Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Friday 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.
How would you like to return to the days when the Lakers played at the Forum in Inglewood? It could have happened, according to this story by Nathan Fenno.
In a series of emails obtained by The Times, team owner Jeanie Buss didn’t hesitate to discuss a move that would have left Staples Center — and downtown Los Angeles — without its marquee tenant.
The emails are among tens of thousands of documents produced during discovery in MSG’s lawsuit against Inglewood in L.A. County Superior Court over the potential Clippers arena. MSG claims Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. tricked the company into terminating its lease to use city-owned land for parking in order to clear the way for the arena. The mayor denies the allegation.
In a statement, MSG said it “approached the Lakers about the possibility of repurposing the Forum in the future to accommodate basketball once again, but ultimately nothing came of it.”
Participants in the email thread between business mogul Irving Azoff, Buss and close Buss adviser Linda Rambis refer to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer as “Ballz” or “Balls,” express shock about his plan to build an arena, and appear to mock the chances for success.
“We were blind sided and not involved in the process,” Azoff emailed Buss and Rambis on June 14, 2017. “It’s a long way to fruition but we should talk about how it impacts the lakers, forum, etc.!”
Buss savaged the potential arena.
“They are all crazy,” she wrote. “This is a joke. Why would Adam let this happen?”
“Adam” is presumably NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“He has no vote unfortunately,” Azoff responded. “It will be a long legal fight.”
Buss used a nickname for Azoff when she wrote back.
“We need to see you Nugget!!” she wrote. “Didn’t Ballz see what we did to my brother?? He will have nothing but Clippers basketball. Whoopee.”
If you are a Lakers fan, you must read this story. I, for one, will never be able to see Steve Ballmer without thinking “Ballz” again.
Another horse died at Santa Anita on Thursday, bringing the total to 22 since the track re-opened on Dec. 26. The filly Princess Lili B broke both front forelegs at the end of a half-mile workout. In response, the Stronach Company, which owns Santa Anita, has now banned use of race-day drugs and the use of whips. Neither of which would have prevented some of these deaths, including Thursday’s.
I was all set to write about how Santa Anita needs to shut everything down until this problem is solved, but my old boss, Bill Dwyre, beat me to it, and did a better job of it. You can read it here. An excerpt:
“In the Belinda Stronach news release, there was no mention of how long the track will be closed. Right now, there will be training Friday morning. The tentative re-opening is March 22.
“That’s not good enough. Way too soon. Close it down for a long, real look.
“Put out a news release that really says something, that isn’t just more buying of time and holding of breath in the hope that those betting windows can open soon and get the cash flowing again. Something like: This place will not put another horse on the track until we can scientifically figure out, and communicate to the public in a totally transparent way, what the hell happened here.
“While this is going on, Stronach should use some of that corporate cash to keep paying the Santa Anita staff and expect them to be plugged into every and all scientific experiment, either on the dirt or on the drugs. That leaves the trainers, vets, owners and jockeys — all independent contractors — to take their wares elsewhere for a while, maybe forever, to places where horses actually return to their barns.
“One last thing. The Breeders’ Cup is scheduled for Santa Anita in November. Part of the Breeders’ Cup charm, in addition to a Brinks Truck backing up after each race, is that European horses come and compete and add nicely to the show. In Europe, horses run less, run most often on grass surfaces and seldom break down. You think those racing teams reading about Princess Lili are not pondering a change of plans?
“Shut it down for the rest of the meeting. Make it dark until June 23. Tell the public that right now. It needs to know the track is serious and not just stalling until the story disappears from the front page and the evening news. Encourage the Breeders’ Cup people to put somebody on hold. Churchill Downs? Del Mar?
“Done correctly and genuinely, the Stronachs can go from villains to heroes. The sport can return to viable, rather than untenable.
“And pray there is an answer, a real answer. Because no answer will do to the customers what these deaths have already started to do. Keep them at home.”
Sometimes lost in the talk about what a down year Kenley Jansen had last season is the fact he had a serious heart condition that had to mess with his emotions. But, that aspect of it was easy to overlook because he is always so stoic on the mound. But he recently talked to Bill Plaschke about it. An excerpt:
“In the end, the worst baseball fears were realized at the worst of times. In his first two World Series appearances against the Boston Red Sox, Jansen gave up two home runs and blew two saves and the Dodgers blew a second consecutive shot at their first World Series championship in three decades.
“Standing in front of his locker on those dark nights, Jansen took the blame. He never mentioned the heart. Only now, and only when pressed, will he acknowledge what everyone saw and nobody could understand.
