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Day 1 of (at least) 30 baseball book reviews for spring/summer 2020: State your purpose, Ripken … Ah, well played

Bill_fielding_large
From RipkenBaseball.com: “Bill has been an integral part of the MLB Network since its beginning in 2009.  He has been nominated for an Emmy Award three times in the Outstanding Sports Personality – studio analyst category, winning the coveted national honor in 2016. His regular “Bill’s Blackboard” studio segments on the network are regarded as must see TV for baseball fans everywhere”

The book

9781635766608_FC-400x618“State of Play: The Old School Guide to New School Baseball”

The author:
Bill Ripken

The publishing info:
Diversion Books, $24.99, 240 pages, released February 18

The links:
At thepublisher’s website, at Amazon.com, at BarnesAndNoble.com, at Powells.com, at his personal link.

The review in 90 feet or less

Thanks, Diversion books, for this diversion. And diving into a topic that needs some smarts behind it.

Here’s Bill Ripken, no longer Billy Ripken Younger Brother of Cal Ripken, a former MLB infielder and current MLB Network studio analyst, with his own public service announcement.

Let’s get united instead of divided on the national pastime as it is in 2020.

It’s a refreshing take considering how the game now may offend some who value its tradition, yet inspire those who see ways of modernizing it to a new audience.

Can he achieve such a thing? It depends on how open your mind is to constructive criticism, trusting someone who has been around the game for more years than you and isn’t trying to keep his name fresh, and someone engaged in how the game played today has been subject to all sorts of attacks and backlash.

SI COVER ureThe son of former Baltimore Orioles’ longtime minor league and brief major league manager Cal Ripken Sr., we know Bill has the genetics and phonetics to make this credible, having already co-authored “Play Baseball The Ripken Way: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Fundamentals” and doing more than noteworthy work on the MLB-infused 24/7 channel.

(To note: In 1987, rookie Billy Ripken hit .308 in 58 games and in 1990, actually led the Orioles in hitting with a .290 average and a league best 17 sacrifice bunts. Cal hit .250. On a team that went 76-86 and had a 23-year-old Curt Schilling, in his first full season, making 35 relief appearances, unable to break into a rotation that had Pete Harnisch, Dave Johnson, Bib Milacki, Ben McDonald and John Mitchell. Schilling was dealt the next year to Houston for Jason Grimsley. Sorry for the sidetrack.)

Old school doesn’t mean outdated. New school doesn’t mean the way things must adjust and modify. Scoresheet vs. spreadsheet can be tallied simultaneously. Continue reading “Day 1 of (at least) 30 baseball book reviews for spring/summer 2020: State your purpose, Ripken … Ah, well played”

A revised 2020 vision for the annual review of 30 baseball books: Spring forward, stay hopeful

mlb eEven before that press release landed less than a half hour ago, the words of John Thorn woke us up again this morning.  Words that came recently via a tweet from Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal.

For those in self-isolation and concerned about self preservation, we hope you might agree it’s OK to spring forward with a review of a few dozen baseball books we’ve been doing, as we sit out this serious delay.

For the last 10-plus years of reviewing 30 baseball baseball books during the 30 days of April, the only real guidelines we established for ourselves as guard rails for this sometime crazy/self-inflicted/worthwhile project was to have it coincide with the Major League Baseball season launch, and also the books should be recently released or, in some cases, within the last six months if they provide some historical context to what we’re seeing these days.

Then we saw another Thorn message from his own tweet:

Why not launch this rocket a few weeks early — especially to give some heads up about those books already available? We can space it out a bit, even as some say the start of the MLB season may not be until June, if we work this thing out right.

81qlKwOUP+LDiamond’s new book “Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution,” is due for release March 31. That’s right around the time Brad Balukjian’s “The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife” arrives.

51zzmJQGyDLEric Nusbaum’s must-read “Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between,” should be coming a week from Tuesday, along with Jesse Doughtery’s “Buzz Saw” on the Washington National’s World Series run (and running right over the Dodgers).

Others like Billy Ripken’s “State of Play,” is already out, as are baseball novels by Emily Nemens (“The Cactus League”) and Gish Jen (“The Resisters”).

91bQ7s2k28LI’m not paid to do any of these reviews, per se. The life of a freelancer now involves many pitches and a lot more swings and misses that we’d care to admit. If we’re hitting .300 with our pitch count, that’s not bad. If it pays, even better.

We’ve had time to read. A lot. For many reasons.

There are too many reasons to launch this now instead of waiting. We’re game to start the clock early on this and go extra innings if needed. Give us a little time to warm up and we’ll get it going.

IMG_9891Also:
* The 2019 review series at this link, with the L.A. Times picking up a portion of the reviews at this link.
* A 2018 roundup.
* Sadly, our former employer eliminated archives of the reviews going back many years that we did at insidesocal.com/tomhoffarth. Hopefully, you can find some of them through Google searches, but …
* Our 2013 review of Ron Kaplan’s book “501 Baseball Books fans Must Read Before They Die” that continues to be a fine resource for the historical list of books one might want to go back and find.
* We did a 2009 review of “Six Decades of Baseball: A Personal Narrative” that we thankfully see was blessed with our thoughts.

