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L.A. coaches get punked; why the Dodgers lost the NLCS to St. Louis

Quick hits from the sports desk.

October 23, 2013|Bill Dwyre
  • Clayton Kershaw looks to the stands after giving up four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series .
Clayton Kershaw looks to the stands after giving up four runs to the St. Louis… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

As the old TV series used to say, there are a million stories in the naked city. We'll touch on each in just a few sentences.

Here goes:

• Ben Howland coaches UCLA to a regular season Pac-12 basketball title and gets punked by Bruins brass. Vinny Del Negro coaches the Clippers to their best record ever and gets punked by Donald Sterling and Co. Don Mattingly manages the Dodgers to the National League Championship Series and seems to be getting punked in a different way by his own team.

We thought the object was winning. We are confused.

We also aren't sure what the word "punked" means, but it makes us sound younger and more hip. If we start using the word "dude," send men in straitjackets.

As in: Mike Scioscia, a cool dude, didn't get punked.

We wrote about Bill Sharman the other day and lacked space for all the stories.

One untold one was how Sharman, who spent a time in the early 1950s in the Dodgers' farm system, was called up to the big team on Sept. 27, 1951. He rushed to the game, proudly put on his Dodger Blue uniform, took a seat on the bench, and before he knew what hit him, was tossed out of the game. There had been an argument with an umpire, who cleared the entire Dodgers bench.

That gave Sharman the distinction of being the only player to be ejected from a major league game without ever playing in one.

Roger Kahn, author of the celebrated book about the early-1950s era of Dodgers baseball, "The Boys of Summer," has his own theory about why the Dodgers lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS. He calls it a curse. "As I said long ago … stay in Brooklyn," Kahn says.

Florida State has a big, strong tight end named Nick O'Leary, who caught a pass last week and ran over a Clemson defensive back. It was similar to what his grandfather, Jack Nicklaus, used to do to others in golf tournaments.

Tennis anyone?

Pro tournaments have been leaving the state as if they fear earthquakes, but the surviving crown jewel, the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, just keeps polishing the silver and stacking up new gold. Right now, it is mostly a construction site. By mid-March, when the fans flock to the Southern California desert from all over the world for top tennis and great tans, it will feature a new Stadium 2, with 8,000 seats and stores and restaurants. Two of the restaurants are designed so spectators can eat and watch simultaneously, depending on individual hand-eye coordination.

The media have started to call this the fifth Grand Slam of tennis. It attracted 382,227 fans last year — Stadium 1 seats 16,100 — and is looking to top 400,000 in the next few years. Thus, the new stadium.

"We didn't want to cram people together to get to 400,000," says tournament Director Steve Simon.

A heads up to tennis' major tournament officials. Last year's French Open drew 428,698 and had two more days of play than Indian Wells. What does tennis do when an event not designated as a major outdraws one of its majors? Maybe just call the fifth one a major too.

We mentioned to Fred Leahy, son of legendary Frank, that the entrance dedicated to his father's memory at Notre Dame Stadium remains prominent and a moving tribute. There is a statue and abundant signage.

"I'm still moved, every time I see it," Fred Leahy says. "I'm honored he was my pop. I miss him all the time."

Saturday's football game between Nebraska and Minnesota at Minnesota has been designated an Epilepsy Awareness Game. That is to honor Gophers Coach Jerry Kill, whose epilepsy became so severe, including seizures at some games, that he needed to take a leave of absence while his doctors get his medication adjusted.

The game is sold out.

The whining about lost USC football scholarships, lots of it done by typists like this one, needs to stop. That cow has left the barn. Reality needs to set in. 'SC got jobbed, and Miami, Oregon and Ohio State got the friend-of-the-judge sentences.

It's over. 'SC played the we-are-bigger-than-you hand with the NCAA and found out it wasn't. Now all the whining has started to become a convenient and unproductive crutch for fans and media, maybe even the coaches and team.

The fabled P-Val, jockey Patrick Valenzuela, may be back in the saddle again soon, after yet another in a long series of disappearances from riding.

"He had some headaches, and we're not sure why," says his agent, Tom Knust.

Usually, P-Val gives the headaches.

Another pro football death that didn't get much play and needed to: Jim Hudson, the defensive back who made a key interception in the famed 1969 Super Bowl III — Joe Namath guaranteed that his Jets would beat the Colts from the established NFL and they did so — died in late June.

Cause of death: dementia and Parkinson's.

Hudson's wife, Lise, donated his brain to the Boston University clinic now doing much of the research on former NFL players' brain injuries. She said doctors believed his condition was football-related.

Hudson was 70.

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