<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Thu, 24 Jul 2014 23:45:45 -0700 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 23:45:45 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jeremy Lin Wearing Lakers' No. 17]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:48:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-Joins-Lakers-7-24-14.JPG

Although the Los Angeles Lakers officially acquired Jeremy Lin on July 14, 2014, the point guard was locked up with a basketball tour in China and could not immediately make his presence felt in the southland.

“I'm seeing it as a new start, a fresh start, and it’s good to be back in the state of California. I was born in Torrance, so not too far away from here,” Lin opened his press conference with the LA Lakers on Thursday.

In his first official appearance with the Lakers, Lin came off as charming, humble and often humorous.

At one point, a Chinese reporter asked Lin when he would be able to play for the Lakers. After confirming the start date of the preseason, Lin answered the question and said he was ready to go. However, the Lakers’ point guard went on to confirm whether he had properly answered the reporter's question and appeared to be genuinely concerned about whether he had satisfied the reporter. He did not sound like a global superstar who had already achieved greater levels of fame than the vast majority of players in the NBA.

Looking to the court, Lin said he looked forward to learning for Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. From Bryant, Lin was hoping to take away bits from the Bryant's famous workouts. From Nash, Lin was a bit more technical about refining his point guard skills and playing in “control,” using "angles" and improving "footwork."

With the Lakers, Lin will wear no. 17. The point guard wore the no. 7 in Houston and was asked why he had changed. Naturally, he pointed to Xavier Henry currently holding the no. 7 with the Lakers. When asked about the controversy surrounding his former team, the Houston Rockets, mocking up graphics for Carmelo Anthony wearing his occupied no. 7 in an attempt to woo the Knicks free agent, Lin gracefully avoided conflict.

“I just felt like [the Rockets] could have maybe kept it internal,” he said. “It wasn’t a big thing for me.”

Lin was also asked about comments made by former teammate James Harden dismissing Lin’s importance to the Rockets. Again, Lin balked at being confrontational and spoke highly of his personal relationship with Harden.

On the court, the Lakers gained a player that should help them at a position that has been lacking for several years. Off the court, however, the Lakers appear to have picked up a character individual that knows how to speak to the media and value fans.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Ed Davis Signs With Lakers]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:17:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Ed-Davis-Lakers-7-23-15.jpg

“It’s tough to say that without a coach,” Los Angeles Lakers’ newest signing Ed Davis responded when asked about what role he would play on the team.

Ten minutes after signing his contract with the Lakers, Davis walked into an overcrowded media room that was uncomfortably hot. He held up and posed alongside a gold No. 21 jersey.

“That’s my college number at North Carolina,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said as he joined Davis in the photo opportunity.

When asked about the significance of the number, Davis said, “That was my number in high school, in my ninth grade year.”

So who is Davis and what does he bring to the 2014-15 Lakers?

“I can play both positions--the four and the five,” Davis said. “What I bring: Athleticism, defend, rebound—all the little things.”

Davis was the 13th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. After spending two and a half years with the Toronto Raptors, Davis was a part of the Rudy Gay trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and ended up as a backup to Zach Randolph, also known as “Z-Bo,” and Marc Gasol.

“It was great playing behind both of them,” Davis said about Gasol and Randolph. Defensively, Davis targeted Gasol to study under, “picking his brain.” From Randolph, Davis said he learned “every night” and pointed to the “intangibles” that coaches cannot teach.

In his only full season with Memphis, Davis started four games and played 15.2 minutes per game. He averaged 5.7 points, 4.1 rebounds on 53.4 percent shooting from the field. Playing the power forward and center positions, Davis is not a player designed to stretch the floor. In fact, he has never attempted a three-point field goal over his four-year career.

Joining the stable of Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Julius Randle in the front court, Davis will again have to fight hard to earn time of the floor.

“I think he’s going to be a real good player in this league,” Davis said about Lakers’ rookie Randle. “He kind of reminds me of a ‘Z-Bo’ a little bit, but he can put it on the floor a little better than ‘Z-Bo.’”

Several sources reported that Davis agreed to a two-year $2 million contract with the player holding an option on the second year.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Tough Guy Beckett Returns from DL]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:20:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/451779698.jpg

Josh Beckett's in the wrong sport.

He should be a football player. They're the only athletes I can think of who could suffer the same physical ailments Beckett has dealt with the past two years and still perform at a high level.

The right-hander's fortitude is unquestionable. He already proved his mettle by returning this year from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Now, he's dealing with an injured left hip. And, it's not just the type of soreness that makes your face scrunch when getting out of bed. According to MLB.com, the hip has a torn labrum and two cysts. For most normal human beings that would require a cane just to get from the couch to the bathroom. For Beckett, one good Cortizone shot and he's ready to take the mound Tuesday against the Pirates and throw 90-plus MPH fastballs to guys who make a living swatting at them.

He'll return from the 15-day disabled list with a chance to give the Dodgers a series win against a potential playoff team. It's a series they need to win, for a number of reasons. Manager Don Mattingly will turn to Beckett to get it done.

But, here's the thing: He's not healed. The former World Series MVP has decided to pitch through the pain for the rest of the season.

"Hopefully, I can make it through. I think here in another month I can get another shot if I have to. I'm not really looking forward to that, but if that's what I have to do, that's what I have to do," Beckett told Dodgers beat writer Michael Lananna.

No big deal. He's already down a rib from his thoracic surgery.

Ok, so Beckett lost the rib, but he gained a no-hitter. He doesn't throw as hard, but he's fourth in the NL with a 2.26 ERA. He won't win a Cy Young, but he's won respect around the league.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Gordon Joins Hall-of-Fame Company]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:58:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/182*120/dg+as+game.jpg

So, the video below is all about Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig video bombing Dodgers reporter Alanna Rizzo.

I’m around the team a lot. That stuff happens all the time. Those two have yet to find a practical joke opportunity they don’t like.

What you’re really seeing, though, is how players can be like attention needy five year olds when they’re not in a game, always getting into things they’re not supposed to. In this case, it’s a national broadcast that affects Rizzo’s career, which you can clearly see they’re concerned about.

But, Dodgers fans don’t laugh. Puig and Han-Ram are only able to pull off their stunt because they’re both nursing left hand and left wrist injuries. Neither suffered broken bones but both have battled nagging injuries all season. That's a big concern, especially since they’re, arguably, the two most important position players in the team’s push for a repeat division crown.

Anyway, despite the clowning session at her expense Rizzo plows through her liveshot and 22 seconds into the video she presents this obscure, yet amazing, nugget about Dee Gordon. Check it out.

To put that in perspective, Rickey Henderson is a Hall-of-Famer, Raines and Lofton could one day land in Cooperstown, Coleman was, but the numbers, the best base stealer in baseball for six seasons and then there’s some guy named Gerald Young.

It’s still up in the air whether Gordon’s career will go the path of the former four, or the latter but it's pretty impressive any way you slice it.

Respect to Gordon for the accomplishment and to Rizzo for not throwing the microphone at Ramirez and Puig.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe's Back: The 2014-15 LA Lakers]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 06:48:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Lakers-2014-15.jpg

Kobe Bryant will be back. Is that positive enough for you? It’s time to push aside the negativity and promulgate the truth about the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers.

The biggest difference between the 2013-14 Lakers, which finished with the worst record since the team moved to LA, and the 2014-15 Lakers is a man that goes by one name: “Kobe.” Yes, one of the best players in the history of the game may be 35-years-old (and turning 36 before the season starts) but the last time no. 24 actually played a season, he averaged 27 points, six rebounds and six assists.

To put those numbers in perspective, Nick Young led the laughingstock Lakers with 18 points per game. The last time Bryant averaged 18 or fewer points in a season, Del Harris was still the coach and Eddie Jones was starting at shooting guard. To what extent Bryant’s knee fracture and Achilles injury have hampered the superstar remains to be seen, but his intellect, knowledge and experience are ineluctable.

As much as the season of failure was pinned on former coach Mike D’Antoni, the 2014-15 Lakers had more wins than losses a month after opening night. Then, the injuries hit. Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti still probably wakes up in a cold sweat from nightmares of players queuing up for treatment. At one point during the injured season, the Lakers’ medicine man turned to reporters as they received one of the never-ending injury updates and joked with a look of genuine disbelief that the only people not on the injury table were media members (I promptly told Vitti about my ankle/Achilles injury which didn’t make him feel any better...p.s. follow me @shahanLA).

Okay, so a healthy Bryant alone is a massive improvement from the season to forget. However, he is not alone.

The Lakers have not had a consistent point guard worth talking about since Derek Fisher, who truthfully was more of a leader than a traditional point guard. The 2014-15 Lakers have Jeremy Lin, who can handle the ball, shoot from the outside and score the basketball. With Steve Nash aging (already aged is likely more accurate), Lin’s inclusion automatically improves that position and gives the Lakers another backcourt scoring threat.

Rookie Jordan Clarkson also seems like he was an intelligent pick-up, and the young point guard with a Filipino following stood out during the Lakers’ involvement in the NBA Summer League.

Yes, the Lakers lost Pau Gasol. However, at his age and with his weakened knees, Gasol was visibly slower and less effective on both ends of the floor. Gasol remained a champion and a true professional even after he announced his departure to Chicago, but the Lakers’ acquisition of Carlos Boozer is not nearly as significant of a drop-off as many made it out to be. Boozer also cost the Lakers a whole lot less money.

With rookie Julius Randle adding tenacity and fresh hunger to the team, the Lakers could easily argue that they have upgraded the front court from a season ago. For anyone wishing to point to Chris Kaman’s departure as a downgrade, the bearded giant spent as much time lying across the bench as he did running up and down the floor.

Jordan Hill, who will likely see time at center if not start there, should actually earn consistent playing time to finally prove his true value. With big power forwards helping on the boards and in the lane, Hill’s undersized stature may not be as exposed as one would think. Worth remembering, the 2013-14 Lakers ranked sixth from the bottom in rebounding and defense was non-existent. Honestly, how can they possibly be worse?

Young played well and entertained fans in a painful season, but Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly also provided brief sparks of electricity. Having all three players back is a positive move. Assuming all three can stay healthy and show improvement, the Lakers can look to build on the few bright spots in the darkest of seasons.

Wesley Johnson played out of position for the vast majority of his lone season in LA, but his athleticism still shone through. Like Hill, Johnson will finally get the opportunity to prove what he can do without being undermined by the coach’s philosophy. Can he be the defensive specialist he was meant to be? Playing small forward is already an improvement on Johnson being constantly outmatched at power forward.

Also worth mentioning, the 2014-15 Lakers will likely practice and play something resembling defense. D’Antoni is gone (hold for applause). For all his flaws (and there were many) it is impossible to blame D’Antoni for the injury curse that took hold of the Lakers.

The 2014-15 Lakers may not look like they’re built to contend for a title, but they don’t look like a team contending for last place either. Hopefully, the injury spell is broken, the Lakers are no longer an embarrassment and, most importantly, “Kobe” is back.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Crawford Selected to AFL Hall-of-Fame]]> Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:18:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/166*120/cc+dugout.jpg

Carl Crawford’s a long shot to make the big league Hall of Fame but he can now count himself among the best to ever play in the Arizona Fall League.

Crawford and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday were selected Sunday as the 35th and 36th members of the AFL Hall of Fame, as reported by MLB.com.

They’ll be inducted in November.

In 2001, the current Dodgers left fielder was a young, up-and-coming speedster playing for the Maryvale Saguaros in a league known as the stomping ground for future major league stars.

Crawford balled out. He hit .386 with nine stolen bases in 17 games before joining Team USA in the World Cup in Chinese Taipai.

He’s done pretty well since making his Major League debut in 2002. in 12-plus seasons, the four-time All-Star is a .291 career hitter with over 1,800 hits and his 118 triples lead all active players.

He also holds company with Ty Cobb as the only players to hit over 100 triples and steal 400 bases before their 30th birthdays.

Holliday went through the league in 2002 and 2003 and killed it both times.

In 35 AFL games he hit .316 with four homers 21 RBIs and 20 runs scored. In the majors Holliday’s has made six All-Star teams. He’s also hit 258 career home runs and holds a .309 career average. Holliday won a World Championship with the Cardinals in 2011.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Xavier Henry Returning, Kendall Marshall Waived]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:28:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-sign-Xavier-Henry-7-18-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers approached the weekend with a bit of good news and a bit of bad news. First the bad news, point guard Kendall Marshall was waived by the team on Friday morning. Then the good news, versatile guard Xavier Henry agreed terms to return to the team for another season.

Reluctantly, the Lakers waived Marshall on Friday morning. Yahoo! Sports first reported the move and stated that the team was hopeful that Marshall would clear waivers, as the Lakers would likely offer the point guard a minimum contract at that point.

After a disappointing first year with the Phoenix Suns, Marshall went to the NBA Development League, and the Lakers scooped up the point guard midseason after injuries hit the back court. Marshall performed well as a starter but often struggled to find his rhythm off the bench.

The Lakers’ winning bid for Carlos Boozer complicated matters, and the team would have had to renegotiate the contract that it had verbally agreed to with Nick Young in order to sign Marshall. With plenty of cover at point guard, the Lakers released Marshall on Friday morning.

In an unrelated move, the Lakers signed Henry to a one-year minimum contract. Henry, not alone in this by any means, was plagued with injuries during the 2013-14 season. The left-handed fan favorite underwent surgeries on his wrist and knee before the season ended, but he continued to be a fixture in the Lakers’ facility while undergoing rehab.