03.16.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

With nothing ahead to preview, five things that one may want to read from the past weekend:

NUMBER 1The New York Times’ great John Branch, who did a magnificent piece about the Church in the Canyon in Calabasas not long after the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, comes back with “Does Coronavirus Mean the End of Sports as We Know Them?” He writes:
For decades, sports were a constant, part of the background noise of American culture, and maybe an unhealthy obsession. Games were always on. Radio was filled with banter. Twitter fights were had. There were office pools, side bets and serious gambling. Sports gave us something to talk about when the conversation slowed, something to watch when there was nothing else to do. Maybe this will be a reboot, a cleanse to slow or recalibrate our metabolism. Maybe, when this is all over, we will be weirdly thankful for the cultural enema.
Follow John at https://twitter.com/JohnBranchNYT

NUMBER 2From Tim Layden of NBCSports.com, under the headline: “Sports crystallized coronavirus for America; now we adjust to life without them,” as he writes:
All of this does two things: One, it drives home the seriousness of the health issue facing the United States and the world. (Perhaps it should not have needed driving home, but these times we live in can be confusing). Two, it underscores, with less urgency but analogous longing, the role that sports play in the lives of many Americans. The games will be gone, and even amidst everything else that inconveniences us, and frightens us, the absence of those games will be profoundly felt.
Follow Tim at https://twitter.com/ByTimLayden

NUMBER 3There is a sportswriter in Minnesota who wrote his first column in 1945 has just turned 100. And he continues to work. Hail Sid Hartman, and read the lead he wrote for Sunday’s piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Writing a column as I turn 100 years old is hard to believe. Writing it as the sports world has completely shut down around the world is even harder to believe.
As you ponder how those older than you might be affected by this virus, think of what this man is thinking in this point in time.
Follow Sid at twitter.com/SidHartman

NUMBER 4Ben Cohen, Louise Radnofsky and Natalie Andrews of the Wall Street Journal have a piece that explains “How a Doctor, Congressman and NBA Star Shut Down American Sports,” with some interesting context to who and how Dr. Anthony Fauci got to this position in being a voice of reason. They write about Fauci, a huge Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle fan who captained his high school basketball team:
This diminutive high-school basketball player, a man perceived as marginalized in the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus, would change the course of sports history.
Follow Ben at https://twitter.com/bzcohen

NUMBER 5Fr. James Martin is a go-to person for perspective in the world from the prism of faith. His piece for America Magazine, “Faith in the time of Coronavirus,” brings us peace. He writes:
Many things have been cancelled because of the coronavirus. Love is not one of them.
Follow Fr. Jim at https://twitter.com/JamesMartinSJ

 

More

From where we hang out on the edge of the cliff:

=== Our discussion with Fred Wallin about where L.A. sports can go from here:

=== We are on the cover of the Los Angeles Business Journal with a rare extended Q&A with  Rams owner Stan Kroenke, the publication’s 2020 Business Person of the Year. It’s one of the coolest interviews we’ve ever done in our 40-plus years in the business of journalism. It is also online at labusinessjournal.com:

=== We have this piece in Angelus News about how the Salesian basketball team from East L.A. — the varsity roster had only seven players — won the CIF 3AA title less than a week after they were invited to attend the Kobe Bryant Memorial Service at nearby Staples Center, thanks to the Lakers’ Tim Harris.

=== How we spent last weekend, at least Saturday:

*************************

*Also:
== This tweet, leading to this video:

== From the Washington Post (offered free): A global coronavirus simulator shows how outbreaks spread, and the best ways to “flatten the curve.”

== If you’ve made it this far, here are two more:
— The New York Times:Stirring Sermons About Coronavirus, in Empty Cathedrals”
— Esquire: “Fox News Is Still Peddling Coronavirus Misinformation to Its Extremely At-Risk Viewers

03.09.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

In a week that has started with the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at Indian Wells because of the coronavirus outbreak, and likely finding ourselves adjusting each hour of each day to new information, here is how it looks at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 9:

****************

 

NUMBER 1What we know going into a week where college basketball sorts itself out to post up for the real postseason:
== CBS’ annual men’s hour-long bracket reveal – Sunday, Channel 2, 3 p.m. – also has the ESPN slightly delayed overlapping reveal during its 3 p.m. SportsCenter, then folds into a “Bracketology” show from 4-6 p.m.
Those who are already in (as verified here) :
Utah State (26-8) – Mountain West Conference tournament champion (dropping San Diego State to No. 6 in the AP Top 25)
Belmont (26-7) – Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion
Winthrop (24-10) – Big South Conference tournament champion
Bradley (22-11) – Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion
Liberty (30-4) – Atlantic Sun Conference tournament champion

