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Sports

The Sports Report: Everyone loves Mariano Rivera (also, pick the five best football movies ever)

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Mariano Rivera
(Al Bello / Getty Images)

Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Los Angeles Times daily sports newsletter. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m your host for the festivities. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.

Let’s get to it.

Baseball

Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera became the first person to ever be unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the results of this year’s voting were announced Tuesday. Joining Rivera on Tuesday were Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina.

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Rivera certainly deserves to be a unanimous selection, but the news just points out how dumb some voters were in previous years. Nine people left Hank Aaron off their ballot the year he was elected. Five people left Tom Seaver off. There were 23, 23! people who left Willie Mays off their ballot. Hopefully no one like that is voting anymore. And it’s probably why I’ll never be in charge of the voting because if I was, I’d call the people who left off Mays and say “Hey, uh, you don’t get to vote anymore.”

Halladay died in a plane crash in 2017 and his widow, Brandy, released the following statement Tuesday: “To stand on that stage in Cooperstown and deliver your acceptance speech in front of baseball’s most enthusiastic fans is something that every baseball player aspires to achieve, and Roy was no exception . … His goal was to be successful every single day of his 16-year career. Tonight’s announcement is the end result of that effort. If only Roy were here to personally express his gratitude for this honor, what an even more amazing day this would be.”

Rams

There’s nothing like playing the hated Patriots to turn those on the fence into serious Rams fans, Bill Plaschke writes.

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Meanwhile, other than Tom Brady, here are the Patriot players that the Rams need to game plan for, according to Gary Klein.

When is the Super Bowl?

It will be on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

Who will win?

The last polls we did were successful, so let’s do it again. Who will win the Super Bowl? Click here to vote. We’ll announce the results on game day.

Lakers

Times columnist Dylan Hernandez is a little concerned about the Lakers, writing, that without LeBron James, “The team’s predictable drop to ninth place in the Western Conference isn’t the disconcerting part.

“What’s more worrisome here is the amount of time James has missed because of the groin strain he suffered on Christmas — more specifically, what it signals for the remainder of his career….

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“If there’s anyone who can delay his physical decline, it figures to be James. But even the freaks of nature have their limitations.

“The Lakers have to ask themselves questions to which there are no clear answers at this point.

“For how many more years will James be the player he is now?

“And do the Lakers have to brace themselves for extended stretches without James in the future?

“Not even James can respond with certainty.”

Meanwhile, Tania Ganguli writes, Jeanie Buss is talking about what players they would look at acquire in the future. The big key: They better not mind playing with James.

“If somebody doesn’t want to play with the best player playing in the NBA right now, then I don’t want them on the team,” Buss said during a podcast interview with ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Clippers

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The Mavericks fan who allegedly insulted Clippers guard Patrick Beverley and his family during L.A.’s first trip to Dallas this season was not in the arena for the Clippers’ return trip to Dallas on Tuesday.

Don Knobler was suspended by Dallas for insulted Beverley and his mother by using profanity on several occasions during the Dec. 2 game, according to two sources unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Mavericks declined to comment on how long the suspension will last. According to the sources, Knobler was suspended from the arena through February’s All-Star break. ESPN.com reported Knobler was banned through the end of this season after a team investigation supported Beverley’s claims.

Meanwhile, the Clippers lost to the Mavericks, 106-98.

High school sports

The settlement between striking United Teachers Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District should result in sports teams being able to resume practices on Wednesday.

Games that were postponed have been counted as no contests and it will be up to individual leagues whether they will be rescheduled. With the regular season in basketball ending on Feb. 1 and playoff seedings set to take place on Feb. 2, few lost games are expected to be rescheduled unless schools want to play on Saturday. The sports halted were basketball, soccer, water polo and wrestling.

“It’s going to be a challenge because you’re going to have to allow teams a couple practices to play and even that isn’t enough,” Reseda Cleveland athletic director Greg Venger told Eric Sondheimer. “We won’t rush into anything at the expense of the kids.”

Sondheimer has all the details here.

UCLA basketball

Coach Murry Bartow knows a possible reason the Bruins have lost two in a row: His team got away from playing his pressure defense.

“We just backed out of it a little bit for some various reasons,” Bartow said. “We still did it some, but maybe didn’t do it quite as much the last couple of games.”

Expect that to change this week against the Arizona Pac-12 schools. Ben Bolch has all you need to know here.

