Nos. 1-10: Our Top 50 most important sports venues in So Cal history (does Hollywood Park crack it?)

A follow up from an earlier blog post:
How does Hollywood Park rank in the Top 50 of all the most important sports venues in Southern California history?
Consider this the top 10:

aerial1. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: Aside from some unpopular opinion, the place has managed to stay classic, and classy, as the center piece to two Summer Olympics (1932, ’84), the first Super Bowl (’67), the Dodgers’ 1959 World Series and the home of USC football since its opening in 1923 (and UCLA’s home from ’28-to’81). It is also gave shelter to the first major pro sports franchise in L.A. when the NFL’s Rams moved here from Cleveland, and also held three NFL championships. The Raiders came crawling here as well before eventually they, and the Rams, decided to leave when they couldn’t get their way. International soccer matches, X Games, XFL games, Super Cross events and even an Evel Knievel jump are included in its legacy. The flame keeps on burning over remodeling modifications, historical landmark designations and, at last, USC stepping in as the caretaker. Over the next 10 years, there will be more improvements that keep it in this top spot.

dodger-stadium-sunset2. Dodger Stadium: The place Walter O’Malley put into the side of a towndown hillside doesn’t look a day over 52, with more upgrades coming. And give Frank McCourt some credit for going back to the retro-color original seats a few years back. The venue may want to stretch its boundaries by hosting soccer, moto-cross and an outdoor hockey game next month, but it simply doesn’t have to resort to such gimmickry.

Rose_Bowl_main3. Rose Bowl: Built simultaneously as the Coliseum was going up in downtown L.A., the Pasadena icon not only is the place many traditionally prefer to welcome the new year since 1923, but it has become more accommodating to four BCS title games (including the final one next month), five Super Bowls and FIFA World Cup title matches for men (’94) and women (’99). Pssst: it also had the 1983 Army-Navy football game, as well staging track cycling in the ’32 Olympics. Just be quiet about it. The neighbors are getting cranky.

Pauley_Pavilion4. Pauley Pavilion: The House That Wooden Built opened for UCLA’s ’65-66 basketball season, was remodeled for the ’12-13 season, and should remain a landmark as long as banners keep hanging from the rafters. Plus, it was the perfect place for Mary Lou Retton to show what perfection looked like during the ’84 Olympic gymnastics.

bforumer5. The Forum: The place Jack Nicholson referred to as “The Giant Ashtray” in Hollywood Park-adjacent was Jack Kent Cooke’s palace for his Lakers and Kings starting in 1967. The a state-of-the art “Showtime” throwback to Roman decadence eventually was the first to figure out how to work the commercial naming rights game. It’s making a comeback as a concert venue. How about another indoor rodeo someday?

STAPLES CENTER6. Staples Center: The downtown L.A. super-sized facility on Figueroa for the Lakers, Clippers and Kings since 1999 has established itself as the place where tables are turned over faster than a five-star restaurant to accommodate as many as four events in a 48-hour period. Even with all those statues outside of guys who never played there, it has seen seven NBA finals, a Stanley Cup pass-around, world figure skating and championship tennis, X Games, UFC, boxing . . . and Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game. And all other kinds of Grammy glitz to add to its crossover appeal.

santa-anita-park7. Santa Anita Park: Arcadia’s art deco monument often referred to as the world’s most beautiful race track with the San Gabriel Mountains as the backdrop. No lies. Since its opening on Christmas, 1934, it has survived attempts to close it up to expand local retail outlets. Thankfully, it survived, has hosted seven Breeders’ Cups. You can still visit Seabiscuit’s original stall and barn. And it remains one of the last major sporting facilities in the country without lights.

