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

black 1Your bracket is already busted, right? Because you had Indiana and UCLA meeting in the final. The men’s NCAA basketball tournament has yet to start, and no one really wants to hear you complaining. How that all 68 slots have been filled, as well as those taking the consolation route through the NIT and others, we’ll just go eat some ants and see how UC Irvine (vs. Kansas State at San Jose, Friday at 11 a.m., TBS) defines the Southern California hoop experience.
The schedule of games most important for the first round:
Play in games at Dayton, Ohio:
Tuesday:
Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Prairie View A&M, 3:40 p.m., truTV
Belmont vs. Temple, 6:10 p.m., truTV
Wednesday:
NC Central vs. North Dakota State, 3:40 p.m., truTV
Arizona State vs. St. John’s, 6:10 p.m., truTV
First round Thursday:
Minnesota vs. Louisville at Des Moines, Iowa, 9:15 a.m., Channel 2
Yale vs. LSU at Jacksonville, Fla., 9:40 a.m., truTV
New Mexico State vs. Auburn at Salt Lake City, Utah, 10:30 a.m., TNT
Vermont vs. Florida State at Hartford, Conn., 11 a.m., TBS
Bradley vs. Michigan State at Des Moines, Iowa, 11:45 a.m., Channel 2
Maryland vs. Belmont/Temple at Jacksonville, Fla., 12:10 p.m., truTV
Northeastern vs. Kansas at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1 p.m., TNT
Murray State vs. Marquette at Hartford, Conn., 1:30 p.m., TBS
Florida vs. Nevada at Des Moines, Iowa, 3:50 p.m., TNT
Kentucky vs. Abilene Christian at Jacksonville, Fla., 4:10 p.m., Channel 2
Saint Mary’s vs. VIllanova at Hartford, Conn., 4:20 p.m., TBS
Gonzaga vs. Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M at Salt Lake City, Utah, 4:27 p.m., truTV
Michigan vs. Montana at Des Moines, Iowa, 6:20 p.m., TNT
Seton Hall vs. Wofford at Jacksonville, Fla., 6:40 p.m., Channel 2
Purdue vs. Old Dominion at Hartford, Conn., 6:50 p.m., TBS
Baylor vs. Syracuse at Salt Lake City, Utah, 6:57 p.m., truTV
First round Friday:
Cincinnati vs. Iowa at Columbus, Ohio, 9:15 a.m., Channel 2
Oklahoma vs. Mississippi at Columbia, S.C., 9:40 a.m., truTV
Northern Kentucky vs. Texas Tech at Tulsa, Okla., 10:30 a.m., TNT
Tennessee vs. Colgate at Columbus, Ohio, 11:45 a.m., Channel 2
Virginia vs. Gardner-Webb at Columbia, S.C., 12:10 p.m., truTV
Buffalo vs. Arizona State/St. John’s at Tulsa, Okla., 1 p.m., TNT
Wisconsin vs. Oregon at San Jose, 1:30 p.m., TBS
Washington vs. Utah State at Columbus, Ohio, 3:50 p.m., TNT
Duke vs. NC Central/North Dakota State at Columbia, S.C., 4:10 p.m., Channel 2
Houston vs. Georgia State at Tulsa, Okla., 4:20 p.m., TBS
Mississippi State vs. Liberty at San Jose, 4:27 p.m., truTV
North Carolina vs. Iona at Columbus, Ohio, 6:20 p.m., TNT
Central Florida vs. VCU at Columbia, S.C., 6:40 p.m., Channel 2
Ohio State vs. Iowa State at Tulsa, Okla., 6:50 p.m., TBS
Saint Louis vs. Virginia Tech at San Jose, 6:57 p.m., truTV

Also: The women’s NCAA basketball bracket is announced Monday (4 p.m., ESPN).

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black 2Attention those who have places to go around Southern California on Sunday: The L.A. Marathon Version 34 has its regular run (Channel 5, 7 a.m.) of 24,000-odd participants hustling from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier and does so with its usual array of street closures along the course. Of course, there is more to know. Last year, Kenya’s Weldon Kirui won the men’s elite division for the second time in three years, while Ethopia’s Sule Utura Gedo won the women’s division.  Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an early entry point, look at the piece TMZ.com did on Adam Gorlitsky. He will start the race on Friday and will attempt to break the record for the fastest marathon by a paralyzed person.

