05.20.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance:

black 1What’s your hurry, summer?
This weekend’s triple threat of motorsport madness – the Indianapolis 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Monaco Grand Prix – starts the new season with a Memorial Day weekend of fumes and likely some fuming at those who cut drivers off.
The 103rd Indy 500 (Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 4; prerace at 6 a.m., NBCSN) already has made some weekend news, as the legendary McLaren team missed qualifying then considered trying to buy driver Fernando Alonso, best known as a Formula One champ, a seat in the race. He declined. Simon Pagenaud put his Chevy on the pole position with Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot on the front row. Three-time winner Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) could join Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only winners of four events. Castroneves starts from the fourth row. Defending champion Will Power, who famously spilled the champion’s milk all over the Indy Race Queen by accident, is in the second row. Pippa Mann, the only woman in the field, is on the 10th row. She failed to qualify last year. NBC also has this for the first time after ABC established this as a Wide World of Sports staple since the mid 1960s.
More info: www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com
NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, N.C. (Sunday, 3 p.m., Channel 11) can make some news when an Indy 500 driver tries to helicopter over after his morning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and get to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time to race again– it has its own Wikipedia entry as “Double Duty.” Tony Stewart once was sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte in 2001, completing all 600 laps and 1,100 miles in both events. It was last attempted by Kurt Busch in 2014. No takers this year. Kyle Bush is the defending champ, leading 377 of the 400 laps for his first career win at Charlotte, and the first driver to win a race at every track in the NASCAR Cup series he competed in as well as every track that’s on the current schedule.
More info: www.charlottemotorspeedway.com
The fast and furious day officially begins with the F1’s 77th Grand Prix de Monaco (Sunday, 6 a.m., ESPN; replayed at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) at the street circuit that runs through the city. Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing went from the pole to the checkered flag last year ahead of Sebastian Vettle and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso started seventh in the McLaren-Renault but had to fall out after 52 laps with a gearbox issue.
More info: www.formula1.com


black 2Cut through all the latest Laker drama. By the time the weekend ends, the NBA will have its two title contenders. That’s what matters.
The Warriors’ 3-0 lead over the Blazers seems to give them a cushion if they experience one or two of their lack-of-focus issues in defending their title. The Raptors needed two OTs on their home court and Giannis Antetokounmpo fouling out to at least get closer to the Bucks, trying to come back from a 2-0 deficit and tie up the series at home.
How it lays out:
Western Conference finals:
* Game 4: Golden State at Portland, Monday at 6 p.m., ESPN
* Game 5: at Golden State, Wednesday at 6 p.m., ESPN
* Game 6: at Portland, Friday at 6 p.m., ESPN
* Game 7: at Golden State, Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN
Eastern Conference finals:
* Game 4: Milwaukee at Toronto, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., TNT
*  Game 5: at Milwaukee, Thursday at 5:30 p.m., TNT
* Game 6: at Toronto, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., TNT


black 3If the Angels weren’t giving out a Wookiee Rally Monkey to the first 30,000 who come in for Friday Star Wars Night celebration prior to the game against – who does it really matter – this week in SoCal baseball might otherwise go unnoticed.

This week for the Angels, 22-24, second in the AL West by one percentage point, and up from No. 20 to No. 14 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings:
= Vs. Minnesota, at Angel Stadium, Monday (Jake Odorizzi vs. Taylor Cole) and Tuesday (Michael Pineda vs. Trevor Cahill) at 7:07 p.m., FSW; Wednesday (Martin Perez vs. Matt Harvey) at 6:07 p.m., FSW
= Vs. Texas, at Angel Stadium, Friday (Ariel Jurado vs. Griffin Canning) at 7:07 p.m., FSW; Saturday (Drew Smyly vs. Tyler Skaggs) at 7:07 p.m., FSW; Sunday (Mike Minor vs. TBA) at 1:07 p.m., FSW

This week for the Dodgers, 31-17, 5 ½ games up in the NL West, who have been supplanted by Houston in the latest ESPN MLB Power Rankings:
= At Tampa Bay, Tuesday (Clayton Kershaw vs. TBA) and Wednesday (Rich Hill vs. TBA), 4:10 p.m., SportsNet LA
= At Pittsburgh, Friday (Walker Buehler vs. TBA) at 4:05 p.m., SNLA; Saturday (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Joe Musgrove) at 4:15 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday (Kenta Maeda vs. Chris Archer) at 10:35 a.m., SNLA

