So, about the Pac-12 Network, and its postseason hoops coverage …

In response to tweets like these we’ve come across this week, as the Pac-12 Conference men’s tournament begins Wednesday in Las Vegas, with eight of the 11 games on the Pac-12 Network:

Agree to agree: The Pac-12 would gain far more viewership if it sold off its marquee events — here, the tournament — to media partners Fox, FS1 (even FS2) and any of the ESPN channels. But the possession arrow points in its favor.
The network that has about 12 million subscribers also has to protects its valuables — and be confident that it has the distribution, talent and facilities to do network-quality coverage.
Because it does.
For the first three years, we missed all these games. We switched from DirecTV to Time Warner Cable (gulp) in April, 2015 to make sure it didn’t happen again (as well as securing the SportsNet L.A. option).
Fool us three times, it’s on us for Year 4.
For those who have no such options, that’s the real Catch-and-Shoot 22. No argument.

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Play It Forward March 7-13: Clocking in for the NCAA bracket bonanza

President Obama gets one more stab at a White House bracket this year. In the 2015 predictions, he took Kentucky. Like most. And lost.

President Obama gets one more stab at a White House bracket this year. In the 2015 predictions, he took Kentucky. Like most. And lost.


Details/TV: Sunday at 2:30 p.m., Channel 2
On this important day in the life of college basketball, you’ve got to make sure all your clocks are synchronized — seriously, because daylight savings time kicks in, and unless you spring ahead, you’ll be late for the party favors going out to 68 programs.
According to those who claim to master in bracketology, there’s an unusually wide net over the four possible regional top seeds: The Big 12’s Kansas (27-4), Oklahoma (24-6) and West Virginia (24-7), the Big East’s Villanova (27-4) and Xavier (26-4), the SEC’s Texas A&M (24-7) and the ACC’s North Carolina (25-6), Virginia (26-4) and Miami (24-6).

Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason III reacts after making a three-point basket against Wichita State during a third round win in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason III reacts after making a three-point basket against Wichita State during a third round win in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.  Mason leads the Jayhawks in assists this season (4.6) while his 13.4 points a game are second to Perry Ellis’ 16.5. Kansas has won 11 straight going into the Big 12 Tournament. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

That also gives allows some traditionally well-coached programs to lay in the weeds a bit, like defending champion Duke (22-9), Kentucky (23-8), Indiana (24-6) and Michigan State (26-5) – the latter of which has an interesting case. The Big Ten Spartans, No. 1 in the AP polls from weeks 5-8 as they built a 13-0 mark, fell back for a while but returned to No. 2 in last week’s writer ratings. But according to the latest Ratings Percentage Index (that’s RPI, people, keep up here) the Spartans are just somewhere between the 10th and 20th spots. Yet, on the Basketball Power Index (BPI), which might do a better job judge how a team has performed beyond wins and losses and how “powerful” it likely will be going forward, Michigan State is solid at No. 4.
Oregon (25-6), meanwhile, came into last week No. 4 in the RPI, with Utah (24-7) at No. 8, so if either emerge with the Pac-12 title, there’s a strong chance they could land a No. 2 seed and stay in the West (Spokane the first two games, then to Honda Center in Anaheim).
In this open field, remember that we’re also going to pass on Rick Pitino’s Louisville (23-8, No. 11 in the latest AP poll) and Larry Brown’s SMU (25-5, No. 24) because of a post-season ban. And Ben Simmons of LSU (18-13) may be everyone’s lock as the first overall NBA draft pick this summer, but the Tigers are on the verge of missing a spot – just as Simmons is now ineligible for Wooden Award consideration.
Conference finals to note:
ACC (Sunday, 12:15 p.m., ESPN)
Big Ten (Sunday, noon, Channel 2)
SEC (Sunday, 10 a.m., ESPN)
Sun Belt (Sunday, 10 a.m., ESPN2)
Atlantic 10 (Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Channel 2)
Big East (Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Channel 11)
Big 12 (Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN)
Conference USA (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. FS1)

At MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Wednesday at 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

At Honda Center in Anaheim, Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

At Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Monday at 6 p.m., ESPN

The Kings take on former teammate Justin Williams and Washington on Wednesday (Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW) … Cleveland and LeBron James face the Lakers (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) and Clippers (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) during an L.A. swing … The 79th Santa Anita Handicap is on Saturday … More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: So this is how Clippers’ Steve Ballmer flips us the bird?

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Illustration by Jim Thompson/

Sorry, Doc Rivers. Chuck the Condor is Steve Ballmer’s new BFF, this pinkish piece of plush poultry that some tried to shoot out of the sky right away with an array of plucky put downs, along with assertions that Ballmer has no clue with what makes a Los Angeles sports fan fanatical.
And then it happened.
That controversial Condor crash lands on Monday, and the team soared past Brooklyn.
It was brave enough to circle back Wednesday, waking up the crowd during a fourth-quarter Clippers’ surge. Ultimately, he must get the “A-OK’ sign for urging on the remarkable comeback triumph over OKC.
Credit it as a win-win for Team Ballmer and this cornball creation created in his own image.
And give them both the last squawk as those dare write the headline: “Everybody Hates the Clippers’ New Mascot.
Read more at this link …

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Weekly media notes version 03.03.16: On Sobel’s tribute to KFWB, Lawler’s day and Roberts’ promotion

Whatever the topic for Sunday’s column, here’s what’s worth posting at this point:

beastfinalday== Ted Sobel, one of the most familiar names on the L.A. sports radio airwaves for decades, was on “The Beast 980” for its final day of operation this week. The longtime update man and reporter — and fill-in co-host — has one more project to finish, he explains in an email this week:

Ted Sobel, with Bob Baffert.

