Play it Forward: Dec. 30, ’13 to Jan. 5, ’14 — Just 19 more bowl games before the BCS title tilt back in Pasadena …

One of the games you won’t be seeing this week, but should be on the schedule: The Bacon Bowl.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL:
100th ROSE BOWL: STANFORD vs. MICHIGAN STATE, Wednesday at 2 p.m., ESPN:
TOR-RB-logo-4-webPull up a chair, wave at Vin Scully as he’s escorted up Colorado Blvd., serving as the Grand Marshall of the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade, then tune in later in the day to see him flip the coin that will determine who’ll defer the kickoff until the second half in the latest edition of this iconic game. Stanford actually helped kick the whole thing off in 1902 – on the wrong end of a 49-0 score against Michigan in Tournament Park (on the campus of Cal Tech) that was so ugly, the game was called with eight minutes left and organizers decided to put football on hold for more than a decade. They replaced it with chariot and ostrich races. Which, according to all accounts, may not be such a bad idea to bring back of the Cardinal and Spartans decide to play a brand of defense-first football that will come far from lighting up the scoreboard.
dm_131226_ncf_news_max_bullough_suspendedMichigan State’s run defense is ranked No. 1 in the nation, surrendering just 80.8 rushing yards a game. It doesn’t explain how Ohio State had 273 against them on the ground in the Big Ten championship game, but the Spartans still prevailed. “They’re a big, physical, strong defense, and they believe in playing team defense more than I’ve ever seen,” said Stanford senior running back Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns this season behind his equally huge offensive line. “But we pride ourselves on being the exact same thing, being strong and moving guys against their will. It’s going to be a test of will.”
Pac 12 Championship - Stanford v Arizona StateStanford should have a fewer butterflies about this whole BCS bowl business – the Cardinal was here a year ago and outlasted Wisconsin, 20-14. “It’s very much a business trip,” said Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, whose last trip to L.A. was watching USC pull off an upset against his team at the Coliseum. “We came down here for one reason, and that’s for the game.” We’ll be there to see Scully, trying to talk him into at least join the guys in the booth and call a few plays.

THE BEST OF THE REST Continue reading

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ICYMI: The Vin Scully Q-and-A as he heads to the front of the line at the 125th Rose Parade

Vin Scully, right, waves to the crowd with former Dodger great Don Newcomb during their appearance on the Dodgers' float in the 2007 Tournament of Roses parade. (Getty Images)

Vin Scully, right, waves to the crowd with former Dodger great Don Newcomb during their appearance on the Dodgers’ float in the 2007 Tournament of Roses parade. (Getty Images)

Note: This Q-and-A originally appeared online in late November, when Vin Scully turned 86 years old. It appeared in the Rose magazine printed by the Los Angeles News Group, included in today’s newspapers. For those who missed it the first time and can’t find it on the website, here is a replay:

The one and only time Vin Scully floated down Colorado Boulevard was six years ago, atop a Dodgers-themed work of art that marked the 50th anniversary of the team arriving in Southern California. All the rich blue colors came from ribbon irises and scissored statice, accented with white mums, red carnations and 1,500 bird of paradise stems to boot.

dodgers“Really, it felt as if I was a little kid back in New York, and my father had the 20 cents on a Sunday to take the Fifth Avenue ride on the bus — the one that had no top,” said Scully, who was joined on the float by players, former manager Tommy Lasorda, and even Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bee Hefley.

“We made that turn onto Colorado, and to me it was like going down the middle of the Grand Canyon with all the people in the bleachers on either side. The impact was overwhelming. It took my breath away.”

When the Dodgers’ Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster is escorted back down the main route of the 125th Rose Parade on Wednesday, it’ll be of much grander proportions. Scully, the 2014 parade’s grand marshal, will also be celebrating his 65th season as the voice of the Dodgers, who made it to the National League Championship Series last October.

Scully, who turned 86 on Nov. 29, discussed this latest honor, as well as all that goes into it: Continue reading

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Puig-mania remains contagious with 2013 L.A. Sports Person of the Year title

Yasiel Puig, with Lakers exec Jeanie Buss, has fancied himself as a Lakers fan during his first year in L.A. (Photo by Lon Rosen/Dodgers)

Yasiel Puig, with Lakers exec Jeanie Buss, has already aligned himself as a  Lakers fan during his first year in L.A. (Photo by Andy Bernstein/NBA, via the Dodgers)

“Since I have gotten to know him, I have seen him interact with kids, fans, everyone, and he is sincere in his enthusiasm and is warm and friendly,” Lakers executive Jeanie Buss says about the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig in our story about the 23-year-old outfielder being named our 2013 Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year.
“He knows how to make people smile — even with a language barrier. Sometime I feel like Lucy Ricardo trying to understand Ricky when he’s speaking Spanish, but we have a lot of fun trying to make each other understand what we are trying to say. …
“I hope he keeps that joy and passion for life because it’s contagious for anyone around him. In my life I have only known one other athlete that could light up a crowd with just his smile — Magic Johnson.”