On the court, Henry thrilled fans with his high-flying dunks and attacking style of play. The athletic shooting guard played point guard when the Lakers were short at the position and often slotted into the small forward role. Considering the Lakers still appear pretty stacked at point guard and thin at small forward, Henry will likely find himself playing on the wing again this season.

In his lone season with the Lakers, the four-year professional out of Kansas averaged 10.0 points, 1.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game—all career highs.

With the Marshall move and the Henry signing, the Lakers will likely look to seek signatures from rookie Jordan Clarkson and second-year Ryan Kelly.

As it stands, the Lakers officially have Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre, Julius Randle, Steve Nash and Boozer on the books. Also, the team has reportedly agreed verbally with Young, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Henry. Clarkson is expected to be signed at some point, and Kelly would be a welcomed addition.

If everything goes as expected, the Lakers would stand at 12 players.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Gear Up for Pennant Push]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:24:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/452084572.jpg

The All-Star break is done.

Vacations, for those who didn’t make the team, are over. The chase for a playoff spot is on.

The Dodgers start the second half riding a two-game winning streak and a one game lead over the Giants in the National League West.

It's fitting that their first post-break opponent is the Cardinals, the same team that gave LA a 9-0 spanking in Game 6 of the NLCS last year to end their season.

A rematch would be great for baseball and both teams are expected to provide it.

But, if the Dodgers plan on making it back, their general Ned Colleti and manager Don Mattingly will need to get under the hood and do some tinkering to get their blue hot-rod of a team running smoothly.

There are some areas in the motor they should pay special attention to.

Center field: The Dodgers need a center fielder. Badly! Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke are fine athletes and certified big leaguers. But, running down balls in the gaps is not their strong suits. Yasiel Puig is a ball hog in the greatest sense but watching him track a fly is similar to Google maps being confronted with road closures. It’s all over the place. The good news for the Dodgers: they already have a center fielder in Matt Kemp. The bad news: most defensive stats show he’s been awful this year. According to FanGraphs advanced metrics, Kemp’s last in range runs (-14.5) and ultimate zone rating (-16.4). Basically, both stats say his defensive woes have led to approximately 14 to 16 more runs being scored by Dodger opponents than if he wasn’t out there. Still, Kemp’s their best option. He’s a two-time Gold Glove winner for a reason. He may have lost a step but he’s looked healthy and more confident with more playing time. If the Dodgers don’t trade his $160 million contract to another team, then the move should be to put their best center fielder back in center field.

Left field: If Kemp moves then Mattingly’s back to his juggling act with what to do there. Carl Crawford is back, so it adds to the suspense of who will win the job. It was essentially Crawford's until an ankle injury knocked him out for awhile. He'll get another shot at it but don't be surprised if Mattingly settles on a Crawford-Ethier-Van Slyke combo.

Starting Pitching: We already know how ridiculously good the front three of the rotation are. Josh Beckett and Dan Haren are the wildcards. If Becket can return from the disabled list and be his first half self, and Haren can keep the homers he likes to give up to solo shots, the back half of the Dodgers staff will keep them sailing even with an inconsistent offense.

Bullpen: Kenley Jansen is still the man at the end of games. What the Dodgers need is a setup man who can hand a game over to their closer. Chris Perez and Brian Wilson have both been given chances, but they’ve both blown them. Brandon League, on the other hand, may be the guy. He’s only given up one earned run since June 16. He has a 2.09 ERA in 38 appearances and Mattingly's confidence in him is at an all-time high.

The Dodgers are also in the market for another left-handed reliever, although J.P. Howell has been dynamite. In 34 innings he’s only given up 17 hits and five earned runs. Paul Maholm has stepped up to provide long relief when called upon. The addition of another lefty will give the skipper options in the seventh or eighth inning of a one-run game in September.

The Bench: Like every team, the Dodgers have dealt with injuries and disabled list casualties. But, their bench has helped keep the team afloat. The part-timers have been led by Justin Turner. He’s been a Godsend for the club this year. Turner stepped in at third when Juan Uribe went down for an extended time, and he’s done duty at shortstop and second base. At the plate is where Turner has really come through hitting .302 (48 for 159), with three home runs and 21 RBIs. He’s been dealing with some napping leg injuries, but they shouldn’t be enough to keep him from answering the bell when his number is called.

The bright spot nobody saw coming has been Miguel Rojas. Forget the .208 batting average. The 25-year-old has dazzled with the glove. The unbelievable defensive play he made to save Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter is just one in a growing highlight reel. Rojas and Dee Gordon have become one of the most exciting double-play combinations in baseball. Even as regulars have returned from injuries Rojas hasn’t gone anywhere. He'll have to get better at the plate. At times he looks lost. If he can get that together, Rojas could turn out to be an unsung hero when the season is all said and done.

Health is the variable factor every team deals with, so no need to go there.

Watching how the season plays out should be fun, that is, if you have Time Warner Cable. But, that's whole other story in itself.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carlos Boozer Adds to Lakers' Front Line]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:39:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Boozer-Lakers-7-18-14.jpg

In a shrewd business move, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired two-time NBA All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer, the team announced on Thursday. The Chicago Bulls released Boozer via the amnesty provision, and the Lakers made a $3.25 million bid, which proved to be the best offer in the blind bidding process.

Boozer’s contract guaranteed the 32-year-old $16.8 million for the 2014-15 season, so the Bulls will still be on the hook for $13.55 million of Boozer’s salary per reports by ESPN and the Los Angeles Times. Putting the technicalities and the salary cap talk on hold for the moment, Boozer solidifies a Lakers’ front line that was chronically lacking at the start of the week.

On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Lakers had agreed terms with 6-foot 10-inch power forward Ed Davis, who played 63 games for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2013-14 season. Davis’ deal was reported to be for two years and $2 million, with the player holding an option on the second year.

Along with Boozer and Davis, the projected Lakers’ front line includes rookie Julius Randle, third-year Robert Sacre and 26-year-old Jordan Hill. Hill has not yet signed his contract, but the power forward, who also doubles as an undersized center, reportedly agreed terms for a two-year contract worth $18 million, with the team holding an option on the second year.

As Basketball Insiders salary cap expert and LA Times Lakers’ blogger Eric Pincus pointed out, Boozer’s addition creates a bit of a conundrum for the Lakers. Pincus wrote on his Twitter account, “The Lakers can only pay Nick Young a 4-year $18.2 million deal with Boozer amnesty [without] cutting (Kendall) Marshall or losing Ryan Kelly.”

The Lakers reportedly agreed to pay Young $25 million over four years, but due to the nature of the NBA salary cap, the team has not officially signed Hill or Young in order to fully maximize its free agency spending power. Kelly showed promise in his rookie season, and the team expected to bring the lanky forward back for another season.

With Marshall, the picture becomes murkier.

The recent trade with Houston brought Jeremy Lin to Los Angeles, and Lin would expect to be the starter. Also, the team paid a pretty penny to draft Jordan Clarkson, and the rookie point guard has already displayed promise during the Lakers’ Summer League campaign. Along with Marshall, the Lakers also still have Steve Nash on the roster, so the point guard position is rather stacked. Of course, the Lakers have the option to waive Nash and spread his salary over three seasons using the stretch provision.

Needless to say, the Lakers still have decisions to make.

Brushing aside the numbers and attempting to regain some semblance of reality, the Lakers have added Boozer and bolstered the front line at a serious discount without taking on a long-term contract. Ultimately, Boozer was expected to be the primary piece coming to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal for Pau Gasol, but that deal never came to fruition.

So, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak can view Boozer’s capture as a massive victory considering the Lakers will only pay a fraction of Boozer’s salary, gain a front-court player that can contribute and maintain the long-term goal of financial flexibility.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mostly Positive Showing by Dodgers All-Stars ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:30:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/all+star.jpg

The Dodgers quartet of Clayton Kershaw, Dee Gordon, Zack Greinke and Yasiel Puig all played in the 5-3 win by the American League in the All-Star Game Tuesday night in Minneapolis, but not all of them showed up. 

Kershaw was in the running to start the game but NL manager Mike Matheny instead went with his guy Adam Wainwright. How you felt about the decision depends on whether you bleed Cardinal red or Dodger blue. But, Wainwright balled out the first half of the season, so it wasn’t exactly a Charlie Sheen-like situation.

Matheny might be reconsidering the pick after witnessing Wainwright’s one inning of work. It went like this: double, triple, strikeout, home run, strikeout, ground out -- 3-0 deficit. He didn't help himself by telling reporters he served one up to Derek Jeter:  

It was Kershaw's turn in the second inning. His appearance went like this: foul out, strikeout, ground out.

So, basically, the lefty made it clear that in next year's game, he's taking the mound first.

Even AL manager John Farrell was impressed.

"I think anytime you can see Clayton Kershaw pitch it's certainly a treat," he said during the FOX telecast.

One of the good moves by Matheny came in the fourth when he sent Dee Gordon in to pinch run for Chase Utley.

Jonathan Lucroy hit a double off the right field wall that bounced cleanly to Jose Bautista but it's not like it mattered. Flash scored and there wasn't really a legitimate play on him at the plate.

Gordon followed that up in the sixth with a nice defensive play robbing Michael Brantley of a hit. It's a play that only two or three other second basemen make, and they've been retired for 10 years.

Zack Greinke was so efficient that you almost forgot he pitched. He only needed 12 tosses to get a ground out and two strikeouts. It was so quick that Greinke might have even landed at LAX before the game ended.

When it comes to Puig I'm kind of glad he doesn't have a full grasp of the English language yet, so he doesn't have to answer the question: "Where is Yasiel Puig and what did you do with him?"

He had a horrble two days.

After his power outage in Monday's Home Run Derby you thought the Cuban Comet would come out and do some damage. But, he struck out three times and looked completely out of his depth at the plate.

The good news for Puig is that if he stays healthy he'll have many more chances to erase the memories of this one. And, he did get a picture with Jeter.

Puig should be cut a little slack considering in all the previous all-star games he played in before coming to the states, Puig played with half his focus on the field and the other half trying to escape a Socialist regime.

 


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Yasiel Puig Disappoints in Homerun Derby]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:05:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/yp.jpg

There's not much to say about Yasiel Puig's performance in the Home Run Derby.

He went 0 for 7. He was shut out. He pulled a Piazza, as in Mike's back-to-back homeless performances.

It was like watching a Ferrari rev up, go two feet and sputter out. There were a lot of we-paid-to-see-that looks in Target Field.

Matt Kemp even cringed.

In the bracket format of this year's derby, Puig did have his one shining moment. Too bad it didn't count.

So, of course, tonight he'll hit one 450 feet in the actual game, polish it off with his patented bat flip and the Derby disaster will be forgiven.


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lin Joins Lakers, Randle Signs, Gasol Gone]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 08:08:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-acquire-jeremy-lin-7-2014.jpg

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Lakers provided a bit more clarity into the upcoming season.

On Sunday, the Lakers officially announced the arrival of Jeremy Lin along with a future first round draft pick and a second round draft pick in 2015 via a trade with the Houston Rockets for the rights to Sergei Lishchuk.

"This trade allows us to acquire a solid player who will make us a better team, as well as draft picks to improve our team in the future, while at the same time allowing us to maintain financial flexibility," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "In addition to what he'll bring us on the court, we think Jeremy will be warmly embraced by our fans and our community."

Although the trade was reported on Friday, the Lakers waited until Lin was able to complete a medical examination before announcing the deal on Sunday. Due to prior commitments, the newest Lakers' point guard flew in from China for the physical examinations before taking a flight back to Asia to complete his prior commitments.

Also over the weekend, two-time champion Pau Gasol announced that he would be signing with the Chicago Bulls via his Twitter account and personal website. Gasol, who spent seven years in Los Angeles, appeared to have made the decision with a heavy heart.

"Although the future is bright for me in Chicago, deciding not to return to Los Angeles was an extremely difficult decision," Gasol wrote on his website. "It is also difficult to leave Los Angeles, a city that I have come to love and a place where I was able to develop many close friendships and relationships. Despite the move, I intend to maintain close ties with the Los Angeles community, which will always feel like home to me."

With Gasol officially leaving, the Lakers did not need to wait any longer to sign rookie Julius Randle. On Sunday, the team announced the signing of the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and the rookie immediately took the floor for the Lakers' NBA Summer League game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

In 21 minutes, Randle scored 10 points and pulled down two rebounds. The former Kentucky Wildcat revealed that he signed the contract 20 minutes before tipoff and had not taken part in five-on-five basketball since the NCAA Championship game.

With Gasol gone, Lin’s trade official and Randle signed, the Lakers’ roster is beginning to fill out, but that should not slow down the Lakers’ front office activity.

After all, the team still needs to name a head coach.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Nick Young, Jordan Hill Sign]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:58:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/480591029.jpg

Once LeBron James made his decision to return to Cleveland, the Los Angeles Lakers did not take long to start making deals, and two of the primary targets were players that gained cult followings despite one of the worst seasons in the history of the historic franchise: Nick Young and Jordan Hill.

Numerous sources reported that the Lakers and Nick Young agreed to a reported four-year $21.5 million on Friday. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reported that Young had a player option on the fourth year. The player’s agent confirmed the option to Dave McMenimen of ESPN Los Angeles shortly thereafter.

