Play It Forward: July 1-7 — Wimbledon winds down, Game On Dude has another Hollywood Park spotlight

It’s on the schedule for this coming week:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Novak Djokovic changes his shirt during a break in his men's second round singles match against American Bobby Reynolds at Wimbledon on Thursday  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Novak Djokovic changes his shirt during a break in his men’s second round singles match against American Bobby Reynolds at Wimbledon on Thursday (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

TENNIS: WIMBLEDON in London, England
Women’s final: 6 a.m., Saturday, ESPN
Men’s final: 6 a.m., Sunday, ESPN:
How much did nagging injuries, or pure exhaustion, account for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer making early exists at Wimbledon last week? Forced to endure grueling five-set matches, tournament after tournament, could finally be taking their toll, says Martina Navratilova. “It’s really becoming so taxing that I believe one day we will have two out of three sets in the Grand Slams, otherwise they’re going to be taking people out on stretchers, Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champ, with half of them coming at Wimbledon, recently told Laureus.com. England’s top men’s performer, Andy Murray, missed the French Open with a bad back recently but has plowed through the competition in the first week and, with a No. 2 seed, is aligned to meet up in the men’s final against top-seed Novak Djokovic, who has had ankle issues himself. On the women’s side, Serena Williams continues to make quick work of her opponents. Keep an eye on the only other American left in the men’s or women’s field – Sloane Stephens, who has to face 19-year-old Puerto Rican Monica Puig in the fourth round next.  And the Bryan Brothers of Camarillo remain alive and well in their quest to reach the men’s doubles final on Saturday (with the semifinals on Thursday).
Women’s semifinals are Thursday (5 a.m., ESPN); men’s semifinals are Friday (5 a.m., ESPN). Channel 7 repeats the women’s and men’s final Saturday and Sunday at noon.

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It’s Out of the Question: Serena vs. Murray wouldn’t be a dandy, Andy

murray-serena_2600609bOur wish list from a wishy-washy first week at Wimbledon: Upset, upon upset. Slipping, upon sliding. A ban on wrong-colored shoes. A little rain, a little pain.
We got that, and more, when a couple of reporters started to beg the question — could Serena Williams handle a courtship battle against Andy Murray?
Seriously, the men’s big banger from England said he’d gladly be an exhibitionist if she was involved.
Maybe something’s been lost in the translation.
Put it this way: If there was a battle of the sexes exhibition to be staged between the top woman in the world and one of the best male players, “I doubt I’d win a point (against Murray),” said Williams.
Without a doubt, she’s correct.
_45968305_tarango_mic“She could test a lot of men on this planet, probably seven and a half billion, but Andy Murray is not one of them,” Jeff Tarango, the former touring pro in the 1990s from Manhattan Beach Mira Costa High who once studied at Stanford under existentialist philosopher Albert Camus.
“Let’s go to the depth of it,” he continued to the BBC Radio. “What they’re asking is, ‘How low do you have to go in the men’s game before Serena pulls off a win?’ I’m going to say (players ranked) 300-350. . . . They might start getting a little nervous and I think on a good surface on a good day, she could maybe take someone out.”
Tarango sounds like he’s up for the challenge, eh?
serena-williams-boyfriendWe know too much already about the kind of men Serena’s been taking out, even without Maria Sharapova’s scouting report.
Get to the real point here: Given her domineering ways, how many games will any women left in this Wimbledon field get off Serena before she officially raises the giant silver plate again? Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 06.28.13: Lakers taking to the media for D12 love more like ad naseum?

The latest from the @Lakers twitter account, adding Kobe Bryant to the campaign to bring back Dwight Howard.

The latest from the @Lakers twitter account, adding Kobe Bryant to the campaign to bring back Dwight Howard.

What made it into this week’s media column:
dog stay-1
A little more explanation on the media backlash to the Lakers trying to keep Dwight Howard around by resorting to, well, big-time media. We posted it on Thursday.

What didn’t make it in, but maybe should have: Continue reading

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Already bored of the #StayD12 billboards? The Lakers took that into consideration, but did it anyway

lakers_billboard_stayd12_dwight_howard_062713bDwight Howard was doing some tremendous trending on Twitter during the course of today. Just not so much with the #StayD12 halo affect that the Lakers could have anticipated with their latest billboard campaign throughout the city.

The Lakers’ Instagram and Twitter accounts announced in a somewhat coy way early Wednesday that giant overhead signage with the simple message “Stay” had been placed at various locations, including one slapped onto the side of Staples Center.

