« February 2007 | Main | April 2007 »

March 30, 2007

The 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut

This weekend, with Opening Day fast approaching, Major League Baseball will begin its celebration of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier with an exhibition game in Memphis they've dubbed the "Civil Rights Game." (Robinson actually debuted on April 15, 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.) In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, columnist Terence Moore cogently writes about the hypocrisy of the moment, considering that the number of African-American players, managers and front-office executives in the Majors is dwindling – and fast. (According to Moore, black players make up less than ten percent of the Majors.) Moore also interviewed former L.A. Dodgers outfielder Tommy Davis, who notes that baseball has ignored the rich talent base in the States: “I’m not putting the Latins down, because they can play, but baseball has purposely built a bunch of camps and academies in other countries, and they’ve ignored areas in this country where you have African-American talent,” Davis said.

March 23, 2007

Read Tom Hoffarth -- religiously

The Daily News' Tom Hoffarth, L.A.'s most astute sports-media critic, writes about the new, entertaining HBO Sports documentary entitled "The UCLA Dynasty" in today's column. Good timing for March Madness -- the doc premieres on Monday at 10 pm, with repeat airings throughout April. And, don't forget to read, religiously, Hoffarth's "Off the Wall" blog; his most recent entry lists favorite docs produced by HBO Sports over the years.

March 22, 2007

Plaschke returns

L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke won best column honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors for the second time in three years today. That begs a question: where has Plaschke been? He hasn't had a column in the paper since February 5. A quick email to Times Sports Editor Randy Harvey brings a quick answer. Plaschke, says the boss, has been on vacation finishing a book. He's scheduled to re-appear in the paper tomorrow and resume his regular Friday, Sunday, Wednesday routine, says Harvey.

March 21, 2007

O.J. Mayo and the high-flying Trojans

With USC flying high and soaring into the Sweet Sixteen, the saga of the Trojans' top recruit for '07-'08, O.J. Mayo, gets the New York Times treatment. And, via AOL Fanhouse, Mayo's latest dunk (and subsequent ejection) gets the video treatment (credit to Deadspin).

March 13, 2007

Pens stay in Pittsburgh; RIP Ernie Ladd

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Penguins have reached a financing agreement on a new arena that will keep them in the city. The deal will be announced before tonight's game between the Pens and the Buffalo Sabres. The deal means that the Pens, co-owned by Ron Burkle and featuring the NHL's best young player in Sidney Crosby, will stay in Pittsburgh for at least the next 30 years.
Short-term, that's bad news for AEG and the city of Kansas City, which had dangled the keys to the soon-to-be-completed Sprint Center to the Pens. The Kansas City Star speculates that the Nashville Predators may be the most likely team to move to the new arena.

And, sad news for football and wrestling fans: Ernie Ladd, the gigantic defensive end who also enjoyed a long career as a professional wrestler (including many memorable battles with Andre the Giant et al. at the Olympic Auditorium), passed away from cancer. He was 68. Here's Jerry Magee's column from today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

March 6, 2007

New Format for "SportsLetter"

"SportsLetter," the online newsletter published by the Amateur Athletic Foundation from its West Adams headquarters, has changed its format. For the current edition, I interviewed The Sibs, the SoCal-based, brother-sister filmmaking team of Colin Keith Gray and Megan Raney Aarons. Their documentary, "Freedom's Fury," is about the "blood-in-the-water" match between Hungary and the Soviet Union at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. And, yes, Quentin Tarantino and Lucy Liu served as executive producers. I also interviewed writer Brad Snyder, author of A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports (Viking). Flood spent his final years in L.A.; the year before Flood's death here, in 1997, Ron Curran wrote the last major profile of Flood for the L.A. Weekly.

March 2, 2007

NYT on Baseball Reliquary

Terry Cannon and his Monrovia-based Baseball Reliquary got feature treatment in yesterday's New York Times sports pages.

It is not clear how the face of the former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley came to appear on a flour tortilla in Los Angeles. When on display, it is usually accompanied by a card noting that “the provenance of the tortilla is sketchy.” However, the card continues, “Radio carbon dating indicates that the tortilla is approximately forty years old.”

“It’s an interesting tortilla,” said Terry Cannon, its curator.

Cannon is the president, founder and general instigator of the Baseball Reliquary, a California-based traveling museum and shrine that serves as a puckish alternative to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Based out of Cannon’s home and assorted Southern California storage units, the Reliquary celebrates baseball’s pioneers and free spirits, those individuals whose greatness could never be charted by the Elias Sports Bureau.

“If Borges liked baseball, this is where he’d want to be enshrined,” said Ron Shelton, the director of films like “Bull Durham” and “Cobb.”

Shelton reveals that this year he is voting for legendary 1950s fireballer Steve Dalkowski for the Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals.

Photo: Ann Johansson for the New York Times

March 1, 2007

Video Exclusive: Elton Brand, blogger, reacts to Livingston injury

I made plans earlier this week to stop by Elton Brand's office to talk with him about his turn as a blogger on Koolse.com, a new professional networking site founded by his longtime friend Keegan Sims. The night before our scheduled interview, Clips point guard Shaun Livingston went down (10 feet from me as I filmed for LAO) with a freak knee injury that may keep him sidelined for a year. When I met up with Elton yesterday, he had just spoken to Shaun for the first time since the injury occured.

Brand told me that he and his teammates "all have to take it upon ourselves to fulfil [Livingston's] role," and that he'd be happy taking up some third-string point guard duties. I thought he was joking until I saw him dish out a season-high 7 assists tonight in the team's first complete game since losing Livingston.

Take a look at our wide-ranging conversation (disclaimer: the video of Livingston's injury is graphic, viewer discretion is advised):

LAO podcast

LAO video edited by Alex Gans and photographed by Thomas Macker