<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usThu, 30 Jun 2016 21:43:30 -0700Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:43:30 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lakers Extend Offers To Clarkson, Huertas, Black]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 19:06:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Lakers-restricted-free-agent.jpg

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that they had extended qualifying offers to Jordan Clarkson, Marcelo Huertas and Tarik Black to make the trio restricted free agents.

However, LA did not list an offer to Ryan Kelly, meaning the former Duke University Blue Devil will now become an unrestricted free agent. This is likely the end of Kelly's tenure with the team, possibly the NBA.

The Lakers always expected to make a qualifying offer to Clarkson, as the guard enters his third season with the start of the 2016-17 NBA season. The former Missouri point guard served as the standout player on the team during his rookie season and followed up as the most consistent member of the purple and gold in his sophomore season.

Huertas is a 33-year-old point guard with limited shooting ability but a strong ability to run an offense. Informally nicknamed "The Catalyst," Huertas raised eye brows when he played a central role in defeating the Golden State Warriors in a nationally televised game. After sitting for the majority of the first half of the season, the Brazilian finished the season strong. As such, the offer is not entirely out of left field, but Huertas only played his rookie season in the NBA season during the 2015-16 campaign, after playing in Spain for the bulk of his career. Huertas can be a veteran presence, but his age does not make him a long-term solution for the team.

Black was originally picked up off waivers in December of 2014. The undrafted rookie has strength and athleticism, but former Lakers coach Byron Scott did not play the bulky forward/center with any regularity. During the 2015-16 season, Black only averaged 12.7 minutes per game and only appeared in 39 games.

According to Eric Pincus and Basketball Insiders, the Lakers' qualifying offers were Clarkson at $2,725,000, Huertas at $1,074,636 and Black at $1,180,431. As restricted free agents, all three of these players have the ability to go and sign offers sheets with another team, and the Lakers would then have the option to match the terms of the offer.

Ultimately, the Lakers can choose to retain all three players, regardless of what another team offers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Go Home Run Happy Against Brewers]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 16:54:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Seager+Homers.png

Trayce Thompson, Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager all homered as the Los Angeles Dodgers blew out the Milwaukee Brewers 8-1 in the rubber match at Miller Park on Thursday.

Hours after finding out their ace Clayton Kershaw would be headed to the DL, Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers picked up their teammate with a big victory to win the series and head back to LA on a high note. 

"To lose Clayton for any length of time is a big blow," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. "Our guys have made a point to move forward and keep winning baseball games."

LA homered three times off Brewers starter Zach Davies. Thompson started the early fireworks show with a two-run shot in the second inning. The rookie outfielder feasted on an 88 MPH fastball up in the zone for his 12th homer of the season.

Grandal also greeted a Davies fastball for a solo shot in the fourth inning that gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

"3-0 count, I'm definitely not swinging and just trying to get on base," Grandal said of the home-run at-bat. "But, I changed mind and thought 'if he throws me a fastball down the middle, I'll take it.'"

Finally, Seager sent an 84 MPH cut-fastball over the wall in centerfield for his team-leading 17th blast of the season in the fifth.

"It's a game of adjustments," Seager told Alanna Rizzo of SportsNetLA after the game. "We struggled yesterday, came back today and made some adjustments and had success."

The rookie shortstop continued to state his case for the 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego as he finished 2-for-4 with a two-run home run, extending his hit streak to a season-high 13 games. 

"Obviously I have a biased perspective, but he's the best shorstop in the National League," Roberts said of Seager. "Corey Seager is what this game is all about now and going forward. The numbers speak for themselves and he deserves to be in the All-Star Game."

Shortly after he surrendered the two-run bomb to Seager, Davies' day was done as the Dodgers scored three runs off the right-hander in the fifth inning to chase the Brewers starter from the game.

Davies (5-4), entered the game with a 1.64 ERA in June, but he was tagged for six runs on eight hits with just three strikeouts in 4 and 1/3 innings pitched.

LA extended their lead off Jacob Barnes in the top of the sixth. Grandal got the rally going with a leadoff walk and scored four batters later on an RBI single from Justin Turner.

One day after he was ejected in a 7-0 loss, Adrian Gonzalez followed Turner's single with an RBI double that scored Seager from second.

"We had good at-bats," Roberts added. "It was nice to see the guys come together with a game plan. Up and down the lineup there was a lot of good things."

The eight runs of offense were more than enough for Maeda who pitched phenomenally for the second time in as many weeks against Milwaukee.

The Japanese right-hander ran into trouble to start the game, surrendering a single, a walk, and a hit-batter to load the bases before a sac fly and a strike out got him out of the jam with just one-run allowed.

"I threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, but my team really helped me out by scoring a lot of runs for me," Maeda told the media through a translator.

For the second straight start against the Brewers, Maeda allowed just one run on three hits in six strong innings of work. Maeda struck out six batters and cruised to his seventh victory of the season.

Players of the Game:

Corey Seager: 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored.
Kenta Maeda: 1 run, 3 hits, 6 strikeouts, 6 IP.
Trayce Thompson: 2-for-5 with a two-run home run.

Three Takeaways:

1. Money Ball: Los Angeles Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda surpassed the 90-inning mark on Thursday, triggering a $250,000 bonus in his contract. Maeda can reach another $250,000 payday when he surpasses 100 innings.

2. Dodgers Down Davies: Milwaukee Brewers starter Zach Davies was 5-0 with a 2.46 ERA in his last 10 starts, tied for 10th best in the National League behind Madison Bumgarner, Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Zack Grienke and more. The Dodgers were able to snap Davies streak of quality starts by putting up six runs in just four innings against Davies.

3. All-Star Seager: Today is the last day you can vote for players for the All-Star Game in San Diego in two weeks. Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is currently third in the voting at his position behind Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies. Leading LA in almost every offensive category, Seager is definitely All-Star worthy and needs your vote!

Up Next:

Dodgers (44-37): Newest Dodger Bud Norris will get thrown straight into the fire as he starts on Friday in the first game of a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

Brewers (35-43): Milwaukee travels to St. Louis to square off with the divisional rival St. Louis Cardinals.

All quotes courtesy of Time Warner's SporstNetLA.

Photo Credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Can the Clippers Sign Kevin Durant?]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 06:27:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Kevin+Durant+Clippers.png

It's not 1849, but the Clippers are still looking to strike gold. 

LA's "other NBA franchise" was one of just six teams granted a meeting with the top prize in this summer's free agency class: Kevin Durant.

Durant can officially meet with team's at 9:01PM PST on Thursday and is expected to fly to Oklahoma City to meet with his current team, the incumbent Thunder, before flying to the Hamptons to meet with five teams over the weekend including the Clippers.