Yasiel Puig enjoys himself after trying on one of Shaquille O'Neal's size 23 shoes while in the Dodgers' offices (photo by Lon Rosen/Dodgers)

Yasiel Puig enjoys himself after trying on one of Shaquille O’Neal’s size 23 shoes while in the Dodgers’ offices during the 2013 season. (photo by Lon Rosen/Dodgers)

 

 

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Coming Saturday: Our 2013 Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year … care to guess?

BPATCNuCcAAnKuvAt his online store called Barry’s World, Barry Goldberg sells what he calls “wacky, surreal and wholly unique gifts.” One T-shirt logo he dreamed up was inspired from the children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web.”
As the story goes, Charlotte the spider was trying to raise attention for her barnyard friend, Wilbur the pig.  She spun a message in her web that said “Some Pig.”
Goldberg recreated that as a graphic to sell on shirts and whatever else it could be attached to — mousepads, coasters, Christmas ornaments … thongs.
Meanwhile, Yasiel Puig mania erupted in Los Angeles, and beyond.
Goldberg’s “Some Pig” graphic eventually was recirculated as “Some Puig.” Yet Goldberg didn’t really take notice of it until it was recently pointed out to him.
“It looks like somebody took original and altered it to add an extra letter,” the New Jersey businessman said. “To be honest, I’ve never even hear of Mr. Puig.”
Could he be the only one who doesn’t know why we’re about to name the Dodgers outfielder as the 2013 Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year? Stay tuned.

Previous winners of the Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year award:
2012:
Dodgers ownership team of Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson
2011: AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke
2010: New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush
2009: Thousand Oaks teenage sailors Zac and Abby Sunderland
2008: Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez
2007: Galaxy midfielder David Beckham
2006: Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti
2005: USC running back Reggie Bush and USC Heisman winning quarterback Matt Leinart

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NFL ’13 TV lineup for L.A. in Week 17: So it’s come down to this …

EndIsNear1We’re led to believe that San Diego still has a shot at making the playoffs. With an assortment of ifs, ands or buts. Other than that, consult your local listings.

ALL GAMES SUNDAY:
10 a.m., Channel 2: Baltimore (8-7) at Cincinnati (10-5) (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
The other CBS games in this window:
= Houston (2-13) at Tennessee (6-9) (Andrew Catalon, Adam Archuleta)
= Jacksonville (4-11) at Indianapolis (10-5) (Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker)
= N.Y. Jets (7-8) at Miami (8-7) (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)
= Cleveland (4-11) at Pittsburgh (7-8) (Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein)

10 a.m., Channel 11: Carolina (11-4) at Atlanta (4-11)  (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch)
The other Fox games in this window:
= Detroit (7-8) at Minnesota (4-10-1) for the final game at the Metrodome (Gus Johnson, Charles Davis)
= Washington (3-12) at N.Y. Giants (6-9) (Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber)

1:25 p.m., Channel 2: Kansas City (11-4) at San Diego (8-7) (Marv Albert, Rich Gannon)
The other CBS games in this window:
= Buffalo (6-9) at New England (11-4) (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts)
= Denver (12-3) at Oakland (4-11) (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)

1:25 p.m., Channel 11: Green Bay (7-7-1) at Chicago (8-7) (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman)
The other Fox games in this window:
= Tampa Bay (4-11) at New Orleans (10-5) (Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick)
= San Francisco (11-4) at Arizona (10-5) (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)
= St. Louis (7-8) at Seattle (12-3) (Chris Myers, Tim Ryan)

5:30 p.m., Channel 4: Philadelphia (9-6) at Dallas (8-7) (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

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More concluding thoughts on the closure of Hollywood Park race track

Actor Dick Van Patten is able to celebrate his filly win the third race on the final day at Hollywood Park on Sunday.
Staff photographer Scott Varley

== From Los Angeles News Group writers Nick Green and Sandy Mazza: An interview with 92-year-old fan Rudy Carreron, whom we mentioned via his hand-made sign in our column. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Carreon said.

