<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports - [LA FEATURE] SoCal Sports 4 You]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sportsen-usSat, 19 Oct 2019 13:07:05 -0700Sat, 19 Oct 2019 13:07:05 -0700NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Ramsey Found Out He Got Traded to Rams While Eating Tacos]]>563342031Thu, 17 Oct 2019 19:32:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1180814746.jpg

There are two words every foodie in Los Angeles knows well: Taco Tuesday.

The nationwide day dedicated to a single food was well known before LeBron James started yelling about it on Instagram. It's even become a tradition of the newest superstar athlete in the City of Angels.

The reigning NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams made a flurry of roster moves on Tuesday, the last of which was the biggest blockbuster of all: acquiring two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ramsey told reporters during his introductory press conference on Wednesday night, that he was enjoying Taco Tuesday inside his home in Jacksonville when he first got the call that he had been traded to the Rams.

"I was excited. I had a ton of joy. I was at home chilling, eating tacos," said Ramsey of the moment. "I don't think I ate another taco the rest of the night."

Ramsey has had a rough 2019 season. After nearly advancing to the Super Bowl in 2017, the Jaguars finished 5-11 last year, good for last place in the AFC South. 

"I wanted a fresh start and a fresh start in a place like LA," said Ramsey. "With the culture I've heard about here, I'm a young guy still. Everyone around here is kinda young, I feel like they'll be a little bit more understanding."

After a week two confrontation with head coach Doug Marrone, Ramsey met with Jaguars Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin in a closed door meeting. That meeting reportedly did not go well as Ramsey said that the 73-year-old said "some disrespectful things." After the meeting, Ramsey requested the Jaguars trade him.

Ramsey did whatever he could to not see the field while waiting to see if the Jaguars would meet his demand. Ramsey missed the last three games with a back injury, but reportedly will play this Sunday when the Rams travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons.

"I definitely want to call Les [Snead] and Sean [McVay] and give them a piece of my mind," joked Falcons head coach when he was asked what was his immediate reaction after finding out the Rams had acquired one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

Ramsey is one of the more outspoken players in the league, and has a personality that has been known to rub people the wrong way. In August of last year, while being interviewed by GQ magazine, the 24-year-old native of Tennessee gave his opinion on nearly every quarterback in the league, calling his new quarterback Jared Goff, "average to above average."

"In relation to what he was calling a lot of people, that wasn't half bad," laughed Goff when asked about his thoughts on those comments. "That's part of Jalen's attitude and it doesn't bother me one bit. I thought it was quite funny, actually."

One teammate who is excited to play with Ramsey is safety Eric Weddle, who got to know Ramsey during the Pro Bowl in 2017 and 18.

"Amazing individual," said Weddle of Ramsey. "Very charismatic. Obviously competitive and fiery. That's what you love in a DB [defensive back], especially in a corner. We're all very excited, you're talking about one of the best players in the league."

Rams head coach Sean McVay is no stranger to players with big personalities inside the locker room. In addition to Todd Gurley, the Rams brought in Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters last season. The latter of which was traded to the Ravens to make room for Ramsey.

"I think you want guys with some swag, some personality, different things like that," said McVay of Ramsey. "As long as those guys love football, they love competing every single day, I think usually this is a building that I think will suit him well."



Photo Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Adam Henrique Scores Twice as Anaheim Rallies to Beat Buffalo 5-2]]>563279581Thu, 17 Oct 2019 05:21:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ducks-AP_19290106545327.jpg

Ryan Getzlaf and Anaheim's power-play unit put plenty of work in leading up to Wednesday's game against the Buffalo Sabres in trying to jump start the unit that had gone scoreless in the first six games.

Getzlaf and the Ducks ended up getting their first power-play goal at the most opportune time. His goal midway through the second period ended up being the go-ahead goal for Anaheim in a 5-2 victory.

"It is nice to get rewarded and have all the hard work pay off," Getzlaf said. "Even early in the game, we had some good movement and shots but couldn't score."

Led by Adam Henrique's two goals and Jakob Silfverberg's three points (goal, two assists), Anaheim rallied after Buffalo scored the first two goals.

Rickard Rakell had a goal and an assist, and Josh Manson added two assists for Anaheim, which has won its first three home games for the first time in five seasons. John Gibson made 31 saves for his fourth win of the season.

Getzlaf gave the Ducks the lead at 9:14 of the second period when he fired a one-timer after a cross-ice pass by Sam Steel. It was their first goal with the man advantage in 18 opportunities, ending their second-longest drought to start a season.

"There's still lots of work to do but it's a relief to finally get one in there," Anaheim coach Dallas Eakin said. "If we didn't, then it becomes a focus and lots of unneeded pressure. Good on that unit for sticking together."

Buffalo entered with the league's best power play with nine goals in 21 opportunities, but was 1 for 7 with the man advantage. The teams combined for 42 penalty minutes in a mildly chippy contest two weeks into the season.

"Our kill was excellent. It was a pretty physical and contested game," Eakins said.

Victor Olofsson scored his team-leading sixth power-play goal for the Sabres, who absorbed their first regulation loss after a 5-0-1 start. Jack Eichel also scored for Buffalo, and Ullmark stopped 26 shots.

"There was a lot of penalties on each side; I think the frustrating part for us was just the lack of execution on the power play. We had a lot of chances," Eichel said.

Henrique got the Ducks on the board with 1:20 remaining in the first period when he redirected Manson's shot past Linus Ullmark. He then got his third goal in the past two games with 13 seconds left in the second, making it 4-2 when he converted a feed into the slot from Max Comtois.

Silfverberg added an empty-net goal late in the third period to put it out of reach.

"We had a bit of a slow start but I thought we did a good job with some pushback and responding as we talked about in between periods," said Henrique, who had his 17th game with two goals.

Eichel opened the scoring at 7:35 when he cut to the net and beat Gibson on his glove side. Eichel stole the puck from Manson near the Buffalo blue line, skated up the wing and then made a nifty move in front of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Olofsson made it 2-0 nine minutes later when he took Sam Reinhart's pass and buried a wrist shot midway through Buffalo's power play. His first eight goals have come with the man advantage, which is an NHL record.

Rakell tied it at 2 less than a minute into the second after a centering pass from Silfverberg, who forced a turnover deep in the Buffalo zone.

"We had a couple turnovers that gave them momentum," Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger said. "I didn't feel that what happened with the physicality changed the way we were playing, it was just the fact that they got a lot of energy out of their goals."

NOTES: Sabres LW Jeff Skinner got the 200th assist of his 10-year career with the second assist on Olofsson's goal. ... Eichel has three goals and nine points in nine games against the Ducks, along with a four-game point streak.

UP NEXT:

Sabres: Make the 30-mile trip north on I-5 to face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. Ducks: Continue their three-game homestand on Friday against Carolina. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Evander Kane's 3 Goals in 1st Lead Sharks Past Hurricanes]]>563279391Thu, 17 Oct 2019 05:21:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sharks-AP_19290158737700.jpg

While the Carolina Hurricanes dominated play in the first period, it was Evander Kane who put the puck in the net.

Kane became the first San Jose player to score three goals in the opening period and the Sharks beat the Hurricanes 5-2 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.

"The puck was finding my stick and I was finding the back of the net there," Kane said. "It was obviously nice to be a part of getting that lead. The guys did a great job of getting pucks to the net."

Kane opened the scoring at even strength and added two power-play goals in the first for his second career hat trick. Tomas Hertl had a goal and two assists, and Barclay Goodrow also scored. Martin Jones made 36 saves for the Sharks, who are hitting their stride after beginning the season with four straight losses.

Dougie Hamilton and Erik Haula scored for the Hurricanes, who had won seven of their first eight games this season for the best start in franchise history. James Reimer stopped 17 shots.

But the big difference was on the power play, where the Sharks scored twice and killed off all four Carolina chances.

"Our special teams were just terrible tonight," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We had some pretty good chances but we gave them up. They got a couple of early bounces and that was really the difference in the game."

The Hurricanes controlled play for much of the opening period, holding a 14-3 advantage in shots at one point despite having played the previous night in Los Angeles. But Jones came up with some big saves early and Kane was the player who got most of the production.

He opened the scoring midway through the period when Erik Karlsson's point shot was blocked. Kane gathered the rebound and beat Reimer from the slot.

After Hamilton tied the game with his fifth goal of the season, Kane scored twice on the power play in the final three minutes of the period. His second goal was similar to the first as Brent Burns' point shot was blocked and Kane converted the rebound from the slot.

Then in the closing seconds of the period, Kane deflected a shot from Burns past Reimer to make it 3-1.

"Special moment for him," Sharks captain Logan Couture said. "He's a goal scorer. That's what he does. He goes to the net hard and he fills that role for us. When he's hot, there's not many guys that are as hot as him. We're hoping that he rides that wave right now."

Goodrow scored his third of the season when he forced a turnover in the neutral zone and skated in to beat Reimer.

The Sharks nearly added another goal late in the second when Lucas Wallmark's back pass on a delayed penalty hit the Carolina post after Reimer had been pulled for an extra attacker.

The Hurricanes were unable to convert on the ensuing power play or during 45 seconds of a two-man advantage when Goodrow was sent to the box for hooking.

"They got the bounces in the first and we're down by two and we get a 5-on-3 and if we score there it's just a one-goal game," Haula said. "We have to execute better."

NOTES: Kane's first hat trick came on March 17, 2018, when he scored four times at Calgary. ... The Sharks entered the game with only three power-play goals before converting both opportunities in the first period. ... Sharks forward Marcus Sorensen returned after missing three games with an upper-body injury. ... Carolina forward Sebastian Aho assisted on Hamilton's goal for the 200th point of his career.

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Visit Anaheim on Friday night.

Sharks: Host Buffalo on Saturday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Ben Margot/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ramsey 'Overjoyed' by LA Move; Rams Eager for Long-Term Deal]]>563258522Wed, 16 Oct 2019 19:24:51 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Jalen-Ramsey-Rams-October-2019.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams fully understand the risks they took in acquiring volatile cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

The defending NFC champions believe the potential rewards are well worth it.

"You want guys with some swag, some personality," coach Sean McVay said Wednesday while he awaited the star cornerback's arrival at their training complex. "As long as those guys love football, they love competing every single day, I think this is a building that will suit him well."

Ramsey flew to the West Coast on Wednesday, a day after Los Angeles traded two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder for an elite defender whose tumultuous tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't last four full seasons.

On his Uninterrupted podcast on SiriusXM's app, Ramsey pronounced himself "overjoyed" to be with the Rams, and eager to "show them that they got the best corner in the whole NFL for years and years to come."

The Rams are sold on Ramsey's talent and publicly convinced of their own ability to channel it into a big role on a winning team. General manager Les Snead said he has already spoken to Ramsey's agents about his future beyond his current contract, which ends in 2020, and that both sides were encouraged by the conversation.

"We actually did talk to his representatives and give our long-term view, and (get) his," Snead said. "We did put a little bit of a timeline in place. I don't want to give too many details on that, but we're just meeting Jalen today. He has earned a chance to probably get a nice contract for the job he does and the position he plays."

Ramsey agrees, as he demonstrated in July when he showed up to training camp with the Jaguars in an armored bank truck. The Rams have time to figure out a number that works for both — but they have less time to turn around a season that has stalled.

McVay is hopeful Ramsey will play Sunday at Atlanta when the Rams (3-3) attempt to end their first three-game losing streak since 2016, although the corner will need a medical exam first. Ramsey missed the Jaguars' last three games with a back injury but returned to practice recently.

"You know the caliber of player that he is — the competitiveness, the toughness," McVay said. "Really all the traits that you look for in a corner. Looking forward to getting to know the player and figuring out how he's going to help this football team."

Although Ramsey won't be rushed, the Rams need reinforcements in their secondary. Along with starting cornerback Marcus Peters' departure in a trade to Baltimore on Tuesday, the Rams put two starters in their secondary — cornerback Aqib Talib and safety John Johnson — on injured reserve this week.

Even in their depleted state, the Rams felt Ramsey was too good to pass up. Peters and Talib will be unrestricted free agents after this season, and the Rams were more interested in getting Ramsey than in retaining Peters.

"There's only a handful of players like that, and he happens to be one of them," Snead said of Ramsey. "Not saying that there's not a lot of good corners out there, but since he's been in the league, he's shown the ability to get out on an island."

Snead and the Rams have a reputation for rewarding their elite players : In the past two years, they've handed out the largest contracts in NFL history for a defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), a running back (Todd Gurley) and a quarterback (Jared Goff), and they gave a huge extension to receiver Brandin Woods before he played his first game for Los Angeles last year.

Snead is well aware of Ramsey's contentious reputation after the cornerback repeatedly clashed with coaches, the front office and opponents during his tenure in Jacksonville. Los Angeles hasn't hesitated to acquire players with similar reputations — like Peters and Talib, for instance — but has had no public problems with them in McVay's system.

"When you do research on it, the first thing I want to know is, do they love football?" Snead said. "Is this the chapter they're focused on? And do they love winning? Ultimately, we're all going to go through some situations (and) you're going to have some outbursts, but a lot of times, with the research, it was maybe because of a loss or a bad play or things like that. These are young kids, so they don't have the emotional intelligence that I've acquired, but probably didn't have at Jalen's age."

Quarterback Blake Bortles and pass rusher Dante Fowler, two fellow top-five picks by the Jaguars now playing for the Rams, both spoke highly of Ramsey's work ethic and professionalism, McVay said. Bortles also praised Ramsey's loyalty to his teammates.

"He's got a brand that he wants to get out there and have people in the world see, and there's nothing wrong with that," Bortles said. "There's a lot of guys that have that and promote that. When he shows up to work and puts his pads on and goes to play football, it's all business. I think all that stuff kind of gets pushed away and he's totally focused on football. In the meantime and in his free time he does some funny things."

Fowler believes a move out West will spark Ramsey's passion for the game, just as it did for him last season.

"You can never complain when you're coming out to LA," Fowler said. "Really, he's one of my favorite teammates that I've ever had. ... We don't judge a person cause they do this or do that. We embrace personalities. When Marcus was here, we embraced his personality. Jalen is going to be the same way."

NOTES: S Marqui Christian is likely to replace Johnson alongside Eric Weddle in the starting lineup, while Troy Hill and Darious Williams will be the Rams' starting cornerbacks at Atlanta if Ramsey doesn't play. ... David Edwards, a rookie fifth-round pick from Wisconsin who hasn't taken an offensive snap this season, is expected to start at left guard Sunday in place of Joe Noteboom, who has a season-ending knee injury. Jamil Demby was Noteboom's backup, but hasn't impressed this season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Quarterback Jared Goff Answers: LA vs. Bay Area]]>563227402Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:15:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Quarterback_Jared_Goff_Answers__LA_vs._Bay_Area.jpg

Is Jared Goff converting to the ways of LA, or is he still a diehard Bay Area boy? Check it out on California Live Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.
]]>
<![CDATA[Joe Maddon Agrees to Terms With Angels, Completing His Road Back to Anaheim]]>563214251Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:04:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/GettyImages-1176667195.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels are welcoming back Joe Maddon with high hopes that he can turn things around for a club coming off another disappointing season.

After weeks of rumors, the team announced Wednesday that it agreed to terms with the former Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay manager. Maddon takes over a team that finished a dismal 72-90, the franchise's worst record since 1999. 

Maddon spent 31 years employed by the Angels as a player and a coach in the organization. He was a bench coach with the 2002 World Series champions under Mike Scioscia before leaving for manager jobs in Tampa Bay and Chicago, where he won the World Series in 2016. 

"We are thrilled that Joe is coming back home and bringing an exciting brand of baseball to our fans," general manager Billy Eppler said. "Every stop he has made throughout his managerial career, he has built a culture that is focused on winning while also allowing his players to thrive. We believe Joe will be a great asset for our club and look forward to him leading the team to another World Series championship."

The Angels will formally introduce the 65-year-old Maddon at a news conference next week.

His Angels roots date to 1975 when he signed with the team as a catcher. Over the next three decades, he bounced around the organization as a playe and coach.

Maddon managed Tampa Bay for nine seasons, starting in 2006, before managing the Cubs. One of the most infamous title droughts in sports came to an end when Maddon led the Cubs to the 2016 World Series title -- the team's first in 108 years. 

He was let go by Chicago on the final day of the regular season after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in his five-year stint. 

The Angels parted ways with manager Brad Ausmus shortly after the final game of the season, a move that was followed by speculation that team would pursue Maddon.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Anthony Davis Grateful Thumb Injury Isn't Serious]]>563176801Tue, 15 Oct 2019 18:21:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Anthony-Davis-Lakers-debut-October-5-2019.jpg

Anthony Davis hopes to return to the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup for their next preseason game after confirming his thumb injury isn't serious.

Davis went through a full practice with the Lakers on Tuesday.

The Lakers' superstar newcomer jammed his thumb while playing in an exhibition game in China last week. An MRI determined the injury was only a sprain, which is what Davis suspected all along.

He sat out of Monday's game at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors, but he hopes to play in the rematch on Wednesday night.

Coach Frank Vogel says the team hasn't decided whether Davis will play Wednesday.

Kyle Kuzma also has been cleared for noncontact practice activity in his return from a foot injury.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: NBAE via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Acquire CB Ramsey, Trade Peters to Ravens]]>563173551Tue, 15 Oct 2019 17:17:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1178267458.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams were busy on Tuesday.

The Super Bowl runner-ups in 2019 woke up on Monday morning with the realization that they needed to improve their roster. The reigning NFC Champions had lost three straight games for the first time in the Sean McVay era, and received troubling news on the injury front after starting cornerback Aqib Talib was placed on the IR with a rib injury, and starting left guard Joe Noteboom suffered a season-ending right knee injury on Sunday in the team's loss to San Francisco.

The injury news comes on the heels of running back Todd Gurley missing his first game of the season with a quad injury, and starting linebacker Clay Matthews out for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw. With the injuries piling up, and the season starting to slip away, the Rams made multiple moves on Tuesday. 

It all started in the morning when the Rams acquired offensive lineman Austin Corbett from the Cleveland Browns. Corbett was the No. 33 overall draft pick in the 2018 draft in exchange for a 2021 future draft pick. 

Corbett, played in 11 games as a rookie and appeared in just three games this season. He lost the starting job at right guard in the offseason to Eric Kush, and was on the depth chart as the backup center. Corbett's flexibility to play multiple positions on the offensive line is a luxury for the Rams who likely will plug him into Noteboom's spot at starting left guard. 

A couple hours later, rumors began to swirl that the Rams had traded starting cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and a future 2020 draft pick. 

Peters was originally acquired by the Rams before the 2018 season in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. Peters showed flashes of his former Pro Bowl self with the Rams, but also struggled at times, getting burned by quicker receivers for touchdowns at various points throughout the last two seasons.

Peters contract expires at the end of the 2019 season, and it was unlikely the Rams were going to re-sign him. However, with Talib out for at least eight weeks, and Peters being shipped to Baltimore, the Rams no longer had a starting cornerback, leading many to assume that another move was in the works.

That move finally came late in the evening, when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Rams had acquired disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for two first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-round pick in 2021. 

Ramsey, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, after a rough 2018 season and a rocky start to the 2019 campaign, the former Florida State standout requested a trade. 

The two-time Pro Bowl selection found himself in a standoff with the Jaguars front office for the last four weeks after a heated confrontation with Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone on the sideline in Week 2. Since then, Ramsey has repeatedly missed practices and the team's last three games with a back injury.



Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Trade for Offensive Lineman Austin Corbett]]>563161201Tue, 15 Oct 2019 14:40:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-trade-Austin-Corbett-October-2019.jpg

Austin Corbett moved around on Cleveland's offense line. His next stop is Los Angeles.

The Browns traded Corbett, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2018 draft, to the Rams on Tuesday for an undisclosed 2021 selection.

Corbett was viewed as a potential long-term answer at left tackle when the Browns took him with the first pick of the second round — two before nabbed star running back Nick Chubb. But Corbett hasn't developed as quickly as the Browns had hoped and general manager John Dorsey decided it was time to move him.

The 6-foot-3, 306-pounder played in 11 games as a rookie, making one start. Corbett appeared in three games this season.

Corbett was given a shot to win the starting job at right guard at training camp, but he was beaten out by Eric Kush. He's been listed as Cleveland's backup center behind JC Tretter.

Dorsey found a trade partner in the Rams, who have been in the market for a starting left guard since Joe Noteboom suffered a season-ending right knee injury during their loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

Los Angeles also needed to add some depth up front. Jamil Demby has been the sole backup at both guard spots, and he hasn't played particularly well in his chances to fill in for Noteboom and Austin Blythe.

The Rams' line was a durable strength of coach Sean McVay's offense during his first two seasons, but the entire group has taken a noticeable step back in 2019. Los Angeles elected to part ways with two key veterans — left guard Rodger Saffold and center John Sullivan — while replacing them with 2018 draftees Noteboom and center Brian Allen, but neither newcomer has impressed.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Diamond Images/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James No Longer King James for Hong Kong Protesters]]>563149711Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:53:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19288510826142.jpg

When the ball smashed into a photo of LeBron James' face stuck above the hoop and dropped into the basket, the Hong Kong protesters cheered.

They also trampled on jerseys bearing his name and gathered in a semicircle to watch one burn.

James' standing among basketball fans in Hong Kong took a hit because of comments the NBA star made about free speech. Fans gathered on courts amid Hong Kong's high-rise buildings Tuesday to vent their anger.

The player for the Los Angeles Lakers touched a nerve among protesters for suggesting that free speech can have negative consequences. They have been protesting for months in defense of the same freedom that James said can carry "a lot of negative."

The protesters chanted support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, something of a hero among demonstrators in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for having tweeted on Oct. 4 in support of their struggle, infuriating authorities in China.

What the crowd of approximately 200 people chanted about James wasn't printable.

"People are angry," said James Lo, a web designer who runs a Hong Kong basketball fan page on Facebook. He said he's already received a video from a protester that showed him burning a No. 23 jersey bearing James' name.

He expects more, given the backlash from protesters who've been regularly hitting the streets of Hong Kong and battling police because of concerns that the international business hub is slowly losing its freedoms, which are unique in China.

"Students, they come out like every weekend. They've got tear gassed and then they got gun-shot, like every weekend. Police beating students and then innocent people, like every day. And then he (James) just comes up with something (like) that. We just can't accept that."

James made his comments in response to a question about whether Morey should be punished for his tweet that reverberated in China and had consequences for the NBA.

"Yes, we do have freedom of speech," James said. "But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself."

He added: "So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it."

NBA players weren't made available before or after games in China, which CCTV didn't broadcast, and several companies and state-run offices reportedly severed their ties with the NBA over Morey's tweet and the league's response to it.

Protesters said James' comments smacked of a double-standard, because he's used his clout as a sports headliner to press for social causes in the United States.

"Please remember, all NBA players, what you said before: 'Black lives matter.' Hong Kong lives also matter!" one of the protesters, 36-year-old office worker William Mok, said in addressing the applauding crowd.

Others said LeBron's comments made it seem that he's more worried about money than people.

"James was trying, you know, to take a side, on the China side, which is like ridiculous," said Aaron Lee, a 36-year-old marketing director. "He was being honest, financially. Financial is money. Simple as that. LeBron James stands for money. Period."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Tribe Enters Partnership With Raiders on Las Vegas Stadium]]>563145661Tue, 15 Oct 2019 11:08:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/bestcarrrr.jpg

The NFL Raiders franchise is partnering with a tribal casino on its still under-construction football stadium in Las Vegas.

The Raiders announced in a news release Monday that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will become a partner of the still-under construction Allegiant Stadium.

The tribe of Serrano people runs the San Manuel Casino in Highland, California. They already support nine other professional sports teams in football, hockey, soccer and baseball.

The $2 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020 season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Speaks, Says Rockets' Morey 'Wasn't Educated' on China Tweet]]>563107841Tue, 15 Oct 2019 09:52:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron-James-China-NBA-October-2019.jpg

LeBron James believes Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation" regarding the potential consequences of his actions when he tweeted in support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.

In his first public comments since the Los Angeles Lakers returned home from a strange weeklong tour of China immediately after Morey's incendiary tweet, James' lengthy answer to a question about whether Morey should be punished for his tweet didn't appear to specifically address the merits of Morey's support of Hong Kong sovereignty.

The Lakers superstar instead characterized the international incident caused by Morey's tweet as a cautionary tale about the power of social media.

"Yes, we do have freedom of speech," James said. "But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don't want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it."

When asked to clarify his thoughts, James went further.

"I believe (Morey) was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it," James said. "But I have no idea. That's just my belief. When you say things or do things, you're doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it, and the families and the individuals and everyone that can be affected by it. Sometimes things can be challenging as well. Also sometimes, social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well. But that's just my belief."

A Rockets spokesperson didn't immediately respond to request for comment Monday night on James' remarks.

In Hong Kong, protesters burned and stomped on James jerseys during a rally Tuesday at the Southorn Playground. They threw basketballs at a photo of James and chanted support for Morey and criticism about James' comments.

The comments also set off swift reaction on social media, with many listeners perceiving James' remarks as criticism of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. James addressed the issue again in two tweets before the Lakers' preseason game against Golden State at Staples Center.

James' comments set off swift reaction on social media, with many listeners perceiving his comments as criticism of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. James addressed the issue again in two tweets before the Lakers' preseason game against Golden State at Staples Center.

"Let me clear up the confusion," James tweeted. "I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that. ... My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it."

Among the critics of James' comments Monday night was U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. The former Florida governor, who has been critical of James in the past dating back to his decision to leave the Miami Heat in 2014, posted on Twitter that James "is the one who isn't educated on the situation at hand. It's sad to see him join the chorus kowtowing to Communist China & putting profits over human rights."

James didn't play, but watched from the bench when the Lakers hosted the Warriors on Monday night, just two days after they returned home from their bizarre trip to China.

A typical NBA preseason promotional swing through Shanghai and Shenzhen became something else when Morey tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters while the Lakers were in the air on their 13-hour flight to China.

The Lakers landed amid outrage in China with Morey's since-deleted tweet and the NBA in general. The league and Chinese authorities decided to hold no media availability or community events with the Lakers or the Brooklyn Nets, their opponents.

The Lakers passed their week in China in public silence. Although the exhibition games weren't canceled, the league claimed it would be unfair to ask players and coaches to speak on the delicate geopolitical argument in which they found themselves involuntarily enmeshed.

So the players spent most of the week in hotels or on the court, with two NBA Cares events, a fan event and other public appearances all canceled by the league or the government. Several companies and state-run offices reportedly severed their ties with the NBA over Morey's tweet and the league's response to it.

The Lakers and Nets also met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. James said he was happy with Silver's handling of the controversy, which led to criticism of the commissioner from supporters on both sides of the Hong Kong movement.

"It was a tough situation for Adam as well, to put out a fire that he didn't start," James said.

When asked about his thoughts on the political side of the events in China, James echoed Warriors coach Steve Kerr's belief that he didn't know enough to comment on the situation.

"When I speak about something, I speak about something I am very knowledgeable about, something that hits home for me, something that I am very passionate about," James said. "I felt like with this particular situation, it was something that not only was I not informed enough about, I just felt like it was something that not only myself and my teammates or our organization had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time, and we still feel the same way."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What's Next for the Dodgers After Another Postseason Collapse]]>563070751Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:06:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/GettyImages-1180131478.jpg

It's back to the drawing board -- again -- for the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose World Series title drought now extends to 31 years.

Video: Scroll down to watch Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman speak during a Monday news conference about the team's future.

The Dodgers' postseason fell apart in the NL Division Series with a 7-3 defeat to the Washington Nationals in Game 5, an inglorious ending for a team coming off back-to-back World Series appearances.

"This is not anything we were prepared for," said reliever Joe Kelly, who gave up the tiebreaking grand slam to former Dodger Howie Kendrick in the 10th inning Wednesday night.

Indeed, the Dodgers made no secret that winning a record seventh straight NL West title while piling up 106 victories -- second-most in the majors -- was just a prelude to fulfilling their ultimate goal of earning the franchise's first World Series title since 1988.

"We all knew we were better than what we showed out there," said Max Muncy, whose two-run homer in the first provided an early lead. "Sometimes it's not meant to be."

The Dodgers now have all winter to contemplate what went wrong and how to fix it.

There are offseason decisions looming, starting with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. His contract expires at the end of this month.

Friedman has overseen the redevelopment of the farm system and it's paid off with a pipeline full of prospects that have succeeded once they've reached the big-league level.

Rookie infielders Matt Beaty and Gavin Lux and catcher Will Smith all made starts this postseason. In his second season, right-hander Walker Buehler continued to show he's a worthy successor to Clayton Kershaw as the team's ace.

"We will have a lot more chances at it," Buehler said of postseason success. "We are built to keep putting ourselves in this situation."

The pitching corps could see some changes.

Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who led the majors in ERA, and 39-year-old lefty Rich Hill can become free agents. Closer Kenley Jansen, whose ERA was the worst of his career, can opt out of his contract.

Kershaw is heading into the second year of a $93 million, three-year deal he signed last November. The three-time Cy Young Award winner had a blown save in the decisive Game 5, giving up home runs on consecutive pitches that allowed Washington to tie the game.

"I'm not going to hang my head," Kershaw said. "I will be here next year and try to do the same thing and try to do it every single year."

Manager Dave Roberts signed a four-year contract extension in December. His in-game tactics came into question again in Game 5, similar to the way his pitching decisions were criticized in last year's World Series -- even by President Donald Trump.

Roberts tossed analytics out the window when he allowed Kershaw to return for the eighth inning after getting the final out of the seventh.

"I felt really good about that," he said. "It's a guy that I believe in, and I trust and it didn't work out."

Anthony Rendon homered leading off and Juan Soto followed with a game-tying solo shot.

"My job is to put guys in the best position to have success and if it doesn't work out, there's always going to be second-guessing," Roberts said. "I got no problem bearing the brunt of that."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[49ers Win 20-7 at Coliseum, Rams Lose 3rd Straight]]>563016411Sun, 13 Oct 2019 17:41:39 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-lose-49ers-October-2019.jpg

Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 243 yards and ran for a touchdown, and the San Francisco 49ers remained unbeaten with a dominant defensive performance in a 20-7 victory over the struggling Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

George Kittle had eight catches for 103 yards for the Niners (5-0), who held Los Angeles' once-unstoppable offense to 165 yards in coach Kyle Shanahan's first victory over Rams coach Sean McVay in a game in which both of these NFC West rivals were playing their starters.

These longtime coaching colleagues' teams are going in opposite directions after this one-sided showdown at the Coliseum. San Francisco used its possession offense and a sturdy defense to stay alongside New England as the NFL's only unbeaten teams, while the Rams (3-3) are on their first three-game losing streak of McVay's 2½-year tenure.

Tevin Coleman rushed for an early touchdown for San Francisco, while Garoppolo was mostly effective despite two turnovers. The Niners didn't score a touchdown in the final 27 minutes, but they're off to their fourth 5-0 start in franchise history, and their first since 1990.

With Todd Gurley sitting out to rest his bruised thigh, Los Angeles couldn't move the ball in its least productive performance of McVay's tenure. Robert Woods rushed for a touchdown on the opening drive for the Rams, who then managed 48 net yards on their next eight drives combined.

San Francisco won a defense-dominated game by thoroughly throttling the defending NFC champions' once-impressive passing game. Jared Goff went 13 of 24 for a career-low 78 yards while failing to get comfortable behind a porous offensive line, and the Rams didn't manage a completion longer than 12 yards while going 0 for 9 on third down.

The Niners' offense wasn't significantly better during a first half in which both teams turned the ball over at the opponents' 1, but San Francisco capitalized on Rams rookie Darrell Henderson's fumble on the opening snap of the second half for a short go-ahead TD drive capped by Garoppolo's sneak.

San Francisco then took control, moving the ball deliberately and thoroughly shutting down the Rams. The Niners led 20-7 when Garoppolo's fumble was returned to the San Francisco 36 with 8:40 to play, but the Rams promptly turned it over on downs.

Everything looked fine for the Rams while McVay called seven consecutive runs on their opening drive. Malcolm Brown, the longtime backup grabbing a starring role with Gurley out, racked up 40 yards on five carries before Woods scored on a beautifully designed end-around.

It was the Rams' first touchdown in a first quarter since last Dec. 30, and it was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the 49ers this season.

It was also the only real highlight of the Rams' miserable day.

San Francisco answered with Coleman's TD run capping a 75-yard drive prolonged by a third-down penalty on Los Angeles. The Niners drove to the Rams 1 again, but Garoppolo's atrocious throw at the goal line was easily intercepted by Marcus Peters.

Los Angeles then reached the Niners 1 on third down, but ran two straight running plays up the middle for no gain.

Henderson, a third-round pick with one career carry before this game, had two impressive runs in the first half — but he dropped a pitchout from Goff on the opening play of the second half, and Arik Armstead recovered at the Rams 17. San Francisco easily scored on the short field.

The Niners again drove to the Los Angeles 2, but Garoppolo overthrew a wide-open Coleman on third down.

INJURIES

49ers: They played without both of their starting offensive tackles, Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley.

Rams: LG Joe Noteboom was taken to the locker room on a cart during the first quarter after he injured his right knee. The second-year pro didn't return. ... S John Johnson was ruled out with an injured shoulder in the second half. ... Gurley missed his first game of the season, as did LB Clay Matthews, their sacks leader. CB Aqib Talib sat out with bruised ribs.

UP NEXT

49ers: Visit the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Rams: Visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steelers Top Chargers 24-17 on Sunday Night]]>562986951Sun, 13 Oct 2019 08:03:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1175694848.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers couldn't hide their glaring shortcoming on Sunday, and the problem became even worse against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers rushed for just 32 yards. In the entire game.

Pittsburgh stuffed the run en route to a 24-17 victory over the Chargers. The Chargers scored 17 fourth-quarter points to make things interesting, but the comeback bid was too little, too late.

The Chargers (2-4) were shut out in the first half of back-to-back home games for the first time since October 1975, some 44 years.

"We're just not scoring," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "Teams turn it over two times a game, and they win. Now, we can't be careless with the ball. But we have to score. If you have two turnovers and you score 28, you can win. We're not even talking about it. We're talking about Hunter. When you turn it over and you're not scoring and you get beat, you look for lots of things.

"Ultimately, we've got to find a way to get into the end zone. To me that's the biggest issue we're having offensively. Our job is to score one more point than the other team, and right now we're not doing that."

Rivers was under pressure all night. He completed 26-of-43 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. About the only thing that was working in the passing game, before the flurry in the fourth quarter, was when Rivers found tight end Hunter Henry, who played in his first game back from a knee injury.

Henry caught eight passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 19-yard pass on the Chargers' first play from scrimmage.

This was the Chargers first game without center Mike Pouncey, who is scheduled to have season-ending surgery this Friday.

"Losing Pounce is aways tough. He's an all-pro center," said Dan Feeney, who started at center for the Chargers on Sunday. "He's a great player in this league. We just need to put up a little bit more on our backs as an O-line. Take a little more off Phil and the receivers. We've got to get this running game going."

Melvin Gordon, in his second game of the season, was held to 18 yards on eight carries. Austin Ekeler had 14 yards on five carries. Ekeler had an 11-yard gain, for the longest run of the night. Last week, Ekeler had 15 catches — the most by a Chargers running back in 39 years — against the Broncos. This week, Gordon and Ekeler combined for just six receptions for 74 yards.

"Those guys are good in space, so we had to close down the distance," Steelers linebacker Devin Bush said. "There were a couple times there was a lot of distance between the defenders. Something we can clean up."

Ekeler came into Sunday leading the AFC in receptions and was third in scrimmage yards, averaging 116.6 yards per game. He had just 28 total yards from scrimmage on Sunday.

Gordon has just 49 yards on 20 carries in his two games since ending his contract holdout.

The offense had its struggles, but, the defense and special teams were equally bad.

The Chargers defense wasn't without fault. In the second quarter, James Conner caught a short pass from quarterback Devlin Hodges — making his first start for the injured Mason Rudolph — and linebacker Jatavis Brown appeared to have Conner wrapped up near the sideline. He whiffed, and Conner ran the rest of the way to the end zone untouched for a 26-yard touchdown reception and 21-0 lead. The lead grew to 24-0 early in the third quarter.

With 32 seconds left before halftime, Chase McLaughin missed a 43-yard field goal that hit the left goal post. It was just that kind of day for the Chargers.

The Steelers had the ball for the first drive of the second half and the Chargers had four defensive penalties to help them extend that drive. To come out of halftime with those kinds of mistakes was baffling. Two were 15-yard penalties. The Steelers got a field goal out of that drive.

The Chargers overcame that rough second-half start to score 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough. And so much of the problem is not being able to establish the run game.

"The run game is tough right now," Gordon said. "Austin and I can't get things rolling. Right now, the passing game looks like it's working, so we're going to have to use the pass to open up the run. In some games, the run opens up the pass, but how it's looking right now, the pass is going to have to open up the run."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Falls Short in Comeback Bid, Loses 30-27 to Notre Dame]]>562955371Sat, 12 Oct 2019 20:33:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USC-Notre-Dame-October-2019.jpg

Tony Jones Jr. rushed for a career-high 176 yards and Jonathan Doerer kicked three long field goals as No. 9 Notre Dame held off longtime rival Southern California 30-27 Saturday night.

The Fighting Irish (5-1), who rushed for a season-high 308 yards, clinched their third straight victory over the Trojans (3-3) on Ian Book's 8-yard run with 3:33 left.

Book's touchdown ended a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:54 off the clock after USC had drawn within 23-20.

The Trojans' Markese Stepp, who ran for 82 yards, scored from the 2 with 1:04 left to make it 30-27. But Notre Dame's Brock Wright recovered the onside kick, and the Irish ran out the clock.

Jones' fourth 100-yard game of the season came on 25 carries. He had 12 runs for 120 yards in the first half.

The Irish led 17-3 at half after Book threw a 10-yard TD pass to Cole Kmet, wide receiver Braden Lenzy ran 51 yards on a reverse and Doerer kicked a 43-yard field goal. The half ended with the teams engaging in some pushing and shoving before they headed to their locker rooms.

Doerer added field goals of 52 and 43 yards in the second half to keep the Irish ahead.

USC freshman Kedon Slovis completed 24 of 35 passes for 255 yards in his first game back from a concussion three weeks ago.

Slovis threw touchdown passes of 38 yards to Amon-Ra St. Brown in the third quarter and 5 yards to Tyler Vaughns in the fourth.

THE TAKEAWAY

USC: Slovis completed 10 of 17 passes for 74 yards in the first half but was sacked three times and hurried on four other occasions by Notre Dame's defense, which switched between three- and four-man fronts. After intermission, Slovis was 14 of 18 for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

Notre Dame: The Irish punted on their first three series but finished the half with 196 yards on the ground. Jones carried the load, bursting up the middle for 43 yards on a nine-play, 97-yard scoring drive that gave his team a 7-3 lead.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Notre Dame: The Irish likely won't move up even with South Carolina's 20-17 double-overtime victory at No. 3 Georgia. That's because the Irish lost 23-17 at Georgia last month.

UP NEXT

USC plays Arizona at home on Oct. 19.

Notre Dame has an open date before an Oct. 26 visit to No. 16 Michigan.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Employee Reportedly Told Feds He Got Skaggs Opiods]]>562940161Sat, 12 Oct 2019 20:38:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-Tyler-Skaggs-Oct-12-2019.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels' director of communications told federal investigators that he provided oxycodone to Tyler Skaggs and abused the drug with the pitcher, according to an ESPN report published Saturday.

Director of Communications Eric Kay also gave the Drug Enforcement Administration names of five other players who he believed were also using opiates while on the Angels, the report stated.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in a Texas hotel room on July 1, with the medical examiner labeling the death an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said that Skaggs had the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system along with alcohol.  

The team released a statement in response to the report, with Angels President John Carpino saying, "We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking illegal narcotics."

Carpino added, "The Angels maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff. Every one of our players must also abide by the MLB Joint Drug Agreement. We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler and fully cooperate with the authorities as they continue their investigation."

ESPN's report stated that Kay, who has been with the Angels for 24 years, told investigators that he illegally obtained six oxycodone pills and gave three to Skaggs a day or two before the team left California for the road trip to Texas, but the Angels' employee reportedly told DEA agents that he did not believe the pills he obtained for Skaggs were the ones that the pitcher took the day he died because the pitcher would allegedly ingest pills immediately after receiving them.

The report also states that Skaggs texted Kay the day the team left for Texas, requesting more oxycodone and Kay reportedly told investigators he was unable to fulfill that request.

Kay reportedly told investigators that he informed Tim Mead, the Angels' former vice president of communications and Kay's supervisor, about Skaggs' drug use as early as 2017.

Mead left the Angels in June to become the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.



Photo Credit: John Sleezer/Kansas Ciy Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC's Helton Under Microscope Heading to No. 9 Notre Dame]]>562855191Fri, 11 Oct 2019 15:33:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-498202904-2.jpg

Brian Kelly of No. 9 Notre Dame knows a little how his Southern California counterpart Clay Helton might feel as their teams prepare for their 91st meeting Saturday night.

"What was the over-under that I'd make 10 USC games?" the Fighting Irish coach joked about whispers of his job security despite two 12-0 regular seasons, a trip to the national championship game in 2013 and a playoff berth last season.

The coaching seat always seems warm at these two storied programs and, at the moment, it's Helton's turn. His unranked Trojans (3-2) would get a huge boost with a win against Notre Dame (4-1), which is a 10 ½-point favorite.

The 47-year-old Helton, who is 35-19 with 12 victories over Top 25 teams since being named coach in 2015, received a vote of confidence of sorts from interim athletic director Dave Roberts, who told the Los Angeles Times he would leave Helton's fate in the hands of his successor.

"If he has a successful season," Roberts said, "I think he'll be in good stead."

Helton is 1-3 against Notre Dame and Kelly is 6-3 against USC. While Helton has gone about the business of bringing the Trojans through a bye week following their 28-14 loss at Washington, Notre Dame is coming off convincing victories over Virginia (35-20) and Bowling Green (52-0).

Kelly is nonetheless wary.

"(Helton's) done a terrific job keeping his team in the hunt," Kelly said. "It's a dangerous team."

True freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, who took over when J.T. Daniels went down with a season-ending knee injury in the opener, returns after missing the Washington loss with a concussion.

"We're glad to have him back," Helton said of Slovis, who has completed 77.9% of his passes for 732 yards and five touchdowns. "I think one of the biggest things for us will be protecting the quarterback."

The Irish defense, coming off its first shutout since 2014, will be busy. USC's talented trio of wide receivers — Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown — have combined for 90 receptions, 1,153 yards and nine touchdowns. Running backs Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp have 708 yards and seven TDs rushing.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book threw for five touchdown passes for the second time this season in the victory over Bowling Green.

"Book has been a great field general for that team," Helton said.

BACK IN ACTION

Running back Jafar Armstrong, who suffered a torn abdominal muscle in Notre Dame's opener that required surgery, is expected to play. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Armstrong adds another dimension with his breakaway speed. In his absence, Tony Jones Jr. has been over the century mark three times and totaled 381 yards on an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

"I don't know if we can expect (Armstrong) to throw on a cape and play like Superman," Kelly said. "If we can get 20 plays out of him, that will be terrific."

In addition to Slovis, safety Talanoa Hufanga (concussion) and cornerback Olaijah Griffin (back spasms) have been cleared to play for the Trojans.

EMBARRASSED

Both teams feature several players of Polynesian descent, and two of them once butted heads on the Hawaiian island of Oahu: Notre Dame DT Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and USC RB Vavae Malepeai.

"My junior year (at Kapolei H.S.)," Tagovailoa-Amosa said, "Vavae ran all over our defense" in a 67-21 victory by Mililani.

Malapeai, who had 108 yards (on 20 carries) and two TDs, finished that season with 1,930 yards and 28 TDs.

BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA

USC freshman running back Markese Stepp is no stranger to Notre Dame Stadium. He visited there often when the Irish were recruiting the 6-foot, 235-pound prep All-American standout from Indianapolis Cathedral. The school's mascot? The Fighting Irish.

"Their game days are insane," Stepp said. "I went to a ton of them — I can't even count how many. The fans are crazy."

And the 77,622 fans in sold-out Notre Dame Stadium could be shivering. Saturday's weather at the 7:42 p.m. kickoff is forecast to be clear and cold (around degrees) with 10-20 mph winds.

WHAT A RIVALRY

Notre Dame leads the series 48-37-5. It began in 1926 when Notre Dame won 13-12 in Los Angeles and both schools have plenty of national titles, Heisman Trophy winners, All-Americans and players in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"It's a special game, and it's a special place in history. It's something where you can make history," Helton told his team.

Kelly was 3 years old in 1964 when the Trojans rallied past the Irish, 21-17, denying Notre Dame a national title. As he grew older, the game became must-see TV because of the rival coaches.

"It would be (USC coach) John McKay on the sideline and (Notre Dame's) Ara Parseghian," Kelly said of his first memories. "It was one of those games you wanted to watch because it was such a big game."

McKay was 6-3-2 against Parseghian and his teams won three national titles. Parseghian's won two and were denied two more by USC victories.

Kelly also recalled fullback Sam Cunningham, who later starred for the New England Patriots. In 1971, McKay's USC team brought a 2-4 record to South Bend to play Parseghian's Irish, who were 5-0. Cunningham scored a touchdown in the 28-14 Trojans victory that also included a 20-minute brawl.

That was the last time an unranked USC team beat a ranked Notre Dame team in South Bend.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[54-51 Heroes Everett, Ebukam Stepping Up Again for Rams]]>562853531Fri, 11 Oct 2019 16:04:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-884946704.jpg

Gerald Everett and Samson Ebukam were the most improbable heroes to emerge from the Los Angeles Rams' epic 54-51 victory over Kansas City last season.

The Rams are expecting more big performances from two backups who are back in the spotlight.

Everett, then a seldom-used tight end, caught two touchdown passes in the final 10 minutes of that crazy Monday night victory over the Chiefs.

Ebukam, an unsung linebacker and pass rusher, scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career on a fumble return and an interception return, and he caused another interception in the fourth quarter with a hit on Patrick Mahomes.

Nearly a year later, Everett and Ebukam are in prominent positions again for the Rams (3-2), who could use big contributions when they face the San Francisco 49ers (4-0) at the Coliseum on Sunday.

Everett is getting an increasingly important role in the Rams' offense, while Ebukam is a starter again after Clay Matthews broke his jaw last week.

"Of course, we want to be on the field as much as we can," Everett said. "I think we all have a lot to contribute."

Everett has evolved slowly since the Rams chose him in 2017 with the 44th overall pick — the highest draft selection they've made in the past three years. He had only 49 receptions in his first two seasons combined, but the big tight end already has 18 catches for 223 yards this season, highlighted by his career-best seven receptions for 136 yards last week at Seattle.

Everett's increasing role is linked to coach Sean McVay's increased use of "12 personnel," the shorthand for any offensive set with one running back and two tight ends on the field. Tyler Higbee is the Rams' starting tight end, but Everett got plenty of action due to McVay's use of two tight ends on 36% of their offensive snaps against the Seahawks.

"I'm grateful to be on the field, but now when I have the ball I'm trying to seize the opportunity to the full extent," Everett said. "I think I'm able to play football more now than just trying to learn the offense. Now that I've got it down, it's more about just playing."

Everett didn't think he was even the primary target on any of the plays leading up to his seven catches, although McVay said that's not strictly true. Jared Goff has forged a confidence in Everett after three straight seasons together, and Everett has developed a knack for finding open spots when plays don't work out perfectly.

"He made a bunch of plays (at Seattle), and really that's what he's done when he's gotten his opportunities," McVay said.

Ebukam was a starter for the Rams last year in 14 regular season games and two playoff contests, including the Super Bowl. He has been a backup this season behind pass-rushing specialists Dante Fowler and Matthews, who joined the Rams as a free agent and made six sacks in five games before getting hurt.

The Rams need Ebukam to step confidently into the shoes of their six-time Pro Bowl newcomer when they face Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners' powerful offense.

"You've just got to take it like it is," Ebukam said of losing his starting spot. "That's a future Hall of Famer that they put in front of you, so I'm not going to sit here and question it, because he's been eating on the field. I just want to do that whenever I get the chance."

Ebukam credits Matthews with an influence on his game, encouraging him to play more aggressively and freely instead of being scheme-bound. Matthews' instinctual play has rubbed off on him, Ebukam said.

"He goes against a lot of the rules, because he just already knows what's going to happen," Ebukam said. "I've just got to make sure I'm able to do the same thing and have an impact just like he did."

NOTES: CB Aqib Talib has been ruled out for Sunday's game due to bruised ribs, McVay said. Troy Hill is expected to start in place of the five-time Pro Bowl selection. ... RB Todd Gurley is doubtful, but not definitively ruled out after missing another practice with a thigh bruise. Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson would fill in for him. ... Gurley, Ebukam and safety John Johnson were evacuated from their homes as a precaution because of the fires on the outskirts of the Los Angeles metroplex.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Veteran Rivers Set to Face Steelers Rookie Hodges]]>562780011Thu, 10 Oct 2019 20:10:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19279766443166.jpg

Philip Rivers will be making his 214th straight start when the Los Angeles Chargers host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

On the opposite sideline, Devlin Hodges will make his first.

By all appearances that matchup has all the appearances of a mismatch, but Chargers coach Anthony Lynn knows that looks can be deceiving, especially after his squad played one of the worst games of his three-year tenure last week in a 20-13 loss to previously winless Denver.

"I know you are what your record says you are, but I don't see the Steelers as a 1-4 team," he said. "I thought Hodges was outstanding. The first thing he did was take them straight down the field and scored. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was well-prepared. This is not too big for him."

Hodges completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards during last Sunday's 26-23 overtime loss to Baltimore after Mason Rudolph was knocked out by a concussion. Rudolph returned to practice on Wednesday but was limited.

Rudolph made his first NFL start in Week 3 after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury in a loss to Seattle on Sept. 15. It will be only the third time since the merger and first since Dallas in 1989 that a pair of quarterbacks have made their first NFL start for a team by Week 6 or earlier.

Hodges — who is the all-time leader in passing yards in Football Championship Subdivision history (14,584) — said he felt confident going into the game last week after not getting any reps with the first team, but that things are different this week.

"Having the chance to prepare with the ones and just be in the huddle, it is kind of just confidence," he said. "To me, I am getting comfortable being in the huddle with a group of guys that potentially could be there Sunday."

While Hodges is looking to get acclimated to becoming the starter, Rivers is seeking to bounce back from one of the worst games of his career. He was 32 of 48 for 211 yards and a pair of interceptions against the Broncos. Last week marked the first time in 56 games that Rivers did not direct a touchdown drive and only the eight time it has happened. The 4.4 yards per completion were the fourth fewest of his career.

The Chargers had two turnovers inside the Denver 5 last week and have five drives this season where they have come away with no points in the red zone.

"We've moved the ball and been efficient in a lot of ways. Last week, we weren't," Rivers said. "We've done some really good things offensively, but the most important, which is to score points."

Here are some other things to watch as the 1-4 Steelers go west for the second time this season to face the 2-3 Chargers:

READY TO RUN?

The Steelers began the season talking about the need to find offensive balance. They have yet to find it, even with the carousel at quarterback. Pittsburgh ranks 29th in yards rushing so far, continuing a trend that began during the team's second-half collapse in 2018. The Steelers have gone over 100 yards on the ground just once in their past 12 games. Pittsburgh is 4-8 during that span.

Getting back on track in Los Angeles might be difficult. Defenses loaded the line of scrimmage against Mason Rudolph, daring the second-year quarterback to beat them with his arm. That doesn't figure to change no matter who is at quarterback on Sunday, be it Rudolph or Hodges. Making matters worse for Pittsburgh? Jaylen Samuels is out at least a month after recovering from a sprained left knee, leaving rookie Benny Snell Jr. as the top option behind starter James Conner.

GETTING GORDON IN GEAR

Melvin Gordon played less than half the snaps last week in his first action of the season. The Chargers running back had only 38 scrimmage yards and averaged only 2.6 yards per carry, but he's hoping that the more practice snaps he got this week will have him better prepared for Sunday.

"We have to be physical, come out and be hungry. There are still a lot more reps I need to get. I just have to find that rhythm," he said.

Fellow running back Austin Ekeler leads the AFC in receptions with 39.

DEFENDING SMITH-SCHUSTER

Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had six catches against the Chargers in last year's game, but only went for 49 yards. The 8.2 average yards per reception were the fifth-fewest he has had in a game in his three-year career.

"We have a lot of respect for him as a route-runner. They have a wide combination of what he is doing," Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said.

TURNOVER CHAIN

Pittsburgh spent the entire offseason talking about the need to become more aggressive on defense after managing just 15 takeaways in 2018. So far, so very good. The Steelers have already produced a dozen turnovers through five weeks, one of the main reasons they've been competitive despite the numerous issues on offense.

"It's just guys being in the right position, guys knowing what they're supposed to do and being more ball aware," cornerback Mike Hilton said. "Last year, we were in position a lot of the time, but we just weren't making the plays. And now it seems like we're making them when we need them."

The next step: turning those turnovers into touchdowns. Pittsburgh has reached the end zone just three times after generating a takeaway.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Chargers center Dan Feeney, who takes over after Mike Pouncey was placed on injured reserve because of a neck injury. Four of the five starters on the offensive line have three years or less of experience.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Gurley Wears Shirt Criticizing NCAA to News Conference]]>562779111Thu, 10 Oct 2019 19:57:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19284007931073.jpg

Todd Gurley has spelled out his feelings about college athletes' ongoing fight with the NCAA over compensation for their work.

The Los Angeles Rams' star running back wore a shirt reading "Not Concerned About Athletes" in bold letters to his weekly news conference Thursday at their training complex. The first letter of each word is in a font identical to the NCAA's brand and logo.

Gurley has personal experience with the NCAA's rules around amateurism: He was suspended for four games of his junior season at the University of Georgia in 2014 for receiving a reported $3,000 for autographs and signed memorabilia over a two-year period.

"I'll just let my shirt speak for itself," Gurley said with a sly smile.

"Just being a college athlete and obviously going through suspension and all that stuff, you've got to see both sides of it," he added. "Obviously everyone has their own opinion, but I'm always for the athlete. So more ways for the athletes to make some decent money off their name, for sure, they deserve it."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law last week forbidding colleges from punishing their athletes for making money from the use of their name or likeness starting in 2023. The NCAA has stridently opposed the law, but also has proposed an evolution on its existing rules to make them friendlier to athletes.

When asked whether financial compensation would have improved his college experience Gurley cracked: "I was fine. That's why I got suspended in the first place."

Jokes aside, Gurley claimed he didn't harbor any resentment from his college experience. He remains an ardent Georgia supporter, but he would have loved to go through his college experience with more reward for his play at a brutal position in a rough sport.

"Most of us are kids that didn't come from much, and most of us, it was our first time out of our own bedroom," Gurley said. "It's just one of those things. It's college. You're having a good time just like anybody else."

Gurley tore a knee ligament in his first game back from his suspension, ending his Bulldogs career. He entered the draft early, and the Rams chose him with the 10th overall pick in 2015.

Three impressive NFL seasons later, Gurley agreed to a four-year, $60 million contract extension with $45 million guaranteed in 2018, setting an NFL record for running backs since surpassed by Ezekiel Elliott.

Gurley is off to a quiet start this season, ranking 18th in the NFL with 270 yards rushing. He is also uncertain whether he will play for the Rams against the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after missing practice Wednesday with a bruised left thigh.

The Rams only held a walk-through practice Thursday due to dangerous Santa Ana winds in Ventura County, and Gurley isn't predicting how his leg will respond to two more days of treatment.

"It's getting better," Gurley said. "I'm focused in on trying to get better each day. You feel something during the game, but it's been getting a lot better since the day after the game. ... What's today, Thursday? We've got Friday, Saturday. Just get back right, and make that decision when the time comes."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Greg Beacham/AP]]>
<![CDATA[NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 5]]>562703722Thu, 10 Oct 2019 02:58:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Postgame_Wrap_Up_NLDS_Game_5_1200x675_1619489347650.jpg

NBC LA sports reporter Michael J. Duarte and LA Times Columnist, Arash Markazi, discuss the Dodgers disappointing end to the 2019 season after a dramatic 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 5]]>562699562Thu, 10 Oct 2019 02:05:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLDS_Game_5_1200x675_1619460675534.jpg

Another year, another season ends in disappointment for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A dejected Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Will Smith, Enrique Hernandez, and Kenley Jansen discuss the discouraging end to the 2019 season after a 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in the do-or-die Game 5 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium.]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams RB Todd Gurley Misses Practice With Bruised Thigh]]>562684341Wed, 09 Oct 2019 20:35:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19277069530563.jpg

Todd Gurley missed practice Wednesday with a bruised left thigh, and the Los Angeles Rams don't know whether their star running back will play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Coach Sean McVay says Gurley's injury "caught us all off-guard" when Los Angeles went back to work following several days without practice. The Rams (3-2) haven't played since last Thursday, when they lost 30-29 at Seattle.

A difficult matchup for the Rams would be even tougher without Gurley, their top ball-carrier for five seasons. Since McVay took over in 2017, Gurley is the NFL's leader in yards rushing (2,826), yards from scrimmage (4,262) and rushing touchdowns (35).

McVay refused to predict whether Gurley will face the Niners at the Coliseum.

"He's so tough and he plays through so many different things," McVay said. "But there's still so much time (before Sunday). Even though we did play on a Thursday, we want to be smart with him."

The team initially thought Gurley's thigh problem was typical postgame soreness, but the Rams held him out of practice along with cornerback Aqib Talib, who has bruised ribs. Being without either veteran would be a significant setback to the Rams' hopes of ending their two-game losing streak — just their second skid of McVay's career.

"You think it's your typical bumps and bruises, and then it ends up being a little bit more than that," McVay said.

Ever since Gurley missed playing time down the stretch of Los Angeles' Super Bowl run last season with a balky left knee, the running back's health has been a constant source of conversation around the defending NFC champions.

That's much to the dismay of Gurley, who has grown increasingly curt about the knee woes that could be the Rams' primary motivation for his decreased workload on Sundays this season.

Gurley is a quiet 18th in the NFL this season with 270 yards rushing. He also has 14 receptions, but his overall touches are down significantly after he was in the NFL's top five in each of the past three seasons.

The Rams insist they aren't managing Gurley's playing time, but opposing coaches have all agreed Los Angeles is trying to keep Gurley fresh for the long haul of this season and several more afterward. Gurley's four-year, $60 million contract extension — with a record $45 million guaranteed — doesn't even kick in until next year.

Malcolm Brown has 114 yards and two touchdowns in his fifth season as Gurley's backup. Brown never had more than 63 carries in a season during his first four years behind Gurley, but the gifted athlete already has 26 carries in five games.

"Fortunately for us, we've got some depth at that position," McVay said. "Whether it's this week, at some point, the confidence that we have in Malcolm, but there's also going to be a time we rely on (rookie) Darrell Henderson. It might end up being this week."

The Rams faced a challenge to run the ball against the 49ers even without Gurley at full strength. San Francisco has the NFL's fifth-best defense against the run, allowing just 81.8 yards per game — and representing the third straight week in which the Rams must face a top-five rushing defense.

Opponents have loaded up against the Rams' zone running plays frequently this season after seeing New England's success with similar schemes in the Super Bowl. The Rams still have a winning record with Jared Goff's passing game carrying much of the offensive load, but McVay and his assistants are eager to get back to a balanced attack.

"Some weeks, obviously, Todd is a great running back and people want to load up against him," passing game coordinator Shane Waldron said. "It's going to force Jared to throw the ball a little bit more. Different weeks, if they're going to provide a little bit more balanced opportunities, then that's where we'll get to that."

NOTES: WR Brandin Cooks was limited in practice after incurring a concussion, but McVay expects him to play against the Niners. ... Rookie S Taylor Rapp (ankle) and LB Bryce Hager (shoulder) also were limited while they return from injuries that kept them out last week.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Velus Jones Jr. Shines Back at USC]]>562682551Wed, 09 Oct 2019 20:17:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19283031480330.jpg

Southern California wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. has established himself as one of the most explosive kick returners in college football.

However, Jones' biggest return might have been his decision to rejoin the Trojans after considering a transfer in the spring.

"It's amazing being back," Jones said. "I'm just here having fun. I get my degree in December, and so I'm blessed because of that."

Jones is off to a fast start in what is shaping up to be his most productive season as a return specialist. He is averaging 25.6 yards per kick return despite an uncommonly high number of attempts. At a time when most teams seem content to take a touchback, Jones leads the FBS with 3.8 returns per game, one of three players averaging at least three returns per game.

Jones' 487 return yards on 19 attempts are second nationally in both categories to Boston College running back Travis Levy, who has 503 yards on 21 kickoff returns.

Special teams coordinator John Baxter said there is still value in returning kicks, especially with a player as explosive as Jones.

"We still believe in challenging for every point," said Baxter, who is in his eighth season at USC over two stints on staff. "If we have a chance to get the ball in our hands and do something with it, we're going to make that attempt. If it doesn't go our way, wasn't our day."

With Jones, whose best traits, according to Baxter, are "speed and fearlessness," things have tended to go USC's way. Jones had a 100-yard return for a touchdown in the season-opening 31-23 win over Fresno State, helping turn the momentum when the Bulldogs were making a comeback.

That was Jones' first touchdown return in college, but he still remembers his first score on a kickoff return when he was an 8-year-old playing park league football in Alabama.

"And so it bounced on the ground, and I picked it up and just split two people and took it to the house," Jones said. "That's my first kickoff return. And you know, I just been living in that dream ever since."

Jones also had a 61-yard return against Fresno State negated because of an illegal participation penalty when two USC players wore the same number, the kind of careless mistake the Trojans cannot make against No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. The Fighting Irish rank 11th in the FBS in kickoff return coverage, allowing 15.7 yards per play, and have allowed 11 returns this season.

Making a big play in South Bend, Indiana, might be the ultimate way for Jones to reward coach Clay Helton for respecting his decision to enter the transfer portal in March because he wanted to be closer to his family in Saraland, Alabama. Jones considered several schools from the Southeastern Conference, including Auburn and Tennessee, before deciding in June to return to USC for his redshirt junior season.

Jones said Helton was incredibly gracious with his request, the culmination of a relationship that began when Helton started recruiting Jones in 2014 as USC's offensive coordinator. Helton understood how important family was to Jones and gave him the chance to consider all his options without subjecting Jones to any sort of ultimatum about staying or going.

"And that's why Coach Helton is special," Jones said. "He's really different. He's his own person. He makes his own tradition and stuff, and that's why I really like him. I don't think I'll ever meet another coach like Coach Helton, and that's, like, what's really special about this place and being up under Coach Helton."

Jones is just as uncommon with the ball in his hands, which he credits to vision and composure for making a big play happen. He took the same approach in deciding to return to USC, and it seems to working out for Jones.

"You got to see it before you do it, and that's anything in life," Jones said. "So I just look for the gaps and the holes. I can get that extra burst, get in open field, and that's what I'm hoping for and that's why I run really hard to try to find them holes. It's all about patience as well. That's what I had to learn as a young kickoff returner playing at USC. Any chance you get a gap or a hole, you just got to hit it hard."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[NBA Postpones Media Sessions in Shanghai Amid China Rift]]>562681041Wed, 09 Oct 2019 19:49:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/nbaAP_19282326918766.jpg

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday that the league is still expecting them to play as scheduled this week, even while the rift between the league and Chinese officials continued in ways that clearly suggested the two planned games in Shanghai and Shenzhen were anything but guaranteed.

The NBA called off scheduled media sessions Wednesday for both teams. At least two other NBA events to be held Wednesday before the start of the China games were canceled as part of the fallout that started after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a since-deleted tweet last week that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

"Given the fluidity of the situation, today's media availability has been postponed," the league said. The sessions were not rescheduled Wednesday, though having them on Thursday — game day in Shanghai — remains possible.

Later Wednesday in Washington, a bipartisan group of lawmakers — including the rare alignment of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — sent a letter to Silver saying the NBA should show the "courage and integrity" to stand up to the Chinese government. They asked the NBA to, among other things, suspend activities in China until what they called the selective treatment against the Rockets ends.

"You have more power to take a stand than most of the Chinese government's targets and should have the courage and integrity to use it," the lawmakers told Silver. The NBA did not have any immediate comment on the letter, and it was unclear if Silver had even seen the document.

In Shanghai, the mood surrounding the game that — if played — will feature LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and other big NBA names was anything but festive. An NBA Cares event that was to benefit the Special Olympics was called off, as was a "fan night" celebration that was to be highlighted by the league announcing plans to refurbish some outdoor courts in that city. And workers in multiple spots around Shanghai were tearing down large outdoor promotional advertisements for Thursday's Lakers-Nets game.

The teams are also supposed to play Saturday in Shenzhen.

Chinese smartphone maker Vivo has joined the list of companies that have suspended ties with the NBA for now, only adding to the uncertainty surrounding the China games. Vivo was a presenting sponsor of the games, and on Wednesday there was no reference to the game in Shanghai on the list of upcoming events scheduled at Mercedes-Benz Arena. Other firms such as apparel company Li-Ning announced similar moves earlier this week, as the rift was just beginning.

Silver said Tuesday in Tokyo that he supports Morey's right to free speech. Several Chinese companies have suspended their partnership with the NBA in recent days, and Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it will not broadcast the Lakers-Nets games.

"I'm sympathetic to our interests here and to our partners who are upset," Silver said. "I don't think it's inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles."

All around China, stores that sell NBA merchandise were removing Rockets-related apparel from shelves and many murals featuring the Rockets — even ones with Yao Ming, the Chinese great who played for Houston during his NBA career — were being painted over.

Effects are already being felt in NBA arenas, in a pair of games featuring Guangzhou Loong Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.

After the playing of the Chinese national anthem in Washington on Wednesday before Guangzhou's game against the Wizards, one fan shouted, "Freedom of expression! Freedom of speech! Free Hong Kong!" Another fan shouted for a free Hong Kong from the second level during the second quarter.