== Leading into the final 68:
== The Pac-12 aims for seven teams – depending on how many other conference tournament tournaments turn out, depleting the bubble team spots (such as Utah State knocking off San Diego State for the Mountain West). If seven get in, that would match the past two years combined and equal the conference record set in 2016.
The latest ESPN Bracketology layout has USC as a No. 9 and UCLA as a No. 11 in the Midwest, Oregon as a No. 4 and Arizona State as a No. 10  in the South, Colorado as a No. 7 and Arizona as a No. 8 in the West, and Stanford in a play-in game for No. 11 in the South.
But would it really be representative of the strength of the conference, whose tournament’s championship (relegated this year to FS1, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) goes at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
No. 2 seed UCLA (19-12, 12-6) and No. 4 seed USC (22-9, 11-7) have a bye into the quarterfinals and could only meet in the title game. How the bracket sets up:

= Wednesday:
= Utah (16-14, 7-11) vs. Oregon State (17-13, 7-11), noon, Pac-12 Network
= Washington (15-16, 5-13) vs. Arizona (20-11, 11-7), 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Stanford (20-11, 9-9) vs. Cal (13-18, 7-11), 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Colorado (21-10, 10-8) vs. Washington State (15-16, 6-12), 8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Thursday:
= No. 13 AP Top 25 Oregon (24-7, 13-5) vs. Utah/Oregon State, noon, Pac-12 Network
= USC vs. Arizona/Washington, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= UCLA vs. Cal/Stanford, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Arizona State (20-11, 11-7) vs. Colorado/Washington State, 8:30 p.m., FS1

Semifinals are Friday at 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) and 8:30 p.m., (FS1).
= More info: pac-12.com/mens-basketball

== The West Coast Conference Tournament final at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas  – Tuesday at 6 p.m., ESPN – could have had Pepperdine continue it impressive run. But instead, we anticipate getting to see how potential No. 1 regional seed and No. 2 AP Top 25 Gonzaga (29-2, 15-1) looks going in (the Zags are in Monday’s first semifinal vs. USF, 6 p.m., ESPN; with 24-7/13-3 BYU, ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25, facing 25-7/11-5 Saint Mary’s in the second semifinal, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2)
= More info: wccsports.com/tournaments

== The Big West Tournament’s title game at the Honda Center in Anaheim — Saturday at 8:30 p.m., ESPN2 – comes after:
= Thursday quarterfinals:
= No. 2 seed Cal State Northridge (15-17, 10-6) vs. Cal State Fullerton (11-20, 6-10), noon, ESPN3
= No. 3 seed UC Santa Barbara (21-10, 10-6) vs. UC Riverside (17-15, 7-9), 2:30 p.m., ESPN3
= No. 1 seed UC Irvine (21-11, 13-3) vs. No. 8 seed Long Beach State (11-21, 6-10), 6 p.m., ESPN3
= No. 4 seed Hawaii (17-13, 8-8) vs. UC Davis (14-18, 8-8), 8:30 p.m., ESPN3
= Friday semifinals:
= Highest remaining seed vs. lowest remaining seed, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU and ESPN3
= Other two quarterfinal winners, 9 p.m., ESPNU
= More info: bigwest.org

==Other tournament championship games of note:
Sunday:
= SEC: No. 8 Kentucky and No. 20 Auburn are the top contenders in Nashville, Tenn.: 10 a.m., ESPN (semifinals at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN)
= Atlantic 10: No. 3 Dayton is on target to be in the final in Brooklyn, N.Y.: 10 a.m., Channel 2 (semifinals at noon and 2 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2)
= Big Ten: No. 9 Michigan State, No. 12 Maryland, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Ohio State, No. 21 Illinois and No. 25 Iowa are at the mix in Indianapolis: 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 (semifinals at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Channel 2)
= American Athletic: No. 22 Houston is the favorite to get to this final, 12:15 p.m., ESPN
= Ivy League in Boston: 9 a.m., ESPN2
= Sun Belt in New Orleans, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Saturday:
= Big 12: No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Baylor, with No. 22 West Virginia, are bracketed in Kansas City, 3 p.m., ESPN
= Big East: No. 7 Creighton, No. 11 Villanova and No. 16 Seton Hall are alighted in New York, 3:30 p.m., Channel 11 (semifinals are Friday at 3:30 and 6 p.m. on FS1)
= ACC: No. 4 Florida State, No. 10 Duke, No. 15 Louisville and No. 17 Virginia are in the mix in Greensboro, N.C., 5:30 p.m., ESPN
= American East, 8 a.m., ESPN2
= MAC in Cleveland, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
= MEAC in Norfolk, Va., 10 a.m., ESPN2
= Southland in Katy, Tex., 6:30 p.m., ESPN2

== More info here about the women’s tournament, which will be announced Monday, March 16

