Thursday, February 07, 2008


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Long before ESPN, the Internet, and cell phone updates, I got all of my sports-related information from the Los Angeles Times. My dad would bring home the paper every night and I'd go straight to the sports section. Sometimes on the weekend we'd go down the street to pick up donuts and the paper. Other times, we'd get the paper before a stop at the barbershop. I preferred donuts to haircuts, but those were the breaks.

If the Lakers had played the night before, then I'd read that story first before turning to page two for Allan Malamud's “Notes On A Scorecard” column. Malamud (“Mud” as his colleagues and thousands of readers called him) was my favorite sportswriter, along with the legendary Jim Murray.

“Notes” ran a few days each week and was filled with Mud's insider views and observations on the L.A. sports scene. I loved how he covered every sport, pro or college, in his quick, concise style. A few years later, I'd appreciate how he'd occasionally offer a tip on a horse at Santa Anita or Hollywood Park. I always wondered how much his column affected the odds at the track.

When I became sports editor of my college paper, I wrote a weekly column based on Mud's template. While I felt my professor/editor would’ve frowned on me handicapping the horse races, I did provide my own insider take on our school’s teams. It was a great experience and I briefly considered a life as a professional sportswriter.

Mud died years ago and it's a bummer that not much was written about him. I still think of him and Jim Murray whenever I open up the Times sports section. Click here for a nice tribute to Malamud.

So, in honor of the late, great Allan Malamud, here are my thoughts on recent events in the sports world. I'm not an insider, but a fan ... so let's call this Notes on a Fan's Scorecard. (Patriots and Celtics fans, you should probably stop reading now. You've been warned)

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As a Raider fan, I gotta admit that it was sweet watching the Patriots lose the Super Bowl and their quest for a perfect season.

After referee Walt Coleman screwed the Raiders in New England with his bullshit interpretation of the Tuck Rule, it was fitting that a New York player named Justin Tuck had a major hand in beating the Cheating Patriots.

While I don't think Belichick's walking off the field with one second left was as bad as the Pistons walking off the court against the Bulls in '91, it was still a pretty shitty thing to do.

Of course, this is the same asshole who routinely made a mockery of the post-game handshake and ran up the score in various games this season, so it's not that surprising.

Karma's a bitch, Bill.

Worst call of the Super Bowl came after the game: The Giant's defensive line deserved to be MVP, not Eli.

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Super Bowl commercials that scored high with the crowd I was watching with: Naomi Campbell and the “Thriller” lizards, the Budweiser “Rocky” Clydesdale, and Pepsi's Night at the Roxbury.

Honorable mention: Justin Timberlake's magnetic attraction.

My personal favorite: the Victoria's Secret ad. Sure, it was boring and lame, but Adriana Lima on a 60-inch HD television can sell me anything, anytime.

Worst commercial: the one featuring pandas with bad Chinese accents. Memo to ad executives: stick to funny animals, beautiful women, or celebrities getting slammed in the groin to sell your products. There's a certain time, place, and manner for joking about racial stereotypes and this wasn't it, morons.

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Laker fans, repeat after me: “Mitch, I'm sorry.”

Like every other Angeleno, I've bitched and moaned about Mitch Kupchak since he took over for Jerry West, but he's pulled off two Logo-like moves this season: first, Brian Cook and Maurice Evans for Trevor Ariza and now Kwame “Expiring Contract” Brown and Javaris Crittenton for Pau Gasol.

David Stern and the NBA are creaming in their jeans right now thinking of a possible L.A.-Boston finals. I expect every referees' calls to go the Lakers and Celtics way until they meet in June.

It'd be a lot easier to guarantee a Lakers-Celtics final if Tim Donaghy was still an NBA ref.

The best part of the Lakers-Grizzlies deal is that Jerry West is no longer the Grizzlies GM and can't be accused of helping his former team, unlike the Cheating Celtics' GM Danny Ainge and his “trade” for Kevin Garnett from former teammate and Wolves GM Kevin McHale.

To paraphrase Pat Riley, I guarantee the Lakers will win the NBA title next year ... if not this year.

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Let's hope Joe Torre pulls a Phil Jackson and gets the Dodgers to start playing like champions.

Even with the addition of Torre, though, I don't like the fact that the Dodgers raised ticket prices in the top deck to $11. I paid $6 just two years ago.

Go support your local minor league team. Mine is down the street and for less than $20 I can get a ticket, parking, a hot dog and a beer. That's half of what it costs to do the same at Dodger Stadium.

In L.A. the first true sign of spring is Vin Scully's voice on the airwaves.

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Unfortunately, spring also usually means the end of the Kings' hockey season, when they're long out of the playoff picture. This season, the Kings' spring started in December.

Luckily for the Kings, nobody watches the NHL anymore, so their horrible season has gone by unnoticed ... much like these last few sentences after the photo above.