Play It Forward Sept. 28-Oct. 4: Can Angels grab this last chance to advance?

mynameisopportunityTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
MLB: ANGELS vs. OAKLAND
Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Monday-Wednesday, FSW
ANGELS at TEXAS
Details/TV: Thursday-Sunday, FSW:

The Angels' Garrett Richards has won his last two starts, picking up his 15th victory of the season against Seattle last Friday. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Oakland and, if needed, a Sunday finale against Texas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Angels’ Garrett Richards has won his last two starts, picking up his 15th victory of the season against Seattle last Friday. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Oakland and, if needed, a Sunday finale against Texas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Baseball is all about creating oppor-
tunities. Allowing roster expan-
sion in Sep-
tember and October, for example, is a huge job creator, even if it appears more an oppor-
tunity for chaos. No matter what the team’s disposition in the standings, it can bring up bushels of minor-league players and turn an otherwise important game into an outdoor swap meet. Instant replay creates more opportunity – or perhaps, more the illusion – that perfection can be achieved. In that pursuit, more work is given to people in a New York office building who deem themselves qualified to review video and overrule the men in black right before their questionable set of eyes. But the most appreciable opportunity created, at least for those who follow the Angels, is one of redemption. Even though injuries and what-not resulted in the Angels’ AL West lead withering away in August, it doesn’t mean they aren’t post-season worthy. Top three division winners get the automatic playoff bid. But the next two teams with the best records have a one-game, league-generated “wild card” do-or-die date. The Angels, whose only World Series title was the result of a previously-established wild-card scenario, find themselves in a battle with the Houston Astros for that last opportunity to travel to New York on Oct. 6 and take on the Yankees for a shot at playing Toronto in the ALDS. The Angels have seven more to play, the Astros just six and they have one more win in the process. The Angels’ final home game Wednesday looks to match up Garrett Richards against the A’s ace, Sonny Gray. Expect things to come down to the very last day, where the MLB has tried to level the playing field by having every game begin in the PDT noontime hour, so scoreboard watching comes with a premium for those likely still clawing for their lives. Like the Angels.
Home games Monday and Tuesday at 7:05 p.m., with Wednesday’s game at 4:05 p.m. Road games Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5:05 p.m., Sunday’s game at 12:05 p.m.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
MLB: DODGERS at SAN FRANCISCO

Details/TV: Monday-Thursday, SportsNet L.A.:
Giants-Dodgers-Rivalry
Of course, the official crowning of the NL West title has to come in this four-game series. The baseball gods wouldn’t want it any other way. Even though the Giants have won all six games against the Dodgers in San Francisco this season, another sweep here would be a bit of a stunner and really send up a major red flag. First things first: How will Zack Greinke’s sore calf react to pitching in the Monday opener, or will it bother him enough to wait it out again? Another Clayton Kershaw-Madison Bumgarner matchup awaits on Tuesday night. Wednesday’s contest is purported to be on ESPN, but we’ll have to see about that.
Games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:15 p.m., Thursday’s game at 12:45 p.m.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

UCLA, up to No. 7 in the AP rankings, has a 4:30 p.m. Rose Bowl date on Saturday with Arizona State (on Channel 11) … The NBA exhibition season begins with the Clippers against Denver at Staples Center (Friday, 7 p.m.) and the Lakers facing Utah in Hawaii (Saturday, 6 p.m.) while the NHL exhibition season comes to an end with the Kings facing the Ducks at Staples Center (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.) and Colorado in Las Vegas (Saturday, 7 p.m.) … The Dodgers finish the regular season against San Diego at home (Friday-Sunday) … And will there be a Bruce Springsteen sighting at the LA Convention Center this weekend?  More at this link.

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Weekly media notes version 09.25.15 — Why would TBS take the next step in video game TV watching?

Getty Images

Getty Images

What’s coming up in Sunday’s sports media column:

Jimmy Kimmel recently did a piece in his late-night monologue about how odd he found it that YouTube has created a channel where people can watch other people play video games.
valve-counter-strike-global-offensive“It’s called ‘The We Should All Be Very Ashamed Of Ourselves For Failing As Parents Channel’,” the 47-year-old Kimmel joked. “To me, watching another person play video games is like going to a restaurant and having someone eat your food for you. I guess I’m getting old. When I was a kid, you only watched other kids play video games when you ran out of quarters.”
A quarter of a century later, ABC, which is the company Kimmel works for, might have just got played by Turner Sports.
The Time Warner Inc., company announced this week it would start its own video game league, with partner WME-IMG, and televise this eSports competition on Friday nights starting in 2016.
A story in Fortune magazine back in April pointed out that professional video gaming, known as ‘eSports’, has a fan base that will outstrip the NFL by 2017, and big brands like Coca-Cola are already looking for sponsorship opportunities.
TBS, which is already gearing up for coverage of MLB’s National League playoffs and also involved in the NCAA college basketball tournament (not to mention Turner’s TNT involvement in the NBA), isn’t ashamed of this venture. And they will explain.