Minutes later, security approached one fan holding up a "Free Tibet" sign and another holding the Tibet flag. Security tried to take the sign, and the fan refused to give it up. Security then escorted them out of the seats.

A similar scene played out in Philadelphia on Tuesday, also during a Guangzhou game. There, two fans were removed by arena security for holding signs and chanting in support of Hong Kong. The signs read "Free Hong Kong" and "Free HK." The sentiment was not different from Morey's since-deleted tweet last week of an image that read, "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong."

The 76ers and Wells Fargo Center, the team's home arena, released statements Wednesday confirming that the fan removal took place and explaining why.

"During the second quarter of last night's 76ers game, Wells Fargo Center security responded to a situation that was disrupting the live event experience for our guests," the arena's statement Wednesday said. "After three separate warnings, the two individuals were escorted out of the arena without incident. The security team employed respectful and standard operating procedures."

The NBA is not the first major corporation to deal with criticism from China over political differences. Mercedes-Benz, Delta Air Lines, hotel operator Marriott, fashion brand Zara and others also have found themselves in conflicts with China in recent years.

After Morey's tweet was deleted, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Morey does not speak for the organization. Joe Tsai, who recently completed his purchase of the Nets and is a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has said the damage to the NBA's relationship with China "will take a long time to repair."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Historic Season Comes to Disappointing End]]>562680491Thu, 10 Oct 2019 02:05:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/GettyImages-1180136839.jpg

This year was supposed to be different.

After a franchise record 106 wins, and back-to-back World Series appearances, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2019 season with a renewed focus.

This time they had Walker Buehler starting Game 1, not Game 3. They had the league MVP in Cody Bellinger, and Joe Kelly as the bridge to Kenley Jansen. This was the "best team" the Dodgers have ever assembled said their manager Dave Roberts.

They were supposed to easily dispatch of the pesky Nats, who were a below .500 team in the first-half of the season, and supposedly playing with "house money," after escaping the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card game.

This was the year the Dodgers were going to dominate the National League and finally win their first World Series in 31 years.

This was the year everything was going to be different.

Only it wasn't.

Just more despair, more heartbreak, and another opposing team celebrating at Dodger Stadium.

Former Dodger, Howie Kendrick, hit a grand slam in the top of the tenth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers historic season dramatically came to a disappointing end, 7-3, to the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium.

In a roller-coaster series of epic highs and lows, Game 5 exceeded them all with an instant classic of historic proportions.

The Nationals had the man they wanted on the mound. One of their two unequivocal aces, Stephen Strasburg, was getting the ball after striking out 10 batters in Game 2 of the series.

Entering Game 5, Strasburg had a career postseason ERA of 0.64, lower than even the great Sandy Koufax (0.95). That all changed with one swing in the first inning.

The game began with a bang as Joc Pederson appeared to hit a leadoff homer into the Dodgers bullpen. After Pederson rounded the bases and returned to the dugout, Nationals' left fielder Juan Soto ran to the left field umpire to explain the ball did not go over the fence, but through it.

Replay showed that the ball hit a small chain-link window in the bullpen doors, and the home run was overturned to a ground-rule double.

The disappoint hit Dodgers fans like a scorpion's sting, but it would subside in seconds, as five pitches later Max Muncy made sure there was no magic in his two-run home run that towered 390-feet over the wall in right-center.

After facing criticism for a bevy of decisions in Game 4, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts seemingly pressed all the right buttons early in Game 5. His decision to give Enrique Hernandez his first start of the series paid dividends when the lefty-killer hit a rare home run off a right-hander in the second inning.

Hernandez hammered a 94MPH fastball from Strasburg over the wall in center field for just his 11th home run off a right-hander this season. More importantly, the Dodgers had an early 3-0 lead. 

The first four games of the series featured sensational pitching performances that reminded fans of the legendary days of yore, when old-school pitchers would throw over a hundred pitches and go deep into games to give their team the opportunity to win.

Walker Buehler threw six shutout innings in Game 1. Stephen Strasburg was perfect through 4 and 3/2 innings in Game 2. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Anibal Sanchez both were impressive in Game 3, and Max Scherzer laid it all on the line over seven inspiring innings in Game 4.

Game 5 did not disappoint in that regard, both Strasburg and Buehler became the first duo of starters to each exceed 100 pitches in the 2019 postseason.

Considering the final score and the implications of the game, it's easy to forget about the work of Walker Buehler in this game. At just 25-years-old, he has ascended to the ace of the Dodgers staff, and seems to thrive when the pressure is the highest and the lights are the brightest.

Wednesday marked Buehler's third must-win start in his young postseason career. For seven superb innings, Buehler danced his way in and out of trouble like mice scurrying in and out of the light. He allowed just one run on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts, definitively proving that when their backs are against the wall, there's only one guy to call.

The Nationals thought they had Buehler against the ropes in the sixth inning when Anthony Rendon led off with a double. Juan Soto followed with an RBI single to right field, and Washington had their first run of the game with the tying run at the plate. Buehler would get a double-play and a strikeout to escape the damage.

A scary moment occurred in the top of the seventh when Buehler hit Nationals' catcher Kurt Suzuki with a 95MPH fastball that ricocheted off his face. Suzuki stayed on the ground for a while before ultimately leaving the game.

Buehler exited to a standing ovation in the seventh inning, with runners on first and second and two outs after throwing a career-high 117 pitches. He had given the Dodgers everything he had, and literally left it all on the field.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw entered the game in relief, and briefly rewrote his postseason narrative by striking out Adam Eaton on three pitches. 

Unfortunately, it really was only briefly. Kershaw wrote another chapter in the Dodgers' book of postseason despair when he started the eighth inning allowing back-to-back home runs to Rendon and Soto on back-to-back pitches. 

In an instant, the energy and enthusiasm was evaporated from Dodger Stadium. Despite the score being tied 3-3, it felt like the Dodgers were losing. Momentum had shifted, doubt had crept back into their pysche, and the demons returned. 

Those same demons that have haunted the Dodgers for 31 years were exorcised with one swing by a man named Howie for Washington. 

Kendrick had made four errors in the series, and had wilted at the plate in high-pressure moments. His play throughout the series had some fans calling him an "undercover Dodger." After he made two costly errors in Game 1 of the series, Kendrick said, "you try to suck it up and hope you make it up on the other end."

When he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning, he did. Kendrick hit a grand slam off Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly that gave the Washington Nationals an insurmountable 7-3 lead, and their first trip to the National League Championship Series in franchise history. 

Another celebration ensued at Chavez Ravine with the Dodgers once again watching, dejected.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Dealt Another Setback as Pouncey Placed on IR]]>562680251Wed, 09 Oct 2019 19:40:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lynnAP_19272720078759.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers have been consistent in the one area teams want to avoid — injuries.

The Chargers were dealt another setback Wednesday when center Mike Pouncey was placed on injured reserve due to a neck injury. Coach Anthony Lynn said Pouncey will have season-ending surgery but did not want to speculate on whether it was career threatening.

Pouncey came out during the first half of last Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. Lynn said that it didn't sound like one play caused the injury, but that this was something the nine-year veteran had been dealing with for some time and that he had been playing through it.

"With a guy like Pouncey he is one of the warriors and almost invisible. Even if he has something bothering him he's going to be out there," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "To see him go down with something this severe takes a little bit out of you."

Pouncey is the fourth starter to be placed on either injured reserve or the non-football illness list. Through the first five weeks, the Chargers have had 14 players who are either starters or significant contributors miss a total of 36 games because of injuries or holdouts.

This is the second significant injury the Chargers have had on the offensive line. Left tackle Russell Okung has been out since the start of training camp as he deals with blood clots.

"We talked about it last week a little bit. What is it, Murphy's Law? What can go wrong will go wrong," Lynn said. "Hell, we have to kick Murphy's butt. That's where we are."

Dan Feeney will move to center and Forrest Lamp will take over at left guard. The starting line now has two third-year players — Feeney and right tackle Sam Tevi — two second-year players in Lamp and left tackle Trent Scott and six-year veteran Michael Schofield. They will face a Pittsburgh Steelers defense Sunday night that is tied for the NFL lead in takeaways (12) and third in sacks (20).

Feeney got plenty of time at center during training camp as well as during the second half last week. Lynn said that he considers center more of Feeney's natural position.

"Everyone has to take a piece of the pie and roll," Feeney said. "Having Phil back there makes your job easier. I think we'll be all right. I think we can mesh very well together."

This is the seventh time since Rivers has been the starting quarterback that the Chargers have started 2-3. They made the playoffs four of the previous six times.

"In the past, we've been at our best when it's been that way, when it's kind of like, 'Oh it's the same old deal. The Chargers are hurt. They're injured and they'll mess it up somehow.' We've been better when it's been that way," Rivers said. "We've been in this boat and kind of gotten rolling. Hopefully, we can weather the storm, injury-wise, and find a way to win a game. Then, hopefully we can string some together."

NOTES: Tight end Hunter Henry, who has missed the past four games with a knee injury, was limited Wednesday and could return this week. ... Defensive end Melvin Ingram (hamstring) and kicker Michael Badgley (groin) did not participate in practice. ... Los Angeles signed offensive lineman Ryan Groy to take Pouncey's roster spot.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Routine of a Dodgers Bench Player During the 2019 MLB Playoffs]]>562672321Wed, 09 Oct 2019 17:44:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/GettyImages-1179487933.jpg

The MLB Playoffs are unlike any sports tournament you've ever witnessed.

After a marathon 162-game regular season, five teams in each league earn the right to participate in a first-to-eleven sprint. The Wild Card games are a winner-take-all, and the Division Series is a five-game stand-off in which anything can happen.

If  you survive those two rounds, a team earns the right to advance to the Championship Series and World Series. Those are played in the traditional seven-game format in which the better team typically prevails.

What makes postseason baseball so exhilarating for players and fans alike, is that a single inning, a single out, or a single pitch can decide a game, and in some cases, an entire season. Often times, it is the players lurking in the shadows, ready to enter the game in a moment's notice, that can determine the outcome. 

This is especially true for the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers. Each and every year since 2015, the organization has prided itself on building a roster comprised of talent, determination, and depth. Arguably, the Dodgers roster has more depth than any other team in the league, and it has resulted in seven consecutive N.L. West Division titles.

As the Dodgers consistently dominant the regular season, they build a roster with enough depth and talent for two separate teams to make the postseason. That is why it is so difficult to make the necessary divisions to widdle the roster down to just 25 for the playoffs.

Additionally, the Dodgers depth makes them an arduous out for any team that faces them in the postseason. If the opposing starter survives the first five innings, then no matter who you send out of the bullpen, the Dodgers likely have a player on the bench to counter them. Lefty, righty, the Dodgers have the hitter on the bench that can beat you in any situation.

This has never been more evident than the 2019 NLDS between the Dodgers and Nationals. Bench players have played a pivotal role for both teams in each and every game thus far in the series. 

In Game 1, both Gavin Lux and Joc Pederson entered the game as pinch-hitters and homered.

In Game 2, it was Washington's Asdrubal Cabrera, who recorded a clutch pinch-hit RBI single that proved to be an important insurance run after the Dodgers loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth.

In Game 3, it was Enrique Hernandez with a pinch-hit two-run double in the historic seven-run sixth inning, and David Freese became just the third player in MLB postseason history to go 3-for-3 in a game he didn't start.

As the NLDS series headed back to Los Angeles, we wanted to know what the life and routine is like for those role players off the bench. Do they stay in the dugout until their name is called? Are they lurking in the shadows somewhere beneath the stadium, waiting for their moment to enter into the spotlight?

The answer is different for every player. For Freese, the veteran of the bench unit and no stranger to the role, he likes to stay loose from the moment batting practice ends 1-2 hours before first pitch. 

"We pretty much stay hot all the way through the end of BP [batting practice] until we come in the game," said Freese. "We're getting loose. Talking about what the other team is doing. We have a guy throwing to us, a machine going, that moment can come upon you quick."

For Freese, his moment came in the sixth inning of Game 3 with the Dodgers trailing 2-to-1. With a runner on first base and two outs, Freese, a right-handed hitter, was asked to replace the left-handed hitting Gavin Lux as a pinch-hitter.

The Nationals had just inserted Game 1 starter Patrick Corbin into the game, and after a leadoff single to Cody Bellinger, he easily struck out Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock for the first two outs of the inning.

"I got word that Corbin had gotten up and started throwing," said Freese of the moment. "I think they told me if they get to Lux, we'll think about it, and theyhey did. We're definitely always acting like we're going to get in there."

Freese singled to right field to put runners on the corners for Russell Martin. He did his job, he got on base, and passed the baton. Martin would hit a go-ahead double to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

After Martin's double, Chris Taylor, entered as a pinch-hitter to face Corbin. Taylor's routine is similar to Freese's.

"I try and stay loose the whole game and get some swings down in the cage," said Taylor of his routine. "I stay down there most of the game watching the game on the television."

Taylor worked a walk to put runners on first and second. Sensing blood in the water, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts pulled his leadoff hit Joc Pederson for another right-handed pinch-hitter off the bench in Hernandez.

Some baseball players are extremely superstitious when it comes to their pregame routine. Others are not. For Hernandez, repetition is the key. 

"I eat a banana in the first inning, and I drink a coffee in the second," he said of his in-game routine when he's not starting. "It's been my fifth year pretty much coming off the bench for the Dodgers. It's a learning curve, it's a learning process. It's not something that you wake up one day and you're like, 'oh, I figured this out.'

"I think every year you figure out new ways, new routines, and little things that are going to help you come in the game," continued Hernandez. "The biggest thing about pinch-hitting or coming in from off the bench, is feeling like you've been playing in the game. I've found ways to start sweating and stay ready for whenever. Whether it's go in the weight room, ride the bike, or hit off the machine, or run some stairs or run some sprints, whatever it is, you also got to listen to your body, depending upon how your body is feeling."

Hernandez said he repeated the same routine he had in previous games in the series, and it paid off when he roped a two-run double to left field to break the game open and give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead.

As the Dodgers enter the decisive do-or-die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, don't be surprised to not find Freese, Pollock, Martin, Lux and Taylor sitting in the dugout during the game. The handful of players not in the starting lineup will be lurking somewhere, getting ready for their moment.

"You never know what they're [the other team] is going to do," said Freese. "We all get ready pretty early, and we never doubt ourselves. You can't doubt yourself against a team like the Nationals."



Photo Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Drop Game 4 of NLDS to Nationals, 6-1]]>562479071Tue, 08 Oct 2019 03:49:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-1179681506.jpg

It started with a light drizzle on a mild 78-degree Monday night in the Nation's Capital. As the fifth inning rolled around, a robust wind picked up and the rain roared down upon the 36,487 in attendance at Nationals Park.

The storm wasn't supposed to arrive until after midnight, but it crashed down upon the Dodgers with one thunderous swing from the longest tenured National in team history.

On September 1, 2005, the Washington Nationals selected third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from nearby Virginia with the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft. He was the first player selected in the team's history. 15 years later, he would help rewrite it.

The Dodgers usually win games like this. The Nationals do not, but as the rain poured down on the "W" logo in straightaway centerfield, Zimmerman would change that narrative with one swing.

Zimmerman delivered the biggest hit of the Nationals' season when he smashed a 97 MPH fastball from Pedro Baez off that logo in center to give Washington a decisive 6-1 win in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

"I knew I hit it really good, but I hit it prety high," said Zimmerman of the game-winning blast. "I think that's one of those where you kind of watch the center fielder. I was watching Belli go and he kelpt running and running and once he started speeding up, I got a little bit better feeling."

As the ball flew over the fence, Baez's head dropped into his hands like a wilted flower. The Dodgers postseason demons reappeared, as thoughts turned to a do-or-die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.

"Game 5, win or go home," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts looking ahead to Wednesday. "You live for moments like this." 

In the spring of 2015, Rich Hill and Max Scherzer were relaxing in West Palm Beach ready to begin another baseball season. Hill had just signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, and was competing for a spot in the rotation. Hill did not make the Opening Day roster, and was released by Washington two months later, vanquished to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball where he would resurrect his career with the Long Island Ducks.

As fate would have it, the two friends who met in Florida would inexplicably have their paths cross repeatedly over the next five years. First, against each other in a winner-take-all Game 5 in the 2016 NLDS. On Monday they met again on the same field with multiple stakes on the line. A win for Hill and the Dodgers would advance to their fourth straight NLCS. A win for Scherzer, and the Nationals would force a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night.

"You want to play the best because at the end of the day, I feel like it's much more gratifying to go against somebody at the top of their game," said Hill who remembers Scherzer as intense and competitive from their time together. "Looking across the way, when you talk about guys that you really enjoy watching pitch, he's definitely up there for me."

Hill's journey to this moment was more turbulent than Scherzer's. Hill had to reinvent himself as a pitcher just to make an MLB roster, and injury-plagued season in 2019 put Hill on the outside looking in of a spot on the playoff roster in early September.

"Obviously, I put in time and the effort to get back. I worked really hard with our training staff," said Hill of his rehabilitation regimen. "Those guys put in a lot of time and effort to make sure that the program that I was on was correct for getting back and being efficient on the hill and getting back to not where I was, but just getting back to where everything felt comfortable enough and strong enough to go out there and compete. It was just something I wanted. This is what I have a love for…I'm not going to say it was easy, but there was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't get back."

With less than two weeks to go in the season, Rich Hill, finally proved he could pitch in the MLB Playoffs during the final game of the regular season.

"His last start against San Francisco," said Dave Roberts of when he knew Hill had enough to make the NLDS roster. "It looked good, came out of it well, the side session after that, trainers, Rich, his own words, his confidence level, my eyes seeing how it looks, all that gave us the confidence that he deserves to make this start and we feel good about whatever length he can give us."

So Hill was called upon in Game 4 to close out the series and christen the visiting clubhouse with a champagne celebration. Unfortunately for Hill, things didn't go according to plan.

Maybe it was Hill's lack of command, or Doug Eddings strike zone, but the soon-to-be 40-year-old left-hander struggled to find the plate, and after issuing three walks in the third inning, he was undone by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Anthony Rendon that leveled the score.

"I think I got to curveball happy there in the third inning," admitted Hill after the loss. "A few of those pitches were executed for strikes and I think they might have been missed [by Eddings], but that's the way it is."

Meanwhile, the man they call "Mad Max," lived up to the billing. Every bit as intense and competitive as advertised, the Nationals' irrefutable ace dominated the Dodgers over seven spectacular innings.

"Max threw the heck out of the baseball tonight," said Roberts matter of factly.

Scherzer extinguished the Dodgers lineup that was saturated with lefties to weaken him. For over three hours, he flummoxed every hitter he faced with a devastating combination of fastball, slider, and change-up.

After a swing-and-miss slider in the first inning, Scherzer tried to surprise Turner with a 96 MPH fastball. He missed high, and Turner sent the pitch into the Dodgers' bullpen—almost in the identical spot he did in Game 3—to give Los Angeles an early 1-0 lead.

But that would be the only run the Dodgers would get off Scherzer. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed just one run, on four scattered hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in the victory.

"I was just gassed. I was out. I was empty in the tank, giving everything I got," admitted Scherzer of his seventh and final inning. "I could feel my arm slot was lowering because I was fatiguing and it just becomes a mental grind of you got to, in that moment, just collect yourself and just if your arm slot is dropping just focus on what you can do and try to execute pitches."

Scherzer was able to execute his final pitches and helped the Nationals force a decisive Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. If Scherzer is Washington's Batman, then he will now pass the baton to his Robin, Stephen Strasburg, the Game 2 winner who will get the ball on Wednesday.

"I think it's something that you train for, you dream about as a kid, and you want to have those opportunities to just see how your stuff stacks up," said Strasburg of taking the mound in Game 5. "When you're in the moment and stuff it's a great feeling, just going out there and competing against the best.

It took the Dodgers five games to dispatch of the Nationals in the NLDS in 2016. Kenley Jansen pitched three innings of relief, and Clayton Kershaw earned the first save of his career in the win.

Dave Roberts was in his inaugural year as manager of the Dodgers during that season, and Game 5 was his first taste of an all hands on deck, winner-take-all playoff game.

"That game was crazy," Roberts said multiple times when reminiscing about the experience. "I don't look forward to revisiting that one."

On Wednesday, he'll have to.



Photo Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Broken Jaw to Keep LA Rams' Clay Matthews Out 4-6 Weeks]]>562482521Mon, 07 Oct 2019 19:38:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clay-Matthews-jaw-injury-October-2019.jpg

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Clay Matthews is expected to be out for four to six weeks with a broken jaw.

Coach Sean McVay said Monday that Matthews won't return until after the Rams' bye in early November.

Matthews was hurt when Seattle running back Chris Carson inadvertently kicked him in the face during the fourth quarter of the Rams' 30-29 loss to the Seahawks last Thursday. Matthews' jaw has been wired shut, McVay says.

Matthews has six sacks in his first five games with the Rams, who signed the 33-year-old pass rusher to a two-year contract in the offseason. Matthews had spent the past decade with Green Bay.

Samson Ebukam is expected to take Matthews' starting spot Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 3]]>562392842Mon, 07 Oct 2019 00:00:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NBC4_Dodgers_Postgame_Sports_Wrap_Up_Game_3_1200x675_1616480323591.jpg

NBC LA sports reporter Michael J. Duarte and sports anchor Fred Roggin discuss the Dodgers blow out victory, 10-4, over the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 4]]>562492672Mon, 07 Oct 2019 22:12:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Postgame_Wrap_Up_NLDS_Game_4_1200x675_1617387075677.jpg

NBC LA sports reporter Michael J. Duarte and sports anchor Fred Roggin discuss the Dodgers loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the NLDS that sends the series back to Los Angeles for a do-or-die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 4]]>562488582Mon, 07 Oct 2019 21:35:46 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLDS_Game_4_1200x675_1617346627666.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players Matt Beaty, Chris Taylor, and Rich HIll recap the Dodgers devastating loss to Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals, 6-1, in Game 4 of the NLDS and look ahead to Game 5 at home in Dodger Stadium.]]>
<![CDATA[Joe Maddon Reportedly Set to Interview for Angels' Manager Job]]>562378481Sun, 06 Oct 2019 20:11:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Joe-Maddon-Angels-Manager-interview-October-2019.jpg

Joe Maddon will interview for the Los Angeles Angels' managerial vacancy this week, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because the Angels aren't publicizing their search. ESPN first reported the interview.

Maddon is considered the prohibitive front-runner to replace Brad Ausmus, who was fired after one season in charge. The Angels finished 72-90, their worst record since 1999.

Maddon spent 31 years employed by the Angels as a player and a coach throughout the organization. He was Mike Scioscia's bench coach with the 2002 World Series champions before leaving for managerial jobs in Tampa Bay and Chicago, where he won the World Series in 2016. He was let go by Chicago on the final day of the regular season.

Despite the Cubs' post-championship disappointments over the past three years, Maddon remains regarded as one of baseball's top managers. His teams have made eight playoff appearances, including four straight in Chicago before this season's 84-win team finished third in the NL Central.

Maddon worked under five managers with the Angels, and he served two stints as the club's interim manager. He was there for the disappointing seasons of the 1990s, and he was at Scioscia's side in the 2000s during their growth into a perennial playoff team that won the franchise's only championship.

Now 65, Maddon kept a home in the Los Angeles area during his 14 years away from the Angels. He was on Los Angeles' bench when owner Arte Moreno bought the Angels in 2003, and the two have a cordial relationship.

Ausmus was fired one year after replacing Scioscia, who spent 19 seasons on the Angels' bench. Los Angeles has had four consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the 1970s, and the Angels have yet to win a playoff game with Mike Trout or Albert Pujols in their high-priced lineup.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler vowed to hold a comprehensive search for a new manager after firing Ausmus, insisting the Angels hadn't already decided on a successor despite the franchise's clear ties to Maddon.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Melvin Gordon Returns, Chargers' Offense Struggles Again]]>562377601Sun, 06 Oct 2019 19:58:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Broncos-October-2019.jpg

Melvin Gordon was flooded by familiar feelings after his delayed season debut with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Not many of those feelings were warm or fuzzy.

Instead, the star fifth-year running back has been transported back to the bad old days of his first three NFL seasons when his Chargers fell into an early hole in the standings and spent the rest of the year scrambling to get out.

Los Angeles (2-3) has a losing record after five games for the fourth time in Gordon's five seasons after its 20-13 loss to the previously winless Denver Broncos on Sunday. Even more embarrassingly, the Chargers failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since Dec. 13, 2015, ending a streak of 55 regular-season games.

When asked if he recalled any early season games that left him feeling as frustrated as this debacle, Gordon smiled and replied: "Plenty. But not for a while."

"We just couldn't get going," Gordon added. "What frustrated me most was being inside the 20, being right at the goal line and not converting. That's just not Chargers football. You know us. We get to the goal line, we're licking our chops (and) we usually get it in."

Gordon ended his holdout late last month only to return to a once-familiar litany of missed opportunities, untimely mistakes and a late comeback that fell short. He rushed for just 31 yards on 12 carries and caught four passes for 7 yards.

His fellow running back, Austin Ekeler, had 15 receptions on numerous check-downs, but managed just 86 yards. According to NFL.com, Ekeler is the first player since 1950 to make at least 15 catches without gaining 100 yards.

What's more, Philip Rivers threw 48 passes that produced only 211 yards.

Those high-volume, low-yield numbers epitomized the Chargers' frustrating offensive day against Denver. Los Angeles' only gain longer than 20 yards was Desmond King's 68-yard TD punt return.

"We're an explosive offense," Gordon said. "We've got the talent. It was just one of those days where nobody could get going. It's unfortunate, man. It's crazy with all the talent we have. ... We're 2-3. It's a hole, but it ain't nothing we can't do if we play together. We've got some guys out, but that's no excuse."

Rivers and his veteran teammates have grown used to spending the entire autumn making up for the mistakes of late summer, but that doesn't mean they like it.

"We've been in this boat a lot," Rivers said. "Obviously you don't want to be, but we have been. This exact group hasn't been, but a lot of us have. We'll see how this group responds collectively."

Much of the blame for the Chargers' offensive ineptitude could be laid squarely at the feet of their 37-year-old quarterback. The Bolts desperately needed a strong game from Rivers with several key teammates sidelined, their franchise running back fighting rust and their entire offense running out of sync even before center Mike Pouncey left with an injury.

Instead, in his 213th consecutive regular-season start, Rivers failed to mount a touchdown drive in a game for only the eighth time in that stretch dating to 2006.

Rivers threw two interceptions, including a foolhardy throw late in the third quarter into double coverage in the end zone, where linebacker Alexander Johnson picked it off with ease. Rivers also committed a blatant intentional grounding penalty that pushed Los Angeles beyond rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin's field goal range in the second quarter.

"They had a good plan," Rivers said. "They did a nice job. ... It just wasn't going to be one of those 350-yard days where we were going to go up and down the field. I think I'm going to look at it and go, 'Gosh.'"

The Chargers repeatedly failed to pick up easy points, even in difficult situations. After coach Anthony Lynn decided to go for a touchdown from the Denver 1 on the final snap of the first half instead of taking a field goal with his team down 17-0, Ekeler fumbled while trying to stretch the ball over the goal line.

"Me and the 1-yard line, we have an interesting relationship," Ekeler said, recalling his fumble at the 1 in a similar situation during a loss at Detroit last month. "We got all the way down there, but we've got to finish a drive. I don't know what it is. I honestly don't know. ... It's frustrating, but you've got to keep moving forward. We were getting chances. We just couldn't get any traction."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 3]]>562390882Mon, 07 Oct 2019 01:04:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLDS_Game_3_1200x675_1616465475524.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, David Freese, and Enrique Hernandez, discuss the team's record-breaking seven-run, sixth inning, that gave the Dodgers a 10-4 victory over the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Erupt in Sixth Inning, Defeat Nationals, 10-4]]>562371441Mon, 07 Oct 2019 01:04:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1174199009.jpg

A light wind outside of Nationals Park swayed the assembled flags located above the scoreboard in centerfield. No, they were not created by the swings and misses of the Dodgers hitters, but rather to stun the sold out stadium of Washington fans with a bitter reality—that baseball is a cruel sport.

For back-to-back games the Dodgers aces had struggled. The best offense in the National League had sputtered, and the team with the most wins in franchise history had been exposed. Ironically, it was a 35-year-old journeyman starting pitcher that humbled them.

Anibal Sanchez was a man without a home this past winter after the Atlanta Braves opted to not re-sign him. He signed with the division rival Washington Nationals instead, and after a sluggish start to the season, he suddenly soared in the second half.

For four shutout innings Sanchez stifled the Dodgers hitters with a combination of curveball, change-up, and cutter. The same pitcher the Dodgers defeated in Game 2 of the 2018 NLDS was suddenly unhittable, and a looming deficit in the series with Max Scherzer on the mound in Game 4 was staring them straight in the face.

Then Max Muncy took a mighty swing, and Russell Martin turned back the clock. Enrique Hernandez resuscitated his sleeping bat, and Justin Turner blasted a three-run home run that landed in the Dodgers' bullpen. 

One inning was all it took to change the momentum of the game and the balance of power in the National League. One swing was all it took to flip the script, and give the Dodgers a 10-4 victory in Game 3, and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five NLDS on Sunday night at Nationals Park. 

"He was just keeping us off balance," said Muncy of what Sanchez was doing well to stymie them early in the game." He wasn't missing over the plate. He was throwing pitches he doesn't usually throw against certain players." 

Muncy scored the first run off Sanchez in the top of the fifth inning by smashing a fastball into the seats in right field. 

"He made one mistake over the plate and I was able to take advantage of it,"he said of the homer.

Do you remember this date? It was October 19, 2009, and a lazy single to left field in the top of the fourth inning off future Dodger Joe Blanton in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies tied the game at 2-2. That was the last time Russell Martin had an RBI in a Dodger uniform. 

Nearly a decade later, when Martin came to bat with two outs and runners at the corners in the top of the sixth inning, he had already struck out twice in the game. Facing Game 1 starter Patrick Corbin, Martin fell behind 0-2. The Dodgers had already stranded the bases loaded once in this game, and it appeared as if they were about to strand two more. Martin was 2-for-9 with four strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his career against Corbin.

"10 Years...It flies by," said Martin. "Anytime you're in the postseason it's great. The energy, everything's magnified."

Martin worked the count back to 2-2, and then smacked a slider into the gap in left-center for a bases-clearing double, and the Dodgers had defied the odds to take their first lead of the game.

"He got ahead early and I got to see the slider first pitch," said Martin of the at-bat with Corbin. "I got down 0-2, and then I just remember in the back of my mind, we had a meeting and we went over Corbin. And with two strikes, guys in scoring positions, he doesn't really throw many strikes, he's going to try and make you chase a little bit. And I got to see kind of where the ball started, like where the slider started. And the more pitches I saw the more I felt comfortable. And I had some pretty easy takes, got back in the count, and then he just left a breaking ball a little bit up. And I didn't try to do too much, and I put a nice swing on it and scored some runs."

Two-batters later, a struggling Hernandez hit another bases-clearing double to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead. After an intentional walk to Muncy, and a pitching change, Turner crushed a cutter into the Dodgers' bullpen for a three-run home run and a commanding 8-2 lead. All of the runs in the inning came with two strike counts and two outs, and the seven runs scored were the most in a postseason inning in Dodgers franchise history. 

"It started with Bellinger, and it just seemed like that kind of got the ball rolling," Turner said of the seven-run, sixth inning rally. "The whole inning, two-strike hits, I think every guy was down 0-2 at one point that came through and got a hit. Offense is definitely contagious and I think we all caught it that inning. So just the grind of the AB's, that inning was really nice to see and I thought we took really good at-bats from that point on the rest of the game."

Los Angeles starter Hyun-Jin Ryu had the best ERA in baseball this season. He's an NL Cy Young award candidate, and an experienced postseason pitcher. Nonetheless, he was still nervous just hours before the game.

"I think every player gets nervous, but it's how you control that nervousness that matters," said Ryu of his nerves before the game. "I try and make it a positive thing. If you don't get nervous, I think that's a bad thing as well. I wanted tension and I was able to channel that into results later in the game."

Maybe it was the nerves, but he did not look like his dominant self to start the game. He issued a one-out walk to Adam Eaton, and then missed with a fastball to Juan Soto that sent the 43,423 at Nationals Park into a frenzy. As Soto's home run flew majestically 408-feet to the deepest part of the park, the stadium roared and Washington had an early 2-0 lead. 

"Soto hit a mistake," said Martin of Ryu's pitch to Soto. "Ryu doesn't really make too many, doesn't really throw too many pitches away from where he's trying to throw it. That was a fastball supposed to be in, pulled it across a little bit, and Soto didn't miss it."

Ryu relaxed after the rough first inning, and pitched four scoreless frames from then on, leaving with the lead for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. Ironically, with Ryu not on the mound for Game 3, Dave Roberts might have never started Martin, who replaced Will Smith in the starting lineup after catching Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in Games 1 and 2.

Martin made Roberts look like Albert Einstein with his decision to start him in Game 3, and the veteran catcher rewarded his manager with a heroic performance. Martin added a two-run insurance homer in the ninth and finished the game with four RBI and two runs scored.

"His insight, his experience, and now you talk about when he does get an opportunity to play, just his toughness, his compete, and obviously the at-bat quality," said Roberts of Martin following the victory. "He's got some big hits for us this year, but none bigger than the one tonight."

The Dodgers' bullpen took over from there, but not without a few hiccups along the way. Relief pitcher Joe Kelly, much maligned early in the season, showed the same erratic behavior that bothered him through April and May. Kelly walked three of the first four batters he faced, and threw two wild pitches, allowing a run to score, before leaving without recording a single out in the sixth inning. 

Thankfully, a baserunning mistake by former Dodger Howie Kendrick helped the Dodgers escape without allowing the Nationals to further put a dent in their armored lead. 

Julio Urias, Adam Kolarek, Kenta Maeda, and Kenley Jansen combined to pitch four scoreless innings of relief to give the Dodgers a chance to clinch the series on Monday. A win in Game 4, and the Dodgers advance to the NLCS. A loss, and a date with destiny in a winner-take-all Game 5 is upon them.

Early on, it looked as if the baseball Gods might banish the Dodgers back to the basement to battle with their postseason demons. But baseball is a cruel sport, and all it took was one transformative inning for the winds to change, and the tide to turn back towards the Dodgers favor.



Photo Credit: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vela Scores Hat Trick, Sets MLS Scoring Record in LAFC Season Finale]]>562368961Sun, 06 Oct 2019 17:45:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Carlos-Vela-MLS-record-goals-October-2019.jpg

Carlos Vela had a hat trick to break the MLS season goals record with 34 and help the Los Angeles FC beat the Colorado Rapids 3-1 on Sunday in the regular-season finale.

Vela broke the mark of 31 set last year by Atlanta United's Josef Martinez.

Los Angeles (21-4-9) set an MLS record for season points with 75, breaking the mark of 71 set last year by the New York Red Bulls. Los Angeles earned the top seed in the Western Conference and a first-round bye to the playoffs.

Colorado (12-16-6) entered the match within three points of the playoff line after a 3-0 victory over Dallas last week. The Rapids ended the season by winning five of their last seven games.

Vela scored in the 28th and 31st minutes, Kei Kamara countered for Colorado in the 40th and Vela connected again in the 51st.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Anthony Davis Impresses in Preseason Debut With Lakers]]>562315261Sat, 05 Oct 2019 22:53:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Anthony-Davis-Lakers-debut-October-5-2019.jpg

At San Francisco, Anthony Davis had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his preseason debut — playing only 18 minutes, all in the first half — for Los Angeles and the Lakers opened Golden State's new Chase Center with a win. 

LeBron James had 15 points and eight assists in 18 minutes for the Lakers. JaVale McGee made all five of his shots for 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Stephen Curry scored 18 points for the Warriors. Jordan Poole added 17 for Golden State, which was just 11 of 42 from 3-point range.

Davis had the first points — preseason points, anyway — in the arena's history, putting in the rebound of a miss by James 1:13 into the contest.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: NBAE via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Galaxy, LAFC Take Center Stage on Golden Boot Sunday]]>562296241Sat, 05 Oct 2019 17:11:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LA-Galaxy-Zlatan-Ibrahimovic-Decision-Day-2019.jpg

Major League Soccer is bracing for Sunday's annual Decision Day, the final day of the season when teams scramble — all at the same time — for playoff spots and position.

This season's regular-season finale also could be called Golden Boot Sunday, as Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic vie for the most goals.

Vela has tied the single-season MLS record for goals with 31, a mark set by Atlanta's Josef Martinez last year. But close behind him is Ibrahimovic, the enigmatic Swede who stars for the rival LA Galaxy, with 29 goals and a four-game scoring streak.

Ibrahimovic, who turned 38 this week, suggested that the only reason Vela has more goals is because he's played in more games.

"I have 29 goals in 28 games. If I would have the same amount (of) games like the other ones, it would be different," he said. "But now I'm chasing someone that has more games than me. But if we score we score, we'll have to see what the end number will be. We'll see. If there still is a possibility, we'll try."

He'd rather have the victory, anyway.

"I prefer the collective win," he said. "When we win that game, that is more important. Then with the collective success, the individual success comes with it."

The Galaxy will play the Dynamo in Houston to try and secure home-field advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

LAFC's game at home against the Colorado Rapids figures into more than just the Golden Boot race. The Supporters' Shield winners could set the single-season record for points (71), set by the Red Bulls last year. LAFC, which has already secured a bye for the first round, has 69 points going into the match.

Additionally, LAFC has scored 82 goals this season, three goals away from the MLS single-season record set by the Galaxy in 1998.

A win Sunday is also important to the Rapids, who are still fighting for their first playoff appearance since 2016, but they'll need help from results in other matches to rise above the line. Colorado is playing under new coach Robin Fraser, who was hired in late August.

Four teams are vying for the final two playoff sports in the Western Conference when Decision Day's 12 matches kick off simultaneously on Sunday afternoon.

The Portland Timbers are currently in sixth in the standings with 46 points, followed by FC Dallas with 45, San Jose with 44 and Colorado with 42. In addition to the Rapids match in Los Angeles, Dallas hosts Sporting Kansas City, which has already been eliminated.

The Timbers and the Earthquakes go head-to-head in Portland, with a win assuring a berth.

"It's a must win. That's all it is," said Portland defender Zarek Valentin. "The focus starts now because we know that we control our own destiny in terms of winning and getting in and that's all you can ask for at the end of the year. Obviously, we wish we could be a little bit higher, but we believe in ourselves and luckily it's in our hands. We've just got to get out there, get some points and get in the playoffs."

Just like the teams in the West are still jockeying to play at home in the opening round, a similar scramble is happening in the Eastern Conference. D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC each have the opportunity to finish in fourth.

The final standings took on greater weight under the league's new playoff format. MLS shortened its season by a month this year, going to single-elimination playoffs and setting the MLS Cup final on Nov. 10 — its earliest finish since 2002. Because the league expanded to 24 teams, MLS also expanded the playoffs to include 14 teams, seven from each conference.

The all-knockout postseason replaces the two-leg format for the conference semifinals and finals that the league started using in 2003.

In making the change, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the new format rewards top regular-season records because they'll get greater home-field advantage. The shorter season will also ensure down the road that MLS wraps up before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, set to start on Nov. 21.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 2]]>562252432Sat, 05 Oct 2019 02:02:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NBC4_Sports_Dodgers_Postgame_Wrap_up_1200x675_1615125059921.jpg

NBC LA sports reporter Michael J. Duarte is joined by LA Times columnist, Arash Markazi, to discuss the Dodgers disappointing loss to the Washington Nationals, 4-2, in Game 2 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 2]]>562249282Sat, 05 Oct 2019 01:15:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_NLDS_2_1200x675_1615099971733.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players Will Smith, Max Muncy, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, and Justin Turner react to the disappointing 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 2 of the NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[Sparks Fire GM Penny Toler After Postgame Tirade]]>562236971Fri, 04 Oct 2019 21:05:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19277705145334.jpg

The Los Angeles Sparks fired general manager Penny Toler on Friday, a move that followed a postgame tirade when the team lost Game 2 in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

The team said Eric Holoman, the team's managing partner and governor, will replace Toler as GM and executive vice president on an interim basis while a national search is conducted.

The Sparks finished atop the Western Conference with a 22-12 regular-season record. But they were swept in three games by the Connecticut Sun in the postseason.

ESPN reported Thursday that Toler entered the Sparks' locker room after the loss on Sept. 19 and launched into an obscenity-laced speech that included racial slurs. Toler, who is black, acknowledged using the slurs but told ESPN they weren't directed at any of the players. She also said she shouldn't have used racial slurs.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said there will be no further action by the league on the locker room incident because Toler is no longer employed by the team.

"The type of language reportedly used has no place in our league," Engelbert's statement said. "The WNBA takes pride in being one of the most diverse leagues in professional sports that fosters an inclusive and respectful environment.

"We thank Penny for her contributions to the WNBA through her service to the Sparks organization and as a player over two decades."

In Game 3 of that series, first-year coach Derek Fisher benched the entire starting five near the end of the third quarter, including Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Alana Beard. ESPN reported that the decision may have had to do with Toler's comments after Game 2.

Holoman thanked Toler for her tenure with the team that included 20 years as GM. The Sparks won the WNBA championship in 2001, '02 and '06.

Toler played for the Sparks from 1997 to 1999 and scored the first basket in WNBA history. After retiring in 1999, she immediately became GM and began assembling the roster that led the Sparks to their first league title in 2001.

Holoman called Toler "a foundational figure" in the growth of the league and wished her the best in the future.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[True Blue Dodgers Fans in Photos]]>451171243Mon, 07 Oct 2019 06:37:21 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/AP_19279822503980.jpgDodgers fans show off their true blue pride.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Familiar Narrative for Kershaw, Dodgers in Game 2]]>562233291Sat, 05 Oct 2019 04:28:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1179096482.jpg

The postseason has always been a seesaw sensation for Clayton Kershaw. Some games are great, and vintage Kershaw is unveiled. But when the Dodgers have fallen with him on the mound, the painful memories of playoff past get revived and the old rhetoric of his inability to pitch under pressure is reborn.

Kershaw allowed three runs in the first two innings on Friday night, and the Washington Nationals defeated the three-time Cy Young Award winner, 4-2, to even their best-of-five National League Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1-1. 

The conversation of Kershaw's playoff imperfections will likely be all that's discussed among Dodgers' fans on Saturday. Not the sensational start by Stephen Strasburg, or the dormant Dodgers' offense. 

The Dodgers are not Moses, and the postseason is not the Red Sea. The other playoff teams will not part at their feet, providing a clear path to their first championship in 31 years.

After recording a franchise record 106 wins and securing a seventh consecutive NL West Division title in 2019, they are now just two losses away from perhaps the greatest disappoint in franchise history. 

It all began innocently in Game 2. Justin Turner, plagued with back problems in recent weeks, couldn't handle a first-pitch grounder down the third base line.

The leadoff double was cashed in four batters later, when former Dodger Howie Kendrick recorded a redemption RBI that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Kershaw limited the damage by striking out Kurt Suzuki to end the inning, but the lesson was learned: don't give Washington extra outs, not with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. 

"I was able to get out of that first inning with limited damage," said Kershaw. "That inning could have gotten bigger, so I was thankful to get out of that allowing just one, but that's not what killed us."

In the second inning, buried beneath an avalanche of hit-by-pitches, walks, and hard contact, Kershaw allowed two more runs, and the Dodgers found themselves down 3-0 before fans could find their rally towels.

"The second inning tonight was not good," continued Kershaw. "That was the difference in the game. When you get two strikes on a hitter with two outs, they shouldn't score any runs and they scored two more, and that was the difference in the game."

As it turned out, three runs was all Strasburg needed. The San Diego native was perfect through four innings on Friday and retired the first 14 batters he faced before Will Smith lined a single to center field for the first hit of the game. 

"I had a feel for what he was trying to do to me," said Smith of the at-bat against Strasburg. "He tossed me a change-up, which I think went against his plan, but I kept it in the back of my mind and got the base hit."

They scored their first run an inning later, when pinch-hitter Matt Beaty roped a single to right field, advanced to third on a double by Joc Pederson, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Turner.

With the tying run at the plate in A.J. Pollock (whose had success against Strasburg), the 31-year-old right-hander rose to the occasion and snagged a comebacker to end the threat.

"You try and do your homework and look at their weaknesses a little bit," said Strasburg. "But they're a pretty deep lineup so sometimes there's not many weaknesses there and you just got to go out there and pitch to your strengths."

For six sensational innings, Strasburg pitched to his strengths and was virtually unhittable. Throwing a combination of change-up, fastball, and curveball, he struck out 10 batters in all manners and fashions: swinging, looking, check-swinging, it made no difference to Strasburg. 

"I just learned over the years that pressure's a funny thing and I think it's something that you have complete control over," said Strasburg, who lowered his postseason ERA to 0.64. "There's obviously a lot of expectations, there's a lot of excitement in games, but I really tried over the years to train my mind into thinking that every single game is just as important and just sticking to my approach."

An unexepected turn of events occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning when Game 3 starter Max Scherzer entered the game in relief and struck out the side. 

Friday would normally be a bullpen day for Scherzer, but the move to bring in the three-time Cy Young Award winner showed that Nationals' manager Dave Martinez would rather put the ball in the hands of his capable starters, than his capricious relievers.

"I talked to Max before the game," said Martinez of the risky maneuver to go to Scherzer. "Today was his bullpen day. We held him back. He said he was good to go. I specifically told him that I will not use him in the 9th, but I would have to probably use him in the bridge, the 6th, 7th inning. So and that worked out good."

Scherzer has appeared In relief four times during his postseason career, and is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and eight strikeouts.

"This is the playoffs," Scherzer said. "You lay it on the line every time you touch that field."

Meanwhile, Kershaw was a shell of his former self in Game 2. Sure, a late-inning homer for Max Muncy off the Nationals bullpen made the final score look a lot closer, but that doesn't take away from the sloppy start by Kershaw. 

His once elite fastball barely eclipsed 90 MPH. Nowadays, his best two pitches are his slider and curveball, when they're on, he can still be lights out, but when it's not, like you saw in Game 2, its pedestrian at best. 

Nevertheless, Kershaw should not be left alone in isolation to shoulder the blame for this game. The Dodgers offense averaged an NL-best 5.47 runs per game during the regular season. They scored only two in Game 2 and struck out 17 times.

"Strasburg was very good tonight," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "He was getting ahead all night and putting us away with that...we just really couldn't put anything together against him."

As I wrote on Thursday after their 6-0 victory in Game 1, it's only one game. But beneath the backdrop of bad Octobers for the Dodgers and their ace, the blaring message that comes from this loss means so much more. 

These current Dodgers will always be haunted by the ghosts of October past until they rewrite the script and change the narrative. As they head into hostile territory in the Nation's Capital this weekend, these next two road games will offer them the opportunity to begin to do just that. 

The reality for the Dodgers was always going to come. The regular season—albeit historic—was never going to be the narrative of this team. It was always going to be about the postseason and hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy.

Stephen Strasburg deserved to win this game. The Dodgers did not. They let an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this short series slip away and the heartbreak of previous playoff disappointments crawl back into their psyche. They've gone all year without a setback, without a reminder of how the final game of the past two seasons ended. Now, they will be tested, and how they respond is how they'll be remembered.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Still Feeling Good, But Weren't Good Enough in Seattle]]>562223741Fri, 04 Oct 2019 18:03:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/zAP_19277158232566.jpg

Greg Zuerlein and the Los Angeles Rams missed a field goal and a redemptive victory by roughly the width of a football.

The narrowness of the Rams' 30-29 defeat in Seattle on Thursday night suggests it's not time for the defending NFC champions to panic. If the ultrareliable Zuerlein had come through on his attempt from 44 yards out with 11 seconds to play, Los Angeles would have a long weekend to enjoy a bounce-back victory and a 4-1 start despite a multitude of issues.

Instead, Zuerlein barely missed it wide right, leaving the Rams with three days off to think about falling to 3-2 and into third place in the NFC West with only their second losing streak during coach Sean McVay's tenure. The Rams aren't publicly worried about the long-term prognosis for their season, but consecutive losses to the Buccaneers and Seahawks have provided an early reality check they never received last year while starting 8-0.

"It's been a humbling last week," McVay said Friday. "But in this game, it's pretty incredible when you sit back and think about the amount of plays that occurred, and then for it to come down to one play, whether you're feeling pretty good or whether you're feeling like, 'Man, this is a little bit of a gut-check time for us.' That's why you just have to stay focused on the process, because sometimes those results can really change the approach, and I don't think ever one play can really define the way that you approach it, even though it could arguably be the difference between being 4-1 and 3-2."

The Rams responded to their first two-game skid under McVay late last year by winning four consecutive games, including two playoff contests, to reach the Super Bowl. Their relatively favorable upcoming schedule suggests they could reel off something similar — yet these Rams just haven't been as good as last season's team, even if they probably did enough to win in Seattle.

Both sides of the ball performed creditably against the Seahawks, who needed a variety of improbable plays — including Tyler Lockett's insanely difficult toe-tap TD catch , Tedric Thompson's remarkable one-handed interception and Russell Wilson's usual prestidigitation — just to force the Rams into that failed late drive for a winning field goal.

"We just didn't get it done, but it was a really good game," Todd Gurley said. "We're always going to stick together, no matter the outcome. That's why I like this team."

So while the Rams won't feel awful about their performance, they also realize the NFC West won't be won as easily as it was the past two seasons in which the Rams lost only one division game in which they played their starters. They'll get a chance to do something about that next weekend when the currently unbeaten 49ers visit the Coliseum.

But the Rams' task got a bit tougher with the loss of linebacker Clay Matthews, who broke his jaw in the final minutes in Seattle when Chris Carson inadvertently kicked him.

WHAT'S WORKING

The Rams' unimpressive offensive line appeared to improve a bit, keeping Jared Goff upright without a sack and clearing space in the rushing game for 4.6 yards per play when McVay deigned to use it. The line also was called for just two penalties — both on its veteran tackles, not the youngsters — in noisy Seattle after struggling with discipline in September.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Gurley has just one 100-yard rushing performance in the Rams' last 10 games — none this season — after doing it nine times in Los Angeles' previous 15 games. He ran effectively early against the Seahawks, but his 51-yard, two-touchdown effort on 15 carries was no difference-maker.

STOCK UP

Tight end Gerald Everett had the type of performance expected from a second-round pick , making seven catches for a career-high 136 yards. Undrafted rookie Troy Reeder also made the most of a chance to start at middle linebacker in place of injured Bryce Hager, leading the Rams with 13 tackles.

STOCK DOWN

Zuerlein has been one of the NFL's most reliable kickers ever since the Rams moved home to Los Angeles, but he has missed three field goals inside 50 yards this season — including this game-decider — after missing just four from inside 50 in the Rams' previous three LA seasons combined. Greg the Leg is still golden, but he suddenly seems mortal, too.

INJURED

Brandin Cooks is going through the concussion protocol, but the big-play receiver was asymptomatic on Friday, McVay said.

KEY NUMBER

6: Matthews' total sacks in his first five games for his hometown team. The veteran linebacker got the only sack by either team in Seattle, but he is out for several weeks after Carson's foot accidentally broke his jaw with 3:20 left. Samson Ebukam will take Matthews' place in the starting lineup, while Dante Fowler will be counted on to increase his pass-rushing acumen.

NEXT STEPS

The Rams will have extra rest and home-field advantage for an important divisional showdown with San Francisco next Sunday. A loss would knock Los Angeles down to .500 and put it in a deep hole in the divisional race, while a win would right the ship before a stretch with three straight games against struggling opponents.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Clay Matthews Has Broken Jaw, Out for at Least a Month]]>562223131Fri, 04 Oct 2019 18:03:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/clayAP_19272747085696.jpg

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Clay Matthews will be out for several weeks after breaking his jaw during their loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Matthews was hurt while attempting to tackle Seattle running back Chris Carson with about 3:20 left in the Rams' 30-29 defeat Thursday night.

Carson's back foot inadvertently kicked Matthews in the face while Carson evaded the tackle. Rams coach Sean McVay revealed the injury to his club's sacks leader Friday after the team's return to California.

"That's not good for us," McVay said. "That's a big injury. He is going to require surgery on that, so he is going to be out for an extended period of time. At least a month."

The Rams (3-2) have three more games before their bye. The 33-year-old Matthews is off to an excellent start in his first season with his hometown team following 10 years with the Green Bay Packers. He has six sacks in his first five games, including the only sack by either team in the Rams' loss at Seattle.

Matthews also has a team-leading nine tackles for loss among his 19 total tackles, and he has forced two fumbles.

"He's a tough guy, but it was a physical game," McVay said. "It was something that you just hate for him because of how productive he's been for us and what he's meant to our team and all the things that he's done. It's going to be a big loss. Guys are going to be asked to step up in his absence."

Samson Ebukam is likely to step into Matthews' starting role as an edge rusher, McVay said. Ebukam has played in every game for the Rams during his 2½ seasons with the club, excelling on special teams and playing a supporting role on defense. He famously scored touchdowns on a fumble return and an interception return during the Rams' epic 54-51 victory over Kansas City last season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodger Stadium Debuts New Food Specials For NLDS]]>562156111Fri, 04 Oct 2019 16:46:16 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/Bacon+Wrapped+Turkey+Leg.jpegThe Los Angeles Dodgers and Levy Restaurants have created some delicious new food Items for the team's NLDS showdown with the Washington Nationals

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[Anthem Girl Madison Baez Belts Out a Game 2 Preview]]>562176032Fri, 04 Oct 2019 08:15:43 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Anthem_Girl_Madison_Baez_Belts_Out_a_Game_2_Preview.jpgDodgers fans are in for a Game 2 treat when Madison Baez sings the national anthem. Mekahlo Medina reports for Today in LA on Friday Oct. 4, 2019.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 1]]>562147942Fri, 04 Oct 2019 00:03:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_NLDS_1_1200x675_1614135875607.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, and Gavin Lux, discuss their dominant 6-0 victory over the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the 2019 NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[NBC4 Dodgers Postgame Playoff Wrap Up - NLDS Game 1]]>562146572Thu, 03 Oct 2019 23:51:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NBC4_Postgame_Wrap_Up_1200x675_1614114883887.jpg

NBC LA sports reporter Michael J. Duarte is joined by LA Times columnist, Arash Markazi, after the Dodgers dominate 6-0 shutout over the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[Wilson Throws 4 TD Passes, Seahawks Hold Off Rams 30-29]]>562144551Thu, 03 Oct 2019 22:38:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/zuerlein-AP_19277148965348.jpg

For all the other times when Seattle's Russell Wilson was the best player on the field and made highlight plays, this was different.

It could have been the stage of prime time or facing a division nemesis in the Rams. Or the circumstances of building an early lead, losing it and then rallying once more in the fourth quarter.

Whatever the reason, Seattle received a performance from Wilson that'll be hard to top.

"It was one of the best, I think," Wilson said.

Wilson's 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Carson on fourth-and-goal with 2:28 gave Seattle the lead, and the Seahawks held on for a 30-29 win over the Rams on Thursday night when Greg Zuerlein's 44-yard field goal with 11 seconds left missed wide right.

Seattle earned a needed win against its NFC West foe after losing six of the past eight to the Rams. And while there were contributions from plenty of others, Wilson orchestrated a memorable night.

Whether it was his throws from the pocket or when he was forced to improvise, Wilson was at his best. It was one stunning play after another from Seattle’s star, continuing the best start to a season in his career.

Even his opponents were left in awe.

"Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind right now," Rams safety Eric Weddle said.

Wilson was 17 of 23 for 268 and four touchdowns, and rushed for another 32 yards. He had touchdown passes of 13 yards to Tyler Lockett and 40 yards to DK Metcalf in the first half. He threw a 10-yarder to David Moore in the third quarter and he had a final answer after the Rams’ had taken a 29-24 lead.

Wilson led Seattle 60 yards in 12 plays, helped during the drive by a roughing-the-passer call on Clay Matthews. After stalling inside the 10, Seattle faced fourth down at the 5. Wilson scrambled as he had all night, buying enough time to find Carson open in the corner of the end zone.

The running back scared nearly all of the 69,000 in attendance by juggling the pass before gaining control. Carson said he lost the pass in the stadium lights, which led to the juggle.

"I thought Russell played one of the best games I've ever seen him play," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

Seattle appeared to wrap up the victory when Tedric Thompson made a juggling interception of Jared Goff's pass while lying on the turf with 2:08 left. But the Rams forced Seattle to punt and took possession at their own 7 with 1:38 left.

In just seven plays, Goff had the Rams to the Seattle 30 after a 28-yard strike to Gerald Everett. The Rams stalled and a 9-yard pass to Everett on third-down set up Zuerlein's attempt. The snap was good, but the kick stayed just to the right.

Zuerlein had hit three field goals earlier in the game.

"It's one kick. He's made a lot of big kicks for us. He's going to continue to make a lot of big kicks for us," Rams coach Sean McVay said.

Goff finished 29 of 49 for 395 yards and one touchdown just days after throwing for a career-high 517 yards and tying an NFL record with 45 completions in a loss to Tampa Bay. Everett had seven catches for 136 yards, and Cooper Kupp had nine grabs for 118 yards and a TD.

"We had some things that didn't go our way where we didn't finish drives but we were moving the ball really well," Goff said.

Carson finished with 118 yards rushing on 27 carries. The touchdown was his only reception.

"Everyone kept their composure. Everyone was so poised and stayed in the moment," Seattle offensive lineman Duane Brown said. "We were always very optimistic and had all the faith in the world and big time players stepped up for us."

LOCKETT'S CATCH

Lockett's toe-tapping TD catch in the first quarter was as improbable as it gets. According to NFL statistics , the catch had a 6.3% catch probability, the most improbable completion of the past two seasons.

"It doesn't get any more on time or on the money with his footwork there," Wilson said.

GURLEY'S MISTAKE

Todd Gurley was a featured part of the Rams’ offense early and finished with 51 yards on 15 carries, but the run game vanished during most of the second half.

"I thought he had some really good, hard-earned yards against a really good defensive front," McVay said.

Gurley also fumbled for the first time since Week 3 of last season. The fumble was ripped out by Jadeveon Clowney, who also recovered the ball. It was Gurley’s first fumble in 338 offensive touches. He had gained 1,915 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns between his two fumbles.

KEY CATCH

Brandin Cooks had just one reception but it was a big one. Cooks pulled in a 29-yard catch from Goff on third-and-8 from the Rams 27 early in the fourth quarter as he was being covered tightly by Shaquill Griffin.

Cooks was being evaluated for a concussion after the play and did not return. Carroll challenged there should have been offensive pass interference, but the call on the field stood. The catch led to Zuerlein's field goal that gave the Rams a 29-24 lead.

INJURIES

D.J. Fluker suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter. He was replaced at right guard by Jamarco Jones, who typically is a backup tackle, but was forced to play guard with normal backup Ethan Pocic out because of a back injury.

UP NEXT:

Rams: Los Angeles stays in the NFC West, hosting San Francisco on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Seahawks: Seattle is at Cleveland on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Do All The Damage in Game 1 of NLDS]]>562138711Fri, 04 Oct 2019 02:12:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/GettyImages-1178865938.jpg

The tension was palpable at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night. Teetering between excited and terrified, the sold out crowd of 53,095 was ready to embark upon another postseason journey. Hoping against hope that this one wouldn't end like the last six consecutive have…in heartbreak.

So needless to say, when the Dodgers went the first three innings without a hit, the widespread panic reached a fever pitch. That's when a former Dodger came to the rescue.

Howie Kendrick made two small mistakes. One of them costly, and it helped the Los Angeles Dodgers take Game 1 of the National League Division Series, 6-0. 

Los Angeles put together a small, two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Cody Bellinger walked. Chris Taylor singled, and Max Muncy hit a groundball to first base that went through Kendrick's five-hole for an error, and the second run of the game.

"You see some weird things in the playoffs,” Kendrick said of the mistake. "But sometimes things just happen."

It was the second error of the game for Kendrick, and as it often is in baseball, it was damming. Not only because it gave the Dodgers an insurance run, but because Washington never seemed to be able to overcome it. 

"You try to make every play, and tonight it didn’t work out," Kendrick said following the loss."Unfortunately it’s in the postseason, but I wouldn’t change anything about the way I tried to make that play. Just one of those times you miss it. You try to suck it up and hope you make it up on the other end. We weren’t able to do that."

Suddenly, the team that was celebrating their first ever playoff victory in a winner-take-all game just two nights ago, was silent as the sheeted dead, staring at a series deficit straight in the face.

Sure, it was just one game, but in the postseason when everything is magnified, mistakes, be them large or small, will impact the outcome, especially in a short series.

Fresh off vanquishing their October ghosts, and removing the proverbial monkey off their back, the Nationals looked like the doe in the headlights on Thursday night. 

In his first taste of postseason action, Washington starter, Patrick Corbin, walked four of the first seven batters he faced to hand the Dodgers the extraordinary rare gift of an early run without allowing a single hit. 

"In the first inning I think he got a little amped up," said Nationals' manager Davey Martinez of Corbin. "His front side was opening up a little bit and he couldn't get the ball. He was spiking a lot -- when he starts spiking his sliders like that, I mean really bad, and his fastball's just running all over, it's usually because he's opening up. He did the first inning and then he settled down."

Corbin became just the second pitcher in MLB history to issue four walks in the very first inning of his first career postseason game since St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Art Reinhart did in the 5th inning of the 1926 World Series.

Dodgers' starter Walker Buehler danced around some damage in the fourth inning when he walked the bases loaded before inducing a weak ground ball back to the pitcher to escape the jam.

In all the years Buehler has been pitching, he's often encountered moments where he momentarily lapses and the next thing you know the bases are loaded. In those moments, the 25-year-old would say he just needed a second to compose himself and he would regain his confidence.

Dodgers' pitching coach Rick Honeycutt sensed the magnitude of the moment as well, and came out of the dugout for a mound visit. Exactly what Buehler needed to get out of the inning unscathed. Buehler would exit the game after six innings, allowing no runs, one hit, with three walks and eight strikeouts.

"Obviously I have a lot of trust in Honey and Will," said Buehler of the meeting on the mound. "There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that we do that kind of leads to decisions we make and I'm not going to go into the details of it, but we felt good about it, so I made a pitch and got out of it."

For the first six and a half innings, the opening game of the NLDS resembled exactly what Buehler predicted it would be before the series began: old school baseball. 

No openers started the game, and there was no talk of "juiced" baseballs. Just a good ol' fashioned pitcher's duel between two of the game's best. Corbin and Buehler combined for 17 strikeouts and just four hits allowed.

"There's guys that want those opportunities and like those big moments and want to be the guy," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts about Buehler. "That's a really good lineup over there and for him to go six it was really -- we needed that one."

Despite being handed two runs, the Dodgers had a quiet confidence that at some point they would find the big hit and break the game open. They knew the Nationals' bullpen was nowhere near bulletproof, and once Corbin was chased from the game, the floodgates opened.

"We did a good job of making him work and getting guys on base," said Taylor of the game plan against Corbin. "We grinded him out, and got his pitch count up. We got him out of the game and got into their pen, and that's what we wanted to do. It took us a little bit to get that big hit, but we finally got it when Muncy stepped up."

Muncy finally provided the first big hit in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run single off Fernando Rodney to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

"The biggest changes I made was mental attitude towards the game," said Muncy. "To me it's kind of been one of the biggest things is these are big games, they're big moments and you got to try to go out there and enjoy them as much as possible because you don't know how many there are going to be, and when you do that you tend to relax and just play the game."

Muncy finished with three RBI, and became just the second player in baseball history to start the playoffs with three or more RBI in back-to-back years.

One inning later, in his first career postseason at-bat, 21-year-old rookie Gavin Lux hit a pinch-hit, home run to right-center to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.

"I didn't even have enough time to think about anything," admitted Lux who ran from the dugout straight to the batter's box when he was called to pinch-hit. "It was a surreal moment. This is what every kid dreams about. It was a special moment."

At 21 years old, Lux became the youngest player in Dodgers history to hit a pinch-hit home run in the playoffs, and the second youngest player to homer in his first plate appearance of the postseason.

"If you had told me four months ago that I would be playing in the postseason I probably wouldn't believe you," said Lux who found out he made the NLDS roster just 24 hours earlier.

Two batters later, Joc Pederson crushed a pitch off the right field foul pole and the Dodgers comfortably had a 6-0 lead, and a 1-0 lead in the NLDS overall.

If Washington was the upset special that experts were predicting, then the Dodgers certainly did not get the memo. They are on a mission 31 years in the making, and they will take down anyone standing in their way.

"We’re built for this moment," said Muncy to ESPN following the victory. "We’re built for October. We went out and showed it tonight."



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Metro to Give Free Rides to Dodger Games for Ticket-Holders]]>562080591Thu, 03 Oct 2019 09:26:21 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1146156846.jpg

Dodger Stadium Express bus service will be available for postseason play at Dodger Stadium, which begins Thursday.

Service from Union Station begins 90 minutes prior to the start of the games and runs until 45 minutes after the end of games. Service from the Harbor Gateway Transit Center begins two hours prior to the start of the games and ends 45 minutes after games are over.

The Dodger Stadium Express from Union Station will pick up fans every 10 minutes in front of Union Station near the taxi stop located near the Imperial Western Beer Company. Service will continue to Dodger Stadium via Sunset Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Avenue. It stops behind center field and the top deck.

From Harbor Gateway Transit Center, fans can board buses located at Bay 9, with buses running every 20 minutes. Fans will be dropped off behind right field at Dodger Stadium.

Half the cost of the Dodger Stadium Express is being provided under a grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee. Metro is providing the remaining funding from its operations budget, officials said.

Specific route and schedule information is available at www.metro.net or by calling 323-466-3876.



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Memorable Dodger Moments From the 2019 Season]]>562055421Thu, 03 Oct 2019 06:30:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/DodgersOpeningDay.jpgRelive the best moments from the Los Angeles Dodgers historical 2019 season that saw 12 walk-off victories and a franchise record 106 wins.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rich Hill is Ready for the Postseason]]>562027741Wed, 02 Oct 2019 19:11:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/RichHillComeback.png

It wasn't pretty. Often times it was ugly, but somehow, someway, Rich Hill managed to pitch his way on to the Dodgers postseason roster.