**************

NUMBER 2What we can’t quite figure out about today’s NBA:
== If the Lakers’ wins over Milwaukee and the Clippers over a three-day period last weekend at Staples Center sent a statement, it might not have resonated as loudly as they thought.
Milwaukee remains the No. 1 team in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings for Week 20, despite losing three of four last week and having Giannis Antetokounmpo now missing time with a sprained knee during the loss to the Lakers.
Meanwhile, the Lakers, staying at No. 2, have defeated two of the top four teams in the NBA in back-to-back games for the first time since February, 2009.
== The Lakers recently clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013, and it’s possible they could meet the Clippers in the postseason. The crowd for Sunday’s nine-point made it feel like a playoff atmosphere, with a strong contingent of raucous Lakers fans on hand for what was a Clippers’ home game. They chanted “MVP! MVP!” when LeBron James completed a 3-point play that tied the Lakers’ largest lead of 12 points with 40 seconds to play.
The Lakers have won four in a row and 11 of the last 12. The Clippers had a six-game win streak end. It was the first time in 11 games the Clippers lost when having a completely healthy roster.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers (49-13, 6 ½ games up in the Western Conference)
= vs. Brooklyn, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Houston, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= Vs. Denver, Staples Center, Sunday at 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN

How the week unfolds for the Clippers (43-20, second in the Western Conference, one game ahead of Denver, No. 3 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= At Golden State, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= Vs. Brooklyn, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 3Just guessing here Josh Guesman wasn’t all that impressed with the Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to Vancouver in their home opener last Saturday as he wrote this under the headline: “Galaxy Provide the Perfect Lead-In To Disaster

Everything leading up to the match was perfect. The stadium was filled over capacity, the grass was cut inch-perfect, the hype video — filmed in the same location as the Dark Knight Bat Cave — was energetic, and the new MLS Anthem, written by world-famous composer Hans Zimmer, taxed the sound system in all the right ways.
But what they got was an immature performance with some concerning trends that should have everyone in the organization asking questions.
The Galaxy passed horribly, and throughout the night, they sent in cross after cross for a much taller man who wasn’t there– a tactical problem that LA Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto had a week to remedy but didn’t fix.
To be fair, the 10-man LA Galaxy team that finished the night didn’t deserve the win. They generated almost no offense while controlling the better of the game and had just one shot on target over the 90-minute affair.
“I think everyone is waiting on the Chicharito goal, and everyone will ask me about Chicharito if he doesn’t score in the game,” Schelotto said while answering the second question of the night. “I think I am more worried about the result tonight than whether Chicharito scores or not.
“Because I know he is a regular striker, and we have just two games, and he hasn’t scored, but we expect he will score in the next game. We put the ball in the box all the time, but we couldn’t find him. We will try in the next game.”
Atonement may come in the Galaxy’s trip to Inter Miami CF – Saturday, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11 – which has plenty of David Beckham storylines.

Meanwhile: LAFC goes against Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, first at Banc of California Stadium (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FoxSports2) with a follow up in Azteca Stadium on March 18.

*************

NUMBER 4If Sierra Canyon reaches the CIF California State final on Saturday in Sacramento, we’d expect nothing less than to see LeBron James courtside. Because the Lakers’ schedule allows it.
All games on Spectrum SportsNet:
Saturday:
= Boys Open Division, 8 p.m. (Sierra Canyon faces Etiwanda in the semifinal, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Cal State Northridge, to advance against the Northern California finalist)
= Girls Open Division, 6 p.m.
= Boys Division II, 4 p.m.
= Girls Division II, 2 p.m.
= Boys Division IV, noon
= Girls Division IV, 10 a.m.
Friday:
= Boys Division I, 8 p.m.
= Girls Division I, 6 p.m.
= Boys Division III, 4 p.m.
= Girls Division III, 2 p.m.
= Boys Division V, noon
= Girls Division V, 10 a.m.

****************

NUMBER 5Two things of note about this week of the NHL season:
== The third Kings-Ducks match up (Staples Center, 1 p.m., Saturday, Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket)
== Bobby Ryan returns with Ottawa to meet up with his old Ducks (Honda Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket)
== Also this week for the Kings (27-35-6, 60 points, still last in the Western Conference despite a current conference best five wins in a row):
= Vs. Colorado, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
= Vs. Ottawa, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
== Also this week for the Ducks (28-32-9, 65 points, 13th in the Western Conference out of 15 )
= Vs. St. Louis, Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Montreal, Honda Center, Sunday at 1 p.m., Prime Ticket

More

**This week in college baseball:
==How the week plays out for UCLA (13-2, after handing USC a 15-3 thumping on Sunday, and now the Pac-12 schedule starts):
= vs. Oregon, at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
==How the week plays out for USC (9-5, as the Pac-12 schedule starts on the weekend):
= vs. Xavier, Dedeaux Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= vs. Washington, Dedeaux Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
==How the week plays out for Long Beach State (10-5):
= At Tulane, Friday at 4:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11 a.m.
==How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (10-5):
= Vs. Iowa, Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
==How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (8-8 after sweeping at San Jose State, with the WCC schedule starting):
= At BYU, Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at noon
==How the week plays out for Pepperdine (12-3 after taking two of three against Michigan, with the WCC schedule starting on the weekend):
= Vs. Cal Poly, Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
= Vs. University of San Francisco, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

 

** As part of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass – Thursday-Sunday, NBC and Golf Channel each day, with the $15 million purse (the Masters only has $11.5 mil and the U.S. Open is at $12.5 mil) plus 600 FedEx Cup points, also known as the unofficial fifth PGA major of the season — The Chainsmokers are doing a concert on Tuesday. Which would seem like a better fit for the PGA Champions tour, on many levels. The field will be missing Tiger Woods – and that’s apparently only a surprise if you haven’t been paying attention – but most of the other top players are playing. At the Players. Because they want to play.
If you don’t get air sickness, watch this sick video of the last three holes of the Players Stadium Course: The par 5 at No. 16, the famous par 3 island at No. 17 and the par 4 finishing No. 18.