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black 3Spring officially begins Wednesday. MLB spring training kinda ends in about a week. The Dodgers aren’t panicking about whether Clayton Kershaw is available by Opening Day. Or Walker Buelher. That’s the word. But by the time the Dodgers and Angels get to leave Phoenix, Southern California will try to get amped up for another frivolous faux Freeway Series, starting Sunday at Anaheim (5 p.m., Fox Sports West, SportsNet LA).
Officially, the MLB season starts this week – Seattle vs. Oakland in Tokyo (Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 a.m. PDT, ESPN). The Mariners have activated 45-year-old Ichiro Suzuki for a few exhibition games in Tokyo leading into the opener and he should be in the Mariners’ starting lineup for the first game. It remains to be seen if Ichiro stays on the roster after this trip, or he could be officially retired when the Mariners play exhibition games against San Diego in Seattle on Sunday and Monday, March 25 before the U.S.-based opener against Boston on March 28.
Meanwhile in college baseball:
* UCLA (14-4): vs. Arizona, at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* USC (7-11): vs. Long Beach State, Dedeaux Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Washington, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Loyola Marymount (11-7): vs. San Diego State, Page Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m., vs. University of Pacific, Page Stadium, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Pepperdine (8-7): vs. Minnesota at Malibu, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; vs. Cal State Northridge at Malibu, Wednesday at 3 p.m., vs. Gonzaga at Malibu, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge (9-11) : At UNLV, Tuesday at 2 p.m.; at Pepperdine, Wednesday at 3 p.m.; vs. Santa Clara at Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Long Beach State (3-15): at USC, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. Cal State Fullerton at Blair Field, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton (8-9): at San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Long Beach State, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

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black 4The Clippers’ 11-5 record since sending leading scorer Tobias Harris away to Philadelphia on Feb. 6 (along with Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott) in exchange for rookie hot-shot Landry Shamet (plus Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, a couple first-round picks and a couple more second-rounders) is something to ponder. Remember, former Clipper Elton Brand, the Sixers’ GM, also agreed to this. And his team has clinched a playoff spot already at 45-25.
The Clippers’ run of seven wins in their last eight has boosted them into a snug No. 7/8 spot in the Western Conference, six games ahead of No. 9 Sacramento. The question is if they can make up ground on No. 7 Utah (virtually even, with one win and one loss more than the Jazz), No. 6 San Antonio (a half-game back), No. 5 Oklahoma City (a game and a half back), or No. 4 Portland (two back) this week. All opponents are from the East this week:
* vs. Indiana, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Cleveland, Friday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At New York, Sunday at 9 a.m., Prime Ticket

Meanwhile, the Lakers finish a six-game road trip (at Milwaukee, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) before returning home:
* Vs. New Jersey, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

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black 5The next-to-last of the Kings-Ducks meetings (Saturday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket) with one more left in Anaheim on April 5, at least give more head-to-head opportunities to get out of the Western Conference cellar.
Also for the Kings: vs. Winnipeg, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., FSW; vs. San Jose, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
Also for the Ducks: vs. Winnipeg, Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., NBCSN; vs. San Jose, Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket

also
* In the MLS: LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake, at Banc of California Stadium, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV

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

 

black 1If you’re just tuning into college basketball’s 2018-19 because March has flipped over on the calendar, sure, there’s time to catch up. Especially if all you seem to care about it the annual ritual of filling out a bracket and all of the sudden realize Loyola of Chicago didn’t make it this time.
March can be more than the usual madness, fadness and even some haplessness. The sadness is for those who’ve failed to launch until the moment the 68-team men’s tournament is out Sunday (Channel 2, 3 p.m.).
As we start the week, the winners have already been determined in the Atlantic Sun (Liberty), Ohio Valley (Murray State), Big South (Gardner-Webb) and Missouri Valley (Bradley).
There’s more work to get done. Including:

* The Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas:
If something completely sideways happens, USC and UCLA could meet in the conference final, starting out on opposite sides of the bracket Wednesday:
= No. 8 USC vs. No. 9 Arizona, noon, Pac-12 Network
= No. 12 Cal vs. No. 5 Colorado, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Stanford, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 11 Washington State, 8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Those feed in the Thursday quarterfinals where the top four teams from the regular season somehow earned byes:
= No. 1 Washington vs. USC/Arizona, noon, Pac-12 Network
= No. 4 Oregon State vs. Colorado/Cal, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= No. 2 Arizona State vs. UCLA/Stanford, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= No. 3 Utah vs. Oregon/Washington State, 8:30 p.m., ESPN.
The semifinals are Friday at 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Net) and 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) The final is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Dave Pasch and Bill Walton call the three ESPN telecasts.

* The Big West Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim:
Thursday’s quarterfinals (all streaming on ESPN3) go with:
= No. 2 UCSB vs. No. 7 Cal State Northridge, noon
= No. 3 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 6 UC Davis, 2:30 p.m.
= No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 8 UC Riverside, 6 p.m.
= No. 4 Hawaii vs. No. 5 Long Beach State, 8:30 p.m.
The semifinals Friday pit the highest remaining seed against the lowest (6:30 p.m., EPSNU) with the other two quarterfinal winners (9 p.m., ESPN*). The final is Saturday at 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

* The West Coast Conference tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas:
As No. 1 overall Gonzaga watched the prelims take place, it finds  Pepperdine as its semifinal opponent (Monday, 6 p.m., ESPN, ahead of San Diego-Saint Mary’s, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2), with the winners playing for the title on Tuesday (6 p.m., ESPN).

The rest of the tournament championships:
* Monday: Metro Atlantic: 6 p.m., ESPN2; Southern: 4 p.m., ESPN
* Tuesday: Horizon: 4 p.m., ESPN; Colonial Athletic: 4 p.m., CBSSN; Northeast: 4 p.m., ESPN2; Summit: 6 p.m., ESPN2
* Wednesday: Patriot: 4:30 p.m., CBSSN
* Saturday: American East: 8 a.m., ESPN2; MEAC: 10 a.m., ESPN2; Big 12: 3 p.m., ESPN; Mountain West: 3 p.m., Channel 2; SWAC: 3 p.m., ESPNU; Big East: 3:30 p.m., Channel 11; MAC: 4:30 p.m., ESPN2; Big Sky: 5 p.m., ESPNU; ACC: 5:30 p.m., ESPN; C-USC: 5:30 p.m., CBSSN; Southland: 6:30 p.m., ESPN2; WAC: 7 p.m., ESPNU
* Sunday: Ivy League: 9 a.m., ESPN2; Atlantic 10: 10 a.m., Channel 2; SEC: 10 a.m., ESPN; Sun Belt: 11 a.m., ESPN2; American: 12:15 p.m., ESPN; Big Ten: 12:30 p.m., Channel 2

******************* Continue reading “03.11.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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

black 1The basketball madness of March reveals itself first with an intercity L.A. story that has nothing to do with the major college tribes.
Episode 3 of the Lakers-Clippers 2018-19 drama – Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, Prime Ticket – could be the crushing blow to Team LeBron’s playoff resume, even with the murky condition of the Western Conference standings.
After the Lakers’ demoralizing Saturday night loss to Phoenix, FiveThirtyEight.com gives them a generous seven percent chance of making the playoffs, with a record three games under .500 and 19 left on the schedule. If you bet $100 at a Las Vegas sportsbook on the Lakers to make the playoffs now, you’d win $600. You’d need to bet $900 to win $100 is you’re betting they miss.
Three weeks ago, their chances were at 41 percent and the projection is that not just the Lakers (30-33), but anyone in the West, would need 44 wins to get into the post season. The FiveThirtyEight.com projection is the Lakers will be a couple wins short based on their schedule and how everything else falls/
The Clippers (36-29) have an 88 percent chance of making it, currently tied with San Antonio for the No. 7 spot, trying to avoid any first-round meeting with Golden State (49-19), who have a 75 percent chance of making the NBA Finals and a 56 percent chance of repeating.
The previous two Lakers-Clippers meetings:
== The teams were about 40 percent into their seasons before they finally faced off on Dec. 28, and the Clippers rode behind a 36-point effort for Lou Williams in a 118-107 triumph.
The Clippers rattled off 22 unanswered points in the second half. The Lakers were without LeBron James, who injured himself a couple nights earlier at Golden State.
== On Jan. 31, James returned after a 17-game disappearance and made the difference in a 123-120 overtime win on the Clippers’ home court.
Also this week for the Lakers:
* Vs. Denver (42-20) at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
* Vs. Boston (38-26) at Staples Center, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Channel 7
Also this week for the Clippers:
* Vs. Oklahoma City (38-24) at Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket Continue reading “03.04.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: Game analysts who become the focal point