For Lob City to land a meeting with Durant over their co-tenants, the Los Angeles Lakers is a victory in and itself. For decades, the Clippers were seen as nothing but a tick on the arm of the mighty purple and gold, but for the past four years, the Clippers have proved to be the better and more talented team in the City of Angels, something Durant recognizes.

The Lakers may have more cap space—nearly 60 million—compared to the cap-strapped Clippers, but Durant's next landing spot will be a basketball decision, not necessarily a financial one.

The 27-year-old All-Star has played all nine seasons of his career with the Thunder. He averaged 28.2 points per game last season and with the help of Russell Westbrook, Durant led the Thunder to the Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals where they were one win away from a meeting with LeBron James in the NBA Finals.

Since their elimination, the Thunder have gotten better. A draft day trade sent Serge Ibaka to Orlando in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the No. 11 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Domantas Sabonis. According to sources, the Thunder aren't done either as they are looking to add free agent Al Horford to help entice Durant to stay.

So with Oklahoma City as the frontrunners to land Durant, what are the Clippers chances of signing the 2014 MVP?

Of the five other teams in the running to sign Durant: the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers are likely in the middle of the pack behind the Thunder, Warriors and Spurs.

However, the Clips can offer Durant something that those other teams cannot. For starters, if Doc Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer can get creative with the salary cap, the Clippers can offer Durant a chance to play with three other superstars in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, otherwise hypothetically known as "The Big Four." Only the Warriors can come close to matching that with their All-Star trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Second, the Clippers have one main advantage over the other five teams vying for Durant's services: location, location, location.

Durant currently owns a home in Los Angeles and as of the publication of this piece, he is in LA filming a commercial. On par with winning for Durant is his brand. A client of Nike, Durant needs to grow and expand his brand internationally and living in Los Angeles will give him the endorsement deals, television and film appearances and opportunities to do exactly that.

Another option and potential selling point for the Clippers is the ability to offer a sign-and-trade agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Unlike say another free agent (Dwight Howard), Durant seems to be a somewhat loyal guy. It's likely, that if he wanted to make a move to Los Angeles, that Durant would love the opportunity to send his former team something back in return rather than leave them high and dry.

The Clippers have the option of trading Oklahoma-native Griffin to the Thunder in exchange for Durant. That would still leave the Clips with a formidable "Big Three," and arguably the second best team in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors.

The sign-and-trade option would also leave enough cap space for the Clippers to add talent around Durant through free-agency and trades in order to flesh out the roster with complimentary pieces.

Wherever Durant signs, it's possible he would only sign a one-year deal in order to sign a long-term contract next offseason when the NBA salary cap grows higher. This could make sense for the Clippers as both Paul and Griffin are in the final years of their contracts. Durant could sign with the Clippers for the 2016-2017 season, see how things go and then do it all over again next summer.

If the Clippers don't sign Durant, plan B will be to resign most of the team's free agents such as Jamal Crawford, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers and Cole Aldrich and try and keep the team together in order to see if they can make a deep playoff run with everyone healthy.

Injuries to Griffin and Paul in the NBA Playoffs didn't allow Los Angeles to see how far they could have gone had they had a healthy roster of talent to compete with the depleted Golden State Warriors in the second round.

Durant is expected to meet with the Clippers on Friday afternoon, after first meeting with the Golden State Warriors. He will sit down with the Spurs and Celtics on Saturday and finalize his meetings with the Miami Heat on Sunday.

It's likely that the Clippers future could look drastically different come this time next week, or it could look largely the same once a decision from Durant arrives.

In the meantime, just getting a meeting with Durant when the Lakers could not, is a slight moral victory for one of the last remaining teams without an NBA title.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Durant Passing on Lakers Good For Free Agency]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 03:24:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kevin-Durant-not-meeting-Lakers.jpg

Free agency in the NBA officially starts at 9:01 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, but the Los Angeles Lakers have already struck out on the NBA's top free agent. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Kevin Durant did not even schedule a meeting with the Lakers.

Durant is reportedly meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and, yes, the Los Angeles Clippers. Even the Clippers got a meeting with the NBA's top free agent, while the Lakers are locked out. In truth, Durant is doing the Lakers a favor by not wasting their time. Instead, the team can look to sign second-tier free agents, rather than waiting for the inevitable "no" that previous top free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony flung at the purple and gold after a waiting period in previous seasons.

Durant's decision to not even sit at the table with the Lakers, though, is a bitter pill to swallow for a franchise that prides itself on having the premier brand in the sport. With Kobe Bryant retired, even the opportunity to be the face of the Lakers' franchise isn't enough to lure the top free agent to a conference room table.

After all, Durant came painfully close to winning an NBA title with the Oklahoma City Thunder after his Thunder led the Western Conference Finals 3-1, before falling in seven games to the Warriors. Leaving OKC to join the worst team in the West never make a ton of sense, even if it is the mighty Lakers.

More than likely, Durant is returning to Oklahoma City on a two-year contract, with a player option on the second year. That way, Durant can cash in when the NBA salary cap rises even higher in one year's time.

If Durant does leave the Midwest, the Warriors would probably be the best landing spot for the 27-year-old former NBA Most Valuable Player. For a moment, suppose Durant did opt to join the Lakers. They would still be at least a year or two from contending for a title, so why would the Washington D.C. native waste valuable years of his prime on a team that is still developing? By the way, he didn't give the Washington Wizards a meeting either, and that's his hometown team with a far more competitive team in a weaker conference.

In reality, the Lakers aren't a developing team on the rise; they're a rebuilding team working hard to dig out of a deeper hole than the storied franchise has ever been in. The 2015-16 season was rock bottom by all accounts, but the arrival of an unproven coach to lead an unproven roster is hardly the sales pitch to land a championship chasing superstar. To believe that Durant would leave the Thunder for the Lakers was always a pipe dream, despite what ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith may have been shouting earlier in the season.

LA will sign players in free agency, obviously, but the likes of Bismack Biyombo, Festus Ezeli, Zaza Pachulia and Hassan Whiteside will hardly elevate the Lakers to championship caliber overnight. No, the Lakers will probably need to improve via trades that send out at least one of their young assets to accelerate the slow rebuild that faces the franchise. Otherwise, LA will likely start the 2016-17 season with a 19-year-old rookie, 20-year-old second-year and a 21-year-old third-year as the three most talent-rich members of the team.

Durant's decision makes it clear: the Lakers are rebuilding.

However, free agency will provide a view into how the franchise expects to improve in the coming years. Financial flexibility has been a focus of LA's recovery plan in recent years. LA has $60 million to spend in the summer of 2016. Signing players on overpriced short-term contracts and maintaining flexibility for an additional year would provide a greater understanding of how the organization expects to bounce back.

