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May 30, 2007

Henry Samueli, owner of your Anaheim Ducks

Talk about timing: according to the National Post, Henry Samueli bought the Anaheim Ducks for $70 million, when Disney unloaded the team in the NHL lockout fire sale. The franchise is now worth $157 million, according to Forbes. The National Post profiled Samueli, the former UC Irvine UCLA prof and now chair of Broadcom, as the Ducks prepared for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Here's the lede, written by Bert Hill:

"He bought the NHL team for a song because nobody else wanted it. He picked hockey-savvy people to run the team and stayed out of their way. He is fabulously wealthy, building a company from scratch and taking it public in a brilliantly timed move that made him a billionaire. He lives in vast estate overlooking the ocean. He spreads his fortune generously on well-publicized causes.

But he is also famously combative, building a company where lawyers are almost as important as the experts who make the products. He is frequently in court, fighting competitors and regulators with vigour. He has also gotten his name into print for investigations probing past practices of his company."

May 22, 2007

Best sports franchise in SoCal

Ducks score
Four Red Wings. One Duck. Puck in net. Photo by the Register's Kevin Sullivan, who had a good night with the camera in Anaheim.

The young, fast and relentless Ducks are going to the Stanley Cup final round for the second time. They have the stitches, bruises, black eyes and broken bones to show for the twelve wins it took to get this far in the playoffs. For hockey fans, the last two games of the Western Conference series that ended tonight have been as intense as we could want. I wasn't in Anaheim, but I bet many of the 17,380 fans who were will call tonight the most fun they have ever had at a sports event.

On the ice, the league tried to give Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer a big piece of hardware called the Campbell Trophy for the Ducks winning the conference title. He wouldn't touch it and I'm not sure he even looked at it. They play to hoist the Stanley Cup, and that takes four more wins. Game 1 is against the Ottawa Senators Monday in Anaheim.

The Ducks aren't the only reason local puck fans wear a smile on their faces these days. Rich Hammond of the Daily News has been blogging a lengthy conversation with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi that is the most detailed and specific inside analysis of the team's players and prospects that many of us ever remember seeing in print.

Add playoffs: Round of applause for Chris Chelios, who put in 29 shifts for the Red Wings, blocked five Anaheim shots with his body and played a solid, physical 19:19. The dude is 45 years old and still a factor.

May 17, 2007

Bill Plaschke's new book

Here's the promo blurb from Houghton Mifflin's web-site regarding L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke's upcoming book, "I Live for This! Baseball's Last True Believer," written with Tommy Lasorda. The $25 book, with a 75,000 print run, will be in bookstores on Oct. 24.

"An award-winning sportswriter shows us one of baseball’s most famous and enduring legends as we’ve never seen him before, revealing the secrets of his amazing, unlikely success and his unvarnished opinions on the state of the game.


"In 'I Live for This' Bill Plaschke strips the veneer from one of baseball’s last living legends to show how grit and determination really can transform a life. We think we know this jovial manager from the rah-rah style that has always raised eyebrows in the world of baseball. Some view him as an anachronism. Some love him like Santa Claus. But there’s one thing they all agree on: Lasorda is a success.

"With gleaming insight and remarkable candor, Plaschke takes us inside the day-to-day world of this baseball great to reveal a side of Lasorda that few people really know. And along the way, we’re treated to some of the most outrageous stories in sports. We also discover Lasorda’s unshakable opinions about what plagues baseball today.

"Bravely and brilliantly, I Live for This dissects the personality to give us the person. In the end we’re left with an indelible portrait of a legend that, if Lasorda has anything to say about it, we won’t ever forget."

No word as to whether the book addresses Lasorda's alleged connection with Jody "Babydol" Gibson, the Hollywood "Super Madam" who claimed that Lasorda was once a client. Lasorda denied this in an article written by the Times' Chuck Philips in February: "I have never heard of this woman and don't know why she would accuse me of something like this," Lasorda said in a statement issued by his attorney, Tony Capozzola. "But if she prints these lies, I intend to sue."

May 15, 2007

Channeling Allan Malamud

Jerry Crowe's column on page 2 of the LAT sports section today was an homage to the late Allan Malamud, devoted to three-dot notes rather than the single-topic columns Crowe usually offers. First at the Herald Examiner, and later for the Times, Malamud would gather short news items and observations on his daily rounds of the city's press boxes, locker rooms and coach's offices. His notes were easy and must reading for sports fans in Los Angeles, as Crowe relates in Mudian form:

The late, great Allan Malamud, whose breezy "Notes on a Scorecard" column was a favorite among readers and a fixture on the L.A. sports scene for more than 20 years, would have turned 65 on Nov. 19 this year….

He died Sept. 16, 1996….

This year's $5,000 winners of the Allan Malamud Scholarship, awarded annually to three USC students planning careers in sports journalism, are graduate student Samuel Farber and juniors Rhett Bollinger and Jeff Platt….

The scholarship, established in 1997, was aided by a generous donation from filmmaker and Malamud confidant Ron Shelton, who cast Malamud in several of his movies, among them "White Men Can't Jump" and "Tin Cup." …

R.I.P., Mud.

Names in boldface, of course.

