The NFL in London could work with a little compromise

•November 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This coming Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars will play the third and final game of this NFL season’s International Series at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The series began as an experiment in 2007 by the National Football League to gauge interest of the sport in the European marketplace.

And although the second largest media market in this country – Los Angeles – is on the verge of landing not one but possibly two NFL teams as soon as maybe next season after being without a team for 20 years, the League is still hell-bent on putting a team across the pond in London by 2022.

Commissioned by the NFL and a London marketing agency, the accounting firm DeLoitte released its findings last week from their study that said an NFL franchise based in London could generate more than $255 million for Britain annually.

In British pounds, we’re talking 165 million.

Pounds. Dollars. No matter what currency you reference, that’s a whole lot of coin the 32 team owners can’t ignore.

So, what about the fans both in the States and the British Isles?

A majority of NFL fans here don’t like the idea of putting a team in London because of travel logistics and the idea that it would be similar to out-sourcing American jobs to foreign countries.

Tom Bateman, president of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots. courtesy: Tom Bateman

Tom Bateman, director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

As for the Brits, L.A. native Tom Bateman, the director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to merry old England for a week in October of 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams take on the New England Patriots.

While there, Bateman spoke with British fans he discovered enjoy American football immensely but think the idea of putting a team in London permanently is a silly one.

I agree with the Brits. If a team is moved or an expansion team is awarded to London, would the league’s name be changed to the International Football League?

“Part of the appeal to the Brits is that each (International Series) game showcases different teams” said Bateman who added, “The NFL in the UK is a spectacle as much as it is a sport. Probably more so.”

British tailgaters at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman

British tailgaters “dressed to kilt” at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

He also discovered an NFL game represents everything the British love about America.

According to Bateman the Brits love the fact that we’re a show off nation.

Really, no sport or league shows off more than the NFL.

“It’s flashy, spectacular, the uniforms, the helmets, the cheerleaders, the endzone celebrations, the sack dances, all of that.” Said Bateman continuing, “But as a sport, to the Brits it can’t hold a candle to soccer or as they refer to it, real football.”

Also on the NFL’s agenda, sooner rather than later, is reducing the pre-season schedule from four games to two while expanding the regular season from its current 16-game schedule to 18.

An 18-game schedule is something the Players’ Union isn’t too keen on for player safety and the extra two games don’t increase the players’ salaries.

What about a little compromise for all parties involved so the 32 team owners, the players and Britain’s annual economy can capitalize on the projected $255 million the NFL stands to generate should it have a permanent presence in London.

Since the Brits enjoy seeing different teams play each International Series game and the logistics of having a permanent team call London home seem a bit difficult to iron out, let’s give the Brits what they want.

America's Game - NFL Football - celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman

America’s Game – NFL Football – celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

At the same time, let’s expand the regular season from 16 to 17 regular season games with the extra game for each team played each week at Wembley Stadium in London.

So what if it’s an odd number schedule. Only thing affected is a team finishing .500 which isn’t a huge deal in the grand playoff scheme of things.

This way, only teams with winning records would qualify for the postseason.

Make the 17th game match ups interconference games – AFC vs. NFC – with the match ups chosen with ping pong ball machines much like the ones used to choose the World Cup soccer groups or the NBA Draft Lottery and do it during Super Bowl Week for games in the upcoming regular season. Cut the pre-season to just two games.

You’ve added a game while having an entire regular season schedule – 16 weeks – in London with the Brits seeing all 32 NFL teams in different match ups each game and year.

It becomes a “pseudo Super Bowl” each week in London because the logistics time wise of having the Super Bowl in London – which has been discussed – just won’t work for NFL fans in the States who want to see the biggest game and spectacle on U.S. soil and rightfully so.

After all, it is America’s Game. Somewhere all 32 teams need to always call home.

Kershaw gets majors’ best 17th win. Dodgers beat Nationals, 4-1.

•September 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw got his mlb leading 17th win Tuesday night as L.A. beat Washington, 4-1. courtesy: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw got his mlb leading 17th win Tuesday night as L.A. beat Washington, 4-1.
courtesy: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw (17-3) went eight innings, allowing a run and scattering three hits earning his major league-leading 17th win of the season in Los Angeles’ 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

It seems to be so easy for Kershaw who’s been virtually automatic. A model of consistency every five days when he’s on the hill and handed the ball.