Al Horford, Ryan Anderson, Harrison Barnes, Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons, Mike Conley and DeMar DeRozan fall into the category of second-tier free agents that will command top dollar and long-term contracts. The Lakers expect to target at least one of those players, and those players would improve the team. However, the Lakers do not expect to jump up to the level of the Spurs, Warriors, Thunder or even the Clippers in a single season.

Instead, the Lakers expect to develop the roster, add a few proven pieces and wait for the summer of 2017, when Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin all expect to lead a star-studded free agent class. If the Lakers manage to maintain financial flexibility, they could have the ability to sign a couple big-name players next summer, while using the 2016-17 season as a way to develop the young talent and allow new Lakers coach Luke Walton to settle into his first head coaching job.

If the young talent develops, the Lakers suddenly have even more desirable assets to trade away for established star players. Putting the right role players in place would also serve to attract more impactful free agents in years to come. However, the Lakers are currently not in position to improve dramatically via free agency, and Durant's decision to not meet with the team drives that point home.

So, while Durant sets off fireworks over the fourth of July weekend with his decision to move or to stay, the Lakers don't expect to have any say any impact on that decision. Instead, LA will likely look to re-sign restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson and fill out a roster that currently only has six players on contract: D'Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Lou Williams, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown. No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram should be signed within a couple weeks, and re-signing Clarkson would bring that roster number to eight players.

Even with the positively received hire of Walton, the Lakers simply don&'t have a roster worthy of appealing to top free agents like Durant. While being passed up may be an embarrassment to the mystique of the Lakers' brand, getting early notice that they have no shot with Durant should be viewed as a positive start to free agency.

Now, the Lakers can immediately get to the business of building a roster while a host of teams wait on Durant's decision.

NBA free agency kicks off on Thursday night at 9:01 p.m. Pacific Time. Teams can put pen to paper on July 7, after the conclusion of the moratorium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Prospects Shine in All-Star Game]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 05:10:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Jacob+Scavuzzo.png

The Los Angeles Dodgers flexed their farm system muscles on Tuesday when nine members of their Double-A Tulsa team played in the annual Texas League All-Star Game.

In total, twelve different players on the Drillers were selected to represent the North Team, a team-record as nearly half the team was selected to play in the game for the North Division.

Among the selected were pitchers Chase De Jong, Trevor Oaks, Caleb Dirks, Jordan Schafer, Brock Stewart and Scot Barlow. Catchers Kyle Farmer and Paul Hoenecke made the squad, as did fellow infielders Drew Maggi, Willie Calhoun and outfielders Jacob Scavuzzo and Alex Verdugo.

Not on the team, is arguably one of the best players on the Drillers, top prospect Cody Bellinger who missed the first month of the season with an injury, but has been on a power surge in the last month.

"We grew up fast," Drillers infielder Drew Maggi said. "We got a lot of young guys who at first were getting comfortable in Double-A. They adapted well. I mean, we just do everything well now." 

Among the leaders of the group that "do everything well" is Maggi who leads the team in batting average (.319), and on-base percentage (.409).

The underrated Willie Calhoun leads the team in home runs and credits his hitting coach Terrmel Sledge for his success.

"Me and my hitting coach, we always talk about every day what I need to do against each pitcher," Calhoun told MiLB.com. "It's pretty much just a confidence thing with me. I never lack it and I'll always tell myself I'm going to do good."

The Drillers pitching staff leads the Texas League with a 2.96 ERA and Oaks leads the league with an 8-1 record. His teammates De Jong and Barlow each rank within the Top 10 in ERA respectively.

"It's definitely challenging in the sense that mistakes get hit much more frequently," De Jong told MiLB.com of the adjustment from Class-A to Double-A. "If you leave a fastball over the plate or hang a slider, the guy will put it in play and hit it hard. There's a lot more loud outs but also better defense which helps too."

The Drillers All-Star success is reminiscent of the 2015 summer classic in Cincinnati which nearly had all eight position players on the Kansas City Royals in the starting lineup.

The latest example of chicanery comes courtesy of the Chicago Cubs, which currently have their entire infield and outfielder Dexter Fowler, leading all-comers in the NL All-Star voting. 

Nine Drillers players played in the game on Tuesday for the North Team with pitchers Brock Stewart and Trever Oaks unable to play after being promoted to Triple-A. (Stewart made his MLB debut for the Dodgers on Wednesday).

Chase De Jong started the game for the North Team and struck out the only batter he faced. Scott Barlow and Caleb Dirks each pitched one inning, striking out two. Jordan Schafer faced two batters in relief.

Alex Verdugo started in right field and was the best player for the North team on Tuesday, finishing 3-for-5 with a double. Willie Calhoun started at second base and went 0-for-2. Drew Maggi started at shortstop and went 1-for-3, Jacob Scavuzzo started in left field and went 1-for-4. Paul Hoenecke entered the game in the sixth inning at catcher and finished 0-for-2.

The North All Stars lost the game 8-5 to the South All-Stars after nine innings. The game was played at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri. 

Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco]]>
<![CDATA[Brewers Beat up Brock Stewart in Debut]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 20:16:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Brock+Stewart+debut.png

Brock Stewart had a rocky Major League debut as the Milwaukee Brewers blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-0 on Wednesday night at Miller Park.

Stewart was roughed up in the second inning, as the Brew Crew greeted the 24-year-old to the big leagues with a five-run second inning. 

"It was definitely fun in the first inning, but things changed rather fast," Stewart told reporters. "Two frustrating hits and I let it get to me and left some balls up. Apparently they don't miss them up here. Tough inning, but I'm glad I was able to settle down after that."

Kirk Nieuwenheuis hit a three-run home run and Ryan Braun hit a bases-loaded double as the Brewers broke the game open off the Dodgers' rookie starter.

Second inning aside, Stewart pitched relatively well, allowing just two hits outside of the second frame in his five innings of work. 

"I can't put it into words," Stewart said of his MLB debut. "It's definetely a dream come true."

Stewart allowed five runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts in five innings as he joined six other Dodger pitchers to strike out seven batters in their MLB debut.

"He beared down and gave us five innings," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said. "The game might have sped up on him. His fastball had life and I thought he did a nice job."

The early five-run lead was all Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra would need as he threw a two-hit shutout over eight innings of work. Guerra (5-1) struck out seven with just two walks in the longest start of his career.

Braun hit a two-run home run off reliever Chris Hatcher in the bottom of the seventh. The Brewers best player finished 2-for-4 with a homer a double, and four RBIs on the night. 

Adrian Gonzalez was ejected for arguing a check swing call on a pitch in the dirt in the top of the fourth inning and was replaced at first base by Scott Van Slyke.

"That's the first time in my career I've ever been tossed without saying a word," Gonzalez told the media after the game. "The check swing itself, I don't have a problem with him calling it, but the interpretation is different for every single umpire. Every umpire has a different definition of it. It needs to be addressed and put in black and white." 

