There’s the ‘Dodger Way to Play Baseball’ … and ‘The Cardinal Way’ … so which way is up this weekend?

dodgers_600Interesting timing with the St. Louis Cardinals about to play three at Dodger Stadium this weekend, and the team’s starting rotation appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week as a symbol of how “The Cardinal Way” is about a solid a blueprint as one could have in long-term success.

image003So, you mean it’s not buying a bunch of guys off the Red Sox roster and hoping they all figure it out somehow?

Writer Ben Reiter makes the case that the Cardinals “are the most consistent franchise in baseball due to an organizational philosophy dedicated to measured and constant evolution.”

Let’s point out: The Cardinals have the best record in the MLB with only nine players left from their 2012 championship team. And without their manager.

“When we think of the Cardinals, we think of a distinct organizational culture: Anodyne, diligent, supportive, resolute. Mostly, we think of consistency. Their 11 championships have been well distributed. No son or daughter of St Louis born since 1902 has reached the age of 25 without having lived through at least one victory parade.”

If you’re 25 years old in L.A., you probably don’t remember the last Dodgers’ World Series title was 25 years ago.

image005 (1)Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Jamie Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook are on the SI cover, inspired by the Oct. 7, 1968 SI cover where “The Cardinal Way” was explored in a feature that had Roger Maris, Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson, Mike Shannon and Lou Brock on the cover.

Lynn (6-1, 3.27) is scheduled to start the opener of the three-game series Friday. Rookie John Gast (2-0, 4.76), replacing the injured Wainwright (inflamed elbow), starts Saturday. Miller (5-3, 1.74) goes Sunday against Clayton Kershaw.

Cards GM John Mozeliak, promoted in 2007, is quoted on why the team eventually let Albert Pujols go to the Angels after the 2012 season.

“Losing an iconic player was not easy — it was jolting,” says Mozeliak. “From a very simplistic standpoint, [once we let him go] we knew we had resources to deploy elsewhere.”

That was, contract extensions for Wainwright and Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina.

“While an overriding ethos—the Cardinal way—has developed over the years, it is flexible enough to allow the team to capitalize on the game’s changing realities better than any other,” says Reiter.

Stan Kasten’s SI copy is in the mail, we presume.

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Play It Foward: May 20-26 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead, both near and afar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Chicago Blackhawks v San Jose Sharks - Game OneNHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
GAME 4: 7 p.m. Tuesday at San Jose, NBC Sports Network:

Slogging through the season finale of ABC’s “Shark Tank” leads us to the conclusion that, maybe not ironically, this thing is about ready to jump that proverbial shark.

Jonathan Quick blocks a goal attempt during the third period in Game 3 in San Jose on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Jonathan Quick blocks a goal attempt during the third period in Game 3 in San Jose on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Once a unique platform for some of the most ingenious entrepreneurs in the country, this one was reduced to a single woman pitching her high-end online dating service (apparently it hasn’t worked for her yet), an 11-year-old kid who baked dog treats (“but people can eat ‘em, too”), and a couple of clowns who started a tomato soup and cheese sandwich shop and were trying to market it as the next In-N-Out franchise model. Sadly, Mark Cuban jumped on that last one, bringing in another “shark” to fork over $600,000 for just a 30 percent of the business. “It’s not easy being cheese,” the Dallas Mavs owner said as he shook the hands of his new partners.  And how did the Mavs do in the NBA playoffs again?
82d765c7_jump_the_shark_signEasy-cheesy isn’t how the Kings see their second-round matchup with San Jose’s Sharks shaping up. This reality show, featuring a school of Sharks trying to tank in the home tank (aka, HP Pavilion), reached new dramatic heights with the Game 3 OT decision. Logan Couture has become San Jose’s version of “Mr. Wonderful” with his heroics, while Kings goalie Jonthan Quick is quick to berate the refs for turning their heads to illegal business practices conducted by the San Jose skaters. This one will only get more chippy as the series reaches a far more climatic conclusion – who’s going to cash in on the most power plays?
The series continues this week:
Game 5: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Staples Center
Game 6: TBA Sunday at San Jose
(A Game 7 would be Tuesday, May 28 at Staples Center)

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Q and A: Billy Baldwin wonders if there’s a win-win situation for the future of Olympic wrestling

billy-baldwin4Billy Baldwin wrestles with the fact that there may no such win-win scenario in place to keep wrestling from breaking its own fall.

