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Sports Highlights

| Sports | August 21, 2014

NASCAR & NFL
Tony Stewart killed someone.

Ray Rice beat a woman unconscious.

Neither has been punished properly.

It’s not that much of a stretch to suggest either thinks he did anything wrong.
Stewart hit another driver, who got out of his car after a crash in a sprint car race in New York, and killed him. Kevin Ward Jr. lost his life and Stewart seems ready to chalk it up to one of those racing deals.

Rice beat his now wife unconscious and pled not guilty to a third-degree aggravated assault charge. He avoided trial by enrolling in an intervention program.

The NFL suspended Rice for two games. By comparison, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing a season-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse program.

Beat your girlfriend unconscious, miss two games. Smoke a joint, miss 16 games. Nice message to send, NFL.

Stewart has missed two NASCAR races, but those “suspensions” were self-imposed. NASCAR has shown no backbone in disciplining Stewart. Apparently he is too much of a money-maker for NASCAR to disrupt or upset.

At least the NFL made a token effort to punish Rice for his indiscretions.
The least NASCAR could do is suspend Stewart from racing until the investigation into Ward’s death is complete.

But NASCAR won’t. Stewart will be back in his NASCAR ride as soon as the heat is off. He should be arrested and face some sort of charge for being responsible for Ward’s death. Of course, no one will have the courage to make Stewart stand trial.

Some good might come of these tragedies yet.
The NFL is reconsidering its rule about suspending players who commit domestic violence. Players should be kicked out of the league. But the NFL won’t implement a rule that harsh. A year-long suspension might be a little more feasible, but even that is too lenient of a penalty.

NASCAR wants to make a rule to prevent drivers from getting out of their cars during a caution period. That would be a great rule, but what is the punishment for drivers who violate it? A fine? The obligatory probation period? NASCAR rules and penalties are rarely effective.

It’s bad enough Stewart killed someone and Rice beat his wife. But it’s hard to fathom how anyone could still support either of them after these incidents. Stewart still has plenty of supporters and fans. Rice’s teammates stood by him and Ravens fans cheered him in NFL preseason games.
It’s been disgusting to watch throughout.

Here are some more uplifting stories in the sports world.

Golf
Valencia High graduate Alison Lee reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship in New York.

She is the third-ranked amateur in the world.

Lee played Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, the No. 2 amateur in the world, in the quarterfinals at Nassau Country Club. Lee lost on the 18th hole. Henderson led the entire match and was up two holes on the 12th.

Lee, who plays for UCLA, cut the lead to one hole on the 17th hole, but Henderson made par on the 18th hole to win the match.

Valencia High graduate Jonathan Lee made an impressive run through the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship in Georgia.

He qualified to match play after finishing in the top 64 after two rounds of stroke play.

He won his first-round match, 4 and 2, over Taylor Pendrith of Canada. But Chang, a sophomore at Rutgers University, saw his run end in the second round of match play.

Swimming
Hart High graduate Anthony Ervin took a big step, or stroke in this case, to making the United States men’s swim team for the 2016 Olympics.

He won the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Swim Championships in Irvine, knocking off five-time U.S. champion Nathan Adrian.

Ervin, who won a gold medal in the 50 freestyle in the 2000 Summer Olympics, won the race at the U.S. Swim Championship in 21.55 seconds.

It was the first time in 13 years Ervin won a 50 freestyle race.

Saugus High’s Abbey Weitzeil earned a spot on the United States women’s national swim team by finishing in fourth place in the 100-meter freestyle at the national championships.

Her time of 54.38 seconds was a personal best and 0.95 seconds behind the time of winner Missy Franklin, a five-time Olympic medalist.

Franklin will compete with the U.S. national team at the Pac Pacific Championships in Australia this weekend.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM-1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star and the Team USA website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Sports | August 8, 2014

Professional Baseball
The baseball trade deadline came and went and the Dodgers did nothing.

Now, sometimes the best trades are the ones a team doesn’t make. But the Dodgers might have gone from having the best starting pitching in baseball to having the third best. Maybe even fifth best.

The Dodgers have a formidable three in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Either Kershaw or Greinke could win the Cy Young Award this year. The trio was the first to each win 11 games. Kershaw has a no-hitter and a 36-inning scoreless streak. Ryu took a perfect game into the seventh inning.

But the drop-off after Ryu is tremendous. Josh Beckett and Dan Haren are falling apart with each start it seems.

When Beckett is healthy, he is one of the best in baseball. His no-hitter is testament to that. But, for whatever reason, the Dodgers don’t score runs for him. Plus, Beckett is lucky to reach the fifth inning some games. He is not the workhorse he once was. In some respects, it would be nice to shelve him until playoffs and then let him loose.

But the Dodgers need to make the playoffs. That won’t be easy.

Here is a look at who has the best pitching staffs in baseball after the trade deadline.

1. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers traded for David Price, the prize of the available pitchers at the trade deadline. They didn’t give up that much for him either… which makes many wonder why the Dodgers couldn’t put together a better package. It’s probably because no one wants to touch Matt Kemp’s contract and the Dodgers are unwilling to part with their prized prospects. It might be the biggest mistake, in the long run.
With the addition of Price, the Tigers have Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander. Not only do the Tigers have a solid starting five, but insurance in the playoffs, when teams only need four starters. In this rotation, Verlander, a two-time Cy Young Award winner and American League MVP, is the fifth starter. Must be nice to have some depth. The Tigers made this trade following the golden rule of baseball: Pitchers break.

2. Oakland A’s: The names in the A’s pitching staff aren’t flashy. The A’s traded for Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox and he instantly becomes the star of the staff. But the other three top starters are having great seasons. Lester, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir all have ERAs under 3.00. Newly acquired Jeff Samardzja from the Chicago Cubs has an overall ERA under 3.00 as well, but he is a tad over 3.00 with the A’s.