Also in college baseball, as UCLA hangs on to its No. 1 spot in the NCAA rankings:
* UCLA (45-8, 22-5 in the Pac-12): The last three games of the regular season are at Oregon: Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. The NCAA regionals start May 31.
* USC (23-27-1, 11-14-1 in the Pac-12): The final week of the regular season has a non-conference game at UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6 p.m., then three at Oregon State, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at noon, on the Pac 12 Networks
* UC Irvine (34-16, 15-6 in Big West): The last week of the regular season has a non-conference game vs. USC at Anteater Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; and three at UC Riverside, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton (25-25, 11-10 in Big West): The last week of the regular season is three at Cal State Northridge, Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge (22-30, 8-13 in Big West): The last week of the regular season is three vs. Cal State Fullerton, Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., CSUN Sports Network
* Long Beach State (11-41, 5-16 in Big West): The last week of the regulars season is three vs. Hawaii at Blair Field, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., ESPN3
* Loyola Marymount (29-23, 15-12 in the WCC): The Lions are fed to the West Coast Conference baseball tournament as the No. 4 seed, opening against No. 1 seed BYU in a single-elimnation event (semifinals are Friday with the final on Saturday) in Stockton. Pepperdine (24-25, 14-13 in the WCC) is done.



black 4The launch of the 2019 WNBA season finds the Sparks in Las Vegas (at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Sunday at 5 p.m., streaming on Twitter) arrives with the intriguing combo of Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike as a potentially dominating low-post sister act, as they were back in Stanford. The two had a combined 30 points in 20 minutes each during an exhibition win over Seattle last week. New coach Derek Fisher won’t have Candace Parker for the opening week as she recovers from a hamstring injury.



black 5In the MLS: The LAFC (9-1-4), unbeaten in its last six games after a 1-1 draw at Dallas, has a home contest against Montreal (Banc of California Stadium, Friday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV) while the Galaxy (7-5-1), coming off a miserable loss to then-winless Colorado and leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic serving a two-game suspension, goes to Orlando (Friday, 4 p.m., Univision, UniMas).


  • The Stanley Cup Finals start May 27 in Boston. The visiting club? To be determined this week with the Blues pushing the Sharks to the limit, taking a 3-2 series lead back to San Jose.
    The week ahead in the Western Conference:
    * Game 6: San Jose at St. Louis, Tuesday at 5 p.m., NBCSN
    * Game 7: at San Jose, Thursday at 6 p.m., NBCSN
  • UCLA’s softball team (49-6), No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll and No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball and Softball America rankings, advances to the NCAA Super Regionals/Sweet 16 for the sixth straight season against either Michigan or James Madison, with the contest at UCLA to be determined. The Pac-12 is also represented by Arizona and Washington, with Oklahoma as the top seed. More info: www.ncaa.com
  • The French Open begins with first-round matches (Tennis Channel, 2 a.m. to noon, live), and Rafael Nadal coming off a win over Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open tuneup. More info: www.rolandgarros.com
  • U.S. Women’s National team has its final tuneup before the Women’s World Cup in France (vs. Mexico at Red Bull Arena in N.J., Sunday at 8:30 a.m., ESPN). More info: www.ussoccer.com

05.13.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance


black 1The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery is important to whom again?
Oh, right. The Lakers.
For the sixth year in a row.
It happens Tuesday. In Chicago. At 5:30 p.m., on ESPN.
Go on, move along. Nothing left to see.
The percentage of L.A. interest in this reality show may be proportional to the the Lakers’ two percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, a result of finishing as 11th worst team in the league after the 2017-18 LeBron James Tour ended. The odds increase from 2.2 to 2.4 to 2.8 percent for either the second, third or fourth pick.
Zion Williams isn’t too worried.
Take last year as the most-likely probably: The Lakers had 1.1 percent odds for No. 1, stayed at No. 10, traded it away, and now it’s all some incidental trivia question. This time, Magic Johnson isn’t adding his opinion, so this all apparently lands at the feet of what Linda Rambis wants to do. She could actually be repping the team in person for this thing instead of Kyle Kuzma, but the decision has already been made. Whether or not Frank Vogel and/or Jason Kidd object. Continue reading “05.13.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

05.06.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Yup, we’re sniffing out the NCAA women’s water polo championship.
Defending champion USC comes in as the No. 1 seed, having won it all last year in its home pool.
But you probably already know too much about this Trojans’ otherwise under-the-radar sports  program.
It’s marching forward without its esteemed head coach, fired in the wake of the nationwide admission scandal, and he’s already put his Rancho Palos Verdes house up for sale.
At this point, what would Aunt Becky pay to see her kid hoist a national championship trophy? Continue reading “05.06.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

Day 30 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Challenging our infinite wisdom

9780190928186_p0_v1_s600x595The book:

“Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark”

The author: Alva Noe

 The publishing info: Oxford University Press, $21.95, 208 pages, released April 1.