But he doesn’t act if there’s nothing he can do about.

The No. 3 brother in the Baldwin thespian franchise – behind Alec and Daniel, and ahead of Stephen – has rallied his Hollywood pals to the plight of the sport as the International Olympic Committee considers all kinds of factors as to whether it has a future past the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

United4WrestlingLogo2

Many will hang out with Baldwin at today’s “United 4 Wrestling” event at the L.A. Sports Arena, where the U.S. national wrestling squad’s biggest names grapples with opponents from Russia and Canada, trying to stay positive after the Iranian team decided to go home early for a variety of reasons.

Baldwin, a high school and Division III college wrestler, explains better why he thinks his words and actions can be of some help:

Q: Ice cream needs to be refrigerated, screw drivers need to be straight-edge and Phillips head, the tires on your car need to be properly inflated, and wrestling needs to remain an Olympic sport. Why is that so hard to understand? And do you get tired of hearing that question all the time? Continue reading

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Why Harvard-Westlake and Coach Bairos will go to the mat for U.S. wrestling’s Olympic future

Head coach Zeke Jones talks to the U.S. national wrestling  before practice at Harvard-Westlake High School on Friday. The USA, Canada and Russia national teams will meet for in exhibition 2:00 p.m. Sunday at L.A. Sports Arena. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

Head coach Zeke Jones talks to the U.S. national wrestling before practice at Harvard-Westlake High School on Friday. Members of the U.S. Canada and Russia national teams will meet for in exhibition 2 p.m. Sunday at the L.A. Sports Arena. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer) Find more staff photos at this link.

Grapple with this scenario: The sport of wrestling has become such an anachronistic, under-funded and stagnant exercise that the International Olympic Committee has put it on notice — be relevant or else you’ll be voted out as soon as the 2020 Summer Games.

Contrast that to the scene embraced at the Harvard-Westlake School’s historic Hamilton Gym late this afternoon: A few dozen junior high and high school wrestlers, their parents and coaches and other curiosity seekers patiently waited – you know how traffic can be — just to watch the U.S. national wrestling team conduct a two-hour workout on their own “H-W” matted floor laid across the old basketball court.

U.S. national wrestling team star Jordan Burroughs signs a shirt for Patrick Halkett following practice at Harvard-Westlake High School (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

U.S. national wrestling team star Jordan Burroughs signs a shirt for Patrick Halkett following practice at Harvard-Westlake High School (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

A seven-man U.S. contingent, in New York a couple days earlier competing in a televised international match against Iran and Russia, continues on a “Save Our Sport” agenda with another exhibition planned for 2 p.m. at the L.A. Sports Arena on Sunday afternoon.

The only noticeable and controversial hitch to this one – the Iranian team was unexpectedly called back home by its government late Thursday, potentially derailing the Sunday event. Organizers scrambled to talk the Russian team into changing its plans and come West, as well as recruit some key members of the Canadian national team to join in and rescue it from another public relations nightmare.

Tyler Caldwell, left, and Jon Reader practice at Harvard-Westlake High School. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

Tyler Caldwell, left, and Jon Reader practice at Harvard-Westlake High School. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

Things can get messy when sports and politics intersect, but they can also motivate to join arms, knees and headlocks into forming a coalition that speaks toward doing more for the greater good as far as all athletes are concerned.

