It’s Out of the Question: When Las Vegas is really a sports mirage

Yes, this is for sale at a memorabilia store in Las Vegas.

Yes, this is for sale at a memorabilia store in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS >> So guess what we missed on a 24-hour trip to Synthetic City, in what was intended to be period of a sports cleansing for the soul?
== An O.J. Simpson visit:
It’s the 20th anniversary of his acquittal, when a jury of his peers believed that he didn’t murder anyone. We thought we might drop in on him to see what he’s been up to since that day of freedom was granted.
Turns out, he’s nowhere near here. Try six hours north at a correctional facility in lovely landlocked Locklock, Nev., and no matter who you know that’s made that journey in the past to break up his monotonous existence, you really think we’re about to get back in the car and drive another 400 miles just to reminisce?
At the very least, we’ll make a pit stop over at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino to see if we can find that famous suite where officers cuffed him after another botched operation — trying to get his sports memorabilia back — led to his current prison sentence.
== A Pete Rose scribble:
The Hit King has sentenced himself to personalize baseballs and other stuff at a store inside the Mirage.
On 26 of the 31 days in October, he’s there. Just not on this particular Friday.
Rose was just a mirage. Turns out, he’s back in L.A. working for Fox Sports this weekend.
We were all set to grill him about his latest visit with the MLB commish, to feel him out on his possible reinstatement. To even pay a few bucks to get him to give us a ball with the phrase, “I’ve Got No Chance With Manfred.”
Instead, to feel as if we made some kind of connection, we searched around some other spots and found a couple of balls he signed that are up for sale at the Field of Dreams store in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.
On one he wrote: “I’m Sorry I Broke Up The Beatles.” On another he inscribed: “I’m Sorry I Shot J.F.K.” Each of them go for $499.
Because phony signed confessions are that difficult to come by?
For the record, we did not see any Simpson memorabilia up for sale at the Field of Dreams, which was getting ready for a Dick Butkus appearance. We’re not about to kiss up to him for something so salaciously written on a football.

More of the column at this link.

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Weekly media notes version 10.01.15 — A voice is heard on the sports’ bully pulpit

What’s worth posting at this point in the week:

JulieDiCaro== As part of the National Bullying Prevention Month in October, ESPN will join a Disney campaign that airs  show public service announcements through the month on ABC, ESPNU, Longhorn Network and SEC Network aimed at younger folks in the general effort to curb this abuse nature.
Among the “talent” doing the PSAs are Stephen A. Smith.
However ….
Julie DiCaro, an anchor at 670 The Score in Chicago and a writer for The Cauldron, has a much more compelling piece posted earlier this week on, about what it’s like to be a woman in the media when it comes to alarming social media distortion.
An excerpt:
“It’s not enough for such fragile men, threatened by the changing world around them, to simply tell a woman she’s wrong, or even that she’s stupid. These comments attempt to cut much deeper, striking women at what misogynists see as their most valuable characteristics: appearance, sexual purity, sweetness and submissiveness. In the world these men inhabit, a world that increasingly exists only in their own troubled minds, the worst possible thing a woman can be is a fat, slutty cunt.”
CBSSN’s “We Need To Talk” spent more than five minutes on this subject during its show this week. Summer Sanders explained why she was against even bringing this issue onto the show until there was some discussion on how to hold these kind of responders accountable.
gettyimages-457272350-e1441568239810We asked ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza if she had any similar experiences, considering her recent promotion to the Sunday Night crew in place of Curt Schilling, who was let go after his own personal tweets and somewhat bullying emails to media writers clashed with the ESPN corporate standards.
“I read this same article and was honestly shocked at the depth of insult these Tweets had,” Mendoza told us via email. “I have not had anything that vulgar or threatening …  I think I would honestly lose my Twitter account if I did because those remarks are unacceptable and I can only imagine how hateful they must feel to be on the other end.
“I agree with Julie in that only a small percentage of people are actually negative on social media, but I never imagined ANYONE would want to use social media to be so violent and threatening. I think because they can remain faceless, it gives them some sort of sick courage that they would never have face to face.”
Following up on that: Would Mendoza ever consider responding to a Internet troll, to defuse a situation?
“I was thinking about that, putting myself in Julie’s shoes,” the Moorpark mom of two sons  said.  “I would probably pick a Tweet that was hateful but maybe not as vulgar, quote it so all my followers could see and then let them have at the person. I did that once with a MUCH smaller Tweet (something about shutting the hell up and that every man in America hates me – ironically coming from a woman). I quoted her and simply wrote back: ‘I didn’t realize you knew what every man thought.’ People responded. Never heard anything back from her. I don’t think people realize we might actually read and share these things and they get real quiet when they do.”
Mendoza becomes the first female analyst for a nationally televised MLB postseason game when ESPN has the AL wildcard on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Without a Sunday night baseball game to do on the last day of the regular season, ESPN will have its crew of Mendoza with  Dan Shulman, John Kruk and Buster Olney at the Boston-N.Y. Yankees contest tonight at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. They also did the Red Sox-Yankees game last Monday.
TBS has the Pittsburgh-Chicago Cubs NL wildcard game on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

== As a follow up to that DiCaro post: Ed Sherman of justifiably questions why would include the highly objectifying “clickbait” ads at the bottom of that column. Poor communication between editorial and advertising departments?

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

mynameisopportunityTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Monday-Wednesday, FSW
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.


Details/TV: Monday-Thursday, SportsNet L.A.:
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.


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 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


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.

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.”

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).  …

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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