== From Bloodhorse.com notes Corey Nakatani’s win in the final race was his 1,202nd at the track. That leaves him just eighth on the all-time list.
“That was really emotional,” Nakatani said. “It’s hard to really say that much. This has always been such a great place to be. After winning a bunch of races here, it’s hard to see it go. It’s pretty sad.”

== From the Associated Press’ Beth Harris, who caught up with 77-year-old Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg: “I just think it’s a pathetic thing,” he said of the track’s closure. “It’s ridiculous to let something like this that so many people love and thrive on close. They did everything they could to kill racing.”
Van Berg, who has raced in California for 41 years, said he’s moving his operations to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
“I’ve had enough,” he said. “I don’t like California racing anymore. I don’t like the way they run it and what they do.”

== From the L.A. Times’ David Wharton, talking to a fan:
“It takes closing up to draw 30,000?” said Terry Howard, who lives down the street and attends racing daily. “Where were all these people before?”

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That’s a wrap, all right — and those who’ve embraced Hollywood Park are wrapped up in mixed emotions

bannerDick Van Patten’s eyes welled up as he stepped out of line at the Hollywood Park Turf Club will-call window early Sunday afternoon and approached the woman across the way who was taking admission tickets.

“Dickie!” she exclaimed as she saw the 85-year-old actor slowly came over.

“I just wanted to tell you how much I’m going to miss you,” Van Patten said to her.

People watch grooms prepare horses for a race on the final day of competition at  Hollywood Park on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

People watch grooms prepare horses for a race on the final day of competition at Hollywood Park on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Just about two hours later, there was Van Patten, coming down from his front row seat in Section 31 to take his rightful spot in the tracks’ winner’s circle with a sheepish grin.

The filly he co-owns, Tanquerray, made up five lengths with about a quarter mile left in the third race and, urged on by Corey Nakatani, blew past favorites Highly Rated and PrettyPriceyGirl for the victory by almost a length. It paid off at $12.60.

Those kind of conflicting emotions seemed to best frame the final day of thoroughbred racing at Inglewood track.

Sentimentality swirling with a building frustration, temporarily distracted by a winning exacta ticket. Or by someone renewing their wedding vows by the track chaplain. Or by a ceremonial flyover.

Oh, right, that’s just another 838 double-deck airbus approaching LAX.

It was a combination of a wake and a wake-up call. Except it was too late to act upon anything that could make things right again. Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Dec. 23-29 on your sports calendar — No gift receipts for that Lakers-Heat Christmas game, right?

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

CHARLIE BROWN TRIES TO PERK UP THE FORLORN LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREENBA:
LAKERS vs. MIAMI, Staples Center, Wednesday at 2 p.m., Channel 7
CLIPPERS at GOLDEN STATE, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime:
Well, Tickle Me Zelmo Beaty: Forbes reports that for as much as the new  PlayStation and Xbox will make gamers’ hearts beat faster this time of year, there’s something out there even more insane — the average secondary market ticket for the Christmas Day Lakers-Heat game has been going for $624, or 152 percent more expensive than the average price for a typical Lakers’ home game. Maybe there’s a way to play it on the home console instead, over and over, until the Lakers figure out a way to win. Most likely bought their tickets expecting another Kobe-LeBron matchup. Go to the dictionary and look up “coal, lump.”
131114_big_logo_jersey_lakers670 “Even with the spiffy holiday uniforms that will be christened on Christmas day, that’s a lot of money to be paying for what is almost a guaranteed loss,” writes Jesse Lawrence in the Forbes piece. Hey, we forgot all about that T-shirt jersey marketing thing they’re also trotting out. The Lakers, 21-18 on Christmas Day games as they inch closer to .500, have matched up five times against the Heat on this day – and lost the previous four.
lebron kobeThe latest was on 2010 at Staples Center. After holding the Lakers to 14 first-quarter points, the Heat ran off with a 96-80 win while James and Bryant were jawing at each other at one point. “Just asked him what he got for Christmas,” said James, who had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while hitting a season-high five 3-pointers. This year, LeBron might give Kobe the game “Operation.” Watch the tweezers as you’re removing the funny bone.
So why does the Heat have to travel all the way to L.A. to play this game, when they are the defending champs? A USA Today story posted Saturday said incoming commissioner Adam Silver would be trying to remedy that. It makes sense, right?
Clipper_teammates_Blake_Griffin_and_Chris_Paul_in_ugly_Christmas_sweaters_postgame_Christmas_2012Meanwhile, the Clippers are just building their Christmas Day resume. That includes last year’s win over Denver at Staples Center, which included Blake Griffin and Chris Paul showing up for a post-game press conference in hideous looking Christmas sweaters. Maybe the NBA’s other TV partner, TNT, has the right counter-programming idea for Wednesday. It’s running three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies back to back to back, ending with “At World’s End.” At the day’s end, that may get more viewers.

