Sports Beat, 10-21-07

--USC appears to be regaining form after a 38-0 thrashing of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. The Trojans are getting healthier and the defense was magnificent in the win. Still, it was absolutely shocking to see how far Notre Dame has fallen in such a short period of time. People expected this to a building year for the Irish, but no one expected a Charlie Weis-coached team to have the 119th-ranked scoring offense in the country. For the sake of USC's strength of schedule, the Trojans need Notre Dame to hold up its end of the rivalry.

In the meantime, Mark Sanchez's solid play has some calling for him to be the full-time starter.

--UCLA's sensational win over Cal goes to show just how much talent the Bruins really have. It also seems like UCLA is a different team with Patrick Cowan running the show. He may not be the most skilled QB in the world and he was playing hurt against Cal. But Cowan appears to have a charisma and a way about him that brings the best out in his teammates.

It's still amazing that this team got routed by Utah and lost 20-6 to Notre Dame.

--Bill Stoneman retired as the GM of the Angels this week, and he'll be replaced by Tony Reagins. Stoneman leaves an incredible legacy in Anaheim. He brought class and integrity to the job, and the Angels organization has as solid of a foundation as any in the game. Under Stoneman, the Angels were consistenly one of the best teams in baseball, and people forget that they have completely different roster now than what they had in 2002. Stoneman made very shrewd free agent signings, but he also developed a first-class player development system.

The person who oversaw that player development system, Reagins, now takes over the GM chair. Reagins' challenge will be to upgrade the Angels' offense, while identifying which young players are most expendable. But it's important for Angels fans to remember that big bats don't grow on trees. Few teams in baseball are just dying to give up their top sluggers, and with the sport enjoying unprecedented economic prosperity, clubs can now afford to keep their homegrown stars with long-term deals. It's not as easy for big market teams to add pieces as it was a few years ago, and many criticisms of big market GMs in this regard are unfair.

Also, while Mike Scioscia will reportedly have more influence over personnel decisions, don't mistake him for a GM-manager. It's not feasible in baseball to have "coach-GMs", which you might see football or basketball. In a 162-game season, there are so many demands placed on a field manager that there are simply not enough hours in the day for him to also negotiate contracts, manage scouting and player development departments, deal with agents, discuss potential trades at length with other clubs, and tackle so many of the other complex tasks that face modern-day general managers. Make no mistake, Tony Reagins is the GM. That said, Scioscia will certainly have an influential voice in the baseball operations department, as Arte Moreno indicated. It's been said that Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox exercises more influence in player personnel than any other manager in baseball, so it will be interesting to see how Scioscia's role compares.

--The Galaxy's remarkable late-season run fell just short, as Joe Thorrington scored in the 93rd minute to give the Chicago Fire a 1-0 win over LA. The return of David Beckham (in limted action) was not enough to propel the Galaxy into the playoffs. But with a healthy Beckham next year, LA should absolutely be better next year.

LA fans still have something to look forward to in the MLS playoffs. Chivas USA clinched the best record in the Western Conference after playing Houston Dynamo to a scoreless draw.

--For years, we knew it as the LA Open. Then it was the Nissan Open. Now, LA's golf tournament has been renamed the Northern Trust Open. While it has a new name, there are no plans for the tournament to leave Riviera Country Club.

--It may have been too much too soon for the kid. Earlier this week, the LA Kings sent promising young goalie Jonathan Bernier back to his junior team in Quebec League. The Kings still like Bernier's future with the organization, but apparently the 19-year old wasn't quite ready for the show. Jason LaBarbera made his case to be the Kings' starting goaltender in a 4-2 win over Vancouver on Friday.

--Last week we noted reports indicating there is interest among several Canadian businessmen to purchase the Buffalo Bills and move them to Toronto. This week, we learned that the Bills plan to play one preseason and one regular season game in Toronto as a means of expanding their fan base. You can interpret this story however you want, but if LA doesn't want to lose out to another city for an NFL team, it might be a good time for someone with money in this town to take the reigns of our football efforts. I'd do it, but I'm a few hundred million dollars short at the moment... unless anyone wants to lend me the money...

--After 10 years, the Dodgers have returned to KABC 790 AM. Doesn't that just feel right? Growing up, I always listened to the Dodgers on 790, and it felt natural to bookmark the station on my car radio memory a few days ago. The Dodgers will keep the same broadcasting crew.

October 21, 2007 3:52 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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