Still, the A’s pitching staff can match the Tigers. The difference is the Tigers can throw one more ace than the A’s right now. Five aces are tough to beat in any game.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers’ top three, Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu, are as good as anyone has in baseball. The Dodgers aren’t going to sweep any team in the playoffs if they have to throw Haren as their fourth starter. But, that means the Dodgers will win their series in five or six games. Not the end of the world, but it could make for some dicey situations in the playoffs.

The positive note is that the American League has the best two pitching staffs in baseball. The bad news is the St. Louis Cardinals have a top-three that could match the Dodgers.

4. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals made some minor moves, but brought in one pitcher with playoff experience and another with plenty of potential. Not that the Cardinals need any more playoff experience, but it doesn’t hurt to have pitchers who have seen that kind of pressure before. The Cardinals added John Lackey to its staff. He pitched in the playoffs with the Angels, practically won the World Series for them, and Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians. Neither Masterson nor Lackey is an ace, but the Cardinals don’t need one with Adam Wainright. It looks like the Cardinals and the Dodgers are on a crash course for the National League Championship Series again.

5. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners didn’t make any waves at the trade deadline either. But the Mariners have quietly posted the best ERA in baseball, at 3.06. They have a legitimate ace in Felix Hernandez, who has a 2.01 ERA.

Hishashi Iwakuma has an ERA of 2.94 and is 9-6. Chris Young is having a bit of a renaissance with a 9-6 record and 3.19 ERA.

The Mariners need lots of offensive help, but what team in the majors doesn’t? If the Mariners make the playoffs, they will be a tough out. The American League is no picnic right now.

Local
Canyon High graduate Greg Pursley is in prime position to win his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship.

He was the top-finishing driver from the West Series in the K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway. The race pits teams from the K&N Pro Series East and West. Pursley was ninth, but was credited with a win. The top-eight drivers in the race were from the East Series.

After nine races, Pursley has won two and has nine top-five finishes. He has a 34-point lead over Dylan Lupton.

The next K&N Pro Series West race is at Evergreen Speedway in Washington on Aug. 16.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Sports | July 10, 2014

Dodgers
Four Dodgers made the National League All Star team. Only one Angel is on the American League All Star team.

That’s a pretty convincing win for the boys in blue.

Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon are making their first trips. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are on the pitching staff.

There will be no controversy surrounding Puig this year. He didn’t make the All Star team last year, despite tearing the National League up when he was called up in May.

Gordon made it as a reserve. He is also deserving, leading the National League in stolen bases.

The four Dodgers are no brainers.

Here is a look at some of the players who were snubbed.

The biggest snub is Matt Adams from the St. Louis Cardinals. As of Monday, he was second in the league in hitting with a .331 batting average. Only 11 players in the National League were hitting over .300 on Monday.

Adams also has 10 home runs and 21 doubles, so he is hitting with some pop.
Scooter Gennett from the Milwaukee Brewers is another obvious snub. He is hitting .305, but he plays second base, which is unusually deep.

Chase Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies was selected as the starter for the National League. Gordon is hitting .302 with 42 stolen bases and has scored 50 runs.

Daniel Murphy from the New York Mets is also a reserve infielder for the National League All Stars. He is hitting .293 and has scored 52 runs.

Anthony Rendon from the Washington Nationals, who plays second and third base, is among the choices for the Final Man Vote.

Gennett probably deserved to be in the Final Man Vote too.

On to the pitchers.

Kershaw spent part of the first half of the season on the disabled list. It didn’t matter. He threw the first no-hitter of his career. He has a 36 scoreless inning streak. He is 10-2 with a 1.85 ERA and well on his way to another Cy Young Award.

Greinke held down the Dodgers’ fort when Kershaw was on the DL.

All Greinke did in the first half of the season was go 11-4 with a 2.66 ERA. He has 119 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings pitched.

A case could be made for Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett to be on the National League All Star team too.

As of Monday, Ryu was 9-4 with a 3.08 ERA.

Beckett’s numbers are more impressive. He threw a no-hitter against the Phillies and leads the Dodgers in ERA with a 2.26 ERA. He leads the team in ERA because Kershaw hasn’t pitched enough innings to officially qualify yet.

Beckett’s record is 6-5, but that is no fault of his own. The Dodgers have not given him much run support this year.

Mike Trout was the only Angel selected to the American League All Star team. He will start in the outfield.

But fear not, Angels fans. There is still a chance a second Angel will make the team.

Pitcher Garrett Richards is one of the five players in the Final Man Vote.

To be honest, the choices aren’t that great. He is up against Dallas Keuchel from the Astros, Corey Kluber from the Indians, Rick Porcello from the Tigers and Chris Sale from the White Sox.

Richards might win the vote by default.

Local Baseball and Softball
On a local baseball note, two players from the Foothill League were selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All State team.

Valencia’s Keston Hiura and Hart’s Nick Valaika were selected to the All State first team.

Hiura led the state in home runs with 14.

Valaika hit .400 with three home runs and scored 23 runs.

West Ranch’s Lauren Lindvall was selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All State first team in softball.

Valencia’s Chad Bible and West Ranch’s Jake Bird were selected to the Cal-Hi Sport All State third team.

Valencia’s Devin Davis and Saugus’ Mariah Lopez were selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All State underclassmen teams.

Local Soccer
Finally, the Santa Clarita Blue Heat women’s soccer team lost its final two games of the USL W-League regular season.

They lost to the Colorado Rush, 6-1, in their home finale at The Master’s College. The score was tied, 1-1, at halftime, but the Rush scored five goals in the second half.

The Blue Heat lost their regular season finale on the road, 4-1, against the LA Blues.