Players of the Game:

Ryan Braun: 2-for-4 with a homer, double and 4 RBI.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: 2-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBI.
Junior Guerra: 0 runs on two hits with 7 strikeouts in 8 IP. 

Three Takeaways:

1. Welcome to the Show: Brock Stewart became the fourth pitcher on the Los Angeles Dodgers to make his Major League debut this season. Stewart joined teammates, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias as starting pitchers to make their big league debut for the Dodgers this year.

2. Rookie Fever: Julio Urias earned his first Major League win on Tuesday, Brock Stewart made his MLB debut on Wednesday, and rookie Kenta Maeda will start on Thursday, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers three consecutive rookie starting pitchers in a series for the first time since Jim Golden, Phil Ortega and Ed Rakow started the final three games of the 1960 season.

3. Hit Streak: Shortstop Corey Seager hit a double in the first inning to extend his season-high hit streak to 12 games. Seager currently leads the Dodgers in every major offensive category, and all National League shortstops with 91 hits, but is not among the top shortstops in All-Star voting.

Up Next:

Dodgers (43-37): Kenta Maeda will be the third consecutive rookie to take the mound for the Dodgers on Thursday in the rubber match.

Brewers (35-42): Milwaukee will send Zach Davies to the mound for the rare morning game at 11:10AM on Thursday.

All quotes courtesy of Time Warner SportsNetLA.

Photo Credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brock Stewart to make MLB Debut]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 20:11:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/BROCK+STEWART.png

It's Oprah Winfrey's giveaway week: the Los Angeles Dodgers edition.

"You get a start. You get a start. Everyone gets a start!"

The revolving door that has become the Dodgers' fifth starter spot takes another rotation on Wednesday when rookie right-hander Brock Stewart makes his Major League Debut against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

Stewart's meteoric rise through the minors to the majors is the stuff of legends. On Wednesday, he will make start for his fourth team this season, and it's still June. For many, that labels you as a journeyman, but for Stewart, he's a meteor.

Stewart's humble beginnings start in Class-A Rancho Cucamonga where he began the year with the Quakes. The 24-year-old allowed just one run with 10 strikeouts in 11 innings over the span of two starts in Rancho before he was promoted to Double-A Tulsa.

The relatively unknown pitching prospect was so obscure, that he didn't even crack the list of MLB.com's "Top-30 Dodgers prospects." For a pitcher that was not even considered a top 30 prospect within an organization to make his MLB debut less than three months later is simply astonishing.

"I was a little bit surprised," Stewart told SportsNetLA of how far he's come singe Class-A to start the season. "It's been a whirlwind. I'm confident in my abilities and think I should be here."

To put that in perspective, Grant Holmes, the No. 3 prospect on that list, began the season in Class-A with Stewart and is still with the Quakes as of the publication of this piece.

Stewart's next rung up the Dodgers organizational ladder was a stop at Double-A Tulsa where he dominated the Texas League pitching for the then first place Drillers.

The 6 foot 3 inch fly ball pitcher had a 1.12 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 56.1 innings over the course of nine starts at the Double-A level. His dominance earned him a Texas League All-Star selection, but he was unable to play in the game which took place on Tuesday, due to his promotion to Triple-A and as of Wednesday, the big leagues.

"It's a meteoric rise," Matt Herges, his pitching coach at Triple-A Oklahoma City said. "It's really rare. The last time I saw that was Paco Rodriguez. He went to Florida. He was in the big leagues that year he got drafted but he was a pitcher his whole life. Brock was a position player so the fact that he has this command, moxie and he's so new to this is impressive."

Stewart made three starts with OKC, allowing three runs in nearly six innings in his Pacific Coast League debut. He struck out seven in the Dodgers 9-3 victory over the Omaha Storm Chasers.

"I haven't seen anyone that confident in his fastball in a long time," Herges added. "He threw it without worry. He threw it like, "I'm gonna shove this up your gut." His changeup was plus. His fastball command was plus. The slider was just okay, it was 50-50, but everything about it was better than that I expected and I had a lot of good reviews when he came over here."

Stewart was drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of Illinois State where he played third base for the Redbirds. He was discovered by Dodgers' director of amateur scouting, Billy Gasparino, who then with the Padres told Jeff Stewart (Brock's father) that he was interested in his son as a pitcher.

Herges, attended Illinois State, and Jeff Stewart was his college coach. The senior Stewart is now a scout with the Tampa Bay Rays organization and with his wife, Amy, they were able to see Brock's first Triple-A start in person. After the game, they met up with Herges at a Sonic restaurant across the street. On Wednesday, Jeff and Amy will be in Milwaukee to see their son fulfill his lifelong dream of pitching in the big leagues.

Stewart's transformation from infielder to pitcher is unusual, but it isn't unprecedented. The Dodgers have three relievers in Kenley Jansen, Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez that were converted into pitchers, and the most famous example was University of Arizona shortstop Trevor Hoffman who was converted into a closer and went on to notch 600 career saves for the San Diego Padres. Herges sees a lot of comparisons between the two.

“This is the same type of fastball,” Herges said. “It’s a high spin rate, located four seam gas. It’s beautiful to watch. He’s got a real sinker too.” 

Stewart is primarily a fly ball pitcher, and was bitten by the home run bug in his three starts at Triple-A before he was called up on Wednesday. Miller Park is a hitter's park and with bats like Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter, the 24-year-old could get beat by the long ball early.

Stewart will be the ninth different starting pitcher used by the Dodgers in 2016 and the fourth to make their Major League Debut following in the footsteps of Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias. He will wear No. 51 on the mound on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco]]>
<![CDATA[Serena Williams 'Sad' Some Athletes Skipping Rio Over Zika ]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:59:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_16133484327092.jpg

Tennis star Serena Williams said she will be attending the Olympics in Rio despite concerns about the spread of Zika and is "sad" some have pulled out because of the virus.

"[That’s] something that's been on my mind," Williams told USA Today over the weekend. "I'm really just gonna have to go super protected maybe. I don't know."

Last month, 150 doctors, scientists and bioethicists from more than a dozen countries wrote a letter urging the World Health Organization to put pressure on Olympic officials to move or postpone the games because of global health concerns over the Zika virus.

The letter's authors wrote that Rio's public health system is too weak to make a serious push to rid the city of the mosquito that transmits the virus.

Since the letter was sent, several athletes have announced they will be skipping the Rio games over Zika fears, including golfers Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh and cyclist Tejay van Garderen. Other athelets have pulled out, citing injuries, need for rest and other reasons. 

Williams told USA Today it's "sad" that some athletes are choosing to stay home.

"At the same time I obviously understand where they're coming from and how they feel," she said. "Part of me feels that way, too, which is why I'm going in, you know, with a whole mindset of how do I protect myself, how do I prevent and also raise awareness for this. That's kind of how I'm looking at it."