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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Nos. 26-50: Our Top 50 most important sports venues in So Cal history

muscle-beachFlex your muscles for some of the choice you may not have even considered for your own list, most unique to the area’s mixed sporting pleasures and landmark places in their right:

26. Muscle Beach/Santa Monica Pier, Venice
27. Manhattan Beach pier sand volleyball courts
28. L.A. Tennis Center/ UCLA
29. Weingart/East L.A. College Stadium
30. Veterans Memorial Stadium/Long Beach

31. Dedeaux Field/USC
32. Drake Stadium/UCLA
33. Hilmer Lodge Stadium/ Mt. San Antonio College
34  Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool/Long Beach
35. Gilmore Stadium

36. Devonshire Downs/Northridge
37. McDonald’s Olympic Swim Stadium/USC
38. Los Angeles Swim Stadium/Exposition Park
39. Galen Center/USC
40. Bovard Field/USC

41. Irwindale Speedway
42. Gersten Pavilion/LMU
43. Firestone Fieldhouse/Pepperdine
44. Jackie Robinson Stadium/UCLA
45. Walter Pyramid/Long Beach State

46. Long Beach Marine Stadium
47. Tournament Park/Cal Tech (Pasadena)
48. Ballona Creek rowing channel
49. Venice Beach outdoor basketball courts

farmers field facebookAND, AT NO. 50:
Farmer’s Field in downtown L.A.
Los Angeles Football Stadium at Grand Crossing in City of Industry
Hacienda Stadium in Carson
Raiders Stadium in Irwindale
Hollywood Park Stadium at Inglewood:

Isn’t Hollywood is all about pretending? There was a time when Al Davis used to jangle the keys to Hollywood Park’s future, supposedly negotiating a 65,000-seat space with 150 luxury boxes at a price tag of about $200 million about 20 years ago.
It never happened. If it did, maybe we’d decide that Hollywood Park, the race track, was stepping aside for something better. But just like all the others on this mini-list, it seems as if all the talk generated around it possibly being built makes it feel as if it’s already come and gone.

If the list is pushed toward 100, include these

= Los Alamitos Race Track
= John Elway Stadium/Granada Hills High
= Washington Park/Chutes Park
= Olympic Velodrome/Cal State Dominguez Hills
= VELO Sports Center/Carson
= Encino Velodrome
= Santa Monica College track
= Raiders team headquarters/El Segundo
= Saugus Speedway
= The Matadome/Northridge
= Riverside International Raceway
= PGA West at La Quinta
= Wilshire Country Club
= Al Houghton Stadium/San Bernardino

To review:
= The original blog post about where Hollywood Park fits into the Top 50
= Nos. 1-10 in our Top 50
= Nos. 11-25 in our Top 50

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Nos. 11-25: Our Top 50 most important sports venues in So Cal history

Following up on previous blog entries about Hollywood Park’s place in SoCal sports venue history, and our list of the Top 10 ….

hollywood_park_02We’re comfortable with slotting Hollywood Park into this tier because of all the criteria it meets. Coincidentally, it is in among some of the other formidable former L.A. sports landmarks that won’t be forgotten. If only we could have seen events at Gilmore Field, Wrigley Field or the Pan Pacific Auditorium:

11. Wrigley Field
12. Gilmore Field
13.  Anaheim Stadium/Angel Stadium
14.  Hollywood Park (Inglewood)
15.  Pan-Pacific Auditorium
16. StubHub Center/Home Depot Center (Carson)
17.  Ontario Motor Speedway
18.  Auto Club Speedway (Fontana)
19.  Rancho Park Municipal Golf Course
20.  Ascot Park (Gardena)
21. Long Beach Arena
22. Honda Center/The Pond (Anaheim)
23. Anaheim Convention Center Arena
24. Shrine Auditorium
25. Auto Club Raceway Fairplex (Pomona)

Coming next: Nos. 26-50

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