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The Inside Track | Mike Penner/ SOUND AND VISION

And the Award for Paying Attention Goes to ...

August 16, 2003|Mike Penner

The Dodgers are up for sale and down in the standings, third out of five teams in the National League West. They can be seen today at 10 a.m. on Channel 11 playing the Chicago Cubs in a game that could have wild-card implications -- assuming the Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos all do cannonball plunges into the tank in September.

The Angels are six games under .500 and three games separated from last place in the American League West. They are scheduled to continue playing out the schedule this weekend against the Detroit Tigers, with Fox Sports Net contractually obligated to broadcast both games.

Kobe Bryant awaits trial on a sexual assault charge that carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment. Allen Iverson can be seen Sunday night on "SportsCenter" shaking his head and going tsk tsk tsk over the Laker star's plight.

Lamar Odom became this week's Clipper to sign a front-loaded free-agent offer sheet in fingers-crossed hope of digging his way out of Stalag Sterling.

The Kings missed the playoffs and have spent the off-season watching big-name free-agent talent sign almost everywhere else.

UCLA fired both its football and basketball coaches.

For the first time since 1984, no Southland college qualified for the men's NCAA basketball tournament.

The NFL, for the ninth consecutive year, will open a season without a franchise in the nation's second-largest television market.

The Home Depot Center just played host to a women's tennis tournament that brought fans streaming into Carson by the dozens.

Congratulations, Los Angeles/Anaheim!

You've just been named the Sporting News' Best Sports City for 2003!

The Sporting News does this every year, and apparently just got bored handing the title to Boston, New York or Denver. Because there on the magazine's cover are the words you thought you'd never see, along with photos of Angels and Ducks celebrating and Carson Palmer, who, it should be pointed out, had nothing to do with those dreary Carson tennis turnstile counts.

Local Fox Sports Net is so excited about this honor that its "Southern California Sports Report" team will play host to Best Sports City "party coverage" today at the Fox Sports Grill in Irvine.

(Party coverage footnote: In 2003, UC Irvine kept intact its perfect record of never having qualified for the men's NCAA basketball tournament.)

The Sporting News based its selection mainly on the Angels' World Series success (now almost 10 months old) and Palmer's Heisman Trophy victory (now eight months old) and the Ducks' trip to the Stanley Cup finals (Paul Kariya now a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Ducks still up for sale).

The magazine also based the selection on "a 12-month snapshot, running roughly from July to July." During those 12 months, New York/New Jersey placed two teams in league championship finals, beat Anaheim in the Stanley Cup finals and saw the Nets-Devils duo outrank the Angels-Ducks in regular-season winning percentage and attendance.

Despite that, the Sporting News ranked L.A./Anaheim No. 1 and New York/New Jersey No. 2.

So party on, L.A./Anaheim/"Southern California Sports Report"! Because you already know how hard it is to repeat.

Also available for viewing this weekend:


* X Games

(Channel 7, 3 p.m.)

Bringing you the best in bike stunt dirt, bike stunt vert, moto X step-up and street skateboarding from Staples Center and the Coliseum. Which, quite frankly, is more than New York/New Jersey can say. Extreme sports are big in L.A. ESPN president George Bodenheimer calls Los Angeles "the birthplace of action sports." And if he has ever tried to leave the Home Depot Center immediately after a Galaxy match, he'd know it's also the birthplace of inaction sports.

* PGA Championship

(Channel 2, 11 a.m.)

TNT did its job Friday, which was to safely escort Tiger Woods to the weekend, barely. It was nervous time for a while, with Tiger toying with missing the cut for the first time in 28 majors, eventually shooting a two-over-par 72 -- and shooting up nearly 20 spots on the leaderboard.

This isn't Tiger Ball as we had come to know it. But that was then, and this is the heart of the Rich Beem-Mike Weir-Ben Curtis-pick-a-name-any-name era of majors golf. CBS will bring it home, keeping tabs on Tiger's undaunted quest for par and how many more times Phil Mickelson can find water.

* Arizona Cardinals at San Diego Chargers

(Fox Sports Net 2, 7 p.m.)

Or, if you want to see the game in person for free, the Chargers are offering two-for-one ticket vouchers for anyone donating a pint at the San Diego Blood Bank. This is believed to be an NFL first. Previously, the league has put L.A. area fans through the wringer, asking them to jump through hoops for the chance to see an NFL game in person. Now they're asking for blood.

* Arsenal vs. Everton

(Fox Sports World, 9 a.m.)

In England, they call this the start of football season. In the States, where more than 271,000 soccer fans turned out to witness Manchester United's recent four-city U.S. tour, they call this a better option than D.C. United at the Chicago Fire.


* NASCAR Winston Cup

GFS Marketplace 400

(TNT, 11 a.m.)

The blackouts that left thousands stranded in subways and elevators throughout the Northeast this week served to remind how important energy and its conservation are to our way of life. And Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, thousands of gallons of fossil fuel will be burned in support of America's fastest-growing spectator sport.

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