Zika, though primarily transferred through mosquitoes, can be sexually transmitted. The virus has been found to cause serious cognitive defects in newborn babies when contracted during pregnancy. It has also been linked to neurological disorders in adults.

This will be William's fourth time competing in the Olympics. She will be defending her champion title in both singles and doubles. Williams also won doubles gold with her sister Venus in 2000 and 2008.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Nike Tennis Dress Courts Controversy at Wimbledon]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:02:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-543416436.jpg

Nike has come under fire over the tennis dress it designed for its sponsored female athletes at this year's Wimbledon tournament.

The Championships at the All-England Club started Monday, and the dress named "Premier Slam" immediately courted controversy after players were spotted wearing them.

The dress, retailing for $100 on Nike's website, is standard Wimbledon white, but its loose fit and length has some players and fans complaining it reveals too much. Some players have also complained that the dress flies above the waist and gets in the way during plays, NBC's  "Today" show reported.

During qualifying rounds, Britain’s Katie Boulter used a headband as an impromptu belt to try to keep the dress in place. 

German player Sabine Lisicki, speaking at a press conference Tuesday after her 6-1, 6-3 win over Shelby Rogers, said she didn't feel comfortable "showing that much" and opted to wear a more conventional skirt-and-shirt set.

"For me, the most important thing is to feel comfortable and not to think about anything, and with this I feel great," Lisicki added.

But not all players were concerned with the mini. Eugenie Bouchard posted a photo of herself in the garb, with the caption "Short & Sweet." 

According to "Today," Nike has set up an alterations shop at Wimbledon so that players can make adjustments to their dress.

In a statement to "Today" Nike spokesman Matthew Kneller said the alterations are not part of a "recall" to the dress.

"The product has not been recalled and we often customize products and make alterations for athletes as they compete. We work closely with our athletes to provide them with product that helps them perform and feel their best on the court," Kneller wrote.

Wimbledon's famously strict dress code — which defines white as not inclusive of "cream or off-white" — does not specify a length for female players' skirts or dresses, only that it adhere to "common standards of decency."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Pippen Lists Highland Park Mansion]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 04:17:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pippen+house+0628.jpg

The north suburban home of former Chicago Bulls player Scottie Pippen is now on the market.

The Hall of Famer and his wife, Larsa, listed the five-bedroom, 10,000 square-foot home on a 2.9-acre lot in Highland Park Monday for just under $3.1 million.

Built in 2003, the Pippen family purchased the home for a little over $2.22 million in 2004, according to real estate site Redfin.com. The house boasts an outdoor pool, a wine cellar, and of course, a basketball court with a large rendering of Pippen’s Bulls jersey on the wood floor.

Pippen joins former teammate Michael Jordan in having a home on the market in Highland Park. Jordan originally listed his home in the northern suburb for $29 million in 2012. But four years later, the asking price for the 9-bedroom, 17-bath estate with ‘23’ on the front gate has dropped to $14.9 million.

Photo Credit: Redfin.com]]>
<![CDATA[Faces You Won't See in Rio]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:01:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/skipping_rio_header.jpg Some athletes are opting out of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, citing injuries or concern about the Zika virus, among other reasons.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Urias Gets 1st Big League Win]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 23:58:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Julio+Urias+1st+win.png

Adrian Gonzalez got back on track and Julio Urias earned his first big league victory as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-5, on Tuesday night at Miller Park.

After sitting out the last two games for LA, Gonzalez broke out of a slump going 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

"That was really good to see," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said of his first baseman. "Today he looked a lot more relaxed, his head was clear and he took some good swings tonight."

The Dodgers staked a two-run lead in the second inning thanks to back-to-back singles by Gonzalez and Trayce Thompson to start the top half of the inning.

Thompson attempted to steal second and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy's errant throw allowed Gonzalez to score and Thompson to advance to third. A few pitches later, Yasmani Grandal grounded into a fielder's choice to plate the second run.

Milwaukee tied the game in the bottom of the third when Ryan Braun hit a two-run, two-out double off Urias who walked two batters in the inning. Overall, Urias issued a free pass to six Brewers batters.

"I struggled with some pitches. Obviously the walks are too many for any starter," Urias told the media through a translator. "I struggled with the fastball outside and was later to adjust later in the game. I was happy to get the win."

The 19-year-old set career highs in innings pitched (six), walks (six) and pitches (100) en route to his first victory. Urias became just the second teenager to win a Major League game since Felix Hernandez in 2005.

"He got a couple firsts today: first hit, first win, overall it was a good day for him," Gonzalez said of his countrymen.

The Mexican phenom helped his own cause at the plate with his first career hit and RBI when he singled up the middle to cap-off a three-run fourth inning.

"It was incredible today," Urias said smiling. "It's beautiful and incredible. One of the best days of my life. What more can I say?"

The Dodgers nearly denied the "Teenager" his first victory when disaster struck in the bottom of the eighth.

With Pedro Baez on in relief, the Brewers scored two runs on an RBI double by Jonathan Lucroy. Power-hitter, Chris Carter represented the tying run at the plate so Roberts went to the bullpen for Joe Blanton.

Carter crushed a first-pitch curveball into deep centerfield that Joc Pederson caught as he simultaneously crashed into he wall. With Pederson writhing on the track, Lucroy was able to tag from second and score, cutting the LA lead to just one run. Play stopped as Pederson slowly walked off the field clutching his right shoulder.

"You hope for the best and hope it's not something real bad," Gonzalez said of Pederson's injury. "Hopefully everything comes out negative. He made an incredible play."

Thankfully, an update by Roberts after the game announced that x-rays on Pederson's shoulder came out negative.

"We took some X-Rays and I think we dodged a bullet," Roberts told reporters in his office after the game. "There's no fracture, but a bruise in the AC joint. We're going to see how he is tomorrow, but to know the x-rays come up negative is great."

Four batters later, with the tying run on second base, Blanton threw a wild pitch that kicked all the way to the backstop. Grandal threw to the plate and Blaton was able to make the tag, ending the inning and securing Urias' first victory.

"We call that play number seven," joked Gonzalez. "I thought it was a well run play and it went as we practice it."

"For Joe [Blanton] to be there to put that tag down," added Roberts. "I thought that was the play of the game."

Chase Anderson was beat up by the boys in blue for the second time in as many weeks as he allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in four innings. 10 days ago, he was tagged for seven runs by the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

"We know he likes to throw his changeup," Gonzalez said of the approach against Anderson. "So we tried to have quality at-bats and look for the ball up in the zone."

Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for his 23rd save of the season.

Players of the Game:

Adrian Gonzalez: 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Julio Urias: 2 runs on 2 hits with 6 SO in 6 IP. RBI single.
Jonathan Lucroy: 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.