More stadium construction for AEG?

The Houston Chronicle's Bernardo Fallas reports that Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer (as well as the L.A. Beckhams, er, Galaxy), is negotiating with the city of Houston to build a soccer-specific stadium for the club. The Dynamo, formerly known as the San Jose Earthquakes, moved to Texas before last season. According to Fallas, "The price tag for the proposed venue — a stand-alone stadium with limited shade — stands around $70 million. Private investment would be key to making it become a reality. While [Dynamo president Oliver] Luck declined to discuss financial details of AEG's involvement, he said the company would provide a 'substantial investment.'"

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Denver Post profiled Phil Anschutz and his far-flung empire (although –- surprise! -- the author of the story, Post staff writer Tom McGhee, did not get a face-to-face interview with media-phobic Anschutz). Regarding AEG's LA Live project, being constructed across the street from Staples, McGhee writes that, "the up-to-$290 million in hotel tax rebates that the Los Angeles City Council approved for the property last year drew the ire of many Angelenos.

" Joel Kotkin, author of 'The City: A Global History,' was one of those who opposed the tax breaks. 'The whole LA Live is an absurdity for a city like LA that has a huge, and unsubsidized, entertainment industry. Stuff like ESPN Zone and other packaged entertainment is not necessary for a city like ours. If you are bored in L.A., get another life,' he said in an e-mail response to a query."

May 9, 2007

De La Hoya-Mayweather sets $$$ record

"The Fight to Save Boxing," as Sports Illustrated called the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. championship bout on its cover last week, turned out to be pretty lame. Mayweather fought smart -– he stayed out of trouble –- and boxed just enough to earn a split decision. And, as has happened too often in the past, De La Hoya didn't fight with any sense of intensity and faded in the later rounds.

But who needs urgency when you've got lots and lots of money? With a record 2.15 million pay-per-view buys (at $54.95 a pop), the fight generated $120 million in revenue, according to Associated Press. (AP also estimated the live gate at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at $19 million.) The all-important pay-per-view numbers beat the previous record of 1.99 million buys for the second Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield heavyweight fight (also known as the "bite fight"). It's pretty amazing that a non-heavyweight fight now owns the record; much credit goes to HBO's promotional efforts, including a compelling reality show about the fighters in training.

De La Hoya will earn a reported $45 million for his effort. That's why they call him the Golden Boy.

May 1, 2007

De La Hoya-Mayweather

MaxBoxing.com's Steve Kim writes that this weekend's Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather championship fight in Vegas promises to be a box-office bonanza. But he cautions that, with boxing fans dwindling fast, the fight better be a good one. Writes Kim:

"De La Hoya is very close to becoming the all-time pay-per-view king. If this event does just a little bit more than the same number of [pay-per-view] buys as his fight against Ricardo Mayorga did (approximately 935,000), the Golden Boy will become the all-time highest grossing attraction in pay-per-view history. His 17 pay-per-view events have garnered nearly 10.5 million buys, generating $492 million. Evander Holyfield's 14 pay-per-views have had around 12.6 million subscribers and totaled $550 million. And Mike Tyson's 12 outings on pay-per-view have had around 12.4 million buys and $550 million. Oscar may have already exceeded these two heavyweights had his 1996 encounter against Julio Cesar Chavez been on pay-per-view and not on closed-circuit.

"The Lewis-Tyson event in 2002 is the all-time leading grosser in pay-per-view history, but De La Hoya's bout versus Felix Trinidad in September of 1999 is the all-time non-heavyweight pay-per-view telecast with 1.4 million buys that generated $71.4 million. It's almost a foregone conclusion that this Saturday’s bout will surpass that figure.


"So there's no doubt, this is not just a big fight, but one of the biggest events in all of sports for 2007. It will get the type of coverage from the general media that it rarely gets anymore. Both De La Hoya and Mayweather will be making career-high paydays when all the numbers are added up.

"But with that comes some extra added responsibility. Boxing - and these two boxers - must put their best foot (or is it fists?) forward when the whole world is watching. For all the hype that De La Hoya-Trinidad received, and the money it made, with its two leading men on the marquee, boxing got its version of "Ishtar." Here, we can't have "Waterworld" or "Alexander."

"No, it's not that this event will lose money - in fact, it will probably make an unprecedented amount of it - but being perhaps one of the last true mega-events boxing might have, it's critical that both participants put on a good show. We already know that this will be a financial winner for everyone involved. But the game of boxing needs a critical smash, one that will bring at least some of the general public back to the big top that is boxing; something that will be the impetus for newspaper editors and television heads to give boxing another look.


"De La Hoya's has provided boxing fans with some memorable moments like his grudge match victory over arch-nemesis Fernando Vargas in 2002, and his thrilling close-out of Ike Quartey in 1999. But some have still never forgiven him – or will - for his Dean Smith-like four corners offense against Trinidad or what some consider a questionable stoppage at the hands of a Bernard Hopkins left hook a few years back.

"Mayweather, for all his supposed brilliance, is more likely to make patrons leave early (just ask Charles Barkley and Tiger Woods) than have them on their feet applauding. In his gradual moves up in weight, he has become an increasingly cautious and safe prizefighter."