Play It Forward: Oct. 20-26 on your sports calendar — The wildness of a World Series that no one saw coming

Kansas City Royals base runner Alex Gordon (4) takes a lead off first against San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner  during their regular-season meeting on Aug. 8 in Kansas City. The Royals swept three from the Giants. (Photo: Peter G. Aiken-USA Today  Sports)

Kansas City Royals base runner Alex Gordon (4) takes a lead off first against San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner during their regular-season meeting on Aug. 8 in Kansas City. The Royals swept three from the Giants. (Photo: Peter G. Aiken-USA Today Sports)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
110th WORLD SERIES:
GAME 1: KANSAS CITY vs. SAN FRANCISCO
Details/TV: Tuesday at Kansas City, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:

The Royals’ Salvador Perez celebrates his two-run home run in the fourth inning in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac on August 10 at Kauffman Stadium. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

The Royals’ Salvador Perez celebrates his two-run home run in the fourth inning in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac on August 10 at Kauffman Stadium. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

Before the 2014 MLB season even launched, Vegas Insider had the Kansas City Royals at a generous 50-1 odds of winning the World Series. A pre-season preview by BleacherReport.com was a bit more generous: 35-1. “The Kansas City Royals’ last World Series title in 1985 was also the last time the team reached the postseason,” the post read. “If they can avoid the offensive struggles that plagued them in the first half last year and someone steps forward at the back of the rotation, they have an outside chance to snap that playoff drought in 2014.” They struggled offensively, no one stepped up in the back of the rotation … and here they are. The Giants were 25-1 World Series favorites by Bleacher Report, but just 20-1 by Vegas. “The good news is that Matt Cain looked like an ace once again in the second half (last season) … a bounce-back season from newcomer Michael Morse could be enough to make the offense a legitimate weapon. There are a lot of questions, but if nothing else, it’s an even-numbered year, and the Giants have done pretty well in those of late.” That last assessment, at least, turned out to be legit in describing how the Giants survived without the injured Cain or Morse. All in all, a double wild-card World Series is a first since the Angels knocked out the Giants in 2002.

Giants mangaer Bruce Bochy comes out to challenge an umpires call during the series against the Royals in August. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

Giants mangaer Bruce Bochy comes out to challenge an umpires call during the series against the Royals in August. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

This is also the first time two teams have been in the final round without 90 regular-season wins (in a non-strike-shortened season). There could be something to the fact that they played each other – a three-game series Aug. 8-10. The Royals, right in the middle of winning 12 of 13 from July 30 to Aug. 11, beat Madison Bumgardner 4-2 the first night, had James Shields pitch a four-hit, 5-0 shutout against Tim Hudson the next night, and capped it off with a 7-4 win over Tim Lincecum – with Greg Holland saving the first and last games. The average attendance for that weekend series: Just more than 30,000 in the 37,901-seat Kauffman Stadium. Maybe they should move this to nearby Arrowhead Stadium (79,400). Oddsmakers have made the Royals a 5-6 favorite, perhaps because of the home-field advantage afforded them by Mike Trout’s All-Star MVP performance in leading the American League to victory. So you can’t say the Angels, who helped ushered the Royals through their 8-0 playoff run, haven’t played a major part in this.

The series continues (all on Channel 11):
Game 2 at Kansas City: Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Game 3 at San Francisco: Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Game 4 at San Francisco: Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
If necessary: Game 5 at San Francisco: Sunday at 4 p.m.
THE REST OF THE WEEK INCLUDES:

USC taking its confident road show to Utah against the 5-1 Utes (Saturday, 7 p.m., FS1) as they come off a double-OT win at Oregon State last week … UCLA shouldn’t get altitude sickness in a game at Colorado (Saturday, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Network) … The Kings end a six-game home run with contests against Buffalo (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) and Columbus (Sunday, 1 p.m.) … and the last of the NBA exhibitions are over when  the Lakers face Sacramento in Las Vegas (Friday, 7 p.m.) and the Clippers are at Staples Center against Portland (Friday at 7:30 p.m.)