This could have been Billy Crystal’s big moment. A way to make a name for himself. Something to do when the Oscars decided it didn’t need a host.
Forget Paris? Forget Billy. He’s done.
His one-game-only appearance with Ralph Lawler on a Clippers-Lakers telecast had its “Analyze This” moments. We wanted more from the ultimate Clipper fan. Even a little Mr. Saturday Night.
It wasn’t enough of the Snoop Dogg quality work (see: Kings-Penguins, Jan. 13, Staples Center) we are now used to seeing in this burgeoning field of celebrity fill ins.

Whether it’s the “Third Chair” on Lakers radio games or the “Hockey Night in L.A.” appearances that the Kings have arranged for their Saturday night home games, you can’t fault the local teams for tapping into the Hollywood/celebrity talent pool to see how to liven up a broadcast. If used properly.
Want to liven up a Dodgers radio broadcast? Have Rick Monday slide over and let Larry King do a few innings with his pal Charley Steiner.
Oh, wait. That would kill the whole thing. Never mind.
Otherwise, former athletes with some TV savoriness have became more the desired norm. It’s a position that has more and more become a dominant chair to where the well-trained play-by-play man must yield to the opinions of his partner.
Consider these:

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black 1JIM FOX/Kings TV
During a nine-season run as a Kings right winger covering the entire decade of the ‘80s, Fox remains in the franchise Top 10 of all-time points scored, goals created, even-strength goals and shooting percentage. Look it up.
It’s a reminder, especially for younger viewers, about how much experience comes behind everything he says on a Kings broadcast now, what has it been now, 30 seasons?
One astute fan’s perspective: “I’ve enjoyed Jim a lot more the last couple of years since teaming up with Faust. I think now that Jim is out of Bob Millers shadow he is showing a lot more knowledge. It forced him to get out of his comfort zone a bit he had with Bob. I also love the enthusiasm he brings throughout the game. He sounds like a kid watching which makes it more entertaining for the viewer. I’ve also really appreciated his honest assessment of the teams poor play this year. Not afraid to sugar coat the teams shortcomings.”
Lately, Fox’s interactive social media participation with fans just adds to his effectiveness. Some day, we expect he’ll have enough of the travel and want to focus on his wine business with his wife, Susie.
It may be a crushing blow to Kings’ followers. Enjoy the fruits of his work while it’s still ripe for enjoyment.

Continue reading “The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: Game analysts who become the focal point”

The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: Play by play guys don’t play mind games

In one of the last times we were able to flip on NBCSN and catch the “Dan Patrick Show” simulcast this week before the thing disappeared into the AT&T/Turner universe, the host opened the show with a bit that went:
“I always wanted to do an honest broadcast (of a live sporting event). Just so you say what you really think when you do a game.
“ ‘This guy is overpaid and we can’t get out from underneath his contract …’
“ ‘This soft-tossing lefty gives up home runs like I take breaths.’
“The honest announcer. I always wanted to do that.”
Honestly, that could work in L.A. That once-upon-a-time occurrence was expected with broadcasts like Vin Scully, Chick Hearn or Tom Kelly.
Who might do it today?
How about …

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black 1BRIAN SIEMAN/Clippers radio
There’s nothing wrong with the Clippers logically giving him the TV chair once Ralph Lawler’s 40 year runs ends this summer. We’re on the same page as Clippers fans sites. But there is a selfish wish that Sieman would remain the one-man show on radio, a medium that gives him a unique platform to provide listeners with not just the game description, but become his own colorman, self-deprecating but full of inner-banter that no one else could pull off. Would this work on TV? Why not, but his play-by-play work on radio is so sharp and colorful, the visual medium wouldn’t allow that. It’s why Vin Scully’s natural draw to move to the TV side was prefect for those programming the event, but it was a net-minus to the consumers.