To read the remainder of this story, please click on this link.

Over-crowding forces L.A. Co. Sheriff to shut down Rams Booster Club Picnic.

•August 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Citing stipulations and rules that changed Saturday’s 11th Annual Southern California Rams Booster Club Picnic at Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park in Roland Heights from a “picnic” into an “organized event,” County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation officials were forced to have the L.A. County Sheriff’s office come in and shut the event down.

“They’ve been here before.” Said a parks and recreation official who didn’t want to be identified adding, “They really amped it up this year and broke rules in the process.”

“Amped” is a good way to put it.

The picnic/event – which began at nine in the morning before being abruptly shut down at three p.m. – attracted a crowd estimated by parks and recreation officials at being more than 2,500 people.

St. Louis Rams fans came from as far as Fresno to the north and Arizona – YES, Arizona – to the southwest to get together prior to the kick-off of the upcoming season.

Panoramic view of some of the 2,500 Rams fans who attended Saturday's annual So. Cal. Booster Club Picninc.

Panoramic view of some of the more than  2,500 Rams fans who attended Saturday’s annual So. Cal. Rams Booster Club Picnic.

Former Los Angeles Rams players – including Frank Corral, A.J. “Jam” Jones and Doug Reed – were there signing autographs for everyone.

 “I’m disappointed. I wanted to meet some of those players.” Said a Sheriff ‘s officer who aided in closing the event. “I’m a huge Rams fan from way back when they were here but rules are rules and we had to shut it down.”

A tremendous turnout for an area that’s been without a team since both the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season – 20 years ago.

“Some of the people at the event brought over-sized portable barbeques, a few were consuming alcoholic beverages,” said the parks and rec official adding, “That’s against the rules.”

The parks and rec official also told me some brought huge portable generators while others plugged into outlets in the available public restrooms causing a “tripping hazard” for park-goers.

“You can’t do that. It’s similar to when a request for concerts or movies in the park are made. You need permits for all of this,” explained the parks and rec official.

With a Sheriff’s department helicopter flying over-head, So. Cal Rams Booster Club president Ralph Valdez told me;

“We’ve had this picnic here the last seven years around this time and never been told to leave.”

The difference from those picnics prior to Saturday’s is that they never attracted more than 200 people – still a big enough number for an area without a team for 20 years.

Schabarum Park is a 575-acre facility with 75 acres developed for activities that include walking, hiking and picnics with “limited parking” provided.

The picnic areas are divided up into 11 locations with the largest sites having a group capacity of no more than 200 people.

According to the park’s picnic information sheet most of those are made available on a first-come first-served basis but with the largest areas requiring a non-refundable reservation/rental fee, a refundable “clean-up/security deposit” fee of between $150-$450 and may require proof of liability insurance showing the County of L.A. as “co-insured” for the amount $2-million.

“I wasn’t told any of that info. I was told picnic areas were first-come, first-served,” explained Valdez adding, “They have my contact info and never called me.”

Prior to this year, there really wasn’t any need to contact him.

That’s all changed with – to borrow from the parks and rec official – recent “amped up” talk of the NFL’s inevitable return to Los Angeles in the near future.

L.A. Sparks show appreciation for fans beating the Seattle Storm, 77-65.

•August 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Candace Parker (3) led the Sparks with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in L.A.'s 77-65 win over Seattle Friday at Staples Center.

Candace Parker (3) led the Sparks with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in L.A.’s 77-65 win over Seattle Friday at Staples Center.

LOS ANGELES – Getting ready for a Western Conference Semi-Final showdown with either the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx or the Phoenix Mercury, the Los Angeles Sparks took care of business Friday night beating the Seattle Storm on Fan Appreciation Night at Staples Center, 77-65.

L.A. has one game remaining in the regular season before beginning the playoffs. Low and behold it could be a playoff preview with the Sparks finishing the regular season in Phoenix against Brittney Griner and the Mercury.