Entering September, Hill had not pitched since June 19, exiting that start early with left forearm tightness.

"Forearm tightness," are two of the scariest words a pitcher can utter to an athletic trainer. Tightness in the forearm is typically a precursor to an elbow injury, and an elbow injury for a pitcher often means Tommy John surgery.

Thankfully, Hill was able to avoid his second such surgery of his career and after months of not picking up a baseball, he began to rehabilitate himself in August to get ready for the postseason.

Unfortunately for Hill, his comeback train was derailed during his first return to the mound in Baltimore on Sept 12. After striking out the first two batters he faced, Hill hit two of the next hitters, and walked two more, allowing a run without surrendering a hit. 

Hill was removed from the game after just 2/3 of an inning, and complained of left knee pain following the appearance. Hill had sprained his left MCL during spring training, and early indications were he had sprained it again.

However, two days later in New York, Hill was seen playing catch while wearing a left knee brace. After seeing doctor Neal S. ElAttrache back in Los Angeles, Hill was told that he did not reinjure his knee, but rather the discomfort he felt was scar tissue breaking apart. Something that's normal after an MCL sprain.

Hill got the green light to continue throwing while wearing the knee brace, and was able to convince the Dodgers front office to give him another start to prove he could pitch in the postseason.

Over the next 10 days, Hill discovered a way to change his delivery in order to put less pressure on his left knee. The 39-year-old left-hander said he adjusted his left foot to a 45-degree angle while pushing off the rubber on the mound. This simple change in angle put less torque on the knee, but still gave him the necessary drive to throw his fastball at 88MPH and higher.

Hill pitched without discomfort during his bullpen, side sessions, and simulated games leading up to his next start, but early in his outing on Sept. 24 in San Diego something wasn't right.

Hill was seen grimacing and wincing during the first inning at Petco Park. He paced back and forth on the mound before finally coming set and throwing a pitch.

On the fourth batter he faced, Hill had to sprint to first base in order to cover the bag for a potential double-play. He was unable to get there in time, and limped back to the mound. The Padres had runners at the corners with two outs. In the Dodgers dugout, Rick Honeycutt picked up the phone and called down to his bullpen. Dave Roberts looked on anxiously.

This was the turning point in Rich Hill's comeback. The pinnacle moment where he could have either succumbed to the pain and discomfort and walk off the mound, or dig in his cleats and fight.

Hill chose the latter. He struck out the next batter he saw to end the first inning, and then struck out the side in the bottom of the second.

"I think there was a point in that outing where he just said, 'You're either in or you're out,'" said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts after the game in San Diego. "I think he was just going to sell out. There's a point where you're guarding and trying to feel your way through it, versus 'it is what it is.' He made that decision and it was good to see."

Hill saw it more of a mental test that he needed to pass. He said after he walked the third hitter of the inning—and his second of the game—that a pivotal moment was upon him. He knew he could get ahead of hitters with his fastball, but it was the confidence in his signature pitch, his curveball, that was lacking.

"I think after that second walk," said Hill on if there was a moment in his outing where things changed. "I said to myself, 'I better start getting guys out.' I was able to figure out that I can throw my curveball for a strike and throw it where I wanted to. A couple of times my knee got in a funky position. After one or two times that happened I was able to pitch through that. I think you're going to have some tough issues to pitch through, and when you're faced with them, you either do it or not do it."

Hill not only did it, he did it well. In his next start five days later, during the Dodgers regular season finale in San Francisco, Hill threw three shutout innings, allowing just one hit with two walks and four strikeouts. 

Unlike his start in San Diego, Hill did not wince, grimace or pace back-and-forth around the mound. He remained focused, poised, and steadfast in his goal: to pitch in the postseason.

"I want to pitch. I want to help this team in the postseason," said Hill. "Hopefully, I can prove that I can help the team to do that. That's the main goal. October."

Hill knew the team, the front office, trainers, coaches, and his manager were all watching him closely. He pitched well, and he pitched comfortably. His reward was he was named the Game 4 starter for the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

"Rich [Hill] is going to start Game 4," proclaimed Roberts during his press conference with the media.

Roberts declined to announce the rest of his rotation for Games 1-3, but acknowledged that he expected Hill to only be able to give him four innings and another pitcher would have to come on in relief behind him.

Hill pitching for the Dodgers in the postseason is a good thing. In his three years with Los Angeles, Hill has allowed more than two runs only once, and surrendered just one hit in 6 and 1/3 innings in the World Series against the Red Sox last season.

Hill's comeback is not yet complete. He's done the hard part in convincing the team he's ready and healthy enough to pitch in the postseason. Now he needs to help the Dodgers reach their ultimate goal of winning a World Series Championship.

After Hill recorded his 1,000th career strikeout in San Diego, he was asked what the milestone meant to him. His answer was simple and to the point, and indicative of where his mindset is at:

"I'd trade them all in for a World Series [ring]," he said with a wry smile.



Photo Credit: Denis Poroy/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Laker Rick Fox Sues Esports Team Partners, Alleges Rampant Fraud]]>562036771Wed, 02 Oct 2019 21:13:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rick-Fox-sues-esports-partners-October-2019.jpg

Former NBA player Rick Fox has filed a lawsuit accusing business partners at the esports organization he co-founded of multiple instances of fraud and is seeking damages worth tens of millions of dollars.

The suit filed in Los Angeles County on Monday claims that Echo Fox partner Amit Raizada used investor funds for personal use in a complex scheme that has left the company on the brink of ruin. It also details racist messages written by Raizada that prompted a major esports league to terminate Echo Fox's valuable franchise slot.

"He's a con man," Fox told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday night.

Raizada and other partners have moved to remove Fox as general partner Oct. 21. Raizada's attorney, David Swift, said in a statement that "Rick Fox's lawsuit is a transparent attempt to divert attention from the train wreck he left behind at Echo Fox." He said the lawsuit "is littered with categorically false allegations" about Raizada and other partners.

The suit also names Echo Fox partner Stratton Sclavos, the former San Jose Sharks co-owner, as a defendant. It alleges Sclavos took a $2 million personal loan from the company after helping raise funds from a group of investors that include New York Yankees, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Scripps Family, the Disney Family, the Edmonton Oilers and NBA player Kevin Durant.

Fox, a three-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, co-founded Echo Fox in 2015 and purchased a franchise spot in the North America League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), part of the world's highest-profile esports circuit. Fox became a leading ambassador for the burgeoning esports industry, and Echo Fox added teams in a number of other games, although the LCS club remained its crown jewel. Fox claims that while he was the public face of the company, Raizada mismanaged the company's financials to enrich himself.

Fox told stakeholders in April that he planned to leave the company after Raizada sent racist text messages to former CEO Jace Hall and threatened Fox's family. Fox changed his mind about leaving, but details of Raizada's verbal and written abuse went public, spurring an investigation by League of Legends publisher Riot Games, which oversees the LCS.

Riot Games ordered Echo Fox to part with Raizada or sell its League of Legends franchise slot within 60 days. Raizada refused to step down, and Riot Games terminated Echo Fox's LCS deal in August, announcing it would sell the vacant slot and "provide the bulk of the proceeds from the sale to Echo Fox." The slot was awarded to esports organization Evil Geniuses for $33 million, with $30.5 million to be paid to Echo Fox.

"Rick Fox's lawsuit is a senseless diatribe replete with false and wholly unsupported accusations about Stratton Sclavos and Amit Raizada," Sclavos' attorney Linda McFee said. "Unfortunately, in the face of his impending removal as General Partner of Echo Fox for flagrant breaches of his duties to the company and its partners, this appears to be yet another attempt to deflect blame for Echo Fox's failure from himself. Contrary to Fox's propaganda, neither Sclavos nor Raizada misappropriated or misused any company funds. No monies paid to or for Raizada for his services were paid by Echo Fox or depleted any Echo Fox resources. Rather, Sclavos, Raizada, and their affiliates infused millions of dollars into Echo Fox over several years just so it could survive. Fox cannot say the same."

Fox claims Raizada stands to make $15 million to $20 million from the sale, in addition to more than $10 million he pocketed from the company in a complex set of transactions beginning last October while misleading Fox about the company's financial situation.

"He's threatened my family, he threatened my friends, he's proven to be despicable," Fox said. "Most people are afraid to deal with that. They're afraid to speak up. My hope is that my shining a light on this situation with myself, others will not fall prey to his actions and his deception."

ESPN reported last week that Echo Fox shareholders wrote Fox a letter saying he would be removed as a general partner on Oct. 21, charging that he did not act within the best interest of the business. The letter was signed by Sclavos and Raizada group manager Ravi Srivastava, Raizada’s brother-in-law. The group claims Fox prioritized his continued ownership of Echo Fox over the good of the company during the LCS slot sale and forced the auction by Riot Games.

Fox said the experience has "100% not tainted my love for esports" and that he plans to "continue on in esports after this is cleaned up."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2019 NLDS Nationals vs. Dodgers Information]]>561965801Thu, 03 Oct 2019 03:52:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Dodgers+NLDS+schedule+times.png

The showdown is set: the Washington Nationals will collide with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series for the second time in four years.

After rallying in the bottom of the eighth inning for a come-from-behind victory in the NL Wild Card game, the Nationals exorcised demons by advancing in their first winner-take-all postseason game in franchise history.

Their reward is a date with the Dodgers, who also made franchise history with a record 106 wins during the regular season. Los Angeles is looking to exorcise some demons of their own after falling short in the World Series in back-to-back seasons.

The Nationals were not expected to be here. After missing the playoffs during a disappointing season in 2018, former MVP Bryce Harper left the Nation's Capital to join the rival Philadelphia Phillies.

Washington had a sluggish start to the season, falling 12 games below .500 before they stormed back in the second half to claim the top Wild Card spot. They had one of the best records in the second half, going 46-27 since the All-Star Break.

After defeating the Brewers in the Wild Card game, they're playing with house money from here on out. They have a formidable starting rotation of three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. Simply because of that trio alone, the Nationals could shock the two-time reigning NL pennant winners in a best-of-five series.

In seven head-to-head matchups this season between the Dodgers and Nationals, the Boys in Blue took the season series four games to three. Los Angeles outscored Washington, 30-27, but the series was close enough, and occurred early enough in the season, to essentially make this playoff matchup a coin toss.

Here are the start times for the first two games of the series: 

Thursday, October 3 

NLDS Game 1: Nationals at Dodgers – 5:37PM PT (TBS)

Friday, October 4

NLDS Game 2: Nationals at Dodgers – 6:37PM PT (TBS)

Sunday, October 6

NLDS Game 3: Dodgers at Nationals – TBD (TBS)

Monday, October 7

*NLDS Game 4: Dodgers at Nationals – TBD (TBS)

*if necessary

Wednesday, October 9

*NLDS Game 5: Nationals at Dodgers – TBD (TBS)

*if necessary

Betting Odds:

The Dodgers are currently the favorites to win the NLDS with a Money Line of -178. That means that a bet of $178.00 would net a return of $100.00, should the Dodgers win the series and advance to the NLCS.

The Nationals currently have a Money Line of +158 to win the series. That means a bet of $100.00 would return $158.00, should the Nationals win the series and advance to the NLCS.

Overall, the Dodgers are 1-to-1 favorites to win the National League pennant, followed by the Atlanta Braves with 4-to-1 odds, the St. Louis Cardinals with 4-to-1 odds, and the Nationals currently have 7-to-1 odds to win the pennant.

The Dodgers currently have 3-to-1 odds to win the World Series and the Nationals have 14-to-1 odds. 

All odds are courtesy of www.BetOnline.ag 

Ticket Prices:

Despite having the best odds to win the World Series, and nearly eclipsing 4 million total attendance this season, the Dodgers currently have the second lowest ticket prices for the NLDS according to TicketIQ.

At an average price on the secondary market of $169.00 per ticket, Dodgers fans can afford to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Washington Nationals. By comparison, $169.00 is the second lowest NLDS ticket price for the Dodgers in their last seven straight NLDS appearances. Only 2018 was lower with an average price of $145.00 on the secondary market.

The Yankees have the most expensive tickets with an average price of $411.00 on the secondary market for the ALDS.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 2019 Dodgers: Historic Season Ends in NLDS Disaster]]>561448321Thu, 10 Oct 2019 06:11:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/GettyImages-1178893858.jpg

Photo Credit: MediaNews Group via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Playoff Roster Predictions For NLDS]]>561960871Thu, 03 Oct 2019 17:35:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Dodgers+NLDS+Roster+Guess.png

UPDATE: The roster below was indeed the Dodgers final NLDS roster.

 

The Dodgers have a date with the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series starting on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Now that the opponent is set by virtue of the Nationals 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, the next step for both teams will be solidifying the 25-man roster for the upcoming five-game series.

The Dodgers front office has been tinkering with the roster throughout the final three weeks of the regular season after clinching their seventh consecutive N.L. West Division title on Sept. 10.

Those crucial weeks delivered valuable information on who was healthy enough for the postseason, as well as weed out players that will and won't be healthy and ready for the division series.

During a Tuesday press conference following a team workout, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admitted that the 25-man roster was already set, and would not change regardless of who won the NL Wild Card game.

Roberts noted that the players and management know the roster and starting rotation, but that the team was keeping that under wraps "for a little bit longer."

"The roster…players know. Some of it was contigent on JT's [Justin Turner] back and how he's feeling," said Roberts. "Everything I get from the training staff and JT, he'll be ready to go on Thursday."

Turner missed the last five games of the regular season, but participated in batting practice and a simulated game on Tuesday.

"I'm feeling good," said Turner after the workout. "I've done a lot of work with our training staff. I'm feeling better. I just wanted to get to a point where I felt as strong as possible going into the postseason to get through 11 W's."

In addition to Turner, Roberts provided clarity on a number of other question marks entering the postseason.

A week ago, after a rough first inning in San Diego, it was hard to imagine that Rich Hill would be ready and healthy enough for the NLDS. Hill had not completed a full inning since June 19, and was pitching through prominent left knee pain in his three appearances in September.

However, Hill pitched three scoreless and efficient innings in the regular season finale in San Francisco on Sunday. Passing what the front office perceived as the final test to be able to start a potential Game 4 in the NLDS.

"Rich [Hill] is going to start Game 4," proclaimed Roberts, who added he believes Hill can give them at least four innings. "Kenta [Maeda], Julio [Urias], and Strip [Ross Stripling] are guys that can come in behind Rich Hill in Game 4."

Relief pitcher Joe Kelly also appeared in the regular season finale after not pitching with an unspecified injury for 11 days. Kelly faced two hitters, retiring both, before leaving the game.

"Joe throw a bullpen today," said Roberts. "A 20-pitch pen. Fastball, curveball, and change up. I got a thumb's up from him. He'll be ready to go on Thursday in whatever capacity."

Roberts confirmed what we all assumed, that the starting rotation of four was set in stone, and that the team would carry eight additional relievers in the bullpen for the NLDS.

"We're going to carry eight guys in the pen," said Roberts. "There's a lot of guys in the pen that can get righties and lefties out. Starters in the pen that you trust. That can execute pitches. This is our most versatile roster."

Roberts was also asked about some of the rookies that have contributed to the team throughout the season, and unknowingly acknowledged that Will Smith, Gavin Lux, and Matt Beaty would all be on the roster when it is officially announced on Thursday afternoon.

"We have a catcher who got called up in the middle of the year after an apprenticeship last September, and he's going to catch a postseason game," said Roberts, talking about Will Smith. "Gavin Lux. This is a guy that's going to be on our roster and he's going to play. He's earned it. I like his head, the athleticism. I just want him to go out there and play and be himself."

With most of the final decisions set, we'll do our best to predict the final roster for the NLDS, but first, it's important to recognize that there's going to be a lot of broken hearts in the Dodgers clubhouse come Thursday.

The Dodgers broke the franchise record for wins in a season, and they wouldn't have been able to accomplish such a historic feat without each and every player's contributions throughout the season. For a dozen or so players, their season will end on Thursday. Roberts acknowledged the difficulty in telling these players that they will not be on the postseason roster on Tuesday.

"It's tough," conceded Roberts. "It's one of those things that all these guys have been invited to the dance, and once the invitations have been handed out, they're essentially left on the doorstep. Those conversations are definitely difficult."

Without further ado, here is our best guess at how the NLDS roster will look:

Catchers: Will Smith, and Russell Martin

Infielders: David Freese, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Enrique Hernandez, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner.

Outfielders: Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, and Matt Beaty.

Starting Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Rich Hill.

Relief Pitchers: Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez, Kenta Maeda, Adam Kolarek, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, and Dustin May. 



Photo Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Drop Pitching Coach, Bench Coach After Brad Ausmus' Firing]]>561903091Tue, 01 Oct 2019 14:11:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-1170342562.jpg

Pitching coach Doug White and bench coach Josh Paul will not return to the Los Angeles Angels next season.

The Angels announced the moves Tuesday, one day after firing manager Brad Ausmus.

White was in his first season as a big league pitching coach after spending six seasons working for the Houston Astros, most recently as a bullpen coach. The Angels' pitchers struggled all season long, finishing 25th out of 30 teams with a 5.12 ERA.

Paul was in his second season as the bench coach after joining the Angels from the Yankees, where he was their minor league catching coordinator.

Ausmus was fired Monday after the Angels finished 72-90 in their worst season since 1999.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ready for Some Hockey? Green Day Song May Be New NHL Anthem]]>561814241Mon, 30 Sep 2019 16:19:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1176064795.jpg

The NHL could be on the way to its version of "Are You Ready For Some Football?"

The league is announcing a two-year partnership with Green Day that includes an opening song for NBC Sports' "Wednesday Night Hockey." The song, "Ready, Fire, Aim" isn't custom-made for the NHL and will be on Green Day's next album, though it's likely a matter of time until Green Day or another band follows what Hank Williams Jr. and later Carrie Underwood did for the NFL.

"That I think will probably be the evolution," NHL chief content officer and executive Vice President Steve Mayer said. "If you look at our season and how many times this thing is going to be on, it'll become an anthem. The song, we're using slap shots, it's about scoring and speed — "Fire, Ready, Aim" — I think people will start associating this."

Green Day's open will debut Oct. 9. The band will also perform at the All-Star Game in St. Louis in late January, and new singles from its album will be released on "Wednesday Night Hockey."

"We're going to try some bold thing," Mayer said. "The performance that we're talking about at All-Star will be epic."

Green Day songs will be incorporated into arena mixes around the NHL and provide the soundtrack for much of the season on NBC Sports Network and NBC. Fourteen of the band's upcoming tour stops will come in NHL markets, including Seattle, which will join the league in 2021.

"Green Day, just the energy, how they have this great history but they keep on sort of reinventing themselves, they just work for us," Mayer said. "Their music is going to be part of a lot of what we're doing."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images for iHeartMedia]]>
<![CDATA[Things to Know About California's Law on College Athlete Pay]]>561800231Mon, 30 Sep 2019 13:14:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NCAAFootballField.jpg

California is the first state to pass a law allowing college athletes to hire agents and get paid for use of their name, image or likeness. Some things to know about the new legislation:

WHO DOES THIS AFFECT?

College athletes at public and private schools in California. It does not apply to community colleges.

DO SCHOOLS HAVE TO PAY ATHLETES?

No. Student athletes won’t get salaries like professional athletes do. But it will let them earn money in other ways, such as signing endorsement deals with shoe companies or appearing in a commercial for a local business.

WHEN DOES IT TAKE EFFECT?

Jan. 1, 2023. Colleges and universities have three years to prepare for the law. It also gives the NCAA time to decide how it will respond. The association has threatened to ban California schools from NCAA competition because the new law would give them an unfair recruiting advantage.

WHAT IS THE LAW NOW?

The NCAA bans student athletes from hiring agents or signing endorsement deals. They do allow schools to give athletes cost-of-living stipends of a few thousand dollars per year. And the NCAA allows tennis players to accept up to $10,000 in prize money each year. Also, Olympic athletes can keep their prize money.

CAN STUDENT ATHLETES WITH ENDORSEMENT DEALS KEEP THEIR SCHOLARSHIPS?

Yes. The law bans schools from revoking scholarships from players who sign endorsement deals.

CAN ATHLETES SIGN ANY ENDORSEMENT DEAL THEY WANT?

No. Student athletes cannot sign endorsement deals that conflict with their school’s existing contracts. For example: If a school has a contract with Nike, student athletes at that school could not sign endorsement deals with Under Armour or any other Nike competitor.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roggin's Heroes: Sept. 29, 2019]]>561740882Mon, 30 Sep 2019 06:56:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGINS_HEROES_0929_1200x675_1610805827866.jpg

The best of the best Southern California high school football highlights for Sunday Sept. 29, 2019. ]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Break Franchise Record With 106 Wins]]>561730091Sun, 29 Sep 2019 18:14:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Dodgers+Set+Record+for+Wins.png

The Boys of Summer would be proud. 

Sixty-six years ago, a collection of athletes from all walks of life assembled together to form one of the greatest baseball teams in history. 

Before the Avengers existed, Hall of Famers Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, and Duke Snider formed the original superhero team in 1953. 

Now, they have company. 

The 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants, 9-0, on Sunday to finish the season 106-56. The 106 wins are the most in franchise history (Brooklyn or Los Angeles) dating all the way back to 1890. 

"I'm going to take a moment to appreciate what we did as an organization," said Dave Roberts, who has now won over 100 games twice in his four-year stint as the Dodgers manager. "We're talking about the regular season and all those great teams in Dodgers history. It takes a lot to accomplish what we accomplished as a group, as an organization, and there's a lot to be said for that. So very proud of everyone top to bottom. It's something that no one can take away from us and it speaks to the character, the work ethic, the talent, just the togetherness of everyone, so very proud."

A week ago, after a loss to the Colorado Rockies at home, the Dodgers fell to 99-56 and with just seven games remaining in the season, the franchise record for wins seemed long a long shot.

But the Dodgers got hot to finish the season, winning a season-high seven games to end the 2019 campaign on a high note.

"That was really special," Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager told reporters of the record. "That may be something that goes under the radar, but that was really cool."

Historians can now argue for centuries which Dodgers team was the greatest of all time. It's worth nothing, that the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers team won 105 games during a 154-game season. 

MLB changed the regular season to 162 games following the 1961 season, so who knows how many games that 1953 team, affectionately known as the "Boys of Summer Team," would have won with eight more opportunities to increase their win total.

The Dodgers set a Los Angeles franchise record with 104 wins during the regular season in 2017. Many believed that was the best Dodgers team of all-time as they lost only once in winning the NL pennant before falling to the Astros in seven games in the World Series. 

Speaking of the Astros, the two teams once again seem to be on a collision course for a historic rematch, as Houston also finished the season on a hot streak, earning the best record in baseball with 107 wins. For their efforts, they've earned the prize of home field advantage throughout the MLB Playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers ended the season with the best record in the National League and home field advantage throughout the divison and championship series. 

They won the NL West for the seventh consecutive season, and finished a record 21 games ahead of the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

Perhaps it was fitting that the franchise record for wins came against their heated rivals, the San Francisco Giants, and on a memorable day for both teams as future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy coached in his final game.

The Dodgers will now put the regular season in the rearview mirror as they open up the MLB Playoffs on Thursday at Dodger Stadium against either the Washington Nationals or Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

They need just 11 more wins to do what the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers team could not do—win the World Series—for the first time since 1988.

Perchance, if they finish the job this time around, the 2019 team will undoubtedtly be crowned as the best Dodgers team of all time. 

"The work’s not done," Seager told SportsNet LA's Alanna Rizzo on Sunday. "We’re going to try to go finish business."



Photo Credit: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Goff Throws Career-High 517 Yards in Rams' 55-40 Loss to Tampa Bay]]>561730051Sun, 29 Sep 2019 18:11:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Rams-lose-to-Buccs-Jared-Goff-Sept-2019.jpg

The Buccaneers' phenomenal start at the Coliseum gave way to creeping dread as the Rams rallied. Tampa Bay's 18-point lead rapidly shrunk to five early in the fourth quarter, forcing everybody to recall last week's blown 18-point lead over the Giants.

With one big play after another, the Bucs made sure it wouldn't happen against the defending NFC champions.

And nobody came up bigger than Shaquil Barrett and Ndamukong Suh.

Jameis Winston passed for 385 yards and threw two of his four touchdown passes to Chris Godwin, and Suh returned Jared Goff's fumble 37 yards for a touchdown with 1:06 to play in the Buccaneers' 55-40 victory over previously unbeaten Los Angeles on Sunday.

Godwin had career highs of 12 catches for 172 yards as the Buccaneers (2-2) jumped to an early 21-0 lead and then scored 24 points in a wild fourth quarter to complete the highest-scoring game in the franchise's 44-year history.

"We've got to be able to win games like this, but we don't want to have to win games like this," Barrett said. "I don't like giving up 40 points. That's what you do in college."

Suh made a TD return against his old teammates after Barrett forced the fumble with his ninth sack of the young season. Tampa Bay gave up 518 total yards, but hung on for its first win over the Rams since 2010 in a potentially momentous performance under first-year coach Bruce Arians.

"We knew it was going to come down to the last five minutes of that game, whether we played well or not," Arians said. "We did today, and we're learning. It was a tough loss last week, but victories like these galvanize a team, and this team is starting to believe and see what they can be."

Goff passed for a career-high 517 yards and two touchdowns, but the Rams' $134 million quarterback also threw three interceptions for the second time in his career. Goff coughed it up while being sacked by Barrett as the Rams (3-1) attempted a tying drive, and Suh scooped and scored against the team with which he reached the Super Bowl last season.

"They did a great job applying that pressure and keeping it on all day," Goff said. "It's frustrating. It's something we need to get fixed quickly."

Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II rushed for TDs, and Cameron Brate also had a TD reception . Winston picked apart the Los Angeles secondary while going 28 of 41, while Godwin had the most catches by a Tampa Bay receiver since Keyshawn Johnson in 2001 — and it almost wasn't enough.

"It just solidifies something that we already know: that we can play with anybody," Godwin said.

Tampa Bay went up 45-27 with 11:35 to play when Mike Evans burned Marcus Peters for a 67-yard TD capped by some goal-line showboating. But after Cooper Kupp caught a 29-yard TD pass, Peters returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown with 8:11 to play.

Tampa Bay went back ahead by eight when Winston led a 72-yard drive capped by Matt Gay's short field goal with 2:35 left. Goff got the Rams to midfield, but Barrett and Suh finished strong in Tampa Bay's first game in Los Angeles since 1993.

Robert Woods had 13 catches for 164 yards, and Kupp added nine catches for 121 yards. Goff went 45 of 68 while under regular pressure in a Rams offense that didn't look much like the relentless machine built by Sean McVay in his first two seasons in LA, despite its lofty statistics and final point total.

"Knowing McVay and being with them all last year, they want to pass the ball," Suh said. "They pride themselves on getting yardage and making plays in the air, although they have some great running backs."

Todd Gurley rushed for two touchdowns, but got only five carries for 16 yards in the Rams' nonexistent running game.

"This is really a wakeup call for everyone, not just the offense," McVay said. "The only blessing is we have a short week. The only thing that we can really control is we play again on Thursday."

BITTERSWEET MOMENT

After the game, the Bucs shared a poignant moment on FaceTime with general manager Jason Licht, whose father died suddenly in Nebraska on Saturday after attending the Cornhuskers' game. The players and coaches remotely gave the game ball to Licht, whose father's favorite Nebraska player was Suh.

SACK MASTER

Barrett's late sack was his ninth already this season. He matched Mark Gastineau (1984), Kevin Greene (1998) and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (2001) for the most sacks in NFL history through a team's first four games since sacks became a stat in 1982.

INJURIES

Buccaneers: Evans injured his hand in the second half, but returned. ... WR Breshad Perriman didn't return from a hamstring injury in the first quarter.

Rams: Peters scored despite taking a helmet-to-helmet hit at the goal line from left tackle Donovan Smith that kept Peters out of the rest of the game under evaluation for a concussion. ... LB Bryce Hager injured his shoulder during the first half. ... Rookie S Taylor Rapp left the field in the third quarter unable to put weight on his left ankle.

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: Back on the road Sunday to face the New Orleans Saints, the other competitor in last season's NFC championship game.

Rams: A quick trip to face the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night in their first NFC West game of the year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Media Day: Kawhi and Paul George Quickly Blending in With Clippers]]>561727871Sun, 29 Sep 2019 17:28:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers-Media-Day-Kawhi-2019.jpg

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have already passed the chemistry test with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The two superstars have been quick to integrate themselves with their new team and the result is an easy, teasing camaraderie. Whether it's enough to advance the once beleaguered franchise past the second round of the playoffs for the first time — let alone win an NBA championship — remains to be seen.

But clearly these guys are already having fun.

There was a fishing trip and a paintball outing — yep, Patrick Beverley was so competitive he splattered his own teammates — that made early impressions in a season the Clippers hope will be their most memorable yet.

"If we maintain that, we're going to get through anything," George said Sunday at the team's media day.

Leonard and George may be the biggest fish on the roster, but neither caught the largest when several of the Clippers took to the water. That honor belonged to a woman on the boat.

And what happened to their fish shown off on social media?

"Like anybody else would do," Leonard replied. "Have someone else fillet it, cook it, and eat it."

But he and George don't expect to do all the heavy lifting this season.

"Everybody on the same page," George said of the collective mindset, "and we go out as one."

Leonard led Toronto to its first NBA title last season, and he ticked off the characteristics of a championship team: high character, sacrifice and will to win.

"Go out there as one unit trying to accomplish that one goal," he said. "It's about enjoying the journey and not getting ahead of yourself. You also have to stay healthy as well."

The upcoming season already feels different to Leonard. He's past the right quad injury from 2017-18 that hastened his departure from San Antonio and subsequent trade to the Raptors.

"This year I'm feeling way better than I was at the start of last season," he said, adding there's no plan yet for his load management.

It's possible the Clippers will be without George for their season opener Oct. 22 against LeBron James and the Lakers. He's still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery that followed an injury-plagued ending to his time in Oklahoma City. George will be with the team at training camp in Hawaii starting Monday, but won't participate in contact.

Coach Doc Rivers was at the team's practice facility Sunday, but he didn't speak to the media.

Other things to know about the Clippers:

DEFENSE

Led by Beverley, the Clippers brought a ferocious attitude on defense last season.

His prediction with Leonard and George on the floor?

"That scrappiness attitude, but on steroids," Beverley said.

That being said, Beverley is making it a goal to cut down on his technical fouls.

Count Lou Williams as a skeptic.

"I don't know if there's a way to tell Pat Beverley to chill out," he said.

COMING HOME

Leonard and George are both glad to be back home. Leonard is from Riverside and George is from the high desert city of Palmdale, located north of Los Angeles.

"The fact that I'm unpacking instead of packing at this time is a surreal moment," George said.

Leonard has already reached out to local schools with a large-scale donation of backpacks. Despite his low-key reputation, Leonard wants to be visible in the community and "for them to see me, for them to shake my hand."

THE YOUNG GUYS

Leonard and George have been generous in sharing their knowledge with the younger Clippers, including Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson.

Even with George sidelined early, he's still an influence.

"Sometimes guys don't have to do anything," Rodney McGruder said. "It's just their presence."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Win in Miami for First Time Since 1982]]>561724531Sun, 29 Sep 2019 16:31:15 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Philip-Rivers-Chargers-Dolphins-Sept-2019.jpg

Philip Rivers' 120th regular-season victory was his first in Miami.

The 37-year-old quarterback hadn't been born yet the last time the Chargers won a road game versus the Dolphins, which made Sunday's 30-10 victory especially sweet, even if it came against a team off to a historically bad start.

Rivers compounded Miami's misery by throwing for 310 yards and two scores. He completed 24 of 30 attempts with no interceptions and directed a 10½-minute drive in the third quarter that helped Los Angeles take control.

The Chargers (2-2) had lost eight games in a row in Miami. Their last victory came in an overtime playoff thriller in January 1982 that's regarded as one of the greatest games in NFL history.

"It has been a long time," Rivers said. "Myself, I haven't played worth a hoot there the last two times. Rough days for us. It was good to win."

The Dolphins (0-4) held a lead for the first time this season, but it lasted only 3 minutes, 49 seconds. They've been outscored 163-26 this season, which is the NFL's worst four-game point differential since at least 1940.

"We could have played a lot better," rookie coach Brian Flores said.

The Chargers, who never punted, led 17-10 and scored on their first three possessions of the second half to take command. The Dolphins have been outscored 81-0 in the second half this season.

"We're not getting the job done," Miami cornerback Xavien Howard said. "We've got to come out with more energy in the second half."

Austin Ekeler scored one touchdown receiving and another rushing. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was active after reporting this week and ending his holdout, but he didn't play.

"I'm glad we won by a big margin; it would have been tough sitting there if we were losing," Gordon said. "I'll be out there next week."

With Los Angeles kicker Michael Badgley sidelined by a groin injury, punter Ty Long handled place-kicking duties and made fields of 44, 45 and 51 yards. But the list of injuries grew longer for the hobbled Chargers.

Defensive end Melvin Ingram left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and didn't return. Tight end Sean Culkin (torn Achilles' tendon) and receiver Dontrelle Inman (quad) were hurt in the fourth quarter.

"Obviously we've got a lot of injuries," Rivers said. "A lot of guys went down during the game, and we were able to overcome it all."

Miami's Josh Rosen threw for 180 yards and a touchdown, but had an interception and was sacked four times. Desmond King led Los Angeles' defensive charge with 2½ sacks, a tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.

Los Angeles started slowly — not surprising for a team that traveled 2,500 miles to kick off at 10 a.m. California time. Rosen threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker to give the Dolphins their second touchdown and first lead of the season, 7-3.

Los Angeles quickly answered with a 75-yard scoring drive. Ekeler turned a short reception into an 18-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half to put the Chargers ahead to stay.

They chewed up most of the third quarter with a drive that produced a field goal for a 20-10 lead.

ROOTING FOR THE OTHER TEAM

Chargers center Mike Pouncey played against his former team for the first time. He spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Dolphins before they released him in March 2018, and said he's sorry to see them go through the pains of rebuilding.

"Hopefully they can turn this thing around," Pouncey said. "I'm going to live in South Florida the rest of my life and support the Dolphins, so I want to see a winning product on the football field."

INJURIES

Chargers: Coach Anthony Lynn said he didn't know how long Ingram would be sidelined. ... LB Denzel Perryman left in the fourth quarter but wasn't seriously hurt, Lynn said.

Dolphins: WR Jakeem Grant went to the sideline with a hamstring injury.

HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS?

Referee Tony Corrente twice announced rulings involving "San Diego." The Chargers moved to Los Angeles in 2017.

UP NEXT

Chargers: They play host to Denver on Oct. 6. The Chargers had a six-game winning streak snapped last year when they lost at home to the Broncos 23-22 on a last-second field goal.

Dolphins: They have a bye before playing host to Washington on Oct. 13. The Redskins are 0-5 at Miami, with the most recent game in 2011.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Celebrate Halloween Early With Annual Dress Up Day]]>561719401Wed, 02 Oct 2019 00:58:21 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Dodgers+Halloween+Costumes.jpeg

The Los Angeles Dodgers have an annual tradition called "Rookie Dress Up Day"

Every September, the veterans on the Dodgers roster partake in some light rookie hazing by making the rookies on the team dress up in costumes during the final road trip of the regular season. 

The right of passage for the rookies was always good-natured. In addition to wearing the costumes on the team plane, half the fun was always seeing them walk around in the opposing team's city and in the team hotel in full regalia. 

The best example of recent memory was during the 2016 campaign, when Dodgers rookies (and other players) dressed up like cheerleaders and hit the streets of New York City.

This year, the unofficial team captain of the Dodgers, Justin Turner, decided to shake things up a bit.  Instead of just the rookies on the team dressing up, Turner asked everyone on the team (including coaches, team personnel, and broadcasters) to dress up in costume following their three-game series in San Diego. 

Since Halloween was still over a month away, many expected some half-hearted costumes, but the Dodgers did not disappoint. As they've done all season during their historical 2019 campaign, the team brought their A-game and debuted some of the best and most creative costumes we've ever seen. 

Ahead of their final three games of the season in San Francisco, and following their sweep of the San Diego Padres last week, the entire team left Petco Park in full costumes.

We've compiled some of our favorites for you, and encourage you to tell us which one is your favorite in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

Courtesy of Dodgers' reporter Alanna Rizzo, Spectrum SportsNetLA produce Mike Levy dressed up as Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal:

Hall of Fame broadcaster Jamie Jarrin, who handles the Spanish language broadcasts for the Boys In Blue, dressed up like longtime Dodgers' scout Mike Brito. Brito is responsible for the discoveries of Fernando Valenzuela and Yasiel Puig: 

A lot of players decided to join forces for dress up day synchronizing their costumes for some iconic duos.

Starting at the top left, Justin Turner and A.J. Pollock reignited one of the best rivalries in college football by dressing up in full USC and Notre Dame football jerseys.

In the top right, Dodgers' pitcher Caleb Ferguson and infielder Jedd Gyorko, joined forces to dress up as the iconic hero and villain from the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Ferguson dressed up like Ben Stiller's character, White Goodman, and Gyorko as Vince Vaughn's character Peter La Fleur.

In the bottom left, Enrique Hernandez and David Freese are dressed up as two employees of the Comprehensive Drug Testing company known as CDT. CDT is responsible for randomly drug testing MLB players throughout the season. (Notice the Conehead costume in the back, a trio of Dodgers donned these outfits).

In the bottom right, two group costumes have been split in two. On the left, rookie catcher Will Smith is dressed up like Will Ferrell's character in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. All of the catchers actually dressed up like characters from the movie, with backup catcher Russell Martin portraying Sacha Baron Cohen's villain character, Jean Girard, and Austin Barnes completed the "shake and bake" duo, dressing up like Cal Naughton Jr.

However, the creativity didn't end there. Starting in the top left, Dodgers' relief pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder Cody Bellinger dressed up as LeBron James, and his new favorite obsession since moving to Los Angeles, "Taco Tuesday." James himself saw the costumes online and mentioned them during Lakers media day.

In the top right, starting pitcher Rich Hill dressed up like a great white shark.

In the bottom left, pitchers Julio Urias, and Kenta Maeda dressed up as iconic characters from Dragonball Z. They even got their translators to join them. From left to right, Urias as Majin Buu, Maeda as Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo.

Finally, in the bottom right, Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu was the ringleader of the "Left Shark" brigade. The infamous left shark became a meme during Katy Perry's 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show for it's lack of dancing skills.

Our personal favorite, and the winner of the team award (as voted on by the Dodgers players and personnel), was pitchers Ross Stripling and Tony Gonsolin, who recreated the seminal on-screen duo of Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan from the 1994 Film Forrest Gump.

Of course, there might be many more we missed, and you might have your own personal favorite. The best way to see them all is this video of the players exiting the team plane (still in costume) posted on the Dodgers official Twitter account.



Photo Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers
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<![CDATA[Photos: Walker Buehler Plays Mini Golf With Fans]]>561715761Sun, 29 Sep 2019 13:55:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/167*120/Walker+Buehler+Mini+Golf+2.JPGLos Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler played a round of miniature golf with fans.

Photo Credit: Casey Rodgers/AP Images for High Brew Coffee]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Tie Franchise Win Mark With 105, Ryu Beat Giants 2-0]]>561651121Sat, 28 Sep 2019 16:30:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/doAP_19269769230483.jpg

While the Los Angeles Dodgers kept raising their win total, Hyun-Jin Ryu continued to lower his ERA.

With one game left in the regular season, they're both in good position.

Ryu secured the major league ERA title at 2.32 with seven sharp innings and the Dodgers matched a franchise record with their 105th victory, beating the San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Saturday for their sixth straight win.

The NL West champions tied the win mark of the 1953 "Boys of Summer" team based in Brooklyn that included Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and other Hall of Famers.

"I'm very proud of that," manager Dave Roberts said. "You don't just show up and win 105 games against very good teams all year long. That's a credit to everybody and just a continued focus each day to get better. It's a really fun and good, talented group."

The Dodgers began the day one game behind Houston for the best record in baseball and one game ahead of the Yankees. Los Angeles will begin the Division Series next Thursday at home against the NL wild-card winner.

Ryu (14-5) allowed five hits, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter for a third straight start. He also hit an RBI single in the fifth for the game's first run.

Roberts is calling for his Korean left-hander to win the NL Cy Young Award — even if Ryu himself is giving the nod to reigning winner Jacob deGrom, who's second in ERA at 2.43 for the Mets.

"There were so many good pitchers this season, it possibly might be a tough decision for you as well, but I honestly think Jacob deGrom deserves it and you should probably vote for him," Ryu said through an interpreter and with a wry smile.

Kenta Maeda pitched the eighth. Kenley Jansen hit Evan Longoria to start the ninth and gave up Kevin Pillar's single before striking out three for his 33rd save.

Max Muncy hit his 35th homer in the sixth off rookie Logan Webb (2-3). Webb singled in the fifth for his first major league hit.

Retiring Giants manager Bruce Bochy oversaw his 4,031st game, moving past Sparky Anderson for sole possession of seventh place on the all-time list while managing his second-to-last game with San Francisco. Bochy was honored on the field before the game by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who presented Bochy with a key to the city.

Webb, a top pitching prospect, allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out five and walked one in his eighth career start.

"We faced a very good pitcher and we were just a hit away from getting things going, just like last night," Bochy said.

MADBUM'S PLACE

Madison Bumgarner will be ready Sunday even if he's not on the mound as originally planned — Bochy hinted "he'll have his spikes on," so perhaps be prepared for a pinch-hit appearance and one final ovation from the home crowd.

"We thought that would be the best thing for both of us," Bumgarner said Saturday.

The 2014 World Series MVP can become a free agent, so Tuesday might have been his final start for the Giants. He is wrapping up a contract singed in April 2012 that included a $12 million contract option this year, and the Giants opted not to deal him at the trade deadline.

"I'm sure I'll make my way back here one way or another," he said.

HONORING MCGOWAN

Peter Magowan, who died in January, was honored pregame with a plaque on the Giants Wall of Fame he started as San Francisco's managing general partner.

"It was good to get Peter's plaque up there, with what he's done for the San Francisco Giants and the impact he made keeping them here and really in the community," Bochy said. "I know that he'd be very proud. ... Peter, he did a lot for me."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: LF A.J. Pollock sat out after being hit in the left knee with a pitch and leaving during the fifth inning of Friday's 9-2 win with a bruised knee. ... Roberts said 3B Justin Turner — missing a fourth straight game with back tightness — won't play Sunday. Instead, he will get some simulated work done during Tuesday's workout day back home ahead of the Division Series. Turner worked throwing and swinging in the cage again Saturday as he did Friday. "If he wasn't able to kind of move around and swing the bat, I'd probably be a little concerned but since he's doing that I feel confident he'll be fine," Roberts said.

Giants: C Buster Posey returned to the starting lineup after three days not playing at all following a 16-inning game Tuesday in which he caught 13 of those innings.

UP NEXT

LHP Rich Hill (4-1, 2.59 ERA) makes his 13th start of the season pitching the last day having gone 1-0 with eight strikeouts in two previous outings vs. San Francisco. RHP Dereck Rodriguez (6-10, 5.27) will now start Sunday's season finale for the Giants.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Coach Walton Focused on Team, Not Lawsuit]]>561588641Fri, 27 Sep 2019 20:07:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19271061124347.jpg

Sacramento Kings first-year coach Luke Walton says he is focused on his team and not worried about a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault.

Walton spoke publicly Friday at Kings media day for the first time since being a former sportscaster filed a civil suit against him in April accusing him of the assault.

"I'm here to do my job and focus on the Kings," Walton said. "The rest will take care of itself."

Walton was hired by the Kings in April, soon after being fired following three seasons as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was sued shortly after being hired by Kelli Tennant, a former host on Spectrum SportsNet LA, who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2014 when he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors and harassing her after that during his tenure with the Lakers.

The Kings and the NBA investigated the charges but took action against Walton when "investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations." Tennant did not participate in the investigation.

Walton still faces a civil suit but has said in a court filing that the allegations aren't backed up in facts. He said the suit is not a distraction to his job.

"My focus is on the Kings and what we're doing to get this group to the next level," he said.

Walton is trying to get the Kings back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the longest current postseason drought in the NBA. He takes over a young team featuring emerging stars like De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III.

The Kings hold their first practice Saturday before leaving next week for a trip to India, where they will play two exhibition games. That puts more emphasis on the early days of practice.

"We'll do more teaching than I'd normally do in the first practice or two," he said. "There's a list of things I want to get in before we go to India. We want to make sure we get those in no matter how long we have to be on the court."

Kings forward Harrison Barnes has been to India and has been telling his teammates how much he enjoyed the food, culture and passion of the fans for NBA basketball.

He also views the trip as a chance to bond with his teammates.

"I think the biggest thing for us is spending that time together," he said. "I think that's what we're looking forward to most about this India trip and about this training camp period is just guys being around each other."



Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Start Season With LeBron, AD Already Sharing a Bond]]>561587921Fri, 27 Sep 2019 19:59:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19270730814535.jpg

From the Warner Bros. soundstages to a private workout retreat in Las Vegas, LeBron James and Anthony Davis spent a whole lot of their long summer together.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstars say they've already formed a bond before they hit the court as teammates. That offseason work is the foundation for their efforts to build an immediate contender together with this long-struggling franchise.

When the Lakers reported to their training complex Friday, LeBron and AD were the center of attention amid the revamped roster they helped to create. They posed for photos, joked easily with themselves and their teammates, and generally looked like they've been together for years.

"It's exciting to have such a beautiful young mind, a beautiful player, but also a great leader as well," James said. "I think it's a great opportunity for this franchise to have such an all-around great person. The basketball will speak for itself."

Although Davis has one year left on his contract before free agency, the Lakers left no doubt they're planning for a long-term future with the vaunted big man and his decorated new teammate. The Lakers' roster was thoroughly revamped in the offseason, and general manager Rob Pelinka constantly consulted with James and Davis via three-way phone calls and text chains.

"I think the front office did a great job of including LeBron and myself in the decisions to build this team," Davis said. "Every guy that is on this team, me and LeBron had a say-so in, and I think that's very important. It would be pretty weird to go to war with a guy you don't really like, so they made sure to include us in every decision."

They also defeated the Monstars together, at least presumably: James spent part of his summer starring in "Space Jam 2" for Warner Bros., and he roped in Davis to play a part in the film coming out next year.

Unlike his media mogul teammate, Davis chuckled and said his role in the sequel is "a one-time thing. That was very time-consuming. At least right now, I don't see any more movies in my near future, but it was a fun experience."

James was the star of that show, but he doesn't care about being the unquestioned star of the Lakers. In fact, James declared his hope that the Lakers' offense will run through Davis, who is averaging 23.7 points per game over his seven-year NBA career.

"We all know how great Anthony Davis is, and if we're not playing through Anthony Davis, why is he on the floor then?" James asked. "It makes no sense to have him on the floor, because he's that great. That doesn't mean every time down the floor we throw it to him, but we have the ability to do that."

When he wasn't dunking on cartoons, Davis also played a role in recruiting players to LA and persuading others to stay with the franchise he had just joined. The Lakers added sharpshooting veterans Danny Green, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels in a bid to get the valuable spacing that will make the superstars more effective.

"I just told guys we definitely have the opportunity to do something special here this year," Davis said. "All you can ask for is a chance in this league, and we definitely have a chance to do something special."

More things to know from the Lakers' training complex:

KUZMA'S HEALTH

Kyle Kuzma was upbeat despite a stress reaction in his left foot that will sideline him until at least mid-October. The third-year forward has set a goal to become an All-Star as the only remaining member of the Lakers' young core, which was broken up in the trade for Davis.

"Obviously I was disappointed, but it was good that we caught what I have at the right time," said Kuzma, who felt the injury while training with the U.S. national team.

DWIGHT RETURNS

Dwight Howard is back in the Lakers' jersey for the first time since he left in 2013, the start of six unsatisfying years for the big man and the team he left behind. Howard's new teammates say he is humbler, more introspective and determined to excel as a role player or something bigger.

"I expect my teammates to hold me to a high standard, because I hole myself to one," Howard said. "My job is to be the best Dwight Howard and the best teammate I can be."

DEMARCUS DOWN

DeMarcus Cousins wasn't available to reporters, but the big man was in his teammates' thoughts. Davis is disappointed he probably won't get a reunion with the star center, who badly injured his knee in an offseason workout shortly after signing with the Lakers.

"I was shocked, just knowing that he worked so hard to try to get back from his quad and his Achilles," Davis said. "He hasn't really had the opportunity to be old DeMarcus, and he wanted this year to be the year, because he felt like he was very healthy, and then the ACL happened. But he's in good spirits. He's just happy to be here and still be around the team, and we support him all the way through."

VOGEL'S START

The Lakers' new head coach almost got lost in the shuffle of media day. Frank Vogel and a coaching staff including Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins will take charge for the Lakers' opening practice Saturday with the goal of building a cohesive team out of all these new parts.

Vogel isn't giving away a potential starting lineup or rotations just yet, but he is thrilled to take over a team with strong veteran leadership.

"When the belief is strong at the outset, then it's about focusing in on the work, and we're looking forward to getting after it," Vogel said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Share Season Expectations at Annual Media Day]]>561555951Fri, 27 Sep 2019 14:21:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers+Media+day+2019-thumbnail.jpgThe Lakers opened their annual media day Friday with comments from general manager Rob Pelinka and coach Frank Vogel about the roster assembled around the team's superstars.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Wins 16th, Dodgers Beat Padres 1-0]]>561472031Thu, 26 Sep 2019 15:58:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/doAP_19269769230483.jpg

Clayton Kershaw shut down San Diego for six innings and Chris Taylor scored from first base on Max Muncy's single in the sixth to lead the seven-time NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers to a 1-0 victory Thursday and a three-game sweep of the Padres.

The Dodgers have won four straight and nine of 12 heading into their final regular-season series at San Francisco. They begin pursuit of a third straight NL pennant next Thursday night at Dodger Stadium against the wild card winner.

Kenta Maeda came on with Wil Myers aboard on a leadoff single in the ninth and retired the side for his third save. He struck out Manny Machado, who was with the Dodgers for the second half of 2018 and their World Series loss to the Boston Red Sox, and Hunter Renfroe before getting Seth Mejias-Brean to fly out.

The Dodgers had five hits and the Padres only three.

The Padres, who fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, lost for the 12th time in 14 games and closed within one defeat of their fourth-straight 90-loss season. San Diego has missed the playoffs for the 13th straight season and will have a losing record for the ninth straight year.

Muncy's hit broke up a duel between Kershaw (16-5) and Joey Lucchesi (10-10).

Lucchesi held the Dodgers hitless until rookie Will Smith singled leading off the fifth. The left-hander almost got out of the sixth but walked Chris Taylor and then gave up Muncy's single into the gap in left-center. Taylor hustled all the way around from first and scored when Austin Hedges couldn't handle the relay throw from shortstop Luis Urias.

The Padres did throw out Kristopher Negron trying to score on David Freese's grounder to short in the third.

Kershaw allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked one.

Lucchesi allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out six and walked two.

ATTENDANCE

Thursday's crowd of 26,285 at Petco Park gave the Padres a home total of 2,396,399, an average of 29,585. That's up from 2,103,420 fans (26,967 average) for 78 home games last year, when they played three games against the Dodgers in Monterrey, Mexico.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was out of the lineup with back tightness. Manager Dave Roberts said the injury popped up during batting practice on Wednesday. SS Corey Seager was out with a tight left hamstring. Seager came out of Wednesday night's game and Roberts said then he expects the shortstop to be back Friday night.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (13-4, 3.25) is scheduled to start Friday night's opener of a three-game series at San Francisco.

Padres: LHP Eric Lauer (8-10, 4.53) is scheduled to start Friday night's opener of a three-game series at Arizona, which is expected to counter with RHP Taylor Clarke (5-5, 5.40).

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Padres, 6-4, Behind Big Homers From Pederson, Rios]]>561400591Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:16:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Beat-Padres-September-25-2019.jpg

Joc Pederson homered twice, including his franchise-record ninth leadoff shot, and pinch-hitter Edwin Rios had an impressive tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning to help the seven-time NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 6-4 Wednesday night.

Chris Taylor also homered for the Dodgers, who have won three straight and four of five.

Pederson has 35 homers. It was his sixth multi-homer game of the season and 14th of his career. Both came off Dinelson Lamet (3-6). Pederson added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Rios' shot off rookie David Bednar (0-1) was estimated at 473 feet, the second-longest in Petco Park history. The longest was a 479-footer by San Diego's Alex Dickerson on Sept. 9, 2016. It was Rios' fourth.

Pederson homered leading off the fifth to give Dodgers a 4-3 lead, but the Padres tied it in the sixth when Yimi Garcia hit a batter and allowed consecutive singles, including an RBI base hit by Greg Garcia.

The Dodgers regained the lead when Rios homered deep into the seats in right field off David Bednar leading off the seventh. It was his fourth.

Dylan Floro (5-3) got the last out of the sixth for the win. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his 32nd save.

The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first on Pederson's homer and Corey Seager's two-out RBI double.

San Diego went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the inning. Ross Stripling issued a leadoff walk to Greg Garcia and then struck out Manuel Margot and Eric Hosmer, but then ran into trouble. He allowed Wil Myers' single and Francisco Mejia's RBI double, with Myers scoring on Pederson's throwing error. Rookie Josh Naylor followed with an RBI single.

Taylor homered leading off the second, his 12th.

Stripling went three innings, allowing three runs and four hits while striking out seven and walking one.

Lamet struck out 10 in five innings while allowing four runs and six hits, with two walks.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: SS Corey Seager left the game in the bottom of the third inning with a tight left hamstring. He was replaced by Kiké Hernandez.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (15-5, 3.15 ERA) is scheduled to make his final start of the regular season in the series finale Thursday. He's 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in four starts against San Diego this season.

Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (10-9, 4.28) is scheduled to start the Padres' home finale. It will be his team-leading 30th start, and his 10 victories are the most by a Padres starter since Jhoulys Chacin's 13 in 2017.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gordon Expected To Return To Chargers Thursday]]>561388831Wed, 25 Sep 2019 20:22:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1065219588.jpg

After 64 days Chargers fans got the news they had been waiting for. “The Flash” is back.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, running back Melvin Gordon is ending his holdout and reporting to the team on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was asked whether the Wisconsin product would be allowed to play on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins if he did return. Lynn said no.

"I don't think you just walk in camp and just play right away without going through any practice," stated Lynn. "You can run and do all the drills you want, but it's hard to simulate real football."

That is consistent with Rapoport’s tweet, which stated that Gordon will not be in uniform this weekend.

For the last few months Gordon and his representatives let it be known that he wanted to be paid like a top running back in the league, which is around $13 million to $14 million annually. The Chargers offered him about $10 million, but Gordon held out hoping for more.

Once the season began General Manager Tom Telesco notified the media that any contract talks with Gordon would take place after the season.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that the running back expects this to be his final year in a Bolts uniform.

The Chargers are 1-2 without Gordon this season. The team is averaging around 112 rushing yards per contest, which is about five yards less than the Bolts gained with Gordon last season. Austin Ekeler has combined for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Gordon will add another offensive playmaker, something they have been lacking, especially with tight end Hunter Henry missing 4-6 weeks with a fractured left tibia. The 26-year old back has a nose for the endzone, scoring 38 total touchdowns since 2016, which is second to Rams running back Todd Gurley.

Most insiders speculate that the Chargers will use a two-week roster exemption on Gordon, and he could be back for their week five matchup against the Denver Broncos.

The offense has struggled in the second half of the last three games, scoring only 16 points in the second half or overtime in three games.

Injury Report

• Did Not Practice: K Michael Badgley (right groin), WR Travis Benjamin (hip), TE Virgil Green (groin), CB Casey Hayward (back), TE Hunter Henry (knee), WR Mike Williams (back). Limited: CB Mike Davis (hamstring). Full: LB Denzel Perryman (ankle).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Muncy Hits Grand Slam, Dodgers Secure NL Home-Field Advantage]]>561300301Tue, 24 Sep 2019 23:43:24 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Playoffs-Max-Muncy-Sept-2019.jpg

Rich Hill has every intention of making it back onto the Los Angeles Dodgers' playoff roster despite an injury-plagued season.

Backed by Max Muncy's first career grand slam, Hill made it through two innings while pitching with a brace on his left knee and the Dodgers clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs even before they beat the staggering San Diego Padres 6-3 Tuesday night.

The seven-time NL West champion Dodgers (101-56) locked up home field when the two-time NL East champion Atlanta Braves (96-62) lost 9-6 at Kansas City.

Hill struck out five in two hitless innings, reaching 1,000 for his career, in a late bid to claim a postseason roster spot. He was forced out of his last start, Sept. 12 at Baltimore, in the first inning due to left knee discomfort. The plan was to have him pitch two innings and he responded well, other than walking consecutive batters with one out in the first.

"I want to pitch. I want to help this team in the postseason," Hill said. "Hopefully I can prove that I can help the team do that. That's the main goal, is October, and I believe today was a step in the right direction. I certainly want to continue going in the right direction on Sunday."

Manager Dave Roberts said Hill will start and go three innings in the season finale at the San Francisco Giants.

"I think that it's encouraging that the door remains open," Roberts said. "Obviously the goal is to get him ready for the DS. He'll do a 'pen on the second or third day. It's open and that's a good thing for all of us. Richie, the training staff, they've worked really hard to get him to this point, back, now we've just got to hope it continues to get better each day and sustain itself."

After he came out, Hill threw the equivalent of another inning in the bullpen.

"It was a good day for us, for Richie," Roberts said.

Muncy's 34th home run was a moon shot to right field on the first pitch by Gerardo Reyes with two outs in the fourth. Reyes came on after rookie Ronald Bolaños (0-2) walked Will Smith, allowed a single to reliever Tony Gonsolin and walked Joc Pederson.

Pederson hit his 33rd with one out in the ninth, off Michel Baez.

Gonsolin (4-2) pitched two perfect innings in relief of Hill, with three strikeouts. Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for his 31st save.

The Padres lost for the 10th time in 12 games. They were held hitless until the fifth, when they scored three runs on five hits against Dylan Floro. Luis Urias hit an RBI single and Manuel Margot hit an RBI triple and scored on a throwing error on the play by second baseman Gavin Lux.

Bolaños allowed four runs and three hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked five and struck out four.

"He put himself in a lot of problems," Padres interim manager Rod Barajas said. "Really close to going four with only one run allowed, so he did put himself in a lot of problems, but he was able to make pitches. Unfortunately, too many pitches and the pitch count got ran up and that was it for him after he walked his fifth batter. Unfortunately, Reyes left the ball where Muncy could hit it."

HEART & HUSTLE

Rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who has been out since mid-August with a stress reaction in his lower back, received the Padres' Heart & Hustle Award as voted on by the MLB Players Alumni Association. Tatis received the award from first base coach Skip Schumaker, who was the Reds' winner in 2014. The overall winner will be announced in November.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.32 ERA) likely will start and pitch three innings Wednesday night. If he doesn't start, he'll be the bulk reliever.

Padres: RHP Dinelson Lamet (3-5, 3.84 ERA) will face the Dodgers for the second time in his 14 starts this season. He is coming off a 14-strikeout performance in a 2-1 win last Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[QB Matt Fink Likely to Start for No. 21 USC With Slovis Still Out]]>561291801Tue, 24 Sep 2019 21:00:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USC-Matt-Fink-Sept-2019.jpg

Quarterback Kedon Slovis is in the concussion protocol for No. 21 Southern California, increasing the likelihood of Matt Fink making his first career start at No. 17 Washington this weekend.

Coach Clay Helton confirmed Tuesday night that Slovis isn't currently cleared to practice or play.

Slovis was injured on the second play of the Trojans' victory over then-No. 10 Utah last Friday. Fink stepped in and passed for 351 yards with ample help from his outstanding receivers in USC's 30-23 win.

Fink is likely to lead the underdog Trojans against the defending Pac-12 champion Huskies (3-1, 0-1). Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is working overtime to train his third starting quarterback in five games — and the non-quarterbacks who would be Fink's backup, including a walk-on safety and a starting receiver.

"We plan on playing Fink," Harrell said. "And if something happens, you're in a scramble situation and you've got to make the best of what you've got."

The Trojans (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) installed a completely new Air Raid offense this season under Harrell, but have still managed a solid start despite upheaval at the scheme's most important position.

J.T. Daniels was lost to a season-ending knee injury right before halftime in USC's season opener, and 18-year-old freshman Slovis stepped in to start the next three games. He was outstanding in a victory over a ranked Stanford team, but threw three interceptions in an embarrassing overtime loss at BYU.

Fink realizes he could be playing for the permanent starting job if he performs well in Slovis' absence, but it's all tied to the Trojans' overall success.

"Every day is a great opportunity, especially today," Fink said. "Again, it (stinks) to see anyone on the team get hurt, but that leaves more opportunity and more doors for myself, so I'm going to go ahead and take that and run with it."

Fink will be USC's only scholarship quarterback at Washington if Slovis doesn't suit up. Jack Sears, who finished fourth in the four-man quarterback competition in training camp despite previous starting experience at USC, entered the transfer portal and hasn't returned to the team.

Fink nearly left the Trojans himself after spring football, entering the transfer portal and even taking a visit to Illinois. The Rancho Cucamonga native strongly considered a move to the Illini before returning to USC in June, citing a desire to stay close to home.

When asked to choose the best part of his performance against Utah, he cited the chance to celebrate afterward with his family. Fink's father was at practice Tuesday to watch him running the first-team offense.

"It's kind of surreal, (but) it's an amazing opportunity for me and the team to keep moving forward," Fink said.

Fink threw 18 passes in his first two seasons at USC as a backup to Sam Darnold and Daniels. He threw 30 more against the Utes, including one TD pass apiece to Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman Jr. and Amon-Ra St. Brown, his triumvirate of elite receivers.

Helton and Harrell are getting creative to prepare backups for the potential disaster of Fink going down with an injury.

Brandon Perdue, a walk-on junior who played quarterback sparingly in high school and junior college before moving to safety at USC, would be Fink's primary backup. He has been the quarterback of USC's scout team in practice, but hasn't thrown a competitive pass since some brief action for New Mexico Military Institute in 2017.

Harrell even put Vaughns behind center during practice Tuesday night, simply because he wants to have options.

"Tyler is a great athlete, and he can throw a football," Harrell said. "So we're giving him snaps. You've got to be creative in this situation."

Starting safety Talanoa Hufanga is in the concussion protocol as well, Helton said. The Trojans' leading tackler made a career-high 14 tackles against Utah in a breakout performance, but he also has a sprained shoulder.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Another Chargers' Slow Start Provides Reason to Worry]]>561194991Mon, 23 Sep 2019 22:42:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-slow-start-Sept-2019.jpg

For the third straight season since their move to Los Angeles, the Chargers have a losing record after their first three games.

While last season's team responded to a 1-2 start by going 11-2, these injury-plagued Bolts (1-2) are drawing no comfort from the fact they've been here before.

"It's easy to look in hindsight and say, 'Oh, we still had a good season,'" running back Austin Ekeler said. "In this one, you don't know. We could not win another game. That's how the season could go. We've got to make sure we're on all of our techniques, all of our fundamentals."

Those fundamentals aren't yet second nature to everybody suiting up for the Chargers, who are relying on inexperienced talent due to injuries, particularly on the offensive line and in the secondary. The Houston Texans exploited both areas during their second-half comeback from a double-digit deficit for a 27-20 victory last weekend .

Los Angeles is missing several starting-caliber defensive backs along with its starting left tackle, tight end and running back, among others. Coach Anthony Lynn and the Chargers won't use it as an excuse, but the improvisational nature of their lineups has been obvious so far.

For instance, the Chargers' starters against Houston included safety Roderic Teamer, an undrafted rookie making his first NFL start, and Brandon Facyson, an undrafted second-year cornerback.

Opponents are picking up on the Chargers' deficiencies as well. Lynn lamented the Texans' strategy to use max protection blocking schemes for Deshaun Watson combined with a quick passing game, which put pressure on LA's secondary and minimized the opportunities for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to get sacks.

"We want to figure out different ways to affect the quarterback like tipping balls and getting their hands up," Lynn said. "When we got to (Watson), we didn't get him on the ground at all."

Los Angeles' inability to finish with a lead has popped up twice already this season, and Lynn is getting tired of it — even though he knows it's partly a reflection of the compromises being forced on the Chargers by their personnel shortages.

"We have to finish football games," Lynn said Monday. "We're getting up by two scores, and guys are coming back and that same urgency is not there right now."

WHAT'S WORKING

Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen are one of the most dangerous combinations in the NFL, and they only appear to be getting better. Rivers found Allen with 13 passes for a career-high 183 yards and two touchdowns against Houston, with the star wideout repeatedly getting open for big gains. Allen entered Monday leading the NFL with 404 yards receiving, further underlining his status as one of the best receivers in the league.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Plenty of LA's offensive problems can be traced to the line, which yielded five sacks of Rivers — although only four were the line's fault, according to Lynn. The line is playing without veteran left tackle Russell Okung, and rookie replacement Trent Scott committed the final-minute holding penalty that essentially ruined the Chargers' last drive with the game on the line.

"The protection could have been better in some cases," Lynn said. "There's room for improvement."

Lynn isn't panicking about the line's play just yet. The Chargers will stick with the same starting five next week, although backup Forrest Lamp will play more.

STOCK UP

Linebacker Thomas Davis and versatile defensive back Desmond King are standing out on the defense. Davis is third in the league with 33 tackles, while King had four tackles, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery against Houston.

STOCK DOWN

Teamer had a few ups and some definite downs in his first start as Derwin James' replacement at strong safety, but he'll probably get another chance this week. Lynn isn't interested in moving Rayshawn Jenkins, his starting free safety, to the strong side to clear a bigger role for Nasir Adderley, the promising second-round pick who missed much of training camp with injury.

