Play It Forward: July 22-28 on your sports calendar: Volleyball in Long Beach, surf’s up in Huntington, and Cooperstown becomes a ghost town

How to plan out your lazy summer week ahead:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

1001053_662101613804670_1683768363_nWORLD SERIES OF BEACH VOLLEYBALL, Long Beach, Monday-Sunday:
b75836dc-268c-4500-a54a-c1674c5a6bc3.jpg.ashxSharknado warnings aside, this  week-long festival near Marina Green Park off Shoreline Drive has “all things beach,” as the organizers call it. That’s the actual volleyball matches mixed in with music, sun screen and likely some adult beverages.“It will be the most extraordinary beach volleyball event in the history of the planet,” said creator Leonard Armato, the former AVP commissioner and CEO. “It will ignite the entire volleyball community. Nothing like this has ever been done. It combines beach volleyball and beach lifestyles.”
google-map1Sanctioned by FIVB, the sport’s international governing body, it includes AAU youth tournament, a NCSVA college event, amateur co-ed four-person and six-man competitions, and concludes with a women’s semifinal and final on Saturday, a men’s semi and final on Sunday (Channel 4, 1:30 p.m.).
Kerri Walsh Jennings decided not to play in the FIVB Grand Slam event because of an abdominal strain, but instead will play in the World Series Cup tournament that starts Saturday. FIVB participants include Whitney Pavlik, Annett Davis, April Ross, Jen Kessy, Todd Rogers, Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal among 128 pros attending from 16 countries. NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports also has coverage.
More info: www.wsobbv.com

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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Q and A with Matthew Berry: Why it’s not what players you pick in your fantasy league, but the players you pick to play with

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How bad do you want to lose in your fantasy league?

I can get you from the first pick to last place faster than a Mark Sanchez butt fumble.

It was in everyone’s best interest that two decades ago I swore off playing in rotisserie-style anything of any kind – football, baseball, golf, Little League T-ball. I continue to enjoy this cleansing of the soul, maintaining a purified outlook at just how messed up a fantasy league can be to the psyche and checkbook.

So, with that, I’ve checked out this new book by Matthew Berry.

Fantasy Life COVER (1)In “Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It” (Riverhead Books, $27.95, 338 pages), I hesitate to say that fantasy looks real again.

Before I take that leap of fret again, I needed to track down Berry, who once lived in Sherman Oaks during his TV sit-com writing days but has since moved to Connecticut (perhaps a requirement of a witness protection program):

(And little did I already know: He’ll be signing books and doing a fantasy Q and A at Barnes & Noble at the Grove near Farmer’s Market on Fairfax on Monday at 7 p.m.) Continue reading

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It’s Out of the Question: U.S., Russia, Snowden and an Olympic boycott — an historical blunder waiting to happen again?

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Go back to that U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, a protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Pretty effective, eh?

Four years later, the Russians counterpunched with a revengeful 14-country boycott of the ’84 Games in L.A. – which included Afghanistan. They said there was too much “anti-Soviet hysteria.”

Thirty years later, Lindsey Graham apparently is ready to start another sports Cold War.

The Republican senator from South Carolina said this week the U.S. should consider the b-word for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia — especially if Moscow decides to grant asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“I love the Olympics,” Graham said, “but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world. If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that’s taking it to a new level. . . . the Russian government is empowering some of the most evil, hateful people in the world.”

Hate to say it, but Graham’s hateful rant could have some merit. He’s just looking out for the athletes’ best interests.

1364415191_u947cover-tiger-woods-lindsey-vonn-441Couldn’t Lindsay Vonn use more rest and rehab, and time with Tiger Woods’ gallery?

Haven’t Apolo Ohno and Shani Davis done all they can anyway in speedskating?

What chance does Evan Lysacek have as repeating in men’s figure skating?

If you’ve seen Shawn White halfpipe once, haven’t you’ve seen him 1,000 times?

And it’s not like the U.S. men’s or women’s hockey teams are ever going to break that glass ceiling and win gold in their sport anyway, right?

Boycotting Olympic events historically no little in constructive resolutions as far as world politics go. But if this one goes through, we already can plot Russia’s countermove — Snowden not only gets free room and board, but he also carries the Russian flag into the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies.