**The XFL starts the second half of the season with Week 6 — and how do we even assess your 2-3 L.A. Wildcats?
Here’s one try:
This is a team that is headed nowhere, despite the comeback against Tampa Bay Sunday. Winston Moss’ Wildcats have two wins, one against a team that is 1-4 and the second against the DC Defenders, who can’t buy a win away from home. The Wildcats put up 80 points in their victories. Let’s consider that a tribute to the opponents. Grade: C-minus
== Week 6 schedule:
= L.A. Wildcats at Seattle, Sunday at 4 p.m., ESPN2
Also:
= Houston at New York, Saturday at 11 a.m., Channel 7
= St. Louis at Tampa Bay, Saturday at 2 p.m., Fox Sports 2
= Dallas at D.C., Sunday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1

** The International Fencing Foil Grand Prix event – the final men’s and women’s event before the 2020 Olympic Team is selected – is still scheduled to happen at the Anaheim Convention Center, Friday through Sunday. More info: www.usafencing.org

03.02.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we should know, marching forward, about a college basketball season with a post-season celebration right in our line of vision:

== When last week of February blew in, ESPN bracket guy Joe Lunardi came up with the nine teams he considered having “worrisome resumes” for the final spots in the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced on Sunday, March 15.
Three of them were in the Pac-12. Two of them were in Southern California.
Then USC and UCLA went out and swept home series against Arizona and Arizona State.
What, them worry?
After the Bruins’ buzzer-beating win over ASU that ESPN carried last Thursday, which came about and hour after the Trojans’ win over Arizona, Lunardi surmized it was somewhat of a wash.  His belief was the Pac-12 could only push in five bids – Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Oregon, plus … USC, UCLA or even Stanford. And USC’s win just then kept it in the “last four in” grouping, preventing UCLA (and Stanford) from busting out of the “last four out” status.

Now, it looks like it might be seven Pac-12 teams in, Lunardi is guessing.
He’s got USC as a No. 11 in the Midwest, with UCLA a No. 12 in the East, and then Stanford in a play-in game for No. 11 in the West. That’s after seeding Oregon (4 in the South), Colorado (5 in the Midwest), Arizona (6 in the South) and ASU (10 in the West).

That brings us to new Pac-12 leader UCLA (19-11, 12-5) facing USC (21-9, 10-7, tied for fourth) for the final regular season game – Saturday at Galen Center, 12:15 p.m., Channel 2 – with perhaps one more meeting in the conference tournament that will run  March 11-14 in Las Vegas.

The Trojans squashed the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 11, their seventh win over the rivals in the last eight meetings. Senior Nick Rakocevic had 17 points and 14 rebounds, while senior Jonah Mathews had 16. Freshman Ethan Anderson had 14 while fellow freshman Onyka Okongwu, the 6-foot-9 star out of Chino who currently leads the Trojans with 16.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a game, was held to four points against the Bruins because of foul trouble. UCLA was led by Chris Smith (16 points) and Jalen Hill (14 point) before the sellout crowd of 13,659.
In the latest AP Top 25, Oregon went up a notch to No. 13 and is now the only ranked Pac-12 team. UCLA gained the second-most Pac-12 votes and would be at No. 27 if it went that far, with Colorado (32nd, falling out of the Top 25), Arizona (34th), Stanford (36th), ASU (38th) and USC (tied for 45th) following.

The rest of the Pac 12 maneuvering for the conference tournament:
Thursday:
= Stanford (20-9, 9-7, tied for sixth) at Oregon State (15-13, 5-11, 11th place), 6 p.m., Pac 12 Net
= Washington (13-16, 3-13, 12th place) at Arizona State (19-10, 10-6, third place), 6 p.m., ESPN2
= Washington State (15-14, 6-10, ninth place) at Arizona (19-10, 9-7, tied for sixth), 7:30 p.m., FS1
= Cal (13-16, 7-9, eighth place) at Oregon (22-7, 11-5, second place), 8 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday:
= Colorado (21-9, 10-7, tied for fourth) at Utah (15-14, 6-11, 10th place) , 11:30 a.m., Pac 12 Net
= Cal at Oregon State, 1:30 p.m., Pac 12 Net
= Washington State at Arizona State, 3:30 p.m., Pac 12 Net
= Washington at Arizona, 7 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
= Stanford at Oregon, 8 p.m., FS1