The Blue Heat finished with a 4-8-0 record and in sixth place in the Western Conference of the USL W-League.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Sports | June 26, 2014

The United States soccer team was in control of its own fate in the World Cup. But the fates were not smiling on them against Portugal.

The United States was leading 2-1, all but guaranteed to advance to the knockout round, when Cristiano Ronaldo ruined the celebration with a perfectly placed pass that led to the equalizer on the final kick of the game.

Five minutes of injury time cost the United States a pass to the round of 16.
It was a 2-by-4 to the Liberty Bells. Ronaldo spent more time offside than assisting his teammates in the game against the United States, then pulls off a gut-check of a play to stun the Americans.

The United States deserved better. They were down 1-0 at halftime. They rallied in the second half to tie the score, then take the lead on a goal by Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey, playing with a broken nose in the oppressive rain forest of the Amazon jungle, should have been the hero of this game.

Instead, his goal turned into the safety net.

A win by Portugal would have been devastating to the United States.

Instead, the United States is teetering on the World Cup high wire. The team plays Germany, considered by many the top team in the world, in the next game.  A win by the United States guarantees they advance.

A tie means goal differential will decide who advances.

If Portugal loses to Ghana, then all bets are off and the United States and Germany advance.

The United States has to play the game of its World Cup life against Germany.

If that doesn’t happen, go Ghana!

The Dodgers are back to being the no-hit kings of baseball.

Josh Beckett no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25. Clayton Kershaw nearly threw a perfect game against the Colorado Rockies less than a month later.

Some are calling Kershaw’s game the best game ever thrown.

He became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts and no walks.

If not for an errant throw by Hanley Ramirez in the seventh inning, it might have been a perfect game.

It might be a bit of hyperbole to call it the best game ever pitched. Dennis Martinez threw a perfect game against the Dodgers that wasn’t nearly as flawless.

Martinez faced a lineup that included Eddie Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Juan Samuel and Brett Butler. He only struck out five batters, but it was considered one of the best performances of all time.

Don Larsen threw a no-hitter in the World Series against the Dodgers. There isn’t a bigger stage with more pressure to perform so well.

Here are some interesting facts about the Dodgers and no-hitters.

No team has ever thrown three no-hitters in the same season. The Chicago Cubs threw two in the same season in 1972. Milt Pappas and former Dodgers player Burt Hooton pulled off the double no-no. Would that be no-no no-no.
Only two pitchers have thrown two no-hitters in the same season.

Nolan Ryan was the first to pull it off in the 1973 season for the California Angels. He also broke Sandy Koufax’s single season strikeout record that year. Tell me again why he didn’t win the Cy Young Award that year.

Roy Halladay pitched two no-hitters for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2010 season. One came in the playoffs.

The last time two Dodgers pitched no-hitters in the same season was in 1956. Carl Erskine and Sal Maglie threw no-hitters for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

As of Sunday, the Dodgers played 77 games. There are 85 games left in the season. Plenty of time to complete the trifecta.

Canyon High graduate Greg Pursley is leading the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings after six races. He has a 21-point lead over Dylan Lupton.

Pursley is coming off a runner-up finish in the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway over the weekend. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson won the race.

To Pursley’s credit, he finished ahead of a couple Sprint Cup Series regulars in the West Series race.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth and Justin Allgaier was 14th.

Pursley won the West Series race at Kern County Raceway Park on May 24. He has yet to finish outside the top five this season.

One final note: Santa Clarita’s Rich DeLong III was 20th in the West Series race at Sonoma. He has been in all six West Series races this year and is 10th in the West Series standings.

The next K&N Pro Series West race is at Stateline Speedway in Idaho on July 12.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports

| Sports | June 13, 2014

Hockey

In the town that never sleeps, the Kings delivered a knock-out blow in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Rangers.

The Kings shut out the Rangers, 3-0, and took a 3-0 lead in the series. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves and notched his second shutout of the playoffs.

Jeff Carter scored his 10th goal of the playoffs to give the Kings a 1-0 lead in the final second of the first period.

It was the first time the Kings led in regulation in this Stanley Cup Final. That’s right. The Kings won the first two games of the series in overtime. They never led in regulation. Tied each game in the third period to send both into overtime.
The Kings were in unfamiliar territory with a lead. They poured it on in the second period. Jake Muzzin scored to make it 2-0. Mike Richards took his turn with his third goal of the playoffs to make it 3-0.

That was more than enough for Quick. The Rangers pulled their goalie with almost five minutes to play in the third period.

It didn’t matter. Quick was more than up to the challenge.

The Rangers took more than twice as many shots as the Kings, 32-15, and couldn’t put one past Quick.

Now the only question is whether the Kings will sweep the Rangers or bring the series back to L.A. for a potential celebration party at Staples Center in Game 5.
Either way, it’s #GoKingsGo time.

LA Sports

With the Kings on the verge of their second Stanley Cup championship in three years, it begs the question –  “Where do they fit in the dynasty teams of Los Angeles?”

The Showtime Lakers and the Dodgers owned the 1980s. Kobe’s Lakers put together an impressive string. Here is a look at my top-five L.A. dynasties:

1. The Showtime Lakers. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar teamed up for five NBA championships in the 1980s. Their epic battles with the Boston Celtics made the Lakers run even more historic.

2. The Dodgers of the 1980s. The Dodgers were the only team to repeat at World Series champions in the 1980s. They won it all in the strike-shortened season in 1981 and won as underdogs to the mighty Oakland A’s in 1988. But the Dodgers were perennial World Series contenders throughout the decade. They lost in the National League Championship Series in 1983 to the Philadelphia Phillies and again in the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985. Jack Clark’s home run in the 1985 NLCS against the Dodgers still gives some Dodger fans nightmares. Still, the Dodgers’ run through the ‘80s is only rivaled by the Dodgers’ run through the 1960s.

