Play It Forward: May 5-11 on your sports calendar: A manic Cinco de Monday for Kings, Ducks, Clippers, Angels, Dodgers and those trying to follow it all

MP900384786THIS WEEK’S BEST BET I:

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick skates during warm ups before Game 1 against the Ducks on Saturday in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick skates during warm ups before Game 1 against the Ducks on Saturday in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

NHL PLAYOFFS:
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
GAME 2: KINGS at DUCKS
Honda Center, Monday at 7 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
You may have read about what’s on the line for this series, as the mayors of L.A. and Anaheim put up one of those “friendly wagers” before the opening puck dropped in the Kings’ 3-2 overtime Game 1 win. L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti said if the Ducks win the series, he’ll give a lesson in music appreciation to the Guinn Elementary School in Anaheim.

A Kings fan goes through a security check before entering Saturday's Game 1 between the Kings and Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

A Kings fan goes through a security check before entering Saturday’s Game 1 between the Kings and Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

If the Kings win to advance to the conference finals, Anaheim mayor Tom Tait promises to come to the L.A. River Clean Up Day. Assuming there’s enough water in the river bed to actually help with the clean-up process. Throw in a couple extra healthy defensemen for the Western Conference finals, and it’s a deal. Actually, that was a much classier approach than what transpired a year ago, when the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings faced the Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel was so confident that he put up 25 Italian beef sandwiches from Al’s Italian Beef, three cases of Goose Island’s 312 Lager beer, one case of Robinson’s Ribs Barbecue Sauce, 25 slices of Eli’s Cheesecake and one copy of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” so that Antonio Villaraigosa could have something to read “in his forthcoming retirement.” Then-L.A. mayor Villaraigosa could have looked the other way, but he tried to match that by offering nine #19 Pastrami Sandwiches from Langer’s Deli, nine French Dip Sandwiches from Phillippe’s, a case of Morehouse Mustard, a case of beer from Golden Road and Eagle Rock breweries, three Hollenbeck Burritos from El Tepeyac Cafe, 12 bottles of Sriracha Chili Sauce and a DVD copy of “YogaWorks for Everybody” so Emanuel could “maintain” his “newfound inner peace.” And you know who got the best piece of that heart-burn proposition. Today should be the day when you bet a friend he can’t go down to Homegirl Cafe in L.A. and eat a half-dozen red mole chicken tacos in one sitting to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
The series continues this week:
Game 3 at Staples Center, Thursday at 7 p.m., NBC Sports Net
Game 4 at Staples Center, Saturday, to be announced

cinco-de-mayo-t-shirt-bustedtees-2THIS WEEK’S BEST BET II:

okc599NBA PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
GAME 1: CLIPPERS at OKLAHOMA CITY
Monday at 6:30 p.m., TNT:
You can thank Donald Sterling for Kevin Durant’s inability to soak up the accolades of the 2014 NBA MVP award by now. Because of the Sterling scandal that erupted some 10 days ago, leading to a lifetime ban and fine for the Clippers owner, the league decided it wasn’t appropriate to start handing out its annual individual honors and pushed it back a week. That could have led to an uncomfortable scenario – had the Thunder failed to pull out a Game 7 win against Memphis last weekend and lose their first-round series, there would have been Durant, dubbed “Mr. Unreliable” by the Oklahoman newspaper for his performance up to that point, answering awkward questions as his press conference. Instead, Oklahomans will get to likely hear the news of Durant’s honor on Tuesday and have him available for a round of applause by the locals before Wednesday’s Game 3. Durant average 32.8 points in four games against the Clippers during the regular season. The teams split the four games, and won one game on the other’s home court as well. The last meeting was less than a month ago: April 9 at Staples Center, when OKC got 30 points from Russell Westbrook in a 107-101 win. The Clippers rallied from 15 down in the fourth quarter to cut it to one, but Blake Griffin (30 points, 12 rebounds)  missed two key free throws down the stretch.
The series continues:
Game 2: Wednesday at Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Friday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4: Sunday at Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7

BEST OF THE REST:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Weekly media column version 05.02.14 — A Sterling performance by the ‘new’ media, with TMZ (too much zeal) behind it

DonSterlingAndGFWhat’s in this week’s media column (linked here):
donald-sterling-ad-1
The mainstream media reporting for years on Donald Sterling’s attitudes toward minorities couldn’t have been more detailed. So why the reaction now to an audio tape with perhaps dubious connections? We’re trying to make sense of that in this week’s media column.
Also more on the Clippers’ TV ratings during the playoffs since the story broke, could the Clippers fit well into the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. programming some day, why would the WNBA Sparks’ new ownership (Magic, that’s you) decide to drop Larry Burnett as the play-by-play man for TWC SportsNet just a couple weeks before the season starts, and how NBC plans to cover the Kentucky Derby with Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir riding shotgun.