Candace Parker led the way for the Sparks (16-17) with 24 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists and Kristi Toliver poured in 20 points and dished out six assists for the winners who held a 16 point half-time lead at 48-32 and led by as many as 20 in the third quarter at 56-36.

The Storm (12-21) – who were led by Jenna O’Hea’s 16 points – went on an 11-0 run closing the gap at 56-47 midway through the third and trailed by a 60-53 score at the end of the stanza but would get no closer.

 “We were on the verge.” Said Sparks coach Penny Toler. “We were up by about 18 and then we got three or four sloppy turnovers. In a game like this you can’t do that.”

L.A. committed 20 turnovers giving up 22 points – seven of those in that third quarter that led to 11 Storm points- letting them right back in the ball game.

 “We just wanted to get the win tonight. “ Said Parker. “It’s fan appreciation night, our last home game. I think we did a good job coming out but we just had spurts where we weren’t focused.”

 

13 year Storm veteran Sue Bird played just under five minutes and didn't score for the Storm.

13-year Storm veteran Sue Bird played just under five minutes and didn’t score for Seattle against the Sparks Friday night.

L.A. will have to show some focus Saturday night in Phoenix when they finish the regular season against the league’s best team – the Mercury – who’ve beaten L.A. in all their match ups this season.

A win coupled with a San Antonio loss gives the Sparks the third seed and they can pack their bags for an opening round series with the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.

Or L.A. gets the fourth seed and will stay in the Valley of the Sun and open the post season against the Mercury.

Basically, pick your poison.

Dodgers Closer Jansen quiets Angels’ big bats Wednesday night for 32nd save.

•August 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Kenley Jansen got Angels Mike Trout to strike out, Albert Pujols to fly out and Josh Hamilton to strike out for his 32nd save in Wednesday's 2-1 Dodgers win over the Angels.

Kenley Jansen got Angels Mike Trout to strike out, Albert Pujols to fly out and Josh Hamilton to strike out for his 32nd save in Wednesday’s 2-1 Dodgers win over the Angels.

ANAHEIM – Talk about silencing a “murderers’ row” of major league hitters. That’s exactly what L.A. Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen did Wednesday night in the third game of the Freeway Series against the L.A. Angels.

To preserve a 2-1 Dodgers lead and earn his 32nd save, Jansen had to get out in succession Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

That’s like facing a line-up card for Home Run Derby on All-Star Monday night.

To open the 9th inning, lead-off hitter Kole Calhoun got on base with a single and then stole second base.

With nobody out and the tying run in scoring position, Jansen fell behind 3-0 to Trout. He reared back and came all the way back to strike out Trout swinging.

The next batter – Pujols – lifted a fly ball to center that was caught by Yasiel Puig for the second out.

The Angels last chance – in the form of Hamilton – ended with Jansen striking him out swinging for the third out, a Dodgers win and the save for Jansen.

That warranted some fist-pumping on the mound after sitting Hamilton down and that’s exactly what Jansen gave the crowd split with Dodgers and Angels faithful.

Jansen’s been doing plenty of fist-pumping. Since June 21st – a span of 17 appearances by the right-hander, he’s allowed just a single run in 17 and-a-third innings of relief working an .052 ERA in the process. Wednesday’s save was his 12th since the Summer Solstice in 13 opportunities.

In that span, Jansen’s allowed just one extra-base hit while striking out 24 batters and just two walks.

Safe to say if the Dodgers have a lead entering the ninth inning of any game, it should be a lock that Jansen shuts the door on opponents.

To get Jansen’s reaction to getting those three big outs in Wednesday’s 2-1 Dodgers win over the Angels, click on the video below.

Ex-Halo Haren hurls solid 7 & 1/3 inn. Kemp Homers. Dodgers beat Angels, 2-1.

•August 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Matt Kemp homered for the 6th time in the last nine games as the Dodgers beat the Angels, 2-1 Wednesday in Anaheim.

Matt Kemp homered for the 6th time in the last nine games as the Dodgers beat the Angels, 2-1 Wednesday in Anaheim.

ANAHEIM, CA – Former Angel Dan Haren returned to Anaheim Wednesday night pitching three-hit ball into the eighth inning going perfect through six frames and guiding the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Angels in the third game of the Freeway Series at sold-out Angels Stadium.