What’s worth posting today:

== Maybe because this feels kind of like a follow up to last week’s column, but it smacked us in the gut again as Frank Deford lamented the disappearance of newspaper columnists in an NPR “Morning Edition” piece — “It was before sports were equal parts television and fantasy.”
This dovetails into a piece that Ed Sherman wrote for Poynter.org allowing writers Filip  Bondy, Wayne Coffey and Hank Gola to come to terms on their firing (along with Bill Madden) from the New York Daily News.
“I have to say getting fired is nourishing for the ego,” Coffey said. “Between the tweets and calls, it’s really been humbling. If you want to build your ego, I highly recommend getting fired.”
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Play It Forward Sept. 21-27: How to beat the heat? UCLA, USC zone in on AZ

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK 4:
NO. 9 UCLA at NO. 16 ARIZONA
Details/TV: Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 7:

How smooth is the sailing so far for UCLA? Bruins defensive back Denzel Fisher holds up a play card with a photo of Michael Jackson on it during Saturday's win against BYU at the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

How smooth is the sailing so far for UCLA? Bruins defensive back Denzel Fisher holds up a play card with a photo of Michael Jackson on it during Saturday’s win against BYU at the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew has decided to bear down and make this trip to Tuscon and see what the noise is all about between these two 3-0 programs. For UCLA, it’s the fourth straight year it has won their first three under head coach Jim Mora. Back in 2012, they got tripped up in their Pac-12 opener against visiting Oregon State in Week 4. The next season, they ran off to a 5-0 start before losing in back-to-back weeks of Pac-12 play. A year ago, they began 4-0 until back-to-back home conference losses blindsided them. The Bruins know they posted a critical 17-7 win against Rich Rodriguez’s team at the Rose Bowl last November, a victory for the defense considering Arizona was scoreless for the final 57 minutes and limited to 255 yards in offense — nearly 287 below their season average. UCLA running back Paul Perkins, who had 26 carries and 219 yards in the win over BYU last Saturday night, grinded out 78 yards on 21 carries and a TD in that one against the Wildcats. Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon, a freshman a year ago, completed just 18 of 48 passes in that game for 178 yards and a TD. In three games during his sophomore year, Solomon has 10 TD passes, no interceptions and helped the Wildcats post 163 points in the three wins. Hey, for what it’s worth — Rodriguez is 0-3 against Mora in head-to-head battles over their careers in Pac-12 play.

NO. 19 USC at ARIZONA STATE
Details/TV: Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
Wanna get away? Surely there’s a local airline that has some good fares for some fairly upset Trojan fans who might want to cool off in the heat of the Phoenix desert. “this could be a turning point in the season,” USC quarterback Cody Kessler said after a 41-31 loss last Saturday the Coliseum, the Trojans’ third home game in three weeks to start the season. The turn will be south and east, toward Arizona, against a program that beat the Trojans on a 46-yard Hail Mary TD pass last season. Sun Devils redshirt senior quarterback and Taft High grad Mike Bercovici, suffering from cramps, threw for 510 yards and five TDs against USC in just his second start, producing a 38-34 win.  “I’ll be honest, it was a little bit of a prayer,” said Bercovici afterward. “I just immediately fell to the floor. It was an indescribable feeling. I’ve got people telling me, `Get up, get up, get up!’ But all I wanted to do was run upstairs to my mom and give her a big hug.”

ALSO THIS WEEK:
MLB: DODGERS vs. ARIZONA
Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Monday-Thursday, SportsNet L.A., ESPN:
The NL West could, in theory, be clinched by the time this homestand winds down. And the Vin Scully bobblehead giveaway on Wednesday is a nice way send the fans home happy. But we’ll also give a nod to Zack Greinke’s next scheduled opportunity to rack up a win (which would be his 19th) and lower his ERA (which ballooned to 1.65 after his last start against Pittsburgh).  …

MORE THIS WEEK:
The Santa Anita autumn meet starts Saturday with the Zenyatta Stakes, featuring Beholder … The Angels have a chance to make up some ground in Houston (Monday-Wednesday) …The Sparks are alive in the WNBA playoffs for one more game on Tuesday … More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: When will reality set in on daily fantasy sports fanatics?