Grand-Olympic-Auditorium8. Grand Olympic Auditorium: When used for boxing, wrestling and weightlifting at the 1932 Olympics, it was the largest indoor arena in the country of its kind with 15,300 seats. Too bad roller derby and pro wrestling events weren’t Olympic disciplines then, too. The place where the 1976 Oscar-winning movie “Rocky” was filmed was finally sold off to a Korean Christian church. Too late to put up a fight and reclaim it?

riviera-cc-019. Riviera Country Club: The Palisades park known as “Hogan’s Alley” has held three major golf events, including the ’48 U.S. Open, as well as standing firm for the PGA’s L.A. stop. A private club, but a public jewel, it even had some ’32 Olympic equestrian events on its facilities. Hence, the kikuyu outbreak. The fact Tiger Woods doesn’t care to come back doesn’t hurt the place at all.

Los_angeles_memorial_sports_arena310. Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena: The first home of the Lakers (’60-’67), the Kings (’67), Clippers (’84-’99) also had USC and UCLA basketball, the ’68 and ’72 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four, major indoor track events (Sunkist Invitational from ’60 to ’04), and top-notch boxing during the ’84 Olympics. Could it be next to go? Current owners USC are looking into tearing it down and replacing it with a “soccer-specific” stadium for an MLS team. Go for it.

Next: Numbers 11-25 …

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Where does Hollywood Park fit on a list of the most important sports venues in Southern California history?

Albert Razo, left, Rafael Chaidez, center, and Juan Renterea tamp holes left by horses after a race at  Hollywood Park after the day's events on Dec. 15.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Albert Razo, left, Rafael Chaidez, center, and Juan Renterea tamp holes left by horses after a race at Hollywood Park after the day’s events on Dec. 15. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

They don’t shoot horse race tracks, do they? Just to put them out of their misery?

Hollywood Park bugler Jay Cohen, who has been working at the track since 1988, plays the call to the post prior to a race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Hollywood Park bugler Jay Cohen, who has been working at the track since 1988, plays the call to the post prior to a race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

History should look more humanely  on the life and times of Hollywood Park, the insouciant, inscrutable Inglewood thorough-
bred facility that has finally reached the point of being deemed too valuable by local business leaders for something as frivolous as public gambling on equine unpredictability.

But before we throw the synthetic dirt onto their grave proposal to make this one big new housing complex, there’s value in trying to determine where Hollywood Park ranks among the top 50 most important sports venues in Southern California history.

Top 20, easily. Higher, anyone?

Others who’ve managed to see much more of L.A.’s sports history play out going back over the last half century-plus may have a better feel of how to put it into context.

Feb2013X6NYDNSeabiscuit2“To put Hollywood Park in its proper place among L.A. sports venues, it would seem appropriate to look beyond its declining years to the track’s entire 75 year history,” said Rick Baedecker, the former Hollywood Park president who has been involved in handicapping, television and upper management , and one who adds he’ll be at Sunday’s closing day with about 40 family members to bid it a proper adieu.

HPRace“During its first 50 years it became the number one track in California and, for a while, the country.  It was known as  ‘the track of the lakes and flowers,’ a 400 acre oasis just a few miles from the ocean.  But more important, it was a showcase for the sport’s greatest performers — from Seabiscuit, Citation and Swaps, to Pincay, McCarron and Shoemaker, perhaps the greatest jockey of all-time.  And L.A. sports fans embraced it  – 80,000 came out for a tote bag giveaway in 1980, when a crowd of 30,000 was the norm — for a Wednesday afternoon.

“Hollywood Park may be top 20. But there was a time when it was second to none.” Continue reading

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Friday AM updates: Weekly media column version 12.20.13

polls_Naughty_and_Nice_1_1519_120724_answer_1_xlargeWhat made it into this next-to-last media column for 2013:

727_1359396603More on the transformation of Fox Sports Radio’s national lineup versus how it affects the future of KLAC-AM (570) (even that hug ,made us all a bit uneasy, didn’t it?), the limited Time Warner Cable coverage of this weekend’s CIF state football championships, how
Patine-Bottle1Kings TV analyst Jim Fox has become chief bottle washer with his new wine label that not-coincidentally has the coolest label around (read more at, and more on the Lakers-Heat Christmas Day game that could deteriorate quickly.