Three Takeaways:

1. Joc the Rock: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson made the spectacular defensive play of the game when he robbed Chris Carter of extra bases and most likely secured the win for Urias and the Dodgers.

2. What Slump? Both Adrian Gonzalez and Trayce Thompson broke out of slumps on Tuesday. Gonzalez was out of the starting lineup for the last two games before going 3-for-3 and Thompson was 0-for-19 before a second inning single.

3. El Charro: Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez wore a custom-designed traditional Mexican Charro suit after the team's 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.

Up Next:

Dodgers (43-36): Brock Stewart will make his MLB debut on Wednesday as LA looks to make it three straight at 5:10PM PST.

Brewers: (34-42): Junior Guerra goes to the mound in the second game of the series for Milwaukee.

All quotes courtesy of Time Warner SportsNetLA.

Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Avoid Sweep With Comeback Win]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:17:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/Dodgers+avoid+sweep.png

The Los Angeles Dodgers overcame an early four-run deficit as they came-from-behind to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-4, on Monday afternoon at PNC Park.

For the second straight day, the Dodgers found themselves trailing by four runs after the Pirates put up a four-spot in the first inning. Unlike Sunday—which saw Clayton Kershaw lose just his second game of the season—the Dodgers crawled out of the four-run hole to avoid a four-game sweep.

Pittsburgh was looking to rewrite history after they swept the Dodgers at PNC Park last season. Things got off to a good start as the Pirates scored four in the first inning off Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir's Achilles' heel continues to be the first inning as he struggled again, walking three batters to start the game. The left-hander has allowed a whopping 16 first-inning runs in his 16 starts this season. 

Chris Taylor made his Dodgers debut with a leadoff triple in the third inning. The shortstop was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in a trade for Zach Lee last week. 

Justin Turner plated Taylor with a sacrifice fly, to put the Dodgers on the board. The RBI was Turner's 22nd in the month of June, the most in a single month since Adrian Gonzalez knocked in 24 runs in 2014. 

LA finally broke through off Francisco Liriano in the fifth inning. Enrique Hernandez worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on a double by Turner. Two batters later, Yasiel Puig hit a two-run single off Liriano before he was removed from the game for the right-hander Jared Hughes.

Hughes didn't fair much better as Howie Kendrick tied the game with an RBI single and Puig scored the go-ahead run on a two-out single by A.J. Ellis to put the Dodgers in front. 

Liriano (4-8) allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts in just 4 and 1/3 innings pitched. 

Kazmir (6-3) pitched with the lead for the first time in the bottom of the fifth inning and struck out Starling Marte with runners on first and second to end the inning. The veteran left-hander allowed four runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts in five innings. 

The LA bullpen threw four scoreless innings to get the victory as Kenley Jansen came in the bottom of the eighth for a four-out save and his 22nd of the season.

Players of the Game:

Yasiel Puig: Two-run single.
A.J. Ellis: Game-winning RBI single.
Andrew McCutchen: 2-for-4 with a run scored. 

Three Takeaways:

1. First-Inning Follies: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Scott Kazmir has struggled in the first-inning of games all season. He once again fell victim to the first-inning faux pas as he walked three batters and allowed four runs in the first frame on Monday. Kazmir has allowed 16 first-inning runs in 16 starts this season and has a first-inning ERA of 9.00.

2. Throw Some Dirt on it: Scott Kazmir's sudden change of momentum might have come after he asked the grounds crew to add some dirt to the pitcher's mound in the middle of the game.

3. Sweep it Under the Rug: Pittsburgh was looking for their first four-game sweep over the Los Angeles Dodgers since August of 1944.

Up Next:

Dodgers (42-36): Los Angeles heads to Milwaukee where Julio Urias looks for his first career victory on Tuesday night at 5:10PM PST.

Pirates (37-40): Pittsburgh travels to the west cast for games against Seattle, Oakland and St. Louis.

Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Loses Second Game of Season]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:21:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Kershaw+vs+Pirates.png

Clayton Kershaw struggled in the second inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, on Sunday for their third straight victory over the Boys in Blue. 

The Pirates scored four runs off the three-time Cy Young Award winner in the second inning and the Dodgers were unable to complete the comeback off rookie starter, Chad Kuhl, who won his Major League debut against one of the greatest pitchers of this generation.

Pittsburgh took advantage of a less-than-stellar Kershaw in the second inning when they recorded back-to-back singles before the 2014 MVP issued a walk—yes, a rare free pass—and Adam Frazier put the Pirates on the board with an RBI single to left field. One batter later, David Freese hit a bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center and the Bucs had a 4-0 lead.

The four-run inning was just the second such inning Kershaw has allowed all season after he surrendered five runs against the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium in April.

"I wish I had an excuse for you," Kershaw told MLB.com after the game. "I just didn't pitch well enough to win tonight."

Justin Turner continued to wield a hot bat as he hit a two-run homer in the third inning to cut the lead in half, and an RBI double off the wall in the fifth inning to bring the boys in blue within one. It was the second game in a week that Turner knocked in all of the Dodgers' runs in a game.

Kershaw (11-2) settled in after the four-run second inning, but the damage was already done. The left-hander allowed four runs on nine total hits with two walks (one intentional) and four strikeouts in six innings.

His counterpart, Kuhl (1-0), won his first-ever MLB start allowing three runs on four hits with five strikeouts in five innings. Kuhl's first career victory will be one he'll never forget as he defeated his idol in Kershaw.

Pittsburgh's pen shut down the Dodgers in order over the next four innings, as three relievers retired the game's final 12 batters they faced. Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his 22nd save of the season.

Players of the Game:

Justin Turner: 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.
David Freese: Three-run double.

Three Takeaways: 

1. Kuhl as a Cucumber: Pittsburgh Pirates rookie pitcher Chad Kuhl was not afraid of the moment on Sunday. For one, the 23-year-old was making his MLB debut, which is enough to make anyone nervous. Two, his debut was coming on national television for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Three, he was going against baseball's best pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. Not only did he hold his own against the three-time Cy Young Award winner, he beat him. The crowd showed their appreciation by giving Kuhl as standing ovation later in the game.

2. Still Hot: Justin Turner continued his torrid month of June as he once again drove in all the runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a two-run home run and an RBI double. Turner has eight homers and 21 RBI in the month of June.

3. The Kershaw Stopper? Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart went 2-for-3 off Kershaw and is now 9-for-17 in his career against the game's most elite pitcher. Stewart's nine career hits against the former MVP are the most against any pitcher in baseball.


Up Next:

Dodgers (41-36): Scott Kazmir starts against the Pirates for the first time in eight years as LA looks to avoid the sweep on Monday.

