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The Sports Report: A story worth repeating (Dodgers clinch the West)

APphoto_Dodgers Orioles Baseball
Members of the Dodgers pose on the field after winning Tuesday.
(Nick Wass / AP)

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

DODGERS

The Dodgers defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 7-3, on Tuesday and clinched winning the NL West division for the seventh consecutive season. Since divisional play began in 1969, here’s the list for most consecutive times winning their division:

14, Atlanta Braves (1991-93, 1995-2005; there was no division title in the 1994 strike season)
9; NY Yankees (1998-2006)

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7; Dodgers (2013-19)

And the number of times those teams won the World Series;

Atlanta, 1 (1995)
NY Yankees, 3 (1998-2000)
Dodgers, 0

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So, there’s still some work to be done. But, for a little while, appreciate the impressive accomplishment. Last season was a grind, while this season they skated to the title.

“I just think after losing your first World Series, you probably got a little bit of a hangover coming into it,” Clayton Kershaw said. “After ’18, I think we came in a little bit more determined, maybe a little more focused.”

“If you would have told me two or three months ago that I’d be a part of a clinching team, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Gavin Lux said. “Just to be here and be a part of a special group of guys is special. Kind of indescribable.”

“You come into spring training and you have that big goal to make it back to the World Series but you don’t just show up for the World Series,” Justin Turner said. “You got to take the steps to get there and this is the first step of being able to do that.”

We’ll have more on this in our Dodgers newsletter, which you can sign up for here.

Bill Plaschke: This division title could prove to be lucky seven for the Dodgers

RAMS

Running back Malcolm Brown signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2015, the same year the team selected Todd Gurley with the 10th pick in the NFL draft.

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Brown quietly built a career as a special-teams standout and capable backup. He was so valuable, the Rams in March matched an offer sheet he received from the Detroit Lions and signed him to a two-year contract.

In the 30-27 season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers, Brown showed he was worthy of the investment. He rushed for a career-best two touchdowns and, perhaps more importantly, proved he could produce in an expanded role as the Rams attempt to manage Gurley’s workload.

“Any opportunity I get,” Brown said this week, “I just seize the moment.”

Gurley, the NFL touchdowns leader last season, looked on from the sideline as Brown scored twice in a game for the first time as a pro.

“He went in there and did his thing,” Gurley told reporters after the game.

It was an impressive season debut for Brown, who had not played since Dec. 2, when he suffered a broken collarbone.

“I was just very excited to get back and get out there because I haven’t played in so long,” Brown said. “A lot of people really haven’t seen me play … in the flow of an actual game like that.”

“Malcolm doesn’t get a lot of credit at times, but he has been a steady guy, what we have needed — really truly needed — for the last few years,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “He just goes out there and produces, doesn’t say much and just does his thing.”

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CHARGERS

It will be a combination homecoming game and Mother’s Day celebration for defensive back Desmond King when the Chargers visit the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

More than 100 family members and friends — including King’s mother, Yvette Powell, his grandparents, several high school coaches and former teammates — will be on hand to watch the kid who grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Warrendale and starred at Detroit’s East English Village Prep Academy, take on his hometown team.

“I’m very excited — you should hear all the people here talking about it,” Powell said by phone. “The City of Detroit loves my baby.”

NFL

The NFL is celebrating its 100th season, and there are many behind-the-scenes stories to be told. Over the course of the season, Times NFL writer Sam Farmer will pull back the curtain and tell some of them through the eyes of the players and coaches who lived them.

The Rams play host to New Orleans in Week 2, and they’ll have to contend with All-Pro Saints quarterback Drew Brees. That quarterback job once belonged to Archie Manning, who spent 10 of his 13 seasons with the Saints.

Manning, the father of star quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, vividly remembers a beating he absorbed late in his career, when he was playing for Minnesota, and Chicago’s “Monsters of the Midway” were on the rise.

Click here to read Manning’s words.

USC FOOTBALL

Surely you know by now (I do, and don’t call me Shirley) that athletic director Lynn Swann resigned on Monday. Swann was responsible for bringing coach Clay Helton back this season when many people wanted him fired.

But Helton didn’t know about the resignation until just before university president Carol Folt publicly announced it.

Asked Tuesday about when he first heard of Swann’s resignation, Helton answered, “just a little bit before it hit.”

“We have utter faith in Dr. Folt that she’s going to bring a great AD,” Helton said, “one that’s going to be great for this university and great for this athletic program.”

