Play It Forward: Jan. 13-19 on your sports calendar — Pack up the kids, crank up the car, and get the heck out of Grammyland

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

Road-Trip-Kit-Sidebar-Image-Gear-PatrolTHE GRAMMY ROAD TRIPS BEGIN:
LAKERS at PHOENIX, Wednesday at 6 p.m., TWC SportsNet
KINGS at ST. LOUIS, Thursday at 5 p.m., NBC Sports Net
CLIPPERS at NEW YORK, Friday at 4 p.m., Prime:
sutter-620x280Wanna get away? Again?
It’s really sounding like a broken record — those who run Staples Center have blurred lines when it comes to deciding what takes precedent in its building. So what if the Lakers, Clippers and Kings fill all the dates between October and May. When Grammy season arrives, the sound you hear are from the planes taking all those teams as far away as possible. Even though the awards ceremony/circus isn’t until Sunday, Jan. 26, the place needs to be cleared out for dress-up rehearsals and possibly installing new hydraulic equipment for a special Justin Timberlake entrance.

dantoni15s-1-web This is the time when Katie Perry’s Roar drowns out Mike D’Antoni’s list of excuses about the latest injuries. When Eminem can be more Berzerk than Clipper Darrell after another Blake Griffin dunk. When Kendrick Lamar has more cred entering the building than Lamar Odom (is he retired yet?)
Yeezus.
doc-rivers All this means is that while the Kings have a home game Monday, they’re gone for eight games through Jan. 30. They are 12-8-2 away from home this season so far.
The Lakers are at home Tuesday, then they’re out the door for seven in a row away, until Jan. 28. They’re 6-13 on the road.
The Clippers are home Wednesday, then they beat it for seven in a row on the road, until Jan. 29. They’re 9-10 away from home.
And all the while, Rhianna remains Unapologetic. Ask Matt Kemp about that one.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

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Sunday Q and A: Why Jeff Suppan, 17 seasons and 11,000 MLB batters later, understands ‘the best ability is availability’

jeff-suppan-mlb-autographed-baseball-nlcs-mvp-inscription-3362367Jeff Suppan never needed to be a Superman on the mound.
His accomplishments in the 2006 National League Championship Series for the St. Louis Cardinals were surely MVP-worthy.

628x471Starting a pro baseball career at age 18, right after graduating from Encino’s Crespi High, and making it through 17 big-league seasons, enough to  accumulate 140 wins for seven teams, and finding himself on teams that made the playoff seven times and went to two World Series definitely accounts for something.

But the fact remains that with a four-pitch repertoire through a text-book mechanically sound delivery, he simply did what he was supposed to do and succeeded on many levels. Now’s the time when it’s all put into context.

When he officially announced his retirement on this past Jan. 2 – his 39th birthday, and the sixth anniversary of his mother Kathleen’s passing – it brought some closure for his family.

jeff-suppan-autographed-baseball-card-boston-red-sox-1996-upper-deck-collectors-choice-rookie-class-428-292x400He hadn’t made a pitch for a big league team since he was in San Diego in the middle of the 2012 season. Yet the Calabasas resident has had plenty on his plate the last six years running Soups Sports Grill in Woodland Hills with his wife Dana, as well as taking care of his kids aged 4 and 2.
He explains the process:

QUESTION: What made you decide now this was the time to let everyone know your decision that it was time to retire?

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Updated: Weekly media column version 01.10.14 — Why LeBatard flounders with his decision to give up his Hall ballot to Deadspin

lebatardxmasWhat made it into this week’s media column:

Highly questionable, Dan LeBatard. 0108-flounder-animal-house-768-then-480wHighly debatable. And highly open to ridicule given the alternatives.
The ESPN TV and radio talk show host, who has kept his Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote for the Hall of Fame by virtue of once having it in a previous career as a full time columnist for the Miami Herald, became the “kick me” target of the day Wednesday  when the latest three enshrines were announced.
Thursday, he seemed to basking in the afterglow of surrendering his ballot to Deadspin.com, which then allowed its readers to fill out the 10 spots before it was officially submitted under LeBatard’s name.

Of course, it’s not the first time LeBatard tried to make a statement with a vote (see: NBA MVP 2013, just six months ago. We’ll direct you to the Deadspin version).

More soften criticism of LeBatard’s methods include from the Miami Herald, where Executive Sports Editor Jorge Rojas said in a statement:  “Whatever issues might be raised about the Hall of Fame voting process, we do not condone misrepresentation of any kind. Dan had a point to make. We think there are other ways he could have made it.”