"It looked like a rookie in his first start," Lynn said of Teamer. "But we have a lot of confidence in Roderic. We know he's going to get better. He'll get there."

INJURED

Tight end Virgil Green left the game with a groin injury, and Lynn isn't sure about his availability this week. The Chargers didn't have any other new injury setbacks, according to Lynn. The coach also isn't sure whether any key players will return this week from their injuries — not even kicker Michael Badgley, who wasn't able to make his season debut due to a nagging groin injury.

KEY NUMBER

10: Sacks of the 37-year-old Rivers already allowed by the Chargers in three games. That's the ninth-most in the NFL entering Monday night.

NEXT STEPS

The Chargers have plenty of problems, but they couldn't ask for much better circumstances to work on them with a trip to rebuilding Miami this weekend. They won't overlook the struggling Dolphins (0-3), however.

"Shoot, I feel like we're going through a struggle, too," Ekeler said. "We've lost two games in a row, and in the first game, we barely snuck by in overtime. We've got to get on the ball."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Defense Generating Plenty of Accolades After 3 Weeks]]>561169211Mon, 23 Sep 2019 16:20:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Aaron-Donald-Rams-defense-Sept-23-2019.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams receive plenty of accolades for their offense, but the defense is what really has stood out the past two games.

One week after holding New Orleans without a touchdown, the Rams put up an impressive goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter of their 20-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns Sunday night.

The Rams were backed up to their 4 and facing first-and-goal before forcing Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to throw four straight incomplete passes .

"It was really just a great job by them. I just thought to be able to re-gather themselves," McVay said. "Four straight downs and fighting through it, especially with Baker's ability to be able to extend plays, and some of the athletes that they do have. It was just incredible. It showed great mental toughness, and for them to be able to close it out was outstanding."

The Rams are ranked third in the league in total defense and fourth against the pass after three games.

Safety Eric Weddle isn't ready to proclaim his unit as the best in the league, but it is making a strong case.

"No plays up the field, that's what we pride ourselves on. Communicate, put yourself in the right position to take away those dangerous threats, and make them work for every inch," he said.

WHAT'S WORKING

LB Clay Matthews has a sack in each of his first three games with the Rams. On a night when his father was inducted into the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor, Matthews recorded his first multi-sack game in two years.

It is the second time in his 11-year career that Matthews has started the season with a sack in three straight games.

The Rams were very effective in generating pressure with a four-man rush out of their dime package. Opposing teams already have a handful in trying to double-team Aaron Donald, but that also allows opportunities for Matthews and Dante Fowler Jr. to make plays.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Finding someone besides Todd Gurley to carry the football. Malcolm Brown had only 7 yards on three carries as the Rams look to manage Gurley's carries throughout the season.

Los Angeles had only one carry over 10 yards on Sunday, only the fifth time in McVay's three seasons the Rams have been held to one or fewer double-digit gains on the ground.

"It was tough to get us into a rhythm, and it starts with me," said McVay of the run game. "I keep saying it. I can't keep sitting up here and saying the same thing. I have to find a way to get it fixed and be better for our football team."

STOCK UP

Donald had only one sack but he continues to create havoc on opposing offensive lines.

He was able to consistently beat double-teams by the Browns and pressure Mayfield. Donald was angry about a roughing-the-passer call late in the fourth quarter, but he seems to be on the cusp of having another run of sacks in coming weeks.

STOCK DOWN

Right guard Jamil Demby, starting in place of the injured Austin Blythe, was called for two false start penalties and got beaten for a sack during the second quarter.

INJURED

The Rams got out of the game without any additional significant injury. They were without tight end Tyler Higbee (bruised lung) and Blythe (ankle) for the Browns game.

KEY NUMBER

13 — Touchdown passes Jared Goff has thrown to Cooper Kupp, the most of any Rams receiver. Kupp had two TDs vs. the Browns, marking his second career game with multiple scores.

NEXT STEPS

The Rams have two games over an 11-day stretch. They host Tampa Bay on Sunday before going on the road for a Thursday night game at Seattle on Oct. 3. Los Angeles is 9-1 in September games under McVay.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sparks Swept in Semifinals, Sun Move Onto WNBA Finals]]>561090011Sun, 22 Sep 2019 20:37:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sparks-Lose-in-WNBA-semifinals-September-2019.jpg

The future is so bright for the Connecticut Sun that Courtney Williams wore shades after Sunday's game and gave a hilarious play-by-play of her pep talk to every teammate, including what she told star point guard Jasmine Thomas.

"I feel like we were just doing what we do. There's not really a magic potion to it," Williams said. "I walk up to (No.) 5 and I say, 'you're a dog. Do what you do.' "

Thomas obliged with a career playoff-best 29 points and Williams added 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds to lead Connecticut to a 78-56 win in Game 3 of the WNBA semifinals and give the Sun a sweep of the series Sunday.

Connecticut advances to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2005, where it will play either Washington or Las Vegas. The Mystics have a 2-1 series lead over the Aces.

"It feels really good, you play all season for this moment here," Thomas said. "To know all we've been though and we're still going to the finals. This group has been together so long, and we deserve to be here."

Nneka Ogwumike had 17 points to lead the Sparks. Candace Parker was held to just four points. She played just 11 minutes in the game. She sat out the second quarter and took one shot in the third quarter before going to the bench with 5:54 left. She didn't return to the game.

"Just trying to do as much as I could in the moment to help the team," said Derek Fisher, the first-year Sparks coach. "We talked before the game. It wasn't an injury or any like specific like 'this is why I'm not going to play Candace.' But just trying to find energy, find spark, find physicality and things we were continuing to try to search for throughout the course of the game.

"We've had an issue sustaining energy for 40 minutes against this team in this series. Also just trying to get fresh bodies in so we could continue to bang and rebound and run the floor and communicate defensively. It wasn't a way to single her out. Riquna (Williams) played 17 minutes. TRP (Tierra Ruffin-Pratt) played 12 minutes. I know it's Candace Parker and we're going to try to make it about her 11 minutes but it was just about trying to do something different that would try to help us win."

Parker said she was "perfectly fine" heath-wise. In regards to her limited playing time, Parker said: "You've got to ask Fish that."

Asked how frustrating it was, Parker said "Obviously, every player wants to be out there."

Thomas scored 14 of her 29 points in the third quarter on 6-for-7 shooting to lead the Sun to a 63-44 lead heading into the final quarter. Thomas made big shot after big shot for the Sun. Connecticut led 40-32 at halftime. Thomas had a team-best 11 points in the first half on 3 of 4 shots — all 3-pointers. She took the Sun's first shot of the third quarter, a 3-pointer, and made it.

Williams scored the first seven points for the Sun. The Sparks starters combined for just seven points in the first quarter and were a combined 3-for-15 from the field.

The Sun shot 43.8 percent in the first half while Los Angeles was just 34.9 percent from the field. The Sparks made just 1 of 13 3-pointers in the first half.

NOT HOME SWEET HOME

The game was played at Long Beach State because the Sparks' normal home Staples Center wasn't available.

"We just had a swagger in this series," Sun coach Curt Miller, a former Sparks assistant coach, said. "As physical and intense as it got, I thought we were more aggressive. Ultimately, we continued to keep moving them. We looked like the energy team. We didn't want to get back to Staples."

COURTSIDE CELEBRITIES

Among the celebrities in attendance were Billie Jean King and actress Vivica A. Fox.

OFFENSIVE STAT?

Each team had just one offensive rebound in the first quarter. The Sparks had four in the second quarter with the Sun grabbing two in the second. By the time the game was three quarters old, the Sun had outrebounded the Sparks 35-23.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: NBAE via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Win, Become First NL Team to 100 Wins]]>561077161Sun, 22 Sep 2019 16:49:21 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-100-Wins-Sept-2019.jpg

Huyn-Jin Ryu hit a home run and pitched seven solid innings, while Cody Bellinger hit a grand slam, as the Los Angeles Dodgers reached the 100-win mark Sunday with a 7-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

With the Dodgers still undecided on a starter for the National League Division Series opener Oct. 3, Ryu (13-5) made his case by giving up three runs on six hits over seven innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. His first career home run was a bonus.

Four batters after Ryu's home run, Bellinger hit his fifth career grand slam and second this season, going deep off left-hander Jake McGee as the Dodgers improved to 100-56 and reduced their magic number for clinching the best record in the NL to one.

Los Angeles joined Houston and the New York Yankees to give the major leagues three 100-game winners for the third straight season. Before 2017, the only years with three 100-win teams were 1942, 1977, 1998, 2002 and 2003.

The last-place Rockies started fast, getting a home run from Garrett Hampson in the first inning, his sixth. Ryu took over from there, keeping the Rockies off balance until Sam Hilliard's two-run home run in the seventh. It was Hilliard's sixth of the season.

Corey Seager gave the Dodgers a 6-3 lead in the seventh inning with his 18th home run and his sixth-consecutive multi-hit game. Rookie Will Smith made it 7-3 in the eighth with his 14th home run and first since Aug. 31.

Despite entering with an 11.85 ERA over his previous eight starts, Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela held the Dodgers in check early with four scoreless innings. That all changed with Ryu's leadoff home run in the sixth as the right-handed batter just cleared the wall in right-center.

A Joc Pederson walk, followed by singles from Gavin Lux and Justin Turner loaded the bases and chased Senzatela from the game. The move to the left-handed McGee was not the answer as Bellinger hit his 18th home run against a lefty this season. He entered the year with 18 homers against lefties in his previous two seasons.

Senzatela (10-11) gave up four runs on seven hits over four-plus innings with three walks and four strikeouts.

The Dodgers finished 8-1 against the Rockies at home this season and 59-22 overall at Dodger Stadium, the best home record in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

ATTENTION GETTERS

The Dodgers finished the season with a total attendance of 3,974,309 in 81 home dates, topping the previous club record of 3,857,500 set in 2018. The Dodgers sold out 28 games this season, but Sunday's gathering of 47,948 for the regular-season finale was not one of them.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rockies: 3B Nolan Arenado was back in the starting lineup Sunday after missing Saturday's game with a stomach bug.

Dodgers: INF Max Muncy missed his second consecutive game with a tight left quadriceps, an injury that ofccurred during Friday's game against the Rockies. He is expected to start when the Dodgers open their final road trip of the season Tuesday at San Diego. . RHP Joe Kelly has made just one appearance over the last eight days as he continues to work through an unspecified injury that the Dodgers have labeled a leg issue which is not related to a muscle or ligament.

UP NEXT

Rockies: Following an off day Monday, Rockies right-hander Jeff Hoffman (2-6, 6.71) will take the mound at San Francisco in the series opener against the Giants.

Dodgers: Following an off day Monday, left-hander Rich Hill (4-1, 2.68) will return to the mound Tuesday to open a series at San Diego after knee soreness cut down his return from a forearm strain on Sept. 12 at Baltimore.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Hold Off Browns 20-13 on Sunday Night Football]]>561074461Sun, 22 Sep 2019 22:24:39 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-beat-Browns-Sept-2019.jpg

Backed up to their own goal line, the Rams buckled down.

Safety John Johnson III intercepted Baker Mayfield's fourth-down pass with 27 seconds left as Los Angeles escaped with a 20-13 win Sunday night over the short-handed Cleveland Browns, who gave the defending NFC champions all they could handle.

Cooper Kupp caught two touchdown passes from Jared Goff and the Rams (3-0) stopped Mayfield on four straight plays from the 4-yard line in the final minute.

The Rams (3-0) remained unbeaten — and perfect against AFC teams in the regular season under coach Sean McVay — by barely holding back the Browns (1-2), who were missing their entire starting secondary and still took the Rams to the final snaps.

"Unbelievable," McVay said. "It was really a great job by them. I just thought to be able to regather themselves. Four straight downs and fighting through it. They locked it down big time. It was just incredible."

On the Browns' final play, Mayfield, who was under pressure most of the night from Aaron Donald and Clay Matthews III, tried to force a pass to the right corner for Damion Ratley, but Johnson made the pick.

"It was a fight for the ball," Johnson said. "He wanted it, but I had to have it."

The Browns showed they can hang with one of the NFL's elite teams. However, their star-studded offense remains out of sync, Cleveland had too many penalties and first-year coach Freddie Kitchens made a questionable decision on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

Kitchens also lamented not running the ball once in the final series, which began with Cleveland having all three timeouts.

"I should have ran it one time," he said. "That is why I am kicking myself ... . ... If you are looking to blame somebody, blame me. Do not blame any of our players. Do not blame any of our other coaches. Just blame me because I can take it. Just blame me. Go write your article and say that I messed the game up.

"Go write your article and say that it is my fault that things are not looking like it did last year because it is."

Kupp underwent surgery on his left knee and missed the final six games last season, as well as the Rams' run to the Super Bowl. But he's back, giving Goff an additional target and McVay more firepower to work with. McVay is 9-0 against the AFC, with his only loss coming against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Kupp finished with a career-high 11 receptions for 102 yards, but credited Goff for the two scores.

"It mostly was Jared being able to stay alive in the pocket and making some great throws in tight windows," Kupp said. "He has a lot of trust in me, being in the right place at the right time."

Greg Zuerlein kicked two field goals for the Rams.

Mayfield threw one TD pass — a 2-yarder to tight end Demetrius Harris — but isn't playing with the same confidence he showed as a rookie. He finished 18 of 36 for 195 yards and was sacked three times, twice in a three-play span in the fourth by Donald (his first this season) and Matthews, who had two sacks.

Goff's second TD pass to Kupp gave the Rams a 17-13 lead with 12:48 left. After a false start penalty moved the Rams back to the 6, Goff hit Kupp streaking across the end zone virtually uncovered.

The Browns marched to the Rams' 40 and stalled. But instead of punting on fourth-and-9, Kitchens went for it and Nick Chubb was stopped for just 2 yards and the Rams took over.

"Bad call," Kitchens said.

Cleveland, though, caught a break when safety Juston Burris intercepted Goff with 2:46 left. Mayfield completed a 27-yard pass on third-and-15 and drove to the Rams' 4, but he threw four straight incompletions as the comeback came up short.

The Browns came in battered and bruised. They were missing eight starters, including their entire defensive secondary and it was such a desperate situation that Burris, who was claimed Friday off waivers from Oakland, started and played the entire game.

"The defense played out of their minds," Mayfield said.

Although they came up short, the Browns weren't too discouraged after playing with the Rams.

"We matched up well against them," Mayfield said. "I do not think it is like they are that much better than us. I think they are a great team, but we have to do our job. When you look at everything that happened tonight, if we do our job, I think we handle business."

DOMINANT DONALD

Donald made four tackles, including his first sack. He was also flagged for a personal foul after hitting Mayfield on the head.

"I've been improving each week and that's what I like," said the two-time reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year, who was listed as questionable with a back injury, but said it is actually a strained oblique.

"It's not my back, but I'm good, really," he said.

MATTHEWS HONORED

Clay Matthews, a steady and popular linebacker for 16 seasons with the Browns, was inducted into the team's ring of honor at halftime. Matthews was a four-time Pro Bowler, played in 278 games and had 76.5 sacks. He's a semifinalist this year for the third time to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His son, Clay, who is in his first season with the Rams, emerged from the locker room at the end of the ceremony and hugged his dad.

UP NEXT

Rams: host Tampa Bay next Sunday. The Rams have won the last five matchups between the teams.

Browns: visit Baltimore on Sunday. AFC North rivals split their two games last season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Scores 50 in 2nd Half, Stuns No. 19 Washington St. 67-63]]>561025531Sun, 22 Sep 2019 00:00:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCLA-rally-Washington-State-September-2019.jpg

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Demetric Felton with 1:07 left in the game as winless UCLA overcame a 32-point second-half deficit and a record nine TD passes by Washington State's Anthony Gordon and claimed a wild 67-63 victory over the No. 19-ranked Cougars on Saturday night.

Gordon was sacked and fumbled on the next possession with about a minute remaining and UCLA recovered and ran out the clock.

Thompson-Robinson threw for 507 yards and five touchdowns for UCLA (1-3, 1-0 Pac-12).

Gordon threw for 570 yards and broke the school record with nine TD passes for Washington State (3-1, 0-1).

Easop Winston Jr. caught four touchdown passes for Washington State.

Gordon has topped 400 yards passing in all four games this season.

On the first series of the game, UCLA linebacker Josh Woods intercepted a Gordon pass. Thompson-Robinson hit Joshua Kelley on a 14-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.

Gordon replied by finding Winston with a 4-yard touchdown pass.

The Bruins replied with a 31-yard field goal by JJ Molson for a 10-7 lead.

Washington State scored four touchdowns in the second quarter, beginning with Gordon's 28-yard pass to Winston, to take control.

Gordon found Travell Harris for a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 21-10 lead.

Demetric Felton returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown as the Bruins pulled within 21-17.

Gordon replied with short touchdown passes to Winston and Tay Martin for a 35-17 lead that stood at halftime.

In the third, Gordon hit Renard Bell and Dezmon Patmon for touchdowns and a 49-17 lead.

But the Bruins erupted for three touchdowns in the final 4 minutes of the third to close the gap.

Thompson-Robinson ran for one touchdown and threw scoring passes to Chase Cota and Felton to bring the Bruins within 49-38.

In the fourth, Thompson-Robinson hit Devin Asiasi with a 7-yard touchdown pass and then found Cota for a two-point conversion pass to bring UCLA within 49-46 with 14:28 left in the game.

Gordon broke the WSU touchdown record with his eighth, this time a 33-yarder to Winston, for a 56-46 lead with 10:08 left.

Thompson-Robinson ran over from the 3 to cut WSU's lead to 56-53 with 8:10 left.

Washington State was forced to punt and Kyle Philips returned it 69 yards for a touchdown, putting the Bruins ahead 60-56 with 7:31 left.

But Borghi caught a short pass from Gordon and ran 65 yards for a touchdown and a 63-60 lead with 6:11 left.

The Bruins were forced to turn the ball over on downs with 2:38 left. Washington State took over, but Winston fumbled after a reception and UCLA got the ball back on the WSU 26.

THE TAKEAWAY

UCLA: The Bruins came in as the only Pac-12 team averaging less than 300 yards of offense per game (263), but finally put some points on the scoreboard.

Washington State: The Cougars could not stop the Bruins in the second half and were hurt with six turnovers that led to 29 points.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Washington State will likely drop in the poll.

UP NEXT

UCLA plays at Arizona next Saturday

Washington State has a showdown next Saturday at No. 10 Utah.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose to Rockies 4-2, LA Stuck on 99 Wins]]>561019481Sat, 21 Sep 2019 21:48:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Rockies-Sept-2019.jpg

Ryan McMahon and Josh Fuentes hit solo homers, and the Colorado Rockies defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Saturday night to snap a 12-game skid at Dodger Stadium.

It was the Rockies' first win in eight games in Los Angeles this season, and their first here since June 30, 2018.

The NL West champion Dodgers were left sitting on 99 wins while trying to join Houston and the New York Yankees as the major leagues' third 100-game winner for the third straight season.

Kyle Freeland started the game for the Rockies after earlier being reinstated from the injured list, where he'd been with a groin strain. The left-hander gave up three hits and struck out one in two innings.

Freeland then turned it over to originally scheduled starter Chi Chi Gonzalez.

Gonzalez (2-6) gave up two runs and two hits in five innings. He struck out eight and walked one.

Jairo Diaz retired the side in the ninth for his fifth save.

Fuentes homered on the first pitch leading off the seventh to chase Walker Buehler and extend the Rockies' lead to 4-2.

Buehler (13-4) gave up four runs and five hits in six-plus innings. He struck out five and walked three.

The Rockies led 3-0 after three innings.

McMahon homered leading off the second. His only other hit off Buehler was a single on June 27 in Denver. He had been 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts against the right-hander.

Raimel Tapia and Charlie Blackmon added RBI singles in the third.

The Dodgers closed to 3-2 in the fourth on a pair of two-out unearned runs.

Corey Seager's RBI triple eluded a diving Sam Hilliard in center field, with the ball rolling to the warning track. That scored Cody Bellinger after he reached on a throwing error by Gonzalez. Russell Martin followed with an RBI single that scored Seager.

Hilliard robbed A.J. Pollock of a potential home run leading off the fourth with a scrambling catch at the wall.

Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, the Dodgers' defense saved at least one run. With runners on first and third, Hilliard singled to center and Kike Hernandez charged the ball, throwing it so hard to the plate that he tumbled over. Martin tagged out Tapia to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, the Dodgers had the potential tying run on when Hernandez singled with one out. But A.J. Pollock flied out to center and Bellinger fouled out to the catcher next to the netting near the Rockies' on-deck circle to end the threat.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rockies: INF Nolan Arenado wasn't in the lineup because of illness.

Dodgers: INF Max Muncy was out of the lineup after experiencing his left thigh grab in the batter's box a night earlier. He's expected to start Sunday. ... RHP Joe Kelly will be limited until the postseason because of unspecified lower body issues.

UP NEXT

Rockies: RHP Antonio Senzatela (10-10, 6.83 ERA) is 1-1 with a 5.65 ERA in three starts against LA this season.

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 2.35) is 0-1 with a 4.87 ERA in four starts against the Rockies this season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Dodgers Have a Delightful Dilemma]]>561014411Sun, 29 Sep 2019 19:10:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Gavin+Lux+Dilemma.png

Dave Roberts always has the same amusing answer when asked a question by the inquisitive media that he doesn't quite know the answer to yet, but is happy to have the conundrum in question.

For example, when asked a forthcoming question like: "Who is your starting pitcher for Game 1 of the NLDS?"

The Dodgers manager hasn't made a decision yet, but knows his choices are between three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, likely 2019 Cy Young Award winner Hyun-Jin Ryu, and 2018 Rookie of the Year finalist Walker Buehler. 

"Those are high-class problems," he says with a smile.

High-class problems are the kind of problems you want to have. They usually come with success and happiness.

That's the case for Roberts and the Dodgers.

In the four years that Roberts has managed the Los Angeles Dodgers, they've won the National League West division every time (an MLB record). They've advanced to three consecutive NL Championship series and two World Series.

Thanks to the Dodgers bounty of prospects and organizational depth at every position, Roberts now has another high-class problem on his hands:

What to do with second base prospect Gavin Lux when the regular season ends and the postseason begins?

Lux is the Dodgers current No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, and was just named the Minor League Player of the year by Baseball America last week.

Lux, 21, began the season as a shortstop in Double-A Tulsa, but has quickly ascended the baseball ladder, where he is currently the everyday starter at second base against right-handed pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Lux's meteoric rise this season was largely unexpected. MLB ranked Lux the 65th best prospect in all of baseball before the season began, but he is currently ranked 2nd and his development has been forcibly fast-tracked by the front office.

Second base has always been a problem area for the Dodgers. Starting second baseman Brian Dozier left after the 2018 season via free agency, and his void was filled by Enrique Hernandez. Hernandez won the spring training battle for the starting job, but struggled at the plate to start the season.

A midseason hand injury put Hernandez on the injured list, and moved Max Muncy from first base to second base. That move allowed the Dodgers the luxury to experiment with Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger at first base.

A late season fracture to his right wrist put Muncy on the IL, and sprung Lux into action, just in time for September call-ups. At the time, Roberts said Lux would get plenty of runway to prove he could play at the MLB level.

"I see him playing essentially every day against right-handed pitching at second base," said Roberts the day of Lux's MLB debut.

Lux made an impact immediately with a record-breaking debut. In his first career game on Sept. 2, Lux had two hits (2-for-4), a double and scored three runs. The first Dodger in franchise history to score three or more runs in their MLB debut.

Prior to Lux joining the Dodgers, he batted .347 with 26 homers and 76 RBI in 113 games combined between Double-A and Triple-A.

At Oklahoma City, Lux was batting .392 before he was called up and it appeared as if he had picked up right where he left off at the big league level.

However, over the next week, Lux went 1-for-18, and appeared to have trouble adjusting to Major League pitching.

Nonetheless, Lux continued to feel comfortable at the plate, and stayed within himself. He took the slump as a natural part of the game, and continued to focus on what he's been doing all season long.

"I felt the same the whole time," said Lux of the slump. "Even during that stretch where I was 0-for-13 or whatever, I was still hitting the ball hard, just not finding holes and that's kind of how it goes. I think I've felt comfortable this whole time to be honest." 

Lux belted his first career home run in Baltimore on September 10, and since then has been red-hot at the plate. Over that span, Lux is batting .379 with seen RBI, two doubles and two homers.

Muncy's return has put a small dent in his playing time, especially against left-handed pitching, but he's still getting plenty of opportunities to prove himself. Lux was not in the starting lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, but his pinch-hit RBI single helped lift the Dodgers to a come-from-behind 7-5 victory.

Lux's play of late has put the Dodgers in a delightful dilemma. Originally just supposed to be a September call-up to replace the injured Max Muncy, Lux is making a case to be on the postseason roster.

The Dodgers front office just wanted to get Lux's feet wet before likely earning the job as the everyday second baseman in 2020. Now, he might be the missing piece to the World Series puzzle.

Most of the time, prospects called up in September don't get enough runway to prove they deserve a postseason roster spot over a seasoned veteran. However, there is precedent for an unproven rookie to be called-up in September only to steal the starting job from the veteran and make the postseason roster. Corey Seager famously did in 2015, and hasn't looked back since. Lux could be next.

The Dodgers dilemma is a welcome problem to have, and one that might be decided for them. Right-handed utility players Chris Taylor and Hernandez are locks. So is former World Series MVP David Freese. Veteran catcher Russell Martin will be there too. That likely leaves two open spots on the roster with a handful of players to pick from.

Kristopher Negron, Jedd Gyorko, Matt Beaty, Edwin Rios, and Lux. If healthy, Alex Verdugo would certainly be on the roster, leaving the choice down to one of those five. With Verdugo announcing himself that he won't be ready for the NLDS, more than likely, the Dodgers will go with left-handers Beaty and Lux for the final two position player spots.

As for Lux, he doesn't dwell on things beyond his control, and his focus is only on helping the team win in any way he can. Both for these final ten games, and beyond.

"I'm just trying to help the team win in any way. Whether it's running the bases, playing defense, trying to take runs away, or getting a big hit. I'm just trying to compete and win games, and that's all that really matters."

Lux will likely be on the Dodgers NLDS playoff roster, but if Verdugo is healthy enough to return for the NLCS, should they advance that far, another dilemma could be on the horizon.

Thankfully, there's plenty of time to figure out that far in advance, and a couple offensive opportunities in the NLDS for both Beaty and Lux will certainly help make the decision a little easier.

In the meantime, having to think about which of your long list of talented players will be on your 25-man postseason roster in early September is exactly the kind of "high-class problems" Roberts and the Dodgers want to have.



Photo Credit: John McCoy/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reggie Bush Gets Hero's Welcome in Return To USC]]>560940351Fri, 20 Sep 2019 20:41:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/ReggieBushUrbanMeyer.png

Los Angeles is a forward-thinking city, but that doesn't mean it's not enamored with its past.

Fans of the USC Trojans football program are currently caught in that same conundrum. Following the worst football season in two decades in 2018, devoted Trojans are clamoring for a return to the glory days of the early 2000s. 

That was never more evident than when former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush walked out of the tunnel during his highly anticipated return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. 

Bush, 34, was a former two-time All-American tailback for the Trojans from 2003 to 2005 and helped lead the program to three title games and two National Championships. 

Bush went on to become a Super Bowl Champion with the New Orleans Saints, but he was embroiled in scandal, lawsuits and investigations in the years following his collegiate career. 

An NCAA investigation revealed that Bush and his family had received improper benefits during his tenure with the Trojans, and subsequently Bush was ordered to return his Heisman Trophy, and the program had to vacate its last two wins of the 2004 season – including the 2005 Orange Bowl – as well as all of its wins in the 2005 season.

Bush has been banned from the USC campus ever since, and all remnants of his days as a Trojan have been removed from Heritage Hall and the Coliseum. The jerseys of six former Trojan Heisman trophy winners are displayed just below the Peristyle, but Bush's No. 5 is not among them. 

Many fans of Trojan nation blamed Bush for the debilitating sanctions that came down on the football program in the wake of the investigation, but it appeared as if all was forgotten on Friday.

Bush was in attendance as part of the FOX Sports pregame show ahead of the Pac 12 powerhouse matchup between Utah and USC.

Trojan fans adorned in No. 5 jerseys gathered just 20-feet away from the Fox Sports broadcast stage and began chanting, "Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!" hours before the game, at halftime, and after the game.

When not chanting for Bush, fans who remember the glory days of Pete Carroll, called for former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer to take over as head coach of the Trojans.

Meyer was also part of the broadcast team, and was seated to the left of both Bush, and Matt Leinart, the USC quarterback from 2001 to 2005.

Meyer is currently retired, but the national championship coach of both Florida and Ohio State is considered to be the frontrunner to take over for current USC head coach Clay Helton should he be fired at some point during the 2019 season.

"Hire Urban Meyer!" chanted fans as Helton walked past them on the field to warm up with his players and coaches.

Helton has done a tremendous job of ignoring the outside noise that has placed him on the hot seat for the better part of two seasons now. Even Meyer, a close friend of Helton, pretended to ignore the crowds chants and just stared down at his notes as the audience called for his succesion.

During the broadcast, Meyer acknowledged the immense pressure that the head coach of USC is constantly under by saying:

"There are very few places in America where you're expected to win every game you play. This is one of those places. You have the high school recruiting and all the resources…this is a huge game for USC tonight." 

Both Meyer and Leinart picked Utah to win the game, but Bush chose the Trojans.

"I cannot pick against my Trojans," he said. "I will never do it."



Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Announcer: "I Know Where I'd Place My Money"]]>560850082Thu, 19 Sep 2019 23:04:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SIEMAN_CLIPPERS_KNOW_WHERE_ID_PLACE_MY_MONEY_1200x675_1606187075813.jpg

Fresh off his new TV job, Clippers Announcer Brian Sieman joins Fred Roggin to talk about the transition from radio and the Clippers transition to becoming the title favorites. No surprise, he has a bold prediction. Originally aired on Going Roggin, September 22, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[Major Injuries Already Testing Chargers' Secondary Depth]]>560842741Thu, 19 Sep 2019 20:48:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-injuries-September-2019.jpg

A promising regular season is immediately threatened by injuries. Roster depth gradually erodes while far too many key players end up watching from the sidelines.

Give this description to Chargers fans, and they would have to ask you to specify the year.

The Bolts have lived this story several times in recent seasons, particularly near the end of their tenure in San Diego.

And just two games into a new season that began with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, the Chargers are battered by injuries again. The losses have been particularly bad in Los Angeles' promising secondary, where three potential starters are already on injured reserve and a fourth has barely played.

Put it this way: The Chargers' starting strong safety this Sunday could be Roderic Teamer, an undrafted rookie who doesn't have a Wikipedia page.

But the healthy players and their coaches are confident the Chargers (1-1) have built up enough depth and resilience to get through this rough patch, even with Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and the Houston Texans (1-1) visiting Carson on Sunday.

In fact, Gus Bradley — the Chargers' irrepressibly optimistic defensive coordinator — sees this tumult as a chance to be seized.

"When you have injuries like this, it gives opportunities to guys," Bradley said. "There is going to be a story that takes place. That part of it, I think, is pretty cool."

That story is only possible because a secondary that appeared to be one of the NFL's best hasn't even had a chance to play together, and its injury problems are only getting worse.

All-Pro safety Derwin James is already on injured reserve with a broken bone in his foot from training camp. Fellow safety Adrian Phillips joined him on injured reserve Tuesday, two days after he broke his arm in Detroit. Cornerback Trevor Williams, who started seven games last season, is also on IR with a quadriceps injury.

Starting cornerback Michael Davis has missed two days of practice this week with the hamstring injury that has kept him out for all but the first five snaps of the season opener. Star cornerback Casey Hayward is the only expected starter still healthy enough to play against the Texans, and he had to play all 61 snaps last week against the Lions.

Brandon Facyson, an untested second-year pro who signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent, was forced to make his first career start at cornerback last week. He is likely to be in the starting lineup again, and while Bradley will try to match up Hayward with Hopkins, it's likely Facyson will have to step up as well.

"In the first game, he kind of got thrown into it," Bradley said. "I think he was prepared and ready to go as a corner, but a lot of his focus was on special teams. Last week, he had a chance to prepare fully knowing that he was going to be the starter. Hopefully now in really his second game, he takes the next step."

Phillips was an All-Pro special teams player last season, and he was off to a solid start in James' place at strong safety this season before breaking his arm.

If the Chargers don't take a chance on the untested Teamer in the starting lineup, the responsibility could fall to Rayshawn Jenkins, who started at free safety last week. Jenkins has done practice work at strong safety in the physical, in-the-box role required of the position, but it would be an added degree of difficulty.

"Whatever they need me to do, that's what I'm going to do," Jenkins said Thursday. "I'm comfortable playing wherever they need me to be."

Promising rookie safety Nasir Adderley is also a possibility for an increased role, but the second-round pick is still getting up to speed after missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

The Chargers are without three of their seven Pro Bowl selections from last season with the continued contract holdout of running back Melvin Gordon. They were down six starters in Detroit even before Phillips got hurt.

It's just part of being the Chargers — and being in the NFL, according to coach Anthony Lynn.

"There are more than I like, but we have guys that are stepping up," Lynn said. "We have complete confidence in these guys. I feel like we haven't missed a beat. It's just part of the game. You look around the league, guys are going down. It's football."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero to Retire in July 2020]]>560841151Thu, 19 Sep 2019 20:34:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dan-Guerrero-September-2019.jpg

Dan Guerrero will retire as UCLA athletic director next July, ending a 17-year tenure that is the second-longest among current ADs in the Power Five.

Guerrero announced Thursday that he made the decision to step down in 2020 after successfully fighting a previously undisclosed cancer. He credited UCLA's medical team with helping him beat the disease and said his future prognosis is "excellent."

He said he and his wife recently welcomed their second granddaughter and spending time with his family is "incredibly important."

Guerrero turns 68 in November.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said that although Guerrero's contract expires in December, he asked him to remain on the job until the end of the upcoming academic year.

A national search for Guerrero's replacement will be conducted by a professional search firm.

The Bruins have won 32 NCAA team championships in 15 different sports during Guerrero's tenure — the most under any sitting NCAA Division I athletic director. During his time, UCLA became the first school to win 100 NCAA team championships. The school's current total of 118 NCAA titles ranks second in the nation.

Seven of Guerrero's head coaching hires have led their teams to NCAA championships.

Guerrero graduated from UCLA in 1974.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bellinger Hits 45th Homer, Dodgers Lose in Extra Innings]]>560748151Wed, 18 Sep 2019 23:16:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Cody-Bellinger-Sept-18-2019.jpg

Austin Meadows homered leading off the 11th inning, sending Tampa Bay to an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers that helped the Rays keep pace in the AL wild-card race and prevented the New York Yankees from clinching the AL East title Wednesday night.

Tampa Bay remained two games behind Oakland for the top wild card and a half-game ahead of Cleveland for the second spot.

Meadows slugged his 32nd homer off Josh Sborz (0-1), and Ji-Man Choi's sacrifice fly tacked on an insurance run after the Rays had rallied for two runs off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth.

Tommy Pham had a career-high five hits for the Rays, who ended a two-game skid.

Tampa Bay took advantage of another collapse by Jansen, who had shown improvement lately. Jansen got booed off the field after giving up Choi's RBI single and Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly that tied it 6-all.

The teams combined to use 18 pitchers, two more than on Tuesday.

The Dodgers closed to 8-7 in the 11th on Edwin Rios' RBI single with two outs off Pete Fairbanks. But with runners on first and second, pinch-hitter Russell Martin struck out swinging.

Colin Poche (5-5) got the win. Fairbanks earned his second save.

Cody Bellinger slugged his 45th homer in the eighth, ending the Dodgers' three-game skid without a home run. It hit the right field foul pole and extended the lead to 6-4.

The Dodgers led 5-4 in the sixth after pinch-hitter Joc Pederson singled in the tying run and Chris Taylor scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball by d'Arnaud that scooted off to his left.

Dustin May, the Dodgers' seventh pitcher, put the potential tying and go-ahead runs on in the seventh with consecutive hits by Pham and Nate Lowe. But then May struck out Choi and d'Arnaud, and retired Joey Wendle to end the threat.

In the eighth, May again allowed the potential tying run aboard on a leadoff single to Avisail Garcia, who was thrown out by catcher Will Smith trying to steal second.

The Dodgers led 2-1 on Max Muncy's two-run double in the second.

The Rays tied it 3-all in the fifth on Pham's two-run double and took a 4-3 lead in the sixth on pinch-hitter Jesús Aguilar's RBI single, with Willy Adames scoring on Bellinger's throwing error in center field.

LATE SWITCH

For the second straight game, the Dodgers made a late change to their starting pitcher. RHP Casey Sadler got the nod instead of RHP Tony Gonsolin. Sadler tossed two-thirds of an inning. Gonsolin worked in relief, which is what he'll do in the postseason if he makes the roster, so the team wants to use him in that role down the stretch. The same thing happened Tuesday when Caleb Ferguson replaced scheduled starter Ross Stripling, who pitched in relief, also his likely postseason role.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) will throw to hitters Friday and start Tuesday at San Diego. ... 3B Justin Turner is recovering from a sprained left ankle, but no return date has been set. "When he does come back, I want to be confident he can sustain it," manager Dave Roberts said.

UP NEXT

Rays: After an off day, RHP Charlie Morton (15-6, 3.16 ERA) goes for his career-high 16th victory Friday against Boston.

Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (14-5, 3.05) pitches Friday at home against Colorado. He is 22-8 with a 3.41 ERA in 41 career starts versus the Rockies.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Seager Drives in 4 Runs in Dodgers' 7-5 Win Over Rays]]>560649771Tue, 17 Sep 2019 23:35:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Corey-Seager-Sept-2019.jpg

Corey Seager drove in four runs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh, and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5 Tuesday night.

Seager's ground-rule double in the fifth was the Dodgers' first hit of the game and briefly gave them a 2-1 lead.

The Dodgers broke the game open in the seventh with five runs and five hits.

Pete Fairbanks (1-3) gave up Seager's RBI double in the inning. He walked Will Smith before rookie Gavin Lux singled up the middle to chase Fairbanks and make it 5-2.

A.J. Pollock followed with an RBI single off Cole Sulser before Cody Bellinger's RBI double extended the Dodgers' lead to 7-2.

The Rays answered with three runs in the eighth off Kenta Maeda (10-8), including a two-run homer by pinch-hitter Jesús Aguilar that left them trailing 7-5.

Tampa Bay had its lead for the second AL wild card cut to one-half game over Cleveland.

Seager nearly had a homer in the eighth but left fielder Tommy Pham made a leaping grab near the wall to rob him.

Each team ran through eight pitchers.

Kenley Jansen got the final four outs for his 30th save of the season.

Ji-Man Choi hit a solo homer off Pedro Baez that tied the game 2-all in the sixth.

The Rays led 1-0 on Willy Adames' sacrifice fly to right field in the second. It scored Joey Wendle, who walked, stole second and took third on a balk by Caleb Ferguson.

Caleb Ferguson made his second start for the Dodgers after being in the bullpen most of the season. The left-hander allowed one run and no hits in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked two. Ferguson replaced scheduled starter Ross Stripling, who pitched in relief, which will be his role in the postseason.

Tampa Bay's Blake Snell struck out four in two innings in his return from arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow July 25. Last year's AL Cy Young Award winner faced six batters.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: RHP Yonny Chirinos (right middle finger inflammation) could return as a starter or work out of the bullpen when he returns. Either way, he would likely only pitch a couple innings due to his lengthy absence. ... INF Brandon Lowe (right shin, left quad) played in an instructional league game in Florida, but has hurdles to clear before he could return to the active roster.

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) threw a bullpen session. His knee has no structural damage and it's more about tolerating stress on his knee. ... 3B Justin Turner continues to improve from a sprained left ankle. He hasn't played since Sept. 7.

VERDUGO WAITS

OF Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) has yet to be cleared for baseball activities, but hopes to return if the Dodgers reach the NL Championship Series. He said his oblique feels good, but his back is stiff and painful at times. It locked up on him while swinging in a rehab assignment at Ogden, Utah. "It's extremely disappointing," he said. "I love to play. I miss it a lot. I got to stay positive." Verdugo isn't sure if he will go to the team's spring training facility in Arizona to rehab. He was sidelined for his bobblehead night Tuesday. He called his likeness "very accurate." Verdugo saw an early rendering of it and asked if a neck chain could be added. He typically wears multiple jewel-encrusted necklaces, and the maker obliged.

UP NEXT

Rays: LHP Brendan McKay (2-4, 2.57 ERA) is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA in his last five starts since Aug. 7. He's never faced the Dodgers and has made just one interleague start in his career.

Dodgers: RHP Tony Gonsolin (3-2, 2.83) gets the start after allowing one earned run and two hits in three innings of relief last week at Baltimore.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beer Garden, Movie Theater and Gym Planned Around Inglewood Stadium]]>560595791Tue, 17 Sep 2019 12:41:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Stadium+Bowl.jpg

A beer garden/brewpub, a gym and a 12-screen movie theater complex were announced Tuesday as the first three tenants at the Hollywood Park entertainment district that will surround the newly dubbed SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

The $5 billion entertainment complex anchored by the new home of the Rams and Chargers -- and being developed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke -- covers 298 acres at the former site of Hollywood Park racetrack.

While the stadium is the crown jewel of the project, the development is expected to be a sprawling district of restaurants, shopping, office space and residences.

Developers on Tuesday identified the first three tenants of the entertainment district:

  • a 20,000-square-foot beer garden/brewpub operated by Inglewood-based Three Weavers Brewing Co.
  • a 21,000-square-foot gym by Long Beach-based Olympix Fitness 
  • a Cinepolis movie theater complex.

"At Hollywood Park, we are developing a new city in the heart of the greater Los Angeles region where people from all across the world will come together," Jason Gannon, managing director of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to welcome Lynne Weaver, Olympix Fitness and Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, and all of their employees, patrons, members and fans, to Hollywood Park.

"These three groups embody the mix of local businesses and global brands that will make Hollywood Park a unique destination," he said.

SoFi Stadium is scheduled to be open for the start of the 2020 NFL season.



Photo Credit: Los Angeles Stadium]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Have No One to Blame But Themselves After Loss]]>560539411Mon, 16 Sep 2019 20:34:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Chargers-Sept-16-2019.jpg

Anthony Lynn is starting to pencil in at least one game a year where the Los Angeles Chargers fail to capitalize on opportunities and gift-wrap a victory to the opponent.

The third-year coach is hoping Sunday's 13-10 loss at Detroit is the only time that happens this season.

"For whatever reason these types of games show up once a year. I don't like it," Lynn said on Monday. "We're a smart football team. That doesn't happen a lot so it blindsides you when it happens. We normally don't beat ourselves."

When it comes to excruciating defeats when a team messes up multiple times, this one was textbook. Los Angeles had two touchdowns called back due to penalties and then fumbled near the goal line in the same drive. It missed two field goals and saw hopes of sending the game into overtime go for naught when Philip Rivers was intercepted in the end zone.

Now Lynn has to get his team to put this loss behind while dealing with a mounting list of injuries. The Chargers had six starters not play against the Lions. The list will grow by at least one this week with safety Adrian Phillips out due to a broken forearm.

WHAT'S WORKING

The run defense looked more like last season's. The Chargers yielded just 94 yards to the Lions on the ground after giving up 203 in the opener to Indianapolis.

Los Angeles surrendered just one run over 10 yards and none over 20 after allowing five over 10 yards last week, including two over 20.

"We were much better. We knew they were going to pound it and we held them to 3.4 (yards per carry), which is good," Lynn said. "The defensive line played well. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram made extra efforts to make plays in the run game."

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Austin Ekeler is averaging 4.3 yards per carry and has two rushing touchdowns, but he needs to do a better job with ball security near the goal line.

His fumble at the Lions 1 was his second of the season, including the preseason, in a goal-to-go situation.

"He is a heck of a football player but you don't want to see patterns," Lynn said. "The only thing I would fault (on Sunday's carry) is going over the top on first-and-goal. When you go over top you expose the football."

STOCK UP

Cornerback Casey Hayward was one of four players to go all 61 snaps on defense. His interception of Matthew Stafford's pass intended for Kenny Golladay was Stafford's first pick in 162 attempts.

Hayward has 12 interceptions since joining the Chargers in 2016. That is the fourth in the league over the past three-plus seasons.

STOCK DOWN

Ty Long was pressed into double duty again on Sunday due to kicker Michael Badgley's groin jury and missed two field goals. He had a 39-yard attempt hit the left upright during the third quarter and was wide right from 41 yards in the fourth.

Lynn said Badgley continues to make progress but wasn't sure if he would be ready for Sunday's game against Houston.

INJURED

Phillips will be out for a significant period of time due to a broken right forearm which he suffered during the fourth quarter. Lynn said Phillips would be placed on injured reserve in hopes he could possibly return sometime later this season.

KEY NUMBER

4 — Penalties by the offense on one drive, which ended in Ekeler's fumble. Justin Jackson's 60-yard touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty on wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, and a 22-yard Ekeler reception for a score was wiped away by Sam Tevi being flagged for an illegal block.

NEXT STEPS

The Chargers are 1-1 for the second straight season going into Sunday's home game against Houston. There are no signs of Melvin Gordon ending his holdout soon. The biggest adjustment on defense will be seeing who will replace Phillips at strong safety, with Rayshawn Jenkins and Jaylen Watkins being the most likely.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McVay Criticizes McVay's Play-Calling after Rams Win Again]]>560535871Mon, 16 Sep 2019 20:05:51 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-McVay-Sept-2019.jpg

Sean McVay didn't hold back Monday, harshly criticizing the Rams' offensive play-caller for a series of bad selections in the red zone during Los Angeles' 27-9 win over New Orleans.

Since McVay calls all of the Rams' plays himself, he feels pretty confident his target will take the criticism in the right way.

"We had some patches in there offensively where we didn't finish in the red zone, and there were some really poor decisions on my part that really there's no excuse (for)," McVay said. "There were just poor decisions, especially on the third down when we end up throwing the screen to (tight end) Gerald (Everett). That's a bad design, bad idea. There's really no way of running around that one."

Once McVay finishes critiquing himself, he'll get back to work unlocking the potential resting in a team that has scored 57 points and played strong defense during a 2-0 start to the season.

McVay is already imagining what the Rams can do once their high-powered offense gets back into top form. Although the Rams have plenty to work on, they still haven't trailed this season.

Jared Goff's passing game hasn't blown up yet, failing to crack 270 yards in either game. While Goff has done enough to win both games, McVay expects more from an offense that racked up two of the most prolific seasons in NFL history to start his tenure.

In fact, the Rams got more than half of their 265 yards passing last Sunday on only two big plays: Brandin Cooks' spectacular over-the-head catch and Cooper Kupp's even-more-spectacular catch and run.

Cooks' catch dazzled McVay, the former Miami of Ohio receiver.

"I've never caught something that long or that far down the field," McVay said with a laugh. "For Brandin to be able to find that ball, accelerate — and then you can see he actually caught the back tip of that, and then brought it back in before he went to the ground. Because if he didn't kind of regather it on his way down, it probably would have been one of those when it hits the ground it actually comes out. A lot of good things."

WHAT'S WORKING

The Los Angeles defense is off to a superb start despite facing Cam Newton and the high-powered Saints in back-to-back weeks. The Rams are fifth in the NFL with just 293.5 yards per game allowed, and their pass defense is rated sixth in the league. Los Angeles and New England are the only teams that didn't allow a touchdown pass in the first two weeks of the season, and the Rams have allowed just one pass play longer than 20 yards — fewest in the NFL.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The offensive line will need every possible minute to prepare for a near future with three untested starters. Right guard Austin Blythe has a sprained left ankle, which could mean sixth-round pick Jamil Demby, who was waived and re-signed by Los Angeles last season, will make his first career start next to fellow second-year pros Bryan Allen and Joe Noteboom. No starting offensive lineman has missed a game due to injury in McVay's tenure in Los Angeles, but that could change this week.

STOCK UP

Kupp has seamlessly reassumed a prominent role in the Rams' offense after missing the second half of last season with injury. He led Los Angeles with five catches for 120 yards against the Saints, and Goff targeted him nine times — three more than he targeted Cooks and Robert Woods combined.

STOCK DOWN

Woods was targeted only twice — down from 13 targets in Week 1 — and made just one jet sweep run against the Saints. He also had a 14-yard TD reception that was called back by a dubious illegal block penalty on Noteboom. Woods has been an invaluable component of McVay's offense, and it's nearly certain the Rams will work to get the dependable wideout more involved in the upcoming weeks.

INJURED

Blythe said his injury is a low ankle sprain, calling it a "best-case scenario" and "good news." He doesn't know how long he'll be out, but he's not even sure whether he'll have to miss the next game. TE Tyler Higbee left the game with a bruised lung that left him coughing up blood, but his condition is improving, McVay said. The Rams don't know how long Higbee will be out, either.

KEY NUMBER

2: The number of games this season in which the Rams' defense has forced a turnover on the opening drive. After linebacker Cory Littleton forced and recovered a fumble at Carolina, safety John Johnson intercepted a deflected pass by Drew Brees. McVay loves the tone-setting nature of this habit. The Rams have four takeaways in their first two games.

NEXT STEPS

The first of at least five prime-time games for the defending NFC champions when they travel to Cleveland for a Sunday night showdown with the improved Browns. The Rams' early schedule looked fairly tough on paper, and this jaunt to Ohio will be their second long road trip already. Another win would put the Rams on course for a shot at matching last year's 8-0 start.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 2019 Dodgers]]>561448671Thu, 10 Oct 2019 06:16:14 -0700]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Still Have Plenty to Play For]]>560526801Mon, 16 Sep 2019 17:16:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Dodgers+Yankees+Fireworks.png

There's no place like home.

The Los Angeles Dodgers return home to Chavez Ravine after clinching their seventh consecutive National League West Division title and home field advantage for the NLDS round of the MLB Playoffs.

The Boys in Blue still have plenty to play for as they head into their final homestand of the 2019 regular season.

First on the docket is a two-game series with the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays lead the American League wild card race, and should prove to be a tough test for the Dodgers.

After that, the Colorado Rockies come to town over the weekend for the final three games at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles will look to remain perfect (6-0) against the Rockies at home, after sweeping them in two separate series earlier in the season.

The Dodgers are also trying to stave off the suddenly surging Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League, while simultaneously chasing the Yankees and Astros, for the best record in all of baseball and home field advantage in the World Series.

Players are still fighting for a spot on the postseason roster, and the Dodgers are looking to break the single-season franchise record for attendance, by possibly eclipsing the 4-million mark this weekend.

The team has packed the final five games of the season with a plethora of promotional giveaways, so you won't want to miss out on the final homestand.

Here's everything you need to know:

Tuesday, September 17, 7:10 PM vs. Rays

After an off-day on Monday, the Dodgers will begin their final homestand with a pitching matchup featuring two All-Stars in 2018. AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell will start opposite RHP Ross Stripling. The Dodgers will give away an Alex Verdugo bobblehead for the first 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance.

 

Wednesday, September 18, 5:10 PM vs. Rays

The finale of the two-game series will feature a couple of young arms, as LHP Brendan McKay takes the mound for Tampa Bay opposite RHP Tony Gonsolin for the Dodgers. 

The game will have an early start time of 5:10PM and will feature a pregame presentation for closer Kenley Jansen, who was named the Dodgers 2019 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award.

Friday, September 20, 7:10 PM vs. Rockies

The first game of the final series of the regular season will feature three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers.

The game will also celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and fans who purchase tickets at Dodgers.com/DiaDeLosDodgers will receive a special edition "Dia De Los Dodgers" bobblehead. Singer Jaime Camil will sing the national anthem, and after the game fans can enjoy the final Friday Night Fireworks of the season with Latin themed music.

Friday is also Cal State Dominguez Hills Night, and fans or students can purchase tickets at Dodgers.com/CDSUDH and will receive a Dodgers/CDSUDH themed hat.

Saturday, September 21, 6:10PM vs. Rockies

The Dodgers will host the final La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers event of the year before the game, and then be dazzled by Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu during the game. The pregame festivities begin at 2:00PM at the old 76 station and will feature autographs, live entertainment, and games.

The first 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance will receive a Billie Jean King bobblehead in honor of the female tennis legend, who is also a part of the Dodgers ownership group.

 

Sunday, September 22, 1:10PM vs. Rockies

The final home game of the 2019 regular season will be Fan Appreciation Day, as countless prizes will be given away and announced throughout the game. Walker Buehler is expected to start in the final home game, as fans say goodbye to their beloved Dodgers before the postseason begins in October.

After the game, kids will be invited on the field for the final "Kids Run the Bases" promotion of the season.

We'll see you at Dodger Stadium and welcome you back during the postseason.



Photo Credit: Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Fred Roggin Goes In Depth with Graham Bensinger]]>560519292Mon, 16 Sep 2019 16:23:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_BENSINGER_1200x675_1604132419578.jpg

Fred Roggin welcomes the newest addition to KNBC's programming lineup, Graham Bensinger. His successful interview show, In Depth with Graham Bensinger will air late on Sunday nights after Going Roggin. Fred talks with Graham about some of his most memorable moments over the show's first ten seasons. Originally aired on Going Roggin, September 15, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[Too Many Mistakes for Short-Handed Chargers in Loss to Lions]]>560448691Sun, 15 Sep 2019 22:15:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/Lions+Beat+Chargers.PNG

Philip Rivers rattled off a lengthy list of problems for the Los Angeles Chargers, trying to avoid using his team's health issues as an excuse.

"Nothing we did out there today, from the fumbles, the interceptions, to the two touchdowns called back, to a couple third-and-shorts we didn't convert — that had nothing to do with injuries," Rivers said. "That's all self-inflicted."

Rivers left out one important area — a struggling kicking game — but he was right that the short-handed Chargers had plenty of chances to pull away from Detroit on Sunday.

Instead, they let the Lions stay in the game until the fourth quarter, when Detroit took the lead and won 13-10.

Los Angeles is without safety Derwin James (foot), tight end Hunter Henry (knee) and cornerback Trevor Williams (quad), and on Sunday, the Chargers were also missing kicker Michael Badgley (groin). Ty Long, the punter, made a 39-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but he also missed from 39 and 41 yards in the second half.

But the Lions made mistakes of their own. Kicker Matt Prater missed a field goal and an extra point, and Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions. Rivers and the Chargers led 10-6 in the third quarter and appeared poised to increase their advantage.

Justin Jackson broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run, but that was called back for holding toward the end of the play. Then Rivers threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Austin Ekeler, only to have that brought back for an illegal block.

It still appeared Los Angeles would reach the end zone. The Chargers had first-and-goal from the 1 — but Ekeler fumbled trying to leap toward the goal line. He'd scored in similar fashion earlier in the game.

"There's a time to leap, and there's a time to run through," coach Anthony Lynn said. "Usually in a got-to-have-it situation, you can go over the top and extend the ball, but that definitely wasn't a got-to-have-it situation. The ball should have been secured."

The Lions recovered the fumble, and the Chargers never did score again. After falling behind, they drove into field goal range, but on third-and-19 from the Detroit 28, Rivers threw deep into coverage for Keenan Allen and was intercepted by Darius Slay with 1:03 remaining.

"We were just trying to make a play at the end of the game, probably was too aggressive," Allen said. "If we could do it again, probably drop it off short and go for a field goal."

Rivers said no matter how the play looked, he didn't think it was any kind of desperation throw.

"Slay's back was turned to me, so I thought, Keenan maybe, interference maybe, or incomplete and let's go kick it," Rivers said. "I certainly didn't think interception or I wouldn't have thrown it."

It was a frustrating ending for Los Angeles on a day the Chargers rolled up 424 yards.

"We can't fumble the ball on the 1-yard line, we can't have two touchdowns called back with penalties, we've got to make our damn kicks," Lynn said.

]]>
<![CDATA[Zlatan Ibrahimovic Has Hat Trick, Galaxy Routs Sporting 7-2]]>560448441Sun, 15 Sep 2019 22:06:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Galaxy-LAFC-Zlatan-Ibrahimovic-August-2019.jpg

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a hat trick and broke Los Angeles' season goal record with 26 in the Galaxy's 7-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night.

The 37-year-old Swedish star tied it at 1 in 32nd minute to match the goal record set by Carlos Ruiz in 2002, then gave Los Angeles (14-13-3) a 3-1 lead in the 51st to break the mark and completed the hat trick in the 85th.

Los Angeles snapped a four-match winless streak to move into fifth place in the Western Conference, a point ahead of San Jose and two in front of Portland.

Ibrahimovic scored his first goal on a rebound after goalkeeper Tim Melia stopped his penalty kick, then beat Melia with a left-footer from close range to break the record. He also scored the final goal on a left-footer.

Joe Corona gave Los Angeles the lead in the 48th minute on a header off Cristian Pavón's high chip. Uriel Antuna added a goal in the 69th, and Sebastian Lletget struck in the 77th and 79th minutes.

Felipe Gutiérrez scored twice for Sporting (10-13-7).

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[John Ralston, Former Stanford, Broncos Coach, Dies at 92]]>560447741Sun, 15 Sep 2019 21:51:15 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/RalstonAP_19259065953467.jpg

John Ralston, who coached Stanford to two Rose Bowl victories and spent five seasons leading the Denver Broncos, has died. He was 92.

San Jose State, where Ralston finished his coaching career and later worked as special assistant to the athletic director, said Sunday that Ralston died Saturday in Sunnyvale.

Born in Oakland, Ralston spent much of a long coaching career in the Bay Area, but he first became a college head coach at Utah State in 1959.

The former Cal player was hired to coach rival Stanford in 1963. Ralston's Stanford teams won consecutive Pac-8 championships and the Rose Bowl following the 1970 and 1971 regular seasons. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992, Ralston coached 1970 Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett at Stanford and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Merlin Olsen at Utah State.

Ralston left college for the NFL in 1972. With Denver, he had a 34-33-3. He later coached the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League from 1983-84 and at San Jose State from 1993-96.

Ralston served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the South Pacific in World War II, achieving the rank of corporal before attending California.

He was a linebacker at Cal, playing in two Rose Bowl under coach Pappy Waldorf. After coaching high school football in the Bay Area, he returned to Cal as an assistant under Waldorf and was part of the Bears' last Rose Bowl team after the 1958 season.

Among the prominent coaches who worked for Ralston were Super Bowl winners Bill Walsh and Dick Vermeil along with Jim Mora Sr. and Mike White.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Gyorko, Dodgers Damage Mets' Chances With 3-2 Comeback Win]]>560447671Sun, 15 Sep 2019 21:48:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-AP_19259011925323.jpg

Jedd Gyorko came off the bench late and played a big role in rallying the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-2 victory that damaged the New York Mets' dwindling wild-card chances Sunday night.

Gyorko scored the tying run in the eighth inning on Chris Taylor's double and hit an RBI single off Seth Lugo (6-4) with two outs in the ninth to put the NL West champions in front. They moved four games ahead of Atlanta for the best record in the National League with 11 to play and closed within one game of the New York Yankees for the top mark in the majors.

Brandon Nimmo laced a two-run triple for the Mets, who managed only three hits and wasted an excellent start from Zack Wheeler. They completed their penultimate homestand 6-4 and dropped four games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card to with 13 to go. Milwaukee is three games ahead of New York.

Rookie slugger Pete Alonso went 0 for 4 and is hitless in a career-worst 20 consecutive at-bats.

Kiké Hernández got the Dodgers going in the ninth with a one-out double off the left-center wall against Lugo.

Scuffling closer Kenley Jansen (5-3) worked a perfect eighth, and Kenta Maeda got two outs for his fifth career save and second this season.

Wheeler pitched seven outstanding innings for the Mets, and Justin Wilson was summoned to protect a 2-1 lead in the eighth. But the left-hander, who saved Saturday night's win with a perfect ninth and had a 1.40 ERA since coming off the injured list July 2, was out of sorts.

He issued a leadoff walk to Gyorko, who was pinch-hitting, and balked him to second. An up-and-in wild pitch that sent Max Muncy sprawling to the ground moved Gyorko to third, and he scored on Taylor's one-out double off the right-center wall.

Wilson struck out Mets nemesis Corey Seager, and Lugo avoided additional damage when Will Smith flied out to the left field warning track with two on.

In the second, Nimmo lined the 10th pitch of his at-bat against All-Star Walker Buehler just fair down the right field line for a two-run triple.

Seager shaved it to 2-1 with a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Muncy scored with a good slide on a close play at the plate.

Buehler was pulled after 71 sharp pitches in an abbreviated October tuneup. He permitted two hits over five innings and retired his final 11 batters after Nimmo's triple.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner is expected back in the lineup Tuesday and Wednesday against Tampa Bay. He hasn't played since Sept. 7 due to a sprained left ankle. ... Muncy's leadoff single in the fourth was his first hit since Aug. 25, snapping an 0-for-14 skid. He returned Friday from a fractured right wrist that had sidelined him since Aug. 29. Muncy finished 1 for 5 with three strikeouts. ... With two off days this week, the team's top three starters — Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Buehler — will all get extra rest before pitching next weekend against Colorado.

Mets: 3B Todd Frazier was available off the bench, manager Mickey Callaway said. Frazier was hit on the left hand by a pitch late in the game Saturday night. ... LF J.D. Davis was pulled for speedy pinch-runner Sam Haggerty after getting hit in the left side by a 96 mph fastball from Dustin May in the seventh. Davis appeared to be OK, and probably would have been removed for defense the following inning anyway.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: Begin their final homestand of the regular season Tuesday night versus the Rays. RHP Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.40 ERA) faces 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (6-7, 4.28).

Mets: LHP Steven Matz (10-8, 3.84 ERA) goes Monday night at last-place Colorado opposite RHP Antonio Senzatela (9-10, 6.87). Matz threw six scoreless innings last time out against Arizona and is 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts since July 16.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams and Saints Sequel Not as Good as Original]]>560439021Mon, 16 Sep 2019 00:52:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/Brees+thumb+AD.png

Do you remember the original Speed movie starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock?

Reeves starred as LAPD officer Jack Traven, a man called upon to rescue passengers on a public bus that had a bomb strapped to it. If the bus went below 50 MPH, it would explode. Intense action ensued in a heart-stopping thrill ride that was both a critical and commercial success.

A few years later, the sequel came out. Reeves reportedly didn't like the script for Speed 2, so he dropped out and was replaced by actor Jason Patric in the starring role. The movie was panned by critics and grossed less than half of the original at the box office.

The lesson here is that sometimes the sequel doesn't live up to the original, especially when the star does not return. 

That was the case with the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in a highly anticipated rematch of the NFC Championship game from January.

Similar to the original Speed film, the first matchup between two of the best offenses in the NFC was a back-and-forth shootout filled with action, controversy, and plenty of drama.

The Rams won that game in overtime, 26-23, and advanced to their first Super Bowl since 2001. Despite the stunning upset inside the Superdome, the game was overshadowed by an egregious mistake by the referees on a blown pass interference call late in the fourth quarter.

The Saints argued that a Super Bowl berth was stolen from them. The Rams were tired of hearing that their Super Bowl appearance was not earned, but gifted, by the men wearing black-and-white stripes.

Fans in New Orleans sued the NFL, the league changed the rules because of the play, and the Rams eventually would lose to the Patriots 13-3 in Super Bowl 53 without scoring a single touchdown.

Seven months later, the two teams would meet again with less on the line. The Rams were eager to prove that they could defeat the Saints without the benefit of a blown call. The Saints wanted revenge. What unfolded was far different than anyone expected.

Drew Brees, the Saints future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, exited the game with a right thumb injury in the first quarter, and the Rams went on to rout New Orleans, 27-9, in the first game of the newly renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The matchup of two of the top three scoring offenses in the NFL last season sputtered out of the gate. No touchdowns were scored in the first half, and another no-call by the referees stole points from the Saints.

Midway through the second quarter, with the game tied at 3-3, Jared Goff appeared to have been stripped by Saints' defensive end, Trey Hendrickson. Goff's fumble bounced into the arms of Cameron Jordan who returned it all the way to the end zone for a defensive touchdown.

However, referees whistled the play dead, believing that it was not a fumble, but an incomplete pass. The Saints challenged the play, and the call was reversed to a fumble. However, because the officials blew the play dead, the Saints touchdown was negated, and instead they took over possession on their own 13-yard-line.

"When we get poor officiating or we get an awful call like that, we can’t control that," said Saint's head coach Sean Payton. "Our focus this week is going to be on cleaning up the penalties and making sure we got the right guys on the field, too.”

The Rams would head into the locker room with a 6-3 lead, and ran away from New Orleans in the second half as the offense sputtered without Brees.

Brees had to leave the game for just the second time in his 14-year career with the Saints. Brees received x-rays after the game, and said he will see a hand specialist in Los Angeles on Monday. When asked if he was concerned about the injury moving forward, he was straightforward and to the point.

"Yeah, I am concerned," he said after the game. "I'm hoping it's not too significant."

Without their quarterback, the Saints won't have a lot of takeaways from their loss. They will hope Brees won't miss any significant time with the injury, and perhaps do a better job at trying to withhold the reigning two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald, from wreaking havoc on the field.

Donald was the one who hit Brees hand on the play that knocked him out of the game, and he added another quarterback hit and a tackle for loss later in the game.

"I just tried to get the ball, and I hit his hand. I was just trying to make a play," said Donald about the injury to Brees. "I felt like I showed improvement. I gotta keep getting better. I'm still not satisfied." 

Meanwhile for the Rams, there's plenty of positives they can takeaway from their rematch with the Saints, but mostly there's relief that they won't have to hear about the blown pass interference call that helped send them to Super Bowl anymore.

"What happened last year, we've kind of moved past that," said LA Rams head coach Sean McVay after the win. "It's a new season, there's new challenges, and we'll enjoy this one and then get ready to see if we can find a way to get to 3-0."

First and foremost the Rams defense has struggled early in their previous three matchups with the Saints. New Orleans scored a combined 34 points in the first quarter against the Rams in their last three meetings.