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It’s Out of the Question: Will Dodgers’ turning of the soil get things dirty?

Andrew Friedman, left, is Stan Kasten's pick to form the Dodgers' roster and farm system moving forward. Does that mean keeping Don Mattingly past 2015?

Andrew Friedman, left, is Stan Kasten’s pick to form the Dodgers’ roster and farm system moving forward. Does that mean keeping Don Mattingly past 2015?

The Dodgers just bought the farm.

It’s in the form of a spectacular quickclaim deed, poaching a Wall Street whiz who, with a magical hoe, will begin his plan of transforming Chavez Ravine back into a cavern of champions by calculating the best method of crop-dusting a dagnabbit dormant farm system that would have been producing bushels of pennants already if there wasn’t this water shortage issue.

By the way, if possible, could you avoid spraying weed killer on the previous general manager who’s just been put out to pasture in the process?

Apparently, your 2015-and-beyond Dodgers, the richest baseball conglomerate on the planet, are crafting Phase $$ of the Kasten Plan, where the emphasis is on raising their own playoff drought-resistant soy beans, succotash and shortstops.

Plan A no longer leans on overpaying at the trade deadline for rickety outfielders at the Red Sox R Us outlet mall, even with a credit card limit just short of infinity. Not when there’s the proven track record of how an organic crop of home-grown Rookies of the Year translates to trophies, just like the Dodgers’ Karros-Piazza-Mondesi-Nomo-Hollandsworth teams back at the turn of the century.

Breathe deep here. Smell the fertilizer?

Read more It’s Out of the Question at this link ….

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Media column version 10.17.14: Spanning Colin Cowherd’s globe, as it circles the SoCal stratosphere

"The Herd" producer Vince Kates, left, joins Colin Cowherd to discuss show topics as the syndicated radio show simulcast on ESPNU begins Thursday morning from the ESPN 710 studios in L.A. Live.

“The Herd” producer Vince Kates, left, joins Colin Cowherd to discuss show topics as the syndicated radio show simulcast on ESPNU begins Thursday morning from the ESPN 710 studios in L.A. Live.

The stuff that will be remembered for minutes, maybe even days, from this week’s media column posted here:

Colin Cowherd has a thought about the difference between a USC and a UCLA fan.
And he’ll even share it.
“I’ve always felt UCLA was international — engineering, medical school — and USC was the wealth center for kids in L.A.,” the ESPN Radio weekday morning host said from the KSPN 710 L.A. studios across the street from Staples Center. “It always felt like a USC kid was part of a Southern California family. Or at least domestic. UCLA was Pacific rim.
“Now I will say because of private donations over the last decade, USC is really elevated as an international school in the business field, communications, film schools. Reading U.S. News and World Report, it feels like USC has made big strides. The people who went there say they couldn’t get into USC now.
“So, if you take both schools by the sports, USC football guy has a lot of East Coast passion in him. He’s more willing to call and yell. L.A. may not be a ‘fire the coach’ town, but even when Lane Kiffin was here and with all the chaos, they still won 10 games because the university is uniquely imbedded in the community. UCLA basketball maybe used to be that way. You don’t get that sense of urgency at UCLA. People are very satisfied with Mora at UCLA. Even the losses are pretty good.”
Surely, he’s said this before in the course of his show, but having him assess it while on L.A. turf, outside his Bristol, Conn., surroundings, seems to make it a little more relevant.
We had some time with Cowherd during his visit this week, which ends with a show on the USC campus Friday morning — and he’s heading out before Saturday’s USC-Colorado homecoming game, because TV shows that he has to host beckon.