“I’m saying it now, I didn’t say it then, because I didn’t want somebody feeling sorry for me,” he said. “But once my heart issue happened, it was in my head, it switched up my life, it messed up my whole season, my second half was ruined.”
“He sighed for a second, stared at the floor, then looked up and smiled, because this spring, everything in his life has switched back. He had the 5½-hour heart procedure on Nov. 26 and now he looks and sounds and apparently pitches like everyone’s favorite Kenley Jansen.
“Check that. He looks like a stronger version of Kenley Jansen. He has lost 30 pounds from his 6-foot-5 frame, making him look less like a tight end and more like a shooting guard. His giant smile has never been bigger. His booming laugh has never seemed more appropriate as it resonates through a clubhouse that thrives off his energy — and last season wilted with his uncertainty.
“I did the surgery and it was like, good God, all the weight came off me,” said Jansen, 31. “I was like, I’m fine again.”
No. 1 Washington 78, No. 8 USC 75
Nick Rakocevic put too much oomph on his pass and it sailed out of bounds with three seconds left, securing Washington’s win.
“I just threw a bad pass,” Rakocevic said, “and it cost my team the game.”
Rakocevic placed his hands on his head in disbelief as the Huskies and their fans celebrated their good fortune. The Trojans could only foul David Crisp with four-tenths of a second left. He missed both free throws, but Rakocevic’s full-court heave at the buzzer fell short, just like his team’s comeback from 10 points down in the final eight minutes.
“I honestly believe in our heart and in Washington’s heart, they know we should have won that game,” USC guard Jonah Mathews said. “Both teams fought, but I feel like we should have come out with the victory but we didn’t so we have to regroup and get ready for next year.”
The Trojans (16-17) will have to move on without senior forward Bennie Boatwright, who tallied 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his final college game.
No. 2 Arizona State 83, No. 7 UCLA 72
Kris Wilkes keyed a second-half run, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the final 20 minutes, but the Bruins were never able to make it back from a 23-point deficit early in the second half. Jaylen Hands added 21 points for UCLA.
No. 5 Colorado 73, No. 4 Oregon State 58
No. 6 Oregon 66, No. 3 Utah 54
Big West tournament
No. 3 CS Fullerton 75, No. 6 UC Davis 71
No. 1 UC Irvine 63, No. 8 UC Riverside 44
No. 5 Long Beach State 68, No. 4 Hawaii 66
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara 71, No. 7 Cal State Northridge 68
Odds and Ends
Dodgers’ Corey Seager is encouraged after first appearance at shortstop since April…. MLB eliminates multiple trade deadlines, 40-man September rosters…. MLB rule change on two-way players will not influence Angels’ lineup decisions…. Lakers are no match for contending Raptors in 111-98 loss…. Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari says he didn’t take rest day…. Victor Conte, of BALCO fame, has found a new home in boxing…. David Benavidez is back in the ring after costly failed drug test and tampering case…. Greg Massialas is patriarch of America’s first family of fencing. His target: gold…. Milos Raonic ends Miomir Kecmanovic’s surprising run at BNP Paribas Open…. Rams have $8.8 million in salary-cap space after losing Rodger Saffold and Lamarcus Joyner…. Former Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett signs with 49ers…. Christian Grubb of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame runs scorching 10.41 100 meters…. Ducks are routed by Coyotes, 6-1…. Rookie Austin Wagner shines in Kings’ 3-1 loss to Predators
Unless something major happens, I will be taking this weekend off, so no newsletter Saturday or Sunday. Talk amongst yourselves while I am gone.
Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)
Lakers at Detroit, 4 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, 710 AM ESPN
Chicago at Clippers, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Prime, AM 570
Dodgers vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., Sportsnet LA
Angels (ss) vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.
Angels (ss) vs. Arizona, 1 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830
Ducks at Colorado, 6 p.m., FSW
Pac-12 men’s tournament (in Las Vegas)
6 p.m.: No. 1 Washington vs. No. 5 Colorado, Pac-12 Network
8:30 p.m.: No. 2 Arizona State vs. No. 6 Oregon, ESPN
Big West men’s tournament (at Honda Center)
6:30 p.m.: No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 5 Long Beach State, ESPNU
9 p.m.: No. 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 3 CS Fullerton
Born on this date
1926: Former Ram Norm Van Brocklin
1946: Baseball player Bobby Bonds
1956: NFL player Clay Matthews
1959: Baseball Hall of Famer Harold Baines
Died on this date
1966: Abe Saperstein, founder of Harlem Globetrotters, 63
1990: Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon, 70
2007: Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, 80