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The Sports Report: Forget sports, what if it’s Halloween and you’re allergic to chocolate?

Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez hoists the Commissioners Trophy after winning the World Series.
Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez hoists the World Series trophy.
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. It’s one of the most important days of the year, so let’s focus on real-world issues: Which Halloween candy is the best?

HALLOWEEN

If you’re like me (and if you are, I’m very, very sorry), then Halloween was a mixed bag. I’m allergic to chocolate and can have maybe one chocolate bar before I get even puffier than normal and have to rush to the emergency room. Most people, however, love to give out chocolate on Halloween. So, when I would empty my bag, there was about 75% of it I couldn’t eat. So if you are giving out Halloween candy tonight, let me suggest this: give the kids two candies, one chocolate and one non-chocolate. Everyone wins! and if you aren’t sure what non-chocolate candy to give, here is the list that my 10-year-old self would have presented to you:

1. Now and Later

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2. Skittles

3. Starburst

4. Smarties

5. Jolly Ranchers

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6. Charms Blow Pops

7. Nerds

8. SweeTarts

9. Lemonheads

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10. Shocktarts

Please, no Circus Peanuts or Swedish Fish. Those were made near the gates of hell and should never be given out. And if you are one of those people who gives out a pencil and a tiny notebook, then you have made a series of wrong choices in life and I will pray for you.

If you are wondering what my Halloween costume is, I’m dressing as a Dodger. That way I don’t have to worry about a gaudy World Series ring weighing me down when I lift up my bag.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled newsletter.

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WORLD SERIES

Hey, it looks like Astros manager A.J. Hinch gets bullpen advice from his good friend Dave Roberts, because he left Gerrit Cole in the bullpen and went with Will Harris in a crucial situation in Game 7, and it cost his team dearly.

For the last five months, the Washington Nationals, baseball’s greatest underachievers at their nadir in late May, thrived when left for dead. They roared back from 12 games under .500 to claim a postseason berth. They won the National League wild-card game on a fluky late-inning hit and error. They stunned the 106-win Dodgers in an NL Division Series and they plowed through the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series.

But those conquests did not compare to the stakes presented Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. They were nine outs from losing Game 7 of the World Series. The Houston Astros, the 107-win machine pushed to the brink, held a two-run lead. The deficit felt insurmountable with Zack Greinke on the mound and the weapons at the Astros’ disposal behind him. He was dealing. For the first six innings, the Nationals did not stand a chance.

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But the Nationals, a group seasoned in anxiety, did not wither. Anthony Rendon, the Houston native wreaking havoc at home, homered against Greinke to draw blood. Juan Soto, the 21-year-old wunderkind, walked. The free pass prompted manager Hinch to replace Greinke with Will Harris, and initiate the next step in the Astros’ demise.

Two pitches later, Howie Kendrick, the man who ended the Dodgers’ season with a grand slam before being selected NLCS most valuable player, slashed a two-run home run off the screen on the right-field foul pole to complete the Nationals’ final, and greatest, comeback en route to a 6-2 victory and the first World Series title in franchise history.

The Astros were denied their second championship in three years as the road team won each of the seven games of a Series for the first time. The Nationals, the oldest team in the majors, concluded the postseason 5-0 in elimination games.

WORLD SERIES SCHEDULE

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All times Pacific. All games on Fox.

Game 1: Washington 5, at Houston 4

Game 2: Washington 12, at Houston 3

Game 3: Houston 4, at Washington 1

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Game 4: Houston 8, at Washington 1

Game 5: Houston 7, at Washington 1

Game 6: Washington 7, at Houston 2

Game 7: Washington 6, at Houston 2

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RON FAIRLY

Ron Fairly, the reliable, red-haired outfielder and first baseman who spent more than five decades in baseball —21 years as a player, first with the Dodgers and lastly with the Angels, and 30 more as a broadcaster— died Wednesday in Indian Wells, Calif., after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

A graduate of Long Beach Jordan High School and a former USC standout, Fairly played his first 11 ½ years (1958-69) in the big leagues with the Dodgers, helping the team to three World Series championships, and he closed his playing career with the Angels in 1978.