The stuff we’ll post here, in hopes it lasts at least a quarter of a 24-hour news cycle:

51CN431yjNL== One more Cowherd-related take, as it pertains to critics of his work, and how it may become a chapter in the new book he’s working on these days, as a follow up to the one he released last year: “You know, they’re really your best friend. Most of them are educated and are looking for an elevated experience, and the truth is, I’ve used critics through the years to become a better broadcaster. I do have thick skin. I don’t take things personally. But we’re all human. I don’t think people like reading criticism. When I was a kid, Howard Cosell was my favorite sportscaster and I decided early in life I was not going to let the media dictate what the truth is to me. Now I’m supposed to think Conan O’Brien is funny. I think Jimmy Kimmel is funner. I will use critics as a way to prove myself, too. ‘Really, you think I’m this? I’ll prove it.’ I tell young broadcasters: Believe in yourself and use critics as motivation. Don’t curl up and don’t ignore them.”
We could be critical of that comment, but …. why? Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Oct. 13-19 on your sports calendar — We confess: We’re all caught up with the Royal Family Values

Kansas City fans cheers after the Royals defeated the Orioles, 6-4, in Game 2 of the ALCS in Baltimore on Saturday. (AP  Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City fans cheers after the Royals defeated the Orioles, 6-4, in Game 2 of the ALCS in Baltimore on Saturday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

MLB PLAYOFFS:
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:

BALTIMORE vs. KANSAS CITY
Details/TV: Game 3 at Kansas City: Monday at 5 p.m., TBS:

Royals' Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with Salvador Perez, right, after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Royals’ Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with Salvador Perez, right, after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This wild-card-deluxe, “Party Like Its 1985” Royals story just keeps getting wilder. The 6-0 run to start the playoffs is ridiculous enough to where TBS analyst Pedro Martinez said after their ninth-inning rally to win Game 2: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen more exciting baseball, and I’ve never been in a series when you’ve seen more excitement than you’ve seen today.” The story got even better over the weekend when a 50-year-old Wisconsin banker named Jerry Kuehl decided to come clean and return a banner he stole from Royals Stadium after Game 1 of the ‘85 World Series. As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he saw the Royals lose that opener, 3-1, before going on to win the series in seven games behind Bret Saberhagen. Standing near the foul pole where an eight-foot-long bunting, with an eagle beneath the word “Welcome,” started flapping, Kuehl said he grabbed the flag off the rail, put it under his jacket and hung the souvenir above his dorm room bed. Years later, guilt pangs took over. “I just considered it a novelty item at first,” he said. “Then I realized, I stole this. I never considered myself a person who steals.” After Kuehl watched the Royals win their wildcard game against Oakland, he put the flag in a FedEx box, addressed it to Kauffman Stadium, and wrote a letter of redemption confessing his crime – and included a check for $250 to Royals Charities. You think the Royals organization is mad at him now? If they make it to the World Series, Baseball Hall of Fame director Curt Nelson said he’ll consider making space for the banner in Cooperstown along with Kuehl’s confession letter. The way things are going in KC these days …

Also:
Game 4 at Kansas City, Tuesday at 5 p.m., TBS
If necessary:
Game 5 at Kansas City, Wednesday at 1 p.m., TBS
Game 6 at Baltimore, Friday at 5 p.m., TBS
Game 7 at Baltimore, Saturday at 5 p.m., TBS

ALSO THIS WEEK:

USC's Nelson Agholor  celebrates his second-half touchdown at Arizona on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC’s Nelson Agholor celebrates his second-half touchdown at Arizona on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Maybe you’ve noticed this upside down trend going on in the Pac-12: The visiting teams rule. They’ve won 14 of the 18 conference games, including all three last Saturday and all five the weekend before. So if 4-2 UCLA doesn’t know what to do with themselves after back-to-back home conference losses, a quick trip to Cal (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7 or ESPN2) may be rehabilitating. As well as debilitating for USC, the only school with three Pac-12 wins at the moment and having to play host to Colorado (Saturday, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network), looking for its first conference win. The Galaxy and Seattle Sounders start a home-and-home series to end Major League Soccer’s regular season (StubHub Center, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN), the Kings have three home games (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, the last one at noon) while the Ducks finally have their first home game (Friday, 7 p.m., vs. Minnesota), and Week 8 of college football should be highlighted by unbeaten Notre Dame’s visit to unbeaten Florida State (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7). Here’s the complete breakdown.