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Hate to be the who pricks your Fantasyland existence bubble, but here goes.
It was just last opening weekend of the NFL season. Fox didn’t have a game to put on the air for the Los Angeles viewers at 10 a.m. There were a few hours to kill before the Chargers-Lions kickoff.
So right after the network’s NFL pregame show ended, a half-hour infomercial began. Not one of those snake-oil sales job for a multi-use pressure cooker or how to flip houses for profit, but it might as well have been.
Did you see how crazy easy and fulfilling it is to play daily fantasy football?
The time-buy could have been from DraftKings.com. Maybe it was FanDuel.com.
Whatever, the fantasy being sold here is that a) you can will millions of dollars because this is just a different version of your season-long leagues with your buddies, b) this has nothing to do with gambling and c) you’re not going to compromise the integrity the games you’re watching.
It’s all semantics until someone gets hurt. Likely you.
The way it’s been explained to everyone is that this is all an activity not of chance, like cards, dice or roulette wheels.
It’s all about skill.
Fat chance.
Read more at this link …

Meanwhile …
= An NPR story posted Friday morning on the subject and, in July, on ESPN’s relationship with DraftKings
= ESPN posted this on Twitter on Friday promoting its DraftKings partnership:

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Weekly media notes version 09.17.15 — TWC cuts back on staff, programming for Lakers, Dodgers and Spanish-language channels

Doug Kirkorian, right, shares stories with Dave Lopez, the veteran KCBS-Channel 2 news reporter, during a book signing at Traini's Restaurant in Long Beach last week.

Doug Krikorian, right, shares stories with Dave Lopez, the veteran KCBS-Channel 2 news reporter, during a book signing in the sports lounge at Traini’s Restaurant in Long Beach last week.

What’s on tap for Sunday’s column:

51eYwdKrWbLDoug Krikorian’s 22 years writing for the old Herald Examiner and 22 more at the Long Beach Press-Telegram has finally amounted to something.
A collection of stories and columns in his new book “Los Angeles Sports Memories” (The History Press, $21.99, 185 pages) gives us a moment to catch up with the 72-year-old former partner with the late Joe McDonnell on the sports-talk radio waves opens up about the state of today’s sports journalism, how information is consumed and what may be missing from it.

What’s worth posting now:

== An unspecified number of layoffs and programming cutbacks have taken place at Time Warner Cable’s El Segundo-based TWC SportsNet (home of the Lakers, Galaxy and Sparks), SportsNet LA (home of the Dodgers) and Spanish-language TWC Deportes, according to several sources and confirmed by the company this morning.
B9315596336Z.1_20141222194452_000_GHJ9G0UA7.1-0Details on how many were let go and how it broke down by departments was not detailed. Sources indicated more than 30 people have been let go at Deportes, including all of its on-air talent, meaning no more pre- or post-game shows for the Galaxy or any kind of programming not related to live event coverage.
TWC SportsNet will also cut back on ancillary coverage surrounding the Lakers, Sparks and Galaxy. The Dodgers’ SportsNet LA will stop producing news shows such as Dodgers Clubhouse and Larry King At Bat.
A TWC spokesman said the popular “Backstage” shows, which are produced in-house, will remain.
“We recently made some changes to our programming for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes and SportsNet LA. As we fine-tuned the programming, it naturally meant that we would make some staffing changes as well,”  said TWC in a statement. “Like many other networks, we’re now past the ‘start-up’ stage and we have a greater handle on what our viewers want to see, and how to staff for that.”
TWC SportsNet and the Spanish-language Deportes, owned by TWC, launched in Oct., 2012. The launch of SportsNet LA, owned by the Dodgers and distributed through TWC, came in February, 2014.
In a memo to staff employees, TWC Sports indicated the struggling ratings were the reason for the cutbacks.
Ratings are related to sluggish distribution.
The Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. continues to stall in moving forward on carriage deals with marquee distributors such as DirecTV, Dish, Verizon FIOS, AT&T U-verse. Failure to have outlets other than Time Warner Cable and Charter leads to problems with the reported $8 billion committed to the Dodgers in rights fees over the next 20-plus years.
Then again, not all carriers — including Dish Network — have TWC SportsNet.
Sources also say that because of the recently approved merger of Charter with Time Warner Cable, these kind of business moves are not uncommon in the consolidation process.
The Galaxy said in a statement:  “Time Warner is a valued partner. We’ll continue to work with them to provide the most robust coverage of the Galaxy in LA.”
(Staff writer Jaime Cardenas contributed to this post)

Premiere+Summit+Entertainment+Draft+Day+Arrivals+zk8qpKIqnBfl== A new gig as the TV analyst on the Milwaukee Bucks’ games has led to Marques Johnson saying in this report that he’s about to leave his morning radio gig at The Beast 980. The plan seems to be a 55-game schedule for the NBA team on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Johnson’s NBA career began in Milwaukee when the Bucks took the first Wooden Award winner out of UCLA with the No. 3 overall pick in 1977. He played seven seasons with the Bucks, making the playoffs six times. Three of his last four seasons as an active player after that were with the Clippers.
The former L.A. City Player of the Year out of Crenshaw High also spent several seasons as a color analyst on the UCLA radio games, including the 1995 national championship run.
Meanwhile, Screamin’ Gus Johnson couldn’t pass on a Bucks’ play-by-play job either.

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