Continue reading “The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: Play by play guys don’t play mind games”

The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: TV studio hosts/reporters with the objective of … objectivity?

tessThe objective here is to single out all the hosts/reporters/talent who work on the local cable sports channels involved in presenting information about the L.A.-based teams.
This can get tricky.
We catch ourselves now wondering about what the motives are any more for journalistic integrity, if such a term is still used as such shops. It should be. It’s not so evident any longer.
In a piece we did last May under the headline “How a Dodges high-five raises objectivity concerns,” the blowback from readers seemed to be: One can react to a situation as a person as long as you’re not cheering in the press box. On the other hand, this shows little objectivity, which is what the “reporter” in question seems to think she has the players’ respect.
More on that conundrum later.
We continue to value professionalism to the craft, the ability to process information in a pre- and post-game studio setting and keeping it transparent.
With that preamble rambling, we feel comfortable with this:

 

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Love-Story-stars-Ali-MacGraw-Ryan-ONeal-reunite-at-Harvard.jpg
Patrick O’Neal, left, and father Ryan attend a Kings-Canucks game at Staples Center in 2012.  Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/UPI | License Photo

black 1PATRICK O’NEAL/ Angels and Kings TV
It is kind of a hoot to dive into his IMDb.com bio – Samuel Eldridge Patrick Ryan O’Neal IV is how it’s listed, but Patrick says it’s not anything close to the truth — and see how far he took a shot at pursuing an acting career, following the lead of his father, mother and famous half-sister. (See: “Die Hard 2,” 1990, Cpl. Telford). One of his latest, as “family dad” on the 2007 “Wild Hogs,” actually came while he was well into his sports broadcasting swim. A profile we once did on him explained how his passion for sports came from his dad, Ryan, a one-time Golden Gloves boxer. “We’d watch thousands of games together. There was never any bedtime. Stay up and watch the Kings, Lakers, whatever was on. Our bond was always sports. Without that, there’s no way I’m able to do this.” Said Ryan: “He’s iron. You never see his nerves. He’s never caught short. He looks like he’s been doing this all his life. I’m very impressed, really. It’s just easy for him. He sure makes it look easy.” It’s easy for us to keep him in this elevated spot as well, where Sports Emmys that come as a residue of his work at Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket are just fine instead of Oscars.

Continue reading “The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: TV studio hosts/reporters with the objective of … objectivity?”

The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: TV anchor/reporters still take it in the shorts

There’s a quote from Homer that often rattles around in our head.
‘Twas Homer Simpson, not the more famous poet, who famously once remarked: “Hmmmmm. TV. The beautiful distraction from the certainty of death.”
The death of local TV sports news has been called for a few years now, since the ESPN “SportsCenter” took over the immediacy of highlights, and the time on the 11 o’clock report has been trimmed up to a tidy two minutes. If that.
It must still be relevant to someone, somewhere, at some point. Like those who still work there.
It’s OK if you haven’t seen it done in a while. We confess as much.
Maybe it was after that time we saw on a local sportscast where the anchor was getting excited about his three-minute piece on cupstacking.
The golden age may have gone, but there remains some holdovers, some who have bigger plans, others who can’t believe they’re still cashing checks.
Here’s what we have, and then we scoot on to other urgent matters:

 

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black 1CURT SANDOVAL/KABC Channel 7
If one still takes any of this seriously, realizing there is still some juice left in this medium, Sandoval is the one who reached out beyond that of a weekend anchor and thrives on going out in the field to do stories that matter. There is always something of depth and quality, going back to when he first came to the station in 1999 and has a couple of local Emmys to show for it, as well as a wife, Jeanne Zelasko, who makes them the power sports couple of L.A. Sandoval continues to raise awareness and funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation by doing long-distance running/ironman competitions. We can only offer him a cup of water and a pat on the back for continued successes.

Continue reading “The best and worst of L.A. sports media 2019: TV anchor/reporters still take it in the shorts”