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Q-and-A: When NBC’s Milbury wraps his head about the abolishment of NHL fighting, it may blow your mind

Mike Milbury acting as an advocate for the abolishment of fighting in the NHL might sound as likely as Tommy Lasorda coming out against cursing.
The ultra-aggressive Boston Bruins defenseman once known as “Mad Mike” had more than 1,500-penalty minutes in a 12-year playing career that ended in the late ‘80s. That stat was padded by participating in more than 70 on-ice brawls – not counting the most famous time when he went into stands to smack a defiant fan with a shoe.
But here’s the new punchline: The 62-year-old NBC Sports Network NHL analyst may be just the right voice at the right time in the sports’ evolution to start a dialogue of change.
It came on opening night of the NHL season, just before the Kings were to take on San Jose on Wednesday. On the “NHL Live” set, Milbury was asked if it was a telling sign that the rosters of teams these days that are consistently winning — like the Kings – are filled less and less with so-called enforcers.
milb“It’s telling me that it’s time to get rid of fighting,” Milbury said. “It’s telling me that it’s over. As much as I liked to get into a scrap in my day, too many issues here now involving concussions … let’s grow up and get rid of it.”
More stories are coming out about former NHL players having the same kind of post-concussions syndrome issues that medical professionals see with NFL retirees. A new book out this week by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times writer John Branch called “Boy Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard,” sheds more light on how the mental state of the former New York Rangers star deteriorated by head trauma, leading to his tragic death at age 28 in 2011.
If Milbury, also a former NHL head coach and general manager, feels strong enough to change his attitude about altercations, maybe it’s worth challenging him more to elaborate on it:

It's the Kings' Ratis Ivanas and Edmonton's Zack Stortini (R), circa 2009. Photo by Reuters.

A meet-and-greet between the Kings’ Raitis Ivanans and Edmonton’s Zack Storini, circa 2009. Photo by Reuters.

Q: What prompted you to use your TV position to take a stand on anti-fighting in the NHL at this point, even as there have been writers and others in the league perhaps saying this for some time now?
A: It’s been evolving. From time to time, I’ve had the conversation with my old boss (Hockey Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins president and GM) Harry Sinden, and I think we both have agreed that it’s not a necessary part of the game.
You hear a lot of comments about how fighting is a way of policing the game – which I’ve described in the past as logical hogwash. I think maybe many do enjoy the spontaneity of a fight as a way of getting immediate justice. But slowly and surely, it’s been eliminated as a tactic
broad-street-bullies1Back when the big, bad Flyers won (the Broad Street Bullies of the early 1970s), intimidating teams physically with their fighting, the league took steps appropriately to curb that. And since that time it’s been slowly diminishing. The recent difficulty of the enforcer to find work in the league has emphasized that.
In my era, we signed up for broken bones, bad knees and lacerations of any type. I don’t think any of us were really signing up to be mentally incapacitated in some form or another for the rest of our lives. Maybe you heard about that in boxing, but not in hockey. The overwhelming scare about concussions in our sport, and in sports in general, makes it a logical conclusion that if the behavior can be modified to protect against concussions, then we should absolutely find a way. The league has done that with cracking down on hits from behind, head shots, and a players safety committee that reviews this all the time. They’re doing the best they can to eliminate it. But they have only been nibbling at the fighting issue.

Q: And you can speak first-hand about how fighting can affect one’s health after the game?
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Media column version 10.10.14: Bob Miller’s ringing endorsement on why it’s better to stick around with the Kings these days than retire

Kings broadcaster Bob Miller shakes hands with team head of business operations and Hall of Fame player Luc Robitaille during Wednesday's banner-raising ceremony at Staples Center. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News )

Kings broadcaster Bob Miller shakes hands with team head of business operations and Hall of Fame player Luc Robitaille during Wednesday’s banner-raising ceremony at Staples Center. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News )

What made it into this week’s column, linked here:

What, Bob Miller, just up and walk off at this point?