Pirates (37-39): Francisco Liriano looks to lead Pittsburgh to the four-game sweep in the series finale at 9:35 AM PST. 

Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pirates Locked and Loaded against LA]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 18:55:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/McCutchen+Dodgers.png

Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates blasted the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 on Saturday night at PNC Park.

McCutchen hit a solo shot in the fourth and a three-run blast in the sixth to give the Bucs the lead after Pittsburgh ended Kenta Maeda's night on a rather somber note. 

Maeda (6-5) was stellar for the first five innings, but was hit like a hurricane in the sixth when he issued a leadoff walk to John Jaso and a single to Starling Marte before surrendering the deathblow to McCutchen. 

"That's what we do. We work at it every day," McCutchen told the media after the game. "You just hope that results will get there. It's not like I'm sitting around, hoping things change. "I'm going out there, trying to get things done and getting things turned over. Tonight was a good night." 

LA was put in a vice-grip but Pirates' left-hander Jeff Locke who shut down the Dodgers offense all night. Locke had a perfect game going through the first five innings before he allowed back-to-back doubles to Scott Van Slyke and A.J. Ellis in the sixth inning. 

Locke (7-5) allowed just one run on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks in seven strong innings.

His counterpart, didn't fare as well, allowing four runs on four hits with just four strikeouts and two walks in five innings. 

"I thought I did pretty well before the sixth inning," Maeda told reporters through a translator after the game. "I didn't start off well in the sixth, the walk, the base hit, and I couldn't control the damage."

Joe Blanton, normally a pillar of scoreless stability for the boys in blue, allowed a two-run bomb to shortstop Jordy Mercer that gave the Bucs the 6-1 victory. 

Players of the Game:

Andrew McCutchen: 2-for-4 with two home runs and 4 RBI.
Jordy Mercer: Solo shot.
Jeff Locke: 1 run on 5 hits with 3 strikeouts in 7 IP. 

Three Takeaways:

1. Pitch Perfect: Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke was perfect through the first five innings before a Scott Van Slyke double ended the left-hander's bid for immortality.

2. Power Outage: The Los Angeles Dodgers streak of 14 consecutive games with a home run (the longest since 2001) came to an end.

3. All Good Things Come to an End: The Pittsburgh Pirates had a season-high 105 inning error-less streak snapped on Saturday. After nearly 12 straight games without an error, Sean Rodriguez made an errant throw to A.J. Schugel in the ninth inning.

Up Next:

Dodgers (41-35): Clayton Kershaw takes the mound on Sunday for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball at 5:08 PM.

Pirates (36-39): 23-year-old rookie Chad Kuhl will make his MLB-debut against the three-time Cy Young Award winner at 5:08PM PST.

Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pat Summitt's Storied Coaching Career in Photos]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:33:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-73800271.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Groundbreaking Ceremony for Tony Gwynn Memorial]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 07:47:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Tony+gwynn+memorial+statue+0622.jpg

The City of Poway will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its Tony Gwynn memorial statue on the baseball field at Lake Poway Park next month.

The statue depicts Gwynn, dubbed "Mr.Padre" in his Padres uniform, waving to the crowd with his cap in hand while holding a child on his hip. It will look over the baseball field at Lake Poway Park.

There were no taxpayer money used to fund the project despite a recent settlement made by a city manager that caused some confusion.

A benefit concert was held in early April to raise money for the tribute, and a Crowd Rise page was set up that, as of June 27, has received over $140,000 in donations.

A donor wall will accompany the statue, recognizing donations of at least $250.

The statue isn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last public gift honoring Mr. Padre. In October 2015, a 4.5 mile stretch of the Interstate 15 freeway from Scripps Poway Parkway to Camino Del Norte was dedicated to him.

The outpouring of affection on social media on what would have been his 56th birthday is a perfect example of the legacy left by one of San Diego’s most beloved men.

“The world knew him as a legendary ballplayer,” said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, “but we knew him as friend, neighbor, family man and community contributor. He was Poway’s hometown hero.”

The ceremoney will be held on July 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Lake Poway Park.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Coach Buddy Ryan Dies at 85]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 09:48:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Buddy+Ryan.png

Longtime NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan died of cancer at the age of 85 Tuesday morning, according to NFL.com.

During his 35-year career, James David "Buddy" Ryan was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals and the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and Houston Oilers.

After playing college football at Oklahoma A&M University, Ryan accepted his first coaching job at Gainesville High School in Texas. He also spent one year as athletic director at a high school in Marshall, Texas.

From 1961 to 1965, Ryan was a defensive line coach for the University of Buffalo before moving on to the New York Jets, where he won his first Super Bowl ring.

Ryan kept the same position for two years with the Minnesota Vikings, where his "Purple People Eaters" terrorized opposing quarterbacks.

The Chicago Bears named Ryan defensive coordinator in 1978. After a few years in Chicago, Ryan perfected the "46 Defense," which carried the Bears to a Super Bowl win following the 1985 season. That Bears defense is widely considered to be the greatest in NFL history.

Ryan's success with the Bears turned into a head coaching opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986. He was fired after going 43-38-1 in five seasons, including an 0-3 playoff record.

The Houston Oilers brought Ryan on as defensive coordinator in 1993. He only lasted one year there, though, and is most famous for punching his team's offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on the sideline during a game.

Ryan's final NFL job was to serve as head coach for the Arizona Cardinals, where he amassed a 12-20 record in two seasons.

Ryan's twin sons Rex and Rob, the head coach and assistant head coach of the Buffalo Bills, respectively, also have spent decades coaching in the NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Look Back at the Legendary Basketball Career of Pat Summitt]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 06:26:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-136040800-summitt.png Pat Summitt was the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history and during her 38-year career at Tennessee, she brought the Lady Vols to eight national championships. She died at age 64 after fighting Alzheimer's Disease.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Rio Olympic Games: Swimming]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:14:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_16117516881811-rio-olympic-park.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tom Kelly, Longtime USC Sportscaster, Dies at 88]]> Mon, 27 Jun 2016 17:09:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-usc-campus-generic.jpg

Longtime USC sportscaster Tom Kelly died Monday morning at his home in Encino, two days before his 89th birthday.

USC's athletics department announced the news this morning on its Twitter feed. Kelly had waged a long battle with cancer.

The Minnesota native started calling Trojans football and basketball games in the early 1960s. He would go on to call many sporting events during his long career on the Southland airwaves, but is most remembered as the voice of Trojans football. He called games during five national championship seasons, first under coach John McKay in the 1960s and later under Pete Carroll in the mid-2000s.

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone praised Kelly as "one of Southern California's most versatile and accomplished announcers. He did play-by-play for just about every sport imaginable — from football, basketball, baseball, track and boxing to billiards, swimming and golf."

Current USC football play-by-play man Pete Arbogast told KNX Newsradio that Kelly was "an idol of mine, no question."