3. The Dodgers of the 1960s. Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale led the Dodgers to two World Series titles in the 1960s. They won in 1963 and 1965. The Dodgers’ dominance in the 1960s actually started in 1959 when they beat the Chicago White Sox. The Dodgers won the National League pennant three times in the 1960s.

4. The Kings 2012 – and counting. The Kings ended their Stanley Cup drought in 2012 with the first NHL championship. They reached the Western Conference Finals in 2013 and ran out of gas. They refueled and returned to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014 against the Rangers. How many more Stanley Cup Finals are in the future for the Kings is anyone’s guess. It’s a good bet their playoff run will last as long as Quick wants it to.

5. Kobe’s Lakers. These Lakers were clearly the first dynasty of the 21st century. Sure, Kobe Bryant needed help during both runs, but he was the constant player on five NBA championship teams for the Lakers. Shaquille O’Neal was his partner in crime for the first three. Pau Gasol stepped in for the next two. Kobe has a couple chances for a last hurrah, so perhaps this dynasty isn’t quite over yet either.

Dodgers

The last Dodgers dynasty ended in 1988. The Dodgers have not returned to the World Series since then. Is this group of Dodgers ready to make a World Series run?

The quick response is no. This Dodger team is too inconsistent, too undisciplined, too bad on defense.

On a positive note, Yasiel Puig is playing like an MVP and Zack Greinke is pitching like a Cy Young Award winner. Heck, Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu have had Cy Young moments this season.

But the Dodgers have been hovering around .500 all season. They can’t win at home. The bullpen can’t hold a lead and the offense takes games off at the most inopportune times.

It’s a long season, but it will be an even longer off-season if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs.

Local Players in MLB Draft

Seven players from the Santa Clarita Valley heard their names called in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft over the weekend.

Shane Zeile, a Valencia High graduate and junior at UCLA, was the first to be selected. The catcher was picked by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round.

He has a major league pedigree. His uncle is Todd Zeile, who played for the Dodgers and Cardinals and at Hart during his high school career.

Andrew Rohrbach was the next to go. The pitcher was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the ninth round.

He pitched at College of the Canyons and was the ace of the Long Beach State staff.

College of the Canyons produced five players taken in the draft.

First baseman Roberto Ramos was taken by the Rockies in the 16th round.
The Dodgers took Ivan Vela in the 21st round.

Steven Farnworth, who also played at West Ranch in high school, was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 23rd round.

Pitcher Ryan Cruz was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 29th round.
Finally, Brennan Bernardino, who played at Valencia High School and Cal State Dominguez Hills, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 26th round.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Sports | May 29, 2014

Dodgers – Pitching
Josh Beckett threw the first no-hitter for the Dodgers since 1996. Hideo Nomo no-hit the Colorado Rockies that year.

First things first. It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since a Dodger threw a no-hitter. The Dodgers were no-hit by the Angels and won the game in the time between Beckett and Nomo threw no hitters.

Secondly, the last two Dodgers no-hitters have been some of the more impressive feats in baseball history.

Nomo threw his no-hitter at Coors Field, a stadium noted for high-scoring games, thin air and monster home runs.

He abandoned his tornado-style wind up and pitched out of the stretch like a long reliever. It was a cold, rainy day. Nomo battled the elements, convention and a powerful Rockies lineup to pitch his no-hitter.

Beckett did not have to battle thin air or adjust his style of pitching. He no-hit an aging Philadelphia Phillies team near sea level on a hot spring day on the East Coast.

That Beckett is still pitching in the major leagues is a bit of a miracle, though.
Beckett had a rib near his right shoulder removed. He had a medical condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome that caused numbing of his fingers, a result of the rib striking a nerve.

He missed most of the 2013 season, making only eight starts and going 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA. He has made nine starts in 2014 and is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA. His last start might have been the best of his career, which includes trips to the World Series with the Florida Marlins and Boston Red Sox.

If Beckett’s no-hitter wasn’t impressive enough, Hyun-Jin Ryu followed with seven perfect innings against the Cincinnati Reds the next day. Ryu lost his perfect game in the eighth inning when Todd Frazier doubled.

For the record, Dodger pitchers did not give up a hit for 17 innings. Paul Malholm didn’t give up a hit in his final inning against the Phillies the day before Beckett’s no-hitter.

No team has ever pitched back-to-back no-hitters. The Dodgers came awfully close. The scary part is the Dodgers have two pitchers with Cy Young Awards. Neither is named Beckett or Ryu.

Wait until Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke hit their stride.

Dodgers – Hitting
Despite the spectacular pitching performances, the Dodgers are still only four games above .500 (28-24) as of May 27. They are in second place in the National League West standings. That leaves many Dodger fans to wonder: What’s wrong with the Dodgers?

Aside from being one of the worst fielding team in the majors and having a roster filled with injured players, nothing is wrong with the Dodgers.

The starting pitching is finally living up to expectations. The bullpen is starting to come together. The outfield is still crowded and the infield is as strong as a Band-Aid.

OK. That’s not very strong, but it describes the infielders perfectly.

Juan Uribe, AJ Ellis, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez are all nursing injuries. Matt Kemp is slumping and learning how to play left field. Andre Ethier is the heir-apparent in center field, and has only three home runs.

The lone bright spot in the Dodgers lineup has been Yasiel Puig. As of May 27, Puig is second in the National League in hitting, at .346. He is second in the NL in RBIs at 38. He is tied for seventh in home runs at 10.

So much was made about Puig not making the All Star team last year. If he isn’t starting in right field this year, something is terribly wrong with All Star voting.

Hockey
By the time this comes out, the Kings might have punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals.

After trailing the Sharks, 3-0, and coming back, after being down 3-2 to the Ducks and coming back, knocking out the Chicago Blackhawks has to be satisfying.