That’s not the frame of mind that the Hockey Hall of Famer and Kings long-time broadcaster says in these days, after he hosted the banner-raising ceremony Wednesday night at Staples Center, and just days before his 76th birthday.

In fact, a second Stanley Cup in three years has re-energized Miller as he starts his 42nd season with the team, sports a new Tiffany crafted championship ring, and is actually thinking about how to celebrate with the trophy when the Kings win it again.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Here’s a clip of Wednesday’s ceremony via Kings.NHL.com:

For those who saw the Stanley Cup make a dramatic entrance as it was lowered down from the Staples Center center-ice scoreboard, Miller quipped later: “I don’t know how that worked, but I told them, ‘If it falls, I’m not catching it.’ I said, ‘If it falls, I’m pushing (Kings mascot) Bailey underneath it and let it fall on him’.”

What info will be relegated to this blog post:

1412649909000-Screen-Shot-2014-10-06-at-104451-PM== Men’s Health could have started a healthy debate about how men could connect better with their better half by speaking their language of sport — fewer hard-core stats, more mushy stories — but it didn’t end up that way with its story “The Secret to Talking Sports with Any Woman.” Blowback from the story apparently led to the magazine taking the story off its website. The topic ended up as the first thing discussed on Episode 2 of “We Need To Talk” on CBS Sports Net last Tuesday night. “Can I tell you the secret to talking sports with women?” asked Andrea Kremer. “Don’t be intimidated that they may know more than you do. … I don’t want to hear that it’s just women who love stories. Women can love sports if they love it for the stats, or if they love it for the stories. It doesn’t matter. We love it, and we like to talk about it.” Added Summer Sanders: “I think it’s interesting how women are influencing sports television right now. You do see more stories (told) and it is because we love them.”

i-am-ali-poster== The Sundance Sunset 5 on Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood is the only place around to see the new Focus Features documentary, “I Am Ali,” the latest about the life and times of Muhammad Ali, opening Friday, with director Clare Lewins and Hana Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, appearing for a Q-and-A at the 7 p.m. showing. Mixed reviews from USA Today, The Village Voice, The Guardian, and, this, from LA Weekly “It’s unfortunate that, even with this wealth of uncovered materials, I Am Ali still plays as a greatest-hits version of its subject’s life, offering little depth or insight into any one element of it. There’s no real cohesion, much less any sort of underlying thesis beyond ‘Muhammad Ali is interesting, and here’s some rare footage.’ The question of why this exact movie should have been made now is never broached, much less answered.”

A panoramic view of Candlestick Park taken by Jon Leonodus just after the earthquake occurred on Oct. 17, 1989, interrupting the World Series between the Giants and Athletics. Photo by Jon Leonodisu.

A panoramic view of Candlestick Park taken by Jon Leonoudakis just after the earthquake occurred on Oct. 17, 1989, interrupting the World Series between the Giants and Athletics. .