“The worst day in a baseball uniform,” Fairly wrote in a 2018 memoir that he co-authored with former Times sportswriter Steve Springer, “was better than the best day I could have had in any other career.”

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CLIPPERS

With Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard still in California, missing the first of what is expected to be several games this season for precautionary reasons, his team struggled to create their own shots and stop Utah’s in a 110-96 loss at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

For the Clippers (3-2), there will be many more nights like this, where they play shorthanded.

In their attempt to ensure the healthiest roster possible by the postseason’s start, the team’s “load management” will not stop with Leonard.

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“All year, we’re going to rest a lot of guys,” coach Doc Rivers said.

They can only hope they won’t all end like this.

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Kawhi Leonard’s stunning improvement as a playmaker still shocks NBA coaches

LAKERS

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, who had a second straight good workout on Wednesday, will be monitored by the team after Thursday’s practice to see how his health is before a decision is made on whether he’ll play Friday night at the Dallas Mavericks.

The Lakers hope that Kuzma doesn’t have any setbacks after practice before they leave for a three-game trip to Dallas, San Antonio and Chicago, and that the forward can play in one of those games.

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NBA

The Golden State Warriors announced Stephen Curry has a broken left hand, an injury he suffered in the team’s third blowout loss this season.

During the Warriors’ 121-110 loss to the Suns in San Francisco, Curry fell between two Phoenix defenders and had his left hand rolled underneath Aron Baynes’ body once he hit the ground.

Curry, a two-time Most Valuable Player, could need surgery on the hand pending further testing. His timetable for a return is unknown.

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KINGS

In a 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center, the Kings were outshot by a season-worst 49-24, surrendered a season-most four power-play goals, converted just one of their six man advantages, and dropped a season-high fourth game in a row.

Over their first dozen contests, the Kings’ limitations were revealed. Despite gaudy shot and scoring-chance metrics, they struggle to convert their opportunities into goals. Their goaltending was inconsistent, if not unreliable. Most of all, their power play and penalty kill were worrisome works-in-progress.

But where complacency took hold last season – leading to a last-place finish in the Western Conference and losing streaks of six, four and 10 games – coach Todd McLellan this week tried to light a competitive fire under his squad.

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The first-year bench boss inserted rookie forward Carl Grundstrom, who was recalled this week from the minors, into a new-look top line alongside Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. He healthy-scratched veteran Tyler Toffoli, snapping the forward’s streak of 207 consecutive appearances (which had been the 20th-longest active such streak in the league). He replaced defenseman Joakim Ryan with Kurtis MacDermid.

The message: The Kings are willing to make changes in search of results. Their players understand the new standards.

“Last year, the frustrating thing was, early in the season everyone was saying, ‘Oh, it will turn around. It will turn around. It’s going to come.’ It just never turned around,” Drew Doughty said. “This year … it’s about making it turn around. I think that’s what our focus is in here. We’re a lot more confident in this team this year than we were last year.”

UCLA FOOTBALL

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Protecting his body wasn’t high on the list of priorities as UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson took off running last weekend with his team holding a 32-point lead against Arizona State.

There was still nearly a full quarter to be played and more points to be sought.

“I mean, our goal is to try and score, keep the score going and stuff like that,” Thompson-Robinson said Wednesday, “so that was what my focus was on, was getting a touchdown.”

Coach Chip Kelly would have preferred that his quarterback slid on the grass rather than exposing himself to a hit that resulted in his second knee injury of the season, but everything turned out just fine. UCLA held on for a 42-32 victory after Thompson-Robinson departed the game and he’s expected to start as usual Saturday evening when the Bruins (3-5 overall, 3-2 Pac-12 Conference) face Colorado (3-5, 1-4) at the Rose Bowl.

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Thompson-Robinson has practiced all week with a brace over his left knee but doesn’t expect it to be a hindrance against the Buffaloes considering he also wore it against Stanford and ran for a career-high 66 yards.

Having Thompson-Robinson available is a big relief for the Bruins given his improved play over the last month. He’s completed 61.7% of his passes in conference games this season as opposed to 54.0% in nonconference games.

USC FOOTBALL

USC’s Christian Rector thought being on the field was the best way he could help his team. A talk with his coaches convinced the senior defensive end otherwise.