What could have made it in as notes, but will have to be content with being here instead:

Friday AM updates:
== Don Barrett writes at “With the upcoming changes in the sports line-up at KLAC and Fox Sports Radio, Pat O’Brien is the winner. He has a guaranteed contract. ‘I have professional freedom and can move on or move on to the next journey,’ emailed Pat. His podcast, ThePatOBrien Show now has a full time employee:  him.”
Really? That’s how POB is going to try to frame this? It’s a case of a major league team so focused on getting someone off its roster that its  willing to pay his contract for him to play for another team, and hope he’ll get plenty of at-bats against them.

== Sports Business Daily reports that ESPN’s “College GameDay” averaged 1.83 million viewers this past season, but that was down 10 percent when it was a two-hour continuous show (coupled with the early first hour on ESPNU). Not that “Fox College Saturday” on FS1 factored in. In its first year, it averaged 73,000 viewers.

Original updates: Continue reading

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Did you get the memo? Fox Sports Radio lineup change is minus O’Brien, Hartman, Dibble, Van Dyken

UPDATED: Noon, today:

A memo sent out to some of the Sherman Oaks-based Fox Sports Radio gang laying out a new lineup for early 2014 has left Pat O’Brien, Steve Hartman, Rob Dibble and Amy Van Dyken without a place to call their show, according to several sources.

keep-calm-and-moving-on-12The national weekday rundown that will debut on Monday, Jan. 6 marks a notable change in the noon-to-3 p.m. slot, which O’Brien and Hartman have held for the last several years.

The “Fox Sports Primetime” slot “will be replaced by a new program to be announced shortly,” the memo said.

On Wednesday’s show, O’Brien was not on the air with Hartman, replaced by Lincoln Kennedy via a line from his home in Phoenix. Sources say O’Brien will not be on any longer going forward.

O’Brien’s shelf life at the station ended up just more than three years after trying to rebuild his sports media career.

Hartman, a fixture in L.A. sports radio since his days at KFOX-FM and XTRA-AM, said in an email: “I have had the longest uninterrupted run in So Cal sports radio history. Not bad for a former Raiders PR guy. I will stay on at Fox Sports Radio in some capacity past the first of the year but I’m talking to several people, both in radio and television, about future opportunities. I’ve been insanely lucky to have a vocation that is also my advocation. It was certainly time for a change and I can’t wait to find out what’s next.”

Whever Fox Sports Network does with that spot, KLAC-AM (570) in L.A. will go local programming in that window. Sources say Fred Roggin, the KNBC-Channel 4 longtime anchor who has been subbing in the station of late, will be hired fulltime for that spot.

Meanwhile, in the 3-to-7 p.m. national slot, Fox has moved Las Vegas-based John  “J.T. The Brick” Tournour, with partner Tomm Looney, from late nights to the earlier slot. But neither will be heard in L.A. because Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith, who had been national in that window for the last five years, stay in the same slot but will only be heard locally.

From 7-to-11 p.m., Fox national has replaced Dibble and Van Dyken with Jason Smith, who once held the overnight spot at ESPN Radio. On many nights in L.A. between April and October, that spot will often be filled by Dodgers games.

Fox’s national lineup will also move Ben Maller from weekends to weekdays in the 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, followed by “Fox Sports Daybreak” with Andy Furman and Mike North from 3 to 6 a.m.

The new lineup keep Dan Patrick (6-to-9 a.m.) and Jay Mohr (9 a.m.-to-noon) in their usual spots.

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Your college football bowl TV lineup Dec. 21-24

51DThGAZUzL._SX300_ESPN is still putting together its talent roster for the upcoming bowl season — it dominates the 35-game slate as usual (with CBS and Fox each allowed to grab just one, but that’s it).
The first six that take up Saturday, Monday and Tuesday — all pre-Christmas rush — will cover a range of bowls ranked as high as No. 9 and as low as No. 35 as far as the assessment goes.
For these first six, here’s how it looks and listens:

Of local interest:
= Las Vegas Bowl: 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: USC vs. Fresno State (Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack & Samantha Ponder)
= New Mexico Bowl: 11 a.m., ESPN: Washington State vs. Colorado State (ark Jones, Brock Huard, Jessica Mendoza) On ESPN Radio: John Sadak, Tom Ramsey, Nikki Noto
= Idaho Potato Bowl: 2:30 p.m., ESPN: Buffalo vs. San Diego State (Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb, Dawn Davenport) On ESPN Radio: Marc Kestescher, Dan Hawkins, Marty Cesario
New Orleans Bowl: 6 p.m., ESPN: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Jeannine Edwards). On ESPN Radio: Bill Rosinkski, David Norrie, Joe Schad

== Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg: 11 a.m., ESPN:
East Carolina vs. Ohio (Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway, Paul Carcaterra). On ESPN Radio: Eamon McAnaney, Anthony Becht, Ian Fitzsimmons

== Hawaii Bowl: 5 p.m., ESPN: Boise State vs. Oregon State (Steve Levy, Lou Holtz, Mark May, Maria Taylor). On ESPN Radio: Kevin Winter, Trevor Matich

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NFL ’13 TV lineup for L.A. in Week 16: It’s pick your seat night at Candlestick

Blog-Photo--49ers-selling-the-seats-from--Candlestick-ParkAre we expected to be in a merry, melancholy state of mind knowing that Candlestick Park, home of the San Francisco 49ers since 1971, will stage its last NFL regular-season game, using the “Monday Night Football” stage for its grand exit strategy before the playoffs begin?
It’s a big enough deal that Chris Berman feels a need to be there, in person, for the network coverage. To add his own personal remembrances. Because he’s just that kind of a giving guy.
How do we draw upon our remembrance of Candlestickery? Is it  “The Catch” …. or a particularly bad day that L.A. Rams quarterback Jim Everett may have had there once?
After the NFL season, the place gets torn down and an $8 billion concert hall, housing and shopping district is going on the property.
If only Hollywood Park’s future site had such grand plans.
The team has been selling off those cruddy orange seats (use the promo code GO49ERS) to anyone willing to fork out about $749 a pair (not the $649 as originally quoted). It’s a bargain of sorts. But look at what you get.
And you can’t get them until just before Christmas 2014 — seems they may need them if the 49ers host a playoff game.
And what are the odds of that? We’ll know more after this weekend:

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: = Denver (11-3) at Houston (2-12) (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts). The Broncos have already clinched a playoff spot and could lock up the AFC West. Just another chance to show off a Peyton Manning game.
The rest of CBS’ games in this window:
= Indianapolis (9-5) at Kansas City (11-3) (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf) AFC South champion Colts already clinched their division; the Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot.

= Cleveland (4-10) at N.Y. Jets (6-8) (Marv Albert, Rich Gannon)
= Miami (8-6) at Buffalo (5-9) (Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein)
= Tennessee (5-9) at Jacksonville (4-10) (Andrew Catalon, Adam Archuleta)

== 10 a.m., Channel 11: New Orleans (10-4) at Carolina (10-4) (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver) NFC South champion Saints already has won tie breaker against the Panthers.
The rest of Fox’s games in this window:
= Dallas (7-7) at Washington (3-11) (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Erin Andrews)

= Minnesota (4-9-1) at Cincinnati (9-5)  (Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber, Kris Budden)
= Tampa Bay (4-10) at St. Louis (6-8) (Sam Rosen, Heath Evans, Molly McGrath)

== 1:25 p.m., Channel 2: Oakland (4-10) at San Diego (7-7) (Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker) If the Chargers don’t sell this out by Thursday, then expect to see one of the more intriguing games this weekend:
New England (10-4) at Baltimore (8-6) (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms) AFC East champion Patriots faces Ravens team holding down last playoff spot based on tie-breaker against Dolphins.
CBS also has in this window:
= Pittsburgh (6-8) at Green Bay (7-6-1) (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)
Fox also has in this window, not going to L.A.:

= Arizona (9-5) at Seattle (12-2) (Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin) NFC West champ Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot.
= N.Y. Giants (5-9) at Detroit (7-7) (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)

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

== 5:40 p.m., ESPN: Atlanta (4-10) at San Francisco (10-4) (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)