== Because it happened 25 years ago, there is some need to revisit the 1989 Giants-Athletics earthquake-interrupted World Series, so ESPN has another documentary loaded up to deliver under the overused “30 For 30″ umbrella called “The Day The Series Stopped,” airing Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Here’s a clip that’s from the doc, showing how ESPN reporters scrambled to get interviews with the participants as they were scrambling out of Candlestick Park at the time.
10689972_374407802709402_2984710185384076674_nMeanwhile, consider as well going to http://dayworldseriesstopped.com  for an update on a revised 43-minute film pulled together by Northridge documentary maker Jon Leonoudakis, a lifelong Giants fan who was in Candlestick Park at the time with his brother Tim, loaded up with his own VHS camcorder and Canon SLR.
Leonoudakis, executive producer and owner of Evzone Media +Experiential, LLC, will release his doc, “The Day The World Series Stopped” (note the near theft of the name by the ESPN folks), on DVD the same day he premieres the film in the Bay Area, also on Tuesday, at the San Francisco Main Library. He will also show it at several libraries in San Mateo County from Wednesday to Oct. 21 before the L.A. premiere on Nov. 7 at the South Pasadena Library. All screenings are free and open to the public.
Leonaudakis, who said ESPN actually contacted him last April to be interviewed for its project but their schedules did not work out, calls the two projects complementary since his is purely a fan attending the game perspective their ESPN is more of an overview. He did have a version of his film come out in 2009 on the 20th anniversary but he has found some lost footage. With a larger budget, he decided to update the piece by renting Candlestick Park to meet up again with his brother as well as a stranded fan from Alabama that they had rescued in the post-quake exit scrum and include that in the newer version.
“This is much more in depth, and a much improved version of the experience,” he said.
Leonoudakis admits that while it it a bit annoying the two docs have similar titles, it would have cost him thousands of dollars to clear his title, which was money that he needed to complete his project.
“My film features a fan who was there, their film features a fan who was 13 and at a supermarket when the quake struck,” Leonoudakis said. “Their director is a very accomplished filmmaker, and I have no doubt it will be a good film. I will Tivo it for sure. I will I say I probably had a lot more fun making my film, as it was a very personal journey with a lot of surprises. My budget was likely microscopic to theirs, and I called on many friends to help out in key disciplines.”
In 2012, Leonoudakis debuted his documentary, “Not Exactly Cooperstown” about the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary and it’s Shrine of the Eternals. Our Q-and-A with him at the time. 

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Play It Forward: Oct. 6-12 on your sports calendar — The Kings, a banner, another ceremony … deal with it Sharks

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

The way it was in January, 2013 -- the first Kings title banner. No. 2 goes up Wednesday.

The way it was in January, 2013 — the first Kings title banner. No. 2 goes up Wednesday.

NHL 2014-15 SEASON OPENERS:
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
Details/TV: Staples Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., NBC Sports Net:

DUCKS at PITTSBURGH
Details/TV: Thursday at 4 p.m., Prime:

An excerpt from the SBNation.com home for the San Jose Sharks, also known as www.FearTheFin.com: “As if watching the Los Angeles Kings win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons after trailing San Jose 3-0 in the first round (last season) wasn’t bad enough, the NHL’s schedule maker has decided to empty several shakers worth of salt into the Sharks’ still-open wound. The Sharks will be forced to bear witness to the Kings raising their Cup banner to the Staples Center rafters prior to Los Angeles’ home opener … and commemorate the Cup win that the Sharks should have never allowed to happen. … At least we can look forward to the Sharks (suffering) a gritty, hard-fought 5-1 loss.” If we remember all the way back to the regular-season opener a couple years back – Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, to be precise, following that ridiculous labor dispute that pushed the ceremony back a few months – the visiting the Chicago Blackhawks weren’t so accommodating when forced to watch the Kings raise their first championship banner, size up their Tiffany rings and then skate around again with the Stanley Cup amidst a fired up Staples Center crowd. Chicago scored three goals on Jonathan Quick in the first period and cruised to a 5-2 victory — then went on to win the 2013 Stanley Cup, eliminating the Kings in the Western Conference final. The Kings’ Summer of Cup II Tour was more subdued, as will be 30-minute ceremony planned in the building for this celebration that won’t include the players out on the ice for more than 12 minutes, followed by a three-minute warmup skate before the puck drops, according to Kings officials. “(The ceremony) just went on a little bit too long, I think, last time,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene told LAKingsInsider.com’s Jon Rosen recently. “We really weren’t too ready to come out and play, and Chicago came out and just beat the doors off us. I think we want to make sure we’re ready to go out more on point than we were … This is huge starting off in the division and against a team that we’re going to be fighting to make the playoffs against.” The next night, those Anaheim Ducks of Anaheim, who also couldn’t put the Kings away in the recent playoffs, must begin the season on a bruising four-game road trip that finds them in Pittsburgh, with a new coach and higher expectations. Both the Ducks and Penguins are listed as 12-1 odds to win the Cup by OddsShark.com. That is, if you can trust any Shark-related information at this point.