"He, to me, has always been the voice of the Trojans," Arbogast said.

"It's a terrible loss to the Trojans and to broadcasters in Southern California."

Kelly "seemed to be everywhere," Arbogast said of the late sportscaster's prolific body of work. "He had that voice that you could hear from six blocks away."

Kelly also worked for years as a nightly sportscaster on Channels 2 and 11, and served as sports director for KTTV from 1966-72.

He was a member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame and the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Services are pending for Kelly, who is survived by his wife Danusia, four children, a stepson and six grandchildren.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Earthquakes Condemn Derogatory Remark ]]> Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:40:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-481518696.jpg

The San Jose Earthquakes issued a condemnation of the derogatory chant during the California Clasico match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Stanford Stadium Saturday night, where some could be heard making what could be considered a homophobic slur in Spanish.

“We are extremely disappointed and shocked at the behavior of a portion of our fan base during our match,” the Earthquakes said in a statement late Saturday. “As an organization, we do not tolerate or condone this type of speech at our matches. It violates the Earthquakes and Major League Soccer's fan code of conduct and any fan found in violation of this code is subject to expulsion and further punishment.”

The Mercury News reported that some fans chanted “P---,” which loosely translates to the word prostitute and can also carry an anti-gay connotation, at Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe that is traditionally used by supporters of Mexico’s national team despite requests that fan stop using the term. The team also has an openly gay player, Robbie Rogers, the Mercury News reported. However, the term can be interpreted widely. In some circles, calling someone that name means you are the best at what you do.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Scratch and Claw but Lose to Pirates]]> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 19:39:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Puig+in+Pittsburgh.png

The Dodgers played a game of chase the dragon.

The Los Angeles Dodgers scratched and clawed to get back into the game multiple times, but were unable to complete the comeback in their 8-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park.

Jameson Taillon had LA chasing their tail all night as the Pirates staked an early 4-0 lead for their rookie pitcher.

Pittsburgh put up four runs on Nick Tepesch—who made his Dodgers debut—in the second inning surrendering two doubles and three singles as the Bucs beat up on the right-hander.

The Dodgers scored two in the top of the third to get back into the game, but the Pirates added another run in the bottom half to extend their lead to 5-2.

After a scoreless fourth, LA added two more in the top of the fifth, but the Pirates tacked on two more in the bottom half.

The cat-and-mouse game continued as the Dodgers got two more runs in the top of the sixth, one courtesy of a solo blast from right-fielder Yasiel Puig.

Jung Ho Kang and Matt Joyce both homered for the Pirates as Pittsburgh never relinquished the lead despite the best efforts by the boys in blue.

Tepesch (0-1) took the loss in his 2016 MLB debut, allowing five runs on seven hits in four innings. Tepesch was activated for a spot start before the game, but will more than likely get sent back to Triple-A Oklahoma City tomorrow. 

His counterpart, Taillon, didn't fare much better, allowing four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts in four innings for the Pirates.

Pittsburgh reliever, Neftali Feliz (2-0), vultured the win from Taillon's talons, allowing no runs in 1 and 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his 21st save of the season.

The loss snaps LA's six-game winning streak, and is just the Pirates third victory in their last 16 games. 

Players of the Game:

Yasiel Puig:
2-for-4 with a home run.
Matt Joyce: 3-for-4 with a double, home run and two RBI.
Corey Seager: 4-for-5 with a double, RBI and run scored. 

Three Takeaways:

1. Opening Night: A couple of players made debuts on Friday. Before the game, the Dodgers purchased the contract of pitcher Nick Tepesch from Triple-A Oklahoma City, designating outfielder Will Venable for assignment. It was Tepesch's 40th career start, but his first of 2016 and first with the Dodgers. Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman, Adam Frazier, made his Major League debut during a double-switch and promptly singled in his first career at-bat.

2. Rib-Tickler: Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander, Frankie Montas, was expected to make the start on Friday, but it was announced before the game that he had a broken rib and would be out for the next 4-8 weeks. Montas had surgery to relocate a rib in February.

3. Puig Power: Yasiel Puig blasted a solo home run for Los Angeles in the top of the sixth inning and is now 5-for-10 since he was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. Puig's blast was hit so far, the Pirates did not even move on contact as they watched the ball fly out of the park.


Up Next:
Dodgers (41-34): Kenta Maeda heads to the mound on Saturday on six-days of rest as Los Angeles looks to…

Pirates (35-39): Jeff Locke gets the job of making… at 4:15PST at PNC Park.


Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shaq Is US Sports Envoy to Cuba]]> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 13:16:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-508873874.jpg

Months after President Obama's historic trip to Cuba, 15-time NBA all-star Shaquille O'Neal will visit the island nation.

The State Department announced Friday that O'Neal will be part of a U.S. Department of State Sports Envoy to promote sports to the Cuban youth for four days starting this weekend.

The retired NBA star will be joined by Dallas Mavericks Assistant Coach Kaleb Canales to lead basketball camps for youth and demonstrate how sports can serve as a means of developing academic, leadership, and teamwork skills, according to a State Department news release. He is expected to visit historically significant cultural sites in Havana and further promote positive ties between the United States and Cuban people.

O'Neal played in the NBA for 19 seasons and retired following the 2011 season. He played for the Miami Heat from 2004 to 2008, winning his fourth championship, after many years with the LA Lakers and Orlando Magic.

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<![CDATA[Video - Luke Walton: Brandon Ingram "Is the Player I Wanted"]]> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 14:47:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brandon-Ingram-Lakers-draft-2016.jpg

Only a couple days on the job, Luke Walton took part in LA's draft night on Thursday and sounded ecstatic about LA's choice with the no. 2 pick in the 2016 Draft, Brandon Ingram.

"I don't know if he's the best (player in the draft) or not, but he's the player I wanted, for sure," Walton said. "What he has the potential of doing and what he can already do at his age, with his length and skill set, is very impressive and unique."

Walton added, "You can tell pretty quickly, when a kid is that special, what he can do on a basketball court."

Walton sounded enthusiastic about the choice and excited about working with the 18-year-old over the summer and into the 2016-17 season. Asked about what stood out with the newest Laker, Walton spoke about Ingram's natural ability to make reads on the court, especially defensively. The Lakers coach invoked the name of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green when talking about Ingram's ability to read the game and help defensively.

"It means that the player is inteligent," Walton said.

While Walton may not have been overtly smiling and cracking jokes, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was in rare form on Thursday night. Kupchak sounded thrilled with the team's selection, despite taking a subtle jab at Ingram coming from Duke University in the process. Kupchak went to rival University of North Carolina.

Kupchak said about Ingram, "We look at him and his age and his body type, his willingness to work and be coached, so we think the upside and the potential in him, right now, there is no ceiling on him."

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