"God is great," Young tweeted shortly after the news broke on Friday afternoon.

Young appeared to be ecstatic with the deal and took to social media to share his thoughts. Young continued, "Thank you LakerNation for all your support, I’m very happy to say, 'I’m Home!'"

With the Lakers having already captured Jeremy Lin via a trade earlier in the day, Los Angeles now had three proven scoring guards in Young, Lin and Kobe Bryant. With Bryant expected to be healthy, Young would expect to be a scorer off the bench, as he has been for much of his career. The Lakers’ roster was far from complete, but the guard positions appeared to be filling up quickly.

Still with the team, Kendall Marshall and Steve Nash also play in the back court. Also, rookie Jordan Clarkson expected to be on the roster considering the Lakers paid a pretty penny to draft the oversized point guard out of Missouri.

Then, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Hill reached terms for a two-year $18 million contract. Along with Hill, the Lakers only had Robert Sacre and rookie Julius Randle as front court players. With the signings of Young and Hill, however, the likelihood of signing Carmelo Anthony dwindled, as Lin, Young and Hill ate up the cap space that had been on hold for Anthony if he had opted to come to Los Angeles. Also, the signings signaled the end of Pau Gasol's time in Los Angeles.

For the Lakers, the signings of Young and Hill should kick off an aggressive push to start filling out a bare roster. Also, the Lakers need to fill the vacancy at coach, but most expect that role to go to Byron Scott. After all, no major free agents are expected at this point, and Bryant endorsed Scott earlier in the week. It would appear Scott should be offered the position sooner rather than later.

On Friday, though, the Lakers got their "Swag" back and added another player that can start in the upcoming season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Linsanity" Coming to LA, Lin To Lakers]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:05:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-joining-Lakers-7-11-14.jpg

On Friday, Jeremy Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers according to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Along with Lin, the Lakers will receive a future first round pick, but the arrival of Lin was an indirect result of the bigger news of the day: LeBron James’ move back to Cleveland.

With James announcing his return to Cleveland, the Miami Heat "Big Three" project evaporated. The Houston Rockets had already aggressively targeted Chris Bosh, but Bosh was holding out on making a decision until James had made his future known. With James picking Cleveland on Friday morning, Bosh’s return to Miami was far less likely.

As such, the Rockets did not wait around. They began to clear the cap space required to sign the two-time champion power forward. With reports of Carmelo Anthony close to a decision and having eliminated the Lakers from the running in the background, the Lakers appeared willing to accept Houston’s offer as long as a draft pick was included.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who first broke the story, the Lakers sent cash and rights to an overseas player in exchange for Lin and the Rockets’ first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

For the Lakers, the salary cap hold for Lin is $8.4 million and the team will pay the point guard $15 million for the final year of his contract. Lin, who was born in Los Angeles, made waves with his stellar play with the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 season. Famously, his stretch of standout performances was dubbed “Linsanity.”

With James Harden playing as an on-ball point guard in Houston, however, Lin only started 33 of the 71 games he took part in during the 2013-14 season. In his last season with Houston, Lin averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game.

With the Lakers, Lin automatically jumps to the front of the line and would expect to be a starter. Also, his contract fits in line with the Lakers’ strategy to remain financially flexible going forward. Even with the signing of Lin, the Lakers have enough space to sign Anthony, should the star power forward have a last minute change of heart.

In any case, “Linsanity” is coming to Los Angeles.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers First Half Ends With Padres Series]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:46:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*131/don+matt.jpg

93 games down, 69 to go.

And, the Dodgers will knock out the last four to close out their first half starting Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers have managed to get out of their way enough to compile a 51-42 record and a half-game lead on the Giants in the NL West.

The Padres will be in town, which bodes well for LA. They’ve beaten San Diego in four of their six matchups this season. Clayton Kershaw and Odrisamer Despaigne will square off in game one of the series.

The Dodgers problem so far this season hasn’t been the Padres of the world, it’s been the teams with winning records. The club is 14-19 against clubs over .500. And, while that won’t keep manager Don Mattingly from going on his morning runs in the sands of Manhattan Beach, if it keeps up he might make him grow back his legendary mustache for good luck.

The Tigers became the latest potential post-season squad to dispose of the Dodgers, beating them in a quick two-game set Tuesday and Wednesday. They did it by knocking off the LA’s two best non-Kershaw pitchers, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke. It was the second time the two lost back-to-back starts this season. The other time came against the Reds who hold a 48-42 record.

The Dodgers should look to accomplish two things in these four games. 1) The obvious. Extend their division lead over San Francisco. The Giants have five left at home before heading into the All-Star break. The Athletics are helping them out, having already taken two in AT&T park with two more to play. 2) Get over .500 at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers are a mind boggling 22-23 and home. The Dodgers! The first team to pass two million in attendance this season. The Dodgers! The team that’s supposed to play for a World Series. The Dodgers! The team that plays in the Louvre Museum of baseball stadiums.

Maybe they’re just doing what the Miami Heat did. You know, play just well enough to not jeopardize a playoff spot, but not burn themselves out when they’ve still got two months left to play. Give some key guys a day off here and there. Play some youngsters because, like Miami, they’ll turn it on when it counts and win a championship. Perfect plan, right?!

Ask the Spurs how well that worked out.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Talks Carmelo Anthony, Lakers]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 18:51:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Lakers-7-9-14.jpg

"This is a legacy defining moment. This is the decision."

On the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Kobe Bryant spoke about Carmelo Anthony’s upcoming decision on whether he should join the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We’ve clicked since 2008," Bryant said referring to the 2008 Olympics in China. "I would love to see him out here."

Bryant did not dodge questions and touched on a variety of topics of interest during his time with the media.

"Yeah," he answered point blank when asked if he would like Byron Scott to be the next coach of the Lakers. Scott is the leading candidate and most likely person to fill the open post.

"He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league," Bryant explained his special relationship with Scott went back to buying donuts and running errands. "We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years."

Asked about his fitness and whether he was feeling good enough to play pickup basketball, Bryant was not amused.

"It seems like if I want to sports source now--accurate sports source--I have to go to TMZ because ESPN got (it wrong). I wasn't even there. I was in Orange County," Bryant berated an ESPN Los Angeles reporter about false reports of him playing pickup basketball with Anthony and Minnesota Timberwolves’ star Kevin Love at UCLA a few days earlier.

Getting back to the point, Bryant said he was lean and felt like he was in midseason form.

"I’m at 218," he said. "Physically, I feel great. I don't think about the knee at all when I train. I don't think about the Achilles at all when I train. I feel sharp, crisp."

Moving back to talk of free agency, Bryant was asked about his conversations with Pau Gasol. Bryant said the Spaniard was "loyal" by nature, so if the Lakers land Anthony, Gasol’s decision would be much simpler.

"It’s a very tough position for him to be in," Bryant said about Gasol. "My biggest message to him was 'dude, make sure you enjoy the process. Don’t stress yourself out. The ball’s in your court. It’s your decision to make.'"

Bryant then touched on the Lakers’ ownership, direction of the franchise and the Buss family. The lifelong Laker spoke highly of the two family members most involved with the team.

"Jim (Buss) and Jeanie (Buss) are on the same page. They're ready to go," Bryant said without hesitation. "They both understand what they need to do individually and how that works together as a unit to turn this organization around. I think you’ll see some changes that will really fall in line with the history and the culture of the organization."

"They’re pulling out all the stops to ensure that we put a contender on the floor next year."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Puig to Slug it Out in Home Run Derby]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:57:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/yp.jpg

Yasiel Puig only has 12 home runs this season, but Troy Tulowitzki is smart enough to know that when it comes to the Tasmanian Devil, numbers don’t matter.

He added him to the National League bomb squad for this year’s Home Run Derby so fans who’ve never seen him can experience what all the hype is about.

Puig’s infectious personality and gaudy power should be on full display, as long as he doesn’t get any advice from Mike Piazza. Two derby’s, zero homers. The man who hit 427 career round trippers in the PED golden era couldn’t hit one 75 MPH hit-me-ball over the fence.

A fight that broke out during his interview at last year's derby is the only excitement Piazza’s ever been able to muster at one of those things:

 

 

I digress.

I fully expect one of two scenarios to play out for Puig.

He could go all 2008 Josh Hamilton and turn Target Field into his personal driving range like Hamilton did to Yankee Stadium.

 

 

Or, he could pull a 2012 Matt Kemp and get geeked after going yard that one time. 

 

 

Either way, given where Puig's come from, he should soak up every minute of it. He deserves it.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Introduce Rookie Jordan Clarkson]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:04:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Lakers-Filipino-7-7-14.JPG

On Monday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers invited reporters to meet Jordan Clarkson and the remainder of the Lakers’ Summer League squad. Clarkson figures to make the Lakers’ regular season roster considering the team shelled out $1.8 million to the Washington Wizards to make the 46th overall pick.

Clarkson, who is half-Filipino, has already gained a strong following in the Pacific islands, and several reporters of Filipino decent and related to Filipino media outlets helped welcome the rookie to LA. However, rumors of the 22-year-old being born in the Philippines were greatly exaggerated, as the junior out of Missouri explained that he was born in the United States, but his mother was from the Philippines.

Prior to being bombarded with questions of heritage, Clarkson held his no. 5 Lakers’ jersey and posed alongside Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak for a couple minutes. With free agency rumors setting fire to the news wires, Kupchak quickly excused himself and left reporters to vet the rookie.

“I’m just going to come in here and work hard, try to be the best that I can be,” Clarkson said in his first in-person press conference with the LA media. “This is a blessing. I couldn’t tell you how I’m feeling right now.”

When asked about his Filipino heritage, Clarkson took it to be a source of inspiration.

“I got the country (The Philippines) behind me. It feels great,” Clarkson said as he stood on the Lakers’ practice court surrounded by reporters. “That’s also driving me, to be one of the first (Filipinos in the NBA).”

Beyond Clarkson, the Lakers’ Summer League squad also included the no. 7 pick Julius Randle and returning point guard Kendall Marshall.

“It’s been a long offseason,” Marshall said on Monday. “I feel like I still have a lot to prove.”

When asked about the lack of clarity regarding a head coach entering the Summer League, Marshall expressed his personal frustrations with the uncertainty. “One thing I take pride in as a point guard is knowing my offense and my defense like the back of my hand, but it’s kind of hard to do that right now.”

Randle, who did not take part in Monday’s scrimmage, also met with reporters at the facility.

“It’s not an issue at all,” Randle repeated a couple times when asked about his foot.

The 19-year-old explained that he felt no pain and had absolutely no discomfort during his college career. The Lakers sent Randle to multiple specialists who all cleared the young prospect. Randle said he was surprised that his foot had even been a story entering the draft, but the story may have ultimately played a factor in the talented forward being available at the no. 7 spot.

The Lakers will play their first NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas on July 11. Randle said he was unsure if he would be playing, as it was the coaches’ decision. The Lakers’ Summer League team will be coached by Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Fantastic Four Make All-Star Team]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:48:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/god+copy.jpg

Last year around this time a few players, most notably Jonathan Papelbon, made a ruckus about the prospects of Yasiel Puig making the All-Star team after his Herculean debut month.

This year, Puig's left no doubt that he belongs.

The Dodgers right fielder not only made the N.L. team this season, but the Cuban Comet’s name will be called when the starters are introduced at Target Field in Minnesota, July15.

Puig has been the Dodgers most impactful player in the first half of the season. He’s hitting .307, with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. In May he won the N.L. Player of the Month Award, his second time winning the honor in his first full big league season.

He’ll also be joined by some familiar faces.

Like a Hollywood actor on the I-should-win-an-Oscar publicity blitz, Clayton Kershaw used the month of June to make the case that an All-Star team without him would be like House of Cards without Kevin Spacey: sure, it could go on, but it would be missing its soul.

Kershaw won the Pitcher of the Month Award for June. And he currently hasn’t allowed a run in 36 consecutive innings. The lefty is also 10-2, with a 1.85 ERA and tossed his first no-hitter against the Rockies. 

The Sandy Koufax clone is on the All-Star team for the fourth straight year.

Joining Kershaw is teammate Zack Greinke, who has given the Dodgers a 1-2 combo that rivals Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen, circa 1991-92.

The 30-year-old has anchored LA’s rotation, along with solidifying his place among the National League’s best hurlers. Greinke’s tied for first in the league in wins (11), he’s tied for second in starts (18) and he's second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.41).

It’s his second All-Star selection.

“Flash” is the perfect name for Dee Gordon.

Just like his nickname says, the Dodger second baseman has gone from looking like, at best, a career pinch runner to All-Star.

Gordon’s motto this year has been “trust the process.” He has, and he’s reaping the rewards by making his first Midsummer Classic.

Gordon will head into the All-Star break having already set career highs in every major offensive category, except for strikeouts. His nine triples and 42 stolen bases also lead the league.

He only has two more All-Star selections to go in order to tie his father, and O.G. "Flash", Tom Gordon. He's well on his way.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Closing in on Hershiser]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:39:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/clayton-kershaw-scoreless-innings-streak.jpg

And, then there were two.

In his last start against the Rockies Clayton Kershaw threw eight more shutout innings. That brings his streak to 36, the number of innings he's tossed without allowing a run. When the game started Kershaw’s streak had him 11th in LA Dodgers franchise history.

Now, he’s third.