== The West Coast Conference seems to have three bids in the NCAA Tournament — Gonzaga (29-2), BYU (24-7) and Saint Mary’s (24-7) — and starts its own elimination process at Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena starting Thursday and wrapping up on Tuesday, March 10.
No. 1 seed Gonzaga, which moved up a spot to No. 2 in the latest AP Top 25 behind unanimous No. 1 Kansas, has a bye all the way to the semifinals on Monday, as does No. 2 seed BYU. No. 3 seeded Saint Mary’s joins in on Saturday, and those three are expected to be in decent shape.
Locally, Loyola Marymount (10-20, 4-12) drew the No. 8 seed in the 10-team league and faces No. 9 San Diego (9-22, 2-14) on Thursday at 6 p.m. (Spectrum Sports). The Lions could win and advance against No. 5 San Francisco on Friday, and then winner there goes up against No. 4 Pacific on Saturday.
Pepperdine (15-15, 8-8) has the No. 6 seed and opens Friday at 8 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s Santa Clara-Portland contest. A win there, and the Waves go up against No. 3 Saint Mary’s at 9:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2

== Before Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge get to the Big West tournament in Anaheim from March 10-14, they’ve got to clean up the regular season. Long Beach State could fall between a tie for fifth or last, and ninth, in the conference. Northridge should be somewhere between second and fifth.
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (13-17, 8-6)
= At UC Irvine (21-10, 13-2), Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= Vs. Hawaii, the Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (10-20, 5-9)
= Vs. Cal Poly, Walter Pyramid, Thursday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= At Cal State Fullerton, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN3

Games of national interest this week (without knowing how some teams may or may not advance in their conference tournaments):
Monday
North Carolina State at Duke, 4 p.m., ESPN
Texas Tech at Baylor, 6 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday
Maryland at Rutgers, 4 p.m., Big Ten Network
Michigan State at Penn State, 4 p.m., ESPN
Tennessee at Kentucky, 6 p.m., ESPN
Purdue at Iowa, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network
West Virginia at Iowa State, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Texas at Oklahoma, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Wednesday
Texas A&M at Auburn, 4 p.m., ESPN2
TCU at Kansas, 5 p.m., ESPN+
Villanova at Seton Hall, 5:30 p.m., FS1
Dayton at Rhode Island, 6 p.m., CBSSN
Florida State at Notre Dame, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Thursday
San Diego State vs. Mountain West Conference tournament opponent at UNLV, 11:30 a.m., CBSSN
Nebraska at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Illinois at Ohio State, 4 p.m., ESPN
Saturday
Villanova at Georgetown, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Auburn at Tennessee, 9 a.m.
Baylor at West Virginia, 10 a.m., ESPN+
Kentucky at Florida, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Kansas at Texas Tech, 11 a.m., ESPN
Seton Hall at Creighton, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11
Louisville at Virginia, 1 p.m., ESPN
North Carolina at Duke, 3 p.m., ESPN
George Washington at Dayton, 4 p.m., ESPN+
Sunday
Michigan at Maryland, 9 a.m.,. Channel 11
Memphis at Houston, 9 a.m., Channel 2
Ohio State at Michigan State, 1:30 p.m., Channel 2

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NUMBER 2On today, the 58th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game in Hershey, Pennsylvania – there are highlights to be seen on NBA TV at 9:30 a.m. — what we know about this stage of the NBA schedule upcoming:

== The Lakers may face their most challenging week of the regular season — Eastern Conference leading Milwaukee rumbles into town, and displays its wares between visits by Philadelphia and the Clippers.
The Bucks, on pace for a 70-win season, handled the Lakers in Milwaukee, 111-104, on Dec. 19, behind 34 points, seven assists and 11 rebounds by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who also hit a career-best five 3-pointers. This, despite 36 points and 10 rebounds from Anthony Davis and LeBron James’ 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. The backstory: The Bucks’ bench outscored the Lakers’ bench 34-4, led by George Hill’s 21. The Lakers were also ending a five-game road trip. This was the first meeting of two teams that were 20 games over .500 since 1980. It was also the first time all three Antetokounmp brothers could share a moment on their NBA teams – Giannis and teammate (and older brother) Thanasis, lus younger brother Kostas, on the Lakers’ roster.

== In the latest odds to win the 2020 NBA championship have been posted by BetOnline.ag, Milwaukee has improved from 3/1 to 9/4, while the Lakers are going in the other direction, at 11/4 versus 2/1 on Feb. 4. The Clippers have also improve to 7/2 over 15/4.

== This third Lakers-Clippers meeting was originally scheduled to be their last, but the postponed game from Jan. 28 has been reassigned to April 9.
In the previous two meetings, neither Anthony Davis nor LeBron James were the highest-scoring Laker. Maybe that’s why the Clippers have won the first two meetings? Going back:
= 112-102 on opening night Oct. 22, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 30 points and Paul George sidelined vs. Anthony Davis’ 25 and LeBron James’ 18, plus a team-best 28 by Danny Green, the highest-scoring debut by a Laker in franchise history.
= 111-106 on Christmas Day, when the Lakers blew a 15-point lead in the third quarter and seven in the fourth. Leonard had 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter. George added 17. The Lakers got 25 from Kyle Kuzman, while James had 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to go with Davis’ 24 points. It was the Lakers’ fourth loss in a row at the time.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers (46-13, still No. 1 in Week 20 of the ESPN NBA Power Rankings):
= Vs. Philadelphia, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., TNT
= Vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
= At Clippers, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7