The scary part about this version of the Kings, they are better than the team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago.

Marian Gaborik leads the NHL in playoff goals with 10. Tyler Toffoli has become a legitimate scoring threat on “that 70s line,” with Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson.

It doesn’t matter who the Kings play in the Stanley Cup Finals, it will be a sweep. Can you say dynasty?

Local High School
One final note: West Ranch’s Nathan Bultman won a CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship in the shot put at Cerritos College.

He won with a throw of 60 feet, 11 ¼ inches and was one of seven athletes from the Foothill League to qualify for the Southern Section Masters Meet that starts on Friday. The Masters Meet is a qualifier to the CIF state track and field meet.

Golden Valley’s Nikaela Harris was third in the shot put in the Southern Section Division 2 meet. She broke the school record with a throw of 41 feet, 7 ½ inches.

Her teammate, Samiyah Hawkins, was fourth in the discus, at 123 feet, 1 inch. Both girls qualified for the Masters Meet.

Canyon’s Brett Molster was second in the high jump in the Southern Section Division 2 meet.

Natalie Rodriguez, also from Canyon, was third in the 3,200 race in the Division 2 meet.

Valencia’s Briana Pica was fifth in the pole vault in the Division 1 meet.
Brian Zabilski from Saugus was 12th in the 3,200 race in the Division 2 meet.
All seven athletes qualified for the Masters Meet.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Gazette, Sports | May 15, 2014

Who won the NFL draft?
Early indications are that the Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons had the best drafts. The Cleveland Browns selected the most touted player in the draft, quarterback Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.

The next day, the Browns’ best player, wide receiver Josh Gordon, found out he is facing a season-long suspension for a failed drug test.

Even if Johnny Football takes the field for the Browns this season, it’s a good bet he will have no one to throw to.

Just the Browns’ luck.

The Texans look like they have the best player in the draft in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall selection. But they didn’t make much noise after that.

The Falcons added much-needed help on the offensive line by taking Jake Matthews with the No. 6 pick. He protected Manziel at Texas A&M. Now Matthews has to keep Atlanta’s quarterback, Matt Ryan, on his feet.

Again, like the Texans, the Falcons had a great opening act, but not much after that.

Here are the teams that rank in my top five for NFL drafts:
Chicago Bears – Admittedly, there is a little bias here. The Bears took Valencia High graduate Brock Vereen in the fourth round. He is a versatile defensive back who played corner and both safety positions at the University of Minnesota. He was selected to the All Big Ten team in his senior season as a safety. He had one of the better combines for NFL players.

Still, he will be in a fight for a starting spot with the Bears. That is a testament to how deep the Bears are on defense.

They went defense heavy in the first four rounds of the draft. The Bears went with Kyle Fuller, a cornerback from Virginia Tech, in the first round with the No. 14 pick overall.

The Bears addressed the defensive line by picking Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in the next two rounds.

Obviously, the Bears are looking for a way to neutralize Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford. The new faces and fresh legs for the Bears will serve that purpose well.

Oakland Raiders – Laugh if you want, but the Raiders addressed the present and the future with the first three picks in the draft.

Khalil Mack from the University of Buffalo fell in their lap at No. 5. He will make an instant impact for a Raiders team that also picked up Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith as free agents. The Raiders will be much tougher in the trenches, leaving Mack plenty of opportunities to make plays.

The Raiders took quarterback Derek Carr from Fresno State in the second round. With Matt Schaub as the starter, the Raiders might actually take the time to develop a quarterback and build for the future.

Then the Raiders selected Gabe Jackson, an offensive guard from Mississippi State. When Carr is ready to take over as starter, the Raiders might have a decent line to protect him.

The Raiders actually look like they had a plan for this draft.

St. Louis Rams – Take the Michael Sam pick out of the equation. He went where he was supposed to go. He will be a situational player in the NFL. He is a nice fit for the Rams, who already have plenty of depth on the defensive line.

The Rams had 11 picks in the draft, so they were one of a handful of teams that could take a gamble on Sam. Their first three picks were perfect to set up the Sam pick.

They took Greg Robinson, an offensive tackle from Auburn, in the first round. They will need him to help keep quarterback Sam Bradford healthy.

Then the Rams took two defensive players, Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh and Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State. Both players will challenge as starters. Both will contribute to an already impressive pass rush for the Rams.

In the fourth round, the Rams took running back Tre Mason from Auburn. Running backs were not very popular in this draft, so taking one in the fourth round might turn out to be a pleasant surprise. There was plenty of running back talent in the late rounds.

Indianapolis Colts – They only had five picks, but the first three were awesome.

The Colts took offensive tackle Jack Mewhort from Ohio State with the first pick. That will make quarterback Andrew Luck happy.

They took wide receiver Donte Moncrief from Mississippi in the third round. Combined with Reggie Wayne, TY Hilton and free agent Hakeem Nicks, that will make Luck even happier.

They took Jonathan Newsome, a defensive end from Ball State, in the fifth round. That should help the defense give Luck some rest between drives.

The Colts didn’t have much to work with. But they filled some big holes.

New York Jets – The Jets had 15 picks in the draft and went offense heavy. Now they have some weapons for new quarterback Michael Vick.

They drafted UCLA receiver Shaq Evans in the fourth round, adding to the bias.

In addition to Evans, the Jets selected Jace Amaro, a tight end from Texas Tech, in the second round. They also picked receiver Jalen Saunders from Oklahoma and Quincy Enunwa from Nebraska.

Combine the rookies with the free agent acquisitions of running back Chris Johnson and receiver Eric Decker, and it makes for an interesting mix. Vick will have plenty of weapons.

It will be fun to see which players pan out on offense for the Jets. They might not be any good, but it will certainly be entertaining.