In his sights now are Don Drysdale’s 58 scoreless innings mark and the man who currently sits on the throne of the club, Orel Hershiser, who still holds the Major League record with his run of shutting teams out for 59 straight innings.

Kershaw’s on fire, but he’s still 23 innings short. One hanging curve or slider turned batting practice fastball, and the streak could be done.

It makes what “Big D” and “The Bulldog” accomplished even more impressive.

Let’s look at a few of their highlights.

Drysdale 1968

-May 14: Drysdale starts the streak by hurling a two-hitter to beat Hall-of-Famer Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs, 2-0, at Dodger Stadium. He walked three batters and struck out seven to improve his record to 2-3.
-May 22: Drysdale went toe-to-toe against another Hall-of-Famer, Bob Gibson, who would go on to win both the N.L. M.V.P and Cy Young awards that season. Drysdale shut the door on the Reds offense. He only allowed five hits, he struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. But, Gibson was even better. The only hit “Gibby” gave up in his eight innings of work was a double to Wes Parker that scored Paul Popovich. Luckily, it was all the Dodgers needed in a 1-0 win. Drysdale’s scoreless streak hit 27 innings.
-May 31: The day the streak ended, then didn’t. Drysdale hit Giants catcher Dick Dietz with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. However, home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled that Dietz didn’t try to get out of the pitch’s way. Dietz would later pop out. Drysdale then retired the next two hitters to complete a six-hit shutout. The Dodgers won, 3-0. The streak hit 45 innings. 
-June 8: The day the streak did end, really this time, against the Phillies. With one out in the fifth inning Howie Bedell hit a sacrifice fly to score Tony Taylor. The first run the burly right-hander allowed in 58 innings was also Bedell’s only RBI that season. Go figure. By that point in the game Drysdale had passed Walter Johnson to set the Major League consecutive scoreless innings record. One that stood for 30 years. Oh, and he also recorded the win.


With that miraculous stretch of dominance Drysdale finished the season with a 2.15 ERA in 239 innings, though his record was only 14-12. The six shutouts he threw in a row during the streak are still a Major League Record.

 

Hershiser 1988

-Aug. 30: The crowd of 21,454 in Olympic Stadium in Quebec, Canada had no idea that what they witnessed was the start of an historic trek. Hershiser gave up a fifth-inning single to Expos pitcher Dennis Martinez that scored Tim “Rock” Raines. He didn’t allow a runner to second base the last four innings of the game. Thus, the streak began.
-Sept. 23: The baseball gods must’ve been at work because just like Don Drysdale’s in ‘68, Orel’s streak almost ended at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. In the third inning, outfielder Brett Butler’s slide into second base broke up a double play by causing Dodger shortstop Alfredo Griffin's throw to sail over first baseman Tracy Woodson’s head. A run scored and was posted on the scoreboard. But, umpire Bob Engel ruled that Butler was guilty of interference. He called Butler out, the run didn’t count and Hershiser’s streak was still in tact at 42 innings. He finished off a five-hit shutout for his last regular season win. 
-Sept. 28: Orel needed nine shutout innings to tie Drysdale, 10 to beat him. He got the former against the Padres, but his teammates hadn’t scored. So, the game went into extras in a 0-0 tie. Hershiser wanted to be done, having expressed previously that he never wanted to break the record, only tied it, if it was within his grasp. His manager Tommy Lasorda wasn’t having any of it. “I said to him, ‘You get your ass out there and break the record’,” Lasorda said, according to Mark Simon of ESPN. Hershiser went out for the tenth, and this happened:

 
The game should've ended on that moment, but it didn't. Hershiser would not factor in the outcome. The Dodgers lost the game, 2-1, in 16th innings.

The streak ended the first inning of his first start in the 1989 season. 

But, in the midst of that magical run The Bulldog lived up to his name. 

Hershiser threw five complete game shutouts during the streak. Opposing hitters went 0 for 31 against him with runners in scoring position an he only allowed three extra base hits.

The  resilient right-hander went on to win the NL Cy Young Award in a unanimous vote. He tied for the Major League lead in complete games (15) and shutouts (8), and tied for second in wins (23).

That’s quite the company Kershaw is close to joining. No pressure though.



Photo Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Will Have Final Words to Carmelo Anthony]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 18:12:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Carmelo-Anthony-Kobe-Bryant-Lakers.jpg

On Thursday, as expected, Carmelo Anthony paid a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers’ El Segundo facility to talk free agency and a future in Southern California.

With Anthony scheduled to meet the New York Knicks in LA later in the day, the Lakers’ meeting was unexpectedly moved forward. Despite earlier reports that Kobe Bryant was flying back from Greece late Wednesday night to be present, the Lakers’ superstar was unable to make the new schedule.

Once inside, Anthony spent about two and a half hours mixing with top Lakers’ brass, including team president Jeanie Buss. Of course, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and co-owner Jim Buss were also present, along with Lakers business and marketing executive Tim Harris, representatives from AEG and the heads of Time Warner Cable.

Inside the facility, part of the presentation included a video by Hollywood producer Joel Silver, most famous for "The Matrix" and "V for Vendetta." From the initial leaks and the people present in the room, one can gather that the Lakers put on a marketing and branding assault on Anthony to help the 30-year-old understand what a move to Los Angeles would do for his career.

One can also safely assume the Lakers paraded their championship trophies and pointed to the historic retired jerseys on the wall. If Anthony is looking for history, personal branding and unparalleled fan support, the Lakers likely offered the former Syracuse Orangemen better than he could have imagined. However, if Anthony is interested in winning a title, the Lakers still have a long way to go.

Financially speaking, the Lakers informed Anthony that they were willing to offer him a maximum level contract at four years and $97 million, so outside of staying with the New York Knicks, Los Angeles could well be the best place for the unrestricted free agent in that sense. Adding endorsements and the global brand of the Lakers, Anthony may ultimately make more money wearing purple and gold than any other color. If that was indeed the Lakers’ pitch, it was only half of the proposal.

After the Lakers’ meeting, Anthony signed a couple autographs for fans and continued forward to meet with the Knicks, who also had their presentation in Los Angeles. However, Bryant had reportedly reached out to Anthony to meet with him later in the day, as he had been unable to arrive in time for the session at the Lakers’ facility. That meeting, undoubtedly, will not be about money, branding or marketing.

Bryant is notoriously obsessive about winning, and the one prize he values greater than any other is the NBA championship. Bryant will likely speak to Anthony about the team that can be built should the forward opt to move operations to Southern California. Bryant can explain the significance of winning in Los Angeles, the passion of the fans and the commitment of the organization.

Bryant and Anthony played together with Team USA in the Olympics, and the pair are said to be friends off the court. Should Bryant’s words resonate with Anthony, the Lakers may have inadvertently come out big time winners in the sweepstakes for ‘Melo.

With a two-part pitch, the Lakers should have been able to emphasize the vast marketing, media and branding opportunities that await Anthony in a Lakers’ jersey, but more importantly, the final word will emphasize the focused eyes on the ultimate prize: an NBA championship.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video: Yasiel Puig and Guillermo from Jimmy Kimmel Live Sing, Cast All-Star Votes]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:44:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/puig+face.jpg

So, Yasiel Puig is third right now in voting among National League outfielders for this year’s All-Star Game in Minnesota. What that means is, unless he breaks something, or the alleged smuggler who allegedly helped get him out of Cuba wants to take Puig fishing, the Dodgers phenom will start in right field on July 15.

Third place is not good enough for Jimmy Kimmel. But, before he could fully endorse the “Wild Horse”, he wanted to feel him out a bit with a sit down. So, of course, he sent in security-guard-sage-hard-hitting-questioner Guillermo.

What ensues is awkwardness that rivals the Herbstreit-Eminem-Musburger sandwich and the best broken English version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” ever.

 


We may have just seen the forming of a lifelong friendship.

 

 

 



If you're sold, the deadline to cast an All-Star ballot is tonight at 11:59 p.m. EDT.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Wins NL Award For Perfect Month]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 16:42:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/kershaw+toss.jpg

People will likely point to the no-hitter Clayton Kershaw threw against the Rockies as the reason why he won the National League Pitcher of the Month Award for June.

But, that was really just one of the many.

Sure, Kershaw’s no-hitter performance June 18 was dominant.

His 15 strikeouts tied him with Hall-of-Famer Warren Spahn for the most compiled by a left-hander who threw a no-hitter. And the Elias Sports Bureau says the 26-year-old became the first Major League pitcher ever to strikeout 15 batters without allowing a baserunner by way of hit, walk or hit-by-pitch.

It seemed like Kershaw could hardly believe what he did.

 

 

But, that was just one game.

His numbers for the month are staggering. 6-0 record. 0.82 ERA (4 ER in 44 innings). 0.68 WHIP. 61 strikeouts. Four walks. And a 24-inning scoreless streak.

With those stats the no-hitter is just the cherry on top in a month of dominance.

Kershaw’s now 9-2 with a 2.04 ERA on the season and he seems to have found that extra gear that only he has the map to.   

In that disastrous start May 17 against Arizona Kershaw got bludgeoned for seven runs in 1 ⅓ innings. In the 57 innings he’s pitched since, he’s allowed a total of seven runs.

Each time he takes the mound now Kershaw's not looking like the next Sandy Koufax. The Dallas, Texas native is becoming the guy who 30 years from now people will be saying about the next up-and-coming lefty, “he’s looking like the next Clayton Kershaw."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Crawford Could Be Back on the Field Soon]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:52:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/cc+running.jpg

The injured left ankle that’s kept Carl Crawford on the disabled list must be getting better.

The left fielder is apparently almost ready to test it on the field, according to Dodger manager Don Mattingly.

 

Crawford is currently in Arizona being treated and Mattingly said he’s been getting positive reports about Crawford's progress.

"He's been doing some on-field activities, swinging the bat and running, so he's doing well," he said.

Crawford got an MRI last month after the club said he had a setback in his rehab. Good news for everyone is that the results came back negative.

He hasn’t played in a game since May 27, when he injured the ankle chasing down a ball in the left-field corner against the Reds.

Crawford is hitting .267 with four home runs and 18 RBIs on the season but leading up to the injury he played so well that he basically put Matt Kemp on the bench.

Kemp has essentially locked up the left field spot in Crawford’s absence, so it’s unclear where he’ll fit in once he returns.

But, I’m sure, it’s a problem the Dodgers will gladly deal with.


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Add Jeanie Buss To Melo Pitch]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:38:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jim-Buss-Jeanie-Buss-Lakers.jpg

On Thursday, Carmelo Anthony expects to arrive via limousine at the offices of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers are expected to charm the popular free agent.

Apparently, the Lakers’ charm offensive now includes co-owner and president Jeanie Buss. Although Buss claims no direct involvement in the basketball operations of the team, the Lakers’ business czar appears set to, at the very least, be present in the room.

This is a dramatic shift in the Lakers’ separation of church and state.

By design of the late Dr. Jerry Buss, the Lakers’ basketball operations are the responsibility of Jim Buss, assisted by general manager Mitch Kupchak. Meanwhile, the business side of the Lakers is run by Jeanie. Prior to Thursday’s meeting, Jim and Jeanie have seemingly remained in their opposite corners and often been portrayed as having a contentious relationship.

Ultimately, though, Jeanie must answer for the franchise as a whole, and after the worst season in LA Lakers’ history, the president seems to be more involved than ever before.

The inclusion of Jeanie in the meeting with Anthony is a dramatic shift from the approach the Lakers took towards Dwight Howard in his free agent meeting with the team a year earlier. On that occasion, the Lakers’ meeting party--which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful--included Kobe Bryant and former coach Mike D’Antoni. This time, it remains unclear whether Bryant is even in the country, and the Lakers still do not have a coach.

Considering re-signing of Howard was a basketball decision, Jeanie was not present, but Jim and Kupchak were.

A year on, Lakers’ management appears to have grown from that experience and now appreciates the added voice, personality and brains of Jeanie. Since the passing of Jerry, the Lakers have been portrayed as a fragmented organization with fans picking sides. Unscientifically putting a wet finger in the air, one would rather confidently hypothesize that the vast majority of fans back Jeanie over Jim in all things Lakers.

With Jeanie’s involvement in the meeting to convince Anthony, the greater majority of fans can no longer blame Jim alone for everything that goes wrong with the team. Even if Jeanie sits silently and simply watches the meeting unfold, having her in the room carries greater symbolic meaning.

The Lakers are united, and the organization is on the same page.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Waste Opportunities in Loss to Indians ]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:38:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/puig+batt.jpg

The Dodgers matched the Indians hit-for-hit Friday night but Cleveland got more of them when it counted.

It’s also why they won 10-3.

A day after mustering just one hit the entire game the Indians busted out the bats big time.

They scored eight of their 10 runs by going 7 for 12 as a team with runners in scoring position. They had 13 total hits for the game.

Their three-run first inning also snapped a 21-inning scoreless streak.

Lonnie Chisenhall hit his ninth home run of the year. David Murphy came into the game in a 1 for 44 slump. He broke out of it by going 3 for 4 with two RBIs.

On the flip side, the Dodgers went 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Their lack of production in three specific bases loaded situations pretty much summed up their night.

Carlos Triunfel ended the initial opportunity by striking out with the bases juiced to end the first inning.

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier combined to squander the next chance in the second. With the bases loaded and one out Kemp struck out. Ethier fouled off what looked to be ball four, which would’ve scored a run, then grounded out to first base to end the inning.

