The Sports Report: Skaters take on, and win over, City Hall

Harley Navarro, 4, skates at the Channel Street Skatepark.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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

From David Wharton: No one wanted to claim responsibility for the old parking lot. A small patch of rutted pavement, dank and filthy, it sat forgotten beneath a freeway overpass near the San Pedro docks.

Maybe it belonged to the city or the port, maybe it fell under Caltrans jurisdiction because of Interstate 110, rumbling and stinking of diesel exhaust, overhead. People started using it as a garbage dump.

All of which made the spot perfect for a group of skaters looking to ride their boards without getting hassled.

Starting around 2002, a loose collection of men and kids cleared away trash and swept away dirt, making room for an impromptu skate park, a place to bank off concrete pillars and grind across an old refrigerator toppled on its side.


“As a skateboarder, you don’t think, ‘I want to go skate a refrigerator,’ ” says Robbie O’Connell, one of the originals. “You just make use of whatever you can find.”

As word spread, the spot attained cult status. Regulars pooled their money to buy concrete and chicken wire from a Home Depot down the road, fashioning a rough, gray bump for doing ollies. Things sort of took off from there.

The newly dubbed Channel Street Skatepark wrangled $5,000 from a foundation run by Tony Hawk, the Michael Jordan of pro skating, and persuaded a shoe company to donate 100 yards of concrete. Local contractors volunteered their services.

“It went from one little bump to a quarter pipe and then another, rounded-off quarter pipe,” says Andy Harris, a longshoreman and skater who became the site’s unofficial mayor. “We just kept building.”

Though everyone — cops, politicians, community leaders — knew about the unpermitted construction, Channel Street thrived for a decade in its jurisdictional vacuum. It swelled to three hand-smoothed bowls, running about half the length of a football field, painted in bright colors with folk-art mosaics along the rim. A generation of young skaters grew up there, several good enough to turn pro.

Then, in 2014, their luck ran out when officials balked at being liable for the renegade skate park and shut it down. Channel Street skaters had no choice but to enter an unfamiliar world of building codes, variances and City Hall politics. It would be their hardest trick yet.


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From Jeff Miller: The Chargers set their initial 53-man roster Tuesday, the group of course including a pair of star edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.

After that? There’s only Chris Rumph II at one of the team’s strongest positions, which is also one of the thinnest — at least at first glance.

The Chargers also have Kyle Van Noy, who is expected to play on the edge, as well as at inside linebacker. Entering his ninth season, Van Noy has excelled in both spots in the past.

Coach Brandon Staley explained that the expectation is for Bosa and Mack to be on the field a whole lot together in 2022.

“My experience with premium edge players — they play over 80% of the time,” Staley said. “If you take a look at any of the historical good tandems, they’re playing well over 80%, more likely closer to 90 than 80 if you’re as good as Joey and Khalil.”


From Gary Klein: Quarterback Bryce Perkins and three rookie undrafted free agents — wide receiver Lance McCutcheon, inside linebacker Jake Hummel and outside linebacker Keir Thomas — were among the players who survived cuts and made the Rams’ initial 53-man roster.

Coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead trimmed the roster from 80 players to meet the NFL’s deadline as the defending Super Bowl champion Rams prepare for their season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8 at SoFi Stadium.

Wide receiver Jacob Harris and outside linebacker Chris Garrett, 2021 fourth- and seventh-round picks, respectively, were among the players waived. Rookie offensive lineman A.J. Arcuri, a seventh-round pick, also was waived.

Many of the players released will be signed to the 16-player practice squad Wednesday if they clear waivers.\


From Jack Harris: Jake Reed knew he was going to pitch Tuesday night. But not even he could have imagined such an improbable scene.

Protecting a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth against the New York Mets, in the first game of a series manager Dave Roberts had billed as a potential playoff preview, the Dodgers treated the moment like anything but a tense October night.

Closer Craig Kimbrel wasn’t summoned to pitch in back-to-back games. Set-up man Evan Phillips wasn’t asked to return to the mound for a second inning of work. The team had already pre-determined that every other unused reliever would rest Tuesday.

So, in a battle between the National League’s two best teams … in front of a buzzing crowd of 40,607 at Citi Field .. in the kind of dramatic late-inning sequence that could repeat itself two months from now … it was a pitcher who’d been cut by both clubs in the last two seasons, and had only been added back to the Dodgers roster earlier in the afternoon, that came trotting out of the bullpen for the unlikeliest of save opportunities.

Three outs later, it became the best night Reed’s journeyman career.

In the Dodgers’ 4-3 win, Reed recorded the save with a scoreless ninth inning, erasing a leadoff single with a double-play grounder before fielding a comebacker to end the game.


From Sarah Valenzuela: New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge gave the Angels a not-so-subtle reminder of why his American League MVP campaign cannot be overlooked because of Shohei Ohtani.

In the second game of the latest three-game battle between AL MVP frontrunners, it was Judge whose home run turned the Angels chance of catching up into a far-fetched one.

In the fourth inning, with two on and two out, Judge took Mike Mayers’ 1-and-2 four-seam fastball over the right-center field wall. The home run, Judge’s 51st of the season, closed the gap in his chase of Yankee Roger Maris’ AL single-season home run record, which is 61 (set in 1961). It also got the Yankees their fifth, sixth and seventh runs of the night in their 7-4 win.


From Helene Elliott: Rafael Nadal has always played every point as if it might be his last of his career, relentlessly digging and battling until the lights go out. His chronic foot problems and recent abdominal tear now mean that any point might truly be the last of his career if his worn-out body won’t allow him to continue.

