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The Sports Report: Is Dodgers-Angels a true rivalry?

Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Mike DiGiovanna: The novelty of the Freeway Series has worn off over 25 years of interleague play, but that doesn’t mean the Dodgers and Angels are looking at this week’s two-game series in Anaheim as just another two days on baseball’s grueling six-month calendar.

“It’s still a thing in the sense of it’s [two teams from] Southern California, it’s local, but I think it’s more geography-driven,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the rivalry, which resumes Tuesday night when Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw opposes Angels left-hander Reid Detmers.

“But as far as a rivalry … I mean, we’re in different leagues, different divisions. I enjoy going down there and playing the Angels, certainly. There’s kind of a mixed support group of Angels fans and Dodgers fans making the trek south, so it’s always lively.”

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Just don’t pretend Dodgers-Angels belongs with Yankees-Red Sox and Dodgers-Giants in a conversation about baseball’s great rivalries.

“It’s not even in the same stratosphere,” said Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, who spent the first six years of his career (2014-19) in Boston, which played 114 games against the Yankees during that span. “Sure, it’s a crosstown rivalry, but it’s more for the fans and for reporters to write about. It has nothing to do with the players.”

The Dodgers and Angels have provided some compelling theater over the years. The first regular-season game between them, on June 17, 1997, ended with the Dodgers’ Todd Zeile hitting a two-run, walk-off homer off Angels closer Troy Percival.

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COLISEUM MEMORIES

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the L.A. Coliseum, which has hosted two Olympics and countless college and pro football games, along with the Dodgers and a host of other events. In the coming weeks, we will present stories looking at the anniversary, and we want you to take part. Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and send your favorite Coliseum memory. It can be anything, sporting event, concert, etc. Try to keep it to two-to-three paragraphs and tell why the event was memorable to you. Include your full name and your current city. Selected ones may run in print and online in the coming weeks.

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DODGERS

From Jack Harris: In their 66 years of playing baseball in Los Angeles, the Dodgers have never fielded a pitching staff with numbers this bad.

Not in their early Southern California years, when their makeshift home at the Coliseum measured just 250 feet to straightaway left.

Not in the doldrums of the 1990s and early 2000s, when the team failed to win a playoff game over a 15-year stretch.

Even Frank McCourt’s cash-strapped squads were able to maintain the franchise’s long-established legacy of pitching excellence, always remaining at least competitive on the mound.

This season, however, the club has found itself in uncharted territory. After leading the majors in earned-run average each of the last four seasons, they’re stunningly 25th out of 30 teams in MLB this season, owning a 4.66 mark that would be the highest in franchise history since 1944.

As a result, the Dodgers are struggling in ways they rarely have during the Guggenheim Baseball-Andrew Friedman-Dave Roberts era. They’ve lost 18 of their last 30 games. They are in third place in the NL West after being swept by the San Francisco Giants this weekend.

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“In a lot of ways, we have built a lot of our successful teams on elite pitching,” said Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations. “And we’ve fallen short of that to this point.”

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ANGELS

From Sarah Valenzuela: Logan O’Hoppe has been making the most of his time on the injured list.

When he’s not doing his rehab work, O’Hoppe is still present. He arrives at the clubhouse with everyone else, is on the plane traveling for every road series, attends team meetings and is in the Angels dugout during every game.

The Angels’ 23-year-old rookie catcher is on the IL, recovering from surgery to repair the torn labrum in his left shoulder. But in the wake of the most significant injury of his career, he has also been using the time to learn and observe the game in a way he never has before.

“It’s like, you take the physical stuff out of the game,” O’Hoppe said. “That’s the biggest worry when you’re in it, is getting through it physically and playing well, but I don’t have to worry about that right now. So this is an interesting perspective and I’ve learned a lot.”

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LAKERS-CLIPPERS

With the NBA’s draft Thursday, and free agency officially starting at month’s end, another offseason has arrived. And though questions like what Charlotte will do with the second overall pick, and what Portland will do with the third pick, and All-Star guard Damian Lillard’s future, have dominated much of the discussion, as usual it’s the Lakers and Clippers that figure prominently into speculation.

The Times’ NBA beat writers Dan Woike, Broderick Turner and Andrew Greif discuss how point guard Chris Paul might figure into both teams’ plans.

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NBA DRAFT

From Chuck Schilken: Jordan Haber didn’t play basketball in college.

He didn’t play in high school or middle school either.