The links: At the publisher’s website, at Amazon.com, at BarnesAndNoble.com, at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

Our attempt each year is begin or close the 30-day series with some really deep thinking.
Use your brain. See how it connects to your heart.
This fits perfect into our philosophy. How else can we put it?

In 2018, we led off with “Why Baseball Matters” by Susan Jacoby, and ended with “If God Invented Baseball” by poet E. Ethelbert Miller.
In 2014, it was Hal Bodley”s “How Baseball Explains America.”  Hal Bodley’s “How Baseball Explains America.” In 2013, it’s “Baseball as a Road to God” by John Sexton.
We ended 2010 with “Six Decades of Baseball: A Personal Narrative” by Bill Lewers, a dad who wanted to leave a document for his sons. A year earlier, the closer was “Parables from the Diamond: Meditations for Men on Baseball and Life” by Phil Christopher and Glenn Dromgogle.
(Apologies, but as we’ve recently learned, the reviews posted for those books above, except for 2018, have disappeared from the platform where they were posted. The platform, for that matter, was taken down by the original publisher. It’s too bad, really. Like a giant erase board, as if they didn’t exist in the first place. Let’s ponder that another day).

Noe, a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley, comes from the world of deep thinking, a contributor to the now defunct National Public Radio’s science blog “13.7: Cosmos and Culture” (www.npr.org/137) from 2010 to ’17. (At least they didn’t just tear the thing down and make it disappear. It’s still there. Thankfully.)

These are the best of his posts — we trust an editor may have also helped select, because the writer often doesn’t know which is his “best” until someone else says so — as they pertain to a few specific areas of what he observes about baseball. He breaks it into five main themes: The beauty of a “boring” game, why we keep score, baseball as its own language, the game’s “cyborg” nature, and then his personal memories. For Noe, it comes in the context of being a kid growing up in Greenwich Village with two artists as parents who didn’t believe in having a TV, only a radio. Which made following Mets games in the 1970s a bit antiquated. But you had to use your imagination.

Continue reading “Day 30 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Challenging our infinite wisdom”

Day 29 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shhhh … there’s a game at Camden Yards … pretend all is normal

91xnQMK4PKLThe book:

“When the Crowd Didn’t Roar: How Baseball’s Strangest Game Ever Gave a Broken City Hope”

The author:
Kevin Cowherd

The publishing info:
University of Nebraska Press, $27.95, 192 pages, released April 1

The links:
At the publisher’s website,  at Amazon.com,  at BarnesAndNoble.com,  at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

fae570f7b202c3d15e7001ce2bc43a3dThe New York Times Magazine recently had a cover story: “How an American city falls apart: The Tragedy of Baltimore.” The story’s research points out that since Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of the local police in 2015, violent crime “has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century.”
The story’s author, Baltimore native Alec MacGillis, writes: “Nearly four years after Freddie Gray’s death, the surge of crime has once again become the context of daily life in the city, as it was in the early 1990s. I have grown accustomed to scanning the briefs column in The Baltimore Sun in the morning for news of the latest homicides; to taking note of the location of the latest killings as I drive around town for my baseball coaching and volunteering obligations. In 2017, the church I attend started naming the victims of the violence on Sunday services and hanging a purple ribbon for each on a long cord outside. By the year’s end, the ribbons crowded for space, like shirts on a tenement clothesline.”

Four years ago today, the Baltimore Orioles played a home afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards. No one was allowed in to witness what became an 8-2 Orioles’ win.
There were no real winners.
For something that has its own Wikipedia entry, this is as tough forget as it is to remember. Continue reading “Day 29 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shhhh … there’s a game at Camden Yards … pretend all is normal”

