The Sports Report: UCLA starts its football season today

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson
(Mark J. Terrill / AP)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.


For UCLA football fans, last season was best forgotten. They were 3-9 and would have had trouble beating the team from “Little Giants.”

Tonight, the road to redemption starts in Cincinnati, where the Bruins are three-point underdogs to the Bearcats, who were 11-2 last season.


Playing a school-record 21 true freshmen led to growing pains last year that coach Chip Kelly hopes will result in significant second-year gains.

“Teams that have experience, that’s the one thing you can’t teach,” Kelly said. “It’s a matter of throwing them in the mix and letting them sort through all those situations. But then, when they get to those situations again, they have tangible evidence on how to execute it one way as opposed to another way because they’ve been in it before. So I think that will be beneficial to us.”

“Last year didn’t go our way,” redshirt freshman receiver Kyle Philips said, “so we’re just super pumped to get out there and prove everyone wrong.”


The Trojans have to wait until Saturday for their season opener (vs. Fresno State, 7:30 p.m. at the Coliseum), but the offensive line has been using a different technique to bond while waiting: Grilling.

“Talking, sharing stories, laughing,” center Brett Neilon said. “We’re a great group of guys who like each other and enjoy each other’s company. It translates on the field.”


A weak double, a fly out and a wild pitch led to Kenley Jansen‘s seventh blown save of the season (tying his career high), but the Dodgers scored twice in the top of the 10th to defeat the San Diego Padres, 6-4. The winning pitcher: Kenley Jansen.


“He’s throwing the ball well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He really is. It’s a play that [Taylor] gave it everything he had and if you make that play then it’s a completely different inning. So I still think the ball is coming out really well.”

But, there’s some bad news: Max Muncy was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning and left the game with a “right wrist contusion.” After the game, Muncy said he underwent a scan, which didn’t show any structural damage, but he won’t undergo X-rays until Thursday. Even if nothing is fractured, Muncy said he expects “it’s still going to be a timetable to return.”


The Angels gave Mike Trout the day off, and the rest of the offense went with him apparently as they lost to the Texas Rangers, 3-0. That’s the same number of runs I scored, and I wasn’t even at the stadium.


Roger Federer lost the first set but rallied past Damir Dzumhur, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the third round at the U.S. Open.


A few hours later Serena Williams defeated 17-year-old Caty McNally, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

“I survived tonight,” Williams said. “I think it’s great because I want to be able to win matches where I’m not playing my best, play players who are playing great, be able to come through. I need to be tested, I guess. Actually, I’d rather not be tested in every match. But that doesn’t happen, so it’s important for me to have those, like, really rough, rowdy matches. That helps a lot.”

Novak Djokovic went the minimum to defeat Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-1,


Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic tops the 26-player roster called into camp for the U.S. national team’s September friendlies with Mexico and Uruguay. But after that Gregg Berhalter’s team contains a number of surprises.

Missing are Toronto teammates Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez, who have 317 national team appearances combined; added are Sergiño Dest and Paxton Pomykal, who have none.

LAFC center back Walker Zimmerman and Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget were also invited, meaning each will likely miss at least one MLS match in September.

“With Michael, Jozy and Omar having two games with Toronto FC, we had to weigh that,” Berhalter said. “Part of it was Toronto, the position they’re in, fighting for a playoff spot — we know that some of the other teams have games as well — but we felt that taking three players from one team would severely handicap them.”

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf)

Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact) Tim Ream (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)


Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget (Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards: Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC).


Rapper/actor Ice Cube spoke out this week on the Lakers compared to the Clippers and all of the off-season moves.

“I wish they (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) would have come to the Lakers, but I guess they picked the team that they were more comfortable playing with,” Cube said. “You got to be special to play for the Lakers. You have to be ready for all that comes with that. Those championship banners and those jerseys are looking down at you when you play for the Lakers, and it’s probably easier to play if you cover those up for some people.

“The Clippers are like your cousin who moved in and starts thinking it’s his house because he’s been there for so long. I really think they should move the team. We didn’t ask them to come here. I think it’s unfair to so many cities in America who don’t have a team like Seattle that we have two teams here in L.A. They should move because it’s never going to happen for them here. They may have a blip on the radar every now and then, but it’s never going to be their city. They should just get out and take the Chargers with them.”



Professional driver and TV personality Jessi Combs died in a crash Tuesday while trying to break her own land speed record, according to multiple reports. She was 36.

Combs’ North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger teammate Terry Madden confirmed Wednesday on Instagram that “we lost her yesterday in a horrific accident” and said a “proper release” on Combs’ death would come out later in the day.

“I was the first one there and trust me we did everything humanly possible to save her!!” Madden wrote of the crash that occurred around 4 p.m. in the Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon.

Madden wrote: “I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman @thejessicombs she was truly my unicorn and I enjoyed every single minute that I had with her. She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know.”



What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why and I might run it in a future newsletter. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too.

Today’s moment comes from Scott Cline of Glendale:

My favorite sports moment occurred at one of the early L.A. Marathons. It was around 1990, moments after the start, heading north on Figueroa from the Coliseum area. “I Love LA” is playing.

Muhammad Ali is up on the starter’s stand, waving to us as we go by. Many, many runners beginning their own personal endeavor, are chanting “Ali! Ali!” Despite his Parkinson’s Disease, Ali came and shared his strength with us for many years.

One of the runners going by got so wrapped up in the enthusiasm, that he removed his L.A. Marathon runner’s hat, and then apparently without thinking about Ali’s Parkinson’s, flung it up towards him. The spinning hat, looking like a Frisbee, was flying on a curve to pass in front of Ali.

I was amazed to watch Ali’s eyes lock onto the hat, and see his hand strike out and grab the hat before it flew past. A cheer erupted from the runners!



All times Pacific

Dodgers at Arizona, 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Sparks at Indiana, 4 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

UCLA at Cincinnati, 4 p.m., ESPN, AM 1150


1945: Sprinter Wyomia Tyus

1946: Long jumper Bob Beamon

1947: Race car driver James Hunt (d. 1993)

1957: Jockey Jerry Bailey

1962: NFL player Carl Banks

1977: Baseball player Roy Oswalt

1980: NFL player Chris Simms


Bob Beamon shatters the long jump record at the 1968 Olympics. Watch it here.

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