We’ve got other notes about Dan Dierdorf’s final NFL game call for CBS this weekend, and more tributes to the Jerry Coleman. It’ll all be posted in the next few hours. (By the way, the Padres have announced a public memorial on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 10:30 a.m. at Petco Park).

What could have also been included:

+Notes we’ve added Friday morning:

== A CBS video tribute to Dierdorf is here, in his own words.

== An obit on former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, via the ShermanReport.com.

== In our mention of Dick Enberg talking about Jerry Coleman in today’s column, we overlooked the fact Enberg celebrated his 79th birthday on Thursday. That fact was brought up by Bill Walton during the ESPN coverage of the UCLA-Arizona contest, where the former Bruins center was at his mushroomed-induced best.

+What we had from Thursday’s post:

== KLAC-AM (570) has been using FoxSports.com writer Bill Reiter and former Oakland Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison for the noon-to-3 p.m. shift this week as management continues to work out a deal with KNBC-Channel 4 anchor Fred Roggin to eventually take over. The plan remains for Roggin to lead into the Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith 3-to-7 p.m. local shift.

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Wild pitch: Billboard announcing Dodgers’ TV launch premature

(Photo by Tom Hoffarth/Los Angeles Daily News)

(Photo by Tom Hoffarth/Los Angeles Daily News)

Oops.
A billboard announcing the launch of the Dodgers’ new SportsNet L.A. channel on Feb. 25 has been covered up after the team realized it was put up prematurely.
The Clear Channel billboard featuring Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was in place for just a few hours on Wednesday off the 405 Freeway in Culver City. It drew attention on Twitter before a Dodgers employee saw it and realized the mistake had been made.
“We’re pleased about the excitement it generated, but we have asked the Clear Channel billboard operators to take it down until we are ready to start the campaign,” Lon Rosen, the Dodgers head of marketing, said this morning. “This isn’t a campaign where we were trying to leak the information out and stir up interest.”
Clear Channel Communications, one of the largest billboard companies in the world, also happens to own the Dodgers’ flagship radio station, KLAC-AM (570).
In Jan., 2013, the Dodgers announced they would launch their own channel after breaking long ties with Fox Sports West’s Prime Ticket partner. Time Warner Cable is behind the venture, reportedly paying as much as $7 billion for a 25-year deal. TWC launched a channel devoted to the Lakers called TWC SportsNet and TWC Deportes in Oct., 2012.
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Piazza, get angry? At this point in the hellish Hall-ride process, he should be

Mike Piazza, in Dodger gear, circa 1998.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

Mike Piazza, in Dodger gear, circa 1998. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

In all unfairness to Mike Piazza, who for the second year in a row will not be able to sign baseballs with the notation “HOF #31” despite the fact he’s the greatest hitting catcher in the game’s history, the process by which someone qualifies for a Hall pass into Cooperstown has gotten curiouser and curiouser.
baseball-hall-of-fame-by-sports-espn-godotcomWe squeamishly hold the former Dodgers All-Star up as an example of how this whole staged production has gone down the rabbit hole following Wednesday’s announcement of those who have gotten the benefit of the doubt for the Baseball Hall of Fame vote.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas had the stats, accomplishments, awards and, apparently, clean enough urine sample to prove their worthiness.
Piazza, for some rhyme or unreasonable set of circumstances that seems to always circle back to a case of back ache, does not. Continue reading

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ESPN’s whole new megacast world with BCS title game likely to spark new ideas for other networks

From the coaches' room on ESPNEWS, there was much better play-by-play going on than on the ESPN BCS game telecast.

From the coaches’ room on ESPNEWS, there was much better play-by-play going on than on the ESPN BCS game telecast.

At one point, we were trying to Skype directly with the SpiderCam on ESPN3. Send tweets through our remote control to Cheryl Hines, suggesting she to curb her enthusiastically vapid chit-chat on ESPN2. Even handwrite a letter to Lou Holtz.

As confused as we may have been at some moments, wondering if our head might explode trying to keep pace with all involved in Monday night’s ESPN “Megacast” of the Florida State-Auburn national championship game from the Rose Bowl, we feel we actually got our head around this whole thing in a timely manner.

And heads up – with some refinement, expect to see some copy cats from other networks with usable cable channels to dream up their own versions as more big-time sporting events pop up in the future.

Our game plan going into this meant dividing the house into seven media zones, utilizing nine pieces of vital equipment.

The living room flatscreen was best suited for the ESPN “traditional” game coverage. The speakers were tweaked to handle the scope of any Brent Musburger hyperbole – starting with confusing himself with partner Kirk Herbstreit. The man can dream, can’t he?