Ted Sobel, with Bob Baffert.

“I can tell you that as of the end of Monday, Feb. 29, ‘Super Tuesday’ was my first day of unemployment in almost a quarter of a century so it feels a bit strange. This ends almost 23 years (and over 40,000 sports updates) at KFWB, but I really do feel lucky to have survived the many changes there and get to work at station that as a kid was one of my favorites to listen to. I am working on a KFWB audio tribute for the new owners of the station and they plan on airing it as soon as I’m finished — which is still likely several days away. So strangely enough, even though I’m going down with the Beast 980 ship, I’ll still be on the new format (my fifth under these call letters) which is now called Desi 980. I was told that Desi (pronounced DAY-see) means ‘celebration’ or ‘party’ to those in India that the station will now be targeting.
“I must admit that I’m having fun gathering sound from as far back as FDR announcing D-Day on KFWB and I’ll have some unique audio from several different formats — and they said I can make this as long as I want. So at least it’s a great going away project that I can’t wait to hear the final product.”
More on the history of KFWB and switch to Desi 980 at

030615-West-Ralph-Lawler-night== What’s on tap: The Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony for the Clippers’ Ralph Lawler, which won’t be carried live on KFWB for some reason even though the team will plod along with airing games on the 980 signal, goes off at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday at 1708 Vine Street. The event will stream live at the Walk of Fame’s website. With any luck, new Clippers mascot Chuck the Condor will attend.
It’s terrazzo star number 2,575 and it will feature the radio logo. The Walk of Fame folks announced Lawler had been granted a star back in June of 2015.
The star will be near a sports bar named 33 Taps, which isn’t getting a whole lot of spectacular reviews if it’s considered for a post-ceremony brew.

== News flash from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters organization:

== College basketball on the radar this weekend:
= The Pac-12 Network’s Guy Haberman and Don MacLean have USC vs. Oregon from Galen Center on Saturday at 1 p.m., followed by JB Long and Matt Muehlebach calling UCLA-Oregon State from Pauley Pavilion on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
= Cal at Arizona, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN (Dave Pasch, Bill Walton)
= Cal at Arizona State, Saturday at 5 p.m., ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Adrian Branch)
= Colorado at Utah, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., ESPNU (Eric Rothman, Corey Williams)
= TWC SportsNet has Steve Quis, Casey Jacobsen and Kelli Tennant doing Pepperdine vs. USF in the West Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals (Saturday at 3 p.m., which follows BYU vs. Santa Clara. They’ll also call St. Mary’s versus the winner of Pepperdine-USF this on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN2)
= Prime Ticket’s Kevin Barnett, Corey Maggette and Rahshaun Haylock have the call on Long Beach State vs. Hawaii at Walter Pyramid in the final Big West regular season game, Saturday at 4 p.m.
= Also: Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas call ESPN’s North Carolina-Duke game (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)

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Covering more bases: Sports books worth having on your radar

It’s a month away from the launch of the annual attempt to read and review 30 baseball books during the 30 days of April — the challenge gets tougher at the dwindling titles become less appealing, but that’s really the point to this.
But we have other titles on the nightstand to provide more bending of the brain waves.
(Reminder to self: Schedule optometrist appointment sooner rather than waiting another few years because the words on the pages keep shrinking).
So among the four we’d recommend picking up in the meantime:

Patrick O'Sullivan with the Kings in 2007. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Patrick O’Sullivan with the Kings in 2007. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“Breaking Away: A Harrowing True Story of
Resilience, Courage and Triumph,”

by Patrick O’Sullivan with Gare Joyce
(Harper Collins, 322 pages, $32.99):

51UlAkjSQsL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_= The bright, young centerman from North Carolina by way of Toronto who came up with the Kings and had three seasons in L.A. from 2006-09 before finishing an NHL career at age 27 finally has the platform and foundation to explain his life story, which centers on survival from an abusive father and how he has made it a new launching point for his life.
O’Sullivan explains right from the start how at age 16 he had enough verbal and physical punishment from his father, a one-time minor league hockey player who dreamed too hard about having a son in the NHL. This was much more than a helicopter parent here. It is the dark side of something you hope kids in youth sports never had to experience.
Several L.A.-related stories are worth noting.
One is a comforting meeting with Wayne Gretzky at the NHL draft , where The Great One said he and his wife Janet read about O’Sullivan’s story in ESPN The Magazine in 2003. Both cried and wanted him to know they support him.
“If I’d had someone like Walter Gretzky as my father, my draft day would have played out differently,” O’Sullivan writes. “Maybe I would have been a first-round pick without what the scouts considered ‘baggage.’ Even if I hadn’t been, even if I had still dropped in the draft, I’d have felt better about myself and would have had a family at my back. I wouldn’t have to count on the kindness of strangers and a legendary player for a pat on the back.”
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