Vereen wasn’t the only player with local ties selected in the NFL draft.
Three offensive linemen who played at College of the Canyons were selected or signed as free agents in the NFL.

Tavon Brooks was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round.
Karim Barton was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. Will Latu is a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.

There are plenty of players to root for in the NFL next year.

One final note from the NFL draft: Brothers Shane and Brock Vereen will play against each other in Week 8 of the NFL. That is, if little brother Brock makes the team. (Just kidding. Fourth-round picks are rarely cut.)
Shane Vereen, who also played at Valencia High, is a running back with the New England Patriots.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website, and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Gazette, Sports | May 1, 2014

By Tim Haddock
Columnist Feedback
The Clippers can’t catch a break.
Clippers owner Donald Sterling is purportedly caught on tape making racist remarks about his girlfriend posting Instagram photos with Magic Johnson.
Let’s be perfectly clear. Sterling is a slumlord, adulterer and racist. He has been accused of such things in the past. It has been proven over and over. This is the reputation he has built and he is not sorry for any of it.
Here is what a person indentified as Sterling is accused of saying to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, in a recorded conversation posted by TMZ.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the man in the recording says, later adding: “I’m just saying, in your … Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people. … Don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me,” he says. “And don’t bring him to my games.”
Magic Johnson went on Twitter to announce he would not be attending any more Clippers games.
The Clippers, in a show of protest, deposited their warm-up sweats at center court before their playoff game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night and turned their warm-up jerseys inside out.
Teams around the league wore black socks as a sign of protest against Sterling.
Matt Kemp even got in the act, changing his walk up song at Dodger Stadium to Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.”
All fine symbols of civil disobedience. None of it will be effective.
In Sterling’s mind, he has said nothing offensive, nothing wrong, nothing unacceptable.
But it is racist in the same way Clive Bundy’s comments about African Americans are racist. It is racist in the same way Phil Robertson’s comments about African Americans are racist. It is racist in the same way the comments made by Paula Deen are racist. It is racist in the same way Marge Schott’s view of African Americans were racist.
Anyone who tries to defend Sterling’s comments is racist.
In America, people, even rich NBA team owners, can’t discriminate against people based on the color of their skin. Sterling does not get to decide who comes to his games to watch his team. He doesn’t even get to decide who takes photos with his girlfriend for her to post on the Instagram.
Sterling is married, by the way.
His wife, Rochelle, is suing Stiviano for $1.8 million. Rochelle Sterling is accusing Stiviano of receiving nearly $2 million in gifts from her husband. Rochelle Sterling claims that money is hers and her husband had no right to give it away.
In the meantime, Rochelle Sterling is married to a racist, cheating, dirt bag of a man who is trying to defend giving nearly $2 million in gifts to his mistress. But, that’s her problem. The NBA has a much bigger problem to deal with.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Donald Sterling was going to receive his second lifetime achievement from the NAACP next month. That’s right, two lifetime achievement awards from the NAACP to a reputed racist.
He received his first NAACP award in 2009. He must have done another lifetime amount of humanitarian work in five years to deserve another award.
Give the NAACP credit for changing its mind on the second award. But shame on the NAACP for giving him the first.
Now the NBA and new commissioner Adam Silver have to decide what to do with Sterling. Some say give him the maximum punishment possible. But, what is that? No one seems to know.
Perhaps fine him. No amount of fine will make Sterling wince. He has a reputation as a cheapskate too, but that is one of the reasons he is a multi-billionaire. He will complain about any fine amount, and try to find every way to weasel out of it, but he will be forced to pay. Then go back to being a billionaire.
Suspend him. Sterling won’t care. He will still make money. He will let go of any of the players he sees as disobedient. In the end, he will still own the Clippers.
Make him sell the team. The NBA commissioner doesn’t have that power. The other owners in the league probably wouldn’t want to set that precedent either. Any owner with an unpopular or offensive view would be at risk of losing his team.
Make him donate his playoff profits to the NAACP. That might make for poetic justice, but it would send the wrong message. In a way, it would allow Sterling to pay for his racism. Plus, it might give the NAACP another reason to give him a lifetime achievement award.
There might not be a punishment harsh enough for Sterling. The best idea out there is for Clippers coach Doc Rivers to leave the team. Walk away in the middle of the playoffs. Leave the team without a leader in the midst of one of its best seasons in franchise history.
It would say a lot about the character of Rivers. It would also send a message to Sterling that African Americans are free to make their own choices too.

Local Sports
The Hart and Saugus baseball teams are tied for first place in the Foothill League standings. Valencia and West Ranch are tied for second place, a game behind Hart and Saugus.
In other words, the Foothill League championship is completely up for grabs.
Hart has been in first place since the start of league play.
But the Indians lost to Valencia last week. That put Valencia and Hart in a first place tie.
Valencia was riding a six-game winning streak in league, but that ended on Friday when the Vikings lost to Hart, 3-2.
Meanwhile, Saugus has won five league games in a row, including one over Hart on April 2. The Centurions are coming off a 7-0 shutout over Canyon on Friday.
The next three weeks of Foothill League play should be interesting.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Shorts

| Gazette, Sports | April 17, 2014

Hockey
The Los Angeles Kings will play the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Kings are in a bit of a funk entering the playoffs. They are 2-5 in the last seven games of the regular season. They lost four of their last five games, including 4-3 in a shootout against the Anaheim Ducks in the regular season finale for the Kings.
Jonathan Quick has been in goal for four of the Kings’ five losses to end the season. That’s not a good sign for the Kings, as Quick is crucial to the Kings’ playoff success.

It’s not like Quick has been giving up a ton of goals in the losses. He gave up three against the Minnesota Wild and only two in a loss against the Vancouver Canucks.
Still, the close losses are problematic, especially with the playoffs underway.