The bedroom flatscreen was set up to accommodate the ESPN Classic “Sounds of the Game,” but a problem quickly came up, as if often the case in bedrooms. The concept was excellent — no play-by-play, just natural audio, perfect for the bedroom acoustics – but the channel isn’t in HD. It was like looking at a 1973 title game play out on old standard definition. We’re spoiled at this point.

Over in guest room I, we decided the small old TV on its last legs seemed best suited for ESPNEWS’ “Film Room,” where ESPN analysts Matt Millen, Chris Speilman and Tom Luginbill huddled up back in Bristol, Conn., with coaches Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M, Paul Cryst of Pitt and Steve Addazio of Boston College and talked their way through every play.

That position changed quickly. These coaches were definitely in their element — respectful, insightful and manageable in the ways they could foresee plays and formations. Maybe they weren’t auditioning for studio jobs should ESPN have openings someday and they’re out of work, but this approach really worked well as an entertaining and informative dynamic.

The highlight was when Sumlin and Addazio predicted the fake Florida State punt in the second quarter, which kept the drive alive and led to the Seminoles’ first touchdown. If only Auburn’s coaching staff was plugged in.

Chryst almight, this was far too good to ignore. We found ourselves much more in tune to this channel. Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Jan. 6-12 on your sports calendar — If the BCS title game doesn’t bowl you over, maybe UCLA-Arizona in hoops? Lakers-Clippers?

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL:
BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 1 FLORIDA STATE vs. No. 2 AUBURN, Rose Bowl, Monday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
BCS Seminoles Mascot Football
Top five things you should consider heading into this final BCS title game but were afraid to Google it:
= Florida State leads the nation in scoring at 53.0 points per game, having put up a school-record 689 points in its 13 wins. The Seminoles are 28 points away from matching Oklahoma’s 2008 NCAA record of 716 points.  Auburn is No. 9 nationally in scoring, averaging 40.2 points, with 522 total in going 12-1. Combine the two team’s point total — 1,211 – and that’s’ the exact number that USC and Texas had heading into their 2006 BCS classic title game.
= If Auburn scores 30 or more in a game, it’s practically a lock. They’ve won 88 games in a row when scoring 30 or more. In its history, Auburn is 305-4 when breaking 30.

Florida State's Jameis Winston wears a birthday hat as he answers a question during media day  in Newport Beach. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Florida State’s Jameis Winston wears a birthday hat as he answers a question during media day in Newport Beach. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

= Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, celebrating his 20th birthday Monday, won the Heisman Trophy with a 190.1 pass efficiency rating, throwing for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns. Of those, 26 TDs and 2,579 yards came in the first half.
= Auburn junior quarterback Nick Marshall, who less than two years ago was a reserve defensive back at Georgia and spent last season at a community college in Kansas, ran for 1,023 yards this season. Only two other SEC quarterbacks in history have run for more than 1,000 yards. One is former Auburn Heisman winner Cam Newton. Another is Texas A&M Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. In a 45-41 Auburn win over Texas A&M and Manziel this season, Marshall passed for 236 yards and ran for 100.
Print= Auburn could be the first team to beat a No. 1 team twice in the same season, after knocking off Alabama 34-28 in November. The last time that came closest: Oklahoma, which tied No. 1 Texas (15-15) and beat No. 1 Nebraska (17-7) in 1984.
Got it? Flip the coin and get on with it. Pasadena restaurants are staying open late for your enjoyment.

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Jerry Coleman (1924-2014)

The statue to Jerry Coleman outside of Petco Park in San Diego.

The statue to Jerry Coleman outside of Petco Park in San Diego.

By Bernie Wilson, AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO — Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, a former second baseman for the New York Yankees who interrupted his pro career to fly as a Marine Corps pilot in World War II and Korea, died Sunday after a brief illness, the San Diego Padres said. He was 89.

Coleman spent more than four decades with the Padres as a broadcaster, and managed them in 1980.

Padres president Mike Dee said Coleman died at a hospital this afternoon. He said the team was notified by Coleman’s wife, Maggie.

“It’s a sad day,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “We’re losing a San Diego icon. He’s going to be missed.”

San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman speaks during a ceremony honoring his 70 years in baseball, 40 of them with the Padres, and his service in the Marine Corps, before a Padres game on Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman speaks during a ceremony honoring his 70 years in baseball, 40 of them with the Padres, and his service in the Marine Corps, before a Padres game on Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The Padres planned to keep Coleman’s statue at Petco Park open until 11:30 p.m. tonight so fans could pay tribute. The team unveiled the statue in September 2012.

