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The Sports Report: Dave Roberts speaks out about violence against Asian Americans

Dave Roberts
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: A rise in hate crimes toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to send an email to the entire organization decrying the wave of bullying and violence as “cowardice.”

Roberts, the son of a Japanese mother and Black father, said the email, the contents of which were first reported by the Athletic on Monday, was prompted not by a specific event but by “something that was on my heart that needed to be shared.” The five-paragraph note was sent earlier this spring.

“I just think there’s a lot of things going on inside and outside of our country toward Asians — racist, bullying acts,” Roberts said before Monday’s exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

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“It obviously hit close to home for me, and I wanted to address it internally and show my support for the Asian Americans in our organization … just [to let them know] we’re all aware of it.”

The Times reported last week that in a survey of police departments in 16 major U.S. cities, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a research office at Cal State San Bernardino, found a total of 122 anti-Asian hate crimes last year — a 149% increase from the 49 in 2019.

The numbers climbed in 15 of the 16 cities, with New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle and San Jose experiencing the most significant increases and their highest tallies in at least five years.

The rise in crimes, harassment and bigotry toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is almost certainly related to the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China and which former President Trump took to calling the “Wuhan virus” and the “Chinese virus.”

Stop AAPI Hate, a tracker supported by Asian American advocacy groups, logged 1,990 anti-Asian harassment incidents and 246 assault cases in the first 10 months since it launched in March 2020.

“Unfortunately, anti-Asian sentiment is a part of American history (see 1880s, 1940s or the 1980s as examples) and it has resurfaced again during the pandemic, as some seem to blame the world’s problems on one ethnic group,” Roberts wrote in his email. “To blame Asian Americans at all for the global pandemic is just plain wrong.”

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Veteran starter David Price offers to move to the bullpen if it helps the Dodgers

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KINGS-DUCKS

Adam Henrique scored three minutes into overtime, Rickard Rakell became the fourth Anaheim player in 10 years to have three or more points in consecutive games and the Ducks defeated the Kings 6-5 on Monday night in this season’s second installment of the Freeway Face-Off.

Henrique took a pass from Trevor Zegras and put the puck past Cal Petersen inside the near post to give the Ducks consecutive wins for only the second time this season.

Rakell had two goals and an assist. The Swedish forward has a point in six straight games, with five goals and seven assists.

Rakell gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead late in the first period when he put a wrist shot top corner inside the near post. He extended Anaheim’s lead to 5-3 late in the second with a backhand after taking a great spinorama pass from Max Comtois, who had three assists.

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Helene Elliott: Ducks GM Bob Murray still has total confidence in coach Dallas Eakins

ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: Joe Maddon wants to challenge his infielders to win Gold Glove awards this year.

“I think we have a lot of potential candidates,” the Angels manager said.

Barely a week into spring training, new shortstop José Iglesias might be at the top of the list.

For a second straight game, Iglesias produced an impressive defensive performance Monday, making several jaw-dropping plays in the Angels’ 10-9 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Iglesias started an unexpected double play in the third inning, tracking down a shallow pop fly in left field that looked as though it was going to drop. Running away from the infield as he made the catch, Iglesias then flipped the ball behind his back with his glove to left fielder Justin Upton, who threw to second base to retire a Brewers baserunner who had broken for third.

“You gotta be prepared for everything,” said Upton, who previously played with Iglesias with the Detroit Tigers. “I’ve seen him make that play a bunch of times, going back like that, but he’s never flipped me the ball. That was a surprise, but we completed the play.”

In the fourth, Iglesias was called upon again on a sharply hit one-hopper up the middle. After initially knocking the ball down, Iglesias fell to the ground. But he sprung immediately to his feet, turned around to pick up the ball, then casually delivered a perfect throw across his body to first base for the out.

It all almost made Iglesias’ web gem Sunday look routine, when he gathered a slow roller behind the mound with a bare hand and delivered a diving throw to first with his body nearly parallel to the ground.

“He’s nasty,” pitcher Andrew Heaney said.

LAKERS

Chuck Schilken on the Lakers: It was bound to happen.

The Brooklyn Nets keep picking up victories and all-star players.

The Lakers have been piling up losses and injuries.

So it was only a matter of time before the Nets supplanted the Lakers as the favorite to win this year’s NBA title, as they did Monday morning, according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag.

Fresh off the signing of former Clipper Blake Griffin, the Nets have been given 13-5 odds to win the first NBA championship in franchise history (they won two ABA titles before the leagues merged in 1976). The Lakers are listed at 14-5.

Griffin, a six-time all-star, is joining a Nets roster that already includes superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, a former league MVP who was acquired from the Houston Rockets on Jan. 13. Brooklyn has won 10 of their last 11 games.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have been spiraling downward, losing seven of their last 11 games with star power forward Anthony Davis out because of a leg injury. Other key players have missed time during that stretch, including Dennis Schroder (four games, NBA’s health and safety protocols). Superstar LeBron James, 36, has been racking up the minutes of late but got a game off Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers’ last contest before the All-Star break. They resume play Friday when hosting the Indiana Pacers.

The top five is rounded out by the Clippers (11-2 odds), Utah Jazz (7-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (8-1).

LAFC

Kevin Baxter on LAFC: LAFC officially opened training camp Monday with a revamped back line and a hole to fill at forward. Yet the team’s most important offseason addition might have come from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose office announced last week that it was sending LAFC a crowd to be named later.

