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September 19, 2008|JERRY CROWE

The stars are aligned this fall -- on the sidelines. . . .

Tom Brady is on the shelf, Tiger Woods is out of action and Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees soon will be spectators too. . . .

Thankfully, Kobe Bryant put off surgery on his injured pinkie. . . .

October won't be as interesting without the Yankees, who last missed the playoffs in a full season in 1993, when Jeter was 19 years old and still playing single-A ball for the Greensboro Hornets of the South Atlantic League

The good news for Dodgers fans is, Vin Scully will travel with the team wherever it goes in the playoffs, but the bad news is, he'll be heard only on radio. . . .

Manny Ramirez, who tabs Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals as his pick for most valuable player in the National League, never finished higher than third in voting for American League MVP. . . .

He was, however, MVP of the 2004 World Series. . . .

Give Derek Lowe a little support, as Andre Ethier and the Dodgers have been doing consistently of late, and he's difficult to beat. . . .

In four seasons with the Dodgers, the soon-to-be free-agent right-hander is 44-3 when given at least four runs' support, according to STATS LLC. . . .

This year, he's 12-0. . . .

Noting Francisco Rodriguez's heaven-sent season in Anaheim, reader Jerry Li of Huntington Beach e-mails to suggest that we go biblical and start calling K-Rod and his Angels pitching cohorts "Thy Rod and thy staff." . . .

Before last Saturday, when UCLA was skunked at Brigham Young, a team with Norm Chow on its coaching staff had not been shut out since 1975, when Chow was a 29-year-old BYU assistant and the Cougars were blanked at Arizona State. . . .

As an offensive coordinator since 1982 -- at BYU, North Carolina State, USC and with the Tennessee Titans -- Chow, 62, had never been shut out. . . .

A Sports Illustrated photo shows USC's Rey Maualuga stepping on the sideline during his interception return for a touchdown against Ohio State, which conjures this thought: If Maualuga had been ruled out of bounds, Mark Sanchez probably would have passed for five touchdowns against the Buckeyes. . . .

Speaking of the Buckeyes and Trojans, Pete Carroll & Co. haven't seen the last of Ohio State wunderkind Terrelle Pryor, who will be more polished when the teams meet again Sept. 12 at Columbus, Ohio, or perhaps sooner. . . .

New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel and older brother Jack, a Houston Astros pitcher, are married to former college roommates and USC women's volleyball teammates Lauren Killian and Julie Mariani. . . .

By the way, the Patriots' 53-man roster not only includes a former USC quarterback who never started a game in college -- that would be Cassel -- but also a wide receiver, Matthew Slater, who never caught a pass at UCLA. . . .

With Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium closing their doors after this season, Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium will be the third- and fourth-oldest ballparks in the majors behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. . . .

Roger Federer's "disappointing" season -- U.S. Open winner, Wimbledon and French Open runner-up, Australian Open semifinalist, Olympic gold medalist in doubles -- would have been the season of a lifetime for almost anybody else. . . .

Candace Parker, who leads the Sparks against the Seattle Storm in a WNBA playoff opener tonight at Staples Center, is trying to become the first woman to win college, pro and Olympic championships in the same season. . . .

In 1956, Bill Russell led San Francisco to its second consecutive NCAA title and helped the U.S. win an Olympic gold medal in Melbourne before joining the Boston Celtics and, as a rookie, leading them to their first NBA title. . . .

With newcomers Baron Davis and Marcus Camby in tow and the team's new Playa Vista training facility up and running, the Clippers soon will open camp in preparation for their 25th season in Los Angeles. . . .

At their current pace of once every six years, Donald Sterling & Co. should be back in the playoffs again sometime between now and 2014.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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