With Brees on the field for the first 12 minutes of the game, the Rams shutout the Saints defense in the first quarter, and held them to just three field goals from there on out. It was just the fourth time in over thirteen seasons that the Saints did not score an offensive touchdown.

"Drew's obviously one of the greatest of all-time, and you go in there game planning for him," said Rams linebacker Clay Matthews. "When a guy like Teddy [Bridgewater] comes in, it affects our rush plan and how he's able to escape the pocket. I thought for the most part we held him in check. We didn't give up a touchdown, and that's tremendous against that offense."

Although it took a while to develop a rhythm, the Rams offense eventually got rolling and was able to put up three touchdowns on the Saints in the second half.

"It sometimes takes time," said Goff about the offense. "I think we scored six (points) in the first half and were able to come away with a 27-9 win, and you’re happy about it no matter what. I think every game is different and this game took us a little while to find it."

One player the Rams didn't have in the NFC title game was wide receiver Cooper Kupp, easily Goff's favorite target. Kupp made a difference for the Rams in the rematch on Sunday, leading L.A. with five catches for 120 yards.

"Just to be able to play this game again is a blessing," said Kupp. "All the glory to God. being able to come back and when you go through this adversity. To have the team around me that I did. To have the guys in this locker room encouraging me day in and day out. Going through the recovery is a grind. But when you’re coming into work each day and you’ve got these kind of guys to come in and encourage you, it makes things much easier." 

Kupp made the play of the game with a 67-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter that broke the game open after Goff called his own number for a rushing touchdown on the very next play.

Fans of the two most prolific offenses in the league will certainly be disappointed by the lack of points put up in the rematch without Brees on the field, but if the two teams were to meet again in the NFC Championship expect to see plenty of fireworks the second time around.



Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[No. 24 USC Falls to BYU in Overtime, 30-27]]>560360911Sat, 14 Sep 2019 17:15:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/BYU-USC-Sept-2019.jpg

Dayan Ghanwoloku intercepted a tipped pass in overtime after Jake Oldroyd kicked a 43-yard field to give BYU the lead, and the Cougars beat No. 24 Southern California 30-27 on Saturday, their second straight OT victory over a traditional power program.

Zach Wilson threw for 280 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score for BYU (2-1), which won at Tennessee last week. Ty'Son Williams added 99 yards on 19 carries.

Kedon Slovis threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns for USC (2-1), but was picked off three times, including on the final play of the game. After a week in which USC athletic director Lynn Swann stepped down, coach Clay Helton absorbed a loss that will certainly raise the heat on him going into a crucial stretch of schedule.

The Trojans play No. 11 Utah at home Friday, and then follow with road games against No. 23 Washington and No. 7 Notre Dame.

Ghanwoloku, a defensive back who moonlights as a running back, scored the first touchdown for BYU on a 1-yard run in the first quarter.

The Trojans went up 24-17 on a 30-yard TD catch by Michael Pittman, Jr. early in the fourth quarter. USC went 92 yards in 13 plays after stopping Ghanwoloku for a 1-yard gain on 4th-and-2 from the Trojan 9.

Wilson gave the Cougars a 27-24 lead with 5:41 left in the quarter on a 16-yard run that was set up when the quarterback evaded a sack to hit Gunner Romney with a 35-yard pass.

Chase McGrath tied it up on a 52-yard field goal for USC with 1:43 left in regulation.

THE TAKEAWAY

USC: Slovis and the Trojan offense had plenty of issues after dominating Stanford last week. USC threw a single pass in the third quarter and Slovis had a pair of costly interceptions in the first quarter. The Trojans netted just a field goal on their final three drives in regulation. They have a four-game losing streak in the state of Utah.

BYU: An inability to finish long drives was a problem for the Cougars for a third straight game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

USC will likely fall out of the AP Top 25 when the poll comes out Sunday.

UP NEXT

USC: The Trojans have short week to prepare for Pac-12 South rival Utah.

BYU: The Cougars face their third Pac-12 opponent in four weeks when they host No. 23 Washington next Saturday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Homer Barrage Keeps Rays in Wild Card Spot, Tops Angels 11-4]]>560309801Fri, 13 Sep 2019 23:30:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19257103838768.jpg

The Tampa Bay Rays shook off a rough stop in Texas and got right back into their playoff chase with a surprising burst of power.

Willy Adames, Austin Meadows and Jesús Aguilar homered in the third inning, and the Rays kept pace in the AL wild card race with an 11-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

Guillermo Heredia also homered and Avisaíl García drove in three runs for the Rays, who snapped a two-game mini-skid against the Rangers by trouncing the plummeting Angels for their 12th win in 15 games. Tampa Bay (88-61) remained right behind Oakland (88-60) in the second wild card slot and a game ahead of Cleveland (86-61).

"We're a resilient bunch," Meadows said after hitting his team-leading 30th homer. "Losing two in Texas, those were close games, but I think we bounced back really well. We treat this (playoff race) the same as the beginning of the season. We just go out and play our game."

Although they're 11th in the AL in homers this season, the Rays showed power against the Angels. Meadows' two-run shot extended his hitting streak to 12 games, and it put the Rays ahead to stay during their big third inning against Andrew Heaney (4-5).

Charlie Morton (15-6) yielded three runs over six innings of six-hit ball in yet another strong start.

"The offense, the fact that they were able to do what they did, was huge for me," Morton said. "This group is real loose. I don't see (the playoff race) affecting guys too much. I don't think there's a ton of pressure on guys to act a certain way. We're just playing."

Kole Calhoun hit two homers for the Angels, who lost their fifth straight while playing without Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. They were also without Justin Upton, who was ruled out for the rest of the season after the game with patellar tendinitis.

Los Angeles dropped to 67-81, guaranteeing four straight non-winning seasons for the first time since 1993-96. At least the Angels briefly held their first lead since last Saturday when Albert Pujols doubled and scored on Luis Rengifo's single in the second.

Heaney, the only veteran left in the Angels' rotation, couldn't get out of the fourth inning, yielding 10 hits and six runs in just his second loss since July 6.

"I thought when he went back through the order, the Rays made some adjustments and got hold of some pitches," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said.

TROUT OUT

Trout missed his fifth straight game with an irritated nerve in his right foot. The superstar was in the Angels' early lineup, but was scratched about two hours before game time to give him another day of rest.

"He put his cleat on and it kind of fired up again," Ausmus said.

The Angels don't currently plan to shut down Trout, who leads the AL with 45 homers.

STEADY CHARLIE

Morton has matched his career high by winning 15 games for the second consecutive season, but with more strikeouts than he managed last season in Houston and a near-identical ERA. Morton had a personal 22-game unbeaten streak that ended against the Angels in June, but that defeat remains his only loss in nine career starts against the Halos.

SPEEDY DAVIS

The Rays' Johnny Davis, a fast 29-year-old outfielder from nearby Compton, got his first major league hit in the ninth inning with a triple down the left field line. Davis then scored his first run on Aguilar's sacrifice fly.

Even better, his mother and father were at Angel Stadium to see him play baseball for the very first time, he said.

"As soon as I hit it, I was thinking triple," Davis said. "I felt like I was running in mud."

Davis, who made his big league debut Wednesday as a pinch-runner and promptly got picked off, was signed by Tampa Bay on Aug. 26 out of the Mexican League, where he stole 54 bases. He'll be a pinch-runner and defensive replacement down the stretch for Tampa Bay.

GLOVE GONE

When Aguilar hit a solo homer to center with two outs in the third, outfielder Brian Goodwin's glove fell off his hand and behind the fence into the area by the Big A's ficus trees while he failed to catch it. Goodwin stood on the warning track awkwardly while Aguilar circled the bases, but someone eventually found the glove and threw it back on the field.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell is tentatively scheduled to start Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. He has been out since late July for elbow surgery, but is eager to help the Rays' push for a playoff spot.

Angels: Ohtani had surgery Friday on his left kneecap. He will need eight to 12 weeks of recovery. ... Upton with have a platelet-rich plasma injection soon, and he'll need six weeks of recovery. He was limited to 63 games this season and finished with 12 homers and 40 RBIs — his lowest totals since his 43-game rookie season in 2007.

UP NEXT

Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.15 ERA), a native of the north end of the sprawling five-county Los Angeles area, makes his second start back from a four-month injury absence for Tampa Bay. He faces Jaime Barria (4-8, 6.14 ERA), who is pitching at home for the first time since July after making six straight road appearances.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw, Dodgers Catch Syndergaard on Bad Day, Beat Mets 9-2]]>560295971Fri, 13 Sep 2019 20:23:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19257032850360.jpg

Noah Syndergaard again wobbled with Wilson Ramos as his catcher while Clayton Kershaw was right in the pocket, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers over the New York Mets 9-2 Friday night.

Kershaw (14-5) stopped a rare three-start skid and improved to 10-0 in regular-season play against the Mets. Rookies Gavin Lux and Edwin Ríos homered as the NL West champion Dodgers won their ninth in a row at Citi Field dating to 2016.

Coming off a four-game sweep of Arizona, Syndergaard and the Mets fell flat. They dropped three games behind Chicago for the second NL wild-card spot. Milwaukee and Philadelphia also are ahead of New York, which was eliminated from contention in the NL East.

Earlier in the week, it was revealed Syndergaard (10-8) recently went to his bosses, expressing his wishes to pitch to someone other than Ramos. Known more his hitting than defense, Ramos got this start — manager Mickey Callaway wanted Ramos' bat in the lineup, trusting Syndergaard's "mentality" and adding, "I have faith in Noah he's going to pitch a good game no matter who's catching him."

It worked, at least for three innings. But in the fourth, a walk to Cody Bellinger and singles by Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock produced one run, then Lux homered to dead center.

Ramos swiped at a towel on the bench when the inning ended. Syndergaard was pulled after five innings and 102 pitches, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks.

Syndergaard's shaky outing left him with a 5.20 ERA in 16 starts with Ramos catching. The big right-hander has a 2.22 ERA in 11 starts throwing to backups Tomás Nido and René Rivera.

Syndergaard, by the way, did get to throw to Nido and Rivera, too — they took turns warming him up when Ramos was stranded on the bases and needed extra time to put on his gear. Nido later entered to catch the ninth inning.

Kershaw avoided the first four-game losing streak of his decorated career. He gave up a first-inning homer to J.D. Davis and threw a season-high 105 pitches.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner left after a four-pitch walk to pinch-hitter Pete Alonso loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. His only loss to the Mets came in the 2015 NL Division Series, when he went 1-1.

Pinch-hitter Chris Taylor delivered a two-run double and scored on Cody Bellinger's single in the seventh. Ríos homered in the eighth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: 1B Max Muncy went 0 for 3 with two walks in his first game since Aug. 28. He'd been on the injured list with a fractured right wrist. ... LHP Rich Hill will have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the knee problem that forced him to exit in the first inning of Thursday night's start at Baltimore. It was his first game in the majors after missing 12 weeks with a strained left forearm. "Really frustrating," Hill said. Manager Dave Roberts said it was too early to know how this setback would affect Hill's status for the playoffs. "There's nothing that says you have to name a fourth starter in the middle of September," he said. Roberts said he wouldn't be adverse to bunching some relievers to pitch a postseason game. ... 3B Justin Turner (ankle sprain) could return to the starting lineup Tuesday, Roberts said.

Mets: Alonso didn't start for the first time since Aug. 4. The rookie first baseman who leads the majors with 47 home runs has missed only one game this season. Callaway said he felt Alonso needed a day off after watching him struggle at the plate Thursday. Callaway said he anticipates Alonso starting the rest of the way.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 2.45 ERA) is 4-1 with a 1.38 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets.

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (9-8, 2.70 ERA) is 0-4 with a 3.23 ERA in nine career starts vs. the Dodgers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings to Open Training Camp in El Segundo Under New Coach]]>560256251Fri, 13 Sep 2019 12:29:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA+Kings+Training+Camp.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings will begin their first training camp under coach Todd McLellan Friday at the Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo, with three practices open to the public.

The Kings have divided the 60 players on their roster into three groups. Friday's practices will begin at 10:50 a.m. with a scrimmage between players in Group A and Group B.

The team will hold a Training Camp Fest from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.

There will be opportunities to win tickets to the Oct. 12 home opener against the Nashville Predators and preseason games and unique Kings items. Kings television analyst Jim Fox and retired Kings defenseman Sean O'Donnell, who now works in the team's player development department, will sign autographs from noon-2:30 p.m.

There will be photo opportunities with life-size Kings bobbleheads. A DJ will play music, and Kings game-used equipment will be available for purchase. Admission is free to practices throughout training camp.

The Kings will begin preseason play Tuesday with split-squad gamesagainst the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center and in Glendale, Arizona. Theywill open the regular season Oct. 8 at Calgary.

McLellan was hired April 16 as the Kings third coach in four seasons,not including Willie Desjardins, who coached the team to a 27-34-8 record asinterim coach after replacing John Stevens, who was fired Nov. 4 after theKings got off to a 4-8-1 start.

McLellan inherits a team that had the second-fewest points in the NHL in the 2018-19 season and whose minus-61 goal differential was the league'sworst.

McLellan coached the San Jose Sharks from 2008-15, wining threePacific Division championships and twice reaching the Western Conferencefinals, and Edmonton Oilers from 2015 until being fired 20 games into lastseason.



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Anaheim Ducks to Begin Their First Training Camp Under New Coach]]>560254871Fri, 13 Sep 2019 12:30:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ducks+training+camp.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks will begin their first training camp under coach Dallas Eakins Friday with three practices at Great Park Ice in Irvine, beginning their quest to rebound from their first non-playoff season since 2011-12.

Eakins coached the Ducks American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego the past four seasons. The Ducks' 60-player training camp roster includes 23 players who played for Eakins and the Gulls last season.

Eakins replaces Randy Carlyle, who was fired on Feb. 10 when the Ducks were mired in a seven-game losing streak and tied for last in the NHL's Pacific Division with a 21-26-9 record. General manager Bob Murray served as interim coach the remainder of the season.

The Ducks were 35-37-10 in the 2018-19 season, finishing sixth in the eight-team division.

This is Eakins' second opportunity as an NHL coach. He coached the Edmonton Oilers to a 36-63-14 record from the start of the 2013-14 season until being fired 31 games into the 2014-15 season after Edmonton got off to a 7-19-5 start.

Eakins coached the Gulls to a 154-95-23 record the past four seasons, the best record in the AHL's Pacific Division since its inception in 2015.

The Ducks will begin preseason play Tuesday at San Jose. Their first preseason game at Honda Center will be Sept. 24, also against San Jose. The Ducks will open the regular season Oct. 3 by playing host to the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center.



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Play It Again: Saints, Rams Meet in NFC Title Game Rematch]]>560250641Fri, 13 Sep 2019 10:57:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19255461918129.jpg

The Rams would like to beat the Saints this time without help from the absence of a flag.

Los Angeles' 26-23 overtime win over New Orleans in last season's NFC championship game had wild momentum swings and exciting performances from two of the best offenses in NFL history — and two defenses who did a surprisingly solid job of slowing them.

But the game is sure to go down in football annals mostly for the uncalled pass interference by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman against Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis late in the fourth quarter. Although the legal challenges were dropped this week, many Saints fans still haven't stopped complaining about the non-call that prompted the NFL to change its replay review rules in the offseason.

"That's a New Orleans problem," Rams cornerback Aqib Talib said. "That's not an LA problem."

The Rams and their fans have a different overriding reflection they're taking into the teams' marquee early-season rematch at the Coliseum on Sunday.

"I remember we won," Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "That's what I remember."

Indeed, the Rams reached their first Super Bowl in 17 years after holding the Saints' high-octane offense to 290 yards and allowing just 10 points after the first quarter. Phillips and his defense will try for a repeat of that excellence against Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, while the Saints' defense must contend again with Todd Gurley, Jared Goff and the Rams' quietly devastating corps of receivers.

Their fans might be another matter, but the Saints (1-0) aren't wasting time thinking about the Super Bowl that got away. Coach Sean Payton realizes his team got the ball first in overtime, but couldn't finish.

"It feels like it was a long time ago," Payton said. "It's part of our game. These are two different teams now. A lot of roster moves from last year to this year. We're playing each other early in the season, so it doesn't feel like that many games ago ... but you're looking at two different teams."

They might be different, but they're both expected to be major contenders in the NFC again this year. The Rams' home opener will allow one team to set a tone in the conference race.

"There's nothing that we're taking from last year as motivation," Goff said. "If they are, great. It's just another game for us, and it's our home opener after not being at home for a long time."

Here are more things to know about the rematch:

HOLDING THE LINE

The Saints' offensive line passed its first big test in Week 1, allowing one sack on a linebacker blitz and neutralizing 2018 AFC sacks leader J.J. Watt, holding him without a single significant defensive statistic. The only time Watt influenced the game was when Ryan Ramczyk, his main blocker, was flagged for holding early in the fourth quarter.

Now the Saints must find a way to slow down 2018 NFL sacks leader Aaron Donald. "He's got such a high motor," Brees said. "He is full-go, all the time. He is so multiple in the things that he can do, the moves that he can give you, the inside, the outside, the rip, the jump. I don't even have names for all the moves that he can do to get to the quarterback. You cannot block him with one guy. He's just that good a player. He's such an impact player. He can change the game. I don't know if I've ever seen anybody like him."

GURLEY'S GAME

The concerns about Gurley's apparently balky knee looked fairly unfounded in the Rams' opener at Carolina, where he rushed for 97 yards and looked dangerous. The Rams still expect to use backup Malcolm Brown extensively, but Gurley and an offensive line with two new starters appeared to be in solid form so far. Gurley participated in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday this week, not taking a day off to rest.

GUARDING MIKE

The Rams appeared to find a formula for covering Thomas, the Los Angeles native whose Twitter handle includes the phrase, "can't guard Mike." It took getting burned once to do it. In a 2018 regular- season meeting, Thomas went off for 12 catches for 211 yards, highlighted by a 72-yard touchdown that he celebrated by pulling an old flip phone out of the goal post padding, as former Saints receiver Joe Horn had once done. In that game, Thomas was primarily covered by Marcus Peters. However, the Rams changed their strategy for defending Thomas in a rematch in the NFC title game, using a combination of Peters, Aqib Talib and Robey-Coleman. Thomas had just four catches for 36 yards and no touchdowns in that game.

KUPP CONCERNS

The Saints didn't have to cover Cooper Kupp in the previous meeting, but Payton spoke highly of what the receiver adds to the Rams' offense. "He is such a smart, instinctive player, he does a lot of things well," Payton said. "It is not just in the receiving game. He is blocking. He is putting his hands on guys. ... I think he's very consistent and a very smart player. I think he brings a lot to what they do."

AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hill Struggles in Return as Dodgers Rally Past Orioles 4-2]]>560204411Thu, 12 Sep 2019 21:47:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19255860570430.jpg

Now that Rich Hill finally got past an arm injury, he's got a knee problem that might ruin his bid to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason.

Hill struggled with his control during his first start since June 19 and hurt his left knee in the process, a development that took the edge off a 4-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

"It was an MCL strain, something that he dealt with initially early in spring training," manager Dave Roberts said. "He missed some time with that. We hadn't had any signs of that leading up to this outing."

After spending 12 weeks on the injured list with a strained left forearm, Hill was supposed to go two innings in his first step toward becoming a postseason contributor for the NL West champions. Instead, the 39-year-old failed to make it out of the first.

Hill opened by striking out Hanser Alberto with a 75 mph curveball and getting Jonathan Villar to swing through a third strike.

From there, the outing turned sour.

The lefty hit Trey Mancini in the foot with a pitch, issued a four-pitch walk to Anthony Santander, hit Renato Núñez with a pitch and forced in a run by walking rookie Austin Hays with the count full. That ended Hill's outing after 27 pitches, 13 of which missed the strike zone.

"You could see sometime after that second hitter, it just started to go down as far as velocity, command," Roberts said. "You could see him compensating a little bit, so had to get him out of there."

The frustration showed on Hill's face on the mound, in the dugout and in the clubhouse.

"After the last curveball on the second hitter there, I felt my knee and then I stupidly tried to pitch through it," he said. "I worked hard to get back and felt great."

And then he didn't.

"Unfortunately, it's another bump in the road," Hill said. "Hopefully, it's not too major."

The Dodgers trailed 2-1 in the sixth before Cody Bellinger knotted the score with a single for his 107th RBI. Los Angeles subsequently used a walk and an error to load the bases with two outs for No. 9 hitter Russell Martin. With the count full, Dylan Bundy (6-14) fired a high fastball that Martin swung at and missed. The ball glanced off the mitt of catcher Pedro Severino and traveled to the backstop.

Instead of having an inning-ending strikeout, Bundy watched in disgust from in front of the mound — neglecting to cover the plate — while Bellinger scored from the third base and Corey Seager followed for a 4-2 lead.

"I thought it was a strikeout," Bundy said. "From where I was I couldn't really see where the ball was."

Roberts said, "Obviously Bundy threw the ball well, got frustrated and, to be quite honest, quit on the play. For us to take advantage of it was big."

Tony Gonsolin (3-2) worked three innings of relief and Kenley Jansen got three straight outs for his 29th save.

Severino homered for the Orioles, who have lost 10 of 12.

INCENTIVE TO WIN

The Orioles long ago dropped out of the playoff chase, but they have no intention of coasting to the finish.

"I care. It matters a lot how we play," manager Brandon Hyde said. "I want to see us compete to the last inning of the last game. The message has been sent to our players, and I think they're going to do that."

Baltimore (47-99) is poised to lose 100 games for the second year in a row. Hyde, a rookie manager, was not here for the 47-115 embarrassment in 2018 that initiated an overhaul of the organization.

"It's a different team, it's a different year," he said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: An MRI exam on 3B Justin Turner revealed a mild ankle sprain. Roberts said Turner was unavailable Thursday and his status would be revisited Friday. "There's less concern now that we know it's a mild sprain," Roberts said. "With the sprain, time heals it. What that timeline is, is to be determined." Turner has missed four straight games. ... To make room on the roster for Hill, Los Angeles designated RHP Jaime Schultz for assignment.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-5, 3.06 ERA), who is 9-0 with a 2.14 ERA in 14 career starts against the New York Mets, gets the nod Friday night when Los Angeles opens a three-game series at Citi Field. Orioles: In the opener of a four-game series Friday night in Detroit, Aaron Brooks (4-8, 6.21) tries to bounce back from his last start, when he gave up six runs before getting an out against Texas.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Gail Burton/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Allowing College Athletes to Sign Endorsement Deals Goes to Governor]]>560100331Wed, 11 Sep 2019 21:35:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/College-fair-pay-bill-California-governor-September-2019.jpg

Athletes at California colleges could hire agents and sign endorsement deals under a bill the state Legislature sent to the governor Wednesday, setting up a potential confrontation with the NCAA that could jeopardize the athletic futures of powerhouse programs like USC, UCLA and Stanford.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has not said whether he will sign the bill. But the NCAA Board Of Governors is already urging him not to, warning that if he does California colleges and universities would eventually be banned from NCAA competitions because of their "unfair recruiting advantage."

"It would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics," the Board of Governors said in a letter to Newsom. "These outcomes are untenable and would negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions."

The state Assembly and Senate sent the bill to the governor without a dissenting vote in what Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley said was "a loud and clear message to the NCAA." Several Republican senators noted they had planned to vote against the bill but changed their minds after listening to the debate and, in some cases, lobbying from their children.

"This is one of those situations where I think we need to blaze the trail," said Republican Sen. Jeff Stone, who said his daughter played water polo in college.

Newsom has 30 days to either sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief operating officer and chief legal officer, said their letter to Newsom "is not intended to be a threat at all" but is "a reflection about the way California is going about this."

The NCAA believes the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the federal Commerce Clause , and would consider challenging the bill in court if it becomes law. But Democratic Sen. Nancy Skinner, who authored the bill, called that "a hollow threat."

"This is meant to scare us," she said.

The bill would allow student-athletes to hire agents and be paid for the use of their names, images or likenesses. It would stop California universities and the NCAA from banning athletes that take the money. But it would forbid athletes from signing endorsement deals that conflict with their school's existing contracts. If it becomes law, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The Senate voted 39-0 Wednesday to pass the bill, which has the endorsement of NBA superstar LeBron James, who skipped college and went directly to the NBA before the league changed its rules to require players to be at least one year removed from high school before entering the draft. But the bill could impact James' 14-year-old son, who is a closely watched basketball prospect in Los Angeles.

The NCAA is the top governing body for college sports. Membership is voluntary. Athletes can get valuable scholarships, but the NCAA has long banned paying athletes to preserve the academic missions of colleges and universities.

But college sports have since morphed into a multibillion-dollar industry, igniting a debate over the fairness of not paying the industry's most visible labor force.

Earlier this year, NCAA President Mark Emmert told lawmakers that passing the bill would be premature, noting the NCAA has a committee led by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman that is exploring the issue. Their report is due in October.

The NCAA committee has already said it won't endorse a plan to pay athletes as if they were employees, but the organization could ease limits on endorsement deals for athletes. The NCAA already lets athletes accept money in some instances. Tennis players can accept up to $10,000 in prize money, and Olympians can accept winnings from their competitions.

Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell went to high school with Reggie Miller, who played basketball at UCLA before embarking on an 18-year career in the NBA. Mitchell said she believes Miller's sister, Cheryl Miller, was the better basketball player but her professional options were limited after her collegiate career at USC that included two national championships.

"This is also a gender parity issue for women athletes at the collegiate level to benefit financially when they don't have the same opportunities as their male counterparts," Mitchell said.

In and around California, schools and conferences believe this legislation might not be the best solution.

The Pac-12, which includes USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal, issued a statement reiterating its previous stance — asking the California Legislature to delay the debate until the NCAA announces formal proposals.

"The question is what's the best way to continue to support our student-athletes. We think having more information and informed views will be helpful," the statement said.

J.D. Wicker, the athletic director at San Diego State, a Mountain West Conference member, agreed, saying "California weighing in on this complicates that."

"I think the frustration for me is that they probably don't truly understand the NCAA and how we work as a governing body," Wicker said. "Again, it's schools across 50 states and it's all of us working together, whereas the state of California will only harm California schools."

___

AP Sports Writers Michael Marot in Indianapolis and Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.

___

Online:

NCAA statement: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/ncaa-responds-california-senate-bill-206

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose to Orioles, 7-3, in Baltimore]]>560095651Wed, 11 Sep 2019 20:36:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-lose-to-Orioles-Sept-2019.jpg

In a season defined by baseballs flying out of the park, the Baltimore Orioles have been on the wrong end of the equation more times than any team in major league history.

For a welcome change, the Orioles contributed to a long ball record with one of their own. The milestone homer , a three-run drive in the seventh inning by Jonathan Villar, carried Baltimore past the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 Wednesday night.

Villar's drive off Caleb Ferguson (1-2) was the 6,106th in the majors this season, breaking the previous mark of 6,105 in 2017. Villar sent a fastball deep into the left field seats to break a 2-2 deadlock and help the Orioles snap a six-game skid.

"Somebody told me after the homer (about the record). That's unbelievable," Villar said. "They put the bat in the Hall of Fame. I'm excited for that."

The Orioles have yielded a major league record 280 homers this season, but on this night they hit the two that mattered most: Villar's and a two-run drive by Pedro Severino in the eighth.

"The home runs are up everywhere and it's tough to keep the ball in the ballpark," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "I've seen enough home runs here from the other side, so it's nice to get one from our side."

Having clinched the NL West title on Tuesday night before indulging in a boozy celebration, the Dodgers did not appear to play with their usual intensity.

"I imagine there may not be a winning record for teams (the day) after they clinch, but definitely not an excuse that we'll use," said starter Ross Stripling, who toiled for only three innings before getting the rest of the night off.

Manager Dave Roberts rested starters Joc Pederson and Justin Turner. A first-inning double by David Freese was Los Angeles' only hit off John Means through the fifth, and the Dodgers finished with six hits — the most notable a two-run shot by A.J. Pollock that made it 2-1 in the sixth.

"I thought we were ready," Roberts insisted. "You have to give credit to the guy over there who made pitches."

Roberts used seven pitchers.

"I thought up until that seventh inning, we threw the ball really well," he said.

The Baltimore seventh began with a walk, and Austin Hays' third hit of the game preceded Villar's career-high 21st home run.

"Huge hit for us," Hyde said.

The victory was Baltimore's 47th of the season, matching its total from last year. The Orioles remain two defeats away from their second straight 100-loss season.

Shawn Armstrong (1-1) followed Means with 1 2/3 innings of one-hit relief to earn his second career victory in 100 appearances.

SHOUT OUT

Roberts is in the midst of his fourth straight 90-win season with Los Angeles. Hyde is striving to win 50 games in his first year with the rebuilding Orioles.

Hyde, who won a World Series ring as a coach with the Chicago Cubs, can appreciate what it takes to be a constant winner.

"I have a lot of respect for the Dodgers. I have a lot of respect for Dave Roberts," Hyde said. "That's so hard to do, seven years in a row winning the division. He's done some great things there."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: Turner (ankle) remained out of the lineup. Roberts said X-rays were inconclusive and that Turner would undergo an MRI exam. "Right now, with where we're at, to push it doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Roberts said. ... INF Max Muncy (fractured wrist) is expected to rejoin the team Friday in New York. Muncy, who has 33 HRs and 87 RBIs, has been hitting live pitching in Arizona this week.

Orioles: Hyde is adamant about protecting the right arm of 2013 first-round pick Hunter Harvey (1-0, 1.69 ERA over 5 1/3 innings). "He hasn't thrown this much since 2014, so he's got some soreness," Hyde said. "He's never pitched into September, so we're just giving him a little bit more time off."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (4-1, 2.55 ERA), who is 2-0 with an 0.87 ERA in 12 lifetime appearances against Baltimore, returns from a forearm strain Thursday night to make his first appearance since June 19 in the finale of the three-game series.

Orioles: Dylan Bundy (6-13, 5.06) makes his 28th start, needing to win twice more to match his victory total of 2018.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Injured Charger Hunter Henry to Miss 4 to 6 Weeks: Report]]>560087291Thu, 12 Sep 2019 09:06:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-1173190265.jpg

After missing most of the 2018 season with a torn ACL, Hunter Henry and the Chargers hoped to have the tight end on the field and healthy in 2019. Those dreams were dashed after just one game.

The team announced Wednesday that Henry suffered a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee. ESPN reported the player will miss 4 to 6 weeks.

"It's obviously disappointing," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "You hate it for him. You saw how excited he was to be out there this year and how hard he worked to get back. From an offensive standpoint, you saw how big a part of it he is and what it was going to be from last week here as the season gets going."

The Arkansas product hurt his knee during Sunday’s game against the Colts in the fourth quarter with 30 seconds left in regulation. He came back in overtime and caught a 17-yard pass from Rivers. He also delivered a key block to help running back Austin Ekeler score the game-winning touchdown.

"He's taking it tough, but he's doing fine," said head coach Anthony Lynn. "He wants to be here with his teammates. He wants to play. And not being out there with them, he feels like he's letting them down. But he's not. You can't control these things. You can only control what you can control.”

Henry tore his ACL in May 2018 during OTAs in a non-contact play. He worked his way back in time to play in the divisional game of the playoffs against the New England Patriots.

"Hunter is just a guy who loves being out there," explained Ekeler. "He’s vocal out there on the field. He’s always saying random things and just smiling. We just got him back and he fractures his knee. Hopefully it’s a clean recovery and he is back out."

The Chargers were already missing safety Derwin James, left tackle Russell Okung, cornerback Trevor Williams, and running back Melvin Gordon (hold out). Despite all the losses the team hasn’t moved off their “next man up” mentality.

"The league doesn’t wait on anybody. I don’t care what player you are, but Hunter was a big part of our offense," center Mike Pouncey said. "We are going to need guys to step up to replace his production until he gets back. I think we have enough depth at that position to get the job done."

Two of the players that will need to step up are tight ends Virgil Green and Sean Culkin, who saw a lot of work last year when Henry missed time due to injury. Last year they had Antonio Gates as their third tight end, but it doesn’t sound like that will be the case this year.

"I have not been in contact with Antonio," Anthony Lynn said. "I’m not sure what his situation is."

Lynn did state that the team will not put the fourth-year tight end on IR because they are hopeful they will get him back sooner rather than later.

Nuts N’ Bolts

• Chargers Wednesday injury report: DNP (did not practice): CB Mike Davis (hamstring), TE Hunter Henry (knee), DE Isaac Rochell (concussion), S Roderic Teamer (hamstring), WR Mike Williams (knee). Limited Practice: K Michael Badgley (right groin), LB Jatavis Brown (ankle), WR Geremy Davis (hamstring), LB Denzel Perryman (ankle).

• Lynn did say he was concerned for receiver Mike Williams availability on Sunday due to the knee injury and they will monitor him during the week.

• Punter/Kicker Ty Long named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, a career first. Long made three extra point attempts and a 40-yard FG. Long became the first player since Olindo Mare in 1997 to make a field goal, extra point and punt in career debut. Long also averaged 49 yards a punt.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Clinch 7th Straight NL West Title, Become 1st Playoff Team]]>559991461Tue, 10 Sep 2019 21:10:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Win-NL-West-Title-Sept-10.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers sprayed each other with bubbly, emptied dozens of bottles of beer while drinking very little of it and essentially carried on in a fashion appropriate for a team celebrating its seventh consecutive NL West tile.

Certainly, the Dodgers were elated about becoming the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season. Yet, because the occasion was virtually a given since May and not nearly as emotional as their playoff win over Colorado in Game 163 last year, the party was, as manager Dave Roberts put it, "subdued."

"It was one of those things that we expected it," Roberts said Tuesday night after a clinching 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. "It's obviously early in September, but it doesn't take away what we as an organization accomplished."

The Dodgers, with a power-packed lineup and imposing rotation, gained sole possession of first place on April 17 and never looked back. Their final pursuer was the Arizona Diamondbacks, who dropped 18½ games out of first place with a loss to the Mets.

After the last out, the players gathered around the mound for a wardrobe change for the soaking to follow the second-earliest NL West clinching behind the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, who accomplished the feat on Sept. 7.

Sure, the celebration was inevitable. So what?

"When we do get moments like this, I think we do a good job of appreciating what we have accomplished and it's special. It really is," Roberts said. 'To win one division, but to win seven in a row, the consistency of the organization, what we've done, a lot of credit goes to a lot of people. And now it's the idea of refocusing and everything we do going forward is to win 11 games in October."

Los Angeles, coming off consecutive World Series losses to Houston and Boston and seeking its first title since 1988, will likely begin the postseason at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 3 against the NL wild-card team.

"It's something you don't take for granted. You enjoy them all," said third baseman Justin Turner, who received a beer drenching in the middle of his interview. "Obviously not as dramatic as last year, going to a Game 163, but it doesn't take anything away from what we've accomplished. We've showed up trying to give ourselves another chance to make it to the World Series, and this is the first step."

On the outskirt of the mayhem-filled clubhouse, former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda watched with a beer in his hand. Roberts came by to shake the hand of the 91-year-old face of the franchise, who ultimately was greeted by almost every beer-soaked player in striking distance.

Los Angeles (94-52) has never clinched the division earlier, both in terms of date and games. The 1977 team did it in Game 151, and the 2013 club clinched on Sept. 19.

Though an Arizona loss to the Mets would have clinched it for the Dodgers, Los Angeles emphatically took care of business on its own. Corey Seager homered with two on to cap a four-run first inning against Ty Blach (1-3) and added a two-run drive in the third for a 6-0 lead.

Gavin Lux hit his first career homer in the fifth to increase the Dodgers' NL record for long balls in a season to 258.

Tagged by Colorado for six runs in five innings during his previous start, Walker Buehler (13-3) limited last-place Baltimore to four hits over seven shutout innings for the team with the lowest ERA in the league.

Buehler struck out 11, reaching double figures for the sixth time. He has 201 for the season.

"That was just a clinic from first inning through the seventh for him," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "Four pitches for strikes, locating everything. I haven't seen the video, but it didn't seem like he missed a spot the whole night."

The Dodgers can now coast to the finish, although they have a shot at breaking the franchise record for largest final first-place margin, 13½ games in 1955. LA is also in the running against Houston and the Yankees for best record in the majors and home-field advantage throughout October.

DOG DAY

Attendance was announced at 12,356 — including 233 dogs, as part of a bring-your-dog-to-the-park promotion.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: Turner (ankle) opted to rest his tender ankle and did not play. "He feels that trying to give it another day will benefit him," Roberts said. "It's something he could play through but it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense." ... OF Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) is taking a few days off from baseball activities, making his potential to return less probable. "Each day we don't get him moving closer to playing makes it more bleak," Roberts said. "But we're still hopeful."

Orioles: RHP Hunter Harvey threw a bullpen before Tuesday's game. He hasn't pitched since facing one batter at Tampa Bay on Sept. 2. "He just had a little bit of soreness, and we just wanted to stay away from him for a while," manager Brandon Hyde said. ... RHP Asher Wojciechowski will be pushed back a day or two. He was removed from Sunday's starter after two innings, and Hyde thought Wojciechowski was suffering from fatigue.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.42 ERA) makes a spot start in his first appearance since throwing two innings of scoreless relief against Colorado last Wednesday.

Orioles: LHP John Means (10-10, 3.50) is 2-5 in his last seven games but has not allowed more than two earned runs in four straight starts.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA84 Foundation Bridges the Gap in Play Equity]]>559987242Tue, 10 Sep 2019 18:22:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA84_Foundation_Bridges_the_Gap_in_Play_Equity.jpg

The LS84 Foundation Summit brings together Olympic athletes, leaders and more to discuss making sports safer for kids. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Ceremonial First Pitches at Dodger Stadium]]>437654683Tue, 10 Sep 2019 07:08:43 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/GettyImages-1173256918.jpgFrom the adorable Kershaw siblings to a determined looking Danny Trejo and the family of Jackie Robinson, we have a collection of some of the best ceremonial first pitches at Dodger Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' McVay Pleased by New Faces up Front, Familiar Result]]>559895681Mon, 09 Sep 2019 21:11:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Rams-September-2019.jpg

For an offense that values continuity, the Los Angeles Rams had no problems bringing two inexperienced linemen into the fold.

Coach Sean McVay was pleased by center Brian Allen and left guard Joe Noteboom during the Rams' 30-27 win at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The second-year pros opened the way for 166 yards rushing with an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

Allen and Noteboom both made their first career starts after the Rams did not re-sign veterans John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold.

"I thought they were really productive," McVay said Monday night. "Took us a little bit to get going offensively, but once we settled in I thought the removal that we got in the run game, the way they protected for the most part, was really a great job by those guys."

Allen was just as effective in handling the mechanics of his position, such as calling out protections. The Rams were not flagged for any false start or delay of game penalties, and Allen was even able to help quarterback Jared Goff get Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to jump offside on a key third down in the third quarter.

"He and Jared, their rapport continues to grow, and to be able to do it in a game that actually counts and be able to evaluate him, especially against the caliber of players and the structure of defenses that coach (Ron) Rivera was activating, we were really pleased with Brian," McVay said. "I would say we're proud of the performance, excited about it, but not surprised."

WHAT'S WORKING

For all the concern about Todd Gurley's knee, the Rams showed they can still run the ball with their star back leading the way. Gurley had 64 yards rushing on 10 carries in the fourth quarter, finishing with 97 yards on 14 attempts. But it will be more of a committee effort this season to keep Gurley healthy. Malcolm Brown added 53 yards rushing and two short touchdowns as the main back near the goal line.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The usually solid Rams special teams had an off day, with Greg Zuerlein missing a late field goal and return specialist JoJo Natson fielding a punt inside his own 5. Punter Johnny Hekker could have done more for the brand, as his first boot of the season traveled 7 yards. Hekker also had a punt blocked to set up a touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey.

STOCK UP

Outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. sacked Cam Newton twice, matching his seven-game total with the Rams last year after being acquired from Jacksonville in a midseason trade. Fowler said having a whole offseason to understand the nuances of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' system helped him to get off to a fast start. "It's a big, huge difference just being in the system," Fowler said Monday. "When I first came in, it was like I had four days to get ready, learn a whole new playbook."

STOCK DOWN

Fresh off signing his record-setting contract extension, Goff wasn't particularly sharp against the Panthers. Goff threw for 186 yards and one touchdown with one interception, and just five of his 23 completions gained at least 10 yards.

INJURED

Safety Eric Weddle is in the concussion protocol after sustaining a cut to his head caused by an errant knee from McCaffrey. McVay said Weddle did not have any symptoms of a concussion Monday and that the 13-year veteran would prepare this week as if he will play Sunday.

KEY NUMBER

.824 — The Rams are 14-3 on the road in the regular season since McVay took over as coach in 2017, the best winning percentage in the NFL during that span.

NEXT STEPS

A rematch of the controversial NFC championship game against New Orleans (1-0) is on deck in the Rams' home opener on Sunday. Fowler said he would be watching the Saints on Monday night, and the Rams will need plenty of pressure from him, Clay Matthews III and Aaron Donald to keep quarterback Drew Brees in check.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Mike Trout Has Minor Cryo Procedure on Ailing Foot]]>559895331Mon, 09 Sep 2019 21:05:11 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mike-Trout-Getty.jpg

Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout has undergone a cryoablation procedure to alleviate pain in his right foot.

Angels manager Brad Ausmus described the procedure as relatively minor Monday night.

Trout wasn't in the Angels' lineup for the second straight game when they opened a homestand against Cleveland. Ausmus says he could return later in the series.

Trout has been bothered by nerve pain in his foot for several weeks, but has largely played through it. The cryoablation procedure uses extreme cold to essentially deaden the tissue around the irritated nerve.

Trout is batting .291 with an AL-leading 45 homers and 104 RBIs. His .438 on-base percentage leads the majors.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann Resigns]]>559857471Mon, 09 Sep 2019 16:36:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1096776040.jpg

The Director of Athletics at the University of Southern California Lynn Swann suddenly resigned Monday, without revealing why.

The news came from university president Carol L. Folt, who said Swann has been a "leader on and off the field at USC for nearly five decades, and he will forever be a valued member of the Trojan family." His resignation was effective immediately. 

Lynn led the athletics department for three years, and will be leaving the position with the graduation rate at an all-time high of 86% for USC Athletics, the statement read.

Dave Roberts, a special adviser to Folt, will act as interim athletic director. 

The committee was set to search for a permanent replacement, and encouraged the Trojan family to send in recommendations via email at adsearch@usc.edu.

Swann played for USC as a wide receiver. He was drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974, where he won four Super Bowls with the team and was named MVP of Super Bowl X. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. 

There was no comment immediately available from Swann.

Multiple figures connected to USC's athletics department have been implicated in the nationwide college-admissions cheating scandal, in which well-heeled parents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to have their children admitted to elite universities, including USC, often by posing the students as athletic recruits in sports which they often never played.

Former USC women's soccer head coach Ali Khosroshahin has agreed to plead guilty in the case. His assistant, Laura Janke, has already pleaded guilty, with prosecutors saying the pair were paid about $350,000 to designate four students as soccer recruits "despite the fact that none of those children played competitive soccer."

USC Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Heinel and water polo head coach Jovan Vavic were also charged in the case, and were fired from their jobs.

Swann, who was hired as USC's athletic director in 2016, had a stellar career as a Trojan wide receiver and was selected in the first round of the 1974 NFL draft. He had a Hall of Fame professional career, winning four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There was no immediate comment from Swann.

The buzz around campus is the USC president is cleaning house and the resignation is just the beginning.

"I’m not going to lie, it’s a little suspect," said student Zoe Mehall. "It’s quite annoying when you tell people you go to USC, and people are like, 'How much did you pay to get in?'"

City News Service contributed to this report. 



Photo Credit: MediaNews Group via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Nola No-Call' Lawsuit is No More; Fan Drops His Fight]]>559849121Mon, 09 Sep 2019 11:41:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NFC-Championship-no-call-case-July-2019.jpg

An attorney and New Orleans Saints fan said Monday he will go no further with his court fight against the NFL over game officials' failure to call an obvious penalty at a crucial point in a January playoff game.

The no-call helped the Los Angeles Rams beat the Saints and advance to the Super Bowl.

Lawyer Antonio LeMon and three others sued, alleging fraud by the NFL. The case was dismissed Friday by Louisiana's Supreme Court. A state judge and an appellate court had allowed the suit to proceed over NFL objections. And, for a time, it looked as though Commissioner Roger Goodell and three playoff game officials might have to submit to questions under oath.

"The Louisiana Supreme Court has now spoken," LeMon said in a prepared statement Monday morning. "Consequently we, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, are ready to move on and respect the ruling of our State's highest court.

LeMon nevertheless called Friday's ruling disappointing.

"By this Supreme Court ruling, the only right given to the purchaser of an NFL ticket, at least in Louisiana, is to get a seat in the stadium," his statement said. "Once in that seat, the NFL has a license to do whatever it wants to us little ticket-holders, even to commit fraud and deceptive consumer trade practices against us without any civil recourse."

The NFL declined comment Monday.

Three other lawsuits over the no-call had already died in federal court. At the center of each of them: The lack of a pass interference or roughness penalty after a Rams player's helmet-to-helmet hit on a Saints receiver with a pass on the way.

Among allegations in LeMon's lawsuit are claims that fraud and "implicit or unconscious bias" on the part of game officials from the Los Angeles area led to the decision not to flag the penalty.

LeMon did succeed in getting some responses from the NFL to written queries before the state Supreme Court halted action in the case while it was pending. The league acknowledged that video shows that pass interference and unnecessary roughness penalties should have been called. But it also said officials who were in proper position at the time of the play saw it "in real-time at full speed" and did not see the penalties.

"It is for each of us who have viewed the "No Call" play to decide if the NFL and Commissioner Goodell are being truthful and whether these sworn responses are disturbing," LeMon's Monday statement said.

In April, NFL owners voted to next season allow pass interference calls and non-calls to be challenged by coaches and reviewed on replay by officials.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ekeler Scores 3 Touchdowns in Chargers 30-24 OT Win Over Colts]]>559779851Sun, 08 Sep 2019 17:11:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19251839335201.jpg

Austin Ekeler scored three touchdowns, including the winner on a 7-yard run with 5:01 remaining in overtime, to give the Los Angeles Chargers a 30-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The Chargers got the ball to start overtime and went 75 yards on eight plays. Ekeler, the Chargers' lead back with Melvin Gordon holding out for a new contract, had 154 all-purpose yards on the day. He ran for 58 yards on 10 carries and caught six passes for 96 yards and two scores.

Rivers, who made his 209th consecutive start to pass Peyton Manning for third longest among NFL QBs, completed 25 of 34 passes for 333 yards. It is the fifth time Rivers has thrown three or more TD passes in an opener.

The Chargers led 24-9 midway through the third quarter before allowing 15 straight points to force overtime. Marlon Mack, who had 25 carries for 174 yards, brought the Colts within 24-16 after Ekeler's second touchdown with a career-long 63-yard scamper up the left sideline.

Indianapolis tied it with 48 seconds remaining when Jacoby Brissett hit T.Y. Hilton for their second scoring connection of the day. Hilton caught the ball at the Chargers 19, made Adrian Phillips miss and then was able to extend the ball over the pylon before going out of bounds.

The tying drive was set up when Malik Hooker made a great one-handed interception in the end zone on Rivers' pass intended for Keenan Allen. Hooker returned the pass to the Colts 20.

Brissett, now the Colts' starter with a lucrative contract after Andrew Luck retired last month, had a solid game, going 21 of 27 for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Hilton caught eight passes for 87 yards.

Ekeler opened the scoring with a 1-yard reception. Ty Long kicked a 22-yard field goal earlier in the series, but Indianapolis' Denico Autry was called for unnecessary roughness. The Chargers took the points off the board to go for the touchdown.

Ekeler then went 55 yards on a screen pass on Los Angeles' first drive of the third quarter to extend its lead to 24-9. Ekeler shed attempted tackles by Darius Leonard and Pierre Desir before motoring up the right sideline.

Allen had 10 receptions for 123 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter on which he outmuscled Rock Ya-Sin in the end zone.

Brissett tied it at 7 with a 4-yard strike to T.Y. Hilton.

TALE OF TWO KICKERS

Long became the first player since Miami's Olindo Mare in 1997 to have an extra point, field goal and punt in his first NFL game. Long, signed during the offseason after two years with the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League, was pressed into kicking duty after Michael Badgley suffered a groin injury in Friday's practice. Long also became the eighth Chargers kicker in a game since the start of 2017.

Meanwhile Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri experienced something for the first time in his 24-year career: two missed field goals and a missed extra point in the same game. It is the 18th time he has missed two or more field goals in a game.

UP NEXT

Colts: travel to Tennessee next Sunday. Indianapolis won both meetings last season, including 33-17 in Week 17 which gave the Colts the final AFC playoff spot.

Chargers: at Detroit next Sunday. Los Angeles has won seven of the last eight in the series.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Giants 5-0, Magic Number at 2 for NL West]]>559779331Sun, 08 Sep 2019 17:02:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19251793896535.jpg

Corey Seager and Matt Beaty homered, Kenta Maeda threw four dominant innings in relief, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 5-0 Sunday to reduce their magic number to clinch the NL West to two.

The Dodgers (93-52) can lock up their seventh consecutive division title Tuesday at Baltimore when they open a three-game series.

Beaty delivered a two-run home run in the fourth inning and Seager added a three-run shot in the fifth as the Dodgers increased their NL-record homer total to 255. They are 79-33 in games when they hit a home run. This year's Twins hold the major league record with 274 homers.

Maeda (9-8) replaced Julio Urías after two innings and retired his first 10 batters. The Japanese right-hander is being transitioned into a relief role for the postseason to help an inconsistent bullpen. He gave up one hit and struck out six.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was on the bench for the last time in a game at Dodger Stadium. He finished 107-108 in the ballpark and has the most victories of any visiting manager there.

Bochy will end his managerial career with three games against the Dodgers at San Francisco from Sept. 27-29. He still needs five victories for 2,000.

After losing 1-0 to the Giants on Saturday, the Dodgers were held scoreless for 12 consecutive innings before Beaty homered into the San Francisco bullpen in the fourth. It was his ninth home run of the season.

One inning later, Seager hit a shot to center off Dereck Rodriguez (5-9), his 14th of the season. After A.J. Pollock followed with a walk, Rodriguez's day came to an end, giving up five runs, three hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings with four strikeouts.

Urías, who is still being considered for a starting role in the playoffs, gave up two hits in the first inning and a leadoff bunt single to Mike Yastrzemski in the second, but did not allow a run. This was his second appearance since returning from a 20-game suspension under MLB's domestic violence policy.

SUSPENSION LIFTED

Justin Turner's one-game suspension for bumping umpire Rob Drake on Aug. 26 has been rescinded, but the Dodgers third baseman was still out of the lineup Sunday. Turner has been dealing with a minor ankle issue since Friday and was replaced by a pinch runner late in Saturday's game. He is expected to return to the starting lineup Tuesday.

Turner appealed the suspension, claiming Drake was the one who bumped into him. Even though the one-game ban was lifted, Turner was still required to pay an undisclosed fine.

TRAINERS' ROOM

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto will make his return from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The original plan was to have Cueto start in the just-completed series at Los Angeles, but a bout of back tightness nixed those plans.

Dodgers: RHP Joe Kelly still is dealing with leg soreness, but the reliever did pitch a scoreless inning Saturday against the Giants.

UP NEXT

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (9-8, 3.81 ERA) will take the mound Monday at home in the opener of a four-game series against the Pirates, coming off an outing at St. Louis when he matched a season high by allowing six earned runs.

Dodgers: After day off Monday, the Dodgers will open a three-game series at Baltimore with Walker Buehler (12-2, 3.28) on the mound.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Fete Giants Manager Bruce Bochy in Final Visit to LA]]>559715521Sat, 07 Sep 2019 19:54:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers15.jpg

The Dodgers set aside their fierce rivalry with the Giants for a few moments to honor San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy.

Before Friday's series opener, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts welcomed Bochy onto the field behind home plate.

Bochy is retiring at season's end, which is Sept. 29 since at 67-73 the Giants won't be making the postseason.

They beat Clayton Kershaw and the NL West-leading Dodgers 5-4.

Retired Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully narrated a video montage of Bochy's career, telling the crowd "hold your breath" before mentioning Bochy has the most wins by a visiting manager at Dodger Stadium.

The fans applauded anyway.

"That was awesome," Bochy said.

Scully mentioned Bochy wears a size 8 cap but he said the 64-year-old skipper "can never be accused of having a big head. A big heart, yes."

Roberts unveiled a framed and signed No. 32 jersey from Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. Roberts said the Dodgers found out from Bochy's brother that Koufax was his childhood idol.

"With the greatest respect for your past, I wish you health and happiness in the future," read Koufax's message.

Bochy lived not far from Vero Beach, the Dodgers' old spring training complex in Florida, and he'd go there to see Koufax.

"I never went up to him but when you saw him, it's a feeling. It's hard to describe," Bochy said after the game.

He's since had a chance to talk with Koufax a couple times.

"What a class man. What a gentleman," Bochy said. "That was a very, very nice gift and gesture by the Dodgers."

Roberts, who at 5-foot-10 is 5 inches shorter than Bochy, hugged his former manager.

Bochy doffed his cap. He didn't address the crowd even though Roberts urged him to.

"I was afraid lightning would hit me," Bochy joked later. "Here's a Giant, talking to a Dodger crowd. I said, 'There's no way.'"

Bochy did whisper in Roberts' ear.

"Bruce said if Tommy Lasorda was presenting this gift he wouldn't be getting a gift," Robert said, "so he understands the rivalry, too."

Bochy has 1,994 career victories, putting him 11th all-time among MLB managers. The 10 men ahead of him are all in the Hall of Fame.

Bochy has a career mark of 219-204 against the Dodgers in his stints as manager of the Giants and previously the San Diego Padres.

"I've had a lot of battles here. Some good ones and some tough ones," Bochy said before the game.

His favorite was in 1996.

San Diego came into Los Angeles trailing the Dodgers by two games in the NL West standings with three remaining. The Padres swept the series to win the division by one game.

"I thought about it a little bit coming in today," Bochy said. "The battles we've had here, the great games. Rivalries. Not just here but down south, San Diego. Probably last day I'll think about it a little bit more."

Roberts played for the Padres in 2005 and 2006, which coincided with Bochy's final two years in San Diego.

"I haven't been around anyone that has that feel (for the game)," Roberts said.

Bochy will see the division-leading Dodgers one more time. They visit San Francisco to close out the regular season.

Bochy announced in February that this would be his final season, ending the tenure of the longest-serving active manager in the majors.

"I know there's a lot of things I'm going to miss," he said.

He seemed to leave the door open a crack, saying, "Will I step back and say, 'You know what, I've got to see if I can still do it or not?' I don't know. I'm good with it right now. I mean, you never know."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/AP
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Have Taken Advantage of Baseball's New Era]]>559645941Sat, 07 Sep 2019 10:50:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Dodgers+Home+Runs.png

The Los Angeles Dodgers have stepped into the batter's box over 5,500 times this season. On 253 occasions they have belted the baseball over the fence for a home run. Believe it or not, that's a National League record.

On Wednesday night, it was Joc Pederson who homered in his first two plate appearances to tie the record and then ultimately break the record of 249 homers set by the Houston Astros in 2000, a mark set during the peak of the steroid era in baseball.

Jeff Bagwell, a Hall-of-Famer hitter and admitted steroid user, hit 47 home runs that year.

Richard Hidalgo, a likely PED user (although he never tested positive), hit 44 home runs—he had only 24 combined in his three previous seasons and never surpassed 28 in a single season after that.

Moises Alou, a player whose name was on a list of reported PED users in 2003, had 30 home runs that year, and Ken Caminiti, another admitted steroid user, had 15 for Houston.

That same year, all 30 MLB teams combined to hit a record 5,693 home runs. That record stood for nearly 17 years, as the league cracked down on PED use, extended their testing, and fortified their policy.

Only once in the 10 years that followed did the teams combine to hit more than 5,000 in a single season (5,042 in 2009). Then, in the 2016 season, the ball began to fly out of the ballpark like it never had before.

In 2016, the 30 MLB teams combined to hit 5,610 home runs. Just 83 shy of the all-time record, and the most since the steroid era ended. 

A year later, with players savvy to the influx in home runs and beginning to adjust their swings to account for launch angle and exit velocity, the record was shattered. The 30 MLB teams combined to hit 6,105 home runs in 2017, nearly 500 more than the previous mark.

During that season, the New York Yankees broke the all-time MLB record for home runs by a team with 267. The Dodgers will likely surpass that mark this year. The Yankees will too, and the Twins have already shattered it with a record 272 homers and counting.

More than likely, all 30 MLB teams will easily eclipse the record 6,105 home runs hit in 2017. As of the publication of this story, they have combined for over 5,900 homers, and are projected to hit at least another 600 before the season ends on September 29. 

There's no doubt that home runs are being hit by teams, and the league overall, at a historic pace, begging the obvious question: WHY?

If you ask the players, we have now entered into the "juiced ball era" in baseball.

Research suggests that the official Rawlings baseballs were altered in the middle of the 2015 season. After the All-Star Game that year, more home runs occurred in the second half by a vast quantity. By 2016, the new, more aerodynamic ball, had been fully implemented and the home run numbers began to surge.

USC's Keck School of Medicine performed research on the new Rawlings baseballs compared to older authenticated balls purchased on E-Bay. Researchers x-rayed both balls, and then the balls were sent to Kent State University's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry where they were dissected and studied.

The findings from both universities reveal the same conclusion: the new balls changed in density and chemical composition found within the baseballs core.

Baseballs used after the 2015 All-Star Game had a core (pink outer core) that was 40 percent less dense than it was before, and weighed 0.5 grams less on average. The research proves that the new balls are both bouncier—due to 7 percent more polymer in the core—and less air resistant than before.

The players have noticed as well. During his rookie campaign in 2017, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger broke the National League rookie record with 39 home runs. That record was originally set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956. Bellinger broke it in just 132 games.

Last week, New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso, surpassed that mark just two years after it was set. A record that stood for 67 years, was broken in less than two. Alonso is also close to eclipsing the all-time home run record by a rookie, set by known steriod user Mark McGwire in 1987 with 49. 

Bellinger, who started the 2017 campaign in Triple-A Oklahoma City, said that it seemed like the ball traveled further at the Big League level than it did in the minors. He also pointed out the advent of smaller stadiums in the Major Leagues as a potential reason why there was an uptick in home runs.

After the Dodgers broke the all-time NL record on Wednesday night, opposing manager Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies had this to say about the increase in home runs. 

"It's been going on all year," said Black. "I'm not going to comment on all the theories, but this is a different year, there's no doubt about it. It's evident what's happening in Triple-A, it's evident what's happening in the Big Leagues. There's been studies...but this is a different one for sure. I think that's something to address when the season is over and the people who are part of this great game talk about what happened this year with the amount of home runs."

To be fair, the escalating amount of home runs in Major League Baseball has been occuring since the 2016 season, but to Black's point, this year it will reach it's apex and everyone in and around the game has started to notice. 

Perhaps, the Dodgers front office noticed a lot sooner and have used the altered baseballs to their advantage. 

It's no secret that the Dodgers have one of the most advanced analytic and research departments in all of baseball. It's also no coincidence that since the implementation of the new "juiced" baseballs that the Dodgers have advanced to three consecutive National League Championship Games and two World Series since 2016.

It's not like the Dodgers have a roster full of bash brothers or larger than average human beings. What they do have however is an understanding that the ball is indeed different, and the information that shows how players can incorporate launch angle and exit velocity in order to capitalize on the direction the game is headed.

This season, the Dodgers front office took it a step further, when they hired launch angle hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc and Brant Brown as their new hitting coaches before the 2019 season.

In an interview with the L.A. Times before the season began, Van Scoyoc discussed his philosophy and emphasis on launch angle as more of a common sense measure: that the chances of reaching base or recording an extra-base hit increase significantly when the ball is hit in the air, rather than on the ground.

In order to accomplish this, Van Scoyoc, Brown, and his hitting team, scour through hours of videos of each hitter's swing. They then develop an individualized plan specified to each player. Everything about the player is taken into account and the swing is repeated over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Despite the differences in each player's swing, the philosophy is mostly the same: that in order to maximize launch angle and exit velocity, the bat needs to get onto a plane with the ball as soon as possible. The sooner that happens, the more time the player has to adjust to the movement and velocity of the pitch.

The results speak for themselves. In the five years before the introduction of the new "juiced" baseballs, the Dodgers never hit more than 138 home runs in a single season. Between 2010 and 2014, they combined to hit just 625 homers.

Since the introduction of the new baseballs in 2015, the Dodgers have increased their team home run total each and every year. Breaking the franchise record with 235 last year, before breaking the all-time National League record this year. In the five years since the ball was introduced (2015-2019), the Dodgers have combined to hit 1,085 home runs and still have 19 games left in the 2019 season to add to that total.

There's no doubt that baseball wants more offense. With attendance and ratings down, the increase in home runs creates more of an exciting game for the casual fan.

The 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros saw a record 25 home runs hit in the series, and its no coincidence that the 2017 Fall Classic has been called the most exciting and historic World Series in recent memory.

Pitchers will certainly have a gripe with MLB and a valid reason to be upset about this new chapter in baseball history, but the new balls appear to be here to stay. That means fans should sit back and enjoy the ride, leaving the debate on where this puts the current players home run records in the overall context of history for future generations to argue over time.



Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Divac Leads Class of 2019 Into Basketball Hall of Fame]]>559633131Fri, 06 Sep 2019 20:40:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hall-of-fame-AP_19249856965838.jpg

Jack Sikma used his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech to make a plea for the NBA to return to Seattle, where he led the SuperSonics to the 1979 NBA title.

It was the only title for the franchise that moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.

"There's a hole in Seattle that needs to be filled," Sikma said to a crowd that included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and many other league executives. "Speaking for all Sonics fans, it's our greatest hope that the NBA will soon find a pathway to bring basketball back to Seattle.

"It's time."

Sikma was joined in the Class of 2019 on Friday night by Vlade Divac, Sidney Moncrief, Paul Westphal, Bobby Jones, Al Attles and Teresa Weatherspoon. Chuck Cooper and Carl Braun were inducted posthumously, and Bill Fitch was unable to attend for health reasons.

Also honored at Springfield's Symphony Hall were the 1957-59 teams from Tennessee A&I, a historically black school that won three straight NAIA titles a decade before Texas Western fielded the first all-black starting five in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hutcherson Flying Queens from Wayland Baptist — the first school to offer women's basketball scholarships — were also inducted. Sponsored by a local aircraft company, they won a record 131 consecutive games in the 1950s.

Sikma had a large contingent to support him, and they broke into laughter when the video screens showed a picture of him with a blonde bowl cut shortly after he was drafted in 1977. A seven-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Sonics, he also played five years with the Milwaukee Bucks and remains the only center in league history to lead the league in free throw percentage for a season (.922 in 1987-88).

Divac, who won an Olympic silver medal with Yugoslavia and another with Serbia after the country broke apart in a civil war, was one of the NBA's first European stars. Among those he thanked were his former Yugoslav teammate Toni Kukoc, who is Croatian.

"The people of the Balkans are like a dysfunctional family. We may fight and argue, but in the end we are family," said Divac, who played eight years with the Los Angeles Lakers and six with the Sacramento Kings. "To me basketball was always about love."

Weatherspoon was presented by Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, who were on the Houston Comets when Weatherspoon hit "The Shot" — a half-court buzzer-beater to give the New York Liberty a victory in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.

"I know you guys are still salty about that shot, but you got to see it again tonight," said Weatherspoon, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1988 and also played in Italy and Russia.

"The game has meant so many things to me," she said. "It's been my sanctuary; it's been my safe haven. The game has allowed me to see things I never thought I'd see, meet people I never thought I'd meet."

Cooper, who died in 1984, was a Celtics forward who was the first African-American player drafted by the NBA. He made his debut in 1950 at the same time as Earl Lloyd and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton.

"The NBA's color barrier was broken, and the game of basketball was forever changed," his son, Chuck Cooper III said.

Cooper's presenters — 10 Hall of Famers that included Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving — were so illustrious that host Ahmad Rashad stopped the ceremony to take a selfie with them.

Tennessee A&I, which was then known as Tennessee State, was represented by Dick Barnett, who listed some of the civil rights battles going on in the era when the Tigers played in the NAIA tournament because the NCAA and NIT weren't open to them: Emmitt Till, Rosa Parks, the Little Rock Nine, Brown vs. Board of Education.

"As the TSU Tigers won their third title, I could see that the death knell of segregation was sounding," he said on a video, going on to quote from the song "Dixie" as the entire hall fell silent.

"Old times there are not forgotten," he said. "Look away. Look away. Look away. Dixie Land."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/AP]]>
<![CDATA[MLB and Union to Discuss Opioids Testing After Skaggs Death]]>559621971Fri, 06 Sep 2019 17:17:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TYLER+SKAGGS1.jpg

Major League Baseball and the players' association will discuss the possibility of more widespread testing for opioids following the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of a series against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.

A toxicology report said his blood alcohol concentration was 0.122%, well above Texas's alcohol limit of 0.08% for driving, and 3.8 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl.

Players on 40-man rosters are tested for drugs of abuse such as opioids only if the player-management joint treatment board finds reasonable cause, if a player has been found to have used or possessed a drug of abuse, or if a player is subjected to testing under a treatment program. All players on 40-man rosters are subject to testing for banned performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and for banned stimulants.

"For several reasons, including the tragic loss of a member of our fraternity and other developments happening in the country as a whole, it is appropriate and important to re-examine all of our drug protocols relating to education, treatment and prevention," union head Tony Clark said in a statement Friday.

Minor leaguers not on 40-man rosters, who are not in the players' association, are subject to testing for opioids. The commissioner's office said during the last five years only 12 of 78,000 tests were positive for substances classified as opioids and opiates, a group that includes oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl.

For unionized players, testing with penalties for performance-enhancing drugs started in 2004 and testing for stimulants began two years later.

