Sports Beat, 10-30-07

--The big news in LA today is Grady Little's resignation and Joe Torre's potential hire as Dodgers manager. The Torre speculation has also led to rumors about Alex Rodriguez coming to LA. Call it LA-Rod if it happens.

First off, many have been critical of the Dodgers' treatment of Grady Little. The Dodgers and Little both said the resignation was on the manager's own terms, although many on sports talk radio today have doubted that. For what it's worth, earlier this year I was informed that Little was actually considering retirement after the season. Then in September, someone in the baseball industry told me that Little would be fired for losing the clubhouse. I don't know what the real story is, but if I had to guess, I would say the truth is somewhere in between. Little probably had some desire to leave, but the Dodgers were also likely excited about the availability of Joe Torre.

While every sports media outlet is reporting that Torre will be hired in LA, I believe that MLB rules require the Dodgers to interview a minority candidate. There may be some kind of exception though, given the media attention that Torre is receiving.

Personally, I think that the Dodgers would be very fortunate to have Torre manage them. He's obviously one of the best in the game, and few managers command greater respect from their players. Both young players and veterans have flourished under his leadership, and the Dodgers have a talented mix of both.

As for A-Rod... that signing is far less certain. Yes, he's probably the best player in the game. But I'm not sure if any single player is worth the money he's rumored to be asking for, and it's difficult for one person to take up such a large portion of a payroll. If the Dodgers do sign A-Rod, then they would figure to shop Andy La Roche in a trade. I'm not sure what they would do with Nomar Garciaparra.

The Dodgers are hoping to top 4 million fans in attendance for their 50th anniversary season. Hiring Joe Torre would help with that goal. Signing Alex Rodriguez would make an even bigger splash.

--Baseball Prospectus has done as much work on A-Rod's value as any baseball media entity. Today, Nate Silver plays A-Rod Survivor and predicts that Rodriguez will sign with the Angels. (BP)

--As I write this, I'm watching the Lakers play the Rockets on Opening Night. The LA Times has a full-scale pro and college basketball preview today. (LAT) There have been a million rumors swirling around Kobe Bryant's future. Everyone from Phil Jackson to Charles Barkley has weighed in with their take. But Mark Heisler writes today about the reality that the Lakers don't want to trade Bryant, no deal is imminent, and there's no available deal that seems viable. So Kobe is a Laker... for now. If things continue to sour during the season though, then anything could happen.

--Lost in all the hoopla about Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez, and Kobe Bryant was UCLA football. Athletic Director Dan Guerrero implied that the last four games of the season could affect Karl Dorrell's future as head coach.

"I will be very interested to see how we finish the season. And you can use that," Guerrero said.

If someone were to rank the quality of UCLA's eight opponents so far this season, they could argue that Utah, Notre Dame, and Washington State were their three weakest. Yet those three teams represent the Bruins' only three losses. Go figure.

--John David Booty is slated to start on Saturday for USC at quarterback as he's reportedly healthy. The Trojans' loss to Oregon temporarily muted the Sanchez-Booty debate, and made the decision to start the more experience QB more justifiable. That said, Sanchez played reasonably well against Oregon. He did throw two costly interceptions, but he stepped up and made some big throws that kept his team in the game.

With USC clearly weakened by injuries, Oregon looked like the better team. The Ducks' Dennis Dixon made a Heisman case with his performance, but the Trojan defense did an admirable job of containing him. Patrick Turner also made some spectacular catches. It was the first time I had really seen him realize his potential, and one wonders if that's a sign of things to come.

--Some exciting news on the NFL/LA front. Last week, we discussed a report that the NFL would explore a stadium site in the City of Industry. Today, TJ Simers reports that Ed Roski Jr. will meet with the NFL to discuss a potential stadium there. Roski's name brings a great deal of credibility to the project. He played a major role in getting STAPLES Center built and he's been involved with LA Live and other sites. Here's an excerpt from Simers' article:

"I wouldn't spend all this time or money if I didn't think the NFL wanted to have a team in the Greater L.A. area," said Roski, chief executive of Majestic Realty. "When the NFL categorically said recently it had no interest in the Coliseum, I put the second phase of a project I was developing in the City of Industry in abeyance and started to get this NFL project together."

Roski declined to specifically name the location for his new stadium until meeting with the NFL. It appears to be a vacant piece of land just beyond the intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways and adjacent to his industrial and retail Grand Crossing project.

"We own the land, have all the entitlements in place, and if you made a list of 100 things you would like to have with a new stadium, this probably has 90 of them," Roski said. "And working in the field that I do, I know something about location, and this is the perfect place for the Greater L.A. area -- located right in the middle of five counties."

October 30, 2007 9:25 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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