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Weekly media column notes version 12.13.13

mondaywillreturnsignMore vacation time this week. Still, we try to  keep tabs on things without all the heavy keyboard lifting. So among the stuff we’ve decided to keep on the radar:

== ESPN wishes Orel Hershiser “nothing but the best” as he moves into his new broadcasting role with the Dodgers’ fledgling network that will by all promises launch in the spring. We wish ESPN viewers relief in realizing that the “quite often provocative” Curt Schilling will replace him in the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth, becoming the latest analyst to come to the rescue since Joe Morgan was shown the exit in 2008 (following  Steve Phillips, Bobby Valentine and Terry Francona, with John Kruk staying on as a partner with Dan Shulman).
Meanwhile, with Jerry Hairston Jr. retiring this week to also join the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. team as we assumed months ago, the Dodgers’ broadcast lineup for 2014 has been assumed to fall into place with new roles by the L.A. Times’ Steve Dilbeck.

== Another wise move for the Dodgers to add Jon Weisman to their roster as the new director of digital and print content, responsible for  creating and producing original digital content for the club’s website, as well as overseeing all of the Dodgers’ publications, including Dodgers Magazine, and integrating them online. Aside from starting his “Dodgers Thoughts” blog and writing the “100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die,” he wrote for, among other places, the L.A. Daily News. He was most recently at Variety.

== The reason why the Dodgers are starting their own network is because, well, Prime Ticket/Fox Sports couldn’t keep them on board after a long relationship. With that, the Sports Business Journal decided to name both Fox Sports President and COO Eric Shanks and Fox Networks Group President & COO Randy Freer at the top of its annual  “50 Most Influential People In Sports Business” list. ESPN president John Skipper is third (after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell). Turner  Broadcasting Systems President Dave Levy is No. 8. Melinda Witmer, the Time Warner Cable Exec VP & Chief Video and Content Officer, is No. 25. Continue reading

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L.A.’s college football TV lineup for Week 16; NFL in Week 15


91l0Xuu28YL._SL1500_== Saturday, noon, Channel 2: Army (3-8) vs. Navy (7-3), at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
836517Best way to prep for this one: Find a copy of the new book called “All American — “Two Young Men, The 2001 Army-Navy Game, and the War they Fought in Iraq,” by Steve Eubanks (Morrow Books, $27.99, 276 pages). It’s the story of Army quarterback Chad Jenkins and Navy linebacker Brian Stann (above) and how 9/11 changed their lives.
Also read the story about the silver dollar that will be used in the coin flip 50 years later.
Navy is headed to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30 vs. Middle Tennessee.
The bowl season begins next Saturday, Dec. 21, with a four-game slate that includes USC in the Las Vegas Bowl.


== 5:25 p.m., NFL Network: San Diego (6-7) at Denver (11-2) (Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan)

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: New England (10-3) at Miami (7-6) (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
The other CBS’ games in this window:
= Houston (2-11) at Indianapolis (8-5)  (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)
= Buffalo (4-9) at Jacksonville (4-9) (Andrew Catalon, replacing Marv Albert, with Rich Gannon)

== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Seattle (11-2) at N.Y. Giants (5-8)  (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Erin Andrews)
The other Fox’s games in this window:
= Washington (3-10) at Atlanta (3-10) (Sam Rosen, Heath Evans, Molly McGrath)
= Chicago (7-6) at Cleveland (4-9) (Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin)
= Philadelphia (8-5) at Minnesota (3-9-1) (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)
= San Francisco (9-4) at Tampa Bay (4-9) (Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber, Kris Budden)

== 1:25 p.m., Channel 11: Green Bay (6-6-1) at Dallas (7-6) (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)
Fox also has:
= New Orleans (10-3) at St. Louis (5-8) (Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, Jennifer Hale)
= Arizona (8-5) at Tennessee (5-8) (Justin Kutcher, Charles Davis)
CBS has in this window (but won’t be showing here):
= N.Y. Jets (6-7) at Carolina (9-4) (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)

= Kansas City (10-3) at Oakland (4-9) (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, going to San Diego and many other California cities)

