What made it into this week’s column (now posted):
Dr. Robert Klapper is in.
His Saturday morning “Weekend Warrior” show on KSPN-AM (710) has evolved into much more of a place for the Cedars Sinai orthopedic surgeon to explain why your knee is jerking again after hearing the latest on Kobe Bryant’s recovery from his own knee issues. Klapper, who has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter, works his outstanding bedside manners to take this show to a level that has got TV execs now wanting a piece of it.
We’ve also got notes on the HBO “Boxing After Dark” card that’s coming back to the Forum in Inglewood and the new format for Indy 500 qualifying that gives ABC two days of time trials this weekend, with new IRL broadcaster Allen Bestwick describing it
What could have but will have to be satisfied in being classified as blog material:
== Jim Watson, who starts as the new play-by-play man for the WNBA’s Sparks with their season-opener tonight in Seattle (TWC SportsNet, 7 p.m.), says that from his 15 years of calling women’s college basketball, “I love the nuances of the women’s game. Fundamental, team basketball is the game I learned as a kid and it’s alive and well in the WNBA.” Watson’s resume includes working Seattle Storm games in 2003-04 with Mary Murphy, a long-time broadcast who will be partnered again with him on road telecasts. “I believe Mary is the best basketball analyst I have ever had the privilege of working with,” Watson said. “She is a true pro.” As for Watson’s partner on home games, Jarron Collins, the two have done Pac-12 Network games and Watson recalls broadcasting several of his high school state title games at Harvard-Westlake, where he teammed with twin brother Jason Collins.
The Sparks have six appearances set as part of ESPN’s 20-game WNBA package, which begins Saturday when New York hosts Chicago (5 p.m., ESPN2). Ryan Ruocco has the lead play-by-play role with Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe.
== Included in NBC’s coverage of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (Channel 4, 1:30 p.m. air time, 3:18 p.m. post time): A feature on California Chrome’s diverse co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, who returned to their day jobs just days after winning at the Kentucky Derby; Josh Elliott talks with California Chrome’s jockey Victor Espinoza and his older brother Jose, a jockey whose career ended with a terrifying fall at Saratoga nine months ago, and Bob Costas offers up an essay on … wait for it … California Chrome.
And the proverbial kiss of death from NBC handicapper Mike Battaglia: “I think California Chrome will win this weekend. I was very impressed with the way he won the Derby; I don’t care about the time. That didn’t bother me at all…I think the shorter distance will play right into him, and I think he’s going to go into the Belmont with a shot.”
That would be a shot at a Triple Crown, which NBC is all but anxious to carry in early June.
Jerry Neumeier’s picks: Either Social Inclusion, Kid Cruz or Dynamic Impact.
The NHL’s Eastern Conference Final Game 1 between the N.Y. Rangers and Montreal begins at 10 a.m. on Channel 4 and could cut into the start of the pre-race show before it is moved to NBCSN if overtime is needed.
== If the NFL Draft Combine can draw curious onlookers, why not the NBA Draft Combine? Overcoverage of the event started early Thursday on ESPNU and continues Friday on ESPN2 (10 a.m. to noon), following a 7-to-10 a.m. block on ESPNU again. This funnels into the NBA Draft Lottery (Tuesday, 5 p.m., ESPN) and the actual draft on June 26.
== What’s behind the new “multi-year” extensions that ESPN gave Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, beyond what’s in the press release? Pretty much the same stuff, in addition to thankfully staying on as the co-hosts of “Pardon the Interruption,” where they have been since October, 2001.
== Gus Johnson and Eric Wynalda call the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Hull City from Wembley Stadium in London (Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Channel 11, leading into the game’s kickoff at 9 a.m.). The two are also together for the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid on May 24 on Fox Sports 1. Rob Stone hosts pregame, halftime and postgame coverage of both events from the Fox studios in L.A., with analysts Warren Barton and Brian McBride.
== What’s the future of Major League Soccer with its new deal concerning ESPN and Fox? Heard this all before?
== Taking the release Friday of the baseball-related “Million Dollar Arm,” following up on the not-so-block-buster NFL-based “Draft Day,” here’s a thought on why both movies have become their own underdog stories.
== So you do want to meet Rick Reilly? Probably should say this, but the Hermosa Beach resident is at the Manhattan Beach bookstore Pages on Thursday May 22 signing his newest “Tiger Meet My Sister … And Other Things I Probably Shouldn’t Have Said.”