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 is back, as spring training for the Dodgers and Angels get underway with the arrival of pitchers and catchers. With that, our Dodgers and Angels reporters are beginning to crank out their material. We’ll start with the Dodgers.
What are the top five issues that face the Dodgers in spring training? Jorge Castillo has his picks here. Spoiler alert: Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Corey Seager all appear on the list.
Kershaw wasn’t the same pitcher last year as he had been. His velocity was down, and while he was still one of the top pitchers in the league when he was healthy, his health has become a concern. No one knows these things better than Kershaw himself, so he worked hard in the offseason and arrived in camp with a slimmer physique. Will it help? Andy McCullough takes a look here.
By the way, Kershaw is also perplexed about why there are so many free agents left on the market.
Also, make sure you sign up for our free, emailed Dodgers newsletter to get news, analysis and frequent stopovers into Dodgers history sent to your mailbox twice a week. The guy who writes it is very good. It’s like he’s reading my mind when he writes. I’d swear sometimes that we are the same person. Sign up here.
The Angels report to camp this year under the guidance of a new manager. Brad Ausmus is in, Mike Scioscia is out. The first change: TVs allowed in the spring training clubhouse!
Maria Torres takes a look at the top five issues the Angels face. Spoiler alert: Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout appear on the list.
Also, the Angels have a new look in spring training, but the same old personnel issues. Read all about it here.
Bill Plaschke takes a look at LeBron James and the Lakers. In short, he’s not impressed. Plaschke writes, “James has clearly done plenty in his time in Los Angeles, creating drama with every breath, putting the Lakers in the headlines with every news cycle, with only problem.
Few of his major contributions have had anything to do with the actual playing of basketball.”
Also on Tuesday, after an investigation, the NBA determined there was no improper communication between the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, and that Magic Johnson’s comments before Sunday’s game between the teams did not constitute tampering.
“The Philadelphia 76ers initiated the contact with the Los Angeles Lakers by requesting a meeting between Johnson and Simmons,” the league’s news release said Tuesday. “Both organizations ultimately concluded that such a meeting did not make sense at this time but in that context, Johnson’s response to a media inquiry regarding Simmons does not run afoul of league rules.”
By the way, the Lakers lost to the woeful Atlanta Hawks. L.A. is now 28-29 this season. Read all about it here.
Corey Maggette, who used to play for the Clippers and has served as a TV analyst for games this season has been accused of raping a woman while he was attending Duke 20 years ago.
The New York Times reported the allegation. Maggette denied the accusation through a spokesman, referring to a statement released to the New York Times: “It has only been through media accounts and a statement from Meredith Watson’s lawyer that I first learned or heard of anything about these sexual assault allegations. I have never sexually assaulted anyone in my life and I completely and categorically deny any such charge.”
Meanwhile, the NBA fined Clippers center Montrezl Harrell $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language toward a fan” during a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
As the PGA Tour prepares for its annual stop at the Riviera Country Club, our Mike James takes a look at some of the rules changes on the Tour this year. An excerpt:
After five years of study, the U.S. Golf Assn. and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the governing bodies of the sport, initiated several amended rules at the start of the 2018-19 tour.
Three in particular generated a lot of discussion beforehand: Players would no longer be penalized for hitting the flagstick while on the putting surface; a new drop rule mandated releasing the ball from knee height rather than the shoulders, and for the first time players would be allowed to repair virtually any damage on the greens, including spike marks, that might affect their putts.
“Players have definitely called us more with questions on the rules,” said Mark Russell, tour vice president of rules and competition. “They just don’t want to make a mistake ...
“This is probably the biggest set of rules changes in the history of the game.”
A veteran NBA scout took a look at UCLA’s roster and talked to Ben Bolch about who looks like a NBA draft pick. The scout has one Bruin as a first-round pick, saying, “He’s got the length, he has the athleticism and when he wants to, he runs the court pretty well. Obviously, the shot is something of like a joke, the way he shoots it” by catapulting the ball with one hand.
Who is the Bruin player being talked about, and which two were pegged as second-round picks? Click here to find out.
Born on this date
1918: Golfer Patty Berg
1919: College football coach Eddie Robinson