But he’s 21 years old and a recent graduate of the University of Florida.

And the lifelong Miami Heat fan has the patience to read through complicated legal documents and fill out a bunch of paperwork.

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That’s apparently all it takes to become eligible for the NBA draft.

“I am now Jordan Haber, member of the 2023 NBA draft class, uh, soon to be undrafted class,” Haber said in a May 18 TikTok video that has been viewed more than 3.1 million times.

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TITLE IX

From Steve Henson: Is a university’s Title IX office the appropriate forum to investigate and rule on an allegation of a sexual assault that occurred during sports competition?

Can a Title IX investigation proceed even though the complaint was made by athletes from another school?

A writ filed in Orange County Superior Court on Friday asks those and other questions pertaining to allegations by two Loyola Marymount women’s water polo players that a UC Irvine player digitally penetrated their vaginas during a game Feb. 16.

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“This case illustrates how Title IX sexual misconduct disciplinary actions can become weaponized and misused, in this case for competitive advantage in women’s water polo by eliminating an opponent,” the UC Irvine player’s lawyers Mark A. Hathaway and Jenna E. Parker wrote in the filing.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1908 — Colin wins the Tidal Stakes at Sheepshead Bay and retires undefeated after 15 starts. No major American racehorse approaches this record until 1988, when Personal Ensign retires with a perfect 13-for-13 career.

1936 — Jesse Owens sets a 100-meter record of 10.2 seconds at a meet in Chicago.

1940 — Joe Louis stops Arturo Godoy in the eighth round at Yankee Stadium to retain the world heavyweight title.

1960 — Floyd Patterson knocks out Ingemar Johansson in the fifth round in New York to become the first boxer to regain the world heavyweight title.

1966 — Billy Casper beats Arnold Palmer by four strokes in a playoff to win the U.S. Open.

1967 — Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, is convicted of violating the United States Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. Clay is sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000, the maximum penalty for the offense. Ali remains free while his conviction is on appeal.

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1968 — The Night of Speed. In a span of 2½ hours, the world record of 10 seconds for the 100 meters is broken by three men and tied by seven others at the AAU Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Jim Hines wins the first semifinal in a tight finish with Ronny Ray Smith, becoming the first man to break the 10-second barrier. Both runners are credited with a time of 9.9 seconds. Charlie Greene wins the second semifinal and then ties Hines’ 9.9 record in the final.

1980 — Roberto Duran wins a 15-round decision over Sugar Ray Leonard at Olympic Stadium in Montreal to win the WBC welterweight crown.

1982 — Tom Watson wins the U.S. Open by two strokes over Jack Nicklaus.

1984 — Jockey Pat Day equals a thoroughbred racing record for an eight-race card when he wins seven races at Churchill Downs. Day’s only loss is in the fourth race.

1993 — Lee Janzen holes a 30-foot chip for birdie on No. 16 and adds birdies on the par-5 closing holes for a two-stroke victory over Payne Stewart in the U.S. Open. Janzen ties Jack Nicklaus’ record 272 total and Lee Trevino’s four straight rounds in the 60′s.

1993 — John Paxson hits a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left as the Chicago Bulls win their third consecutive NBA title with a 99-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the finals.

1994 — Ernie Els of South Africa becomes the first foreign winner of the U.S. Open since 1981, beating Loren Roberts on the second sudden-death hole.

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2004 — Retief Goosen captures his second U.S. Open in four years. In the toughest final round at the U.S. Open in 22 years, Goosen closes with a 1-over 71 for a two-shot victory made possible when Phil Mickelson three-putts from 5 feet on the 17th.

2004 — Ken Griffey Jr. hits the 500th home run of his career, off Matt Morris, to help the Cincinnati Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0.

2006 — Dwyane Wade caps his magnificent playoffs with 36 points and 10 rebounds to lead Miami past the Dallas Mavericks 95-92 as the Heat roar back from a two-game deficit to win the NBA finals in six games.

2013 — LeBron James has 37 points and 12 rebounds, and the Miami Heat repeat as champions with a 95-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

2017 — Tiger Woods checks into a clinic to manage his pain medication and sleep disorder, following his arrest for driving under the influence.

2019 — Duke power forward Zion Williamson is the first player chosen in the 2019 NBA Draft.

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2020 — Tiz the Law, ridden by Manuel Franco, wins the 152nd Belmont Stakes becoming the first New York-bred horse to win the event since 1882.

—Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally...

Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 500th home run. 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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