What could have but will have to learn to live here: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

A quick wrap of the 30 baseball books for April, 2014

4c9xXXncESorting out what we’ve sent out after day for the last month:

A long shelf life:
== “Babe Ruth’s Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery of Baseball’s Greatest Home Run” by Ed Sherman
== “Mover & Shaker: Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers, & Baseball’s Westward Expansion” by Andy McCue
== “Bigger Than The Game: Restitching a Major League Life” by Dirk Hayhurst
== “Up, Up & Away: The Kid, The Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi! The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-Fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos” by  Jonah Keri
== “Throwback: A Big-League Catcher Tells How the Game is Really Played” by Jason Kendall, with Lee Judge
== “Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher” by Rob Goldman

Going yard:
== “Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball” by John Feinstein
== “Brooks: The Biography of Brooks Robinson” by Doug Wilson
== “Nine Bucks A Pound” by James Bailey
== “How Baseball Explains America” by Hal Bodley

Extra-base hits:
== “Bring In the Right-Hander!: My Twenty-Two Years in the Major Leagues” by Jerry Reuss
== “Jackie & Campy: The Untold Story of Their Rocky Relationship and the Breaking of Baseball’s Color Line” by William C. Kashatus
== “Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76″ by Dan Epstein
== “1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever” by Bill Madden

Those books we either did not get to, arrived too late to review, or we know are out there but have not seen them: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Day 30: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — Explain yourself, baseball

9781600789380

  • The pitch: Back near Thanksgiving of 2008, Sal Paolantonio explained to us how football explained America. And we saw the connections clearly.
    Soon afterword, we eventually figured out how hockey explained Canada.
    At long last, the full Bodley contact version of baseball and America’s pastime.
    Like Chapter 6, how “few people can go a full day without using a baseball term in their conversation. Baseball is truly our national pastime, but it’s also an integral part of our vocabulary … it’s light and fits well in our society.”
    Like a guy who talks to his friends about going out on a date and not being able to get to first base? Continue reading
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Day 29: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — A guy can still dream

Cover_Final-1_Curves

  • The pitch: The tip off to what this is all about is from Berger’s dedication: “For all those kids, like me, who grew up in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and dreamed about being a major league baseball player but didn’t have the talent or ability to make it past Little League. Don’t ever let that dream die.”
    Instead, go to a fantasy camp.
    Berger got turned on by the idea back about 20 years ago when a friend, Lou Cohen, told him about the Dodgertown camp he attended in Vero Beach, Fla., a few years earlier. Another friend was telling Berger about his experience at a Yankees fantasy camp in 2009.
    Would Berger ever get to scratch the itch and finally go to one? Or four? Continue reading
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Day 28: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — Denehy’s rage against the baseball machine, in recovery mode

BIGqrks

rea0874_lg

  • The pitch: If you’ve got yourself a 1967 Topps #581 rookie card of Tom Seaver — which, on the collectors’ market can go beyond $1,000 — hang onto it. The value may have just gone up.
    The guy on the left has a story to tell, too. Perhaps no two players appear on the same card but go opposite directions. Fast.
    “Tom Seaver won 311 games with an ERA of 2.86, pitching himself into the Hall of Fame,” Denehy explains on page 6 of this book. “I, on the other hand, finished my career with a one-and-ten record and a 4.70 ERA.
    “And yet, compared to Tom Seaver, my life was far more entertaining and interesting … With my career over in the mid-twenties, I had to figure out how I would live the rest of my life, and that hasn’t been easy. …”
    It gets more heartbreaking from there. One page over, still in the first chapter:
    1968 Bill Denehy (r)“I was a dreamer. And time after time I figured that if I could come up with some grandiose idea, some magical plan, I could provide my family with all the trappings of success for a person no longer in major league baseball. I felt driven and under tremendous pressure to succeed, in part because my ex-wife’s mother thought I was a loser. I suffered great agony having never been able to prove her wrong.”
    He had anger issues, a “wicked temper,” as he puts it. He was self-destructive. He became addicted to the amphetamines that were prevalent in the ’60s for MLB players. He drank way too much.
    “The root of my anger and my trouble with women began with the nuns in Catholic school,” he confesses. “These sex-starved sadists never should have been allowed around children. I thought they were a menace to society.
    “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.” Continue reading
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Play It Forward: April 28-May 4 on your sports cal — The Clips-Warriors Game 5 decision: Use your ticket, watch on Prime Ticket, or get ticked off