During the regular season, the Kings and the Sharks split four games. The Sharks won the most recent meeting, 2-1, on April 3. The Kings won their first meeting in overtime, 4-3, on Oct. 30.

Here is a look at the matchups for the first-round playoff series between the Kings and the Sharks.

Centers: The Sharks have the definite edge here. Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with 41 goals and 79 points. He played in all 82 games and will definitely be an offensive force in the playoffs.

Patrick Marleau scored 33 goals and played in all 82 games for the Sharks too.

Logan Couture scored 23 goals and Tommy Wingels, the checking line center, scored 16 goals. The Sharks have plenty of offensive weapons at center.

Anze Kopitar was the top scorer for the Kings with 29 goals and 70 points. He played the full season and had an impressive plus-minus of 34.

Jeff Carter had a nice season as well, with 27 goals and 50 points.

Mike Richards’ numbers are not very good. He scored only 11 goals in 82 games. He also has a -6 plus/minus.

Wingers: The Kings have a slight edge here. Justin Williams scored 19 goals and Dwight King had 15, probably more than expected. The Kings traded for Marian Gaborik and he contributed nicely, with five goals and 16 points in 19 games.

The biggest concern is the offensive dropoff of Dustin Brown. The Kings captain scored only 15 goals and had 27 points. He needs to put up way better numbers in the playoffs if the Kings are going to make a deep run.

Brett Burns scored 22 goals at right wing for the Sharks. After that, the Sharks are pretty weak. Matt Nieto only scored 10 goals in 66 games. Oft-injured Martin Havlat scored 12 goals in 48 games.

Defense: This is the Kings’ strength, but an upper-body injury to Drew Doughty might change that. He scored 10 goals in 78 games, but missed the regular season finale against the Ducks. The Kings were probably playing it safe resting Doughty for the playoffs, but if his injuries linger through the playoffs, it won’t bode well for the Kings.

Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin have emerged as top defensemen in the league. Willie Mitchell is always a pest in postseason.

As for the Sharks, their defensemen aren’t much of an offensive threat. Jason Demers had only five goals and Dan Boyle was a -8.

Goaltenders: Jonathan Quick is always one of the top goaltenders in the league. It was no different this year. His 2.07 goals against average was the fifth best in the NHL.

But Antti Niemi has been pretty impressive in goal for the Sharks. His 39 wins are the second most in the NHL behind Semyon Varlamov’s 41 for the Colorado Avalanche.

Quick had a .915 save percentage and six shutouts in the regular season. Niemi had a .913 save percentage and four shutouts.

The edge goes to the Kings, but not by much.

Prediction: The Kings win the series in seven games if Doughty is healthy. They lose in seven games if he misses any games with an injury.

IndyCar
Two races into the Verizon IndyCar Series and Jack Hawksworth is officially the hard-luck driver of the series.

The rookie driver for the team owned by Valencia’s Bryan Herta had top-10 runs ruined by late-race crashes that were completely out of his control.

The latest incident happened at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hawksworth was running in sixth place when he collided with a pack of cars that was leading the race. He eventually returned to the race three laps down and finished a disappointing 15th place.

“It’s hard knocks getting caught up in a mess for the second race in a row, but Jack was doing a great job,” said Herta, a former IndyCar Series driver and Hart High graduate. “The Charter Networks/Castrol Edge car was poised for a great finish again, so I think we have to take the positive out of this. We ran well and had a great weekend, despite the result, and now we head to Barber.”

Hawksworth met a similar fate in the IndyCar Series season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It was a disappointing end to the day, getting taken out by the accident,” said Hawksworth. “It’s a shame. We struggled a little bit for speed in the race but we were hanging up front. Thanks to the team for all the hard work. They put in a big effort and it’s a shame we didn’t get the result.”

Mike Conway wound up the beneficiary of the melee in Long Beach. He won his second Grand Prix of Long Beach in the past four years.

The next race on the IndyCar Series is the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 27.

Track and Field
One final note: the Saugus girls 4×1,600-meter relay team set one of the fastest times in the nation at the Arcadia Invitational, but it was only good enough for second place at the meet.

The team of Ashley Heys, Samantha Ortega, Abigail Frankian and Sabrina Janes ran the relay in 20 minutes, 18.84 seconds. They finished behind Great Oak, which won the race in 20 minutes, 12.79 seconds.

Saugus posted the second fastest time in the nation in the relay. Great Oak posted the fastest time in the nation. The Saugus girls also ran the relay in the third fastest time in meet history, which was set by a team of girls from Saugus in 2008.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Shorts

| Gazette, Sports | April 10, 2014

The College of the Canyons softball team split a doubleheader with Citrus College and took over first place in the Western State Conference game.

The Lady Cougars lost the first game, 8-6, but won the second game, 5-4.

Kori Cochran doubled in two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for COC in the second game.

The Hart baseball team dropped to No. 6 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll. The Indians lost their first game of the season to Saugus last week.

Hart is 10-1-1 overall. The Indians play Blessed Trinity from Georgia in the Bishop Gorman Easter Classic on Thursday.

Valencia High graduate Alison Lee finished in a tie for 29th place in the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club.

She shot a 1-under 71 on the final day of the first LPGA major of the season. Lee was 2-over par for the four-round major.

Lexi Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco Championship with a 14-under par.

Lee, who is still an amateur and a freshman at UCLA, was making her fifth appearance in an LPGA major. She has played in three US Women’s Opens and two Kraft Nabisco Championships.

Sports Shorts

| Gazette, Sports | April 3, 2014

By Tim Haddock

March Madness
The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four is set and predicting the outcome has never been easier. The four teams remaining for the championship are Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Kentucky is the lowest seed remaining, No. 8 from its bracket. But, as everyone is realizing, Kentucky was no No. 8 seed. The Wildcats were at least a No. 4, probably should have been a No. 2.