Tennis

Taylor Fritz, the 21-year-old from Rancho Palos Verdes who is currently ranked 50th on the men’s tour, will begin defense of his Oracle Challenger Series tournament title today at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.

Fritz upset 30th-seeded Gael Monfils last week to reach the third round of the Australian Open, before losing to Roger Federer in the fourth round.

“That’s the way I see myself competing,” Fritz told Helene Elliott in her column on him. “I competed incredibly well. I played pretty well. I think that how I’ve been playing as of lately and the level I’m at, I think that’s my level and that’s where I should be playing. That should be the benchmark for most of my matches.”

Meanwhile, in the Australian Open, Serena Williams couldn’t take advantage of four match points and lost to Karolina Pliskova, 6-4 4-6 7-5, in a women’s quarterfinal match. Naomi Osaka won her match, defeating Elina Svitolina, 6-4 6-1, to become the first female player since Kim Clijsters in 2006 to reach a grand slam semifinal after winning her first major at the previous grand slam.

Best sports movies ever

It’s Oscars season, so The Sports Report is going to take advantage of that natural tie-in to poll all of you on what the best sports movie of all time is. We will break it down first by sport, starting with football. So, what are the five best football movies of all time? Remember, we’re asking for best, not favorite (unless they coincide of course). You can click here to vote, or you can email me your picks by clicking here.

A quick breakdown of the football nominees:

Any Given Sunday (1999): Starring Al Pacino

The Blind Side (2009), starring Sandra Bullock

Brian’s Song (1971), starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams

Concussion (2015), starring Will Smith

Draft Day (2014), starring Kevin Costner

The Freshman (1925), starring Harold Lloyd

Friday Night Lights (2004), starring Billy Bob Thornton

Gridiron Gang (2006), starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Gus (1976), starring Don Knotts, Ed Asner and Gus, the football kicking mule

Horse Feathers (1932), starring The Marx Brothers

Invincible (2006), starring Mark Wahlberg

Jerry Maguire (1996), starring Tom Cruise

Knute Rockne, All American, (1940) starring Pat O’Brien and Ronald Reagan

Leatherheads (2008), starring George Clooney

The Longest Yard (1974), starring Burt Reynolds

The Longest Yard (2005), starring Adam Sandler

Necessary Roughness (1991), starring Scott Bakula

North Dallas Forty (1979), starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis

The Program (1993), starring James Caan

Radio (2003), starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Remember the Titans (2000), starring Denzel Washington

The Replacements (2000), starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman

Rudy (1993), starring Sean Astin

Semi-Tough (1977), starring Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson

Varsity Blues (1999), starring James Van Der Beek

The Waterboy (1998), starring Adam Sandler

We Are Marshall (2006), starring Matthew McConaughey

Wildcats (1986), starring Goldie Hawn

Again, we’re asking for best, not favorite (unless those two things coincide of course). You can click here to vote, or you can email me your picks by clicking here.

This date in sports history

1950: The NFL changes their rules to allow for unlimited free substitution of players.

1962: Jackie Robinson and Bob Feller are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1968: Joe Medwick is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1975: Ralph Kiner is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1979: Willie Mays is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. For some reason, 23 people did not vote for Mays.

1981: Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders becomes first in NHL to score 50 goals in 50 games.

1981: The Angels acquire Fred Lynn from the Boston Red Sox for Joe Rudi and Frank Tanana.

1983: The Houston Rockets become the first NBA team to be held scoreless in overtime when they are outscored, 17-0, against the Portland Trail Blazers.

1988: Steffi Graf defeats Chris Evert, 6-1, 7-6, to win the Australian Open.

1993: Nancy Kerrigan win the U.S. women’s figure skating championship.

Notable births on this date

1953: USC and Rams quarterback Pat Haden

1969: NHL star Brendan Shanahan

1971: U.S. women’s soccer star Julie Foudy

Courtesy of thisdayinhistoryinfo.info

Ask a Times sportswriter

A new feature of this newsletter will be you, the loyal subscriber, being able to ask any Times sports reporter a question. Just click here to send me an email. Include in the email who you want to ask a question of and what your question is. I’ll pass it on and it will be answered in a future newsletter. Ever wanted to ask Bill Plaschke a question? Want to ask Tania Ganguli a question about the Lakers? Have a question for Sam Farmer about the NFL? Click here and ask away. But make sure you let me know which sportswriter you want answering the question.

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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