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.

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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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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