“The news about the possible return of some fans to our stadium, that part is incredible,” said coach Bob Bradley, whose MLS team hasn’t played in front of home supporters in more than a year. “All of us are so excited for the day when, safely, we have our incredible fans back in the stadium and there’s some atmosphere. That has been so important to LAFC from the beginning.”

Exactly how many fans will be allowed into Banc of California Stadium and when they will be coming, that’s the “to be named” part. But Newsom is easing some COVID-19 restrictions, clearing the way for outdoor stadiums to allow at least 100 fans through their turnstiles beginning April 1. LAFC could welcome substantially more if Los Angeles County advances out of the purple tier, the most restrictive of the state’s four color-coded COVID-19 tiers.

If the county moves into the red tier by April 17, when the MLS season opens, LAFC could sell 20% of the 22,000-plus seats at BOC. If it reaches the orange tier, the team could fill a third of the stadium.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

MEN’S
BIG WEST (at Las Vegas)
All times Pacific
Today

No. 8 CS Northridge vs. No. 9 Long Beach State, 3 p.m., ESPN3
No. 7 CS Fullerton vs. No. 10 Cal Poly, 6 p.m.

Thursday

No. 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. #8/9 winner, 11 a.m.
No. 4 UC Davis vs. No. 5 CS Bakersfield, 2 p.m., ESPN3
No. 2 UC Irvine vs. #7/#10 winner, 5 p.m.
No. 3 UC Riverside vs. No. 6 Hawaii, 8 p.m., ESPN3

Friday
Semifinal: #1/8/9 winner vs. #4/5 winner, 6 p.m.
Semifinal: #2/7/10 winner vs. #3/6 winner, 9 p.m.

Saturday
Championship, 8:30 p.m.

Pac-12 (at Las Vegas)

Wednesday
No. 8 Arizona State vs. No. 9 Washington State, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network
No. 7 Utah vs. No. 10 Washington, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 California, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Thursday
No. 1 Oregon vs. TBD, 11:30 a.m., Pac-12 Network
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Oregon State, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
No. 2 USC vs. TBD, 5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
No. 3 Colorado vs. TBD, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Friday
Semifinal 1, 5:30 p.m.
Semifinal 2, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday
Final, 7:30 p.m.

WOMEN’S
Big West (at Las Vegas)

Today
No. 8 UC Riverside vs. No. 9 Cal State Fullerton, 12 p.m.

Wednesday
No. 1 UC Davis vs. #8/9 winner, 11 a.m.
No. 4 CS Bakersfield vs. No. 5 Hawaii, 2 p.m.
No. 2 UC Irvine vs. No. 7 UC Santa Barbara, 5 p.m., ESPN3
No. 3 Long Beach State vs. No. 6 Cal Poly, 8 p.m., ESPN3

Friday
Semifinal: #1/8/9 winner vs. #4/5 winner, 12 p.m.
Semifinal: #2/7 winner vs. #3/6 winner, 3 p.m.

Saturday
Championship, 5 p.m.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1943 — Eddie Dancker banks in a desperation 25-foot hook shot from the corner to give Sheboygan a 30-29 win over Fort Wayne and the National Basketball League crown. The defeat of the Pistons is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in pro basketball history.

1948 — NHL President Clarence Campbell expels Billy Taylor of the New York Rangers and Don Gallagher of the Boston Bruins because of gambling associations.

1958 — George Yardley of the Detroit Pistons becomes the first NBA player to score 2,000 points in a season. Yardley averages 27.8 points in the 72-game season.

1968 — Houston’s Elvin Hayes scores 49 points and pulls down 27 rebounds in a 94-76 win over Loyola of Chicago in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

1977 — Anthony Roberts of Oral Roberts sets an NIT record with 65 points in a 90-89 loss to Oregon in the first round.

1979 — Detroit’s Kevin Porter hands out a franchise-record 25 assists as the Pistons defeat the Boston Celtics 160-117.

1984 — Tim Witherspoon wins the vacant WBC heavyweight title with a 12-round majority decision over Greg Page.

1986 — Buffalo’s Gilbert Perreault scores his 500th goal in a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils.

1994 — Detroit’s Dino Ciccarelli scores his 1,000th career point with a goal in a 5-1 win over Calgary.

2001 — Ty Tryon, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, makes the cut in his first PGA Tour event. He’s 1 over after the second round of the Honda Classic, making him the second-youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

2011 — Kevin Love records his 52nd consecutive double-double to surpass Moses Malone for the longest such streak since the ABA and NBA merged in 1976 in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 101-75 over the Indiana Pacers. Love overcomes a bruised left knee to put up 16 points and 21 rebounds in just 27 minutes.

2013 — Liberty becomes the second 20-loss team to reach the NCAA tournament, beating Charleston Southern 87-76 to win the Big South Conference title. It joins Coppin State in 2008 as the only schools with 20 or more defeats in the field of 68.

2013 — Bernard Hopkins at 48 becomes the oldest boxer to win a major title, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Tavoris Cloud to claim the IBF light heavyweight championship in New York.

2016 — Russell Westbrook has 25 points, a career-high 20 assists and 11 rebounds to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-108. It’s the first triple-double with at least 20 points and 20 assists since Rod Strickland did it for the Washington Wizards in 1998.

2017 — Villanova Wildcats shoot 63 percent and commits just five turnovers in a record-setting 108-67 victory over St. John’s in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. It’s the most points and largest margin of victory in the tournament for Villanova and the worst loss ever for the Red Storm.

And finally

Vin Scully describes his first impression of Sandy Koufax. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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