== 5:30 p.m., Channel 4: Cincinnati (9-4) at Pittsburgh (5-8) (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

== 5:40 p.m., ESPN: Baltimore (7-6) at Detroit (7-6) (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)

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Weekly media column notes 12.06.13

imagejpeg_0Oh dear.
It’s vacation week. In Montana, of all places.
Still, we have some notes to throw onto the fire (and this would be the perfect spot for Ed Orgeron to land, with temps below O):

== Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket will announce today an extension of their deal to carry CIF-Southern Section high school events, something the network has done since 1997.
The new deal starts with the 2014 football season — which will be the network’s 250th telecast of a football team. The contract allows for coverage of 10 sports, including boys and girls basketball, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo and wrestling. FSW/Prime will remain the home of the CIF-SS football game of the week as well.
“The high school platform has been a fixture at Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket for over 17 years and we are thrilled to be extending our partnership with the CIF Southern Section,” said Steve Simpson, the Senior VP and GM of FSW and Prime. “As we continue to evolve our coverage of prep sports, we are excited to deliver on our continued commitment to offer live CIF Southern Section action, showcase the next generation of athletic talents and share the unique storylines that span Southern California.”
CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said he was “grateful to our partners at Fox Sports West for the long and fruitful relationship we have had over the years. We truly look forward to continuing to work together in the time ahead, which will enable us to deliver our outstanding product to our stakeholders and all those who love high school athletics as we do. I want to thank Steve Simpson and his entire team for their dedication and commitment to our organization and what we stand for.”

== Nomar Garciaparra’s apparent deal with the Dodgers to join their new TV network team in some capacity continues to defy logic, based on how he was not the most media-friendly person as a player but has embraced the role with ESPN the last several seasons, and now will take it a step further in a move that allows him to stay based at home in Manhattan Beach. Gotta believe the Dodgers had this all lined up prior to telling another local homeowner, Steve Lyons,  that his contract would not be renewed.

== Ron Burgundy didn’t make it on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Thursday — news broke? — but he was on Dan Patrick’s radio show, with Ed Sherman providing clips.

== Why the Auburn football broadcasting job may be the happiest place on Earth these days, writes Richard Sandomir in the N.Y. Times.

== Kevin Harlan and Greg Anthony have the call for CBS’ coverage of UCLA basketball at Missouri (Saturday, 9:30 a.m., Channel 2, leading into the SEC championship football game, which also includes Missouri).

== Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman and Monica Gonzalez have coverage of ESPN’s MLS Cup 2013 on Saturday at 1 p.m. — Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City. Studio work goes to Max Bretos, Alexi Lalas, Kasey Keller and Alejandro Moreno.

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Bigger-than-life sports books for 2013 holiday shopping

They’ve hit the stores recently with a giant shelf presence, and they’re worth considering as holiday gifts:

71-MlRgUC4L== The Official and Exclusive Illustrated History of USC Trojan Football”
Skybox Press, 314 pages, $75
The picture book-deluxe weights in at almost six pounds, but it’s not a lot of heavy reading. Most of the essays scattered inside by Pat Haden, Ronnie Lott, Dr. Art Bartner, Mike Garrett, Anthony Munoz, Troy Polamalu, Pete Carroll and J.K. McKay add context to the wealth of photos, many of which we’d never seen before. A team shot of USC’s first squad in 1888 — 11 players, one coach, and one not pictured. There’s a photo of Trojans tackle Marion Morrison (aka John Wayne) listening to instructions from coach Howard Jones at the top of page 53. It allows the reader to sit and gaze as the years go by as the vivid cardinal and gold jumps off the pages. If you enjoyed previous Skybox publications about the Dodgers, or what Insight publishing did for the Angels, then adding this to the collection is worth fighting to find.
== Note: The publishers are offering a holiday 60 percent off special: Just $29 per copy at their website with free shipping