“We’ll adjust fine to the circumstances and keep our focus on the goal of making wrestling an important event on American soil,” said U.S. national coach Zeke Jones, who arranged for the team to shuttle over to the Studio City school from their hotel in El Segundo based on his longtime relationship with Harvard-Westlake coach Gary Bairos. Continue reading

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Still no word on why Iran wrestling team went home and skipped out on L.A. visit

U.S. freestyle wrestler Obe Blanc, top, and Iran's Hassan Rahimi kick off an international wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday in New York. Rahami was declared the winner in the bout. The event dubbed "The Rumble on the Rails" raised money for wrestling nonprofit Beat the Streets but took on added significance because of the International Olympic Committee's recent recommendation to drop the sport starting with the 2020 Games. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

U.S. freestyle wrestler Obe Blanc, top, and Iran’s Hassan Rahimi kick off an international wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday in New York. Rahami was declared the winner in the bout. The event dubbed “The Rumble on the Rails” raised money for wrestling nonprofit Beat the Streets but took on added significance because of the International Olympic Committee’s recent recommendation to drop the sport starting with the 2020 Games. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

ORIGINAL POST: 10:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16
UPDATED: 7 a.m. Friday, Friday May 17

Without an official explanation, the Iranian national wrestling team abruptly returned home Thursday and will not compete against a United States squad as planned Sunday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

First reported by the Daily News on Thursday night, the reason for the team’s departure a day after decisively winning an exhibition against the U.S. in an international meet in New York remains a mystery at a critical time in promoting the sport as its Olympic future hangs in the balance

Former Olympic gold medalist and professional wrestler Kurt Angle holds up a T-shirt during a three-nation wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Former Olympic gold medalist and professional wrestler Kurt Angle holds up a T-shirt during a three-nation wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A goodwill tour ongoing this month involving the U.S., Russia and Iran was to boost awareness for Olympic wrestling, which might be canceled during the Summer Games starting in 2020. Wrestling is one of eight sports seeking to fill one spot in the 2020 Olympics and a key vote by the International Olympic Committee will take place May 29 in Russia to recommend three of eight sports to advance to a final vote  in September.

In a joint statement released this morning by USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender and Bill Scheer, the chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling, the program for the “United 4 Wrestling” 2 p.m. event Sunday has been changed to include the U.S. team facing a squad from Russia and Canada instead.

“We have been informed by the Iranian Wrestling Federation that the team’s schedule has changed and they have departed for Iran,” said the statement.

“We are thankful to the Iranian Wrestling Federation for their participation in New York. We had an outstanding competition with the three countries and the Iranians have assured us that they remain committed to the cause of keeping wrestling in the Olympics.”

The U.S. team is scheduled to train this afternoon at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City in preparation for Sunday’s event, which organizers had planned to attract many Iranian-Americans to attend as they did in New York.

Iranian fans cheer as Iranin wrestlers compete in an exhibition wrestling match at Grand Central Terminal, Wednesday in New York. "The Rumble on the Rails"  exhibition, featuring teams from the United States, Iran and Russia, raised money for charity but is also aimed at drawing attention to the sport's attempt to stay in the Olympics. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Iranian fans cheer as Iranin wrestlers compete in an exhibition wrestling match at Grand Central Terminal, Wednesday in New York. “The Rumble on the Rails” exhibition, featuring teams from the United States, Iran and Russia, raised money for charity but is also aimed at drawing attention to the sport’s attempt to stay in the Olympics. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Wednesday, the Iranian team defeated the U.S. team, six matches to one, during their first visit to the U.S. in a decade. Fans waved Iranian flags and blew horns loudly.

“It was really loud in there,” said U.S. wrestler Kyle Drake afterward in an Associated Press story. “Feels like we were in Tehran. What’s going on? Where’s our USA folks?”