04.29.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Who’s up for a little Vlad Guerrero Jr.?
He’s no so little anymore. The supersized son of the former Angels MVP headed into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer finally got a call-up from the Toronto Blue Jays last weekend, and the 20-year-old Montreal-born third baseman already has three hits in his first 12 at bats during a three game series in Oakland.
Funny thing, but Junior isn’t even the youngest player on the Blue Jays roster. Elvis Luciano (born Feb. 15, 2000) is the first MLB player born this century to make it to this level.
Luciano never pitched above the rookie leagues when the Blue Jays picked him in the December Rule 5 draft, off the Royals’ roster. He threw an inning-and-a-third of scoreless ball on his debut and has an ERA of 4.50 with eight strike outs and five runs in 10 innings over eight appearances.
Luciano may be the answer to a trivia question someday. Considering the first MLB player born in the 1900s – a 19-year-old John Cavanaugh who came up to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1919 — struck out against the New York Giants in his only at-bat and never played in another big-league game.
How this week plays out for the Angels (12-17, last in the AL West):
* vs. Toronto at Angel Stadium: Tuesday (Griffin Channing vs. Clay Buchholz), Wednesday (Felix Pena vs. Marcus Stroman) and Thursday (Tyler Skaggs vs. Aaron Sanchez) at 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West
* vs. Houston in Monterrey, Mexico: Saturday at 4:10 p.m., Fox Sports West, (Trevor Cahill vs. Wade Miley), Sunday at 1:10 p.m., ESPN, Fox Sports West (Matt Harvey vs. Justin Verlander)
How the week plays out for the Dodgers (19-11, first in the NL West):
* At San Francisco: Monday (Kenta Maeda vs. Jeff Samardzija), Tuesday (Walker Buehler vs. Drew Pomeranz) and Wednesday (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Madison Bumgarner) at 6:45 p.m., SportsNet LA
* At San Diego: Friday at 7:10 p.m. (Clayton Kershaw vs. Joey Lucchesi), Saturday at 5:40 p.m. (Rich Hill vs. Nick Margevicius), Sunday at 1:10 p.m. (Maeda vs. Chris Paddack), all on SportsNet LA

Also this week in college baseball:
* UCLA: At Pepperdine, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at Arizona State, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., all on Pac-12 Network
* USC: vs. Stanford at Dedeaux Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* Loyola Marymount: At Long Beach State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. BYU at Page Stadium, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Pepperdine: vs. UCLA at Malibu, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at San Francisco, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* UC Irvine: vs. Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Iowa, Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11 a.m.
* Long Beach State: vs. Loyola Marymount at Blair Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. UC Riverside at Blair Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge: vs. UC Santa Barbara at Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton: at UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. UC Davis at Goodwin Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. Continue reading “04.29.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

Day 28 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: For the good of Allan Selig, and Pete Rose’s hunger for attention

71IUBdXKNnLThe book:

“For the Good of the Game: The Inside story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball”

The author:
Bud Selig with Phil Rogers

The publishing info:
William Morrow Books, $28.99, 336 pages, scheduled to be released July 9

The links:
The publishers website, Amazon.com;  at Barnes&Noble.com (with autographed versions available), at Powells.com.

The review in 90 feet or less

The guy who became the accidental MLB commissioner for 22 years, fumbled his way through the steroid era, had the 1994 World Series canceled on his watch, decided the All Star game winner would determine World Series home field and OK’d the use of replay — all after he strategically moved his own franchise from the American League to National League after snatching it away from Seattle back in 1970 — now has the Hatian-stiched balls to put out a book claiming he deserves some/more recognition for ushering the game into the modern age.
What do ushers get paid now a days? Not the severance package afforded to a retired MLB head man.
920x920To get things playfully started, Selig opens by admitting to his squeamish nature toward watching Barry Bonds establish a new career home run record on his watch.
“I know some people will forever link me with Barry Bonds. Some will say baseball’s failure to limit the impact of steroids of quicker is my failure. They may even call me the steroid commissioner. That’s okay, I guess. It’s not fair. I don’t like it, but I’ve come to understand it.”
(Now, please read this link).
Instead, he’d rather be remembered — perhaps revered — as getting baseball to have “the toughest steroid policy in sports.”Again, his words.
And on the business end of things:
“I inherited a fucking nightmare, if you’ll pardon both my language and my honesty. But give us some credit. We identified and corrected our problems. … I shutter to think where baseball would be if we hadn’t found a way to work together to make these deals. We literally might have been out of business. I’ll say that.”
So this is where we’re going, eh? Emphasizing the $1.2 billion in revenue in ’92, 13 years of financial growth, attendance records, 20 new ballparks opening and … dropping an F-bomb … Even Mr. Rodgers knows when and where that’s most impactful. Continue reading “Day 28 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: For the good of Allan Selig, and Pete Rose’s hunger for attention”