"MLB reviews and updates its drug programs regularly, including an annual review of the joint drug program at the end of each season with the players' association," the commissioner's office said in a statement. "This year, that review will include a thorough review of the drug of abuse aspects of our joint drug program, as well as the content and delivery of our player education programs prior to next season."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

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<![CDATA[In NHL First, 4 Women Selected to Officiate Prospect Games]]>559593821Fri, 06 Sep 2019 12:53:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19249578508459.jpg

The NHL for the first time selected four female officials to work on the ice at prospect tournaments held this weekend.

Katie Guay and Kelly Cooke were selected as referees, while Kirsten Welsh and Kendall Hanley will work as linesmen, the league announced Friday.

The four were selected out of a group of 96 officials, including 11 women, who participated in the league's annual officials exposure combine last month in Buffalo, New York.

It's the first time women have officiated at the pre-training camp prospects tournament level. It's the next step in the league's bid to have women officiate at the NHL level.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman previously said he envisions a woman officiating at the league level, without providing a timeline.

Guay is the most experienced of the four, having refereed women's games last year at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. She's assigned to work the Anaheim Ducks-hosted tournament in Irvine, California.

Cooke, who this spring officiated the women's world hockey championships, will work the Predators tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hanley, who has spent 11 seasons officiating at the NCAA Division III level, will work the Detroit Red Wings' tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.

Welsh just completed her college playing career at Robert Morris and will work at the Sabres tournament in Buffalo.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Re-Sign TE Tyler Higbee for 4 Years Through 2023]]>559544921Thu, 05 Sep 2019 23:35:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/higbee-AP_19248671683576.jpg

Tight end Tyler Higbee agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $31,025,000 with the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.

A person with knowledge of the deal says Higbee is guaranteed $15.5 million and could make $36 million over the course of the contract, which runs through the 2023 season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms weren't publicly disclosed by the team.

Higbee was thrilled with his new deal, even if he didn't realize the Rams had made him one of the top 10 highest-paid tight ends in the NFL.

"The culture that's around here is great," Higbee said. "Everybody that is in this locker room is great. Everybody deserves everything. Everybody wants to work hard, and it's good to see guys stay around."

Higbee has played in every game during his three seasons with the Rams, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Western Kentucky in 2016. He has 60 career catches for 672 yards and four touchdowns, and he is a dependable blocker on runs and passes.

Higbee had four catches in the NFC championship game in New Orleans last season. He didn't make a reception in the Super Bowl.

"A lot of the contributions that he made are incredibly selfless plays," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "And then when he did get his opportunities as the year progressed, you saw the production and he delivered in a big way. He had a lot of big-time catches for us in some crucial moments."

McVay's offense doesn't typically make extensive use of a tight end as a receiver, but Higbee and fellow tight end Gerald Everett have both made key receptions for the Rams during his tenure. Higbee is content to continue his supporting role with the chance to chip in.

"We've got a lot of weapons in this offense," Higbee said. "Some of the numbers might not be there, but I'm a contributing factor to this offense and some of the success that we've had, and I hope to continue to keep doing that."

Higbee's deal is the latest in a series of long-term contracts reached by the Rams, who are determined to lock in most of the core of their NFC championship roster through its prime.

Jared Goff got a $110 million guarantee in his new contract this week, joining teammates Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald and Brandin Cooks in long-term deals with the Rams. McVay and general manager Les Snead also got contract extensions earlier this year.

"One of the things that gets overlooked on the football field is having that continuity, having the chemistry between players on the team," Higbee said. "Trusting the guy next to you, wanting to play for the guy next to you. It says a lot, and I think it's some of the reason we've had success."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Rams RB Gurley Insists Knee is Fine as Questions Persist]]>559544391Thu, 05 Sep 2019 23:31:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Gurley-AP_19247444148633.jpg

After an offseason of speculation about the health of Todd Gurley's left knee, it would be reasonable to think the Los Angeles Rams' running back would be ready to put those questions to rest.

But Gurley does not seem to be interested in answering the query at all, saying his knee is "fine" and refusing to elaborate any further.

"It's just football, bro," Gurley said Thursday night. "Been playing it my whole life. Just another season."

Despite how Gurley feels about all the focus on his knee, his performance at Carolina this week could address one of the main unknowns about how the Rams will fare following their loss to New England in the Super Bowl.

It was Gurley's performance in the playoffs, culminating when he had 10 carries for 35 yards against the Patriots, that put his surgically-repaired left knee front and center once again. The attention was compounded when the Rams drafted another runner, Memphis standout Darrell Henderson, in the third round. Then Gurley's workload was carefully monitored during organized team activities and training camp. Finally, coach Sean McVay held Gurley and nearly all of the Rams starters out of preseason games, adding to the mystery about how Gurley will perform after rushing for 30 combined touchdowns the past two seasons.

While Gurley has largely refused to get into specifics about his knee for months, his teammates insist he has performed well in practice and they have no doubt about how the star rusher will play when he starts his fifth NFL season.

"He looks like (No.) 30," tight end Tyler Higbee said. "He's good. I'm excited to see him do his thing on Sunday, you know. We expect him to be his best, and that he will be."

"He looks explosive," defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. "He still looks fast. He looks ready. From what I see and just watching him, he looks ready. But you got to ask him if he ready. I'm pretty sure he's going to tell you he is, so he's ready."

McVay did his part by saying there will be no restrictions on Gurley's workload against the Panthers, providing another optimistic sign after his struggles late last season.

Gurley averaged 3.3 yards per carry in losses to Chicago and Philadelphia before being held out of the Rams' final two regular-season games because of his knee. After bouncing back with 115 yards rushing and one touchdown on 16 carries against Dallas in the divisional round to open the playoffs, Gurley had just four carries for 10 yards against New Orleans before turning in another quiet performance against the Patriots.

That five-game sample stood in stark contrast to how Gurley had been the catalyst of McVay's offense to start the wunderkind's tenure with the Rams. Gurley had been at the center of McVay's high-scoring scheme by delivering explosive plays and touchdowns as a runner and receiver, while his status as workhorse opened up the play-action pass for quarterback Jared Goff or allowed Los Angeles to close out close games.

However, even with the drop in production and the constant drumbeat of questions about how Gurley will perform moving forward, McVay has delivered a similar refrain to that of his running back when it comes to talking about that knee.

"I think there is a curiosity of, an excitement and anticipation on just getting a chance to play real football and kind of roll it out there and see how we look," McVay said when asked if he was curious about how Gurley would play. "I think the guys are excited. But I'm excited to see Todd Gurley continue to do his thing. And he looks good, he's feeling good, and we're looking forward to Sunday."

And no one might be more relieved to play a game than Gurley, if only to stop the questions.

"It's Week 1 now," Gurley said. "I'm here, so just got to get ready for Sunday."

NOTES: LT Andrew Whitworth was the only player listed on the Rams' injury report after not participating in practice Thursday, but his absence was listed as "not injury related." McVay has frequently held Whitworth out of practice early in the week as a precaution during his first two seasons with the Rams.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[A's Score 7 in 7th to Beat Angels; Trout Hits 45th Homer]]>559544171Thu, 05 Sep 2019 23:23:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/angels-AP_19248802530299.jpg

Manager Bob Melvin is fond of saying the Athletics are at their best when hitting home runs and showing patience in the batter's box.

They've proven they're pretty good when pinch-hitting, too.

Pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman delivered a two-run triple over center fielder Mike Trout's head as part of a seven-run eighth inning when the A's benefited from four consecutive walks, and Oakland rallied to beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-6 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.

"That's just the mentality of this team," Grossman said. "How many times this season has something like that occurred? This team's full of confidence. We never feel like we're out of it."

Oakland remained a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card. The Athletics hold the second spot, a game ahead of Cleveland.

The A's trailed 6-1 and had only four hits before batting around in the seventh, when the Angels used five pitchers.

Josh Phegley started the comeback with a two-run homer off José Suarez. Ty Buttrey (6-7) came on and allowed Marcus Semien's single, followed by walks to Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Mark Canha to force in a run. Jurickson Profar walked to force in another run, and Khris Davis added an RBI groundout.

Grossman followed with a first-pitch triple off Adalberto Mejía that sailed past Trout's outstretched glove as he jumped for the ball near the fence. Grossman, who bats primarily left-handed, switched to the right side when the lefty Mejía was brought in.

"He doesn't have a ton of right-handed at-bats this year but I think it's probably a low-maintenance swing for him," Melvin said. "He was ready for it and he was aggressive coming off the bench with guys on base."

Grossman's triple was the 13th extra-base hit by A's pinch-hitters this season, tying the Oakland record set in 1968. Overall, the A's are 23- for-81 in pinch-hit situations.

"Pinch-hitting, you have to be aggressive early," Grossman said. "You have to see where you're at on the first pitch and I put a good swing on it. Luckily Mr. Trout didn't catch it."

Profar drove in three runs and Semien had four hits for Oakland.

The A's moved a game ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild card. The Indians lost 7-1 to the Chicago White Sox earlier Thursday.

Trout hit his 45th home run to tie for the major league lead. The towering, two-run drive off Brett Anderson landed high in the seats in left-center and was estimated at 455 feet. Pete Alonso of the New York Mets also has 45 homers.

"I thought (Anderson) might go with a first-pitch fastball so I would hit a groundball," Trout said. "It's tough to have a lead like that and lose."

A.J. Puk (1-0) retired six batters for his first career win. Puk, one of Oakland's top pitching prospects, had not pitched since Aug. 26.

WINNING STREAK ON THE LINE

The A's had a 10-game winning streak in mid-May, their longest undefeated run since 2006, but that could change on Friday. Oakland will resume a game against the Tigers from the middle of that streak that was suspended on May 19 at Detroit.

Oakland leads 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, and the game will be concluded at the Oakland Coliseum before a regularly scheduled night game. If the A's hold on, the winning streak will go to 11 games. If the Tigers rally, Oakland's streak will only be considered a seven-gamer.

GOING WITH SIX

The A's will be using what Melvin calls a "fluid" six-man rotation for the next few weeks. Sean Manaea, who pitched five scoreless innings against the New York Yankees in his season debut Sept. 1, will make his next start Sunday against Detroit.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: Tommy La Stella took batting practice before the game, a significant step in his recovery from a broken right leg although manager Brad Ausmus said La Stella's leg is still not fully healed. ... Slumping DH Shohei Ohtani was rested.

Athletics: Yusmeiro Petit has left the team and flown to Venezuela for personal reasons and it's uncertain when the versatile reliever will be back. Petit leads the AL in appearances (71) and fewest walks per nine innings (0.86). The San Francisco Chronicle first reported Petit's absence. ... CF Ramon Laureano (right lower leg stress reaction) is expected to come off the injured list and play in the second of Friday's two games against Detroit. ... Stephen Piscotty (sprained right ankle) is still using a walking boot.

UP NEXT

Angels: LHP Dillon Peters (3-2, 4.13 ERA) faces the Chicago White Sox for the first time in his career Friday night. Peters has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 12 outings this season.

Athletics: RHP Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.96) takes a three-game winning streak into Friday's start against Detroit. Bailey is unbeaten in nine starts against teams from the AL Central.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Ben Margot/AP]]>
<![CDATA[NBA Legend Jerry West is Getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom]]>559475791Thu, 05 Sep 2019 09:15:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17170792097289.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday from President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Trump tweeted on June 1 that West would receive the nation's highest civilian honor "for his outstanding career, both on and off the court."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom will add to the series of honors the 81-year old West has received, which also include a statue outside Staples Center, a bronze plaque in the Los Anlogeles Memorial Coliseum's Memorial Court of Honor, selection in 1996 as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in conjunction with the league's 50th anniversary and election to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Born May 28, 1938, in Chelyan, West Virginia, West's shooting and defensive skills made him a dominant player on the high school, college and professional levels.

West became the first player in West Virginia history to score 900 points in a season as a senior at East Bank High School in East Bank, West Virginia, in the 1955-56 season, averaging 32.2 points per game and leading the Pioneers to the state championship.

West was a two-time first-team All-American at his final two seasons at West Virginia University. He was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the 1959 NCAA men's basketball tournament, when he led the tournament in scoring with 160 points, including a game-high 28 in the Mountaineers 71-70 loss to California in the championship game.

West was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers with the second choice in the 1960 NBA draft, shortly before their move to Los Angeles. The sharp-shooting 6-foot-3 guard nicknamed "Mr. Clutch" for his ability to make late game-winning shots, played his entire 14-season NBA career for the Lakers, helping lead them to the NBA Finals nine times and the championship in the 1971-72 season.

"I played basketball because of my love of the game and enormous competitive desire to win," West said at 2011 ceremony when his statue outside Staples Center was unveiled. "I played for the fans of Los Angeles, particularly for my teammates. I was driven by a fierce desire and determination."

"Every time I put on a Laker uniform, it filled me with immense pride and accomplishment. I was blessed to play in this great city for these great fans."

When West retired in 1974, he was the third-leading career scorer in NBA history, behind Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson, with 25,192 points in 932 games.

West rejoined the Lakers organization in 1976, spending three seasons as their coach and the next three as a scout.

West was appointed as the Lakers general manager before the 1982-83 season. His personnel moves and trades helped the team to NBA titles in the 1984-85, 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1999-2000 seasons. His most memorable deals include the 1996 trade that brought Kobe Bryant to the Lakers.

West left the Lakers in 2002 to become president of basketball operations with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was selected as NBA Executive of the Year in 2004 and retired in 2007.

West was an executive board member with the Golden State Warriors for six seasons through 2017, then joined the Los Angeles Clippers as a consultant that year.

West will be the eighth basketball figure to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom following Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Bob Cousy and coaches John Wooden, Pat Summitt and Dean Smith.



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pederson Goes Deep Twice, Dodgers Set NL Home Run Record in Win Over Rockies]]>559438081Thu, 05 Sep 2019 00:25:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-set-home-run-Record-Sept-2019.jpg

Give credit to Andre Ethier for an assist on Joc Pederson's recent home run tear.

Pederson hit a leadoff drive and a two-run shot as the Los Angeles Dodgers set a National League record with their 250th long ball this season in beating the Colorado Rockies 7-3 Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.

Pederson has been using one of his former teammate's old bats since seeing Ethier during last weekend's series in Arizona, where Pederson hit a tiebreaking homer in the 11th inning Sunday.

"I told him there better be some more coming," Pederson said of the loaned lumber.

Ethier, who is from Phoenix, retired nearly two years ago after spending his entire 12-year career with the Dodgers.

Pederson slugged five homers and a double in a string of six at-bats going back to Sunday. He sat out Tuesday, one day after crashing into the outfield wall to make a catch.

"He's streaky," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "When they make a mistake out over the plate, it's a home run. He's feeling really good. He's found consistency."

The Dodgers reduced their magic number to four to clinch their seventh straight NL West title.

Los Angeles surpassed the previous NL home run mark of 249 set by Houston in 2000. The Dodgers slugged 12 homers in the series — falling two shy of their franchise record for a three-game set — while outscoring the Rockies 28-15.

"A lot of good players one through 15," Pederson said in explaining the home run numbers. "Guys who got called up contributed. It's a special unit we have."

Colorado lost its season-high ninth in a row, 12th of 13 overall and 11th straight at Dodger Stadium.

"There's no finger-pointing. Just us as a group, we just aren't good," Rockies slugger Nolan Arenado said.

Adam Kolarek (6-3) got two outs for the win.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, the NL starter in the All-Star Game, was looking to bounce back after his worst stretch of the season. He ended up with a no-decision after losing three in a row. During that stretch, Ryu's ERA has jumped from 1.45 to 2.45, the highest it's been since May.

He denies feeling fatigued, saying through a translator, "I don't think I need an extended rest."

Ryu has been studying video to figure out why his vaunted changeup isn't working.

"I need to make more adjustments," he said.

Ryu allowed three runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings, the third consecutive start in which the left-hander hasn't gone beyond the fifth. He struck out five and walked a season-high four.

"It's just command," Roberts said. "His moneymaker is the changeup and even when there's contact, it's just a tick too high. He's going to figure it out. Fortunately, there's plenty of time to recalibrate before we get to the postseason."

Pederson had four homers in the series, hitting two of the Dodgers' seven in a 16-9 victory Monday in which he tied his career high with five RBIs.

In the finale, Pederson's two-run drive in the fourth extended the lead to 7-2 and scored Ryu, who singled with two outs to keep the inning going.

Sandwiched around Pederson's homers was a four-run third inning in which the Dodgers played small ball for a change. Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger had RBI singles. Justin Turner grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Pederson, and Turner came home on Matt Beaty's groundout to third.

The Dodgers were limited to one hit by Colorado's bullpen over the final four innings.

The Rockies' runs came on RBI singles by Ryan McMahon, Drew Butera and Ian Desmond.

Colorado's Antonio Senzatela (8-10) gave up five runs for a franchise-record seventh straight game along with four hits in three innings of his fourth straight loss. He struck out one and walked one in his career-high 21st start of the season.

Senzatela is the first major league pitcher to allow five or more runs in seven straight games since 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (left groin strain) threw, but his progress remains slow.

Dodgers: INF Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) will end his rehab stint at rookie-level Ogden because of back soreness. It's possible he'll be sent to the team's spring training facility in Arizona to take at-bats, but he won't join the team next week in Baltimore. ... LHP Rich Hill (left forearm strain) faces hitters Friday. ... RHP Dustin May faced hitters and his "command could have been better," Roberts said. May was struck on the side of his head by a liner in Arizona last weekend. ... INF Max Muncy (broken right wrist) worked in the batting cage and took grounders. His soreness has lessened and the team hopes he'll return next week.

SOLID D

With the Dodgers leading 5-2 in the fourth, Chris Taylor made a diving catch on Colorado pinch-hitter Josh Fuentes' liner to left field with runners on first and third, landing on his belly to end the inning. "Taylor made a great play," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "If that ball drops, it's 5-4."

IN THE SEATS

The Dodgers topped the 3.5 million mark in home attendance, drawing 3,565,539 through 73 games. They've led the majors in home attendance for six straight years and are on pace to break their single-season mark of 3,857,500 set last year. They're averaging 48,843, the first team since the New York Mets (49,902) and New York Yankees (53,070) in 2008 to average over 48,000.

UP NEXT

Rockies: Off on Thursday before RHP Tim Melville (1-1, 3.86 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game set at San Diego on Friday.

Dodgers: After an off day, LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-4, 2.96) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against rival San Francisco.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dwight Howard Calls 2nd Chance With Lakers 'Big Blessing']]>559411011Wed, 04 Sep 2019 16:44:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dwight-Howard-Lakers-return-September-2019.jpg

Dwight Howard says he is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers with a new outlook on basketball and his place in it.

The veteran center hopes the Lakers fans— and a couple of retired Lakers superstars — who learned to loathe the old Dwight over the past six years will give him another chance.

Howard called it "a very big blessing" Wednesday to re-sign with the Lakers , who chose him as the improbable replacement for injured center DeMarcus Cousins.

The 33-year-old Howard spent the eventful 2012-13 season with the Lakers before abruptly leaving as a free agent. After six up-and-down seasons away from LA and a self-described difficult offseason in his personal life, Howard is energized by the chance to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a familiar jersey.

"Not too often in life do you get second chances," Howard said on a conference call in his first public comments about the reunion. "This is an awesome experience. I'm just looking forward to being the best teammate, the best person in the community I can be. ... Six years ago doesn't seem like a long time, but a lot of things have happened. I'm just excited."

Howard realizes that some Lakers fans may be less excited: He has been booed every time he stepped foot in Staples Center over the past six years — even by Clippers fans. He hopes everyone will recognize he's ready to repair his relationship with Los Angeles.

"I never had any ill will toward the fans in LA," Howard said. "I loved this city from the moment I started playing here. ... It was just a decision I made. I love this city. I loved playing in LA. None of that stuff even matters to me anymore. I think we all have a fresh start. I'm big on new beginnings, and this is the time to start up a new time. I'm just looking forward to having a fresh start with the fans and show them my only dedication is to put another banner up here in Los Angeles."

Howard also said he is eager to go back to work after a rough 12 months in his personal life. He hasn't played a game since November after getting injured early in his only season with Washington, and he didn't go into detail about off-court problems he has previously described as "rock bottom."

"It was just stuff in my personal life," Howard said. "Mentally, physically and spiritually. It had nothing to do with me as a basketball player or anything like that. It was just personal things that I had to deal with which made me stronger."

Howard said he has repaired his mental state through meditation, reading and introspection. That might be why he didn't seem to be bothered by the criticism he received online last week from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. The Lakers greats had a brief disagreement on social media before they united in publiclymaking fun of Howard , who clashed with the businesslike Bryant during their season together in LA.

"Shaq and Kobe are some of the greatest players ever to play this game," Howard said. "I have nothing but love and respect for those guys and what they've been able to accomplish. ... My job is to come here and help this team win. It's not to get into any fights or arguments with Shaq or Kobe or anybody. I won't let anything distract me from winning a championship."

Howard wasn't the Lakers' first choice to play alongside JaVale McGee and Davis at center, but he won over both big men and team leader Rajon Rondo while trying out for the Lakers' top brass last month. Howard said he vowed to be a supportive teammate dedicated to team goals, but he realizes public declarations are cheap.

"I'd rather show you guys than say it," Howard said. "I'd rather my actions be something that you guys can critique instead of my words. I've always said a lot of words, but I'd just rather show you guys."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: NBAE via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Reportedly Agree With QB Jared Goff on 4-Year, $134 Million Extension]]>559325991Tue, 03 Sep 2019 21:30:46 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jared-Goff-contract-September-2019.jpg

Jared Goff has been a prolific NFL quarterback ever since Sean McVay joined him with the Los Angeles Rams. The quarterback and his coach will get the chance to chase more Super Bowl appearances together now that Goff's long-term future is finally secure.

Goff agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Rams on Tuesday night, keeping the franchise quarterback with Los Angeles through the 2024 season.

The team didn't disclose the terms of its deal with Goff, who led the Rams to the Super Bowl last season. NFL Network reported the deal is worth $134 million, with a league-record guarantee of $110 million.

Goff is beginning his fourth year with the Rams, who made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. After a rocky start as a rookie during the Rams' relocation season, Goff has become a sturdy two-time Pro Bowl selection under McVay over the past two years.

Goff has passed for 8,492 yards with 60 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while going 24-7 in 31 regular-season games as McVay's starter. He has led the Rams to back-to-back NFC West titles and their first Super Bowl appearance in 17 years, becoming the first No. 1 pick to quarterback his team to a Super Bowl within his first three seasons.

He also led the Rams to two playoff victories last winter, but he struggled along with his teammates in the Super Bowl, going 19 of 38 for 229 yards with one interception in Los Angeles' 13-3 loss.

Although the Rams flopped against New England, the team's belief in Goff never wavered. McVay and Rams general manager Les Snead repeatedly vowed to sign Goff to a long-term extension, expressing constant support for the quarterback who has run McVay's inventive offense during two of the highest-scoring seasons in NFL history.

"Jared is somebody we want to be the Rams quarterback for a long time," Snead said last weekend when asked about the extension talks that had been happening for months. "Jared wants to be a Ram for a long time, we want him to be a Ram for a long time, and we will continuously try to work to make that happen."

McVay has repeatedly hit back at suggestions that Goff is a system quarterback, with his success due to the inventiveness of McVay's schemes.

"He makes the system what it is," McVay said last month. "We are able to do the things we are because we have the right trigger man that can really do anything that we ask in terms of changing the launch point, what types of concepts we want to activate, whether it be play-action, the dropback game, quick, intermediate or down the field.

"He's a special player. I think his production speaks for itself. I know I don't want anybody else to be our quarterback."

Goff has had games of exceptional brilliance during his two seasons with McVay, including an epic 465-yard, five-touchdown performance against Minnesota and a 413-yard, four-TD effort in LA's memorable 54-51 Monday night victory over Kansas City. He also had a few tough games down the stretch last season while the Rams coasted toward the playoffs, but picked up his production with a solid 297-yard effort in the NFC championship game against New Orleans.

Goff doesn't turn 25 until October, and he has been humble about his abilities and expectations despite finishing fourth in the NFL with 4,688 yards passing last year.

Even after Carson Wentz, the No. 2 pick behind Goff in the 2016 draft, got a $128 million extension from the Eagles in June, Goff said he had no concerns about entering his fourth season without a new deal.

Now he won't have to.

Goff is making about $4.3 million this season before his pay is scheduled to jump to $22.8 million in 2020.

The Rams have tied up the most important elements of their NFC-winning core over the past year. Running back Todd Gurley, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and receiver Brandin Cooks agreed to lucrative long-term deals last year, while McVay and Snead both agreed to contract extensions less than two months ago.

All six men are tied to Los Angeles through at least the 2023 season. The biggest pieces are firmly in place for the Rams to be a contender next year when they open their palatial, multibillion-dollar stadium complex in Inglewood.

The Rams open the regular season at Carolina on Sunday. Goff didn't play at all in the preseason, in keeping with McVay's preference to keep most of his starters completely out of action in games that don't count.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers and Mayor Give Grocery Gift Cards to Students]]>559294131Tue, 03 Sep 2019 15:32:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-skid-row-students-2019.PNG

More than 650 children Tuesday received $50 grocery gift cards, which were distributed by the mayor of Los Angeles and two Dodger players.

Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined by Joe Kelly and David Freese at the downtown Skid Row Learning Center to pass out the free gift cards to children in need.

"Many of you guys know what it's like to sometimes, you know, live not just month-to-month, not just day-to-day but sometimes meal-to-meal," Garcetti said. "Who's been hungry in this room before? ... We believe that it's the right of every little boy and girl and big boy and girl and young men and young women to make sure that they don't have to worry about their next meal."

The cards were donated by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Smart & Final and the Getty House Foundation through the "Home Plate Project,'' a partnership of Major League Baseball, country music artist Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation and Big League Impact with the support of School on Wheels.

Fifty students who are part of the Skid Row School on Wheels program received a free lunch and a backpack during the event.



Photo Credit: NBCLA]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Slug 7 Homers in 16-9 Victory Over Rockies]]>559220271Mon, 02 Sep 2019 23:07:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-beat-Rockies-September-2019.jpg

Joc Pederson homered leading off the game and added a three-run shot later. It took a gut-busting crash into the wall after a spectacular catch in the fifth inning to finally get him out of the game.

By then, the Dodgers had done most of their damage.

Pederson tied his career high with five RBIs, Gavin Lux scored three runs in his major-league debut, and Los Angeles routed the Colorado Rockies 16-9 Monday night.

The Dodgers slugged seven homers — their 20th game with four or more — and have 245 this season. They pounded out 17 hits, two off their season high.

"It just seemed like a Coors Field game," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "The ball was jumping."

Pederson sustained an abdominal contusion after catching a sacrifice fly by Charlie Blackmon and crashing into the lower wall in the right-field corner. Pederson's sunglasses and cap went flying as he hit the wall at stomach-level and rolled backward. He fired the ball toward the infield before ending up on his side, writhing in pain.

"No broken ribs," Pederson said. "Got the wind knocked out of me. Weird cramp in my obliques. I couldn't really move my arm. Then it cooled down."

Roberts jogged out and a member of the medical staff checked on Pederson while security stood over him near the entrance to the Rockies bullpen. He walked off under his own power.

"That was a heck of a play," Roberts said. "If that ball goes out of the ballpark, we're looking at a different ballgame."

Pederson homered leading off the game and added a three-run shot in the third. He had an RBI double in the second.

"I was just seeing the ball really well," he said.

Starting at second base, Lux made his highly anticipated debut, going 2 for 5 with a single on the first pitch of his first at-bat and a double in his next.

"I was nervous," Lux said. "After the first ground ball and first at-bat, it was a weight off my shoulders."

Taken with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 draft, Lux had been sought after by multiple teams as part of larger deals at the July 31 trade deadline but the Dodgers refused to budge and called him up Monday.

"You can just see that aura of confidence," Roberts said of Lux. "He earned his way here and knocked the wall down."

Corey Seager added a three-run homer in the sixth, Chris Taylor had a pair of solo shots and Matt Beaty had a solo homer.

Cody Bellinger hit his 44th homer after walking three times and lining out to center in his first four at-bats. He took over the major league lead in homers and moved into third on the Dodgers' all-time list for homers in a season, five behind leader Shawn Green.

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler (12-3) allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked none. Kenta Maeda pitched the final four innings to earn his first save.

"Just nothing really working, just didn't throw many pitches I really liked or liked where they ended up," Buehler said. "Glad it didn't cost us the game."

Trevor Story, Ryan McMahon and Ian Desmond had solo homers, and Nolan Arenado added a two-run shot for the Rockies, who dropped their seventh in a row and 11th in 12 games.

Colorado rookie Peter Lambert (2-6) gave up six runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two. With the game a blowout, Desmond pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Rockies before homering in the ninth.

"I didn't have my A-game," Lambert said. "They had some big hits and got it going. The season is a grind and I have to keep grinding it out. I want to finish the season strong."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rockies: OF Raimel Tapia (left hand contusion) is expected to play either Tuesday or Wednesday. ... OF David Dahl (right high ankle sprain) is taking swings in the batting cage and doing light jogging but didn't make the trip. ... LHP Kyle Freeland (left groin strain) threw off the slope of the mound but his progress remains slow. ... RHP German Marquez (right arm inflammation) still has discomfort in his throwing arm and there are no definite plans for him.

Dodgers: RHP Dustin May underwent another concussion test and played catch a day after being struck on the right side of his head by a liner in Arizona. His only complaint was a sore neck. ... LHP Rich Hill (left forearm strain) threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session. He'll next face hitters on Friday or Saturday. ... OF Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) began a rehab stint at Rookie-level Ogden for a week and is expected to rejoin the team on its East Coast trip next week.

UMPIRE HURT

Home-plate umpire Larry Vanover left in the bottom of the fifth after he was apparently hit near his right hand by a foul ball during Kiké Hernández's at-bat.

Manny Gonzalez moved from second base to work home plate after a 13-minute delay.

LEADING OFF

The Rockies have allowed a leadoff homer in five straight games, making them the first team in the modern era to do so.

UP NEXT

Rockies: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-6, 8.07) goes for his first victory after the team lost all eight of his starts since June 25.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (4-3, 2.53) makes his first start since being reinstated from the restricted list after being suspended 20 games by MLB for a domestic violence incident. He'll be limited to three innings and 45 pitches.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Could Pass This 1975 Reds Record ]]>559217641Mon, 02 Sep 2019 21:01:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Dodgers+Clinch+Kershaw.png

The 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers are a juggernaut.

They've held the best record in baseball for most of the season and currently hold the best record in the National League. The Dodgers have been in cruise control for most of the dog days, and are on the verge of clinching their seventh consecutive NL West division title. 

Another division title is certainly nice, but after two straight seasons of watching their opponent celebrate winning the World Series on their own field, the Dodgers have their sights set on lifting the Commissioner's Trophy this season.

Thanks to a rather weak division, the Dodgers have had the luxury of holding a 20+ game lead for the better part of the summer. Heading into their four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks last week, the Dodgers' magic number was nine.

The magic number is a combination of Dodger wins or opponent losses (in this case the Diamondbacks, second in the NL West) needed to clinch the division. With the two teams playing head-to-head, the Dodgers had the opportunity to lower that number to as little as one, had they swept Arizona.

Instead, the Dodgers dropped three of four games, despite holding a lead in every game of the series. That currently puts their magic number at seven entering their six-game homestand.

Los Angeles could clinch the division title as soon as this Friday. If so, they would set a MLB record for the earliest a team has ever clinched a division crown, surpassing the 1975 Cincinnati Reds who clinched the NL West over the Dodgers on September 7, 1975.

In order for that to happen, the Dodgers will need to sweep the Rockies and get some help from the rival Diamondbacks. Even if they don't beat the Reds record, they could still become one of the earliest teams to clinch their division in the Wild Card era.

Since 1995, the earliest team to clinch their respective division has been the Cleveland Indians on September 8, 1995.

After that, the 1998 New York Yankees, who won 114 games, are the second earliest team to clinch, accomplishing the feat on September 9, 1998.

Over the last four seasons, the first team to clinch a postseason birth or division title has gone on to win the World Series in three of the last four years.

The Kansas City Royals were the first team to clinch on September 24, 2015 and went on to defeat the New York Mets in the Fall Classic.

One year later, the Chicago Cubs became the first team to clinch their division on September 16, 2016, and erased a 108-year World Series drought by defeating the Cleveland Indians in dramatic fashion in seven games.

The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers were prime candidates to eclipse the 1975 Cincinnati Reds record, but they spiraled to start the month of September, losing 16 of 17 games before finally clinching the division on September 23, 2017.

They arguably should have won the World Series that year as well, but the heavily favored Dodgers fell to the Houston Astros in seven games.

Finally, the Boston Red Sox became the first team to clinch a postseason berth in 2018, but the second to clinch their division after the Indians beat up on a meek AL Central. The Red Sox won a franchise record 108 games and defeated the Dodgers in the Fall Classic in five games.

The Dodgers will have the opportunity to surpass all of them this season, and join the list of teams who clinch first, and go on to win the World Series if they're able to finish the job come October.



Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Starters Jump Into Game Prep After Taking Preseason Off]]>559213201Mon, 02 Sep 2019 20:06:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-starters-2019-NFL-season-September.jpg

Eric Weddle is one of the most durable safeties of his generation, and he never sat out an entire preseason in the first 12 years of his NFL career.

When he joined the Los Angeles Rams, Weddle realized coach Sean McVay does things a little bit differently.

Weddle and nearly every Rams starter didn't participate at all in the just-completed preseason, and they won't get their first real game action together until Sunday in their regular-season opener at Carolina.

The veteran safety appears to be meshing splendidly with his new teammates, but Weddle truly won't know how they all fit together until they finally get on the field for the first time.

"I know for me personally, there are some benefits of playing (in the preseason), but the benefits don't outweigh the negative enough to chance it," Weddle said. "With the way we practice, the way we compete, it's as game-like as it can be with the low risk of injury. You'd hate to lose a guy playing in one preseason game. You'll get your timing down in a quarter or two, and you'll be right back in the rhythm. We've had great work, though. We've pushed each other to the limit."

McVay kept his entire offense out of the 2018 preseason, preferring to preserve his players' health at the expense of potentially beneficial experience. His extreme measures were met with a few raised eyebrows, but then the ostensibly rusty Rams starters went 8-0 and steamrolled the NFC West before reaching the franchise's first Super Bowl in 17 years with one of the healthiest teams in the league.

Much of the NFL edged toward adopting McVay's philosophy last month, with many teams playing their key starters far less than in previous preseasons.

The Rams started game preparations Monday with almost every significant expected contributor in good health. That was the goal when McVay decided to avoid the preseason again, preferring to keep his players fresh for the grind of defending an NFC championship.

"There's a difference in the preparation and the way that we're approaching things right now," McVay said Monday. "We're focused on this year. I think our guys have done a great job of having that singular focus on just producing in the present."

The Rams' only big injury in the preseason happened to linebacker Micah Kiser, a backup last season projected to be a starter this fall before he injured his pectoral muscle and required season-ending surgery. Because he was trying to cement his new role on the defense, Kiser was one of the few key players who suited up in the preseason.

Los Angeles' starters didn't go without competition in August. They held joint practices with the Oakland Raiders and the crosstown Chargers, and McVay staged a handful of practice scrimmages for his team with officials and game-like conditions.

But the revamped defensive lineup has yet to be in a real game, and the offensive line still hasn't tested its two new starters. Center Brian Allen and left guard Joe Noteboom will make their first NFL starts Sunday.

"I think people are going to say we haven't played, or stuff like that," Allen said. "It's not going to be an excuse. We're going to be ready for Sunday, and we've been going live against our defense all camp. The Chargers, the Raiders, we've got action against other teams at a live pace. It's not like we haven't been playing football."

Noteboom said the offensive linemen have an advantage in practice preparation: They have to face Aaron Donald, the back-to-back AP Defensive Player of the Year.

"When you go into a game, you know it's going to be easy because you're not going to see anyone better than him," Noteboom said.

NOTES: The Rams put backup LB Justin Lawler on injured reserve Monday after initially keeping him on the 53-man roster. The procedural move means Lawler can return from foot surgery after the first eight weeks of the season. ... Los Angeles signed C Coleman Shelton to the active roster in Lawler's place. Shelton, the ninth offensive lineman on the 53-man roster, was cut by the Arizona Cardinals last weekend. He is a Pasadena native who played at Loyola High School near downtown Los Angeles. Shelton said he was pleasantly surprised to hear from the Rams: "You never know who has been watching you on (video)." Shelton is the fifth University of Washington product on the roster, joining his former teammates Marcus Peters, Cory Littleton and rookies Taylor Rapp and Greg Gaines.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jake Olson: Life After Football]]>545097521Tue, 03 Sep 2019 13:08:11 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1016724902.jpg

In July, the greatest athletes in the world embarked upon Los Angeles for one extraordinary evening. Amongst the NBA Champions, world record holders, and the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, there was one person who stood out amidst them all. 

He was dressed to the nines in a black suit and violet dress shirt. He carried a white cane, adorned a "Jimmy V" pin, and the glare of his Pac 12 Championship ring was blinding in the hot summer sun. 

He wore sunglasses, but then again, he always wears sunglasses. Ordinarily, you'd find him on a field somewhere. Veiled with a helmet, shoulder pads, and a uniform woven of crimson and gold. Here, amongst the Versace, Gucci, and Tom Ford suits surrounding him, he was the proverbial fish out of water. 

This is Jake Olson at the 2019 ESPY Awards. The first ever blind collegiate football player had been relegated to a spectator like us all, and he was just fine with that.

On September 2, 2017, Olson made history when he became the the first completely blind person to ever play in a Division I football game.

Olson appeared in two games with the USC Trojans that season, and won the job as the full-time backup long snapper in 2018. After graduating from USC in June, he will likely never play football again.

In a different life, one gifted with sight, he imagines himself as a running back: breaking through holes, embracing for impact, and bouncing off the hits thrown at him as he continues to progress forward.

Ironically, that analogy embodies Olson in real life.

Olson was born with retinoblastoma and lost his left eye at 10 months old. At age 12, he lost his right eye. He gets around today thanks to the help of his best friend. His loyal guide dog, Quebec.

Despite over a decade of living in the dark, Olson still battles with the day-to-day of living life as a blind person. He struggles finding outlets in his home and plugging things into them. He's unable to drive a car, and he still hasn't figured out how to squeeze the right amount of toothpaste on his toothbrush without making an absolute mess.

"I can sit here and say 'I'm blind.' There's a lot of hardships that come with being blind. There's a lot of adversities that come with being blind, and there's a lot of frustrations in the day where I'm like "If I could just see this would be so much better," admitted Olson in an exclusive interview with NBC LA. "There's a lot of sad times. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of times I cry when I realize I'll never be able to see what my wife or kids look like. But there's so many things that God has gifted me, that if I were to focus on the one thing I don't have, which is my eyesight, I think that would be shameful."

One thing Olson is not, is shameful. The 22-year-old is one of the most admirable people you will ever meet. As evidenced by not only his attitude, but his desire to help other visually impaired children like he was.

In March of this year, as agents and NFL scouts scavenged the USC campus on Pro Day looking for the next star player, Olson raised money for his charity, Out of Sight Faith.

Olson didn't want to steal the spotlight from his teammates that were entering the 2019 NFL Draft, but he wanted to inspire them and make a difference. Olson knows he doesn't have a future on the gridiron, but that didn't stop him from bench-pressing 225 pounds 17 times as his friends, teammates, coaches and scouts all cheered him on. 

As Olson now writes another chapter in the story of his life, he will once again have to adjust to life in the dark. Not literally of course, but now that the thousands of fans that once packed the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will no longer be cheering his name, Olson will have to acclimate to life outside the limelight.

As previously mentioned, those first initial steps begin with giving back to those that will currently walk the same path as he did. Out of Sight Faith raises money to purchase equipment and technology to help other children diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

Thanks to Olson and the hard work of others, there is now a device that can help save the eyesight of thousands of other children that find themselves in a similar state as he did a decade ago. This technology did not exist ten years ago, but now that it does, it will make an undeniable impact on the lives of many.

Olson already knows that he's a role model, but the impact he plans to make on others lives doesn't end with just children. Olson wants to inspire others through his work as an author and motivational speaker. 

Recently, Olson signed with one of the top three talent agencies in Los Angeles: United Talent Agency. He's shot an ad campaign with Head and Shoulders, and just finished authoring his second book, Open Your Eyes: 10 Uncommon Lessons to Discover a Happier Life. 

"I always say find the setup in the setback," said Olson, who reiterates this mantra in the book. "In every setback, there's a setup waiting to happen. With that, comes patience and perseverance. I'm not saying that the setup comes right away, but if you treat that setback as permanent and immovable, then it will stop you, but if you see that setback as something that is just waiting to be a setup for something else, then you can use it and leverage it to bring you to new heights. Look for that setup and prepare for that setup." 

For many, the thought of life after college and having to venture into adulthood can be considered a setback. The thought of an uncertain future can be scary, but Olson embraces it. He's already started his first small business, an app called "Engage," that allows everyday people to book motivational speakers like himself. Olson has even acquired other professional athletes as well, such as six-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens, San Diego Chargers running back, Melvin Gordon, and Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. 

Finally, Olson wants everyone to know that he's still an athlete and his passion for sports still burns strongly within him. Olson grew up playing golf, and still plays competitively. He's already won numerous blind golf tournaments, and says he wants to become the best blind golfer on the planet. 

"I want to play competitive golf and see how far I can take it," said Olson. "Golf was my first sport. Especially after going blind, that was something I still wanted to do and to be become the best golfer I can be. I love sports. It's always been a huge passion of mine, and it's something I don't want to lose."

Olson has never had a hole-in-one, but his impressive play on the course has already received the attention and adoration of greats like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, the former of which fell immediately in love with Quebec.

Even though Olson's days of playing competitive football are likely over, Olson feels like his life is just beginning. After word of his inspirational story went viral in 2017, Hollywood came a calling. Olson received multiple offers from film and television producers who wanted to purchase the rights to his life story. Offers reached into the six-figure range, but Olson turned them all down.

"My story isn't over yet, it isn't finished being written," he said with a smile.

I recently ran into Olson at the Trojans home opener against Fresno State. I found him on the USC sideline consoling star quarterback J.T. Daniels after he suffered a torn ACL in the victory. I have no doubt that Olson was imparting some of his wisdom upon the 19-year-old, reminding him to look for the setup in the setback, and echoing the two words that not only embody Olson, but all of a Trojan Nation:

Fight On.



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Host Division Rivals Over Labor Day Week]]>559210631Mon, 02 Sep 2019 19:26:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/Doc_and_Bochy.png

As the weather gets warmer in Southern California this week the Los Angeles Dodgers have started to cool off a bit.

The Boys in Blue have lost six of their last ten games, and enter into the Labor Day Holiday a Joc Pederson homer away from being swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend.

Thankfully for the two-time National League Pennant winners, they hold an 18-game lead in the NL West division and it's simply a matter of when they clinch their seventh consecutive division title, not if.

After a rocky road trip against division opponents, the Dodgers return to Los Angeles for some home cooking against the other two division rivals they didn't face last week in the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants.

Los Angeles is an MLB-best 52-18 at home this season and could potentially clinch the division during their six-game homestand, as their Magic Number currently stands at seven (any combination of Dodger wins and Diamondback losses).

The homestand kicks off on Labor Day with a special 5:10PM PT start as the Dodgers host members of the U.S. Navy. After an off day on Thursday, the Giants will travel to Dodger Stadium for the final time this season. Before the Opening game, the team will recognize Giants' manager Bruce Bochy who is expected to retire after the season.

Here's everything you need to know for the upcoming homestand: 

Monday, September 2, 5:10 PM vs. Rockies

Labor Day features a pitching matchup of right-handers Walker Buehler for the Dodgers against Peter Lambert for the Rockies. Buehler is seeking his 12th win of the season. Monday's contest also coincides with a special event night in honor of the City of Long Beach. Fans who purchase tickets at Dodgers.com/LongBeach, will receive a limited edition Dodgers/Long Beach t-shirt.

 Tuesday, September 3, 7:10 PM vs. Rockies

The second game of the series on Tuesday will feature a spot-start from left-hander Julio Urias who was activated before the series and returns from suspension. The game will mark just his seventh start of the season. The Rockies will counter with struggling right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez who is winless on the season with an ERA of 8.07. The game will feature "Hello Kitty Night," and fans who purchase tickets at Dodgers.com/HelloKitty will receive a special Dodgers/HelloKitty blanket.

Before the game, 15 people from eight different countries will participate in a naturalization ceremony where they will become United States Citizens.

Wednesday, September 4, 7:10 PM vs. Rockies

Right-hander Antonio Senzatela toes the rubber for the Rockies on Wenesday in the finale opposite Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu for the Dodgers. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a Tommy Lasorda bobblehead presented by State Farm. Before the game, Max Muncy will be honored as he receives the team's Heart and Hustle Award.

 Friday, September 6, 7:10 PM vs. Giants

The rival San Francisco Giants return to Dodger Stadium for the final time this season just in time for Friday Night Fireworks. The game coincides with Cal State Fullerton night, and fans who purchase tickets at Dodgers.com/CSUF will receive a special Dodgers/CSUF cap.

Saturday, September 7, 6:10PM vs. Giants

The Dodgers continue their homestand and honor local universities with Cal State Northridge Night on Saturday. Fans who purchase tickets at Dodgers.com/CSUN will receive a special Dodgers/CSUN hat. Before the game, the Dodgers will promote awareness for Childhood Cancer Awareness with a pregame ceremony.

 

Sunday, September 8, 1:10PM vs. Giants

The finale of the six-game homestand concludes on Sunday. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Dodgers tote bag. The team will also honor Cal State San Bernardino and fans who purchase a ticket at Dodgers.com/CSUSB will receive a special Dodgers/CSUSB hat. After the game, kids are invited on to the field where they can run the bases.

Enjoy the Labor Day week and we'll see you all at the Ravine.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Extended Netting Will Be in Place When the Dodgers Play Monday Night]]>558945411Mon, 02 Sep 2019 13:24:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-11574490761.jpg

Extended netting will be in place at Dodger Stadium when the Los Angeles Dodgers begin their next homestand Monday, the team announced Saturday.

The team previously replaced the netting behind home plate and above both dugouts with a 33-foot net, an increase of 8 feet. The 33-foot netting was extended this week an additional 124 feet down the baselines, from both dugouts to the elbow bend in front of the baseline seats.

"The decisions to both raise and extend the nets at Dodger Stadium were made after extensive data analysis and consultation with both players and fans," Dodger President & CEO Stan Kasten said. "We think these extensions to the netting greatly enhance fan safety while also keeping Dodger Stadium the welcoming and comfortable place it has always been."

The Dodgers announced on June 24 they would extend the netting at Dodger Stadium after a study was completed about how it could be configured to provide better protection for fans. That announcement came one day after a 13-year-old fan was struck in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium and suffered a concussion.

Two fans at Dodger Stadium had been killed by foul balls, 79-year-old Linda Goldbloom last season and 14-year-old Alan Fish in 1970.

The old netting has been donated to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and will be used to help refurbish Jackie Robinson Stadium in Compton.



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Joc Pederson Hits Homer in 11th, Dodgers Avoid Sweep Against Diamondbacks]]>559098611Sun, 01 Sep 2019 18:01:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-DBacks-September-2019.jpg

Cody Bellinger hit a tying homer in the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Joc Pederson went deep in the 11th and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied past the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Sunday to prevent a four-game sweep.

In a frightening scene, Dodgers reliever Dustin May was hit in the head by a line drive and stayed down for a few anxious moments in the middle of a hushed ballpark. But the pitcher ultimately stood up, was checked by a trainer and walked off the field without help.

Russell Martin and David Freese also hit solo shots for the NL West leaders, who stopped Arizona's six-game winning streak. Los Angeles raised its season total to 238 homers, a franchise record.

Pederson led off the 11th and sent a full-count pitch from Taylor Clarke (4-5) high into the right field seats for his 28th home run. Bellinger's 43rd of the year came with one out in the ninth off Andrew Chafin.

Pedro Baez got three outs for his first save of the season.

The Diamondbacks, chasing an NL wild card, had runners on second and third with two outs in the 10th against winner Casey Sadler (4-0), but Jarrod Dyson grounded out softly to second base. Arizona was unable to complete its first four-game sweep of the Dodgers.

The shaggy-haired May was struck on the right side of his head by Jake Lamb's line drive in the fourth. The ball caromed into shallow left field for a two-run single.

Josh Rojas gave Arizona a 3-2 lead later in the inning when he bounced a single up the middle to drive in Eduardo Escobar.

Freese, who started at first base after coming off the injured list, homered in the first off starter Alex Young in his first game since July 24.

Young worked 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits with five strikeouts.

Ross Stripling, also off the Dodgers' injured list after missing 34 games, got the start and pitched three scoreless innings before giving way to May, who was charged with three runs and four hits.

TWIN KILLER

Dodgers second baseman Jedd Gyorko started three double plays in the first four innings.

NEW FACES

Both teams made several moves as major league rosters expanded.

The Dodgers didn't call up anyone from the minors despite the buzz over top prospect Gavin Lux, who is thriving at Triple-A Oklahoma City. They activated Striping, Freese and reliever Dylan Floro from the 10-day injured list.

Freese was lifted for a pinch-hitter, Matt Beaty, in the sixth. Floro worked a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.

The Diamondbacks added right-handers Stefan Crichton and Jon Duplantier, infielder Kevin Cron, catcher Caleb Joseph, outfielder Abraham Almonte and left-hander Robby Scott from Triple-A Reno. All have major league experience with the Diamondbacks or elsewhere.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: INF Tyler White (upper back strain) and LHP Scott Alexander (forearm inflammation) will not return this season.

Diamondbacks: INF Ketel Marte returned to the lineup after being out with a nagging hamstring injury the past two games, expect for a pinch-hit at-bat Saturday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (11-3, 3.03 ERA) starts Monday against Colorado.

Diamondbacks: RHP Mike Leake (10-10, 4.36 overall) gets the ball Monday at home against San Diego. He is 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA for Arizona since being acquired from Seattle in a trade.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Suspend Contract Extension Talks With RB Melvin Gordon]]>559088961Sun, 01 Sep 2019 15:52:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Melvin-Gordon-contract-August-2019.jpg

Melvin Gordon's holdout with the Los Angeles Chargers will not end with a new contract.

General manager Tom Telesco said during a conference call on Sunday that the team has informed Gordon's agents that they have suspended contract talks until after the season. The Pro Bowl running back is on the did not report list after missing training camp and the preseason.

The Chargers — considered one of the contenders in the AFC to reach the Super Bowl — host Indianapolis in the Sept. 8 season opener.

"We have to get focused on the season and our next opponent," Telesco said. "So when or if Melvin reports, he'll play this season on his current contract, and we'll just revisit it after the season."

Gordon would make $5.6 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. He is seeking an extension in the neighborhood of Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell, who average between $13 and $14.4 million per season. The Chargers have offered a contract that would average around $10 million per year, but the sides have remained at an impasse.

Gordon has gained over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 or more touchdowns in three straight seasons. He was sixth in the AFC in yards from scrimmage (1,375), ninth in rushing (885 yards) and scored 14 touchdowns last season as the Chargers made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

But Gordon also has something in common with the other three running backs — injury issues. He missed four games late last season due to a knee injury and struggled after coming back, averaging 2.9 yards per carry compared to 5.2 yards pre injury.

Los Angeles will go into the season with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson as its running backs. Ekeler, who is going into his third season, has been a good change-of-pace back when paired with Gordon but has struggled when he has been the starter. Ekeler is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in regular-season games, but that falls to 3.3 in the three games where he was a starter last season when Gordon was injured.

Jackson came on late last season as a rookie with three games over 50 yards. He started Week 15 at Kansas City and had 58 yards on 16 carries.

Telesco expressed confidence in Ekeler as an every-down back, but also thinks Jackson will get his share of carries.

"I think the day and age of having to have one running back to carry it 300 times is probably not the smartest thing in the world anyways," he said. "Even if you have a big bellcow back, you'd like to have another back to come in and spell them."

Running back isn't the only area where the Chargers have concerns. Offensive tackle Russell Okung will miss at least the first six games due to blood clots. Trent Scott, a second-year player, will be the starting left tackle and was inconsistent during the preseason.

Safety Derwin James was placed on injured reserve Sunday after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot on Aug. 15. James had surgery on Aug. 22 and isn't expected to return until late November. Safety Jaylen Watkins was re-signed after originally being released during Saturday's final round of roster cuts.

"Every season has obstacles and it is our job to find ways around them and play through that," Telesco said. "We're going to be just fine. We are very focused right now and ready to go."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Trojans Lose Starting Quarterback JT Daniels for the Season]]>559087721Sun, 01 Sep 2019 19:27:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USC-JT-Daniels-injury-August-2019.jpg

Southern California quarterback J.T. Daniels will miss the rest of the season after tearing a ligament and the meniscus in his right knee during the Trojans' opener.

Coach Clay Helton confirmed the severity of his sophomore starter's injury Sunday night. USC (1-0) plans to start freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis against Stanford (1-0) at the Coliseum on Saturday.

Daniels will redshirt this season, Helton said. With an estimated nine to 12 months of recovery from surgery, Daniels could be ready for camp next year.

"He will be missed, but we will have to move forward, and we wish him nothing but the best," Helton said. "We know he's going to be back."

Daniels was hurt when his leg twisted while he was being tackled on a blitz with 27 seconds left in the first half of USC's 31-23 victory over Fresno State. Daniels started 11 games last season for USC's first losing team since 2000, and he won a four-way competition for the starting job last month in camp.

Daniels had an inconsistent freshman year after arriving at USC as the nation's top quarterback recruit, but Helton and new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell believed Daniels would thrive in Harrell's version of the Air Raid offense. Daniels looked mostly sharp before his injury against the Bulldogs, going 25 of 34 for 215 yards and a touchdown, but also throwing a goal-line interception.

"There were really some glimpses of what this offense can be, and it really excited me and our staff," Helton said.

Helton is under pressure to produce an impressive bounce-back season for the Trojans, but that goal has a major new complication with Daniels' injury. Helton and Harrell face plenty of work to prepare Slovis in the next few days ahead of USC's annual early-season Pac-12 opener against the Cardinal.

Slovis unexpectedly won the backup job in camp over Matt Fink and Jack Sears, who entered the transfer portal last week. Both Helton and Harrell have been effusive in their praise of Slovis, an unheralded 18-year-old recruit from Scottsdale, Arizona, who was coached by Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in high school.

But Slovis has exactly one half of college football experience, and the Trojans largely ran the ball while he was behind center. That's not the ideal situation for a quarterback facing Stanford's traditionally tough defense, followed by the rest of USC's brutal slate of early-season opponents: BYU, Utah, Washington and Notre Dame.

"We thought he made good decisions," Helton said. "There was just no fear. The moment has never been too big for the kid, and I didn't think it was too big for him last night. He walked out there bright-eyed and said, 'Let's go, Coach.'"

Slovis completed one well-thrown 41-yard pass in the second half against Fresno State, but he also miscommunicated with a receiver and threw a bad interception on another play. He finished 6 of 8 for 57 yards.

"I was just doing what I normally do," Slovis said afterward. "It's the same as practice every day. It's just a live environment, and everyone else is watching this time. I don't think that much changed."

Slovis won the backup job by outplaying Fink and Sears, who started one game last season when Daniels was injured. Sears elected to explore his options away from USC after losing the starting competition, but he has the most experience and possibly the highest upside of the remaining quarterbacks connected to USC.

While Helton didn't mention Sears in his comments to the media Sunday night, neither Sears nor Helton closed the door last week on possibly getting Sears back on the team.

"One of the things that Jack and I always talked about, and I said (was), 'Hey, there is always an open door here,'" Helton said Saturday night. "And he told me, he said, 'Coach, if you ever need me, I'm there for you.'"

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trojans Escape Fight From Fresno State, Lose Daniels ]]>559028181Sun, 01 Sep 2019 02:42:49 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/JTDanielsInjuryUSC.png

Hours before the first game of the 2019 season for the University of Southern California, up until the opening kickoff, everything felt different for the Trojans. 

After a dismal 5-7 season in 2018—the first losing season at USC since 2000—2019 was built up as the bounce back year.

Armed with a new Air Raid offense, a newly refurbished stadium, and a new lease on life for head coach Clay Helton, the Trojans had high hopes and expectations for what used to be the West Coast's perennial power program.

However, all it took was 15 seconds for the same old Trojans to rear their ugly head and return to their fallible form of football that allowed them to underachieve just eight months prior. 

Over $315 million dollars in renovations had gone into the Los Angeles Memorial coliseum over that span. Including dozens of luxury suites, two new lounges, and new seats for fans to watch the action. Unfortunately, despite the new digs around them, on the field it was more of the same.

False hope is a funny thing. It can act as a mask, allowing you to see something differently than it is in reality. That was the case after the opening kickoff. 

Velus Jones Jr. sent the Coliseum crowd into a frenzy when he returned the opening kick 61 yards to the Fresno State 26-yard-line. The Trojans were in business, the red seats were rocking, good times were rolling…then the flag came.

After a short huddle, the referees called a penalty on the Trojans for having two different players wearing the No. 7 jersey on the field simultaneously during the kickoff. The play was nullified and the Trojans eventually started on their own 19-yard-line.

The gargantuan gaffe was head scratching. Helton and the Trojans had eight months to prepare for this game, over 240 days to prove that the mental errors and mistakes were a thing of the past and things would be different this season. Then you have two players wearing the same number on the opening kickoff. 

"We had a late substitution and the mechanics didn't go," said Helton of the silly mistake. "I wasn't very happy about it, but it happens. It's a learning lesson for all of us, including the coaches, and I bet you it won't happen again."

The Trojans would later score on their opening drive, but the mistakes of the past continued to haunt them again in the first game of the season. Penalties were an Achille's Heel for the Trojans last season, and they had four for 35 yards in the first half on Saturday, not including the 61 yards erased on the opening kick. 

Offensively, turnovers plagued USC last season, especially when it mattered the most: inside the red zone. A lot of that was the struggles of the offensive line last year, and it was more of the same in the opening game of this season. The Trojans turned the ball over four separate times, including inside the red zone.

Defensively, the Trojans struggled with tackling last season, including fundamentals like tackling in space, and angles. On Saturday, the Trojans were unable to take down Bulldogs quarterback Jorge Reyna in the backfield and likely left half a dozen sacks on the field. 

To add insult to injury, the Trojans star quarterback, JT Daniels, the silver lining in an abysmal season last year, went down with a knee injury at the end of the first half.

Fresno State blitzed seven, and the Bulldogs easily walked through the meek USC offensive line, sacking Daniels aggressively as the 19-year-old quarterback twisted awkwardly on the grass, grabbing his right knee in obvious pain.

"It's gut-wrenching," said a somber Helton of the moment he saw his star quarterback writing on the field holding his knee. "You see a kid that's poured so much into the game and into this team and into his development becoming better both physically and mentally as a quarterback. I said a prayer as soon as I saw it." 

X-rays on the knee were negative, but Daniels returned to the sideline in street clothes, on crutches, and with a knee brace on. Many fear he suffered an ACL injury, and he is expected to miss weeks, if not the entirety of the season.

In his place, true freshman Kedon Slovis passed for 57 yards in his collegiate debut, and led the Trojans to a 31-23 victory.

Under Daniels, the Air Raid offense implemented by new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell had flashes of brilliance. Playing entirely under shotgun, Daniels threw for 215 yards in the first half before getting hurt. 

Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns caught 11 passes for a career-high 150 yards and USC's offense looked impressive before Daniels injury. Vave Malepeai rushed for a career-high 134 yards, and the Trojans led by as many as 18 points at one point. 

Nonetheless, the injury to Daniels definitely dampened the mood, and it showed on both the sidelines and in the seats. The Trojans were 14-point favorites in the game, and if not for a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jones Jr. late in the game, USC could have been upset.

As it was, the Bulldogs trailed by just one possession late in the game when Isaiah Pola-Mao intercepted Reyna in the end zone to seal the victory for the Trojans. Reyna, a Los Angeles native, finished with 256 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 88 yards on the ground. 

The Trojans may have done enough on Saturday to escape the clutches of an upset at the hands of Fresno State, but the same mental mistakes, errors, and turnovers won't fly against Top-25 ranked Stanford next Saturday.

After the Cardinal, the Trojans schedule only gets worse as they play three top-15 ranked teams in Utah, Washington, and Notre Dame over their next four games. All of which will likely occur with an inexperienced true freshman under center.

Needless to say, Helton and Harrell have their work cut out for them in the weeks to come, and the already scorching hot seat will only reach a boiling point if the Trojans start the season 2-4 as many expect. Trojans fans best prepare for a long fall and winter.



Photo Credit: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Mike Trout Surprised to Hear Details of Skaggs' Death]]>559011681Sat, 31 Aug 2019 23:17:46 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mike-Trout-Tyler-Skaggs-death-August-2019.jpg

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout said he was shocked to hear the details of Tyler Skaggs' death, but that it doesn't change his opinions about his late teammate.

A Texas medical examiner said in a report released Friday that Skaggs died of an accidental overdose from a toxic mix of the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone along with alcohol on July 1. The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area before the start of a series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed and later made up last month.

"It's pretty crazy. Obviously, it doesn't change my view on Tyler," Trout said before Saturday's game against the Boston Red Sox. "He made a big impact on my life and this team."

Trout added that he was also surprised to hear that a team employee might have been involved. The Southlake, Texas, police, as well as an attorney hired by the family, are investigating. Major League Baseball said on Friday that it would open an investigation as well.

"When stuff comes out, you want to know if it's true. ... Obviously, if I knew I would definitely have said something or did something," Trout said. "Just a tough situation when this came out. Tough to put your mind to it."

This is the second straight year that Trout has dealt with a death during the season. Aaron Cox — Trout's 24-year old brother-in-law — died last Aug. 15 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound according to New Jersey State Police.

"When you have a relative or a teammate pass away, it's tough. Mentally it's a grind to get over it," Trout said. "Every time you talk about anything Tyler has done, or did, it definitely reopens that wound."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: MediaNews Group via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pujols, Trout Help Angels Rally for 10-4 Win Over Red Sox]]>559005211Sat, 31 Aug 2019 22:01:11 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-Trout-Pujols-August-2019.jpg

Albert Pujols homered in a seven-run eighth inning, Mike Trout became the youngest player to reach at least 275 home runs and 200 stolen bases and the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 10-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Pujols' three-run shot to right-center off Josh Smith is the 3,184th hit of his career, tying him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14th all-time. It was also his 20th homer of the season, making him the fifth player with at least 17 seasons of 20 or more homers.

Los Angeles trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth before blowing it open with six runs and five hits off Ryan Brasier (2-4). Andrelton Simmons' single drove in Justin Upton with the tying run before he scored on Fletcher's two-out double to left to put the Angels on top. Brian Goodwin added a two-run single with the bases loaded before Pujols' blast.

The 39-year old Pujols has had a good weekend against Boston pitching. He had his first four-hit game in two years in Friday's 15-inning loss.

Trout — who was 1 for 3 with an RBI — stole his 200th base during the second inning, becoming the first player to have at least 275 home runs and 200 stolen bases before their age-28 season. Trout turned 28 on Aug. 7, but age-season is defined by how old they are on June 30.

He is the seventh player in American League history to reach those marks, Trout leads the majors with 43 homers this season and has 283 in his nine-year career.

Luis Garcia (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth to get the win.

Boston's J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to eight games with two hits along with two RBIs. Mookie Betts added three hits.

FOR STARTERS

Boston went with an opener for the first time in Alex Cora's two seasons as manager due to Friday's 15-inning marathon.

Josh Taylor worked the first inning and got out of a one out, bases-loaded jam when he struck out Justin Upton and got Calhoun to fly out to left. The right-hander allowed one hit and walked two.

Dillon Peters went 6 1/3 innings for his second-longest outing of the season. The left-hander surrendered four runs (three earned) on seven hits with strikeouts.

ROSTER MOVE

The Red Sox signed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to a minor-league deal. The right-hander threw a bullpen session Friday before being signed on Saturday.

Chacin was 3-10 with a 5.79 ERA in 19 starts for Milwaukee this season before being released on Monday. Cora said he did not know if Chacin would be added when rosters are expanded on Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: P Cam Bedrosian was placed on the injured list due to right forearm strain. The right-hander is the 25th player to go on the IL this season, tying the club record from last year.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: David Price (7-5, 4.36 ERA) comes off the injured list and makes his first start since Aug. 4. The left hander missed at least four starts due to a cyst on his left wrist.

Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (3-3, 3.95 ERA) has 24 strikeouts in his last two starts.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Rams Make Cuts, Complete Roster]]>558956801Sat, 31 Aug 2019 22:24:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LA-Rams-Broncos-Aug-24-2019.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams trimmed their roster by 19 players Saturday to comply by the 1 p.m. deadline to reach the 53-player regular-season limit including cutting three players who played for them in Super Bowl LII.

Receiver KhaDarel Hodge, running back John Kelly and defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers were among four players cut who played regular-season games for the Rams in 2018 along with running back Justin Davis.

The other players with NFL regular season experience cut were Kevin Peterson, who played six games with the Rams in 2017 and spent all of 2018 on injured reserve, and defensive back Donte Deayon, who played four games for the New York Giants in both 2017 and 2018.

The Rams also cut two players who were on the practice squad in 2018, defensive back Steven Parker and guard Jeremiah Kolone. The Rams cut one player they selected in the 2019 draft -- linebacker Dakota Allen, a seventh-round choice, -- and three undrafted rookies -- tackle Chandler Brewer, defensive tackle Marquise Copeland and defensive end Landis Durham.

Quarterback John Wolford was also cut, two days after throwing two touchdown passes in a 22-10 victory over the Houston Texans to conclude preseason play.

All 13 players cut Saturday are eligible to be signed to the Rams 10-member practice squad. Teams may begin signing players to practice squad contracts shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday after it is determined they cleared waivers.

The Rams waived four players with an injury designation, including two who played for them in 2018 -- defensive back Dominique Hatfield and linebacker Trevon Young. The others were linebacker Josh Carraway, who played one regular-season game for the Tennessee Titans in 2017, and undrafted rookie receiver Alex Bachman.