BOOK3-popup== “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams”
By Ben Bradlee Jr.
Little Brown and Co., 864 pages, $35
Both the author and subject matter are heavy hitters, adding to the weight and thickness of this one. Imagine taking a decade and talking to more than 600 people about what they knew about Ted Williams. There are 14 pages listing people who were interviewed, including Tommy Lasorda, Curt Gowdy, Ernie Harwell, Bob Cousy, Bob Costas, Charlie Rose, Morley Safer and Bob Scherbarth (who caught one game for the Red Sox in 1950). There are 27 pages of notes. A four-page bibliography. And 24 pages of index. Most interesting to us is Chapter 5, devoted to Williams’ relationship with the media, “a subject I found rich and important in understanding the Kid,” writes Bradlee. The footnote we found on page 600 was all we needed to sum up our impressions of how Williams lived. “In the early ‘60s while shooting a film for Sears (the department store who Williams had a large endorsement deal with for its sporting goods equipment), Ted had expertly maneuvered a tarpon directly into his boat for the benefit of a photographer stationed in an adjacent boat, only to find that the photographer hadn’t been ready and had missed the shot. Enraged, Ted paid the man on the spot and sped off telling him to find his own way home.” We also found it interesting that of all the folks Bradlee interviewed, Peter Gammons was not included. But Gammons did write this jacket blurb:  “I love this book. Ben Bradlee Jr’s epic study of Ted Williams, The Kid, is a fascinating exploration into the mind of a complicated artistic genius. Like so many artists and baseball giants, Williams had a raging insecurity that Bradlee captures. This is not a baseball biography, it is the portrait of an artist from an immigrant background to arguably the greatest moment in All Star Game history in 1999.”
= A New York Times review
= A story on NPR

9781576876718_p0_v2_s600== “Hoop: The American Dream”
By photographer Robin Layton
powerHouse books, 180 pages, $40
“If there was a chain on the hoop, it was a good day. If there wasn’t, it was a tougher day.” The quote is from Ann Meyers Drysdale, and it’s next to artistic photo of the basket that the former UCLA All-American shot on as a kid at Ladera Palma Elementary School in La Habra. There are more than 100 photos of hoops across this country taken by free-lancer Layton, capturing “that altars upon such they laid their dreams, honed their skills and made a first splash in the game,” according to the intro text.
sharmanThe coffee table-sized compilation – about as big as a backboard in some cases – shows hoops from all walks of life, all kinds of city parks to private backyards, from the palm trees at Venice Beach to the court at the White House. The shots, too, are in all contexts, from reflections caught in pools or puddles, hoops attached to beautiful trees or San Francisco underpasses, at sunset, sunrise, in the rain and snow. Even the very closeup hoop net eyelet shot in Beverly Hills. One four-page spread that will cause for pause is when you meet the old backboard with no hoop left that Larry Bird used at his childhood home in French Lick, Indiana, on the corner of Jefferson and Washington. Jerry West provides the forward.
= The official “Hoop” website
= An interview with ESPN’s TrueHoop blog

259786_w296== “The Rose Bowl 100th Celebration”
By Malcolm Moran
Whitman Publishing LLC and the Vault Series, 144 pages, $49.95
Keith Jackson writes a simple forward for this book put together by Moran, the director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University. But that’s just the start of the fun that comes once you pull this out of its slipcover. Those with smart phone can scan codes to see film clips from games and parades. More tangible history comes alive with all kinds of reproduced things such as ticket stubs, press releases, VIP passes, media credentials, rosters, post cards and shrunken-down program covers. For example, there’s a folded up pink scorecard from the 1923 USC-Penn State game (courtesy of B.H. Dyas Co. Sporting and Outing Goods) that shows the players, position, age and weight of both teams. Take a quick look at that 28-man Trojan roster, and you’ll see none is bigger than 184 pounds. The story of that game also includes an explanation of how the game got its name — it was from Pasadena Star News sportswriter Harland “Dusty” Hall.
= From the National Sports Journalism Center

== “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful”
304 pages, $50
Seems there should be some kind of cover charge to pick this up in the store and start flipping through. This one’s almost seven pounds of fun. Anything with Kathy Ireland has to be. Even the first cover model in 1964 — Babette March, complete with a yellow bathing cap.

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