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“I just feel like I was hurting myself trying to fight through injury,” said Rector, who sat out USC’s last two games because of a high-ankle sprain. “I just wasn’t helping out the team.”

After coaches convinced him to rest for two weeks and recover fully, Rector is in position to do what he always wanted. The Pasadena native said after practice Wednesday that he’s feeling 100% healthy.

USC plays No. 7 Oregon on Saturday at the Coliseum.

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CHARGERS

In opening the season 3-5, the Chargers at times have been accused of lacking urgency.

The same cannot be said this week of coach Anthony Lynn, who Monday fired Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator.

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“I just felt like it was time,” Lynn said Wednesday. “If I was eventually going to do it, why not just do it right now? We have eight weeks left in this season, and we still have everything in front of us that we want.”

Whisenhunt was in his fifth season overall and fourth in a row guiding the team’s offense.

He was let go after the Chargers made it four consecutive weeks of being unable to run the ball, produce big plays or consistently reach the end zone.

In a 17-16 victory Sunday at Chicago, the offense didn’t pick up a first down until early in the second quarter. It took more than 10 minutes for a second first down to be achieved.

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Starting Sunday against Green Bay, Shane Steichen will take over calling plays. He has been the Chargers quarterback coach since 2016, but this will be his first experience as a play caller.

At 34, he’s three years younger than quarterback Philip Rivers, though Lynn is convinced Steichen is ready for the promotion.

“He’s young,” Lynn said. “He’s innovative. He has a lot of juice. I think the players are going to respond to Shane. He’s a good communicator. I’m just looking forward to seeing him do his job.”

YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT

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What is your all-time favorite local sports moment? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and tell me what it is and why and it could appear in a future daily sports newsletter or Morning Briefing.

This moment comes from Bob Oppermann of Sylmar:

Sept. 27, 1973, was going to be a big night for me! Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Angels, and if all went well, he would set the single-season strikeout record. And in honor of the occasion, the game was even going to be televised! This was going to be a big night for a 15-year-old Angels fan!

But then Dad stepped in and ruined my plans. He said that he had to make an emergency service call in Santa Ana. Somebody’s chairlift had broken and he was going to need help lifting the unit. He was only going to need my help for a minute, but he wouldn’t be able to do it without me. (He was only going to need me for a minute, but my entire night was going to be ruined is how I saw it!) I looked pleadingly at my Mom, begging her to let Dad know how important this night was! She just shrugged and gave me a look that said, “Sorry, I can’t help. You need to help your Dad.” So Dad put his tools into the box on the back of his Honda 750, and off we went. Heading south on I-5, I remember getting off at Katella, and seeing The Big A right in front of us! How I wish we were going to the game!

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Well, to my surprise, we were going to the game! Dad had gotten some tickets from a friend of his. Ryan was going to need 15 strikeouts to tie Sandy Koufax’s single season record of 382, 16 to break it. By the sixth inning it seemed that breaking the record was imminent, as Ryan was just mowing them down. As I recall, he tied the record in the eighth inning. But as luck would have it, he couldn’t get a strikeout in the ninth or the 10th. He finally got his 383rd strikeout of the season, in the top of the 11th inning, and history was made! Fortunately the Angels scored a run in the bottom of the inning to make it a complete-game victory.

What a big night it was, indeed! Nolan Ryan’s awesome, record-setting performance was made even better by the best prank that Dad ever pulled on me.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

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San Antonio at Clippers, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, AM 570

BORN ON THIS DATE

1902: Race car driver Wilbur Shaw (d. 1954)

1933: Surfer/sailor/Hobie Cat inventor Hobart Alter (d. 2014)

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1947: Marathoner Frank Shorter

1951: Football coach Nick Saban

1953: Basketball player John Lucas

1958: Cyclist Jeannie Longo

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1961: Sprinter Alonzo Babers

1963: Former Dodger Fred McGriff

DIED ON THIS DATE

1983: Football coach/owner George Halas, 88

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2010: Basketball player Maurice Lucas, 57

2018: Baseball player Willie McCovey, 80

AND FINALLY

A look at Willie McCovey‘s Hall of Fame career. Watch it here.

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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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