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Blake Griffin, left, goes up for a shot next to  Warriors' David Lee during Game 4 on Sunday in Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Blake Griffin, left, goes up for a shot next to Warriors’ David Lee during Game 4 on Sunday in Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

NBA PLAYOFFS:
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS:
GAME 5: CLIPPERS vs. GOLDEN STATE
Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT, Prime Ticket:

Shelley Sterling, left, wife of  Clippers owner Donald Sterling, watches from a court side seat during the second half in Game 4 at Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Shelley Sterling, left, wife of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, watches from a court side seat during the second half in Game 4 at Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By the time tip-off happens, the NBA may have tipped its hand on resolution in the Donald T. Sterling mess and fan reaction will be a focal point of the story as the Clippers regroup following the Game 4 sluggish loss that tied the series up at two games apiece. Clippers coach Doc Rivers says he understood how many paying customers may heed Magic Johnson’s advice and stay away from the game, even if they’ve already bought tickets. The Clippers have sold out their last 137 games. “We need (the fans), I can tell you that,” said Rivers. “We need everybody. We play for them. We always have. So we do need them. We’re going to need them bad on Tuesday. We’re going to need them there. We’re going to need them in our corner. But, listen, I get all of it.” What Rivers should be more concerned about is how Golden State shot 55.4 percent (to the Clippers’ 42.9 percent) in Game 4. That’s the best field-goal percentage allowed by the Clippers this season, and the highest by a Doc Rivers coached team in a playoff game since May 8, 2009. By the way, Sterling has already agreed not to attend this game, according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Maybe that opens up a court-side seat for one of Billy Crystal’s pals?
The series wraps up:
Game 6: at Golden State, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT, Prime
Game 7: at Staples Center, Saturday at TBA

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Day 27: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — Expressing the Nolan Ryan story

Note: A Q-and-A with Rob Goldman appears in Sunday’s editions, linked here.