How much would Graham crumble over that? Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 06.19.13 — OK, smarty pants, where else do you find inspiring sports commentary?

What made it into this week’s sports media column:

picture-5Is ESPN too late to the dance to bring back Keith Olbermann? SportsOnEarth.com guy thinks so.
“Sports media has more than enough punditry already. You find it on so many blogs and on Bleacher Report, now that the generation of writers who grew up aspiring to be Bill Simmons has come of age. You find it in newspapers, where the highest honor attainable — the last promotion of them all — is columnist, a position from which stray hacks have held forth on whatever controversy has them clutching their pearls at the moment. … The problem isn’t that sports talk lacks smart people — it’s that smart people have no need for sports talk.”

We still look for good sports talk, so we welcome KO back to the punch, as we blogged about Thursday morning.

What didn’t but perhaps could have with a little more imagination: Continue reading

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The Olbermann Chronicles: He’s not making a prediction on how long this ESPN2 gig will last, either

Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber host the 1993 ESPN2 show (from twitter@keitholbermann)

Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber host the 1993 ESPN2 show (from twitter@keitholbermann)

During his hey-hey-hey-day as the “SportsCenter” co-host, Keith Olbermann was prompted by ESPN management to take a slight career turn and help give some credibility to the launch a new spinoff channel called ESPN2 in October of 1993.
Actually, back then they referred to it as “The Deuce.” It was going to be hipper ESPN, playing to the snarky demographic (if “snarky” was even a word then), using urban-inspired graphics that really have not stood the test of time when you look back on it all now.
Sure, Olbermann agreed. Why not? If that’s what the team needs, he’d be a team player.
Media criticism came fast and harsh, especially from those who weren’t in that demographic target of males aged 18-to-18 ½.
With a young Suzy Kolber to his left sitting at the anchor chair, Olbermann lost the sport coat and sported a brown leather jacket in hopes of re-creating a new vibe.
And as a way to diffuse tension in the room, his first words on the first ESPN2 three-hour version of its “SportsCenter” was:
“Welcome to the end of our careers.”

Keith Olbermann, from a "This is SportsCenter" promo

Keith Olbermann, from a “This is SportsCenter” promo

Some who took that literally were probably upset at him, but that’s where his compass guided him. It’s part of the deal, and that’s really the tone that was supposed to be set.
Somehow, it’s 20 years later, and 16 years removed from Olbermann’s final “SportsCenter” where he admits he left on ugly terms. An ESPN vice president at the time had the memorable line in USA Today that Olbermann didn’t just burn bridges at the network, “he napalmed them.”
(Note: The employee still works for the company).
A post-ESPN journey that saw him stay relevant at Fox Sports’ national cable venture, then off to political commentary on “Countdown” at MSNBC and Current TV, and for a couple years s co-host again with Dan Patrick on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” it is against most odds that Olbermann has been allowed to do some bridge building.
ESPN2 has a created spot for a show titled “Olbermann” starting Aug. 28, in the 8 p.m. PDT slot from New York’s Times Square, where he’ll comment on the day’s events from a platform surely to rankle some more ESPN suits in the process, but also generate a needed buzz.
Loathe him or hate him, Olbermann needs ESPN as much as the network needs him back to help give credibly to their channel – again – as there is perceived competition now from the launch next month of Fox Sports 1.
At the same time, this allows Olbermann a chance to right some wrongs he admits happened along the way.
“I’ll let you characterize it any way you’d like, but I think it’s less irony and more symmetry,” Olbermann said of being allowed to circle back. “Maybe that (ESPN2 launch) didn’t work – in big huge letters – but we gave it our best shot. And we’re still kicking as a network.”
130717154956-keith-olbermann2-single-image-cutOlbermann sounded sincere to “have this chance to put a different ending on the story of my relationship with ESPN . . . I would like to do my best to correct as much of it as I can and I appreciate the fresh start. . . . I’m grateful to friends and bosses – old and new – who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I’m not going to waste it.”
He’s already got a foot back into the sports world by working out a deal with TBS do to work during the upcoming MLB post-season, a job that ESPN says he’ll be allowed to keep. Continue reading

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