As Folt considers the future of USC’s athletic department and its football program, the perceived disconnect between her and Helton was notable for a coach many suspect won’t last past this season, barring a stellar finish. With Swann now gone, some wonder if the bloodletting in a department filled with longtime administrators has only just begun.

“There’s still a lot of really rotten apples in the barrel,” said Petros Papadakis, a broadcaster and former Trojans captain. “If Carol Folt is really doing her job, she’s got to do for USC athletics what she’s doing for the rest of the university, which is removing people and bringing in new people who have experience in that job outside the university. Which is what USC should’ve been doing all this time.”

UCLA FOOTBALL

The Bruins held a players-only meeting on Tuesday in the wake of opening the season 0-2.

“People start listening to outside noise,” cornerback Jay Shaw said, “so if you don’t, like, get that togetherness, you never know what the man next to you is thinking or what he’s reading.”

Cornerback Darnay Holmes, who sat out the Bruins’ first two games with an ankle injury, convened the players-only meeting with hopes of galvanizing a team getting savaged by traditional media and social media alike.

The gist of what was said surprised no one.

“Basically,” Shaw said, “just winning. A lot of people trying to pull us down, so we really gotta focus on ourselves and coming together because at the end of the day, we’re all we got.”

CLIPPERS

Seeking to call Inglewood home, the Clippers have proposed committing an estimated $100 million in benefits toward the city as part of building an arena.

Such benefits, presented Tuesday at a meeting of Inglewood’s council by city manager Artie Fields, would include “up to $75 million in low-interest loans for the acquisition, preservation, or development of affordable and mixed-income housing in Inglewood,” according to the team. Other proposals include more than $12 million for youth and education programs, up to $6 million toward improvements of its public library and financial assistance for renters and first-time homeowners in the city.

The Clippers say the value of their “community benefit plan” would be the largest connected to the construction or renovation of a stadium or entertainment venue in the state.

The Clippers have played in Staples Center since 1999 but upon the end of their lease there in 2024 plan to move to the proposed Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center at the southeast corner of Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has said the 26-acre development will be privately financed and anchored by an 18,500-seat, $1-billion arena, a practice facility and headquarters for the Clippers’ business operations, and spaces for community use.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Last week, a fourth-grade student at a Florida elementary school supported his team during the school’s “college colors day.” He is a big fan of Tennessee, so he wore an orange T-shirt with a hand-drawn “U. of T.” on notebook paper taped to the front.

He proudly wore his shirt to lunch, but quickly came back to his room in tears. His teacher, Laura Snyder, said on Instagram, “Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colors day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt. He was DEVASTATED.”

End of a sad story, right? No.

The university heard about the story and did something about it. Not only did the university donate items to his whole class, but it used the kid’s design for a limited-edition T-shirt that it is selling, with proceeds going to the nonprofit Stomp Out Bullying.

The university has sold about 18,000 shirts.

“As the Volunteers, the University of Tennessee believes in putting others before ourselves,” said Tyra Haag, director of media relations for the school. “We’re so glad we were able to support this student, put a smile on his face and bring more orange into his life. In the true spirit of UT, alumni, fans and honorary Volunteers around the world have stepped up.”

Snyder later posted a response from the boy’s mother.

“I am overwhelmed by the love I feel from this extended community and the pride I feel for my son,” the letter reads, in part. “Every comment, item sent and action taken on behalf of my son will never be forgotten and hopefully will serve as an inspiration for him throughout his life. Thank you to all of Vol nation for seeing in my son what we see in him every day.”

SOCCER

Jordan Morris scored his first international goal in more than two years in the 79th minute, giving the United States a 1-1 tie against Uruguay in an exhibition game on Tuesday night.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Dodgers at Baltimore, 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Cleveland at Angels, 5 p.m., FSW, AM 830

Galaxy at Colorado, 6 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

BORN ON THIS DATE

1913: College football coach Bear Bryant (d. 1983)

1924: NFL coach Tom Landry (d. 2000)

1945: Soccer player Franz Beckenbauer

1949: Runner Marty Liquori

1957: Golfer Jeff Sluman

1963: NBA player Gerald Wilkins

1964: Baseball player Ellis Burks

1978: NFL player Ed Reed

1983: Baseball player Jacoby Ellsbury

1985: NBA player Shaun Livingston

DIED ON THIS DATE

1968: Golfer Tommy Armour, 71

2002: NFL player Johnny Unitas, 69

2005: Sportscaster Chris Schenkel, 82

AND FINALLY

The NFL’s greatest players No. 6: Johnny Unitas. 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 at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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