Kemp finished 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He leads the team with 77 on the season.

The hat trick of futility was completed in the fifth.

Down 5-3, Kemp walked to lead off the inning. Ethier and Juan Uribe followed with singles. But, Drew Butera and pinch hitters Hanley Ramirez and Clint Robinson all followed by foul-tipping balls into the glove of catcher Yan Gomes for strikeouts. Another goose egg.

The Dodgers struck out a total of 14 times as a team.

They were apparently done mounting rallies because they failed to get a runner to second base the rest of the game.

All was not lost for fans at Dodger Stadium. They were treated to the rare triple-play.


With Dee Gordon on third, Yasiel Puig on first and one out in the fourth, Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate. He hit a fly ball to the shallow part of left field for out number one. Gordon tagged up and tried to score. With his speed he would’ve scored easily on a bad throw. Unfortunately, Michael Brantley tossed a perfect bullet to nail Gordon at home. Out number two. With all that happening, for some reason Puig waited for Gomes to turn his back to the field, show the umpire he had the ball on the tag and stand idly for three more seconds before he attempted to advance to second base. The throw beat Puig but he was called safe. After a review the call was overturned. Out number three and 7-2-4 triple-play complete.

Gonzalez did hit his 14 homer this year. His two RBIs also gives him 52.

Josh Beckett came into Friday’s matchup with the third lowest ERA in the National League but the Indians touched him for five runs in five innings. The right-hander did strike out five Cleveland batters but the loss drops him to 5-5.

Justin Masterson allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out seven. But, with two on in the fourth and his pitch count already at 85 the night was cut short for the Indians starter.

Kyle (2-0) Crockett pitched one shutout inning for the win.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Start Free Agency, Call LeBron]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 06:28:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-free-agency-LeBron-Carmelo.jpg

Hours before free agency officially started, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak appeared on several talk shows to send the message that the Lakers would be active in their pursuit of the top free agents.

On Monday morning's Dan Patrick Show, Kupchak was asked what he would be doing at 9:01pm Pacific Time, the official start time of NBA free agency. “In our business, the phones are really moving. You make your list. We have a lot of cap room, so we have a lot of opportunities," Kupchak said.

The Lakers’ GM was not exaggerating.

Before midnight in Los Angeles, the Lakers had already been in contact with several free agents. ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelboure reported that the Lakers reached out to Rich Paul, the agent of LeBron James. Shelboure also reported that the Lakers “registered interest” in Carmelo Anthony and will meet with the New York Knicks’ free agent on Thursday.

From there, the list grew and grew. Trevor Ariza, Nick Young, Kent Bazemore were mentioned, along with longtime Laker Pau Gasol.

In a slightly unexpected move, Sporting News’ Sean Deveney said the Lakers also reached out to Jordan Hill. Hill originally came to LA in at trade involving Derek Fisher, but the traditional power forward found himself struggling to see time on the court with Mike D’Antoni preferring a power forward that could stretch the floor and shoot from the outside. With D’Antoni gone, Hill's return is no longer out of the question.

Continuing in the theme of recent Lakers, the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina reported that the Lakers also reached out to Jodie Meeks. Meeks consistently improved during his two seasons in Los Angeles, and the Lakers were unapologetically happy with his work rate. By the end of the 2013-14 season, one could easily argue that Meeks had been the Lakers’ best player during the tumultuous season.

With NBA free agency in full swing and the Lakers possessing significant spending power, the phone calls and rumors should flow like water down the LA river during an El Nino year. However, most experienced analysts will explain that until James and Anthony decide on a team, contracts will remain in the filing cabinet.

Teams like the Lakers would prefer to hold onto their financial flexibility and hope for a miracle rather than spend their finite allowance on lesser players and potentially turn away the likes of James or Anthony due to financial constraints. Ultimately, the Lakers should be linked with half the league between the start of free agency and when James and Anthony eventually make their respective decisions.

However, once those two superstars decide on a team--whether it is the Lakers or not--expect a frenzy of signings to fill a gaping roster.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Targeting LeBron, Melo in Free Agency]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 09:38:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-LeBron-Antony-Free-Agents.jpg

With the NBA Draft over, a coaching search expected to conclude shortly and free agency kicking off on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers are in for a rather busy month.

On Monday, the Lakers introduce the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Julius Randle, to the Los Angeles media. Although Randle expects to be a fixture in a Lakers' jersey for quite some time, the newest draftee expressed doubt over whether his foot would require surgery before the season in a conference call following the draft.

On draft night, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak explained that the team did not expect Randle to require surgery, and the forward expressed optimism about being ready for training camp even if he did ultimately go under the knife.

Along with Randle, the Lakers also drafted Jordan Clarkson, a 6-foot 5-inch point guard out of Missouri. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, the Lakers paid $1.8 million to buy the no. 46 pick from the Washington Wizards in order to draft Clarkson.

Clarkson transferred to Missouri from Tulsa for his junior season. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Clarkson earned Conference USA All-Freshman honors and Conference USA First Team honors, respectively. In his junior season, the San Antonio native was selected to Second-Team All-SEC.

With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre all possessing guaranteed contracts, the Lakers' roster is essentially up to six players. Kendall Marshall expects to receive a qualifying offer from the team, Randle makes five and the price paid for Clarkson hints that he should be with the team on opening night.

Also, the Lakers picked up undrafted free agent DeAndre Kane out of Iowa State for their NBA Summer League team, but his addition to the Lakers' regular season roster is a stretch at the moment.

In a somewhat surprising bit of news, ESPN Los Angeles also reported that the Lakers will not make a qualifying offer to Kent Bazemore, so Bazemore will not become a restricted free agent. The decision is reportedly based on maintaining financial flexibility to attract the top free agents, but Bazemore may yet end up on the Lakers by opening night.

With free agency set to start on July 1, the Lakers are expected to meet with Carmelo Anthony in the opening week. Anthony will meet with several other teams including the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.

With LeBron James also on the market, the Lakers are also expected to attempt to woo the most coveted player in the league, but capturing either of those two top free agents appears to be a long shot.

Another obvious name linked with the Lakers is two-time champion power forward Pau Gasol. Should the Lakers sign either James or Anthony, Gasol would become a likelier catch. The New York Knicks with Derek Fisher as coach and Phil Jackson as president are expected to make a run at the 7-footer, but Gasol would have to take a serious pay cut to go to New York. With Dallas also showing interest, Gasol has options. However, if the Spaniard wants to go to any team resembling a contender, he will need to take significantly less than the $19.3 million he made during the 2013-14 season.

Should the Lakers fail to land either James or Anthony, ESPN Los Angles reported that the team is interested in attracting former Laker forward Trevor Ariza, as well as Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe and Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye.

Along with the upcoming free agent frenzy, the Lakers are also expected to announce a new coach shortly. When asked about the coaching search on draft night, Kupchak said the team would name a coach "probably in the beginning of July." Byron Scott appears to be the frontrunner at the moment, as he had interviewed with the team multiple times.

With free agency and a new coach on the horizon, the Los Angeles Lakers expect to have an extremely busy and active month of July.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cardinals Beat Dodgers with Defense ]]> Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:44:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/rojas+out.jpg

It was the spectacular plays the Cardinals defense made all game long and the one play the Dodgers outfielders could not, that had much to do with the 3-1 St. Louis win Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

With L.A. up 1-0 in the fourth, A.J. Ellis scorched a drive down the right field line. Allen Craig ran the ball down, slid to stop it from going to the wall and fired a perfect one-hopper to get Ellis at second base in his failed attempt to stretch the hit into a double. Miguel Rojas would follow by striking out to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth, the Dodgers defense had its chance to show how much it has improved in the last month, but it failed to come through. Johnny Peralta lined a ball into the center-field gap. Scott Van Slyke, who’s not the swiftest of foot, charged full speed towards it from center field, while a freight train in Yasiel Puig went barreling to the ball from his post in right field.

The result?

Neither of them caught it. Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday scored to give the Cardinals the lead for good, 3-1.

"Obviously, I’m going full speed to try and catch it and I look up and I see Puig," Van Slyke said describing the play after the game. "It looks like we’re equal distance from the ball and it’s just one of those things where it just fell in there."

Puig also wasn’t sure about how the ball landed.

"We just did the best we could. We just ran into each other and neither of us could make that play," Puig said.

Van Slyke would later get ejected for arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Bill Miller.

Peralta gave the Cardinals the lead in the top of the fifth, and he shut the door on the Dodgers rally in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and second base and one out, Adrian Gonzalez hit a grounder that was heading up the middle for a possible run scoring single. Unfortunately, it flapped off the glove of pitcher Seth Maness. That slowed the ball down enough for Peralta to pick it off, touch second base with the tip of his right cleat and throw Gonzalez out at first. Inning over.

St. Louis wasn’t done flashing the leather.

In the sixth, Juan Uribe smashed a drive to center that looked like a sure extra-base hit. Matt Kemp would’ve easily scored from first. But, center fielder Jon Jay made an incredible diving, over the shoulder catch at the warning track and nearly threw Kemp out at first for a double play. Yadier Molina then threw Kemp out trying to steal second. Rally, and inning, killed.

Molina also hit his seventh home run of the season off the left-field foul pole.

In a game that rewards the team that can hit-‘em-where-they-ain’t, the Dodgers did but it didn’t matter.

“They made it to the World Series last year. They knocked us out of the playoffs last year, they kept us from going to the playoffs the year before. They got a good club,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said afterward when asked about the Cardinals stellar defensive Friday.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4) pitched well but took the loss. He allowed three runs on nine hits in seven innings. The lefty also walked one and struck out seven.

Carlos Martinez started for St. Louis but was pulled in the fifth with two runners on base. At that point he had only allowed one run on six hits in 4 ⅓ innings.

Maness (3-2) relieved Martinez and would pick up the win. He threw 2 ⅓ innings and allowed just one hit while striking out two.

Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 24th save.

Dee Gordon was the bright spot offensively for the Dodgers going 3 for 4 with an RBI.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Hitting Stride at Right Time]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 21:32:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/win+la.jpg

On June 7 the Dodgers lost to the Colorado Rockies 5-4 in 10 innings. The defeat dropped their record to 32-31 and placed them a season-high, or low depending on how you look at it, 9 1/2 games behind the National League West Division leading San Francisco Giants.

At the time, Matt Kemp, a two-time Gold Glove winning center fielder, had bobbled enough balls that he was placed in left field for a timeout. Adrian Gonzalez, a career .292 hitter, was in a 1 for 24 slump and manager Don Mattingly was left wondering if he was leading a $238 million-dollar collection of Tin Men looking for their hearts.

Boy, what a difference three weeks makes.

Starting June 8 the Dodgers have gone 13-5 and it couldn’t have come at a better time. During that same stretch the Giants have tail spinned, losing 12 of 17.

LA is now just two games behind their Bay Area rivals, and closing in fast. 

They’ve somehow managed to stay in the pennant race without the benefit of a long winning streak. Their longest has been three games - which they’ve done six times. It also helps that they haven’t lost more than four games in a row.

As the defense has improved, so have the Dodgers. 

They once led the N.L. in errors but since May 25 they’ve committed the fewest errors in the majors (8) and have the best fielding percentage (.993).

“I think we’ve been pretty good at getting the outs we’re supposed to get, and playing more of a solid defense.”

It also helps that the Dodgers have, arguably, the best starting pitching staff in baseball.

Their starters have the most combined wins in MLB (39), they’re tied with the Cardinals for lowest ERA (3.09) and they’ve gotten no-hitters from Clayton Kershaw, baseball’s version of LeBron James, and fire-baller turned finesse-pitcher Josh Beckett.

What's tripped them up this year has been an inconsistant offense. Yasiel Puig has carried them for much of the first half but if they win the division it'll be because he got some help.  

Kemp has found his footing in left field and it's showed in his bat. He's playing like 2009 Matt Kemp. Gonzalez leads the team in RBIs but he's still finding his stroke. And Hanley Ramirez has a shoulder injury that's now raising questions about whether he needs a stint on the disabled list.

It the Dodgers have any plans on repeating as N.L. West champs, those three guys will have to lead the charge.  

During their improbable 42-8 run last year the whole team played like they had on P.F. Flyers. It led to a division title but it’s not likely to happen again. In the past few weeks this season they’ve found a steady pace that Prefontaine would be proud of.

“I feel like we play with good energy. We’ve hit our stride it feels like. Now it’s just a matter of can we maintain that stride,” Mattingly said.

If they can, there’s possibly a World Series trophy waiting at the finish line.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Get Positive News on Ramirez MRI]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 23:21:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/han+ram.jpg

The Dodgers breathed sigh of relief Thursday when they got the results of an MRI done on Hanley Ramirez’s injured right shoulder. 

The Dodgers shortstop has dealt with irritation in his A.C. joint for the past couple of weeks and he missed his third straight game Thursday. Ramirez got a cortisone shot in the sore shoulder June 11. He's also dealt with injuries to his throwing hand this season. 

He's only hitting .269 but the 30-year-old has been a steady run producer. Ramirez's 46 RBIs are second among Major League shortstops.

Third baseman Juan Uribe made his return to the Dodgers lineup Thursday against the Cardinals. 

He went 1 for 3 with a run scored.

Uribe hadn’t played for the Dodgers since May 20. The combo of Justin Turner and Miguel Rojas have filled in admirably in his absence. Turner with his bat. In 32 starts at third base while Uribe was out, the 29-year-old hit .340 (28 for 83).