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Weekly media column version 05.17.13: The realities of the Kings’ playoff run hits home again for Miller, Fox

What made it into the big-boy column this week:

Hockey-Ratings-JokeIt’s one year later, but it doesn’t mean the Kings’ TV crew of Bob Miller and Jim Fox have this playoff blackout thing figured out any better. They’re just more adjusted this time when NBC Sports Network takes over the coverage. Plus more on ESPN taking over the U.S. Open, while we like Dottie Pepper, and can’t really deal with car horn sounds on the radio any more.

What we put away for save keeping here on the internet machine: Continue reading

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Bling doesn’t change the Kings’ TV restrictions — Miller and Fox back into studio mode

Jim Fox and Bob Miller, during the Game 1 postgame show from the Kings' victory over San Jose on Tuesday.

Jim Fox and Bob Miller, during the Game 1 postgame show from the Kings’ victory over San Jose on Tuesday. Notice the ring on Miller’s right hand.

Sitting an otherwise empty table in the Chick Hearn Press Room at Staples Center this afternoon, Bob Miller fidgeted around with his 2012 Stanley Cup championship ring that weighed down his right hand.

“I might be the only person who has one who has worn it every day since last summer,” said the Kings’ Hall of Fame play-by-play man. “Some people have told me when I’m on camera holding the stick microphone with this hand, they can really see it shine on TV.”

With the blings of success, there still comes some steering through the blahs of reality.

At that moment, three hours before the Game 2 broadcast of the Kings-Sharks Western Conference semifinal series, Miller had no prep work to do. It was almost as if he was the official greeter in the press room, saying hello to everyone who came in to work.

As is the case that Kings’ fans finally came to grips with a season ago, NBC takes over all Stanley Cup playoff live game coverage from the local teams beyond the first round. John Forslund and Joe Micheletti have had the call on this series for the NBC Sports Network, leaving Miller and longtime analyst Jim Fox to fend for themselves.

Miller could have spent Game 2 sitting in the stands with his wife Judy, who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Instead, it was easier to stay perched high in the media press box, focused on the action below, without anyone to broadcast to about it. For good reason, the Kings have stayed with longtime radio play-by-play Nick Nickson and analyst Daryl Evans for the broadcast on KTLK-AM (1150).

Just because Miller and Fox stumbled through the awkwardness of not having a game to call a year ago during the Kings’ improbable run that ended with a finals win over New Jersey last summer doesn’t make it easier to prepare for the scenario that it could happen again as long as these Kings decide to defend their title this May and June. Continue reading

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U.S. Open’s move from CBS to ESPN starting in ’15 should be welcome to tennis viewers

us-open-tennis-ticketsAn 11-year, reported $770 million rights deal with ESPN and the U.S. Tennis Association announced Thursday will end CBS’ long-time relationship with the U.S. Open starting in 2015 and provide far more flexibility for viewers of the last Grand Slam event of the sport’s season.

CBS has been carrying the U.S. Open back to 1968, and it will have the next two women’s and men’s championships, usually held on the first week of the NFL regular season, before its deal ends in 2014.

CBS and ESPN currently share U.S. Open rights, and ESPN has sold off some of its coverage to Tennis Channel.

“We have all the respect for CBS and what they’ve done with this event, and I would submit to you fairly categorically that we expect the audience for the US Open to increase, not to decrease,” said ESPN president John Skipper, in response to questions about the ratings on CBS dwindling in recently years.  “We presented last year a coherent start-to-finish presentation of Wimbledon and the audience went up, it did not go down. Continue reading

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How unfortunate: L.A. has two in the top 10 for SI’s “Fortunate 50″

image003The Dodgers must feel fortunate Zack Greinke came back from a broken collarbone unusually fast in time to resume pitching tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Then again, when you’ve invested $29 million in his future, every missed start is a pain in the wallet. You try to fix the problem ASAP.

Now that he’s off the disabled list, Greinke has made it on to another list — Sports Illustrated’s “Fortunate 50,” a spin-off of the Fortune 500 for athletes who are doing something right — starting with hiring a good agent (or, just showing up in Ned Colletti’s office without an agent).

