California Chrome, third in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic and a no-show last year, comes back as a 5-year-old favorite and in the drivers seat for Horse of the Year honors in the annual Super Bowl of Thoroughbred racing, which returns to Santa Anita for the ninth time and fourth in the last five years. The Classic runs Saturday (5 p.m., Channel 4), with 12 races leading up to it starting Friday. Here’s the week ahead on the sports calendar …
Joe Buck’s scorebook from Game 1 of the Dodgers-Cubs NLCS (@Buck on Twitter)
When the first excerpt came out last month of Joe Buck’s new autobiography, “Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV” (Penguin/Random House/Dutton Books, 304 pages, $28), the focus went to an assertion that Buck was admitting to having an addiction to hair replacement therapy.
While not inaccurate, Buck said he was only joking about “an addiction” that led to vocal cord issues, which nearly led to his sports broadcasting career to get sidetracked. As is in today’s “media,” that story went to new levels of interpretation.
A story on the Fox News Health said that Buck was putting “cosmetic additions into the spotlight.” It’s possible that a tremendous fear of hair loss and an addiction to hair plugs could be linked to both a self-esteem issue and external social influences, said sociologist Amnon Jacob Suissa, a professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal who has studied different forms of addiction, including cosmetic surgery.
The story did also note that Suissa has not treated Buck.
Buck himself says he’s not getting any “treatment” for this “issue” either.
When we caught up with Buck to further explain what he was trying to accomplish with the book that has a Nov. 15 release, he was a bit more clear.
“This was not a story I was dying to tell,” said Buck, in Chicago for Fox’s coverage of the World Series involving the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. “It was the reason behind why I almost lost my career. There was a page taken out of the book and, by definition, makes it out of context, where I was joking about the plugs. It’s not like I was free-basing hair plugs in the corner of a party every weekend.
“I was just coming clean, and not looking for sympathy.”
Buck recalls the period where he went in for some hair transplant surgery and came out unable to talk because of the procedure involving a tube in his throat. As he was struggling with how to recover, he said he ran into actor Matthew McConaughey at a charity golf event.
“I told him what had happened, but really I was fishing around to see if he’d admit to having some work done,” said Buck. “Because, if he did, it’s a majestic head of hair. It’s not human. So I brought it up, and he said, ‘So what you’re saying Buckaroo, you fixed your video but (blanked) up your audio.’ It was hilarious. He summed it up perfectly and it was maybe the one time I laughed the entire year.” At this link, Buck talks more about how his coverage of the World Series, the release of his new book and the ongoing series, “Undeniable With Joe Buck” on the DirecTV Audience Network puts him in a unique position in the sports media world at this time.
= Follow Joe Buck on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Buck = Someone else has come to Buck’s defense?
= From Father’s Day 2015
Sparks players celebrate winning the WNBA championship after Game 5’s 77-76 win in Minnesota on Oct. 20. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Your Sparks have been celebrating a WNBA championship.
Your Dodgers have been calibrating the scales of baseball justice for leaving them two short of a World Series appearance all for the sake of ending the Chicago Cubs’ historic dry spell.
You go, girls. The guys have some internal mansplaining to do.
So what might spark any idea in your head, hear or soul that Los Angeles will get to see any kind of professional team championship any time soon, outside of what the Sparks just did?
Is it too much to bank on the Dodgers having the next best shot at bringing a title to L.A.? Let’s do some under-speculating and over-handicapping on this predicament at this link.
Kevin Burkhardt and family moved to Hermosa Beach after he start his broadcasting career in New Jersey and New York — and took a break from it as a car salesman. (Photo: Fox Sports)
In addition to an update on DailyNews.com/sports on how Kevin Burkhardt has managed to hold his own on the Fox Sports MLB post-season studio show, we have these notables heading into the weekend:
== Mopping up the NLCS ratings: The Cubs’ 5-0 Game 6 win at Wrigley Field over the Dodgers last Saturday was the most-watched and highest-rated telecast in FS1 history: 9.7 million viewers and a 6.3 overnight rating. It peaked at 12.2 million. The Chicago market had a 25.8 rating and a huge 46 share. L.A. added a mere 10.3/23.
That meant the entire NLCS averaged 6.9 million viewers for FS1, up 80 percent from the ALCS that FS1 had a years ago and 56 percent from the San Francisco-St. Louis NLCS in ’14.
L.A.’s average was a 9.9 rating and 19 share for the six games, topping out at a 11.7 rating for Game 3. Chicago’s average was 22.7/37.
== A few more Kevin Burkhardt thoughts:
= On the philosophy of what’s going on with the Pete Rose, Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez dynamic (and Tom Verducci thrown in for good measure in the postseason): “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. There are so many layers to it. First, they had to trust me and I had to earn that, knowing I’d never put them in a bad spot, picking them up if they forgot something. They’re the stars of the show and I have to let them go as much as as I can. Sometimes, if the conversation goes stale, I have to move on or change it up or add fire to the ember. I’m also relatively opinionated and I feel OK to throw something out there and they can take it or tell me I’m an idiot. “I liken it to having four people at a bar, and I’m at the end listening and throwing my two cents in when it’s there. It’s a fine line sometimes, but they make it easy. They really are selfless and self-depreciating. And the best times may be when we’re in the trailer watching the game — it’s non-stop laughing, talking out loud, and I’m making notes about things to ask them in the post-game show.”
= Burkhardt said one of the keys to getting aligned with Rose when he first came on board two years ago was a connection to Pete Rose Jr., whom Burkhardt covered for a season in the minor-leagues.
“When Fox was going to hire him, I reached out to Pete Jr., and so Pete came in right away busting my chops … ‘Petey told me you’re a good guy,’ so that didn’t hurt. Alex is someone I’ve become closer with personally and professionally. And Frank is just like a big teddy bear.”
= Another part of the charm for the Fox pre- and post-game shows is the graphics team putting up comments made on Twitter. Some of it is actually as negative as it is positive.
Such as the posts from Wednesday before Game 2 of the World Series (even though some were posted back during the NLCS):
Is A-Rod, Pete Rose, and Frank Thomas really the best broadcast team that FOX was able to assemble?
For the first time, and last time, this college football season, neither USC nor UCLA will play a game on Saturday.
USC’s excuse: It has a pre-determined date on Thursday night against Cal at the Coliseum (7:30 p.m., ESPN, Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch),
UCLA’s excuse: It has a bye week.
This allows fans of both the Trojans and Bruins to focus on how AP No. 4 Washington fares at AP No. 17 Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday and take a shot (disallowed in all of Utah) every time Gus Johnson tries to make a clever reference about Mormons.
It’s where ESPN’s College GameDay will land as well before Kirk Herbstreit is required to go to Florida State for the Saturday prime-time contest.
This is what you’ve got:
In the Pac-12:
= Washington at Utah, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., FS1 (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Shannon Spake)
= Arizona State at Oregon, Saturday at 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, Lewis Johnson)
= Washington State at Oregon State, Saturday at 7:45 p.m., ESPN2 (Clay Matvick, Dusty Dvoreck, Alex Corddry)
= Stanford at Arizona, Saturday at 8 p.m., FS1 (Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman, Bruce Feldman)