Also this week:
Kings at Arizona, Saturday at 6 p.m., FSW
Ducks at Detroit, Saturday at 4 p.m., Prime
Kings vs. Winnipeg, Staples Center, Sunday at 7 p.m., FSW

Other NHL games on opening night:
Montreal at Toronto, 4 p.m.; Philadelphia at Boston, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN; Vancouver at Calgary, 7 p.m.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

Associated Press photo

Associated Press photo

Oh, right. The Dodgers are in St. Louis, not so much on the cusp of elimination, sending Hyun-Jin Ryu out for Monday’s Game 3 (6 p.m., FS1), with a Game 4 on Tuesday (2 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., FS1) and, if necessary, a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Thursday (5:30 or 6 p.m., FS1). Then comes the start of the NLCS on Saturday. In college football, UCLA plays host to Oregon (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11) while USC goes to face undefeated Arizona (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2), and then the Lakers and Clippers start exhibition games. It’s posted here.

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Media column version 10.03.14: More biz strategy behind forcing Dodgers fans to find FS1, MLB Net after the SportsNet LA fiasco

1955-Nov-Radio-TV-News-REMOTESWhat is in this week’s media column linked here:

091114-mlb-2014postseason-pi-mpAfter a season on the brink where Dodgers fans were asked to endure the non-distribution of the team’s SportsNet L.A. channel, the post-season doesn’t bring a whole lot more comfort — can anyone name, off the top of their head, where Fox Sports 1 and the MLB Network is on their cable or satellite menu? If not, you’re apt to miss both Games 1 and 2 of the Dodgers-Cardinals NL Division Series.
You can’t be serious. You’ve just broken my vintage remote control.
We’ll explore why it is what it is — don’t expect any pretty answers — and other notes related to the Dodgers’ new deal with KLAC-AM (570) and the possibility of the NFL blackout rule going away.

What you’ll have to read here instead of elsewhere:

== More aftermath of the Dodgers-SportsNet L.A. six-game regular-season-ending preview on KDOC last week: The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint has a litany of media consultants talking about the future of Time Warner Cable’s gamble, while KPCC’s Ben Bergman assesses the winners (DirecTV, the Angels, Fox Sports and KLAC) and losers (TWC, the Dodgers, the fans) from a business perspective. Continue reading

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Where art thou, MLB Net? Battle-fatigued Dodgers viewers are already asking

453There’s enough angst in a Dodgers fans’ world just trying to re-remember where Fox Sports 1 was put on their TV machine so they can see Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals on Friday. But come Saturday, the search could get more dicey as Game 2 will appear exclusively on the MLB Network.

64f8f5403f9ab129ff7f7a2157440c1aMaybe you have yet to crack this code. The channel is there, somewhere, on your remote. You may just not know it, or, perhaps, may have to upgrade your monthly cable bill to get it.

As part of this year’s baseball post-season arrangement, the league-owned channel decided to keep two division series games to itself. That’s also what it did in 2012 and ’13. Now, all of the sudden, it matters more, because they’ve tagged the Dodgers, the largest TV market among all post-season teams involved.

The MLB Network has a website – www.FindMLBNetwork.com — to make things more clear about where to find the channel. For a more detailed approach:

= AT&T U-verse: MLB Network is available in the “U300” package or higher — Channel 634 (standard def) and 1634 (high def). Contact: (800) 288-2020 or www.att.com/uverse

= Bright House (in L.A., Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Santa Barbara): Channel 111 (standard) or 1111 (high def). Contact: (800) 734-4615 or www.brighthouse.com.

= Charter (in L.A., Palm Springs, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara): On Basic (“Select”) package or higher, channels vary by market. Contact: (888) 438-2427 or www.charter.com

= Comcast (in L.A. and Santa Barbara): On “Digital Preferred” package or higher, chanels vary by market. Contact: (800) 934-6489 or www.comcast.com

= Cox (in L.A., Palos Verdes, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Las Vegas): On Digital Basic package or higher, channels vary by market. Contact: (877) 206-4210 or www.cox.com.