If, as expected, those players clear waivers, they will be placed on reserve/injured.

Linebacker Micah Kiser was placed on reserve/injured and will miss the entire season. The projected starter underwent surgery for a pectoral injury suffered in the Aug. 17 preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Center-guard Aaron Neary was suspended. The NFL announced on June 28 he violated the league's policy and program on substances of abuse and would be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2019 regular season.

Neary's only NFL regular-season appearance came in the final game of 2017 when he started as the Rams rested most of their regulars. He spent the majority of the 2018 season on the Rams practice squad.

NFL teams often make adjustments to the roster between the regular-season cutdown deadline and the season opener, including re-signing players who had been cut and cutting others to accommodate adding players cut by other teams.

"These things are never truly final," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "These are tough decisions that we have to make today, but there's a lot of instances that end up changing the narrative and this doesn't mean that there's not going to be a point in time when John Franklin-Myers' status changes with us."

McVay said "a lot of these decisions" about players being cut "are more a result of other guys kind of earning it, not necessarily one guy not doing what he can to show that he's an NFL-caliber player."

"A lot of it ends up coming down to numbers, how we ultimately figure out our offense, defense and special teams," McVay said. "Not exclusive to the 53, but we keep going back to that 46 as well and those decisions come into play there."

While the regular-season roster limit is 53, a maximum of 46 players are eligible to play in regular-season and postseason games.

The Rams cut 18 players on Friday, including Brandon Allen, their starting quarterback for the final two preseason games.

Allen signed with the Rams in 2017 after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars but never played a regular-season game for them. He spent the first 15 weeks of the 2017 season on the active roster before being placed on injured/reserve. He was on the active roster for the first two weeks of the 2018 season before being cut, then was signed to the practice squad.

All but three of the other players cut Friday were undrafted rookies -- guard Abdul Beecham, tight ends Kendall Blanton, Romello Brooker and Keenen Brown, running back Matt Colburn, safety Jake Gervase, receivers Jalen Greene and Johnathan Lloyd, tackles Brandon Hitner and Matt Kaskey, center Vitas Hrynkiewicz, defensive tackles Bryant Jones and Boogie Roberts and linebacker Ketner Kupp.

Kupp is the younger brother of Rams receiver Cooper Kupp.

The other three players cut Friday were punter Brock Miller, receiver Austin Proehl and defensive back Ramon Richards. None have spent time on active NFL regular-season rosters. Miller participated in the San Francisco 49ers training camp in 2017.

Proehl, a son of former Rams receiver Ricky Proehl, was on the Rams and Tennessee Titans practice squads in 2018. Richards was on the Rams practice squad in 2018.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose 6-5, Kenley Jansen Gives Up Late Homer in Arizona]]>558997991Sat, 31 Aug 2019 20:54:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-lose-to-DBacks-Aug-31-19.jpg

Eduardo Escobar homered for the third straight game and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 50,180, a single-game attendance record for Chase Field.

Escobar's solo shot was his 10th home run in August and 32nd of the season. The homer came off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Christian Walker and Wilmer Flores hit back-to-back home runs off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (13-4).

Kershaw, who lost his second straight start, was charged with five runs on five hits, six strikeouts and two walks in five innings.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth off Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley. But pinch-hitter Matt Beatty grounded into a double play that scored a run, and Chris Taylor grounded out to end the game.

Bradley thumped his chest and screamed after earning his 10th save in his team's season-high sixth straight win.

Justin Turner and Will Smith homered for the Dodgers.

The potential pitcher's duel never really materialized, with Arizona's Robbie Ray (12-7) exiting after allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings.

Walker and Flores homered in the bottom of the fourth off Kershaw, tying the game after the Dodgers raced to a 3-0 lead. Walker's two-run shot was his fourth in 10 career at-bats against Kershaw.

Kershaw hung his head in exasperation as Walker's drive hit above the yellow line on the center field batter's eye.

The Dodgers went up 4-3 on a leadoff double from A.J. Pollock and Enrique Hernandez's sacrifice fly in the fifth. But the Diamondbacks took their first lead, 5-4, on Nick Ahmed's two-run double down the left field line with one out in the bottom of the inning.

Turner connected on a 2-0 pitch for his 26th home run of the season with two outs in the top of the third.

Smith hit his 13th homer of the season to open the fourth inning, another ball that landed in the seats in left field. Smith has 10 home runs since being called up from the minors July 26.

The Dodgers added Jedd Gyorko's RBI double in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.

KERSHAW OFF THE MOUND

Kershaw had an interesting night beyond pitching. He reached back to catch a wayward toss from Gyorko and forced out Walker at the bag in the second inning. Then, he was thrown out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double two batters before Turner's home run.

CELEBRATING MEXICAN BEISBOL

On the day the Diamondbacks celebrated their relationship with Mexico's Pacific League, the team wore batting practice tops bearing the logos of the league's teams and black "Los D-backs" jerseys.

Representatives from each of the LMP's 10 teams attended, and the game had a Mexican feel to it with a live band playing in the stadium left-field bleachers.

The Hermosillo Naranjeros (Orange Growers) are often considered the most popular Mexican baseball team in Arizona, with its proximity to Mexico's northern state of Sonora, where Hermosillo is located.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: OF Alex Verdugo (oblique strain) will start a rehab assignment with rookie-level Ogden on Sunday, and manager Dave Roberts said Verdugo could be activated from the injured list next weekend.

Diamondbacks: IF Ketel Marte was out of the lineup for the second straight game with a lingering hamstring problem, though he pinch hit for Ray in the fifth. ... RHP Luke Weaver (forearm tightness) will throw a simulated game Monday. ... RHP Yoshihisa Hirano (right elbow soreness) will throw off a mound as the next step in his progression toward a return.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling is set to come off the injured list and start Sunday. Stripling (4-4, 3.64 earned run average) has made 12 starts this season.

Diamondbacks: LHP Alex Young (6-3, 3.81 ERA) is set for his third appearance against the Dodgers this season on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Pitcher Tyler Skaggs Died of Accidental Overdose]]>558847391Sat, 31 Aug 2019 00:00:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/skaggsusatsi.jpg

A medical examiner in Texas has ruled that Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said in a report released Friday that Skaggs had the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system along with alcohol.

The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed.

"We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol. That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much," the Skaggs family said in a statement. 

"We are grateful for the work of the detectives in the Southlake Police Department and their ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tyler’s death. We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels. We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them. To that end, we have hired Texas attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us." 

The Angels also released a statement Friday:

"Tyler was and always will be a beloved member of the Angels Family and we are deeply saddened to learn what caused this tragic death. Angels Baseball has provided our full cooperation and assistance to the Southlake Police as they conduct their investigation."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jessica Kleinschmidt]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest Warrant Issued for Lakers Center DeMarcus Cousins]]>558809231Fri, 30 Aug 2019 06:41:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-DeMarcus-Cousins-Threat.jpg

An arrest warrant for a domestic violence charge was issued Thursday in Alabama for Los Angeles Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins. 

The Lakers and the NBA say they're also investigating the claim Cousins threatened violence against a former girlfriend.

TMZ released an audio recording Tuesday in which it says Cousins threatens to shoot Christy West, the mother of their 7-year-old child.

The Lakers issued a statement saying they "take this claim seriously." The team and the NBA both say they're gathering information and looking into the allegations.

Cousins got married to another woman last weekend in Atlanta.

Cousins signed with the Lakers last month as a free agent, but the veteran center then tore a knee ligament during a workout earlier this month. He could miss the entire season with his new team after knee surgery.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Killed 17 Years After Slaying of NBA Star's Grandfather]]>558775221Thu, 29 Aug 2019 22:31:15 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1142714771.jpg

Police in North Carolina say someone killed a man who had been convicted as a teenager in the 2002 death of NBA star Chris Paul's grandfather.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports police say 31-year-old Dorrell Queshane Brayboy was found with stab wounds in his chest on Wednesday in a grocery store parking lot. Winston-Salem Police Lt. A.J. Santos says a search is underway for his assailant.

Brayboy was 15 when he and four other teenagers were charged in the death of 61-year-old Nathaniel Jones, who was found bound, gagged and beaten to death at his home. Brayboy served 12½ years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2005.

Prosecutors said Jones was killed the day after Paul signed a letter of intent to play at Wake Forest University.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: NBAE via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Padres 6-4 in 10 After Jansen Blows Save]]>558650891Thu, 29 Aug 2019 00:01:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Beat-Padres-Extra-Innings-August-2019.jpg

After a wild pitch left Kenley Jansen with his seventh blown save of the season, Kiké Hernández helped pick up the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers closer.

Hernández scored the go-ahead run on shortstop Luis Urias' throwing error with two outs in the 10th inning and the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 6-4 Wednesday night.

"I just thought our guys kept their composure," manager Dave Roberts said after the Dodgers lowered to nine their magic number for clinching their seventh straight NL West title. They took two of three against San Diego after losing two of three to the New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium last weekend.

Padres All-Star Kirby Yates (0-5) retired Chris Taylor and Corey Seager in the 10th before walking Hernández, who stole second. Urias made a tough, short-hop pickup of a ball hit sharply by Russell Martin, but then overthrew first base for an error that allowed Hernández to score. Pinch-hitter Will Smith singled and A.J. Pollock followed with an RBI single.

Hernández noticed Padres catcher Francisco Mejía hurt his side while on the basepaths in the bottom of the ninth and didn't make a strong throw down to second after Yates' final warmup pitch before starting the 10th.

"I said, 'Well, if he can't throw, I'm going to go,'" Hernández said. "Sure enough, (Yates) got his leg up and I took off."

Hernández thought he might have come off the bag on his slide into second.

"You can say I came off the base or whatever, but they didn't challenge, so I didn't," he said.

Roberts said Hernández "had a heck of a ballgame," including an RBI single in the eighth.

"When you get two outs, most guys try to do it with one swing, but Kiké took a good at-bat against Yates to get on base," the manager said. "Stealing second base, then Russ had a good at-bat. Fortunately we got a little break by the Urias ball thrown away."

Urias took over at shortstop after rookie phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. was placed on the injured list this month. Tatis is likely done for the season.

"I think just everything happened too fast," Urias said. "Maybe I rushed a little bit and that is why I kind of threw it away. It's part of the game and I hope I can learn from it."

Padres manager Andy Green said Urias had "a very nice catch" but was "probably just a little casual there" with the throw.

"Young guy playing shortstop made a great grab, just didn't complete the throw," Green said.

The Dodgers "put the ball in play and sometimes things happen," Yates said.

Los Angeles took a 4-3 lead into the ninth and Jansen (4-3) was trying for his 28th save. But he allowed Mejía's leadoff double to left field that fell just in front of a sliding Taylor. Mejia advanced on Urias' flyout to right and scored on Jansen's wild pitch.

Wil Myers walked and stole second before Greg Garcia grounded out to end the inning.

Jansen is "throwing the ball well, he really is," Roberts said. "That play, C.T. gave it everything he had. If he makes the play, then it's a completely different inning. I still think the ball's coming out really well."

Casey Sadler pitched the 10th for his first major league save.

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit and hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the second.

Maeda walked two of the first three batters he faced before Eric Hosmer hit an RBI single and Hunter Renfroe a sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers went ahead 3-2 in the second against right-hander Trey Wingenter, who was making his first professional start in another bullpen game for the Padres, and Luis Perdomo.

The two relievers walked three batters in the inning, and it cost the Padres. Wingenter allowed two walks, a single and Seager's RBI groundout before he made way for Luis Perdomo. He walked Martin before Maeda singled to right to bring in Taylor and Hernández.

Maeda allowed two runs and two hits in five innings while striking out three and walking three.

Wingenter permitted three runs on one hit in 1 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Hernández hit an RBI single in the eighth for a 4-2 lead but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

Hosmer homered for the Padres in the eighth, his 20th, off Pedro Baez.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: Second baseman Max Muncy sustained a bruised right wrist when he was hit by a pitch from Matt Strahm in the fifth and came out of the game. Roberts said X-rays were negative.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-4, 2.00 ERA) is scheduled to start Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Arizona. The Diamondbacks counter with RHP Merrill Kelly (9-13, 4.86).

Padres: Rookie RHP Chris Paddack (7-7, 3.84) starts Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at San Francisco. The Giants will go with RHP Dereck Rodriguez (5-6, 5.26).

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Calhoun, Trout lead Halos Past Rangers 5-2, Snap 5-Game Skid]]>558531421Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:19:26 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-Beat-Rangers-Aug-27-2019.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels haven't been eight games below .500 since 2016. After five consecutive road losses heading into this homestand, they certainly appeared to be headed to that dismal depth while Texas' Mike Minor dazzled them for six scoreless innings.

Kole Calhoun and Brian Goodwin made sure the Angels didn't bottom out, and Mike Trout added the coup de grace by adding to his major league homers lead.

Calhoun hit a two-run double and pinch-hitter Goodwin added a two-run single in the seventh inning, and the Angels snapped their five-game skid with a 5-2 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Trout hit his majors-best 43rd homer in the eighth inning for the Angels (64-70), driving in 100 runs for the first time since 2016 with his solo shot to left.

"He pummeled it," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's the downside of being Mike Trout. You go up there and (everyone) expects him to hit it 420 feet every time."

Trout, who was in a minor slump over the past six games, hit his 11th homer against Texas this season. Only Mickey Mantle has hit that many homers in a season against the Rangers franchise, and he did it in 1961 when they were the Washington Senators.

The Angels' bats came through just in time to snare a win in the opener of a two-game series between AL West also-rans.

Andrew Heaney had 10 strikeouts over six innings of four-hit ball in his second straight outstanding start against Texas, but he left trailing 1-0 before the Angels rallied to win.

"We finally broke through there," said Heaney, who struck out 14 over eight innings of one-run ball in Arlington last week.

Shin-Soo Choo had an RBI single in the third inning and Danny Santana homered in the eighth for the Rangers, who have lost four of five.

Minor (11-8) dominated the Angels for the first six innings, allowing only Andrelton Simmons to reach base during Los Angeles' first 20 plate appearances.

"It really is unfortunate, because that's the best I've seen him in a while," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "He deserved a better result than he got."

Minor bounced back sharply from last week, when the Angels hurt him for 10 hits and seven runs in Texas.

"I feel fine, but I just wish I could get some wins," Minor said. "It's no fun losing."

The first three Angels reached in the seventh, and Calhoun drove home Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton with a one-out double in the gap. Goodwin then added two more runs on Minor's 105th pitch with a single up the middle.

Texas scored an unearned run in the third when Choo singled to drive home Delino DeShields, who had singled and gone to second when Calhoun bobbled the ball in right.

EX-RANGER WINS

Miguel Del Pozo (1-0) got one out in the seventh to earn his first major league victory against the team that traded him to the Angels on Aug. 9. The 26-year-old Dominican reliever, who made his big league debut last week in Texas, struck out Choo on three pitches.

Hansel Robles pitched the ninth for his 19th save.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: OF Hunter Pence went on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. The move was retroactive to last Saturday for the All-Star selection. Isiah Kiner-Falefa came up from Triple-A Nashville to take his roster spot.

Angels: Reliever Keynan Middleton was reinstated from the injured list for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2018. He missed the final 121 games of last season — which he began as the Angels' closer — and the first 133 games of this season.

UP NEXT

Orange County native Patrick Sandoval (0-1, 6.75 ERA) takes another shot at earning his first major league victory for the Angels in the series finale. He faces Ariel Jurado (6-10, 5.48 ERA), who has lost four consecutive starts and given up 22 runs in the last three.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Walker Buehler Dominates Padres Again in Dodgers' 9-0 Victory]]>558531411Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:14:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Buehler-Beat-Padres-August-2019.jpg

Walker Buehler had another dominating performance against the San Diego Padres, and catcher Russell Martin looked good on the mound, too.

Buehler struck out 11 and allowed only four hits in six innings, and Joc Pederson homered to lead the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers to a 9-0 victory Tuesday night.

It was such a laugher that Padres rookie infielder Ty France pitched the top of the ninth, allowing A.J. Pollock's solo homer, and then Martin mopped up for the Dodgers, allowing only a double to keep his ERA at 0.00 in four career appearances.

"He's pretty good. He's got some spin rate. You guys should check his numbers," Buehler joked.

"He's got a lot to beat you with," Pollock said. "He's not just throwing the ball up there. He's mixing in speeds, his tempo is different, he's got a quick pitch. I wouldn't want to face him. He's not your typical position player on the mound, for sure."

Buehler (11-3) was strong from the start, walking just two and allowing only three baserunners to reach scoring position. He improved to 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA in four career appearances against San Diego in two seasons. He and three relievers combined to no-hit the Padres on May 4, 2018, in Monterrey, Mexico.

"I don't know if there's much to it," Buehler said of his success against the Padres. "They always have a lot of right-handed hitters and being a righty, there's kind of similar things you want to see. We just want to keep it going and win division games."

Buehler recorded consecutive scoreless starts for the third time in his career.

Asked why Buehler is so good against his team, manager Andy Green said: "We need an answer for that."

Manuel Margot, who was beaned by Buehler in the second inning, made a leaping catch at the wall in center field in the sixth to rob Cody Bellinger of a two-run homer, which would have given him sole possession of the MLB lead with 43.

Margot was hit in the side of his helmet by a pitch by Buehler and lay on the ground for a few minutes before sitting up and then standing up and walking to first. He stole second on the next pitch.

"You never feel good about that," Buehler said. "Obviously there's no intent to hit a guy in the head. That's not the way I play. It's hard because you want to make sure the guy's OK, but at the same time you've got a game to pitch. He stole second base on the next pitch and he seemed to be doing fine. I asked him if he was all right when he got to second. It's just scary. You can't let it take you out of the game."

Padres manager Andy Green said Margot "was completely lucid from the get go. He was fine on the ground, just kind of gathering himself. We asked him to stay down there for a little bit to check him. He checked out with every test that was given to him. Felt fine. Felt soreness in the jaw. Fortunate that it seemed to come out like that. Kind of see that happening, kind of anticipate the worst. Go out there and he's talking from the very beginning. Very fortunate."

Pederson hit his career-high 27th homer in the third inning off rookie Cal Quantrill (6-5).

Matt Beaty and Enrique Hernandez hit RBI singles in the fourth before the Dodgers blew it open with five runs in the fifth, when they chased Quantrill and had seven straight batters reach with one out. Corey Seager and Will Smith each hit a bases-loaded, two-run single, and Hernandez added an RBI double.

Quantrill allowed eight runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings, walked three and struck out one.

"Wasn't me today," he said. "Felt like this past month I made a lot of strides and today was a bad step back. Left the ball up, didn't have very good control of the off-speed. Just generally I didn't mix it up enough and they took advantage of that.

"Everything just felt a little bit out of sorts. I tried to battle but that's just not good enough. Got to find a way. Good starting pitchers find a way to get through bad days. You're not always going to throw a shutout, but you've got to give your team a chance to win, and that's just not good enough."

JUSTIN TURNER

The Dodgers' third baseman had a scheduled night off. Earlier Tuesday, he was suspended for one game by Major League Baseball and fined for making contact with umpire Rob Drake after striking out looking to end Monday night's game. Turner is appealing, meaning he can play until the process is complete.

ROSTER MOVE

The Dodgers activated C Martin from the bereavement list and optioned C Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.13) is scheduled to start the series finale Wednesday night. He's 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts against the Padres, with 28 strikeouts against five walks and holding batters to a .183 average.

Padres: RHP Trey Wingenter (1-3, 4.60) is scheduled to make his first big-league start as San Diego has another bullpen day.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Late Sportscaster Keith Jackson to Get Statue Outside Rose Bowl]]>558528751Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:52:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Keith-Jackson-Rose-Bowl-August-2019.jpg

The late sportscaster Keith Jackson, who dubbed the Rose Bowl the "Granddaddy of Them All," will be the next person honored with a statue outside the legendary Pasadena venue.

Officials with the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation discussed plans for the statue at a Pasadena City Council meeting Monday night. The donation-funded statue could be installed as early as December, ahead of the 106th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.

Jackson died Jan. 12, 2018, at age 89.

He called the Rose Bowl Game a record 15 times and was selected for the game's Hall of Fame in 1999. The Rose Bowl stadium's broadcast center was renamed in his honor in 2015, and fundraising efforts for the statue have been ongoing for more than a year.

Jackson received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award from the American Football Coaches Association and he was also named National Sportscaster of the Year five consecutive times, by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. Jackson is also in the National Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame, the NSSA Hall of Fame and the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Jackson retired in 2006 after 40 years with ABC.

His statue, depicting Jackson standing and holding a microphone with the Rose Bowl logo, will be located in the Rose Plaza near the stadium's south entrance. It will be the third statue at the stadium. The other statues are of Jackie Robinson, dedicated in 2017, and Brandi Chastain, dedicated in July in honor of the U.S. Women's National Team that won the World Cup at the Rose Bowl in 1999.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for DGA]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Turner Suspended 1 Game for Bumping Ump]]>558494311Tue, 27 Aug 2019 16:43:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels9.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has been suspended for one game by Major League Baseball for making contact with an umpire after striking out looking to end a game.

MLB handed down the suspension and undisclosed fine Tuesday, a day after Turner argued with plate umpire Rob Drake over a called third strike that he believed was a ball.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stepped in between Turner and Drake after the two bumped. The Dodgers were unhappy with Drake's strike zone all night. They lost 4-3. Turner said after the game that Drake instigated the contact.

The league says Turner is appealing the discipline, meaning he is allowed to play until the process is complete.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Angel Stadium Deal Discussed at Council Meeting]]>558482101Tue, 27 Aug 2019 17:07:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/anaheimmayor.JPG

The mayor of Anaheim says they're ready to play when it comes to negotiating a new agreement with the Angels.

Mayor Harry Sidhu talked about the current stadium lease with the LA Angels. It's a 33-year contract that goes through 2029.

He said he hopes to sit down with the Angels negotiations team in about 60 days.

The mayor says if the Angels decide to leave Anaheim, it would mean losing thousands of jobs, millions in annual revenue and the pride of having a baseball team.

He would like to see mixed-use space at Platinum Triangle with parks, entertainment and apartments.

"This will be in front of the council," Sidhu said. "It'll be discussed and all the residents can give their input and they can say, 'Hey, we'd like to see this, or that.' We will take all of that into consideration. That is an open meeting for everybody."

By Dec. 31 the Angels must decide if they opt out. If they do nothing the 2029 lease agreement continues.



Photo Credit: NBCLA]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Rally in 6th to Beat Rookie May, Dodgers 4-3]]>558406411Tue, 27 Aug 2019 00:13:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Padres-August-2019.jpg

Padres rookie Austin Allen was familiar enough with Los Angeles rookie Dustin May from facing him in the minor leagues that he was able to start the go-ahead rally that kept Eric Lauer perfect against the Dodgers.

Greg Garcia scored the tying run on a throwing error by center fielder A.J. Pollock and Manny Machado drove in the go-ahead run during a three-run rally in the sixth inning that carried San Diego a 4-3 victory against the Dodgers on Monday night.

May (1-3) took a 3-1 lead into the sixth before the Padres rallied to hand the NL West leaders their third loss in four games.

Allen led off with a pinch-hit double and took third on Garcia's single. Rookie Josh Naylor singled to center to bring in Allen. Pollock's throw back in bounced between third baseman Justin Turner's legs and into the Dodgers' dugout, allowing Garcia to score and Naylor to take third.

"I went up there with a little bit of confidence just from facing Dustin through the low levels of the minors and even in Double-A a little bit," Allen said. "I haven't faced him this year, but I've got a pretty good feel in like where his release point is and all that stuff. That was definitely one of those at-bats you go into and you're looking forward to it."

Machado, who helped the Dodgers reach the World Series last year before signing a $300 million deal with San Diego, grounded to second to bring in Naylor and chase May. Adam Kolarek came on and got the final two outs.

May allowed four runs, two earned, and four hits. He struck out two and walked one.

"The curveball to Austin was up, but other than that I felt like I made quality pitches down the zone and they just hit it where we weren't," he said "It wasn't hard contact but I mean they were just putting it where we weren't and in the spots they needed to."

Lauer (7-8) benefited from the rally, making the lefty 5-0 with a 2.11 ERA against the Dodgers in seven career starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, struck out eight and walked four.

"The bats did a huge job in the sixth inning there to get into the position to win," Lauer said. "That sixth inning was one of those innings where it was kind of just energy all over the place. You could feel it in the dugout. You could feel that we were kind of on the rise there."

Lauer said the Dodgers "line up against me well and I like to pitch the way that they don't like to hit, so obviously they're making adjustments and they're getting to a few more balls, but as long as I can continue to adjust and make myself a little better, I think it'll keep going the way it is."

All-Star closer Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 38th save in 41 chances.

The Dodgers were unhappy with umpire Rob Drake's strike zone all night. After taking a called third strike to end the game, Turner started arguing with Drake.

"There was a lot of very questionable calls throughout the game," Turner said. "He called strike three and I asked him, 'You called that a strike?' and he told me it was right down the middle, which was pretty upsetting. If he thinks that's down the middle, no wonder he was missing a lot of pitches throughout the night.

"And then he walks into me and told me not to bump him, which also upsets me," Turner said. "I'm not trying to bump him or touch him in any way, but when you walk into me and then cry foul like I hit you or something is brutal."

Manager Dave Roberts stepped in between Turner and Drake.

"I just thought it was inconsistent tonight, both sides, both teams," Roberts said. "Game ends and it was a good pitch, borderline pitch, but I think there was just frustration building up."

Lauer allowed Turner's homer with two outs in the third and Kiké Hernández's laser shot into the second deck in left field with one out in the fifth. It was Turner's 23rd and Hernández's 17th.

Turner added an RBI double in the fifth.

May retired his first nine batters before Garcia walked leading off the fourth. He advanced on Naylor's groundout and scored on Eric Hosmer's two-out single.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (10-3, 3.16 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday night. Buehler and three relievers combined to no-hit the Padres on May 4, 2018, during a series in Monterrey, Mexico.

Padres: RHP Cal Quantrill (6-4, 3.32 ERA) is scheduled to make his 19th appearance and 14th start. He's 4-2 with a 1.79 ERA since the All-Star break.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yankees Are a Bad Matchup for the Dodgers]]>558386711Mon, 26 Aug 2019 20:04:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Dodgers-Yankees-Matchup.png

"It's all about matchups."

At least that's the reigning thought when it comes to sports, individual and team.

If matchups are meaningful in sports, than that must mean they are even more magnified in the postseason, where every matchup can mean the difference between winning a championship or going home empty-handed.

So with that in mind, if this weekend's series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers was a potential World Series preview, then fans across Southern California should be both excited and concerned.

The highly anticipated matchup between the two teams with the best records in baseball lived up to its billing. All three games featured sellout crowds with the attendance surpassing 160,000 in total. Each game had a playoff atmosphere, was packed full of action, and contained a plethora of drama, but at the end of the day, it was predominantly one-sided.

The Bronx Bombers outscored the Dodgers 16-to-5 during the three-game series and hit nine home runs compared to just two for Los Angeles.

Many loyal Dodger fans will be clamoring for a rematch this October, mostly because of hype and history. However, the real rematch they should be rooting for is with the Houston Astros.

To put it simply, the Yankees are a bad matchup for the Dodgers.

Much was made before the three-game series that both teams were so similar to each other. Not only did they have the best record in their respective leagues, but both teams hit homers and score a lot of runs, they have a mix of young players and veterans, their starting pitching is solid, their bullpens are admirable, and their bench is deep. All of these things are true, but if they are similar, then they are more of a mirror image, and a mirror tends to reveal in reverse. 

For example, the Yankees top four home run hitters are all right-handed. It's a list that does not include Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, or Giancarlo Stanton. All of which are also right-handed. Their lineup is broadly blessed with a bevy of right-handed hitters, and they all have one thing in common: they crush left-handed pitching.

Overall, the Yankees offense is better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. Selectively, their right-handed hitters are significantly better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching.

The Yankees right-handed hitters are batting a combined .280 against left-handed pitching this season with a .501 slugging percentage. Against left-handed starters the numbers are even better: .287 BA  with a .507 slugging percentage.

The Yankees have faced more right-handed pitchers this season than southpaws, and their splits are good against both, but when they face a right-hander, the drop-off is noteworthy: .271 BA with a .486 slugging percentage and .266 with a .481 against a right-handed starter.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, their starting rotation is stocked full of left-handed pitchers, and that plays right into the hands of New York.

Take this weekend's series for example: The Yankees faced two All-Star left-handed starters in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw. They won both of those games, and by a combined score of 15-to-3.

Ryu is the frontrunner for the National League Cy Young Award, and he's been dominant at Dodger Stadium. Yet, the Yankees had no regard for those statistics when they scorched Ryu for a season-high seven runs on nine hits including three home runs in just 4 and 1/3 innings, the shortest (non injury) start of the season for Ryu.

Against Kershaw, things went a little differently. Kershaw arguably had his best start of the season, striking out 12 batters with no walks over seven innings. Nonetheless, he allowed three home runs as well, albeit all solo shots.

"I thought I threw the ball better. I felt really good. I thought everything was coming out decent. I made four mistakes and three of them went over the fence," said Kershaw after the loss. "That's no fun, and frustrating obviously."

Only four mistakes, and three of them were home runs. That's indicative of how good the Yankees are, specifically the right-handed power hitters like Judge, who hit just the second home run off a Kershaw curveball in two years.

So if Ryu and Kershaw can't beat the Yankees, especially in their own ballpark, who can? Walker Buehler maybe. Tony Gonsolin—a right-hander—got the job done, but it's doubtful he'll be in the starting rotation come the postseason. If Rich Hill's left arm is healthy, the postseason rotation will likely be Ryu, Kershaw, Hill and Buehler. 

Offensively, the Yankees matchup well with the Dodgers potential postseason rotation, and many of you might be thinking L.A. can just outscore them with their own high-octane offense come October. Wrong.

As noted in the aforementioned mirror comparison, the Dodgers offense is almost a mirror-image of the Yankees. Yes, they too hit for power and slug, but the top three home run hitters on the Dodgers are all left-handed.

Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Joc Pederson round out the top three, and Justin Turner is the only right-handed hitter in the Dodgers lineup with over 20 homers on the year. After that, the Dodgers other top two hitters overall are Corey Seager and Alex Verdugo. They are also both left-handed.

The Dodgers have the depth to matchup with anyone, as they've proven over the past two NL-pennant winning seasons, but when you take a deeper look into the statistics, they are significantly worse against left-handed pitching than right-handed.

As a team, the Dodgers are batting .251 with a pedestrian slugging percentage of .445 against left-handed pitching. When you isolate those numbers just to the left-handed hitters we mentioned, they're batting .261 with a .457 slugging percentage. 

Against a left-handed starter, the lefty hitters are even worse with a .245 average and a .441 slugging percentage.

However, when they face a right-hander, the numbers are significantly better: Dodgers' lefties are batting .276 with a .539 slugging percentage this season.

The Dodgers saw plenty of southpaws against the Yankees over the weekend. On Friday, they were puzzled by left-handed starter James Paxton. On Saturday, it was savvy veteran C.C. Sabathia who stymied them. They finally ran into a right-hander in Domingo German on Sunday, but after he exited in what was still a close game, he handed the ball off to left-handed relievers Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman. The Dodgers failed to score the rest of the way. 

In a seven-game series, they likely won't face Sabathia, but instead they would face another strong southpaw in J.A. Happ. 

When asked about the matchups, specifically both lineups against the largely left-handed starting rotations of both teams, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said he liked the matchup between the teams overall, but admitted his team still has some work to do if they want to beat the Yankees in October. 

"They outplayed us," said Roberts. "For us, our biggest takeaway was our at-bat quality. You have to give credit to the pitchers that pitched us well, but when you talk about having a plan and staying in the strike zone, it's on the hitter."

Roberts is right of course, but the numbers don’t lie, and they dictate that when the Dodgers' hitters face the Yankees left-handers, they are playing into their weaknesses, and not their strengths.

If you don't think matchups are important, then you should look at the last two World Series overall. The Dodgers matched up well with the Astros who predominantly had more right-handed starters and relievers than left. They were able to get to those pitchers and had leads late in the game in five out of seven games in the series. They arguably should have won that series and their first championship in 30 years. Instead they lost, and one matchup that was not in their favor might be to blame.

Yu Darvish dominated the Diamondbacks and Cubs in his first two postseason appearances with the Dodgers in 2017, but when he ran into a familiar foe in the World Series he was beaten like an old fashioned rug that needed the dust shaken out.

The first five years of Darvish's career began in the American League West, where he faced the Houston Astros 14 times, second most against any opponent. In those 14 games, they hit 10 homers and 12 doubles off Darvish, the second most by any team in his career thus far.

Needless to say, the matchup of Darvish vs. the familiar Astros lineup in Games 3 and 7, played into right into Houston's hands.

In 2018, the Boston Red Sox were not only the better team, but a bad matchup for the Dodgers. Similar to the Yankees, the Red Sox top three home run hitters were all right-handed (J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Boegarts), and they were extremely effective against left-handed pitching.

As for Boston's starting pitchers? Chris Sale, David Price, and Eduardo Rodriguez were three left-handers that the Dodgers struggled against in the Fall Classic.

There's no guarantee that either the Dodgers or the Yankees advance to the World Series in 2019, but if they do, remember to take a look at the matchups, and be careful what you wish for.



Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[It's Official: Dwight Howard Returns to Lakers After 6 Years]]>558376861Mon, 26 Aug 2019 18:03:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dwight-Howard-Lakers-return-August-2019.jpg

Dwight Howard rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, six seasons after his acrimonious departure.

The eight-time All-Star center and 15-year NBA veteran is the Lakers' improbable choice to fill the sudden roster vacancy created by DeMarcus Cousins' knee injury.

Howard spent one memorable season with the Lakers in 2012-13 after joining the club with Steve Nash in Los Angeles' high-risk attempt to create an immediate championship contender. While he led the NBA in rebounding and valiantly played through injuries, Howard also clashed with Kobe Bryant and subsequently spurned Los Angeles as a free agent after the Lakers lost in the first round of the playoffs.

He bounced to six franchises after his departure, while the Lakers haven't made the NBA postseason in those ensuing six seasons.

Howard has been aggressively booed at Staples Center ever since he took significantly less money than the Lakers offered him and joined the Houston Rockets instead.

Howard appeared in nine games last season after joining Washington, but he hasn't played since November after undergoing spinal surgery. When healthy with the Charlotte Hornets in 2017-18, Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

The 33-year-old Howard will take over the role expected to be filled by Cousins, who tore his knee ligament shortly after signing with the Lakers last month. Cousins could miss the entire upcoming season, so Howard will team with JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis to play center for Los Angeles.

With career averages of 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game, Howard is undeniably one of the greatest big men of his generation. But he has been criticized throughout his career for his attitude and locker room presence, and he made few fans in Los Angeles.

Howard's impending return to LA over the past week generated conflicting feelings among Lakers fans online, but Howard clearly persuaded the Lakers he can be a strong supporting player and a good teammate when he worked out for the club.

The Lakers had locker room upheaval last season, but it was caused mostly by developments outside the room — particularly the front office's ultimately fruitless pursuit of Davis in a midseason trade. LeBron James and Rajon Rondo emerged as leaders in their first season with the club, and they'll again be in charge of a roster with several major changes.

The Lakers waived forward Aric Holman to create a roster spot for Howard.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zlatan Scores 2, Vela Ties it as Galaxy and LAFC Draw 3-3 Draw]]>558272301Sun, 25 Aug 2019 23:05:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Galaxy-LAFC-Zlatan-Ibrahimovic-August-2019.jpg

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristian Pavón propelled the LA Galaxy to three goals in just 16 stunning minutes. Carlos Vela and Latif Blessing snatched away the lead shortly after halftime.

The latest chapter of the El Tráfico derby produced yet another thriller for Los Angeles soccer fans.

It just couldn't produce a winner, leaving the Galaxy's supporters chanting "You can't beat us!" deep into the night.

Ibrahimovic scored two first-half goals before Vela tied it early in the second half, but the Galaxy remained unbeaten against rival Los Angeles FC with a 3-3 draw Sunday night.

The latest chapter of the 17-month-old El Tráfico was played in another atmosphere of unusual passion and excitement in frequently laid-back Los Angeles. Although LAFC only came into existence last season, the teams have created an instant rivalry with their spirited supporters' groups, premier individual talents and an immediate knack for playing thrilling games.

MLS' two biggest stars love this stage: Ibrahimovic has scored eight goals in just five games against LAFC, topping Vela's seven goals against the Galaxy.

"If they don't beat us, they don't beat us," said Ibrahimovic, who celebrated both of his goals in front of the LAFC supporters' section. "What can I say? I enjoy it when I play against them. I enjoy to play in this stadium."

Their supporting casts also get fired up by the rivalry. Blessing had extra motivation after his friends told him about the billboards put up around Banc of California Stadium this week showing Ibrahimovic knocking him down during his club's last meeting with the LA Galaxy.

"I was mad," Blessing said. "It was so disrespectful. I felt sad. I felt like this game, I need to go all-out. I need to do my best."

And so the 5-foot-7 dynamo that has emerged as a steal from last year's expansion draft produced the second two-goal game of his MLS career.

Pavón scored his first MLS goal to put the Galaxy up 3-1 after just 16 minutes, but Blessing scored two first-half goals for LAFC before Vela connected for his MLS-leading 27th goal. Vela was unwillingly taken off shortly after his goal with a possible hamstring injury, but neither team could conjure a winning goal in the fifth edition of the El Tráfico derby.

The Galaxy are 2-0-3 against MLS-leading LAFC, including a win and a draw this season.

"You lead 3-1, I think we should hold the results, but then we were doing mistakes that killed ourselves," Ibrahimovic said. "It wasn't them. I mean, they punished us, but when they play their game, and we do mistakes, they punish us. At a higher level, the one that does the most mistakes is going to pay the most."

LAFC (19-3-5) is cruising toward MLS' best regular-season record and the top seed in the playoffs. LAFC had won five straight games since its 3-2 loss last month to the Galaxy (13-11-3), who are fourth in the Western Conference after their first three-game unbeaten run since April.

Although the regular-season series is over, these archrivals easily could meet in a playoff game in October, adding even more spice to an already sizzling rivalry.

Ibrahimovic still craves the big stages on which he played for nearly two decades in Europe, and this rivalry already has the closest thing to it in MLS. Unsurprisingly, Zlatan has thrived on it since his Galaxy debut in March 2018, when he came on as a substitute and scored two electrifying goals during a three-goal comeback victory in these clubs' inaugural meeting.

Ibrahimovic had a hat trick against LAFC last month, overcoming two goals by Vela in a 3-2 Galaxy victory.

And Ibrahimovic needed about 100 seconds to get on the board against LAFC this time. After he scored with a left-footed strike on a sublime pass from Pavón, the Swedish superstar celebrated with his arms outstretched defiantly in front of LAFC's vociferous North End supporters. Blessing evened it with a rebound header 10 minutes later, but Ibrahimovic added his 22nd goal in 22 games and blew kisses to the LAFC fans.

Pavón made it 3-1 less than a minute afterward with the rising Argentine star's first goal for his new club, but LAFC rallied. Blessing slipped in to score again shortly before halftime, and Vela tied it with a superb piece of skill in the 53rd minute.

Vela's 27 goals are as many as FC Cincinnati's entire roster has scored this season, but the LAFC captain apparently strained his hamstring moments before coach Bob Bradley pulled him in the 61st minute. Vela threw his captain's armband on the ground in disappointment after he was replaced by Brian Rodríguez, a 19-year-old Uruguayan prospect making his MLS debut.

Both teams played more cautiously in the final minutes. Ibrahimovic nearly got another hat trick in injury time, but his wicked turnaround shot from outside the box went just outside the post.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yankees Hit 3 Homers Off Kershaw, Beat Dodgers 5-1]]>558259581Sun, 25 Aug 2019 19:56:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Yankees-Clayton-Kershaw-August-2019.jpg

DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Mike Ford homered, Domingo Germán outdueled Clayton Kershaw for his major league-leading 17th win, and the New York Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Sunday.

The Yankees set a major league record for most homers in a month with 61 in August. They slugged nine in taking two of three games in a series touted as a potential World Series preview to remain tied with Houston for the best record in the American League at 85-47.

Germán (17-3) allowed one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked two.

New York won its 11th straight game against a left-handed starter and is 25-14 versus lefties this season.

Kershaw (13-3) gave up three homers for the second straight game and has allowed 21 this season, second-most in his career. The left-hander allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings. He struck out a season-high 12 and walked none.

Kershaw had won 11 consecutive interleague decisions — tied for second-most all-time — and each of his last six decisions overall.

Ford extended the Yankees' lead to 3-1 in the sixth, homering into the right field pavilion on the first pitch from Kershaw.

Ford's RBI double to deep left field made it 4-1 in the eighth. He went 2 for 3 after entering as a pinch-hitter in the third after shortstop Didi Gregorius got hit by a pitch from Kershaw in the first and later left the game.

Judge, who wears No. 99, launched his 99th career homer in the third, snapping a 1-all tie.

He nearly reached the century mark with a runner on in the eighth. Judge sent a deep fly to center field that A.J. Pollock snagged with the sun in his eyes and his back hitting the wall.

The Dodgers tied it with Joc Pederson's solo shot, his 26th, on Germán's first pitch leading off the bottom of the first.

LeMahieu homered to start the game, sending a 1-1 pitch into center field where smoke billowed from a brushfire located 8 miles away. It was the seventh time Kershaw has given up a homer in the first this season.

In the third, Brett Gardner robbed Corey Seager of a potential three-run homer that would have put the Dodgers ahead. Instead, the Yankees center fielder made a grab at the wall to end the inning.

The series ended quietly after plenty of drama in the first two games.

The Yankees hit five homers — including a grand slam by Gregorius — to win the opener 10-2 Friday.

The Dodgers rebounded with a 2-1 victory Saturday after closer Kenley Jansen escaped a bases-loaded jam with consecutive strikeouts to end the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Gregorius sustained a bruised right shoulder and was to have X-rays at the ballpark later. ... LHP Jordan Montgomery, recovering from Tommy John surgery on June 7 last year, began his minor league rehab assignment with two perfect innings and two strikeouts for Class A Tampa. ... 1B-DH Edwin Encarnicion (broken right wrist) took the day off after playing soft toss, running and hitting off a tee a day earlier. ... Luke Voit (sports hernia) went 3 for 5 with an RBI and played first base in his third rehab game at Triple-A.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (10-8, 5.58 ERA) opens the series in Seattle on Monday night. He's allowed at least five earned runs in each of his last three road starts.

Dodgers: RHP Dustin May (1-2, 2.46) starts Monday's series opener in San Diego, where he made his major league debut three weeks ago. He allowed four runs (three earned) and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-2 loss.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Should Kenley Jansen Remain The Dodgers Closer?]]>558254561Sun, 25 Aug 2019 18:31:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Jansen+Remain+Closer.png

How do you solve a problem like Kenley? 

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been burdened by bullpen woes all season. Early in the year, it seemed the only relief pitcher the Boys in Blue could rely on was closer Kenley Jansen. Boy, what a difference a few months make.

Flash forward to today, and their greatest strength has arguably become one of their glaring weaknesses.

At 31-years-old, Jansen is starting to decline. His signature pitch—the cutter—doesn't cut like it used to. At least not consistently. His fastball velocity has been steadily declining over the last five years, and he's on pace for career lows in 2019.

The latest thrill ride that has been Jansen's rollercoaster season came on Saturday afternoon against the New York Yankees. Mostly due to some soft contact and fielding mistakes, Jansen loaded the bases with one out and a one-run lead in the ninth before striking out Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez to escape with the save. 

The outing before that, Jansen allowed a game-tying home run on to Blue Jays slugger Rowdy Tellez, recording his sixth blown save of the season. It was the second time in his last five appearances he had allowed a game-tying homer.

On the season, Jansen has blown six saves in 33 appearances, tied for third most in the National League. However, he has the most blown saves out of any designated closer in all of MLB.

After the homer to Tellez, Jansen's ERA ballooned to a career-low 3.62. It was the eighth homer he allowed this year, second most in a season, and just five behind his career-worst 13 in 2018.

Last year, Jansen had a career-low FIP of 4.03 and a career-worst strikeout per nine innings ratio of 10.3. Jansen's current WHIP of 1.048 is the second highest of his career, and worst since 2014.

All of this mounting evidence speaks to Jansen's inevitable decline, and begs the question:

Should Jansen remain as the Dodgers closer moving forward?

On its face, the question sounds preposterous. Jansen is without a doubt the best closer in Dodgers franchise history. That includes Brooklyn and Los Angeles. He's the all-time franchise leader in saves (294) and ERA at 2.32.

He will likely enter the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown wearing Dodger blue, but that doesn't mean fans have forgotten his inability to close out four separate games over the last two World Series combined.

With the current rendition of the Dodgers on pace to be better than both of the last two NL Pennant winning teams, Dodger fans across the globe understandably have concerns about Jansen come October.

Many of those fans that booed Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez in May, booed Jansen off the field on Wednesday, and are now calling for Kelly or Baez to take over the closer role. The irony in all of that is outright comical.

"I get it," said Jansen when asked if he heard the boos and how he felt about them. "Boo me. I'd boo myself. I didn't want the results. I was hurting myself out there." 

Irony aside, there's a point to their argument. Kelly has been lights out over the last three months. Since June 1, he's 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA with 39 strikeouts. Over that same span, Jansen has an ERA of 4.13 with 30 strikeouts and six walks. The most glaring statistic however is Jansen's four home runs allowed compared to Kelly's one.

"At this point in time, I'm not tempted," said Roberts about removing Jansen from the closer role. "I do think that this is a performance based business. I expect him to work through things. But there's no guarantee for anyone—nor should there be—if performance doesn't warrant it. That's something that from Day One I've said that my job is to do what's best for the Dodgers, not for an individual player."

Jansen and Kelly could swap roles, but there's not much difference in allowing the tying home run in the eighth inning compared to the ninth inning. When asked about perhaps surrendering his stranglehold on the closer's role, Jansen was defiant in his response.

"Why would I worry about not being the closer? asked Jansen flippantly. "I'm going to be there…'Oh let me worry about not being the closer…' Why? I'm putting a drama that is not there."

The Dodgers have 22 blown saves this season. That ranks in the bottom five in the league, and their 59 percent save percentage is among the lower half of all teams in MLB.

Jansen is a big part of those numbers. His individual save percentage stands at 81 percent, good for the 33rd best in baseball, not numbers you want to see from an All-Star closer.

The Dodgers failed to acquire another closer or dominant backend reliever at the trade deadline and it could cost Los Angeles come October. On one hand, having another reliable arm like Felipe Vazquez, Shane Greene, or Ken Giles could have fortified the pen even further, but the front office made it known that Jansen would remain the closer no matter who the team acquired at the deadline.

If the price of any of those pitchers is a bounty of prospects that could turn into future All-Stars, the Dodgers were right in standing pat. Sure a combination of Kelly and Vazquez could have bridged the gap to Kenley, but what's the point if Jansen still surrenders the game-tying or go-ahead homer in the ninth?

It's too late for Los Angeles to add another elite reliever now. Their only option is to get Jansen back to form as quickly as possible. He may not as dominant as he was in 2016 or 17, but with a few adjustments, he can still be effective.

The changes Jansen needs to make begin and end with his cutter. His trademark pitch doesn't have the same movement or velocity as it once did and Dodgers' pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has noticed. 

Between 2011 and 2017, opponents had a slugging percentage of just .315 off Jansen. In 2018 it rose to .403, and this season it's over .465. Over the last nine seasons, Jansen has thrown his cutter 90 percent of the time, this year, he's thrown it just 76 percent of the time. That's because Honeycutt and the front office are encouraging Jansen to incorporate a mixture of pitches, including his slider, in order to keep hitters off balance. 

"Guys know it's coming," said Dodgers' catcher Will Smith about Jansen's cutter. "When he misses, usually the cutter doesn't stay up, but it still has depth to it. It's kind of a work in progress."

Despite the insistence that he changes his style like many pitchers before him have when entering the back half of their career, Jansen has been reluctant to change. Sticking with "old reliable," whenever he gets into a jam. A fact that was evident by what happened against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Jansen began the ninth inning with three consecutive cutters to Randal Grichuk. He overmatched the veteran hitter as Grichuk didn't come close to making contact on all three.

"Sometimes I get myself in trouble, because when I blow hitters out like that with a few pitches, it's like, 'Aw s---, I got it today," said Jansen. "And it's like, 'Hey use your mind.' It gave me all the signs to change [on Wednesday], and I didn't do it. You know what? It's okay. It's a mistake, you learn from it. No excuses, man."

Jansen proved he could change on Saturday. After six straight cutters to start the ninth, Jansen began incorporating his slider and two-seamer. Players made soft contact on the slider, but he didn't surrender any back-breaking home runs like he has previously.

"I have one goal and that is to just have fun and enjoy the moment," said Jansen after the save. "I need to stop worrying about the results. We're having an unbelievable season this year and I need to enjoy watching all my teammates doing really well and let that motivate me. That's what I did today." 

Jansen's change in attitude came after a long meeting with Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman after the game on Wednesday. Both people gave the closer a vote of confidence and told him to go back to having fun and enjoying himself, and not allow his anger to consume him. 

"The biggest step for me is to be happy and stop being angry and worrying about the results," said Jansen. "People need to understand with Doc and the front office and all that, we're in this together. We want to win a championship. When we have a meeting, today with Andrew, people are pulling for you, they believe in you. Andrew believes in me. Doc believes in me. My teammates believe in me. Why should I worry about what people think or fans or media?" 

For now, Jansen is determined to ignore the outside noise and focus solely on what he can control: changing his pitch sequence, and living in the moment. When he does that, and the adrenaline is flowing like it was on the mound against the Yankees, good things can happen.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Top Broncos 10-6 at Newly Renovated Coliseum]]>558172641Sat, 24 Aug 2019 21:47:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LA-Rams-Broncos-Aug-24-2019.jpg

Brandon Allen passed for 162 yards, and Jalen Greene caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from John Wolford with 12:38 to play in the Los Angeles Rams' 10-6 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Saturday night.

Both coaches sat nearly all of their starters for the final NFL preseason game at the 96-year-old Coliseum, and neither team managed a touchdown before Wolford led a 52-yard drive spanning the final two quarters and capped it with a sharp pass to Greene.

Wolford, who went 6 of 12 for 64 yards, is competing for the Rams' No. 3 quarterback spot with Allen, who had the job last season. Allen went 12 of 19 and mostly looked sharp while Jared Goff and backup Blake Bortles watched from the sideline.

Almost every Rams player expected to make a significant contribution this season skipped this game in keeping with coach Sean McVay's total disinterest in risking his starters' health for meaningless exhibitions. McVay also followed the strategy last August, and the Rams matched the NFL's best regular-season record at 13-3 before reaching their first Super Bowl in 17 years.

Kevin Hogan went 8 of 12 for 69 yards in the Broncos' fourth of five preseason games.

Hogan and undrafted rookie Brett Rypien ran the Broncos' offense with rookie Drew Lock sidelined by a sprained thumb on his throwing hand. Hogan is expected to back up Joe Flacco this season.

Rypien went 14 of 23 for 80 yards with an interception in his first preseason action since the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 1. He led the Broncos to the Rams 25 in the final minutes, but Los Angeles stopped them on downs with 1:08 to play.

BIG TACKLE

Kieshawn Bierria started for the Broncos as an inside linebacker, and his bid for playing time this season got a boost when he made a huge defensive play in the third quarter. Bierria wrapped up Rams tight end Johnny Mundt at the goal line and forced him out of bounds before Mundt could get his short reception over the goal line on fourth down.

BUTT BACK

Denver tight end Jake Butt had two catches for 17 yards while playing for the first time since the third game of last season, when he tore a knee ligament and required his third knee surgery. Butt also missed the entire 2017 season due to knee problems after the Broncos chose him in the fifth round out of Michigan, but his continued health could be a boost for an offense that likes to use tight ends.

NOT SPECIAL

Most of the Rams' few remaining positional competitions revolve around the players' roles on special teams, and those weren't all great: Los Angeles committed penalties on each of its first two punt returns.

NEXT UP

Broncos: Finish their extra-long preseason by hosting the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

Rams: Rest their starters again when they visit the Houston Texans on Thursday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jansen Gets Out of 9th Inning Jam, Dodgers Top Yankees 2-1]]>558150311Sat, 24 Aug 2019 19:26:23 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Beat-Yankees-August-2019.jpg

With the sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium hanging on his every pitch, Kenley Jansen found himself in a jam. Bases loaded, one out, and Los Angeles clinging to a one-run lead over the Yankees in the ninth.

All that right after a bizarre twist that had both managers on the field, trying to figure out what happened during a potential game-ending double play that got reviewed.

Jansen stayed cool in the heat of the moment on a scorching day and struck out Mike Tauchman and pinch-hitter Gary Sánchez to give the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over New York on Saturday in a matchup between the teams with the best records in baseball.

"Stressful? No," Jansen said. "Just got to trust yourself in that situation. I don't lose confidence in myself."

Still, Jansen has faltered at times this season, including earlier in the week when fans booed during his sixth blown save. His 27th save was his first since Aug. 6.

"Kenley showed right there that he can still command the baseball in a big spot and make pitches," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I definitely don't think that was stress; that was fun."

But it was the play right before that to load the bases that left most everyone in the ballpark wondering what was going on.

There were runners at first and second with one out when Gio Urshela hit a grounder to third baseman Justin Turner, who looked to start a game-ending double play. Second baseman Max Muncy caught Turner's flip but then got wiped out by Brett Gardner's hard slide for an apparent forceout.

"I felt like I made it, but it was so close," Gardner said. "I'm glad I was safe, but we just came up short."

Gleyber Torres, who had started the play on second base, rounded third and then headed home with Muncy down on the ground, trying to score the tying run. Instead, Torres was stopped by the umpires because time had been called.

"Ninth innings are stressful enough as they are," Muncy said, "and you add that in there and it was kind of like, 'whew.'"

The strange sequence set off a nearly 2-minute replay review. The call at second was reversed and Gardner was ruled safe, beating the throw with a physical but legal slide.

"For me in terms of playing the game, I thought it was perfectly clean," Muncy said. "In terms of the rule they've created, I thought the only thing that was questionable was his hand reaching out and grabbing me. Other than that, it was a good play by him."

Muncy said he wasn't injured, but Gardner "got me pretty good."

Roberts challenged the slide, believing Gardner was out, while Yankees manager Aaron Boone came out, too, seemingly to seek clarification on why Torres wasn't allowed to score.

"It was a good baseball play," Roberts said of Gardner's slide.

Boone said plate umpire Gabe Morales told him Jansen had already raised his hands to call time.

"He had definitely started down the line, it didn't seem like halfway to me," Boone said of Torres. "You can see Kenley asking for time maybe about as he's getting ready to start down the line."

A day after the Yankees routed the Dodgers 10-2, the clubs played a tight game that have some fans predicting will be an October preview.

"Like I told the guys when I was on second base in the last inning, 'Good luck the rest of the way and hopefully we'll see you again,'" Gardner said.

Roberts described the atmosphere as "two great, iconic, storied franchises. You could feel the emotion from both dugouts and the stadium."

Turner hit a two-run homer in the third. After two games without a homer, the Dodgers got their National League-leading 226th.

Aaron Judge homered for the second straight day, connecting in the fourth.

Making just his fourth career start, rookie Tony Gonsolin outlasted six-time All-Star CC Sabathia in 89-degree heat.

Gonsolin (2-1) allowed one run and two hits in five innings. Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez kept the Yankees scoreless over the sixth, seventh and eighth.

Sabathia (5-8) gave up two runs and five hits in four innings, striking out seven. It was his second start since coming off the injured list with right knee inflammation.

"Just felt way more comfortable out there and hopefully just continue to build off that," Sabathia said.

Turner's 23rd homer of the season landed in the left-field pavilion and scored Gonsolin, who had reached on an infield single off Sabathia's leg for his second career hit.

"I've always been a lifelong Yankees fan," said Gonsolin, who met Sabathia in high school. "It was pretty great to throw against all those guys."

Judge's drive was New York's 58th homer in August, tying the major league record for most in a month shared by Baltimore in 1987 and Seattle in 1999.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Dellin Betances (lat muscle) threw a 20-pitch batting practice session at the minor league complex in Tampa, Florida. ... RHP Luis Severino (lat muscle) said he felt fine after throwing a two-inning simulated game Thursday. He's scheduled for another simulated game Tuesday and then could start a minor league rehab assignment. ... 1B Luke Voit (sports hernia) homered for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre leading off Saturday's game against Lehigh Valley's Jerad Eickoff. Voit was the DH and finished 2 for 4 with a walk.

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (flexor tendon strain) threw a 27-pitch bullpen session. He'll do it again in a couple days and then face hitters. ... LHP Julio Urías is at the team's spring training facility in Arizona where he threw a bullpen session while serving a 20-game domestic violence suspension. He's set to return on Sept. 3, but the team is unsure whether he will start or work out of the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán (16-3, 4.15 ERA) is averaging fewer than six innings per start this season.

Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 2.71) gave up three home runs and walked three in six innings against Toronto in his last start.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grizzlies Waive Dwight Howard Ahead of Expected Return to Lakers]]>558150121Sat, 24 Aug 2019 16:43:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/167372902.jpg

The Memphis Grizzlies have waived Dwight Howard ahead of the veteran center's expected move to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Grizzlies announced the move Saturday. They acquired Howard in a trade with Washington last month.

Howard still must clear waivers before he can sign with another team. The Associated Press and many media outlets reported Friday that Howard plans to sign with the Lakers, with whom he spent one eventful season in 2012-13.

Howard will bolster the Lakers' roster after the loss of DeMarcus Cousins, who tore a knee ligament in an offseason workout this month shortly after signing with Los Angeles.

Howard worked out for the Lakers and met with several players earlier this week before the team agreed to sign him.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams to Face Broncos in First Game at Renovated Coliseum]]>558138881Sat, 24 Aug 2019 15:34:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-10318153401.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams will face the Denver Broncos Saturday in the first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum following completion of a two-year, $315 million renovation project.

The renovations reduced the Coliseum's seating capacity from 93,607 to about 77,500. All of the seats were replaced with new seats with cupholders.

The seven-story Scholarship Tower with luxury suites, loge boxes, club seats, a concourse and press box dominates the stadium's south side.

Other elements of the renovation include:

 

  • restoration of the peristyle to resemble its original design;
  • updated WiFi technology;
  • additional concession stands;
  • electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems; and new field and stadium lighting.

 

The Coliseum was built in 1923 and last underwent substantial renovations 20 years ago when $93 million was spent to repair damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Rams coach Sean McVay will use Saturday's preseason game just like the first two of 2019 -- an opportunity to evaluate potential situational starters and players competing for spots on the 53-man regular-season roster and to give younger players the opportunity to gain experience.

The Rams lost both their previous 2019 preseason games, falling to the Oakland Raiders, 14-3, Aug. 10, and Dallas Cowboys, 14-10, last Saturday.

Former Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan will make his second start of the 2019 preseason for Denver (1-2), coach Vic Fangio said.

Hogan started the Broncos' 14-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 1, completing five of eight passes for 37 yards and guiding them to a touchdown in three series. Former Baltimore Raven Joe Flacco started each of the next two games, losses to the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Fangio indicated Flacco and most of the other expected regular-season starters won't play against the Rams.

“It's our fourth game, not our third,” Fangio said. “I just feel like that it's the best thing to do for our team right now.”

Fangio said Denver will “play kind of basic football so we can evaluate the guys because it's hard to game plan because you never know who they've got in there either.”

“I've never game planned for any preseason game in my life,” said Fangio, who is in his first season as the Broncos coach following 32 seasons as an NFL assistant coach, including 19 as a defensive coordinator, the last four with the Chicago Bears.

The game is the Rams “Play Football” game, part of the NFL's Play Football Month, a culmination of the league's year-round recognition of youth and high school football players.

The Watts Rams youth football program will scrimmage on the field before the game. The Rams announced a partnership on July 28 that included renaming the youth team formerly known as the Watts Bears.

The Los Angeles Rams will fund all football components of the Watts Rams program, including uniforms and equipment.

Throughout the year, the team will provide engagement opportunities with present and past players, coaches, scouts and football operations staff, as well as host a career day for the

Watts Rams players to expose them to business opportunities in the sports industry.

The Watts Bears were founded by Los Angeles Police Department officers in the Southeast Division to give underprivileged youth in Watts a chance to play organized sports but on a larger scale, and to positively change the historically strained relationship between the police and Watts community.

The Ventura Buccaneers and Camarillo Cougars youth football programs will hold scrimmages in the northwest and southeast end zones during halftime.

The Cathedral High School football team will light the Coliseum torch before kickoff as a reward for winning the Rams 11-On Passing & Big Man Tournament in June.

Rams captains will be joined at midfield for the coin toss by Meryland Gonzalez, a six-time national youth boxing champion from Watts and a participant in Operation Progress, a nonprofit organization that pairs students with LAPD officers who serve as their mentors, and Jayden Gelin, described by the Rams as a youth football prodigy.

There will be a moment of silence before the national anthem for Jim Hardy, a Rams quarterback from 1946-48, their first three seasons in Los Angeles, following a college career at USC. Hardy died Aug. 16 at the age of 96. He had been the oldest living former Ram.

Ivory Sully, a Rams defensive back from 1979-84, will be recognized as Legend of the Game during the second quarter.

U.S. Marine Corps Tech. Sgt. Eladio Vega will be recognized on the field during the second quarter. He is station commander for a recruiting substation in Burbank after 10 years as an avionics technician, including serving three deployments.

LAPD Southeast Division Officer Mario Adame will be recognized on the field during the third quarter as the Every Day Hero of the Game for his 23 years as a police officer and being a mentor with Operation Progress since 2014.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Galaxy-LAFC Rivalry Captures Los Angeles' Passion for Soccer]]>558067101Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:22:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19234167358750.jpg

Although the wordless billboards went up quietly this week on the streets around Los Angeles FC's Banc of California Stadium, their message to the city is loud and clear.

Some of the huge signs show imperious LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic running into LAFC's Latif Blessing, sending the smaller man flying. In others, Zlatan is making a saucy gesture toward LAFC's Carlos Vela, or perhaps celebrating in his fellow superstar's face.

Each of the photos captured a triumphant moment for Zlatan and the Galaxy during the first four editions of El Tráfico, the increasingly outstanding rivalry series between Major League Soccer's two Los Angeles clubs. LAFC's fans have the best team in the league this season, but it has never beaten the Galaxy — and those fans will have to walk past these trolling provocations around their home ground before the latest edition of the LA derby Sunday night.

"I thought it was funny," Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget said after he saw the billboards on social media. "That stuff gets us going. It's just good for the city, man. Even though they're probably a little bitter about it."

A rivalry that didn't exist 18 months ago has grown into one of the highest-profile matchups in the league, drawing rowdy crowds and attracting international attention for the intensity and quality of the first four games.

The Galaxy are the only five-time champions in MLS history, while their crosstown foes are a model expansion franchise with a lavish new stadium near downtown LA. Multicultural Los Angeles has loved and embraced soccer for decades, but having two successful professional franchises has amplified that passion, turning each of these rivalry games into something special.

"Ever since the first game, this rivalry has grown so organically," Lletget said. "You'll see on Sunday, the intensity is as if you're in a derby in Europe. It's pretty crazy."

Although the Galaxy (13-11-2) are in third place in the Western Conference, they're a whopping 20 points behind LAFC (19-3-4), which is running away with MLS' best record during a spectacular second season.

But LAFC is 0-2-2 against its biggest rivals, making this final regular-season meeting even more urgent for the newcomers in black and gold.

"It's the derby," LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. "It means more. So far, with all the things we've done, we haven't beat them."

Thrilling finishes, spectacular goals and bad-tempered play have been in abundance ever since this rivalry began with Zlatan's electrifying two-goal MLS debut during the Galaxy's comeback victory in March 2018.

Ibrahimovic and Vela have scored a whopping six goals apiece in the four El Tráfico games, doing everything that's expected from arguably the league's two best players. Their last meeting was dominated by the superstars, with Ibrahimovic's hat trick besting Vela's brace in a 3-2 victory for the Galaxy on July 19.

"When you play against the other team of the city, you always want to do your best," said Vela, who already has 26 goals and 15 assists in a historically prolific season. "You want to win. You want to show you are better than the other team of the city, and it's a good chance to show how good we are this season. I hope we can finally get the three points."

The rivalry is new, but the fan bases' animus is older.

Galaxy supporters look down at LAFC for its brief history and an empty trophy case, but also because LAFC's fan base includes many hard-core supporters who switched allegiances from Chivas USA, which dissolved in 2014 after a dismal decade sharing the Galaxy's stadium.

But LAFC fans love to point out the Galaxy technically aren't from Los Angeles, and never have been. They've been based in Carson, a suburb due south of downtown LA, since 2003 after spending their first nine years of existence at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

"The intensity comes by itself, because it's two teams from the same city," Ibrahimovic said. "Rivals. I think it comes automatic, the intensity of this game."

Banc of California Stadium will be intense from the moment LAFC's 3252 supporters union starts rocking the North End a couple of hours before kickoff. Ticket prices on the secondary market for Sunday's game skyrocketed in recent days, with few single seats under $200 and the high-end tickets topping $1,500.

Along with a national television broadcast, fans at home can watch a streaming comedic commentary program synced to the match by Funny or Die, the comedy website co-founded by LAFC minority owner Will Ferrell.

What's more, both sides of this derby are getting serious reinforcements before this edition.

Sunday's game will be the first El Tráfico for Cristian Pavón, the speedy Argentine forward who arrived earlier this month and immediately took a major role in the Galaxy's attack. It could also mark the LAFC debut of Brian Rodríguez, the promising Uruguayan designated player whose paperwork cleared just in time to make him available to Bradley this weekend.