While recounting his military career in an interview days before the statue was unveiled, Coleman said: “Your country is bigger than baseball.”

Coleman spent more than 70 years in pro baseball, a career that included four World Series titles with the Yankees and was interrupted by World War II and the Korean War, when he served as a Marine Corps pilot.

He flew 120 missions combined in the two wars. Coleman was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations.

Around Petco Park and on Padres radio broadcasts, Coleman was known as “The Colonel,” having retired from the Marines with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was the only major leaguer to see combat in two wars.

Coleman, also known for calls of “Oh, Doctor!” and “You can hang a star on that!” after big plays, received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

(Here is a story we did with Coleman prior to his Hall induction, where he also explains why many of his bios say he did Angels games at one point in his career, but that was not so.) Continue reading

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What big-bang theory do you go with when explaining the BCS national title bigness?

Note: A version of this story now appears on the Daily News website here

Screen-shot-2012-11-20-at-1.51.42-PMBigness counts seriously in the BCS.

The Bowl Championship Series’ national title game Monday night at the Rose Bowl, an arranged marriage of a consensus top-ranked and undefeated Florida State united with an one-loss Auburn team that has miraculously navigated through the list of requirements, has all the trappings of a super duper sports spectacle.

An iconic stadium. Celebrity-driven alums. Pseudo celebrities driven to the parties just outside the iconic stadium to congregate in the corporate tents.

Welcome to the bodacious-business, multi-manufactured climax of this college football’s season. It’s a TV-generated mini-series that started before Labor Day, ends after New Year’s Day, and involves a lot of days and nights of angst in between. Think of it as a “Duck Dynasty” with extra shot-gun shells.

By all means, join in. Even if it means getting trapped on a freeway in Pasadena adjacent during rush hour, consider yourself right in the middle of everything.

bcsticket2014Those who’ve paid as little as the $325 face value for a high end zone seat may consider themselves fortunate. They didn’t cough up the reported $4,000-plus for secondary market seats. Then again, most of the 95,000-plus seats were already promised and distributed to corporate sponsors. Some may even make it into the hands of the players’ families.

If you’re not apt to go, follow along on a phone ap. Or, better yet, with ESPN, which paid oodles for the right to carry this game, and will present it in specular fashion – a new “Megacast” has been constructed to use five TV channels as well as several places on the Internet where every play in the game can be analyzed, discussed or admired from every possible angle.

***************

So, in considering all the circumstantial evidence, how did we get here? Has this been the best scenario to determine such an important champion of a collegiate sport? Can it really get bigger as the BCS era comes to an end, and a tight four-team playoff system goes into place starting next season?

Patrick C. HadenUSC athletic director Pat Haden, who has seen the determination of a college football national championship for the side of a fan, player, part of the television broadcasting side and now as an administrator in his 60 years, said he thinks everyone who’s part of the college football landscape “and all who have a vested interest are responsible for taking credit and blame for where it has come.”

But it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just different. A sign of the times. Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 01.03.14 — Friday AM update

multicast_bcscoachesWhat made it into the first media column of the new year:

What’s all this talk about an ESPN “BCS Megacast” you ask? Or don’t ask. We’ll tell you anyway. It’s a big deal. Especially if you’re not adept at handling more than one channel in a sitting.
Plus, notes on Vin Scully’s day of rest after the Rose Bowl festivities, why the NFL gave three cities a break in meeting the deadline for selling out their playoff games (think TV) and why getting a hug from Tom Rinaldi on camera may be a sign of weakness.

Notes we’ve added Friday morning:
== Will Leitch, a senior editor and writer at SportsOnEarth.com, has been added as a semi-regular to Fox Sports 1′s “Fox Sports Live” show starting Monday to talk about the BCS title game. (Yes, we had to go back to our DirecTV menu to remember that FS1 is on Channel 219). Read Leitch’s latest post on an appreciation of the “enduring mediocrity” of pitcher (and former Crespi High star) Jeff Suppan, who announced his retirement after 17 seasons on Thursday. (Really, only 205 pitchers in big-league history have faced more batters than Suppan?)

== Thanks to Joe McDonnell for offering heartfelt background on the passing of his friend and colleague, Dave Stone, one of the first broadcasters on KSPN-AM (710) when it made the switch to all-sports some 15 years ago. Stone died at 64 earlier this week after a long illness and ALS diagnosis. LARadio.com reports that McDonnell, Steve Futterman and Ted Sobel spoke at Stone’s services Thursday.
“Intelligent, well prepared, one of the most passionate people I’ve ever known,” said McDonnell. “He was one of my closest friends and his passing leaves a big void in my life.”

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

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