The win lifted a huge Rally Monkey off Haren’s back after losing his previous five starts with a gargantuan 10.03 earned run average in those games.

The line on Haren (9-9) read seven and a third innings, allowing three hits an earned run while striking out four Halos.

Reigning National League Player of the Week Matt Kemp continued his torrid hitting lifting an Angels starter Matt Shoemaker offering into the bullpen in left for a lead-off, second-inning solo home run – his 14th of the season and and his 6th round-tripper in nine games – giving the Dodgers (65-50) a one-nothing lead.

Later in the inning, after Carl Crawford singled and then stole second base, Andre Ethier doubled to right driving in Crawford giving the Dodgers a two-nothing lead.

Not a bad outing for Shoemaker (9-4) who suffered the loss for the Angels. He went five innings, scattering six hits and striking out five allowing the two runs.

After getting on the board in the eighth inning when Chris Iannetta hit a sacrifice fly to Yasiel Puig in center scoring Erick Aybar from third, the Angels (67-46) had a chance in the ninth when Kole Calhoun hit a lead-off single of Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen with the heart of the Halos line-up coming up.

Calhoun then stole second and after falling behind Mike Trout at 3-0, Jansen came right back and struck Trout out swinging for the first out. Albert Pujols popped up for the second out to Puig in center. Josh Hamilton was the Angels’ last hope and Jansen struck him out swinging for the last out and his 32nd save of the season.

To hear post game comments from Matt Kemp and Dan Haren, click on the video below.

The Angels lost a golden opportunity to climb to within one game of first-place Oakland in the American League West after the A’s lost to Tampa Bay 7-3. the Halos remain two games behind Oakland in second place.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers maintained a two-and-a-half game lead over San Francisco in first place in the National League West with the Giants beating the Brewers in Milwaukee, 7-4.

Thursday night’s Freeway Series finale in Anaheim will pit the Dodgers’ Hun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 3.39 ERA) against the Angels’ C.J. Wilson (8-7, 4.74 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10 pm PDT.

WNBA: L.A. Sparks don’t lock up playoff berth falling to Tulsa Shock, 96-90.

•August 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment
L.A.'s Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 35 points in the Sparks 96-90 loss to the Tulsa Shock .

L.A.’s Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 35 points in the Sparks 96-90 loss to the Tulsa Shock .

LOS ANGELES- Riding their best stretch of the season having won four-of-five games coming into Tuesday’s game the Los Angeles Sparks took a small step backwards falling to the Tulsa Shock, 96-90 at Staples Center.

A win over the Shock would’ve clinched a Western Conference playoff spot but now Los Angeles will have to wait. And when you consider the Shock were 3-10 on the road entering Tuesday’s game, it certainly was an opportunity lost.

Also lost were the performances of forwards Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker. Ogwumike knocked down a career-high 35 points and Parker poured in 28 points to go along with nine assists. Rebounding stats were few and far between for Los Angeles which was out-rebounded 37-17 including 16 to 3 on the offensive glass.

After coming back from a nine-point deficit in the first quarter and trailing by six at the half, the Sparks took a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 68-66.

Los Angeles only scored two points in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter while Tulsa scored 14 to take the lead for good basically putting the game away. Odyssey Sims drained 15 of her team-high 30 points in the frame. Rebounding was the key for the Shock limiting L.A. to one shot at its end while the Shock grabbed rebounds and pushed the action in the other direction.

“We weren’t hitting shots on offense and they were getting the rebounds.” Said Parker of that 14-2 Tulsa run that put the game out of reach. “We didn’t get back on defense so they got some easy shots on the other end.”

To hear more from Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and L.A. head coach Penny Toler, click on the video with this story.

The Sparks had no one else in double figures. Glory Johnson and Skylar Wiggins each added 18 points apiece for the winners.

Currently sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot in the west, a win in any of the last five regular season games for the Sparks punches their post-season ticket.

L.A.’s next opportunity comes at home Friday night against the Eastern Conference’s top seed, the Atlanta Dream. tip-off is set for 7:30pm PDT at Staples Center.

 

 
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