"Games with the Galaxy take on an extra dimension," Bradley said. "We know that. We've had really good moments against them, but we haven't won yet, and so that's something that doesn't need discussing inside our team. Everybody knows."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Return Home to Face Yankees]]>557465061Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:58:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Dodgers-Yankees-Series.png

The Clash of the Titans is upon us.

The two best teams in baseball converge this weekend at Dodger Stadium, as the Los Angeles Dodgers (82-44) and the New York Yankees (83-43) meet for a three-game series at Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers return home after a rollercoaster road trip against two National League East teams in the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves.

The Marlins are the worst team in the NL, and they proved as much as the Dodgers pounded Miami by a combined score of 24-2 in the first two games of the series before losing the finale, 13-7.

Next, the Dodgers traveled to Atlanta where they took on the first-place Atlanta Braves in a potential postseason matchup. After dominating the opening game, 8-3, Los Angeles lost the next two games by a combined three runs.

After an off day on Monday, the team hosts the Toronto Blue Jays for a trio of games with MLB's only Canadian team. Toronto has not played at Dodger Stadium since 2007, so Canadian fans living in Los Angeles should be excited to see their team for the first time at the Ravine in over a decade.

Following the three-game set with the Blue Jays, everyone in the baseball world will have their eyes trained on the highly anticipated matchup of the two best teams in baseball over the weekend.

The Yankees own the best record in all of baseball, and the Dodgers are one-game behind them. Needless to say, the three-game series over the weekend could have huge implications on which team finishes with the best record at the end of September, and which will end up with home field advantage in the World Series should one or both teams meet there.

Without further ado, here's everything you need to know for the upcoming three-game homestand.

Tuesday, August 20, 7:10 PM vs. Blue Jays

Tuesday's opener features a pitching matchup between Sean Reid-Foley and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. The game marks the first time Kershaw has pitched against the Blue Jays in over three years and coincides with Lakers night at the Ravine. Newest Laker superstar Anthony Davis will throw out the ceremonial first pitch in celebration and all fans who purchase tickets at www.Dodgers.com/Lakers will receive a limited edition Dodgers and Lakers jersey.

Wednesday, August 21, 7:10PM vs. Blue Jays

Walker Buehler will toe the rubber for the Boys in Blue on Wednesday, and the first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a free "LA Bleeds Blue" hat presented by Security Benefit.

The game also marks Social Media Night and all fans who purchase tickets at www.Dodgers.com/SocialMediaNight will receive a free Dodgers social media t-shirt and an opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with Dodgers' pitcher Rich Hill.

Thursday, August 22, 7:10PM vs. Blue Jays

Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda will start for the Dodgers on Thursday in the finale of the three-game series with Toronto. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a Kiké Hernandez bobblehead presented by Pirelli. Hernandez was activated off the injured list before the series, so fans will be able to see the fun-loving player in person against the Blue Jays.

Thursday is also Cal State LA night at the Ravine, and fans who purchase tickets at www.Dodgers.com/CalStateLA will receive a free limited edition Dodgers hat in Cal State LA colors.

Friday, August 23, 7:10PM vs. Yankees

The Dodgers welcome the Yankees in a Battle of Titans on Friday with Cy Young frontrunner Hyun-Jin Ryu expected to start for the Dodgers. The series is the first-time the Yankees have played at Dodger Stadium since 2013, and coincides with MLB's annual Players Weekend.

Rather than wearing the traditional uniforms, both teams will be wearing monochromatic black and white uniforms that will showcase the players passion for the game. Each player's nickname will be listed on the back of the jersey, and players can wear custom accessories and equipment.

 

Latin singing sensation Becky G. will perform the national anthem before the game, and after the game stay in your seats for Friday Night Fireworks set to a playlist of music selected by the players themselves.

Saturday, August 24, 1:05PM vs. Yankees

Saturday afternoons starters are still to be determined, but the Dodgers are expected to give rookie Tony Gonsolin another turn in the rotation. During the game, wives and girlfriends of the players will be selling mystery bags containing autographed baseballs at the Left Field Plaza, Club Level, and Loge Level. Bags can be purchased for $60 each or two for $100 and all proceeds will benefit Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

Sunday, August 25, 4:05PM vs. Yankees

Clayton Kershaw is expected to start again for the Dodgers in the finale of the three-game series with the Yankees. The matchup will be featured on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and will be aired nationally. Before the game, fans can attend a Viva Los Dodgers event at the historic 76 station behind centerfield. The event starts at 2:00PM.

Enjoy this epic homestand and we'll see you out at the Ravine!



Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Muncy's Homer in 10th Lifts Dodgers Over Blue Jays, 2-1]]>557828511Wed, 21 Aug 2019 22:44:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Muncy-Dodgers-Blue-Jays-2-1.jpg

Max Muncy homered in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Wednesday night for their 50th home victory of the season.

Will Smith also went deep for the Dodgers, who have baseball's best home record at 50-16.

Muncy sent his 33rd homer to center field off Tim Mayza (1-3) with one out. The slugger picked up the Dodgers after closer Kenley Jansen gave up a tying homer to Rowdy Tellez with one out in the ninth. Fans booed Jansen after he got two more outs to end the inning.

Pedro Baez (7-2) got the win with one inning of relief.

A night earlier, the Dodgers pounded out 15 hits in a 16-3 victory highlighted by five home runs.

Los Angeles starter Walker Buehler allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked none.

Joe Kelly retired the side in the eighth against a trio of second-generation major leaguers: pinch-hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.

That set up Jansen, who couldn't get the job done.

Smith slugged his 12th homer on the first pitch from Zack Godley in the fourth. It was Smith's sixth homer in eight games.

Chris Taylor followed with a triple, but he got thrown out at the plate after outfielders Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez collided trying to field the ball.

It was a bullpen game for Toronto, with Wilmer Font starting and going two innings before Buddy Boshers lasted 1 1/3 innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (right biceps tendinitis) tossed his entire mix in a 25-pitch bullpen without soreness. He'll throw another 'pen in a few days and face hitters next week. ... RHP Dylan Floro went on the IL with a left intercostal strain a day after being recalled from the minors.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: RHP Jacob Waguespack (4-1, 4.20 ERA) starts the series finale Thursday. He's allowed six earned runs over 21 innings in his last four outings.

Dodgers: Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.18) yielded three runs in the first 1 2/3 innings of his last start at Atlanta and struck out seven in a row at one point but didn't get out of the fifth inning.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MMA Fighter Ralph Gracie Misses Court Date, Judge Issues Fugitive Warrant]]>557822021Wed, 21 Aug 2019 21:06:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Gracie-jiu-jitsu-August-2019.jpg

A renowned mixed-martial artist fighter who allegedly attacked another MMA fighter at a gathering at the Anaheim Convention Center in December failed to appear in court Wednesday for his arraignment, prompting a judge to issue a fugitive warrant.

Over the objections of prosecutors, Orange County Superior Court Judge Roger B. Robbins put the warrant on hold until an Oct. 15 hearing for Ralph Gracie, 39, of Danville, in the North Justice Center in Fullerton.

Gracie's attorney, Harley Breite, in a court filing on Tuesday said his client was in Rio De Janeiro caring for his 84-year-old father, who lapsed into a coma after falling and hitting his head.

Gracie is charged with assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and faces a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury.

He is accused of attacking Flavio Almeida, a five-time world champion in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, while the two were at an industry event Dec. 15 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

"It is undisputed that my client, without lawful excuse or justification, struck the victim, knocking him to the ground and causing him injury," Breite said in the memorandum to Robbins.

"My client fully acknowledges that he should never have struck Mr. Almeida and he accepts full responsibility for doing so," Breite added.

Gracie feels "tremendous remorse" for attacking his longtime friend, Almeida. He said the conflict has become a source of "great embarrassment" to Gracie within his industry and within his extended family and friends.

Gracie has been indefinitely suspended by the federation. Gracie lives in the San Francisco area with his wife and three children and has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Brazil.

Gracie is the half-brother of Renzo Gracie, another renowned Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Renzo Gracie mentored Almeida's brother since he was 16, Breite said. He also trained Flavio Almeida when he was 12.

Tension between Gracie and Almeida stemmed from Almeida's decision to open a training academy near one of Gracie's in northern California, Breite said.

Almeida did not respond to Gracie's messages and when Gracie attempted to discuss it with him at the federation's world championship fights in Anaheim in December Almeida rebuffed him, Breite said.

That infuriated Gracie who elbowed Almeida in the face, and as he fell unconscious Gracie kicked the victim in the head, prosecutors said. Co-defendant Lincoln Pereira, a student of Gracie's, jumped into the scrum, prosecutors said.

In July, Robbins reduced a felony assault charge on Pereira to a misdemeanor over the objection of prosecutors. Robbins sentenced Pereira Wednesday to the time he had credit for serving in jail -- 80 days.

Almeida lost two teeth in the attack, but Breite said they were dentures. Almeida told Robbins that he declined to retaliate and trusted the justice system instead.

"I resolved to trust the justice system to hold these individuals accountable for their premeditated and coordinated act of terrorism," Almeida said. "Qualifying this vicious attack as a misdemeanor means the bad guys win. They will once again get away with their threats and violent behavior, pounding on their chests for being above the law."

Almeida said it would send a "very confusing message" to Jiu-Jitsu students.

"When the criminal justice system fails to hold people accountable for committing violence, these elite mixed martial arts athletes have the training and the expertise to take the law into their own hands,'' said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

"The victim in this case made the decision to exercise restraint, to not take the law into his own hands, and trust that the criminal justice system will do what it is supposed to do -- hold people accountable for engaging in violence."



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[11-Year-Old to Make 'It's Time for Dodger Baseball' Announcement]]>557773851Wed, 21 Aug 2019 18:28:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-baseball-announce-vin-2019.jpg

An 11-year-old boy diagnosed with a brain tumor will make the "It's time for Dodger baseball" announcement before Wednesday night's interleague game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Dodger Stadium.

A.J. De La Torre, the son of Los Angeles Police Department Officer Richard De La Torre, was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumor about the size of a tennis ball on the base of his brain on Nov. 30, 2017.

A.J. underwent surgery in December 2017 to remove 95% of the tumor, but 5% had infiltrated into his brain stem where it was not safe to remove, according to the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing the department's rank-and-file officers.

A.J. underwent multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. He is coming to Dodger Stadium to celebrate receiving the news that his brain cancer is in remission, a team official said.

Donations to the GoFundMe account established to assist the De La Torre family with medical expenses and home care can be made at www.gofundme.com/FightOnAj.



Photo Credit: Carolina de la Torre ]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers, Kawhi Leonard Announce Donation of 1 Million Backpacks]]>557700591Tue, 20 Aug 2019 23:08:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers-Kawhi-Backpacks-giveaway-August-2019.jpg

Two-time NBA Finals MVP and new Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard announced a donation Tuesday of 1 million backpacks for every student in the Moreno Valley, Inglewood and Los Angeles school districts.

Leonard made the initial announcement at his former school, Cloverdale Elementary School in Moreno Valley.

"My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court," Leonard said in a statement released by the Clippers. "This felt like the right way to get started. It was important to me to make this announcement in my hometown of Moreno Valley at my former elementary school, but the benefits this program will have across all of Los Angeles makes today even more special."

The donation is being made by Leonard in conjunction with the LA Clippers Foundation and the nonprofit Baby2Baby. According to the Clippers, the backpacks will be made available to every student in the Moreno Valley, Inglewood and Los Angeles unified school districts.

After making the initial announcement at Cloverdale, Leonard traveled to South Los Angeles to spread the news at 107th Street Elementary School, where he was joined by Baby2Baby "ambassadors" Zooey Deschanel, Busy Philipps and Nicole Richie.

Clippers officials said the donation is the largest ever offered to the LAUSD, available to every student in the nation's second-largest school district.

"There are a lot of families throughout the L.A. region working hard every day to earn everything in their lives," said Gillian Zucker, the Clippers' president of business operations. "This program is our effort to extend a hand to make heading back to school a little easier."

Leonard was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Moreno Valley. He signed with the Clippers in July, shortly after winning an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors.



Photo Credit: Clippers]]>
<![CDATA[USC QB Daniels Keeps Starting Job After Open Competition]]>557697541Tue, 20 Aug 2019 21:52:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JT-Daniels-USC-starting-quarterback-Aug-2019.jpg

Sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels will start at Southern California for the second straight season.

Coach Clay Helton announced Tuesday that Daniels, who started 11 games as a freshman for the Trojans, won a four-man competition for the job over freshman Kedon Slovis, redshirt junior Matt Fink and redshirt sophomore Jack Sears.

With Helton hiring a new offensive coordinator in Graham Harrell to run the "Air Raid" spread offense, the embattled head coach decided to give all four quarterbacks a chance to compete. Daniels came out on top for the second straight training camp.

"We've had 30 practices, both 15 in spring and 15 in camp, and we feel confident where we are right now. We felt like we needed to move forward and allow more reps for the guys that are going to be in the one and two position, so we're going to name J.T. as the starting quarterback," Helton said Tuesday.

Daniels completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during an erratic first season as USC finished 5-7, its first losing season since 2000. He was at his best in a 24-17 loss to No. 3 Notre Dame, completing 37 of 51 passes for 349 yards and one touchdown in a pass-heavy approach with an emphasis on quick throws that resembles the system Harrell is implementing at USC.

A five-star recruit in the class of 2019 from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., the same high school that produced 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, Daniels reclassified to enroll in college one year early after Sam Darnold declared for the NFL draft.

Helton said Daniels' consistency was the deciding factor and praised Daniels' willingness to fight to keep the starting position.

"You bring a new system in, there's competition," Helton said. "When you play college football or NFL, there's competition every day. Every 24 hours, you're competing. For him to walk into it very humble, very businesslike, and just show up to work every day and put his best foot forward was very impressive. And he earned it. He earned the job."

Slovis was named the backup ahead of Fink and Sears, who started against Arizona State when Daniels sustained a concussion. Fink entered the transfer portal in April and committed to Illinois before reversing course and returning to USC.

Helton said the remainder of the depth chart will be decided Friday.

USC opens the 2019 season at home against Fresno State on August 31.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: MediaNews Group via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Back in Texas After Skaggs' Death, Rangers Rally, 8-7]]>555523361Mon, 19 Aug 2019 22:23:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-Rangers-Ohtani-Aug-2019.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels returned to Texas for the first time since pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room before the start of a series at the Rangers last month, losing 8-7 in 11 innings after letting a six-run lead get away Monday night.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa brought home the winning run with a high-chop infield single off Noé Ramirez (4-2), scoring Jose Trevino and ending the Rangers' four-game losing streak.

Shohei Ohtani extended the longest hitting streak of his career to 10 games with an RBI triple , then had a broken bat line drive that turned into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the 10th. The Japanese star reached base four times and scored twice.

Albert Pujols' 652nd career homer and 19th of the season capped a five-run first inning, and the Angels led 7-1 before Trevino's first career homer and Scott Heineman's first two big league RBIs got the Rangers closer.

Hunter Pence, who had three hits and reached base five times, pulled Texas within a run with a single in the eighth. Rougned Odor followed with a tying RBI single.

Mike Trout walked to load the bases in the 10th when Ohtani hit a smash to the left of Odor, who was playing in. The second baseman made the catch on his knees and flipped to first, barely beating Trout's head-first slide.

Rafael Montero (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara left after two innings with left oblique tightness. Mazara made a lunging catch while falling forward on a liner from Pujols in the second. ... 3B Danny Santana left after four innings with left hamstring tightness. Santana slowed considerably between first and second on a double in the fourth. ... RHP Adrian Sampson went on the 10-day injured list with lower back spasms. The move was part of a roster shuffle that included bringing up Heineman and RHP Phillips Valdez from Triple-A Nashville. RHP David Carpenter was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT

Heaney (2-3, 4.76 ERA) is set to start what amounts to the makeup game for the postponement following Skaggs' death. It's the first doubleheader in almost four years for the Angels. Brock Burke, a 23-year-old lefty, is set to make his major league debut for Texas in the opener. Joe Palumbo (0-1, 11.00) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start the second game for the Rangers. The 24-year-old rookie left-hander has three career appearances and two starts for Texas. The Angels haven't announced a starter for the nightcap.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former LA Times Sports Columnist T.J. Simers Awarded Nearly $15.5 Million]]>555285561Mon, 19 Aug 2019 21:26:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TJ-Simers-LA-Times-Lawsuit-August-2019.jpg

A jury on Monday awarded nearly $15.5 million to a former sports columnist for The Los Angeles Times who said he was forced out of his job because of age and health discrimination.

The award is more than twice the $7.1 million that T.J. Simers initially won in 2015. The Times appealed and a judge reduced the amount, leading Simers to appeal and a retrial on the damages.

With prejudgment interest and attorney's fees, the Times will owe more than $22 million, said Nick Rowley of Trial Lawyers for Justice, which helped handle the retrial.

"It is incredibly gratifying for Simers and those in similar situations to see the court vindicate his claims of age and disability discrimination," said Carney Shegerian of Shegerian and Associates, which also handled the case.

"We believe that the award is unreasonable. We successfully appealed an earlier award and are currently evaluating our legal options," Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning said in a statement.

Simers worked at the Times from 1990 to 2013 and was a sports columnist there for more than a decade, making $234,000 per year. But he claimed the Times cut back his column and otherwise tried to pressure him to leave after he suffered what was believed to be a mini-stroke while covering the Los Angeles Dodgers' and Anaheim Angels' spring training.

He was later diagnosed with complex migraine syndrome.

The Times said Simers got into trouble for an ethics breach involving a video that was briefly posted to the newspaper's website. The video featured Simers, his daughter and former Laker Dwight Howard.

Times editors said he failed to disclose his business relationship with the producer of the video, which allegedly was a promotion for a proposed TV comedy loosely based on Simers' life. Simers testified that at that point the project had died and he had no business relationship with the producer's company.

Simers was suspended with pay and the Times began an investigation. In August 2013, Simers was told he would lose his column and become a reporter but instead he was offered a one-year contract for a column.

However, Simers resigned the next month. He joined the Orange County Register as a columnist but retired in 2014 after less than a year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag]]>
<![CDATA[Jim Hardy, Oldest Living USC and Rams Player, Dies at 96]]>554984441Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:28:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jim-Hardy-USC-Rams-dies-August-2019.jpg

Jim Hardy, the oldest living University of Southern California and Los Angeles Rams football player who was the MVP of the 1945 Rose Bowl, has died. He was 96.

The university said Monday he died Aug. 16 of natural causes at his home in the desert city of La Quinta, 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Hardy was selected eighth in the first round of the 1945 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. The quarterback spent seven seasons in the league and was part of the 1952 Detroit Lions team that won the NFL championship. He also played for the Rams (1946-48) and Chicago Cardinals (1949-51). He threw for 5,690 yards and 54 touchdowns.

Hardy played for the Rams in their inaugural season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1950.

While with the Cardinals in 1950, he set a single-game record by throwing eight interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles, which still stands. The following week against the Baltimore Colts, he rebounded to throw six TDs.

Hardy lettered three seasons (1942-44) at quarterback and defensive back for USC, starting his final two seasons and leading the Trojans to a pair of shutout Rose Bowl victories.

He threw three touchdown passes against Washington in a 29-0 victory in the 1944 Rose Bowl, then passed for two TDs and ran for a third to earn MVP honors in a 25-0 win over Tennessee in the 1945 Rose Bowl.

He also played third base for the USC baseball team for three years.

His late brother, Don, played end for the Trojans in the mid-1940s and was drafted by the Rams in football and the Cleveland Indians in baseball.

Hardy was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1994.

After a business career, he was the general manager of the ABA's Los Angeles Stars (1969-70) and then held a similar title at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (1973-86).

Hardy remained a lifelong USC football fan who until two years ago would drive himself two hours from the desert to Los Angeles once a week to watch the team's practices. He also attended over 80 Rose Bowl games.

He is survived by his wife of 74 years, Henrietta; daughters Cindy Aivalis, Ellen Hardy and K. Maria Hardy; and son Danny Hardy. He was preceded in death by his son James.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Corbis via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers All-Pro Safety Derwin James to Have Surgery on Right Foot]]>552936101Sun, 18 Aug 2019 20:02:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Derwin-James-Chargers-Aug-2019.jpg

Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James will have surgery on his right foot this week and could miss three months

Coach Anthony Lynn said Sunday after Los Angeles' 19-17 exhibition loss to New Orleans on Sunday that James has opted for surgery after receiving more evaluations the past couple days. He suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot during Thursday's practice against the Saints.

James would likely be placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, meaning he could not be activated until after Week 8. If he is out the full three months, he would likely not be back until the final five games of the season.

This will be the second straight year the Chargers will go into the season without one of their top players on defense. Defensive end Joey Bosa missed the first nine games last season due to turf toe.

James quickly made an impact as a rookie last season. The 17th-overall pick led the team in tackles with 105 along with four interceptions, 3.5 sacks and 13 passes defensed. He had two sacks and an interception in the first three games, becoming the first rookie in a non-strike year since Dallas' Bill Bates in 1983 to accomplish that.

Adrian Phillips will take over at free safety while James is sidelined. Rayshawn Jenkins is also a possibility to move over from strong safety, but with second-round pick Nasir Adderley still trying to work his way back from a hamstring injury. Phillips and Jenkins both saw time at free safety during Sunday's game.

The Chargers are considered to be one of the AFC's favorites but have had a smooth training camp. Running back Melvin Gordon is holding out, left tackle Russell Okung is out due to blood clots, and wide receiver Keenan Allen is dealing with an ankle injury.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ohtani Homers in Angels' 9-2 Rout of White Sox]]>552622111Sun, 18 Aug 2019 16:52:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-White-Sox-Ohtani-Aug-2019.jpg

Shohei Ohtani, Kole Calhoun, Matt Thaiss and Anthony Bemboom all homered to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 9-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

Ohtani hit his first home run since July 27 and just his second since the All-Star break. He has a nine-game hitting streak, the longest of his young career.

Calhoun added his career-high 27th homer, a solo shot in the fourth inning. He hit 26 home runs in 2015 but hadn't hit more than 19 in a season since. He also had his 100th hit of the season and 50 of those have gone for extra bases.

It was the first home run of Bemboom's career, coming in his 17th career at-bat.

The Angels have won four of the last five games, taking three of four in the weekend series.

Eloy Jiménez homered and tripled for the White Sox.

Rookie Griffin Canning (5-6) pitched seven innings for just the second time, having previously done so May 18 in a victory over Kansas City.

Thaiss hit a three-run homer in the second inning off White Sox starter Dylan Cease (5-6). He was 3 for 4 with four RBIs and one run scored.

Canning hit James McCann with two outs in the fourth and then gave up his first hit and only run when Jiménez tripled to score McCann. It appeared Brian Goodwin, playing center field, lost the ball in the sunlight.

Jiménez hit his 22nd home run off reliever Adalberto Mejia in the ninth.

Cease allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out six, walked one and hit one.

Canning has 96 strikeouts through his first 18 major league games, second in Angels history behind Jered Weaver, who had 100 strikeouts in his first 18 games.

RARE DAY OFF FOR TROUT

Mike Trout was given the day off Sunday and the previous day he was the designated hitter. Brad Ausmus said with upcoming heat in Texas and four games in three days (including a doubleheader with a makeup game Tuesday) he wanted his star to recharge. Albert Pujols also had Sunday off.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons (left ankle bone bruise/sprain) is doing baseball activities but is not expected to return to the lineup on the Texas roadtrip ... RHP Justin Anderson (IL with right upper trapezius strain) said he hit a little wall in his recovery because of stiffness but said he is traveling with the team to Texas.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Ivan Nova (8-9, 4.51 ERA) is 4-0 with a 0.49 ERA over his last five starts (since July 22), the best ERA in the majors during that stretch. He'll start Monday at Minnesota.

Angels: LHP Dillon Peters (3-1, 3.38 ERA) earned the win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, pitching six innings and allowing just two earned runs. He'll start Monday at Texas.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Edge Rams 14-10 in Preseason Game in Hawaii]]>550822721Sun, 18 Aug 2019 14:08:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-Cowboys-preseason-Aug-2019.jpg

Dak Prescott appears ready for the regular season, with or without Ezekiel Elliott.

The Dallas quarterback completed all five of his pass attempts in his only series of work as the Cowboys came away with a 14-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night.

Prescott dropped back to pass seven times, completed passes to five different receivers, had one short completion negated by an ineligible lineman downfield penalty and was sacked once.

Prescott's only drive covered 97 yards in 12 plays, took more than six minutes and culminated with Tony Pollard's 14-yard touchdown run.

It marked the first Dallas touchdown in a preseason game since Aug. 18, 2018. Dallas was held to three field goals in last week's 17-9 loss at San Francisco to open the preseason.

With starting quarterback Jared Goff among the large number of Rams' starters that did not make the trip to Hawaii, Blake Bortles got the start and finished 7 of 11 for 62 yards. His 7-yard scoring pass to JoJo Natson capped Los Angeles' second drive — which was extended by a fumbled punt return by Dallas return man Reggie Davis and recovered by rookie Jake Gervase.

Los Angeles (0-2) took its only lead on Greg Zuerlein's 29-yard field goal in the second quarter. Zuerlein attempted a 56-yard field goal just before halftime, but missed wide left.

Dallas (1-1) pulled back ahead late in the third quarter, when third-string quarterback Cooper Rush found Devin Smith for an 8-yard touchdown.

Pollard, who started in place of Elliott, finished with five rushes for 42 yards. Elliott, a two-time league rushing champion, missed his second preseason game while he continues his holdout. Alfred Morris, who signed with the team during training camp, saw his first action of the preseason and carried three times for 6 yards, all before halftime.

The teams met in the NFC Divisional round of last year's playoffs. The Rams won 30-22 en route to an appearance in the Super Bowl.

WITTEN'S RETURN

Veteran tight end Jason Witten made his preseason debut Saturday after coming out of retirement — and the broadcast booth — last year. Witten was targeted just once — on a third-down pass from Prescott — on the penultimate play of the first Dallas possession. Witten's 10-yard reception moved the chains and set up Pollard's 14-yard TD run for the game's first points.

"It felt really good. I was very anxious to get out there and play," said Witten, a 16-year veteran and 11-time Pro Bowler. "It is just the next step in the comeback. I worked really hard to get back in shape.

"I hold myself to a high standard, so I can say it was not perfect. I got a little antsy early but had a big third-down conversion on an option route."

Witten retired following the 2017-18 season and served as color commentator on "Monday Night Football" last year.

INJURIES

Cowboys second-year linebacker Chris Covington went down with an undisclosed injury while covering the opening kickoff. He was attended to by Dallas' training staff for a few minutes, but was able to walk off on his own.

NEXT UP

Cowboys: Return home to face the Houston Texans on Saturday on Aug. 24.

Rams: Host Denver in their next-to-last preseason game on Aug. 24.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ryu, Dodgers Fall to Braves' Long Ball, Bullpen, 4-3]]>550779671Sat, 17 Aug 2019 22:17:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Braves-Ryu-Aug-2019.jpg

Braves reliever Luke Jackson summed up his team's mindset against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"They're kind of like our David and Goliath, you know?" Jackson said. "Whenever we've gone out there it's been rough. They're a good team, we're a good team, 1-2, just duking it out. It's nice to pull out wins like this."

Josh Donaldson and Adam Duvall hit consecutive homers off Hyun-Jin Ryu in the sixth inning, the faulty Atlanta bullpen redeemed itself for a change, and the Braves finally beat Los Angeles 4-3 on Saturday night.

Donaldson stirred the largest crowd in SunTrust Park's three-year history when his 29th homer landed in the Atlanta bullpen in right-center. Duvall added on by going deep into the left-center seats to make it 4-2.

Atlanta won the matchup of NL division leaders one night after the Dodgers' powerful offense homered four times, sending the Braves to a 27th loss in the last 37 regular-season games between the teams. With their first win in five meetings this season, the Braves are trying to stand up to the club that eliminated them from the playoffs last year.

"It gives us an opportunity to win a series tomorrow," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "That's the big thing."

Ryu (12-3) lost for the first time in seven starts as his ERA, still best in the major leagues, rose 19 points to 1.64.

"I think there were some changeups that kind of cut a little bit on him and didn't stay true and got to the barrel," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "But it was still good enough for us to win, and unfortunately we came up a little bit short."

Sean Newcomb (6-3) turned in a promising performance after allowing consecutive homers the night before that left him with a 13.49 ERA in his last eight outings. He bailed out Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the fifth, getting Edwin Ríos to fly out with runners at the corners.

Newcomb faced the minimum in 1 1/3 innings. Jackson, who lost the closer's job last month, allowed Max Muncy's 31st homer before stranding a runner he walked in the seventh.

Shane Greene, another former closer, struck out the side in the eighth. Mark Melancon earned his third save of the season, second with Atlanta, when Cody Bellinger popped up with a runner at first to end it.

Atlanta's bullpen has been battered over the last two weeks with Greene, Melancon and Chris Martin — all acquired at the trade deadline to steady the relief corps — beginning the game with a combined 10.47 ERA in seven appearances apiece.

"We've got three new guys here," Greene said. "As that happens, you'll see that we're going to come together as the team within the team and make sure that when we've got the lead and they go to us, we'll get the job done."

The Braves led 2-0 in the third on Ozzie Albies' two-run double. Ryu, who had a streak of 15 scoreless innings snapped, struck out Donaldson to strand Albies at third.

Matt Beaty provided Los Angeles' early offense, hitting his seventh homer to make it 2-1 in the fourth and lining a run-scoring single to make it 2-all in the fifth and chase Foltynewicz.

Foltynewicz labored through 4 2/3 innings on 107 pitches. He gave up seven hits and two runs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: Roberts said INF Jedd Gyorko will be activated Sunday and start at first base. Gyorko has dealt with back, hamstring and hand injuries this year and was on the 60-day injured list when Los Angeles acquired him from St. Louis at the July 31 trade deadline.

Braves: CF Ender Inciarte will miss four to six weeks after straining his right hamstring while running the bases Friday. Duvall, optioned to Triple-A the day before, replaced Inciarte on the roster.

GOING DEEP AGAIN

With two more homers, the Dodgers have connected 24 times over the last six games. Los Angeles leads the NL in home runs and set a major league record Friday with 22 in a five-game span.

SLICK GLOVES

Braves 1B Freddie Freeman snared Muncy's liner in the first to double up Joc Pederson, who had reached on second baseman Albies' fielding error. ... Atlanta CF Ronald Acuña Jr. charged in to make a diving catch and rob Corey Seager of a bases-loaded hit in the third. ... Bellinger made a difficult running grab to save a run on Acuña's lineout to center in the seventh.

BIG GATHERING

The Braves announced a sellout of 43,619.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Tony Gonsolin (1-1, 3.21 ERA) arrived Saturday from Triple-A Oklahoma City and will make his third career start in the series finale.

Braves: LHP Max Fried (14-4, 3.89 ERA) will try to win his sixth straight start. He has a 1.95 ERA over his last five. In two career starts against Los Angeles, Fried is 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vela Scores 24th Goal of Season, LAFC Clinches Playoff Berth]]>550773281Sat, 17 Aug 2019 22:11:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Carlos-Vela-LAFC-Aug-2019.jpg

Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake's Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.

Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco's had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.

Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.

Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.

Salt Lake (12-10-4) had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores Twice, 10-Man Galaxy Draws Sounders 2-2]]>550766881Sat, 17 Aug 2019 22:07:16 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Zlatan-Ibrahimovic-Galaxy-Aug-2019.jpg

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in each half and the LA Galaxy tied the Seattle Sounders 2-2 on Saturday night despite playing nearly the entire match down a man.

The Galaxy's Daniel Steres was sent off in the sixth minute for the denial of obvious goal opportunity.

Ibrahimovic tied it at 1 for the Galaxy (13-11-2) with a header in the 45th minute. In the 65th minute, he was taken down by Kim Kee-hee while going for a header in the area and converted the penalty, making it 2-1 with his 20th goal of the season.

LA defender Jørgen Skjelvik scored an own goal in the 82nd minute when he inadvertently deflected goalkeeper David Bingham's attempted clearance into the Galaxy net.

Raúl Ruidíaz opened the scoring in the 42nd minute for the Sounders (11-8-7). Harry Shipp hustled to round up a loose ball and fed it to an open Ruidíaz, who slotted it home.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Urías to Serve 20-Game Domestic Violence Penalty]]>549986091Sat, 17 Aug 2019 14:24:26 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julio-Urias-avoid-prosecution-June-2-2019.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías has accepted a 20-game suspension by Major League Baseball for a domestic violence incident and is expected to return in September.

MLB gave him credit for serving five games while he was on administrative leave in May, leaving 15 remaining to serve without pay.

The commissioner's office said Saturday that Urías has agreed not to appeal the discipline and will participate in an evaluation and treatment program.

The Dodgers said in a statement that they support MLB's decision while also being encouraged that Urías took responsibility for his actions. The team said it believes he will learn from the incident.

Club president and CEO Stan Kasten told reporters before Saturday's game in Atlanta that Urías is allowed to work out at the team's spring training facility in Arizona and can pitch in a minor league game as early as Aug. 27.

Urías can return to the majors on Sept. 2 and is eligible for the postseason. The two-time defending NL champion Dodgers lead the NL West by 19½ games.

Manager Dave Roberts added that Urías addressed the team earlier this year, so Roberts decided not to bring up the issue again in front of the team this weekend.

"It's disappointing, but obviously we're adhering to what the commissioner's office and the players association implemented," Roberts said. "We're just trying to stay the course."

The 23-year-old reliever from Mexico was arrested in May and accused of shoving a woman. The charges were ultimately dropped, but MLB pursued its own punishment under the league's domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

Urías is 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 26 games, including six starts and his fourth save in a three-inning appearance Friday.

Right-hander Casey Sadler was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take Urías' spot on the roster.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers, Yankees, and Astros are Breaking Away From the Pack]]>549530601Sat, 17 Aug 2019 09:41:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/DOdgers+and+Yankees+Collide.png

An unstoppable force is about to collide with an immovable object. 

On the brink of one of the biggest series of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are on a collision course with epic implications. 

With identical records of 82-42, both teams are tied for the best record in baseball and the Houston Astros are not far behind at 78-44.

Since the All-Star Break, these three teams have only distanced themselves from the rest of the league as each has been on fire over that time.

Since July 31, the Yankees are an MLB-best 14-3. The Dodgers are not behind with a record of 11-3. Finally, the Astros have won nine out of their last 13 games since the break. Even the red-hot New York Mets can't match those records, going 10-5 over that same span.

Now that the cream has risen to the proverbial top, it's more than likely that one if not two of these three teams will be playing in the World Series at the end of the October. 

That means home field advantage in the Fall Classic is on the line, so let's take a look at recent history, and which team has the best chances of finishing with the best record and earning the right to host Game 1 of the World Series in their own stadium.

Since the turn of the century (2000), the team with home field advantage in the World Series has lifted the Commissioner's Trophy 13 times, and the team that starts the series on the road has won just six times.

That proves that there is a clear edge to the team with home field advantage, especially in the current 2-3-2 format. Recent history suggests that having home field advantage is not imperative as the team that starts at their own stadium has lost three of the last five World Series overall.

In fact, in the game that arguably having home field advantage is the most critical—the winner-take-all Game 7—the away team has won each of the last three decisive games to win the World Series.

However, looking at home field advantage from a larger scope, since 2000, the home team has a record of 65-41 in World Series games overall. That's a .613 winning percentage, proving there is a clear advantage to playing in the Fall Classic in front of your own fans.

For many years, home field advantage was not decided by which team had the best record at the end of the season (as all the other professional sports do), but rather, by which league won the All-Star Game.

That pointless plan to have the Midsummer Classic decide who hosted the first game of the Fall Classic, was finally scrapped in 2017 after 14 years When the Dodgers finished 104-58 wins and hosted the Houston Astros in Game 1 at Dodger Stadium. 

So which of the three teams between the Dodgers, Yankees, and Astros has the best shot at home field advantage this season?

Well first and foremost, the upcoming series at Dodger Stadium between the Yankees and Dodgers could be a deciding factor. The teams are set to square off for a three-game series over the weekend, with the winner of the series likely having the best record moving forward.

Next, strength of schedule for the remaining six weeks of the season could play a big role.

According to PowerRankingsGuru.com, the Yankees have the easiest schedule remaining out of the three teams vying for the top spot. The Astros are right behind them, and the Dodgers have the 16th most difficult schedule remaining in all of MLB.

This likely because according to the same website, the Yankees are playing in the easiest division. Yes, the Yankees will have hold off the surging Tampa Bay Rays and reigning Champion Boston Red Sox, but outside of those three teams, the American League East has the meek Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, two of the worst teams in baseball.

The Yankees will not see the Orioles again this season, but they still have six games remaining with the Blue Jays and three with the equally terrible Detroit Tigers.

Both the Astros and Dodgers play in divisions where most of the teams are either slightly above or below average, but likely they will be the only teams from their division to make the postseason. 

Houston has four games with the Tigers, three with the Blue Jays, three with the Kansas City Royals, and six games with the last place Seattle Mariners still left on their schedule.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers will face off with mostly N.L. West opponents during the final 36 games remaining on their season, but they do have three games with the Blue Jays, and three with the Orioles of the A.L. East.

All three of these teams are surging heading into September. The Astros have been unstoppable since acquiring Zack Greinke, Aaron Sanchez and a handful of relievers at the deadline, and both the Yankees and Dodgers have won eight of their last ten games.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are on the heels of a historic power surge that has surpassed even the mighty Yankees who not only broke the MLB record for most homers in a season last year, but broke the record for most consecutive games with a home run this year when they rattled off 31 straight games with a homer in June and July.

Thanks to finishing off a series win over the mediocre Miami Marlins this week, the Dodgers have hit 22 homers in their last five games, surpassing the previous record of 21.

The Dodgers have hit four or more home runs in five consecutive games, extending their MLB record.

National League MVP frontrunner Cody Bellinger is leading the charger with 41 homers, and has hit four of the 22 total team homers over this recent five-game span.

"I guess the numbers don’t lie -- we do hit the ball out of the ballpark," said manager Dave Roberts. "I still stand by the fact our bat quality is as good as there is in the big leagues."

The longball will certainly come into play down the stretch, but the team that is able to win the games their supposed to win, keep their foot on the gas, and avoid in slumps, will likely be the team that wins the Supporters Shield (to use a Soccer term) and earn the right to host Game 1 of the World Series, provided they advance that far.



Photo Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bellinger Hits 41st Homer, Dodgers Beat Braves 8-3]]>548223671Fri, 16 Aug 2019 20:24:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19228853636515.jpg

Cody Bellinger hit his 41st home run, Max Muncy and Justin Turner connected against reliever Sean Newcomb in the seventh inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Friday night in a matchup of NL division leaders.

It was nothing new for the powerful Dodgers, who set a major league record with 22 homers in a five-game span when Will Smith launched a two-run shot off Jerry Blevins in the eighth.

Los Angeles continued to dominate the Braves, too. The Dodgers improved to 18-6 against Atlanta since 2016, using Muncy's three-run homer and Turner's solo shot to lead 6-3 after Newcomb relieved starter Mike Soroka.

Los Angeles led 1-0 in the second when Bellinger crushed a homer to right-center, his fourth in five games to take the NL lead. He began the night tied with Angels star Mike Trout for most in the majors.

The NL East-leading Braves pounced on Kenta Maeda in the bottom half, going ahead 3-1 on Matt Joyce's two-run double and Ronald Acuña Jr.'s hard RBI single to left-center.

Maeda avoided further trouble when Freddie Freeman lined out with the bases loaded. The right-hander struck out seven straight before Josh Donaldson singled with two outs in the fifth.

The two-time defending NL champion Dodgers, who eliminated the Braves from the postseason last year and swept them at home in May, got a run back in the third off Soroka on Joc Pederson's RBI single.

Soroka has gone six straight starts without a win, but was in line for his 11th when Newcomb replaced him with two outs in the seventh. Soroka allowed three runs and seven hits. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when Edwin Ríos grounded into a double play.

Muncy's go-ahead homer sailed into the seats in right-center as the sellout crowd moaned. Turner followed with a drive to the same part of the ballpark, the 14th time the Dodgers have gone back-to-back this season.

The NL West leaders are 13-3 since July 30.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: Manager Dave Roberts said INF Chris Tayler (broken left forearm) and utilityman Kiké Hernández (left hand sprain) could return by the middle of next week's homestand against Toronto and the New York Yankees. Both are on rehab assignments.

Braves: CF Ender Inciarte left after hurting his right hamstring while rounding third base to score a run. Rafael Ortega took his place. ... SS Dansby Swanson has missed 22 games with a bruised right foot and has no timetable yet for a rehab assignment.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-2) pitched seven scoreless innings last Sunday against Arizona and leads the majors with a 1.45 ERA. In four career starts against Atlanta, he is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.24 ERA) will face the Dodgers for the fourth time. He is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA against Los Angeles.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: John Bazemore/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Close Friends Brees and Rivers Get to Share Practice Field]]>545718261Thu, 15 Aug 2019 19:26:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/rivAP_19227801630423.jpg

Philip Rivers and Drew Brees have not been teammates since 2005 but the bond between the two still remains strong.

The quarterbacks are sharing a field as the Los Angeles Chargers host the New Orleans Saints for practices for the third straight year. The two teams will work out again Friday before their second preseason game Sunday.

"It's always fun to see Drew. We were telling stories out there from 15 years ago. It's amazing how time flies," Rivers said. "Not only is he a friend and a guy you shared a QB room with, he's the all-time leading passer. It is pretty special."

Brees was drafted in the second round by the Chargers in 2001 before Rivers was taken in the first round three years later. Brees helped mentor Rivers before signing with New Orleans in 2006.

Since then, Rivers has gone on to start every game for the Chargers and Brees led the Saints to a championship in 2009. The two have remained close friends.

Besides getting their usual work in team and 7-on-7 drills, the two QB groups also go up against each other in a series of quarterback challenges. The Chargers got to pick Thursday's event, which was called County Fair as both teams had to hit stationary and moving targets. The Saints will come up with Friday's challenge.

The Saints won last year's challenge while the Chargers were victorious in 2017, meaning this year is a grudge match.

Since both teams get in situational work over the two days, Brees and Rivers will not play Sunday. Brees said the practices are more valuable than the game because of the amount of work he is able to get in.

"You don't always encounter every situation in a preseason game, but out here you're able to script play-action periods and pressure periods, third down, red zone, two-minute. Everything that would happen throughout the course of a normal game in the regular season," he said.

Coaches love the workouts more than players because it is scripted. Saints coach Sean Payton said the format of practices with the Chargers all three years has remained consistent.

"The players are different but generally what we've tried to accomplish on day one and two have been similar," he said.

The final hour of Thursday's practice dealt with two-minute and red zone situations along with some special teams work.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn noted that joint workouts have been going on for a while but the attention they are receiving has grown.

"I like getting the starters a lot of reps in these scrimmages because it's a controlled environment. I think you do see a lot more teams doing this," he said. "We did this back when I was playing, back in the early 1990s, so it's been around for a while. I like the way our players are handling the situation."

Both teams rested their top receiver. Los Angeles' Keenan Allen was sore, according to Lynn.

New Orleans' Michael Thomas got a veteran's day off. That allowed Saints wideout Simmie Cobbs Jr. and the Chargers' Travis Benjamin to haul in some passes on deep routes during 11-on-11 drills.

"There's not a great deal of preparation that goes into these practices," Rivers said. "There are different fronts and movements that you have to react against. It is a great tape to teach off of because it is not so much finding a way to beat the Saints in practice. There's no real consequence today which is the best part."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Cousins Tears ACL in Left Knee, Awaiting Surgery]]>545628671Thu, 15 Aug 2019 18:33:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/bcAP_18027146090321.jpg

DeMarcus Cousins is facing rehab from another major injury, and the Los Angeles Lakers have endured their first big problem of a season with championship expectations.

Cousins was diagnosed Thursday with a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury that could sideline the six-time All-Star big man for much — if not all — of this coming season. Cousins' agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, said a timeline for surgery is being discussed.

Cousins, who spent last season with Golden State, got hurt earlier this week in a workout in Las Vegas. The ACL tear comes about 18 months after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon, and roughly four months after he tore his left quadriceps muscle during this past season's playoffs.

Those previous injuries cost him a lot of games and a lot of money.

This injury is only going to add to those totals.

"He was going to be a big part of what we're going to do," Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said after USA Basketball practice at the Lakers' facility on Thursday, shortly after the severity of Cousins' injury was confirmed.

Plenty of players from around the NBA turned to social media to send Cousins messages of support, including Pau Gasol, who wrote "You will come back stronger brother." Golden State coach Steve Kerr — a U.S. assistant — said he was devastated for Cousins. Kerr also pointed out that the two games Golden State won against Toronto in last season's NBA Finals, Games 2 and 5, were not coincidentally games where Cousins played particularly well for the Warriors.

"Injuries are part of the game but when you are talking about a player who has now dealt with the two most feared injuries for NBA players — the Achilles and ACL — each basically knocking you out for an entire season, to deal with that over a 2 ½-, three-year span, it's unheard of," Kerr said. "So I don't know. What a blow for him, for the Lakers. He's going to have to process it all and start all over again."

The Achilles tear preceded Cousins' 2018 trip to free agency, where he could have commanded a multi-year deal exceeding $100 million. He wound up having to sign a one-year, $5.3 million contract with Golden State.

And this summer, again after dealing with injury, Cousins had to settle for much less than the going rate for someone averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for his career. He signed with the Lakers on another one-year deal, this time for $3.5 million.

"I've told y'all before I don't take any of this for granted," Cousins said in June, during the NBA Finals when he and the Warriors lost in six games to Toronto. "I've seen how quick this game can be taken away from you. So every chance I get to go out there and play, I'm going to leave it on the floor."

This could have been a massive year for Cousins, who was going to get a chance to play with LeBron James and reunite with his former New Orleans teammate Anthony Davis with the Lakers — a team with major aspirations after an offseason roster overhaul.

A big year could have set Cousins up for a significant contract next summer. It is now unclear if he'll play at all before he returns to the open market.

"It's been a couple years of hell for DeMarcus," Kerr said.

The Lakers, even without Cousins, still figure to have more than enough talent to end a stretch of six consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, by far the longest such run in franchise history.

James returns after an injury-marred season where he averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists. Davis — a six-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA performer — was acquired in a blockbuster trade with New Orleans, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo were re-signed and Danny Green chose to sign with the Lakers for two years and $30 million after helping Toronto win the NBA title.

But without Cousins, there is a bit of a void on the Lakers' roster as far as center. Among current Lakers, only Davis and McGee have spent any significant time in their careers at that position.

"It's no joke when you get injured," Kuzma said. "This is our livelihood and is something that we love to do. It's super-unfortunate for a guy like DeMarcus. You can tell how much he loves basketball through all these injuries — he's fought back and tried to get back as early as possible. That's kind of how the ball goes sometimes."

Cousins has averaged 21.2 points and 10.9 rebounds over parts of nine NBA seasons with Sacramento, New Orleans and Golden State. Cousins is one of only 11 players in NBA history to average that many points and rebounds per game in a career, a list that includes two other active players — Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid.

"Just feel terrible for him," Kerr said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[King's Court: LeBron Dedicates Court at His Hometown School]]>545027541Thu, 15 Aug 2019 12:46:39 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19226863393826.jpg

LeBron James went back to school and back in time on Wednesday.

Joined by four high school teammates, the NBA superstar dedicated a multicolored outdoor basketball court at the I Promise School, which he founded last year for underprivileged children in his hometown.

James took a break from his starring role in "Space Jam 2," currently in production, to spend time with the kids and support his family foundation.

Before taking the court for a quick pickup game against the youngsters, James took the microphone and addressed the kids, encouraging them to chase their dreams the way he and his friends have.

"This is a basketball court and we see basketball hoops, but it teaches you so much more than just basketball," he said. "To be able to create a brotherhood or sisterhood and create things that will last forever. A lot of people say things you do in high school you'll forget. Well, we created a friendship 25 years ago and we're still firm and strong. This is our way of giving it back to you guys — paying it forward."

And then, James was again dribbling and passing with Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee, Romeo Travis and Sian Cotton, the "Fab Five" from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, a group that won a state title and became nationally known as James rose from an Ohio teen prodigy to professional icon.

His former coach, Dru Joyce, was also on hand.

James, who is spending more than $1 million on various upgrades for the school, dunked to break in one of the new hoops but missed a couple of long 3-pointers.

The 34-year-old will soon begin his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He missed the playoffs last season, failing to make the Finals for the first time in nine years.

The four-time MVP did not speak to the media following his on-court appearance.

James and the Akron Public Schools teamed up on the school, which is providing a nurturing academic environment for at-risk kids.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pujols Sets Career Hit Mark for Foreign-Born Players in Win]]>543460271Wed, 14 Aug 2019 20:54:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Pirates-Angels-AP_19227080585026.jpg

Albert Pujols had two hits and three RBIs Wednesday and set the major league record for career hits by a foreign-born player, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols had an RBI single in the 4th inning. His 3,167th hit moved him past fellow Dominican Republic native Adrian Beltre (3,166) and into sole possession of 15th place for career hits.

Luis Rengifo also drove in two runs for the Angels, who snapped a three-game home losing streak. Dillon Peters (3-1) allowed two runs in six innings while striking out six after an erratic start.

Melky Cabrera and Elias Diaz each had an RBI for the Pirates, who failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Angels. Pittsburgh has not won three in a row since July 1-3, against the Chicago Cubs.

Chris Archer (3-9) allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings, and his streak of starts without a win reached 12 games. It is the longest such span in Archer's eight-year career.

The Angels scored four runs in the fourth inning to erase a two-run deficit. Los Angeles moved in front on Rengifo's double to left field. The Pirates' Bryan Reynolds overran the ball when it dropped in, and it bounced all the way to warning track. Rengifo kept running, rounding third and sliding headfirst into home to give the Angels a two-run lead.

The 39-year-old Pujols drove in Los Angeles' first run with his record-setting single. David Fletcher followed with an RBI double that tied the game at 2-all.

Pittsburgh pulled within 4-3 in the seventh inning. Diaz scored from third when Erik Gonzalez hit into a double play.

Pujols put the Angels ahead 6-3 with a two-run single in the eighth inning. Rengifo drove in Pujols to make it 7-3.

Diaz had an RBI single in the ninth inning for the final margin of victory.

The Pirates jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Peters loaded the bases with no outs with a walk and hitting two batters. Josh Bell hit into a double play that scored Kevin Newman, and Cabrera had an RBI single to right that made it 2-0.

STILL WAITING

The Pirates' last series sweep came June 21-23 against San Diego, and they have not won every game in a road series since May 17-19 at the Padres. They have swept two road series this season, the other coming when they took two games at Detroit on April 15-16.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: C Jacob Stallings was scratched from the starting lineup because of a migraine. ... RHP Jameson Taillon will miss the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time.

Angels: RHP Noé Ramirez (viral infection) was recalled from the injured list Wednesday and served the first game of a three-game suspension for hitting Astros OF Jake Marsinick with a pitch on July 16.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (8-11, 4.71 ERA) will start in the opener of a three-game series against the Cubs at home on Friday. Musgrove is 0-1 in two starts against the Cubs this season, but has not allowed an earned run in 9 1/3 innings.

Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (1-3, 4.89) gets the nod in the first game of a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Heaney is 1-2 with a 5.13 ERA in five home starts this season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Strikes Out 10, Shuts Down Marlins in 9-1 Win]]>543388761Wed, 14 Aug 2019 20:12:02 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/ckAP_19227033384679.jpg

Clayton Kershaw struck out the first seven batters he faced and matched a season high with 10 strikeouts in seven shutout innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Miami Marlins 9-1 on Wednesday night.

Kershaw (12-2) allowed two hits and retired the first 14 Miami batters before Harold Ramirez's two-out single to right in the fifth. The three-time Cy Young Award winner left after 90 pitches.

Rookie Edwin Rios hit his first two major league homers. Justin Turner went 3 for 5 with a home run and Corey Seager homered and had three RBIs for the Dodgers, who have outscored Miami 34-2 in the last three games.

The Marlins didn't put a ball in play until Lewis Brinson grounded out with one out in the third inning.

Rios' second blast off Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez (2-5), a two-run shot that landed on the upper deck seats in right field, gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.

Max Muncy's two-run double in the eighth increased Los Angeles' advantage to 9-0.

The Dodgers wasted little time following up their six-homer performance Tuesday with home runs from Turner and Seager in the first.

Turner put Los Angeles ahead 1-0 with his shot over the wall in center. Seager hit a two-run blast that Cody Bellinger, who had reached on a bunt single as he took advantage of a Miami shift that left the third base area vacant.

Rios hit his first career homer in the fourth, a solo blast that gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Hernandez was lifted after six innings. The right-hander allowed six runs, eight hits, struck out seven and walked one.

Miami's Curtis Granderson hit a pinch-hit homer off Yimi Garcia in the ninth.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Dodgers: IF-OF Kike Hernandez (hand) is expected to play in some rehab games over the weekend, manager Dave Roberts said.

UP NEXT:

Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (10-2, 3.08) had a strong start last time he faced Miami. Buehler shut out the Marlins through seven innings, allowed five hits and struck out 11 on July 21.

Marlins: LHP Caleb Smith (7-6, 3.71) will start the series finale Thursday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[A Time-Out for the NFL in 'NOLA No-Call' Lawsuit]]>543341641Wed, 14 Aug 2019 19:43:26 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NFC-Championship-no-call-case-July-2019.jpg

Louisiana's Supreme Court has ruled that the NFL can hold off, for now, on providing documents and answering questions in a New Orleans Saints fan's lawsuit over referees' failure to call crucial penalties in a January playoff game won by the Los Angeles Rams.

Attorney Anthony LeMon says the state's highest court issued the stay order Wednesday while it considers the league's appeal of a lower court judge's ruling allowing his suit against the league to continue. That judge had said Commissioner Roger Goodell and game officials must answer questions under oath in New Orleans in September.

However, LeMon says the stay will likely mean the depositions of Goodell and the officials will be put off until October or later — if the suit is allowed to proceed.

The NFL did provide some limited answers to the extensive questions in LeMon's lawsuit, which alleges fraud and seeks damages over officials' failure to flag a blatant penalty by a Los Angeles Rams player who made a helmet-to-helmet hit on a Saints receiver with a pass on the way.

The Rams won and advanced to the Super Bowl.

In answers filed late Tuesday and made public Wednesday — before the stay order by the high court — the league acknowledges that video shows that pass interference and unnecessary roughness penalties should have been called.

But, it also says: "To the NFL Defendants' knowledge, no member of the 'NFC Championship game officiating crew' observed NFL player rule violations during the Play in real-time at full speed.

The officials designated to cover the area of the field in which the contact occurred reported that during the Play they observed the ball, the receiver, and the defender arrive at the area simultaneously with the defender leading with his arms for a block at the receiver's chest."

The league objected to answering questions, based on game video, about whether side judge Gary Cavaletto was reaching for his penalty flag after the play occurred and whether down judge Patrick Turner gestured to dissuade him from doing so.

Among the reason league attorneys give for objecting are that the questions are "oppressive, harassing and not relevant" to the lawsuit, and that it demands answers regarding "subjective beliefs."

The league also declined to say whether any disciplinary action was taken against the officials.

The lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages. LeMon has said he intends for any money won to go to former Saints star Steve Gleason's charity to aid people with neuromuscular diseases. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thanks for Playing: G Leaguers Back in USA Basketball Camp]]>540853311Tue, 13 Aug 2019 18:52:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/wearAP_18080051017393-%281%29.jpg

There were more than 50 players from the G League who helped USA Basketball get into the FIBA World Cup by winning enough games during the tournament's qualifying rounds.

A few of them are getting a thank-you this week.

USA Basketball invited some of those qualifying players to the final week of World Cup training camp in El Segundo, California that started Tuesday. The group will scrimmage in practice against NBA players who getting ready to compete in China at the World Cup — and while there's no chance for the G League guys to make that team, it's another opportunity to wear USA across their chest for a few days.

"I didn't even wait for them to finish asking the question before I said 'Absolutely,'" former UCLA forward Travis Wear said. "I'm not going to turn down that opportunity to play with the best of the best."

Plenty of NBA players turned down the chance to be on the World Cup team. Wear — who was with the South Bay Lakers last season, spent summer league with Golden State this year and is looking for a job this season — jumped at the chance to just practice with that group.

"Honestly, to be able to wear 'USA' in any way, shape or form and represent the country is an incredible experience," Wear said. "I was so happy that I could take part in that and it's definitely something that I am forever grateful for."

Wear is one of eight former qualifying-team players brought back for practice — the others: Chris Chiozza, Scotty Hopson, John Jenkins, Ben Moore, Chinanu Onuaku, Chasson Randle and Travis Trice. Combined, those eight players made 22 appearances for the U.S. in 12 qualifying games, with Trice making six and Wear and Randle four apiece.

The only player who appeared in qualifying games for the U.S. and has a chance to make the World Cup roster is Derrick White, who was promoted to the national team last week and is one of 15 candidates still in camp for the 12 final roster spots.

"We are very grateful for what every player did for us in qualifying," USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said.

FIBA changed the qualifying rules for this year's tournament, which meant the U.S. and other nations basically couldn't use NBA players because of scheduling conflicts. So the U.S. put together different rosters, primarily of G League players, for each of the six two-game qualifying windows. Jeff Van Gundy was the qualifying coach for the U.S., getting a new group of players for every round.

Van Gundy will coach the G League invites this week as well, and Wear said he's eager to be reunited with him for at least a few more days.

USA Basketball national team coach Gregg Popovich said praised the job Van Gundy has done. Popovich also raved about the job the G League players did just to give the U.S. a chance at a third consecutive World Cup gold medal. That's why some of them are back this week for the last days of camp for the Americans.

"You look at this team now, getting ready to embark to China and play, they're qualified because of the work that we did and the games that we won," Wear said. "That's very satisfying."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Preliminary 2020 Schedule Announced]]>538734111Mon, 12 Aug 2019 21:42:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-11574490761.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin the 2020 season by playing host to the San Francisco Giants March 26 at Dodger Stadium, according to the preliminary schedule announced Monday by Major League Baseball.

The Dodgers will play interleague games at Dodger Stadium in 2020 against the Los Angeles Angels Aug. 25-26; Minnesota Twins April 28-29; Cleveland Indians May 22-24; and Detroit Tigers June 19-21.

The Dodgers will play home games on Jackie Robinson Day (April 15), Mother's Day (May 10), Father's Day (June 21) and Independence Day (July 4).

The 2020 season will include the first All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium since 1980, the unveiling of the latest round of renovations highlighted by the new Centerfield Plaza and the dedication of a Sandy Koufax statue.



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers to Face Clippers to Open Season and on Christmas Day]]>538083471Mon, 12 Aug 2019 15:17:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/lakers-clippers-opening-day-schedule.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Los Angeles Clippers on the opening night of the 2019-20 NBA season and again on Christmas Day, the league announced Monday.

The teams also will meet at Staples Center Jan. 28 and March 8. The Oct. 22 and March 8 games will be Clipper home games. The Dec. 25 and Jan. 28 games will be Laker home games.

This will be the 21st consecutive year the Lakers will play on Christmas. The last time the Lakers didn't play on Christmas was in 1998 when the owners lockout of the players delayed the start of the season until February.

The Lakers have played on Christmas 45 times, second-most in NBA history, behind the New York Knicks, who have played on Christmas 53 times.

The Clippers have played on Christmas 14 times, most recently in 2016.

Recently signed Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard will face his former teammates with the defending champion Toronto Raptors for the first time Nov. 11 at Staples Center. The Clippers recently acquired perennial all-star forward Paul George will face his former teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first time Nov. 18 at Staples Center.

Recently acquired Lakers forward-center Anthony Davis will face his former teammates with the New Orleans Pelicans for the first time Nov. 27 at New Orleans.

The Lakers will play their home opener Oct. 25 versus Utah. Their home schedule also includes games against Toronto Nov. 10, the Golden State Warriors Nov. 13 and April 9 and Boston Celtics Feb. 23.

Clipper single-game tickets will go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Tuesday at clippers.com/tickets. They are also available by calling 888-9-AXS-TIX.

Information on Lakers single-game ticket availability will be announced in the coming weeks, a team official said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Maeda Allows Only 3 Hits in 7 Innings; Dodgers Beat Arizona]]>534055461Sat, 10 Aug 2019 22:45:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Maeda-August-10-2019.jpg

Kenta Maeda allowed only three hits over seven innings, Max Muncy homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers bounced back with a 4-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.

The Dodgers were defeated by the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 11 innings Friday night, in a game that included a bench-clearing postgame confrontation between the NL West rivals. Cooler heads prevailed 24 hours later, with no incidents or retaliatory pitches.

Maeda (8-8) struck out six as he picked up his first victory since May 31. He also helped his cause at the plate with a pair of sacrifice bunts, including one in the fourth inning in which Corey Seager beat pitcher Alex Young's throw to home plate, extending Los Angeles' lead to 4-0.

The Japanese right-hander — who had gone 0-6 in his previous 11 starts — retired the side in order his first time through the lineup before Jarrod Dyson led off the fourth with a single. Ketel Marte was the only Arizona player to reach scoring position when he singled to left, stole second with two outs and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The shortstop failed to score as Maeda struck out David Peralta to end the frame.

It is the fifth time in Maeda's career that he has pitched seven or more scoreless innings in a start.

Dodgers' left fielder Joc Pederson, who entered the game in the fourth inning, had a nice play in the sixth when he ran into the wall to rob Alex Avila of a hit. Pederson was temporarily dazed after his right shoulder slammed into the wall, but he remained in the game.

Caleb Ferguson, Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen pitched the final two innings as the Dodgers recorded their major-league leading 13th shutout of the season and second of the homestand.

Muncy's solo shot to center off Young in the second inning broke a three-game home run drought. It was only the second homer in the last 16 games for Muncy, who had gone deep four times in the first eight games after the All-Star break.

Russell Martin had two hits and drove in a run for the Dodgers, who have won seven of nine on their current homestand.

Young (4-2) surrendered four runs on five hits over 3 1/3 innings. The rookie left-hander had allowed only four earned runs in 18 2/3 innings on the road coming into the game.

BLUE HEAVEN?

Kristopher Negrón's hot start with the Dodgers continued with an RBI single in the third. Negron is 10 of 29 with seven RBIs since being acquired from Seattle on July 28.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling is likely to return as a reliever once he is able to recover from a sore neck. Manager Dave Roberts said Stripling — who originally ended up on the injured list due to right biceps tendinitis — will likely not resume baseball activities for another week.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks: RHP Mike Leake (9-8, 4.24 ERA), who was acquired from Seattle last month, makes his 12th career start against LA. He is 5-6 with a 4.02 ERA.

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.53 ERA) will be activated off the injured list. He missed one start due to neck soreness.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nathan Peterman Runs and Throws, Raiders Beat Rams 14-3]]>533903591Sat, 10 Aug 2019 21:12:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-Raiders-preseason-August-10-2019.jpg

Nathan Peterman scrambled 50 yards to set up his only touchdown throw and the Oakland Raiders beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-3 in the preseason opener for both teams Saturday night.

Peterman entered in the third quarter and completed 9 of 12 passes for 66 yards. He also led both teams with 56 yards rushing.

A starter for Buffalo in Week 1 a year ago, Peterman is competing with Mike Glennon for the backup job to Derek Carr. Glennon, attempting to latch on with his fourth team in four years, started and went 17 of 25 for 200 yards, but threw two interceptions.

Peterman's 3-yard touchdown pass to Keelan Doss on an inside slant came two plays after Peterman was forced out of the pocket on a third-and-4 play from the Oakland 42 and weaved his way through the defense to the 8. The throw to Doss was confirmed after a review.

Both teams held out of a majority of their starters after holding two joint practices at the Raiders' training camp facilities in Napa.

Blake Bortles started for the Rams and played one series in place of Jared Goff. Bortles completed 3 of 8 throws for 50 yards and had a 59.4 rating.

Glennon looked good early and threw three straight completions that gained 56 yards on Oakland's opening drive. DeAndre Washington scored on a 7-yard run.

Greg Zuerlein made a 36-yard field goal in the first half accounted for the Rams.

RAMS ROOKIES

Second-round pick Taylor Rapp was mostly quiet but did make a nice play to break up a third-down pass intended for Raiders rookie Hunter Renfrow in the second quarter. Running back Darrell Henderson Jr. had a mostly disappointing night. The third-rounder was dropped for a pair of big losses early and managed 13 yards on six carries.

MISSING PASS RUSH

The Raiders spent much of the offseason attempting to improve a pass rush that was last in the NFL in sacks a year ago. They clearly still have a long ways to go, although defensive end Arden Key had a good night with a sack and two hurries.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE

Los Angeles cornerback Kevin Peterson missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL he suffered in the Rams first preseason game last year. Peterson showed some rust early when he leveled punt returner De'Mornay Pierson-El and was flagged 15 yards for fair catch interference. Peterson made up for his gaffe later with an interception near midfield and a 19-yard return.

WILSON KEEPS IMPRESSING

While Antonio Brown remains missing, Oakland wide receiver J.J. Nelson has been turning heads since the start of camp with several impressive catches on deep throws. Nelson continued that trend with a leaping, turning 38-yard catch from Glennon followed by a short 5-yard reception that helped set up the Raiders' first score.

ABOUT THAT ONE PLAY

Rams rookie left tackle David Edwards had his hands full going against Raiders' first-rounder Clelin Ferrell in the first half. Edwards held his own for the first part, limited Ferrell to one tackle. But the fifth-round draft pick was called for a false start when the Rams attempted a kneel-down play before halftime.

INJURIES

Raiders second-round pick Isaiah Johnson went down early in the first quarter after getting hit in the head by teammate Marquel Lee's knee. The rookie cornerback appeared woozy and had to be helped off the field before going to the locker room. Oakland got another scare in the second quarter when backup right guard Denver Kirkland limped off the field. The Raiders are already without starting right guard Gabe Jackson (knee) for two months so they held their breath until Kirkland returned.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host the Dallas Cowboys in Los Angeles on Aug. 17.

Raiders: At the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>