker A.C. Green finally had his first sexual experience after years of abstinence.

Deadspin.com jumped on it and referenced it as a “media meltdown.” It provided a platform for immediate Gottlieb bashing, which was to be expected.

Gottlieb explained that the Gonzalez-Green comparison was “more tongue-in-cheek than anything and some fail to see the sense of humor in it.” He understands there’s “a little ‘gotcha’ factor to it – someone hears something and if they like or don’t like you, they try to say something outlandish, so they overreact.”

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Q-and-A: Dick Vermeil’s role in educating NFL-ready players isn’t all that emotionally draining

Dick Vermeil gets the Gatorade treatment after leading his squad to victory in the first NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

On any given Sunday, Dick Vermeil could be in the Napa Valley working at his winery, or near his home in Chester County, Penn., restoring some his father’s old race cars.

This week, he happens to be in Carson, working with college football players who may not be ripe enough to become high-round NFL draft picks, but have the mechanics to have some kind of future in the game as a professional.

The 76-year-old former UCLA head coach who parlayed a victory over No. 1 Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl into 15 years of NFL head coaching with Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City will coach the one of the two rosters of seniors who are NFL-draft eligible in Saturday’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Home Depot Center. It’s the second year that the league’s players association has sponsored the game, which may not yet attract the A-listers who gravitate to the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine exhibitions, but tries to offer more in education than just physical evaluation.

Some of the players invited are projected to be fifth-to-seventh round draft selections. Vermeil, who coached the winning squad last season, coaches the National roster that includes quarterback Dayne Crist, the former Notre Dame High quarterback who went to play for Charlie Weis at both the University of Notre Dame and Kansas, as well as UCLA safety Andrew Abbott, linebacker Damien Holmes and defensive tackle Donovan Carter. Those three Bruins will have a chance to tackle former teammate, tailback David Allen, who is on the American roster, coached by Herm Edwards.

Some of the practice sessions are televised on ESPNU (Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-to-3:30 p.m.) prior to Saturday’s game (3 p.m., ESPN2).

Prior to collecting his coaching staff together for the first time, Vermeil talked about how this all works into a win-win situation for all involved:

QUESTION: What would benefit someone playing in this game versus some of the other college all-star games?
ANSWER:
The NFLPA’s whole approach to this is a little different. Yes, it is to give the players an opportunity to display their wares to the NFL, but it’s also to give them an introductory course on how to live your life as an NFL player, what problems to expect, how to solve them. The NFLPA is very serious about this orientation approach.

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