How the week unfolds for the Clippers (41-19, who jump from No. 6 to No. 3 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings):
= At Oklahoma City, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Houston, Thursday at 5 p.m., TNT, Prime Ticket
= Vs. Lakers, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7

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NUMBER 3The timing of Sunday’s Dodger Stadium-to-Santa Monica Los Angeles Marathon (6 a.m. to 11 a.m., Channel 5) may seem a bit off. The 35th annual race comes a week after the U.S. Olympic trials happen in Atlanta, which kind of takes a lot of the potential high-profile runners out of the loop. That leaves 24,000 spots to fill. It begin again at Dodger Stadium – 6:30 a.m. for wheelchairs, 6:42 a.m. for handcycles, 6:45 a.m. for the elite women and 6:55 for the elite men and the rest of the field. Kenya’s Elisha Barno won the men’s division last year in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 45 seconds, passing John Korir Kipsang with 200 meters to go and won by seven seconds – the closest ever L.A. men’s marathon finish. Ethiopia’s Askale Merachi won the women’s division in 2:24:11, a course record. Utah native and former Weber State standout Lindsey Anderson, at 34,  was the highest women’s finisher at 2:34.44, for sixth place.
More info: www.lamarathon.com

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NUMBER 4Carlos Vega wonders again what the opinion around L.A. may be after MLS opening week about the arrival of  Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez?
All is a soft opening.
The Galaxy, after a season-opening draw against Houston, go to the home pitch for the first time – Galaxy vs. Vancouver, at Dignity Health Sports Park, Saturday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet.
Meanwhile, Vega’s LAFC plays host to  Philadelphia, Banc of California Stadium, Sunday at 7:30 p.m., FS1. It’s the second of three in a row to open the season at home for the 1-0 LAFC.

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NUMBER 5This week in college baseball also gives UCLA (11-0) and USC (7-3) a chance to feel each other out in the Southern California College Baseball Classic, which isn’t at Dodger Stadium because of construction.

How the week plays out for UCLA (11-0 after a 4-0 week against Pepperdine and three wins in the Frisco College Classic in Texas)
= At UC Santa Barbara, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
SoCal College Baseball Classic:
= Vs. Vanderbilt, at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m.
= Vs. TCU, at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Saturday at 2 p.m.
= Vs. USC, at Dedeaux Field, Sunday at 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network

How the week plays out for USC (7-3 after winning two of three against visiting Seton Hall)
= Vs. UC Irvine, Dedeaux Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
SoCal College Baseball Classic:
= Vs. TCU, at Dedeaux Field, Friday at 6 p.m.
= Vs. Vanderbilt, at Dedeaux Field, Saturday at 2 p.m.
= Vs. UCLA, at Dedeaux Field, Sunday at 3 p.m., Pac-12 Net
(Also: Vanderbilt vs. TCU, Dedeaux Field, Sunday at 10 a.m.)

How the week plays out for Long Beach State (8-3 after winning two of three against No. 6 Mississippi State)
= At San Diego State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= Vs. Xavier, Blair Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (8-3, losing three of four at No. 17 Central Florida last weekend)
= At Gonzaga, Friday at 3 p.m.; Saturday doubleheader at 1 and 4:30 p.m., Sunday at noon
How the week plays out for Cal State Fullerton (4-7, losing three of four last week, including 7-1 vs. USC)
= Vs. Arizona State, Goodwin Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Wednesday at 6 p.m.
= At Texas, Friday at 4:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (4-7 after losing twice last week, including a 4-3, 24-inning decision at UC Davis)
= Vs. UC Riverside, Page Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= At San Jose State, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at noon
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (9-1, including the Waves’ first loss of the season last week against UCLA)
= At Florida Gulf Coast, Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
= Vs. Michigan, at Eddy D. Field Stadium, Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

More

** What we can still gather about the NHL this deep into the regular season:
== Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell come back to Staples Center with Toronto to meet up with their former Kings’ teammates – what’s left of them – for the first time since they were traded away.
== The Ducks don’t face Ottawa at Honda Center until March 10. Might want to get tickets now if you care to give a rousing cheer to the Senators’ Bobby Ryan.
== Also this week for the Kings (25-35-6 for 56 points, on a three-game win streak, 6-3-1 in their last 10, but still last in the Western Conference, starting a stretch of nine home games in a row and continuing a run of 14 home games out of 15):
= Vs. Toronto, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
= Vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, Saturday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West
Also this week for the Ducks (26-31-8 for 60 points, tied with San Jose for next-to-last in the West):
= At Chicago, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Colorado, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., NBCSN
= Vs. Toronto, Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Minnesota, Honda Center, Sunday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket

**The XFL Week 5 has your L.A. Wildcats (1-3) playing host to Tampa Bay (1-3) in an odd night game – Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN, Dignity Sports Health Park.
The rest of the schedule:
Seattle at Houston, Saturday at 11 a.m., Channel 7
New York at Dallas, Saturday at 2 p.m., Channel 11
St. Louis at D.C., Sunday at noon, FS1

**The PGA Champions Tour comes to Newport Beach Country Club for the Hoag Classic, Friday through Sunday, Golf Channel (3-5 p.m. Friday, 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday).
Kirk Triplett is the defending champion. The field includes Fred Couples, John Daly, John Cook, Ernie Els, Hale Irwin, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer,  Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara, Rocco Mediate, Jose Maria Olazabal, Corey Pavin, Vijay Singh and Duffy Waldorf.