= DirecTV:  On “Choice” package or higher, Channel 213 (standard and high def). Contact: (888) 777-2454 or www.directv.com

= DISH Network: On  “AT 200” package or higher, Channel 152 (standard and high def). Contact: (800) 823-4929 or www.dish.com

= Time Warner Cable (In L.A., Palm Springs, San Diego, Santa Barbara): On Digital Basic package or higher. Channel varies by market. Contact: (800) 431-8878 or www.timewarnercable.com

=  Verizon FiOS (in L.A. and Palm Springs): On Extreme HD or higher, Channel 86 (standard) and 586 (high def). Contact: (888) 591-6075 or  www.verizonfios.com

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Play It Forward — Sept. 29-Oct. 5 on your sports calendar: An MLB postseason fit for a So Cal dentist

orenstein_Candyland-1949THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

MLB PLAYOFFS:

NL DIVISION SERIES: DODGERS vs. ST. LOUIS
Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Game 1: Friday, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

AL DIVISION SERIES: ANGELS vs. OAKLAND/KANSAS CITY
Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Game 1:  6 or 6:30 p.m., TBS

091114-mlb-2014postseason-pi-mpIf we’re going to continue to excite ourselves in this mental sweet spot and jump three giant steps head on the Candyland board in anticipation of the first World Series/Freeway Series title match up between the Dodgers and Angels, now is the time to check your insulin levels. Fill all cavities with realistic data and properly brush up on just what hurdles lie ahead before venturing through the Gumdrop Mountains. A year ago, the Cardinals became nothing more than a Molasses Swamp for the Dodgers, with Yasiel Puig’s meltdown coinciding with how  Clayton Kershaw’s final pitching performance felt like a root canal for the entire city. “That experience will help, especially since we have basically the same team,” Kershaw said Sunday morning before the final game of the regular season. “For me, personally, all of what happened will give me a better idea on what’s coming up.”  In nine post-season appearances (six starts), Kershaw has just a 1-3 mark and 4.23 ERA, with two of those losses to St. Louis a year ago. There’s no sugar coating the Angels’ three-year post-season drought, either. They may have the big-league’s best record going in, but there’s doubt if Josh Hamilton will be healthy enough. baseball-lollipopTo get through the Lollipop Woods here, make sure veteran ace Jered Weaver sets the tone in his Game 1 start. Weaver has a 2-1 career mark and 1.88 ERA in his division series appearances from 2007, ‘08 and ‘09.  The 18-game winner, who’ll next pitch on the day before he turns 32, has lost just three games since the All-Star break, one of them in what was essentially a tune-up against the Mariners in his final start. The Angels won 10 of the 19 meetings against Oakland this season as the two battled for the AL West title for a long while.

Continuing the NLDS for the Dodgers this week:
Game 2: At Dodger Stadium, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., MLB Network

Continuing the ALDS for the Angels this week:
Game 2: At Angel Stadium, Friday, TBA, TBS
Game 3: At Oakland/Kansas City, Sunday, TBA, TBS

Also:
AL Wildcard game: Oakland at Kansas City, Tuesday at 5 p.m., TBS
NL Wildcard game: San Francisco at Pittsburgh, Wednesday at 5 p.m., ESPN
NLCS: San Francisco/Pittsburgh at Washington, Game 1: Friday, TBA, Fox Sports 1
ALCS: Detroit at Baltimore, Game 1: Thursday, TBA., TBS

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

They’ve figured out that after USC plays Arizona State at the Coliseum on Saturday (4:30 p.m., Channel 11), then UCLA can play host to Utah at the Rose Bowl (7:30 p.m., ESPN), which also works well for those Westwood fans who celebrate Yom Kipper. plus the Lakers and Clippers start training camps. Need more? It’s linked here.

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