Rojas has made a splash with his glove. In Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter June 18 he made the play of the game, turning a possible double down the left-field line into a ground out.

Turner and Rojas have given manager Don Mattingly so much confidence that he plans to ease Uribe back into his full-time workload.

"With (Uribe) we're going to be careful and not just fly him out there every day," Mattingly said. "We’re going to try to blend him in slowly and try not to have a setback."

In 40 games the Dodgers third baseman has has a .303 AVG, four home runs and 18 RBIs. Uribe has also been a solid defender in his three-plus years with the club.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Select Randle in 2014 NBA Draft]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 05:59:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-2014-NBA-Draft.JPG

With the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Julius Randle, which was not much of a surprise.

The 6'9" forward out of Kentucky should provide the Lakers some much needed length. Randle is only 19-years-old, but he had one of the more NBA-ready bodies in the draft. Randle only worked out for the Lakers once and had a solo session, but the Lakers were apparently impressed enough to select him with the no. 7 pick.

One thing is for sure, Randle is expected to make an impact immediately.

"LA's the perfect spot for me," Randle said after being selected. "I couldn't be more ecstatic about where I'm going."

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with the local media following the pick and spoke highly of the newest Laker. Kupchak said that he ranked Randle higher than no. 7 in the draft order, so the team was happy to get Randle when they did.

"He's got big time skills," Kupchak said. "Although I don't expect Kobe (Bryant) to talk to him (Randle) until January, I think he'll like him."

The Lakers' GM may have underestimated Bryant's gracious attitude. Bryant immediately took to Twitter to say "Welcome Home...from one legendary institution to one epic franchise."

Randle also told reporters that Bryant had sent a text message welcoming Randle to the team.

With just about every analyst praising the selection and management getting the guy they wanted, Thursday was a good day in Laker Land. The Lakers did not have any more picks scheduled in the 2014 NBA Draft but did work out a cash deal to select Jordan Clarkson out of Missouri via the Washington Wizards with the 46th pick.

Clarkson was described as a ball-handling guard, and the player described himself as a point guard on a conference call with the LA media. According to the draftee, he originally expected to be drafted late in the first round, so the Lakers appeared to have seen value and gone in for the pick. Clarkson expects to play in the upcoming Summer League, so the Lakers will get a solid look at the young guard.

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<![CDATA[Draft Day Finally Arrives For Lakers]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 08:26:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-2014-Draft-Kupchak.jpg

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers will make their first meaningful move of the 2014 offseason.

Thursday is draft day in the NBA, and the Lakers sit at No. 7 on the board. At that position, LA has an opportunity to draft meaningful talent that can contribute to the future of the franchise—a future that remains uncomfortably uncertain. Of course, the Lakers could trade away the pick for multiple picks later in the draft, but most insiders do not anticipate the Lakers trading down.

Regardless of whether the Lakers ultimately make a trade or make a pick, one thing is for sure: the Lakers’ front office will act on Thursday. Should LA hold onto its prized pick, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart appear to be the front runners to wear purple and gold in Kobe Bryant’s penultimate season.

Both Smart and Randle enter the draft with strong physical bodies which should transition into the NBA. Randle, Smart or whoever else ends up wearing a Lakers' hat on Thursday night should see significant time in the upcoming season—unless the Lakers select injured big man Joel Embiid.

Entering draft night, the Lakers only have Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre guaranteed to return to the team. Most analysts close to the team expect Kendall Marshall and Kent Bazemore to be back, but outside of those names, the Lakers have a largely vacant roster.

Technically speaking, Mike D’Antoni’s separation from the team was the first meaningful move of the offseason, but the Lakers have yet to fill that coaching position, so that move is only half complete. To be fair to the team, though, the Lakers cannot approach any free agents until July 1, so the inaction is not worthy of criticism.

In the days leading up to July 1, players who hold the option to become free agents choose whether or not to exercise that option. One player that held such an option was fan-favorite Nick Young. On Wednesday, Young confirmed that he was choosing to bypass the extra year on his contract with the hopes to earn a more financially lucrative offer.

“We anticipated and expected that Nick would choose to become a free agent,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “We very much appreciate his contributions to last season’s team, and we will hopefully be able to bring him back. However, he, his agent and the market will dictate his future direction.”

Young was the only Laker with such an option, but top-level talent including LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have also exercised similar options, giving the Lakers hope of luring a premier player to Los Angeles.

Thursday, however, is not about LeBron James, free agency or coaching. Thursday is draft day, and the Lakers hold a meaningful pick in the talent-rich opening quarter of the show. On Thursday, the Lakers will finally make a move that helps provide insight into the future of the team.

Coverage for the NBA Draft starts at 4 pm Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Dodger Prospects to Play in All-Star Futures Game]]> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 07:02:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/jackie+door.jpg

In the 15 years since the inception of the Futures Game 115 players have gone on to make a Major League All-Star team.

The Dodgers are hoping their two players in this year’s game will add to that list.

Corey Seager and Julio Urias, teammates on L.A.’s single-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, will play against each other Sunday, July 13th at Target Field. Seager for the U.S. Team, Urias for the World Team.

The Futures game brings together the top minor league talent across leagues from class High-A to Triple-A. The U.S. Team has won the last four Future Games and lead the overall series, 9-6.

Seager, 20, has destroyed the California League.

The Dodgers first round pick in 2012 leads the league in doubles (28), slugging percentage (.626), OPS (1.033), total bases (171), and he’s second in batting average (.355) and hits (97). He’s shown on the field why he deserves to be the Dodgers top minor league prospect.

Urias is only 17 years old, but scouts salivate over his pitching ability.

The lefty showed he’s the real deal in spring training when, during a big league start against the San Diego Padres, he pitched a scoreless inning while striking out two big league hitters.

In his first full season last year in Great Lakes, the lefty showed flashes of Clayton Kershaw like dominance. He finished 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA and in 54 ⅓ innings he struck out 67 batters and only walked 16.

Despite his 5-foot-11-inch 160 pound frame, Urias throws a fastball that can top 95 MPH. If he can stay healthy, the Mexico native could be spending his 21st birthday drinking in the summer air at Chavez Ravine.



Photo Credit: Japanese American National Museum ]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw's No-Hitter Leads to POTW Award]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 06:21:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/calyker.jpg

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw only made one start last week, but it was one for the ages and good enough to earn him National League Player of the Week honors for the week ending June 22.

The left-hander was historically dominant in throwing the 22nd no-hitter in Dodgers history in an 8-0 win June 18 at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw was a Hanley Ramirez error away from tossing a perfect game, but his final stat line was still pretty good. He didn't walk a batter and faced one batter over the minimum while striking out a career-high 15.

And, about the "one for the ages" part - the 26-year-old became the first pitcher in Major League history to strikeout 15 hitters without allowing a runner on base by either a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Kershaw also tied Warren Spahn for the most strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher who hurled a no-hitter.

Kershaw has rounded into Cy Young form since returning from a back injury that landed him on the disabled list earlier this season. He's now 7-2 with a 2.52 ERA and an average of 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

If you eliminate the un-Kershaw like seven runs he allowed in 1 2/3 innings May 17 in a start at Arizona, he's 7-1 with a 1.57 ERA. In other words, he'd be right in line for his second straight Cy Young Award.

We'll see what he has in store for an encore. Kershaw will take the mound Wednesday for the Dodgers in Kansas City.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Jansen Making All-Star Pitch]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 23:43:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/74+copy.jpg

For die-hard Dodger fans who watch every game on television -- well, those lucky enough to have Time Warner Cable -- Kenley Jansen has become like a close relative this season.

He’s shown up in their homes three, four times a week, mostly just before bedtime. And although the Dodgers closer doesn’t say much when he's seen, his presence has largely been comforting, because it's usually meant lights out for opposing teams.

Jansen is second in the National League in saves (22) and he's only blown three save opportunities.

He’s not quite Craig Kimbrel of the Braves, but the 26-year-old has quietly put together a first-half of the 2014 season that should get him a spot on the N.L. All-Star team.

On the surface, some of his stats may not look very All-Star like: 0-3 record, 4.26 ERA, 1.39 WHIP.

But those numbers don’t reflect how well he’s pitched for the Dodgers this year.

Let’s just take his last 12 appearances minus the horrible June 20 outing against San Diego when he allowed three runs in 2/3 innings for a blown save. In 12 innings, Jansen posted a 2.25 ERA, allowed three earned runs on nine hits, he struck out 20 batters, walked two and recorded 10 saves. In other words, not only did he put batters to sleep, he gave them nightmares.

But, because he’s a one-inning closer, any misstep and his stats suffer. Toss in that disaster against the Padres June 20th and his ERA jumps to 4.43.

Baseball insiders have speculated that Jansen’s troubles this year have been because his velocity has dropped noticeably in stretches, and in fact it has. As recently as last Saturday, his cut fastball was clocked as low as 91 mph. But, that’s to be expected when a reliever who throws that hard is called in to pitch three games in a four-day stretch.

A closer look show’s that the 6-foot-5-inch, 265 pound right-hander's velocity has remained consistent this season, for the most part. Jansen’s cutter, which he has increasingly relied on as the season has progressed, averaged 93.55 mph in March, 95.58 mph in April, 94.18 mph in May and 94.08 mph in June, according to Brooks Baseball’s advanced metrics. And when he’s gotten a batter in an 0-2 count, Janson’s cranked it up for 96.70 mph.

That type of gas Jansen’s hurling is why he has a 30.2 percent strikeout-to-walk ratio (second among N.L. relievers), according to FanGraphs.

What’s gotten Jansen into hot messes on the mound is when he’s not striking guys out. Batters have hit .417 against the righty on balls put in play, according to FanGraphs. Only one N.L. reliever has allowed a higher batting average. And Jansen's ERA-, a stat that compares a pitcher’s ERA to the league average, with 100 being average and every point below that meaning the pitcher’s ERA is one percentage point better than the league, is 122. That’s 22 percent worse than the N.L. average. That’s pretty bad.

But the one stat that’s made him the most valuable to Dodger manager Don Mattingly is the 28-7 record the team has when Jansen has pitched. For a team that has World Series aspirations that’s really the only stat that matters.

That pressure, and the bright lights of the L.A. stage, don’t faze the burly right-hander, in fact, Jansen relishes the challenge.

I’ll look forward to watching how well he accepts the challenge of facing the American League’s best under the bright lights of Target Field for this year’s Mid-Summer Classic, because I fully expect him to be there.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Draft: Smart and Gordon Back]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:17:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/182561325.jpg

Less than a week away from the NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed a selection of top prospects for a morning workout session in El Segundo.

Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart were two standout prospects when the Lakers held their largest workouts sessions two weeks earlier. Elfrid Payton was also a member of those workouts, and the trio of talents was back breaking sweats for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Friday morning

Along with those three, the Lakers welcomed Nik Stauskas out of the University of Michigan and P.J. Hairston, who played for the D-League’s Texas Legends. Stauskas was previously expected to work out during the Lakers’ early workout session a fortnight earlier, but the 20-year-old dropped out at the last moment. On Friday, Stauskas revealed that suffered a minor tweak in his shoulder, so he opted to wait until he was back to 100 percent before going through workouts.

Hairston, on the other hand, arrived at the Lakers’ practice court on a path less travelled--more accurately, never travelled. Ruled ineligible due to two arrests for driving incidents, Hairston left North Carolina after starting his junior year and joined the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends. By doing so, Hairston made history and became the first player to start a season in college basketball and play as a professional in the NBA D-League before entering the NBA Draft.

“I think the D-League made up for that,” Hairston said referring to his previous issues with the NCAA. “It worked out for me, even though it wasn’t by choice.”

With the favorite to go first, Joel Embiid, set to undergo surgery on his injured foot, most draft experts expected Embiid to drop down in the draft. Suddenly, the Lakers find themselves in the shuffle to land the center out of Kansas, and considering they did not hesitate on taking Ryan Kelly with a broken foot a season ago, the Lakers would be favorites to take Embiid despite the injury if he is available at that point.

However, most experts anticipate the Boston Celtics will draft Embiid at no. 6 if he is even available at that point.

For the Lakers, Gordon, Smart and Julius Randle appeared to be the more likely selections, but Payton’s return to the Lakers’ facility kept him in the mix. Randle worked out for the team in a solo session earlier in the week, and by most accounts, the power forward out of Kentucky impressed during his session, which featured Kupchak and Lakers co-owner Jim Buss watching on the sidelines.

With workouts wrapped up and the draft less than a week away, the Lakers should have a good idea of they will take, but don’t expect Kupchak to share his thoughts before draft day, June 26.

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<![CDATA[Kershaw No-Hits Rockies in Dodgers Win]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:17:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/mob+copy.jpg

Clayton Kershaw said that after tossing his no-hitter, Josh Beckett joked that he would teach the Dodger lefty how to do it one day.

Turns out, Kershaw is a quick learner.

In front of 46,049 fans at Chavez Ravine, the 26-year-old threw the 22nd no-hitter in franchise history Wednesday night in an 8-0 win to sweep of the Colorado Rockies out of town. To celebrate, Kershaw's teammates showered him with Gatorade on the field and bathed him in bubbles.