02.24.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

Before we get into the numbers, we start, and end, a week where the basketball world is trying to celebrate a person instead of grieve a loss:

== The Kobe Bryant public memorial from Staples Center — Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – will be produced by Spectrum News 1 and Lakers cable TV partner Spectrum SportsNet and air on both services (with repeats through the day).
We have heard it will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel with performances by Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera.
Others who have committed to airing the coverage (with how it is listed on their programming menu):
= KCBS-Channel 2: “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Giana Bryant” (with coverage starting at 9 a.m.)
= KNBC-Channel 4
= KTLA-Channel 5: “KTLA 5 News Special Edition: Kobe & Gianna Bryant Memorial” (with news coverage starting at 4 a.m.)
= KABC-Channel 7: “Eyewitness News Special Report: Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial)
= KCAL-Channel 9: “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant”
(with coverage starting at 9 a.m.)
= KTTV-Channel 11: “Kobe Memorial Service” (with “GoodDay LA starting at 4 a.m.)
= KEVA-Channel 52 Spanish: “Kobe Bryant Memorial Service”
= ESPN: “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant”
= NBA TV: “Kobe Bryant Memorial Service”
= CNN: “Kobe Bryant Memorial Service)
= E!: “E! News: Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant
= BET: “BET Remembers: Kobe Bryant”
= ESPN Deportes: “SportsCenter Especial”
Streaming will also be on LATimes.com, NBCNewsNOW.com, ETLive.com, Yahoo Sports and Facebook Watch. Radio coverage will be on the Lakers’ KSPN-AM (710) flagship station.

== A statue for Hank Gathers, the Loyola Marymount University star who died in 1990 during a conference playoff game at the age of 23, will be dedicated outside Gersten Pavilion on Saturday at 4 p.m. prior to the Lions’ final regular-season home game against San Francisco. It’s the 30th anniversary of LMU’s run to the Elite Eight in the weeks after Gathers’ death, collapsing on the court during the West Coast Conference tournament. Gersten Pavilion became known as “Hank’s House.” Former LMU coach Paul Westhead and members of the 1989-90 team will be on campus for the ceremony and game. The team will be recognized at center court at halftime.
The statue was created by the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany, which designed notable sports pieces including statues at the Staples Center and the Michael Jordan statue in Chicago.
The Gathers family was invited to preview the statue in progress, and LMU captured his mother, Lucille, with her first impressions in this touching video:

Donations are being accepted to help fund the statue, including the opportunity for donor’s names to be etched on the statue’s base.
For more information visit www.Hank44.lmu.edu

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NUMBER 1What we know about the NBA coming up:
== In case you weren’t aware of how it works, a New York Times sportswriter is explaining to us – well, we doubt L.A. is the main audience for this – what the Lakers and Clippers rivalry means these days.
OK, we’re good. Continue reading “02.24.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

02.17.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we think we know about the NBA going into the final couple months of the regular season, now that All-Star Weekend has wrapped up and no one has to play a game again until Thursday at the earliest:
== The Lakers have 29 games left, the Clippers have 27, and the teams have to play each other twice more, once on Sunday March 8, and then figure out how to rescheduled the postponed game from Jan. 28.
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (41-21, still at No. 2 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Boston, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (37-18, still at No. 6 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2What we get a better sense about with the college basketball season two weeks away from March:
== Do we have to be aware of 23-2 Dayton? Obi Toppin’s team is one spot below 26-0 San Diego State in the latest AP Top 25, still trailing Baylor (23-1), Gonzaga (26-1) and Kansas (22-3). The Pac 12 is represented by Oregon (20-6), up three spots to No. 14; Colorado (20-6), down two spots to No. 18, and Arizona (18-7), up two spots to No. 24.
How the week plays out for USC (19-7, 8-5 in the Pac-12, and the No. 10 seed in the Midwest in the latest ESPN Bracketology)
= At Colorado, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2
= At Utah, Sunday at 3 p.m., ESPNU
How the week plays out for UCLA (15-11, 8-5, and not one of the six Pac-12 schools in the ESPN Bracketology)
= At Utah, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FS1
= At Colorado, Saturday at 1 p.m., Channel 2

How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (11-16, 6-5 and tied for second in the Big West)
= Vs. UC Irvine, Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (9-17, 4-6 in the Big West)
= At UC Irvine, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= Vs. Hawaii, Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN3

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (9-17, 3-9 in the West Coast Conference)
= At Saint Mary’s, Thursday at 8 p.m., CBSSN
= At Portland, Satrday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (14-13, 7-6 in the West Coast Conference)
= At Portland, Thursday at 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At San Francisco, Saturday at 3 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet Continue reading “02.17.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”