9781600789229

  • The pitch: It’s all there in Chapter 8, respectfully entitled “Buzzie’s Folly: 1979.”
    Goldman notes: “Since arriving in California in 1972, Ryan had thrown more than 56,000 pitches and basically re-written the record book for power pitcher. But for all that, the Angels had played just one season of .500 ball.”
    Nolan-RyanAnd Angels GM Buzzie Bavasi helped make that change. The team added Rod Carew and won the AL West before they lost to Baltimore in the playoffs to miss out on their first World Series trip.
    Ryan, who started that summer’s All-Star Game in Seattle based on his 12-6 mark and 2.54 ERA, finished the year 16-14 with 223 strike outs and a 3.60 ERA that included a trip to the disabled list with a sore elbow.
    Ryan and agent Dick Moss had asked the team for a new contract calling for $550,000 a year or else he’d become a free agent.
    Bavasi’s famous quote: “All I need to replace Ryan is hire two 8-7 pitchers.”
    nolan-ryan-hof-1Bavasi said he believed in old-school, wins-and-losses statistics. Yet, he apparently didn’t realize that Ryan’s career win percentage as an Angel was .533, while the team was .481 over the same period. The Angels had averaged 1.95 runs in his 121 losses. He led the league in strike outs seven times, with four no-hitters, five one-hitters, 13 two-hitters and 19 three-hitters.
    Sorry to bring that all up again, but it’s Angels history that will never stop hurting.
    It caused long-time coach Jimmie Reese to break down and cry.
    It hurt Ryan, sure. He wanted to end his career in Anaheim, where it blossomed. But while he and owner Gene Autry let the businessmen work it out, the Houston Astros came up with a four-year, $4 million deal that blew everything away.
    “I don’t have any grudges or animosity toward anyone,” Goldman quotes Ryan about that time on page 168. “I’m a believer that everything will work out for the best and it did for me.”
    For Goldman’s purpose to write “Making of A Pitcher,” that may be a very telling example that he accomplished what he set out — to explain what made Ryan not just a Hall of Fame player, but a Hall of Fame person.
    Goldman, whose did a wonderful job in the 2006 book “Once They Were Angels” (with Ryan on the cover) and also helped Tim Salmon with his 2010 autobiography, set out to find out “what exactly are the attributes that Nolan possessed that made him rise above the competition and become a success on and off the field for so long?”
    Authenticity, for one. Empathy, for another.
    “He was happiest when he wasn’t the center of the universe,” Goldman also writes.
    For the Angels, and many of their young fans, he was front and center, and getting over that 1979 offseason still doesn’t seem doable, considering how Ryan went on to not only throw three more no-hitters and finish out his career in his native state of Texas, but also become a successful businessman and rancher.
    Goldman’s five-year process that involved talking to more than 80 people about Ryan doesn’t overlook his own personal story — that of an Angels batboy who witnessed some of Ryan’s greatest on-field moments.
    For example: During Ryan’s fourth no-hit game against Baltimore in 1975, Goldman was sent to fetch the smaller, tighter-seamed “X”-marked balls that Ryan had set aside because he liked them better from the batch of inconsistent balls that AL teams used that year from the Rawlings company in Haiti.
    ryanesAnd afterward, Goldman gathered four balls so that they could be marked with large “0″ on them to signify Ryan’s career achievement for the photographers.
    Goldman’s relationship with Ryan over the years gives him access to much more than most authors could provide, yet it doesn’t seem to taint the pursuit of what Goldman is trying to achieve.
    To his credit, Goldman also circled back to see if Bavasi wanted to add some perspective of his comment about why letting Ryan go set fine with him.
    “I’m not going to comment on anything,” said Bavasi, who died in 2008. “Something this outrageous I wouldn’t dignify with a comment. I’d like to do it in (Ryan’s) face, though, not in the press, the way some people do things. He’s go this money. What does he want?”
    Ryan really doesn’t want anything, apparently. He did OK for himself. And, thanks to Goldman’s book, we understand why a whole lot better.
  • Signings:
    == Goodman has book signings coming up at Barnes & Noble in Costa Mesa (May 24) and Orange (June 7)
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Day 26: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — Seriously, the ‘best series ever’? Wendel makes a strong case for ’91

012502-downToLastPitchCover

  • The book: “Down to the Last Pitch: How the 1991 Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves Gave Us the Best World Series of All Time”
  • The author: Tim Wendel
  • Vital stats: Da Capo Press, 271 pages, $25.99
  • Find it: At Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at Barnes & Nobel, at Amazon.com.

minnesota-twins-1991

  • The pitch: Take your pick from the World Series through history that came down to the last pitch and could be worthy of “best of all time.”
    Pittsburgh’s triumph over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of 1960, thanks to Bill Mazeroski in the bottom of the ninth.
    Arizona outlasting the New York Yankees in Game 7 of 2001, the “9/11 Season” that seemed to have a tribute to New York all over it, thanks to Luis Gonzalez in the bottom of the ninth.
    Miami’s improbable triumph over Cleveland in Game 7 of 1997, thanks to Edgar Renteria in the bottom of the 11th.
    “When you have a dog in the fight, things can become downright personal,” Wendel writes in the “Appendix II” section of this book.
    1991-Homer-HankyFor Wendel, the ’91 Series is his dog and he has decided to fight for it.
    Wendel,  the current writer in residence at Johns Hopkins University who had already captured our fancy with his 2013 book, “The Summer of ’68″ and in 2011 with “High Heat,” was a founding editor at USA Today’s Baseball Weekly in 1991. When that seven-game set ended, the cover headline in his publication read: “BEST WORLD SERIES EVER?”
    Apparently, time to drop the question mark. Continue reading
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Day 25: 30 days of baseball books in April 2014 — Say, hey: Where you in ’54?

9780306823329_p0_v3_s600

  • The book: “1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever”
  • The author: Bill Madden
  • Vital stats: Da Capo Press, 320 pages, $25.99
  • Find it: At Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at Amazon.com
  • The pitch: It’s baseball’s seven-year itch — we’re seven years into Jackie Robinson breaking into baseball with the Dodgers. Where does the game stand on racial acceptance?
    Maybe it depends on your perspective. Continue reading
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email