You do realize Greinke is the highest-paid SoCal athlete — Kobe Bryant’s salary of $27,850,000 falls just short. But because of the Laker star’s $19 mil in endorsements, he’s No. 4 on this SI list at $48,850,000, the same spot he had a year ago. Greinke, alas, has just $20,000 in endorsements, according to SI research, the smallest amount of anyone in this Top 10 (he’s at No. 10).

Floyd Mayweather Jr. topped this year’s list ranking of the 50 highest-earning pro athletes in the U.S. with $90 million projected for 2013 — with none of it coming from endorsements.

Tiger Woods, No. 1 every year from 2004-11, is down to No. 5 at $40.8 million. LeBron James (No. 2 at $56.5 million) is the first team-sport player to crack the top two since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 2004. James’s $39 million in endorsements were more than any other U.S. athlete in 2013.The New York Yankees topped team sports with five representatives on the list. The Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies came next with four players each. The Lakers had three.The complete list: si.com/Fortunate50.

Former Galaxy scallywag David Beckham ($48.3 million) tops the SI International 20, which ranks the 20 highest-earning international athletes. Sorry, you’re no longer our domestic financial burden.

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Play It Forward: May 13-19 on your sports calendar — Do the Kings have more bang for their puck?

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET: rajsmaller

NHL PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
GAME 1: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Staples Center, NBC Sports Network, KTLA-1150 (AM)
So there was a recent episode of the “Big Bang Theory” where Raj, the Cal Tech student who often gets lost in the conversation, wanted to impress his new girlfriend with his manly side by sporting a Kings home sweater to a dinner date. “I love your jersey,” said Lucy. “Thanks, I love hockey,” answered Raj. “Cool, so does my dad, we watched it all the time growing up. Who’s your favorite player?” Long pause. “Not Brian Boitano, that’s for sure,” Raj managed to spit out. It took awhile, but Raj finally came clean as to why he was putting on the act, causing Lucy to ask: “Do you even like hockey?”

Yup, that's Taylor Swift (with Demi Lovato) in a Kings sweater at a Kings game.

Yup, that’s Taylor Swift (with Demi Lovato) in a Kings sweater at a Kings game.

“No,” he admitted. “I bought this at Staples Center when I went to see Taylor Swift.” Cue canned audience laugh.

It’s all relative, right? (Just ask Sheldon, Leonard or Howard for a definition of what that might mean. … maybe even Penny, if you’re feeling lucky). If the planets are aligned for another Kings’ run to a second consecutive Stanley Cup, the empirical evidence revealed itself again during their first-round triumph over the Blues, a team that maybe played better hockey but didn’t benefit from the laws of physics at the right time (except, perhaps, in Game 1, but we’ve already purged that from our intellectual properties).

Sharks center Logan Couture collides with  Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, in a game at San Jose last April. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Sharks center Logan Couture collides with Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, in a game at San Jose last April. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

This is the time of year to see Kings black-and-silver pop up from Pasadena to Pacoima, Palos Verdes to Paso Robles and all Pythagorean theorem-friends points of interest in between.
The Kings’ version of Shark Week is an interesting switch of storylines. The Kings will have home ice advantage for the first time since 1992. The previous 16 series have started on the road, and the Kings have won the last five in a row. They topped San Jose twice at Staples Center during the regular season, including 3-2 in the last game of the regular schedule on April 27. And the Kings have won 10 in a row at home.
May the force be with Jonathan Quick’s backbrace and Dustin Penner’s slapshot at least one more round. A bigger bang for the puck awaits.
That, and Taylor Swift will be back at Staples Center in late August. In case you were wondering.
Remainder of the series this week (all games on NBC Sports Network and 1150-AM):
Game 2: 7 p.m. Thursday, Staples Center
Game 3, 6 p.m. Saturday, San Jose

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