It's the reigning Cy Young Award winner's first career no-no and the second for LA this year after Beckett threw his May 25 against the Phillies. It also marked the first time since 1956 that two Dodger pitchers have thrown no-hitters in the same season. Carl Erskine and Sal Maglie both hurled hitless games in 1956.  

"I don't take for granted the history of this or what that means," Kershaw said afterward. "As far as individually, though, it's right up there with winning a playoff game or World Series game."

Kershaw (7-2) struck out a career-high 15 batters and had his repertoire working. His fastball consistently hit 94 MPH and topped out in the sixth inning at 95 MPH. He paced it with a devastating slider that, at times, hit 88 MPH on the radar gun and a curveball that dropped into the strike zone like the Freefall ride at Magic Mountain.

He didn't allow a baserunner until the seventh when a Hanley Ramirez throwing error allowed Corey Dickerson to reach first base. But Miguel Rojas and Adrian Gonzalez made up for it with what turned out to be the play of the game. Rojas snagged a grounder down the third-base line by Troy Tulowitzki and got him by a step, thanks to a nifty pick by Gonzalez at first. Kershaw struck out Wilin Rosario to strand Dickerson at third.

"I thought it was foul," Kershaw said. "Then Miggy stayed with it the whole way and he made a really great play. That was really huge for me."

He also said completing the feat never entered his mind but manager Don Mattingly started thinking about it in the sixth. He was, by his standards, downright giddy after the game talking about what Kershaw accomplished.

"Talk to our guys. Nobody deserves it more than him," Mattingly said. "He works hard every day. He does everything the right way. He's a great teammate. Even though he's won a couple of Cy Young (Awards) that doesn't even get in the way. He goes for it all the time and it's just so nice to watch someone like that get it."

It was the first no-hitter Kershaw's battery mate A.J. Ellis ever caught and it holds special meaning for him.

"To do it here at home in Dodger Stadium and then to do it with my best friend on the mound means the world," Ellis said, adding that he got emotional while hugging Kershaw in front of the mound afterward. "It's something you'll never forget. It's a game I'll watch replays of with my kids forever. I'm just so thankful and so blessed to be on the receiving end of the best pitcher in baseball."

Kershaw threw 117 pitches and didn't walk a batter in picking up his fourth straight win.

Matt Kemp led the offensive charge for the Dodgers going 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs. He's now hitting .481 (13-27) during his current seven-game hitting streak.

The Dodgers put the game out of reach with a five-run third inning. The big blow coming from Rojas, who picked a good time to get his first big league double. It cleared the bases and gave LA a 7-0 lead.

Rockies (6-6) starter Jorge De La Rosa took the loss and got knocked around in his 3 1/3 innings of work. He allowed eight runs, seven earned, on six hits, he walked five and struck out one.

The Rockies' Tulowitzki leads the majors with his .356 batting average but even he couldn't punch through against Kershaw going 0 for 3.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Ramirez Returns, Uribe Close, Crawford Not Ready]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 18:04:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/han+hurt.jpg

Hanley Ramirez is in the Dodgers lineup Wednesday night, batting second after leaving Tuesday’s game with an injured ring finger on his throwing hand.

He hurt it trying to field a smash ground ball in the seventh inning that ended up bouncing off his right hand and into center field.

“I’m not real sure he’s going to make it today, but we’ll see if he can throw and hit,” manager Don Mattingly told reporters before the game. He clarified that he meant he’s not sure Ramirez will make it through the game fully, but gave the shortstop the start to give him a chance.

Ramirez looked fine taking ground balls on the field a few hours before the game. He also didn’t show any pain while hitting a couple of balls over the wall during batting practice.

Uribe’s return imminent

The Dodgers also announced Wednesday that third baseman Juan Uribe will play three rehab games for Single-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga starting Thursday, and he could return to the team as early as Monday when they travel to Kansas City.

“As long as everything goes well there he’ll play three in a row there,” Mattingly told reporters. “He’ll (be designated hitter), he’ll play a couple of games in the field and then we’ll assess where he’s at.”

The club gave Uribe the day off today so he could spend time with family in town visiting.

The 35-year-old has been hampered by a nagging right hamstring. He initially hurt it May 9 against San Francisco, and went on the disabled list after reinjuring the leg May 20 against the Mets.

Crawford’s ankle still ailing

Carl Crawford has returned to Arizona, after a short trip to Los Angeles earlier this week for an MRI on his injured left ankle. The team says the procedure showed inflammation in the ankle, and the Dodgers left fielder is not participating in any baseball activities.

He’s been on the shelf since May 28, and he’s not likely to return anytime soon. In his absence Matt Kemp has solidified himself as the team’s everyday left fielder, so even when he does return, Crawford will probably go back to his early season role as platoon player.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["I'm 100 Percent" - Kobe Bryant]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 09:02:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP5559037605312.jpg

“I’m 100%,” Kobe Bryant told Brazilian television. “This summer, I’m training really hard.”

The Los Angeles Lakers star player has not appeared on the court since December of 2013, and he only managed six games during the 2013-14 season. Six games was the fewest Bryant ever played in a season, and related, the LA Lakers won the fewest games in their history. Coming off an Achilles injury suffered at the tail-end of the 2012-13 season, Bryant suffered a fracture in his knee that healed slower than initially expected.

With the World Cup going strong in Brazil, however, the Lakers’ star decided to take time to take part in events for Nike and enjoy the tournament. As would be expected, Bryant has been a regular fixation for cameramen looking for crowd shots and media members looking for interviews.

Along with announcing he is fully fit, Bryant also recently revealed soccer is his favorite sport, which is odd considering he has put together nearly two-decades of study and execution in the NBA. Predictably, Bryant’s love for the sport can be traced to his childhood in Italy.

When asked to pick a side between Italy and the United States should the two teams meet in a World Cup Final, Bryant visibly strained and ultimately said he would have to pick the USA. After all, Bryant is a former Olympian, so his love for the United States is hardly in question.

Incidentally, Bryant was not the only Laker down in Brazil for the World Cup, as Steve Nash turned up in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the tournament. Shortly thereafter, Nash could be seen with former Phoenix Suns teammate Leandro Barbosa. Nash attended Brazil’s opening match against Croatia and stuck around for a bit longer to enjoy all Brazil has to offer.

Nash has always been vocal about his love for soccer as well, and the Canadian point guard is scheduled to hold his annual charity soccer match in New York City on Jun. 25. That event will come only one day before the 2014 NBA Draft, where the Lakers are picking at no. 7. Early indication is that the Lakers will hold onto their pick rather than trade it away.

NBCLA attended predraft workouts at the LA Lakers' facility, and Marcus Smart and Julius Randle appear to be the early standouts who fit into the Lakers' lottery position.

It may be World Cup season for the moment, but after the NBA Draft, free agency will start, the Lakers will likely hire a coach and a picture of the upcoming season will begin to develop.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers to Host LA Kings, Stanley Cup]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 17:32:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/kings+cup.jpg

For the second time in three years the NHL Stanley Cup is getting a first class tour of Southern California and Los Angeles' championship hockey team is happily playing tour guide.

The next stop on the LA Kings celebration journey will be Tuesday at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers will host the Cup, and the team that won it, during a pre-game ceremony about 30 minutes before the 7:10 p.m. first pitch against the Rockies.

It'll also add to an already interesting “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” scrapbook for the Cup. 

Kings Defenseman Alec Martinez and some of his teammates took it for a night out on the town, and filled it with M&Ms, according to TMZ.  

It was the guest of honor at a parade and rally for the Kings at Staples Center, where L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti let the everyone know how much of a "Big f-----g day" it was.

And, because it’s Hollywood, of course, it had to hang out with a television star.

The Cup’s going to need a vacation with all of this celebrating, but I think I just heard it say it wants to come back next year. I hope the Kings heard it, too.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Starting All-Star Bids for Dodgers' Gonzalez, Gordon Losing Steam]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:51:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/167*120/flash+hr.jpg

In the latest National League All-Star fan voting announced Sunday, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and second baseman Dee Gordon have an uphill battle to climb if they’re going to start in the 85th All-Star game July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota.

Gonzalez is now second behind Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (1,291,052 votes) for the starting spot by 241,830 votes.

The Dodgers first baseman led in the first two rounds of ballots, but he’s taken a nose dive at the plate the last two months. In May Gonzalez hit .231/.332/.380. In June he’s done even worse - 163/.241/.224 - and he hasn’t hit a home run in three weeks.

In roughly the same time frame Goldschmidt has found his stride. Since April 28, the 26-year-old has hit .312 with 12 homers and 35 RBIs. Four of his home runs have come against the Dodger pitching, the most versus any team this season.

Gordon has fallen to third in the voting for starting second baseman and sits at 898,226 votes. Neil Walker (997,347 votes) of the Pirates has leap-frogged Gordon for second place. But, Chase Utley of the Phillies has left both of them in the dust with his 1,678,843 votes. So, Gordon and Walker are really jockeying for a backup All-Star roll.

Yasiel Puig is still sitting pretty atop the leaderboard for N.L. outfielders. His 1,942,701 votes put him ahead of reigning N.L. Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen (1,727,534) of the Pirates and Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (1,659,430), who fans will likely see in the Home-Run Derby at the Mid-Summer Classic anyway.

In-stadium voting at all 30 Major League parks will continue through June 26, but fans can cast online ballots at MLB.com and every team website until July 3rd at 11:59 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Billingsly Tears Elbow Tendon]]> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 15:05:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/Billingsley.jpg

Chad Billingsley’s 2014 season is likely over before the Dodgers starter can even get it started.

On pitching this year, the right-hander told reporters Saturday at Dodger Stadium that the chances are "very, very, very slim," after an MRI Thursday revealed a partial tear of his right flexor tendon.

 

 

The 29-year-old says he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll have surgery to repair the tendon. He told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that his other option is to get a stem-cell injection and try to rehab the elbow.

Billingsley’s had trouble maintaining progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last year. In April, he got tendinitis in the elbow and needed a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection.

And, this latest devastating news comes as he had a rough minor league outing June 8, when he reached his 30 pitch limit in only 1 2/3 innings or a rehab start. In that game he also walked three batters and hit another.

It’s bad timing for Billingsley, who’s in the last year of a three-year contract with the Dodgers. There is a club option for 2015.

 

 

 

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Haren's Bat Leads Dodgers to Win Over D-backs]]> Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:34:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*124/dodgers+win+.jpg

Dan Haren not only got the win Saturday night against the Diamondbacks, but his bat also did some damage for the Dodgers in a 6-4 win. 

With the score tied in the fourth, Haren hit a bases loaded double to drive in Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, and A.J. Ellis. It gave L.A. a 6-3 lead and they never looked back. 

The right-hander also threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out two to improve his record to 7-4.

Haren got beat by the home run ball again, though. After giving up a lead off double to Didi Gregorius in the first, Paul Goldschmidt launched a two-run home run left field, and the Diamondbacks took an early 2-0 lead. It was the first baseman’s 14th of the season. It also marked the seventh straight start that Haren allowed a homer.

He settled down until the fourth until Martin Prado doubled home Miguel Montero, which gave Arizona a short-lived 3-2 lead.

Their starter Josh Colllmenter was shaky all night, only once did he retire the Dodgers lineup in order in his six innings.

Along with the bases clearing double he allowed to the pitcher, Collmenter also gave up a two-run homer to Dee Gordon, the hitter with the least amount of power in a power-hitting Dodger lineup.

The home run was only Gordon’s second on the season.

In all, Collmenter (4-4) allowed six runs on eight hits, he walked three and struck out three, but took the loss.

Kenley Jansen closed out the ninth for L.A. to pick up his 19th save on the year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scully Wows Crowd at Reagan Library]]> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 15:05:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Vin_Scully_Shane_Victorino_Tweets_Video.jpg

On Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, arguably the greatest announcer ever stood behind a Commander in Chief-replicated podium, and for an hour in front of a packed room told 24 "only-Vin-Scully-could-tell-that-story-and-in-that-way" gems, that if put together could go platinum as a 24-track spoken word album that even Saul Williams would have to respect.

The best is story No 17, in which Scully talks about an exhibition game the Dodgers played during the spring of 1958 in Arizona. He calls it “the most important game the Los Angeles Dodgers ever played.” The way he weaves it, it is best for it to be heard in the video posted below. It’s at the 40:33 mark.

The 86-year-old is the Holy Grail of storytelling because he can drop a jewel like that one.

What's most impressive is that with nearly 70 years worth of yarns spinning around in his skull, Vin stiches a masterpiece every time.      

A couple of other notables.

Story No. 2: Vin tells of being 8 years old, as he says, “which was shortly after the discovery of fire,” and realizing then that he wanted to be a sports announcer. He would sit under the family radio in their Washington Heights, New York home and listen to college football games. It wasn’t the broadcasters that made him giddy though, he says, above all, it was the roar of the crowd.

 

                    “That was the germ of the beginning of my desire. To this day, I guess, if I had a trademark it would be to call the play as quickly and as accurately as I can, and shut up and listen to the roar of the crowd. And, even to this day when that crowd roars I’m that little 8-year-old kid curled underneath the radio back in New York City listening to Alabama-Tennessee. The roar of the crowd has intrigued me.”