“If you’re walking Hollywood Blvd. looking down at the stars, don’t miss the one above you #StayD12,” read one tweet, with a photo of the billboard featuring Howard above the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

dwight_howard_lakers_billboard_stayd12_062713_1The hashtag reference was to create similar conversation, at the very least, about what the benefits might be to have the 6-foot-10 enigmatic star extend his welcome to L.A. past one season.

By this morning, the team had more than 1,000 retweets and hundreds of “favorites” respondents. They also had the media seizing upon it, adding their own twist:

“If you’re the Lakers, you don’t beg people to stay,” said Dan Patrick on his syndicated radio show. “You say, ‘We’re all in, are you D12?’ Sacramento did this with Chris Webber (in 2001). You’re the Lakers. You don’t beg. Take down those silly billboards. ‘Stay’ … ‘Please’… ‘Pretty please.’”

BNzPa6DCUAA7s9V.jpg largeA tweet from Ben Maller, who has a syndicated show on Fox Sports Radio: “On same day Clippers hire championship winning coach (Doc Rivers), Lakers put up billboard begging Dwight Howard to stay. #minorleague.”

Deadspin.com called the campaign “kind of sad.” USA Today referred to it a resorting “to desperation.” NBC Sports Radio said it was “desperate, embarrassing & kind of hilarious #HesJustNotThatIntoYou.”

Lakers vice president of public relations John Black admitted that “a significant amount” was spent on the seven billboards around town – with possibly more to come. Estimates, based on the costs of billboards in prime Southern California spots, could easily push this past $50,000 for a month’s worth of exposure. Continue reading

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Play It Forward: June 24-30 on your sports calendar: Sizzling UCLA has a stake in Omaha success again

The sports schedule as it shapes up for this week:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

UCLA's Pat Valaika (Hart High), left, and Cody Regis celebrate after the last out against Louisiana State in the College World Series opening win in Omaha, Neb. UCLA won, 2-1. (Ted Kirk / AP)

UCLA’s Pat Valaika (Hart High), left, and Cody Regis celebrate after the last out against Louisiana State in the College World Series opening win in Omaha, Neb. UCLA won, 2-1. (Ted Kirk / AP)

COLLEGE BASEBALL:
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES best-of three final in Omaha, Neb.: UCLA vs. Mississippi State, Monday-Wednesday, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Cody Regis was the starting third baseman and UCLA’s home run leader on the 2010 Bruins team that made it into the championship series before losing to South Carolina, making the All-Tournament Team. He hit .312 that season with 9 homers and 47 RBIs. Now, the Glendora High grad is the only senior on the squad, his stats have dipped in each of season since then, he’s been passed over in the last two MLB drafts, and he’s moved over to second base and managed to his .233 this season, without a homer.
939161Yet, he poked a ground ball through the hole on the right side of the infield to drive in UCLA’s first run in their eventual 4-1 victory over top-ranked North Carolina last Friday, pushing the Bruins into an improbable position of getting that title that eluded them three years ago. “We’re hot at the right time and we’re playing as a team,” Regis told the Daily Bruin. The four-run outburst was just as unusual for UCLA, which started the CWS with 2-1 victories over LSU and North Carolina State. With eight runs total, UCLA tied 1976 Eastern Michigan for fewest by a team (in the metal-bat era) that still won its first three CWS games.
Another Glendora grad, junior Adam Plutko (9-3, 2.28 ERA in the regular season and the winner over LSU), will take the mound for the Bruins in the opener of the series. MSU’s Bulldogs, meanwhile, kept this from being an all-Pac-12 final, eliminating Oregon State in the other bracket.

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It’s out of the Question: When is a phenom not a star? The meter is running

Yasiel Puig points to the outfield during batting practice before last Wednesday's game at Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Yasiel Puig points to the outfield during batting practice before last Wednesday’s game at Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

