A sprinkle of sports salt and pepper, a la the late, great Allan Malamud:
•The only sure thing in sports right now is that the Knicks will not be seeking a trade to acquire Matt Barnes from the Grizzlies.
The seven scariest words in Los Angeles sports: Vin Scully has undergone a medical procedure.
The Dodgers’ first two playoff games are sold out. That solidifies two axioms of sport in this city. 1) The Dodgers’ popularity never wanes; 2) Nor does Frank McCourt’s parking lot revenue.
Proof positive that real news and silly noise are all just a blur now in the world of sports media is the revelation by ESPN, that revered guardian of journalistic sanctity, that it had ranked Kobe Bryant No. 93 among current NBA players. Reactions: 1) Who cares? (including Kobe); 2) Why do we get so caught up in made-up news created by a self-indulgent broadcast network virtually for the benefit of its own talk-radio chatter? 3) Is stuff like this the real sign that the apocalypse is upon us?
A stunning thing happened the other night. An NFL telecast went through almost an entire half without somebody being driven off on a cart or helped to the sidelines for observation after a head-to-head hit. Announcers now use the phrase “concussion protocol” as often as “red zone.”
Did you notice that the Angels’ Mike Trout, who was criticized a bit for having an “off” year, still finished with a .299 batting average, to go with his 41 homers and 90 runs batted in? He had 172 hits. One more would have let him finish the season at .300. There is probably an official scorer somewhere, feeling a twinge of guilt.
One of the classic dumb things you’ll ever witness is the recent verbal skirmish between NBA star Kevin Durant and ESPN wannabe star Steven A. Smith.
Smith reported that Durant wanted to eventually end up as a Laker. Durant not only denied that, but said that Smith was making up stories and was “lying.” For a reporter, those are fightin’ words, and Smith replied by threatening Durant in public.
Which begs the basic question: When did the people doing the reporting become more full of themselves than the people they are reporting on?
There seems to be a glaring shortage of fantasy football commercials in NFL telecasts. Sometimes, there are only seven or eight a quarter. We need more, more information, more fake millionaire frat boys leaping in joy at the TV set as their third-string wide receiver has just brought them a seven-figure bonanza, allowing them to finally pay mom and dad the rent for use of their basement.
Does anyone else get the feeling that this fantasy football is headed for a big fall, that authorities will assess this for a while and come to the only possible conclusion you can come to? It’s sports gambling and it’s illegal.
Of course, Major League Baseball and the NBA have bought into it and one can only imagine the kinds of advertising revenue it is bringing the NFL. Those are pretty powerful leagues with pretty powerful lawyers. Stay tuned.
Doug Gottlieb, network broadcaster and former college basketball star at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, wrote a nice piece for CBS SportsLine the other day in which he captured the agony of a father, faced with a decision about allowing his young son to play tackle football.
Gottlieb solicits reader advice and pretends not to have reached a conclusion, but halfway through the story, he sums it up best: “I love my son more than I love football,” Gottlieb writes.
Medals in the shape of purple hearts will be awarded to those who drove to the Coliseum in rush-hour traffic Thursday night, then parked and sat through USC’s ugly loss to Washington.
Don’t blame USC officials for this scheduling farce on an L.A. weeknight, in the heart of downtown. They hate it as much as the fans. Blame the usual suspect, television, which will, by the end of the decade, have pretty much ruined college football.
If priorities are in proper order, sports journalism’s mandate is the pursuit of compelling stories about the people who compete. Here’s one that stops you in your tracks.
Rafael Vazquez is fighting on the undercard of a Premier Boxing show from Lowell, Mass., to be telecast Saturday night on NBCSN. This is what Vazquez had to say about his motivation to win: “I fight for my wife, Sandra, who has Stage 4 cancer, and for my 8-year-old daughter, who has autism.”