Nadal, 36, won the Australian Open this year and followed up by winning his beloved French Open for the 14th time, giving him a men’s-record 22 Grand Slam singles titles. A rare calendar-year Grand Slam seemed possible when he reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, but the abdominal injury forced him to withdraw. It lingered, limiting his preparation for the U.S. Open.

Still feeling discomfort, limited with his serve, Nadal came to New York with more hope than faith. “I have what I have,” the four-time U.S. Open champion said before the tournament, “and with the tools I have today I hope to be competitive enough to give myself a chance.”

Nadal needed to reach deep into his toolbox to subdue Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata, who was playing his first main draw match in a Grand Slam event. Nadal clinched it on his fifth match point, threading a fierce forehand down the line to secure a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory under the closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.


From Ryan Kartje: USC will release an official depth chart after Wednesday night’s practice, offering a long-awaited glimpse into Lincoln Riley’s position-by-position plans for his first season as Trojans coach.

But one important battle remains undecided — and could stay that way through Saturday’s opener against Rice.

USC offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Josh Henson wouldn’t commit to naming a left tackle Tuesday, and while Wednesday’s depth chart reveal might list one name above the other, Henson made it clear that Bobby Haskins and Courtland Ford would be competing through the end of the week.


College football roundtable: How many wins do USC and UCLA need this season?


From Dan Loumena: Sparks guard Brittney Sykes was chosen to the WNBA’s all-defensive team for the third season in a row, it was announced Tuesday.

Sykes, who led the league in steals (65 overall, 2.0 per game), was selected to the second team. She was on the first team in 2021 when she also led the league in steals and was runner-up for defensive player of the year, and on the second team in 2020. She joined Tamika Catchings and Teresa Weatherspoon as the only players to lead the WNBA in steals in back-to-back seasons.

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson was selected the defensive player of the year for the first time. Joining Wilson on the all-defensive first team are Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles, Seattle forward Breanna Stewart and Washington guards Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud.


1881 — The first U.S. men’s single tennis championships begin at the Newport Casino, in Newport, R.I.

1895 — The first pro football game is played at Latrobe, Pa., between Latrobe and Jeannette, Pa. Latrobe pays $10 to quarterback John Brallier for expenses.

1934 — The Chicago Bears and the College All-Stars played to a 0-0 tie before 79,432 in the first game of this series.

1950 — Brooklyn’s Gil Hodges ties a major league record by hitting Boston Brave pitching for four homers in the Dodgers’ 19-3 rout. Hodges also added a single for 17 total bases.

1955 — Nashua, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, goes wire-to-wire to defeat Swaps, ridden by Bill Shoemaker in a match race at Washington Park. Nashua’s victory avenges his second-place finish, behind Swaps, in the 1955 Kentucky Derby.

1977 — John McEnroe plays his first U.S. Open match and receives his first Open code of conduct penalty in a 6-1, 6-3 first-round win over fellow 18-year-old Eliot Teltscher.

1979 — Sixteen-year-old Tracy Austin defeats 14-year-old Andrea Jaeger, 6-2, 6-2, in the second round of the U.S. Open Earlier in the day, John Lloyd defeats Paul McNamee, 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6, in the longest match by games at the Open since the introduction of the tie-break. The two play 63 of a maximum 65 games in three hours and 56 minutes.

1984 — Pinklon Thomas wins a 12-round decision over Tim Witherspoon in Las Vegas to win the WBC heavyweight title.

1985 — Angel Cordero Jr., 42, becomes the third rider in history behind Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr. to have his mounts earn $100 million, while riding at Belmont Park.

1991 — Houston quarterback David Klingler sets an NCAA record with six touchdown passes in the second quarter as the Cougars pound Louisiana Tech 73-3.

1996 — Oklahoma State becomes the first Division I-A team to win a regular-season overtime game, avoiding an embarrassing loss to Division I-AA Southwest Missouri State, when David Thompson’s 13-yard touchdown run gives the Cowboys a 23-20 win.

1997 — Eddie George rushes for 216 yards, the second best opening-day NFL performance, in helping Tennessee past Oakland 24-21 in overtime.

1999 — The U.S. Open loses two-time defending champion Patrick Rafter because of injury. Rafter, bothered by a right shoulder injury, retires after Cedric Pioline breaks his serve in the opening game of the fifth set. It’s the first time a defending champion — man or woman — loses in the first round in the history of this Grand Slam tournament going back to 1881.

2001 — Pitcher Danny Almonte who dominated the Little League World Series with his 70 mph fastballs is ruled ineligible after government records experts determine he actually is 14, and that birth certificates showing he was two years younger are false. The finding nullifies all the victories by his Bronx, N.Y., team, the Rolando Paulino Little League All-Stars.

2007 — Jeremy Wariner leads an American sweep of the medals in the 400 meters at the track and field world championships. Wariner wins in a personal best 43.45 seconds, with LaShawn Merritt taking silver and Angelo Taylor getting bronze. It’s the first medal sweep for any country in the men’s 400 at the world championships.

2007 — Exactly 28 years to the day, No. 3 Novak Djokovic and Radek Stepanek tie the U.S. Open record for most games played (63 of a maximum 65) in a match. Djokovic outlasts Stepanek 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2), in the four-hour, 44-minute match.

2018 — Aaron Donald of the Rams becomes the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. The All-Pro defensive tackle agrees to a six-year, $135 million deal, which surpasses Von Miller’s contract in Denver as the new benchmark for defenders.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Vin Scully is interviewed on “Face the Nation.” Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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