What’s the problem with this whirligig Yasiel Puig making it impossible to keep him off the National League All-Star roster next month?
In an age of instant celebrity and even quicker crashes-and-burns, Puig’s performance has to hold solid for the three more weeks, when the teams for the July 16 exhibition will be announced. Again, it’s only an exhibition, unless you’re trying to capture home field advantage in the World Series. bruce-bochy-p1So then why wouldn’t NL manager Bruce Bochy enjoy the irony that a Dodger can help him should his Giants make it back to the Fall Classic?
“I would have a hard time picking somebody who has been here three weeks, to be honest,” Bochy has said. “The numbers would have to be so stupid that you say, ‘OK I’ll consider it.’ But, you know, I couldn’t take away from a player who has been here and done it the whole half and been out there grinding every day and he doesn’t go. I couldn’t look at that player. I couldn’t look at myself, to be honest. So that’s why I’m saying, that’s a really long shot.”
First, by the time this has to be decided, Puig will have been wearing big boy pants for five weeks.
Second, stupid numbers are his specialty. No matter how you translate it.
Third, the MLB could make Puig one of those “final vote” online guys, leaving it up to social media maniacs to clean up any potential mess.
Fourth, wasn’t a guy named Bryan LaHair part of last year’s All-Star game? He of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks these days?
spresionIf Cuba’s greatest gift to Hollywood since Ricky Ricardo ( not the former All-Star from East L.A. trying to work his way back into the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting rotation) is buzzing around .500 with a dozen homers, 100 at bats and a few more YouTube highlights when it’s time for the roster decisions – and since Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford aren’t walking through that door anytime soon, he’ll get chance – it would be a missed opportunity not to showcase him in New York.
Bat him first, let him homer, take him out.
And watch the comparisons to Bo Jackson grow even more. Continue reading

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Really, does this lawsuit make Time Warner Cable look too fat? So what’s the skinny on the class-action case involving your cable bill and Dodgers, Lakers games?

20151337_BG1It’s become the $11 billion question is: How can Time Warner Cable get away with starting up its own Lakers-centric channel, then help fund the Dodgers with the launch of their own channel, with the end game eventually force Southern California TV viewers to foot the bill for the bulk of it without the option of opting out?

Max Blecher has already invested $1,435 into hopefully finding a feasible answer to that.

That’s the filing fee paid by the Los Angeles-based lawyer Tuesday on behalf of four plaintiffs and “all others similarly situated” in a potential class action complaint this week in L.A. Superior Court. It seeks “restitution and injunctive relief” from TWC for the $100 annually that that subscribers of the largest cable company in Southern California must pay for TWC’s SportsNet, Deportes and the upcoming SportsNet L.A. because they have no option of opting out of the enhanced tier package to pay for any of them on an a la carte basis. The Dodgers and Lakers are also named in the suit for being co-conspirators.

There’s all the usual mind-numbing legalese jammed into the 11-page document. But then again, it is a California judge’s judgment they’re trying to impart upon here.

Meaning:

gregory-peck-portrays-attorney-atticus-finch-in-the-1962-film-to-kill-a-mockingbird-b90b03b6d581ac59In describing how TWC paid $3 billion for the 20-year rights fees to the Lakers in 2011, it notes how “the humongous costs” have  been passed onto subscribers to the tune of about $4 a month. It then recounts the “incredible price of” $8 billion for the 25-year deal TWC came to with the Dodgers starting in 2014.

It calls TWC’s channel bundling as “unethical, oppressive and unscrupulous. There is no practicable way consumers could avoid this injury.”

And you thought it was painful to watch Kobe Bryant snap his Achilles just before the playoffs.

“They’re ripping off dollars from people who can’t afford it,” Blecher explained this morning in terms even Metta World Peace could get his head around. Continue reading

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Why can’t a pitcher at least apologize to a batter after he hits him? An unwritten rule?

The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig goes down in front of Arizona catcher Miguel Montero after being grazed by a pitch during a game last week at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig goes down in front of Arizona catcher Miguel Montero after being grazed by a pitch during a game last week at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In light of the recent baseball brawls we’ve all seen — Dodgers-D’backs last week, and last night’s Giants-Padres confrontation — we felt compelled to pass on this editorial written and sent to us by John Paciorek, the one-time, one-game MLB player with a lifetime 1.000 average, brother of former Dodger Tom Paciorek, and living these days in San Gabriel (some background on his history from Sports Illustrated and the New York Times:)

Professional baseball should become the kind of game that most people envision when the mere mention of its name conjures up childhood “backyard” or “sand-lot” memories of fast moving excitement, when the pitcher threw the ball, the batter hit the ball, and the fielders chased down and caught the ball, and threw the ball to any one of the four bases, to tag the slow or quick moving runner. There was no such thing as a walk! Baseball had a rapid pace to it.

We shouldn’t try to recapture the amateurish, ill-refined aspects of under-developed skills, but rather reinstate the true essence of unbridled enthusiasm, exemplified by both players and spectators alike.

Let’s make it fun again, for everyone. Let’s not give the “non-competitor” an easy way out. Don’t let an incompetent pitcher pitch around a hitter! Don’t let a pitcher disable a player or team, by punishing a batter by hitting him in the elbow, knee, shoulder, wrist, or head, and adulterate the integrity and purity of a game that truly embodies a national pride and spirit. Continue reading

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