Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Saturday 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.
Bill Shaikin takes a look at the Dodgers’ TV situation.
“The Dodgers are about to start their sixth season off the air in the majority of Southern California homes. They have won the National League West for six consecutive years — for the first time in franchise history — and yet they remain blacked out among a significant part of their fan base.
“Everybody hoped it would get solved by now,” said Joe Davis, entering his third season as the Dodgers’ television voice.
“While local baseball fans can see Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani just about every night on the Angels’ Fox Sports West broadcasts, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner appear sporadically to fans without the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA broadcasts.
“Those fans are assured of seeing the Dodgers for 26 games this season: 10 on KTLA, seven on Fox, five on ESPN, and four on FS West, when the Dodgers play the Angels. KTLA, Fox and ESPN could select additional games later in the season.
“The Dodgers own SportsNet LA. In exchange for a guaranteed $8.35 billion over 25 years, they granted Time Warner Cable exclusive marketing rights for the channel.
“Neither TWC nor Charter Communications, which bought TWC three years ago, have been able to reach agreement with DirecTV or other local cable and satellite providers to air SportsNet LA.
As a result, Charter is the only major television distributor in Southern California to carry the channel. There are no active negotiations with other providers, Charter spokeswoman Stacey Mitch said Friday.”
We will take a closer look at this situation in next week’s Dodgers newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.
Also Friday, reliever Joe Kelly suffered a back injury. While cooking.
With the Lakers pretty much out of playoff contention, we may not see Lonzo Ball on the court again this season.
Ball is scheduled to visit with doctors Saturday, but Walton said the second-year point guard is not close to returning. Ball has missed seven weeks after sustaining a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, which includes a torn ligament. Further complicating Ball’s recovery is a bone bruise on his ankle.
“Lonzo hasn’t had himself an offseason yet, as far as development, which is a huge part of when you get better at this level,” coach Luke Walton said of his oft-injured player. “And where we’re at now, and not looking like he’s close to being able to play yet, then, it’s almost getting to the point where the true value comes from, ‘Let’s get him as healthy as possible so he has however many months this summer to really expand and keep working on his game.’ ”
Santa Anita is targeting March 22 for a return of racing.
Faced with 21 horse deaths since Dec. 26, the horse racing mecca shut down its main courses from competition and training this week. Management now believes it can reopen for racing March 22. But there are many caveats.
“Everything is fluid,” Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, which owns and operates Santa Anita, said Friday as horses returned for light work to the training track for the first time in three days.
Ritvo was unequivocal that the track would not reopen until it was safe for both horses and riders.
When it does, it will have new safety protocols, including the addition of more veterinarians to locate “at risk” horses and changes to reduce traffic during timed workouts. The Stronach Group is also adding a position of Director of Equine Welfare, who will lead a rapid-response team in conducting transparent investigations. There will also be rules that veterinarian records become available to the public and follow a horse through trainer and ownership changes.
The proposed two-week return-to-racing timetable should also be enough to give the scientists and engineers who are looking at the racing surface to reach some conclusions and make whatever adjustments are necessary. It’s also possible that no cause can be found that led to the fatalities.
Equal pay for equal work
Kevin Baxter tracks an interesting development in the world of soccer:
“For the second time in three years, the rock stars of United States soccer, members of the world champion women’s team, have sued their federation, alleging systemic gender-based discrimination in wages and other terms.
“All 28 members of the national team player pool are asking for compensation and working conditions equitable to what the U.S. Soccer Federation provides to the men’s national team, who have similar job responsibilities but have not performed well at the international level. The women’s players are also seeking damages, including back pay.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday — International Women’s Day — comes less three months before the reigning world champions are scheduled to open defense of their title in the Women’s World Cup in France. It says that U.S. Soccer “utterly failed to promote gender equality” and that federation officials have claimed “market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.”
“The federation has not responded publicly to the lawsuit.”
Odds and Ends
Sloane Stephens takes an early exit at BNP Paribas Open…. Serena Williams defeats Victoria Azarenka in a matchup worthy of a final…. Here’s what’s on the line in UCLA’s season finale against Utah…. Why USC’s free-throw woes are personally frustrating for coach Andy Enfield…. Mikey Garcia’s pursuit of boxing immortality could take him into dangerous territory…. Gennady Golovkin signs six-fight, three-year deal with streaming service DAZN…. Zlatan Ibrahimovic stays behind with Achilles’ issue as Galaxy heads to Dallas…. Kings demote rookie Matt Luff, the only player with a goal in their last two games…. Veteran safety Eric Weddle agrees to two-year, $10.5-million contract with Rams…. Angels' Shohei Ohtani tosses a ball as he continues to recover…. Free-agent middle linebacker Denzel Perryman re-signs with Chargers for two years…. Clippers win their fourth consecutive game with 118-110 victory over Thunder…. Ducks give glimpse of the future in 8-2 rout over Canadiens
Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)
Boston at Lakers, 5:30 p.m., ABC, 710 AM ESPN
Dodgers vs. Seattle, noon, Sportsnet LA
Angels (split squad) vs. Milwaukee, noon, FSW, KLAA 830
Angels (split squad) vs. Chicago Cubs, noon
Galaxy at FC Dallas, 12:30 p.m., Univision
USC at Colorado, 2 p.m.
UCLA at Utah, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network, AM 570
Born on this date
1915: One-armed baseball player Pete Gray
1942: Baseball player Bert Campaneris
1950: Race car driver Danny Sullivan
1964: NHL player Phil Housley
1965: Baseball player Benito Santiago
1965: NFL player Brian Bosworth
1967: Speedskater Eric Flaim
1969: NBA player Mahmoud Abdul Rauf