 

Then there’s story No.15. In the video, you can hear Scully get emotional remembering having to take the mic from legendary Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen during Game 4 of the 1963 World Series. Allen had battled a sore throat leading up to the series, and he lost his voice calling Mickey Mantle’s home run in the seventh inning. Vin had to step in:

               Tom Gallery was then the head of NBC Sports, I can remember to this day, and he tapped Mel on the shoulder and he said, and he pointed to me, ‘Be quiet. Give the microphone to young Scully.’ And it broke my heart because I thought, ‘Here we are on this national stage, this great announcer, at this wonderful point for him and for his team and he blows his throat.’ And, I was truly hit. There but for the grace of God go I. So, that’s another very memorable home run, only to me. But, it is a precarious high-wire act when you’re broadcasting and your emotions are going up and down and up and down and people rely on you. And, I felt so terrible for Mel that at that moment he had to let go of a national microphone. It’s hard to forget those things.” 

One thing we won’t forget, is that Scully is, and will be, the G.O.A.T. -- the greatest of all time -- not only of storytelling, but of broadcasting, period.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose Finale of Road Trip]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:22:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/greinke+pitching.jpg

Zack Greinke threw six strong innings but the combination of Reds starter Alfredo Simon and a lack of clutch hitting by his guys led to a 4-1 Dodgers loss Sunday at Great American Ball Park.

L.A. got on the board first, something they haven’t done much of all season, when Matt Kemp singled home Justin Turner to put the Dodgers up, 1-0, in the top of the first inning.

But, for all intents and purposes the game was decided after the first two batters in the bottom of the first. Skip Schumaker singled to lead off. Todd Frazier then hit a two-run homer, his 14th on the year, to right field on a Greinke slider and, ho-hum, the Reds were up, 2-1.

“Skip did what he could with the pitch that I gave him and got a hit. And, a first pitch slider (to Frazier) in the bottom of the zone, you’ll take your chances but he’s a strong guy and got a homer out of it,” Greinke said after the game.

Joey Votto followed with a double but after that Zack Greinke became Zack Greinke, retiring 17 of the next 18 batters.

The two runs were all the right-hander allowed. He gave up a total of four hits, he also walked one and struck out three, but took the loss and saw his record fall to 8-3.

The Dodgers had their chances but couldn’t muster the hits with runners in scoring position.

In the seventh, they could've at least tied the game, with runners on first and third and zero outs. But, Tim Federowicz hit a duck fart fly ball out to right. Miguel Rojas grounded to third, which ended with Kemp getting tagged out in a pickle, and pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke struck waved at a slider to strike out and end the rally.

The Reds put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth scoring two runs on Dodgers reliever Brandon League to take a 4-1 lead.

In the ninth, missile-thrower Aroldis Chapman, whose fastball this season has averaged 100.6 MPH, according to Brooks Baseball, came in to close it out, but the Dodgers, again, had the makings of a threat. Matt Kemp led off with a walk. After Andre Ethier struck out, Federowicz singled to left. But, with runners on first and third, again, Rojas would strike out on a 92 MPH slider in the dirt, and Jamie Romak became another pinch-hitting casualty when he swung through a 101 MPH fastball, which I don’t think he actually saw, for the strike out. Rally, and game, over.

Chapman picked up his 10th save.

Simon was superb for the Reds. He tossed eight innings, scattered seven hits, gave up one run and struck out five to pick up his ninth win. He’s now tied with Adam Wainwright for the most victories in the N.L.

With the loss, the Dodgers finished their seven-game road trip 4-3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Lose Game 4 to Rangers, 2-1]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 00:14:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP602111419273.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings came within inches of scoring the tying goal in the third period, but with Henrik Lundqvist making 15 third period saves, the New York Rangers staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. 

The Rangers came out of the gate eager to fight for their playoff lives, and they had some great chances early on. The best one came on a 2-on-1 rush featuring Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin, but Nash’s pass across the ice barely evaded the rushing forward, and the Kings dodged a serious bullet.

After Willie Mitchell nailed Derek Dorsett with a high stick, the Rangers went on the power play and continued to generate chances. Brad Richards fired in a shot from between the dots, but Jonathan Quick made a beautiful kick save. John Moore also had a shot stopped a few moments later, but ultimately the Rangers were able to score just after the power play ended.

Moore once again got the puck near the point following a Kings turnover, and his shot was deflected by Benoit Pouliot in front, and when it just dipped under the crossbar, the Rangers scored their first goal in over 123 minutes of play and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the contest.

The Kings themselves got a power play later in the period, and they came within about two inches of tying things up. Off a shot from in close, the puck bounced off of Henrik Lundqvist and came to rest on the goal line. Jeff Carter whiffed in his opportunity to put it across the line, and Anton Stralman made a tremendous play to clear the puck from danger and keep his team ahead.

In the period, the Kings outshot the Rangers by an 11-7 margin and won 20 of the 24 face-offs in the frame, but the home side still maintained a 1-0 lead as the horn sounded for the first intermission.

As the second period began, the Kings did a much better job of getting their offense going, with two solid scoring chances in the opening moments. Marian Gaborik blasted a shot off the crossbar on a rush shot, and then Jarret Stoll's opportunity on a 3-on-2 rush was stopped by Lundqvist in the crease to keep his team in front. 

Despite that early push, the Kings ended up ceding momentum back to the Rangers with a power play courtesy of Mitchell, and eventually New York scored to take a two goal lead. Chris Kreider's stick broke on a shot attempt close to the net, but Marty St. Louis was there to pick up the loose puck and fire it past Quick to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. 

The Rangers got another power play shortly after that goal, but it was the Kings who were able to score the all important third goal. When Dan Girardi's stick shattered at the blue line with a few seconds left on the man-advantage, Dustin Brown picked up the puck and outsmarted Lundqvist with a series of quick dekes to score and make it a 2-1 game. 

In the final minutes of the second period, the Kings continued to pile up chances, but the Rangers held onto their slim lead. Carter was stopped by Lundqvist on a breakaway chance, and Tanner Pearson was also denied on a breakaway of his own. Justin Williams also had several chances to score, including a shot on a late Kings power play, but Lundqvist made a glove save to end the threat. Finally, Carter got one last chance in the closing seconds of the period, but Lundqvist kicked out his left leg to stop the puck from sliding across the goal line. 

Just like the end of the second period, the Kings continued to pound away at the New York defense, ultimately racking up 15 shots on goal in the period. Kopitar got things started with an excellent shot toward the net that was barely blocked down by traffic, and Brown's rebound attempt was stopped by Lundqvist. The goaltender had to make another save a few minutes later when Pearson got yet another scoring chance from in close, but the Rangers continued to lead. 

In the final minutes of the period, the Kings had several more great chances to score, but none came closer than a shot by Pearson. The puck trickled between Lundqvist's legs, but slush in the goal crease prevented it from going in, and eventually Stepan had to grab the puck and shove it under his goaltender to get a whistle to draw a whistle. 

The Kings will get a second chance to wrap up the championship on Friday night when the series shifts back to Los Angeles. Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBC. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[If Kings Win Title, Who Should Win Conn Smythe? ]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:39:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/493964521.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons, and they will have their first opportunity to clinch the title when they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

If the Kings are able to finish off the series and become the first team to earn a sweep in a Cup Final since the Detroit Red Wings white-washed the Washington Capitals in 1998, there is one question that needs to be asked: who will be awarded the Conn Smythe Award as the playoff MVP?

To answer that question, we put together a list of five contenders for the trophy, and we’ll make our selection at the end.

Jeff Carter

Carter has been an instrumental part of the Kings’ offensive attack during the postseason, and while he only has a goal and an assist against the Rangers thus far, his play against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final gives him a strong chance at the award. He racked up five goals and six assists in that series, including a goal in the series-clincher in the Windy City.

Drew Doughty

Doughty has had some cold streaks during these playoffs (including a notable power outage against the Anaheim Ducks), but he really has stepped up at times as well. His goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was the stuff of legends, and the seven points he had in the series against the Blackhawks helped the Kings to finish off the defending champions. He also plays nearly 30 minutes a game at a very demanding position, and his excellent two-way play has been a blessing to the Kings.

Marian Gaborik

Gaborik has been an instrumental player for the Kings as they went from having a lackluster offense during the regular season to the league’s best in the postseason. He was especially great in the series against the Ducks, racking up six goals and four assists in the seven game victory. His 13 goals lead all postseason scorers, and he has points in five of the Kings’ last seven games.

Anze Kopitar

Kopitar leads the NHL in postseason points with 26 so far this year, and his ability to move the puck around the ice has helped the Kings in a big way. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs he had five goals and 14 assists, and he has showed little sign of slowing down outside of a couple of rough games against Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks. He has two assists so far in the Stanley Cup Final.

Justin Williams

Williams is a player who is now legendary for his Game 7 exploits (he has two goals and three assists in three Game 7’s this season), but he has been on fire over the team’s last five games. In those contests, Williams has two goals and seven assists, and he has arguably been the best player on the ice for Los Angeles so far in the Cup Final.

And the Winner Is….

It really is a tough decision on who to go with for playoff MVP honors, with Kopitar and Doughty both playing such instrumental roles. At the end of the day though, the one player who is really excelling the most when the pressure is at its highest is Williams and it’s because of his play in the conference and Cup finals that gives him the edge in our eyes for the Conn Smythe.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Waiting For LeBron James]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:26:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/450306472.jpg

Derek Fisher is gone. Phil Jackson is gone. Kobe Bryant is still here.

Deep into June, the Los Angeles Lakers still have not hired a coach, and seemingly no one close to the organization expects an announcement any time soon. Sure, Byron Scott was interviewed for a second time, but the NBA Draft on June 26 is more in focus than the coaching search, it seems.

Heck, free agency appears to be more in focus than the Lakers’ coaching search. Recently, a report from USA Today’s Sam Amick surfaced stating that the team was not rushing to the podium to announce a new coach largely due to the possibility of bringing a potential premier free agent like Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James to Los Angeles.

Could it really happen? Which way would it be: “LeBron and Kobe” or “Kobe and LeBron?”

At that point, who cares? Anyone watching the NBA Finals--including Kobe Bryant--understands that playing with James would be a dream and a gift. This isn’t the same as Bryant playing with Dwight Howard. Howard did not arrive in Los Angeles after willing his team to four straight NBA Finals. Howard was an elite player--not really during his time in LA--but James is a notch above everyone else in the league with Kevin Durant making a less than convincing case to be included in the one-sided argument for best player in the NBA.

The Lakers’ front office may be slightly delusional to believe James would pick up his family and move to LA after all the success he has experienced in Miami, but to a certain extent, everyone living in Los Angeles understands why one would choose LA over Miami. Regardless of where they come from, most people visiting Los Angeles dream about making the permanent move to Southern California.

What does all this have to do with coaching? Well, if James wants to play for a certain guy, the Lakers can probably make that happen. Honestly, ask any coach in the NBA, and he would likely openly admit that coaching James would be a dream scenario. The best player in the NBA tends to win championships and make his coach look good. Dream up the combination of James and Bryant, and most coaches would be calling the Lakers rather than the other way around.

Okay, so if the Lakers’ front office is being slightly delusional, let us inhale from the tank and join the wonderful world that could be. If James opts to come to the Lakers, the likes of Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and anyone up and down the college ranks would probably become available in a hurry. Add in some veteran players taking discounts to win a title, live in LA and join two of the best player to ever play the game, and suddenly, the Lakers are back!

Snap out of the dream, as this is entirely a thought based on nothing concrete. Reality has not provided any type of indication that James would not prefer a return to Cleveland, where former no. 1 pick Kyrie Irving and the upcoming no. 1 pick in the loaded 2014 Draft will be begging James to come home. Or, James could go the way of the Celtics, who have assets to trade away, cap space and a higher draft pick than the Lakers.

Of course, James could simply not opt out of his contract after the season or could simply opt out and extend immediately with a team that has ventured to the NBA Finals four seasons in a row.

That’s right, another installment of “LeBron James: The Decision” is upon us, and this time, the Lakers hope he takes his talents to Hollywood.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Van Slyke Gives Dodgers Added Punch Off the Bench ]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:02:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/vs+hk.jpg

The Dodgers decision to carry five outfielders this season was a head scratcher, but Scott Van Slyke showed Monday why, with the four others previous all stars, he made the cut.

The power-hitting right hander slugged two no doubter home runs in the Dodgers 6-2 win against the Reds in Great American Ball Park. He also walked twice and got a broken bat single to complete a night where he reached base five times, drove in four runs an scored three.

He may play much, but the ability to put together a game like that is why he’s on the team.

“I know what I’m here for, and I don’t mind. I’m not going to complain,” Van Slyke said afterward.

He’s there to mash, and that’s what he’s done in limited action.

Here’s some perspective: The Chesterfield, Missouri, native only has 72 at bats but his six home runs are fourth on the team. Of his 20 hits, more than half are for exta bases. And while his batting average is a respectable .278, his on-base percentage is a eye popping .435. And the Dodgers are getting this type of production for just over $500,000, Van Slyke’s salary this season.

“He’s been good for us all year,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says. “He’s done what we want him to do, basically be dangerous. He hits the ball out of the ballpark.”

Dodger fans have seen this type of player before. He’s former up and coming LA rightfielder turned $126 million franchise outfielder for the Washington Nationals - Jason Werth. Like Werth, Van Slyke shows he’s got all-star ability. Like Werth, Van Slyke is not flashy, but steady with the glove and can play all three outfield spots and like Werth, Van Slyke's potential may never be fully realized in Dodger blue.

But if the 27-year-old continues to let his bat do his bidding, a Werth-level contract could be in his future.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>