Kentucky has been a bracket buster since round two. Wins over No. 1 Wichita State and No. 4 Louisville were impressive, but not exactly dominating.

They beat Wichita State by two and Louisville by five points. Even Kentucky’s win over No. 2 Michigan came on a last-second 3-pointer. Kentucky should feel lucky to be in the Final Four.

Wisconsin plays Kentucky for a spot in the NCAA championship game. Wisconsin is the No. 2 seed from the West bracket. The Badgers weren’t the Big 10 team most expected to reach this far in the tournament, but here they are.

They beat Oregon, Baylor and Arizona to reach the Final Four. All three teams tested Wisconsin.

While Kentucky will be another tough test, Wisconsin will prevail. The Badgers advance in another close game.

On the other side of the bracket, Connecticut has emerged as the surprise of the tournament.

The Huskies are the No. 7 seed out of the East bracket. They should not have advanced past the second round, but surprised No. 2 Villanova and won by 12 points.

They proceeded to knock out the No. 3 seed, Iowa State (grossly overseeded), and No. 4 Michigan State. Most impressive, but they are not a national championship contender yet. They will play Florida, the No. 1 seed out of the South bracket and the No. 1 team in the country.

Florida’s toughest test came against UCLA in the Sweet 16. But that’s not Florida’s fault. Blame Ohio State, Syracuse and Kansas for choking in the early rounds. Because of their early exits, Florida played Dayton, the No. 11 seed, in the Elite Eight.

Florida is well-rested and has a 30-game winning streak. It will be 31 after the game against Connecticut.

That leaves Florida vs. Wisconsin for the NCAA championship.

This is another easy pick. Florida wins handily. Wisconsin is good and should not be intimidated playing a No. 1 ranked Florida team.

Florida and Wisconsin played once already on Nov. 12. Wisconsin won that game, 59-53, when the Gators were ranked No. 11 in the nation.

Florida is not only markedly better in this game, but players will have a little revenge on their minds.

Dodgers
The Dodgers started the season in Australia and returned to the states with a two-game lead in the National League West standings.

But all is not well in Dodgerland.

Right fielder Yasiel Puig and manager Don Mattingly are already butting heads. Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list. The Dodgers do not have a second baseman.

That trip to Australia might be a little more costly than jet lag.

Mattingly can adjust Puig’s attitude with a little bench time. When Matt Kemp returns, another glaring problem for the Dodgers, Mattingly will have four All-Star caliber outfielders, with only three spots.

If a player gives him any attitude, Mattingly can choose to give him a day off, otherwise known as a timeout to the 21st century parent.

As for Kershaw, Dodger fans can only hope that his back problems can be fixed with a little rest. Without Kershaw, the Dodgers won’t go very far.

Second base is a way bigger problem. Alex Guerrero isn’t working out. Mark Ellis is with the St. Louis Cardinals. That leaves Dee Gordon and Justin Turner to hold down second base for the Dodgers this year.

Gordon has bulked up, but he still can’t hit. Turner is a better offensive option, but he is a defensive liability. All of a sudden, the Dodgers are very weak defensively up the middle.

After Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Padres, it’s easy to see the Dodgers will have to win their games with their offense.

It’s not impossible, but probably not what the Dodger brain trust had in mind when the season started.

High School Baseball
The Foothill League baseball season started last week with three notes of interest.

Hart is 4-0 and has become the favorite to win the Foothill League championship.

Saugus has some pretty good pitchers and will definitely be in contention for a playoff spot.

Valencia is in disarray after losing its coach and the first two games of the Foothill League season.

Let’s start with Hart.

Hart has won its games over Canyon, Valencia, West Ranch and Golden Valley. In addition to being undefeated in the Foothill League, they have yet to lose a game this season.

The Indians are 10-0-1, the tie coming against Poly from Sun Valley in the Easton Tournament. Pitching has been the strength of the Indians in recent games. They have given up five runs in their four league games.

Saugus started out hot in the Foothill League. The Centurions shut out Golden Valley and Canyon in their first two games. Then the Saugus bats went quiet in the next two league games. They lost 7-1 to West Ranch and 2-1 to Valencia.

Eric Little and Anthony Donatella have turned into a nice 1-2 pitching punch for Saugus. Little pitched a three-hitter against Golden Valley. He is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in four games. Donatella has a 0.32 ERA in four games. He was the winning pitcher in the game against Canyon.

Finally, Valencia had a rough start to the season. Jared Snyder, the team’s coach, was given a leave of absence and is being investigated by the school district after the first game of the Foothill League season. He was not allowed to coach the Vikings in their second game, a 3-1 loss to Hart. But Valencia has won its past two league games, 7-1 over Saugus and 2-0 over Canyon.

Perhaps Valencia can right the ship in time to make a playoff run.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Male Athlete of the Week

| Gazette, Sports | March 23, 2014

Nathan Bultman

Top in Track and Field at West Ranch High School, Nathan Bultman won the discus and the shot put at the Redondo/Nike Invitational track and field meet recently. He is a junior, so he has another year to wow crowds, with throws like last week’s – 61 feet, 6 inches. It was Nathan’s personal record.

Female Athlete of the Week

| Gazette, Sports | March 21, 2014

IMG_0046Brittney Ross-Smith

This sophomore is a star right fielder on the Valencia Softball team. She bats .364 and recently hit her first home run against Mohave in the Tournament of Champions in Arizona. Brittney also had three RBIs against Coronado from Nevada. Valencia won both games.

“I have been impressed with Brittney’s emotional and mental maturity, as demonstrated by her focus on her objectives,” said Valencia Softball Coach Donna Lee.  “She has an unwavering commitment to learning and gaining experience on and off the field.”

Sports Shorts

| Gazette, Sports | March 21, 2014

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness, begins this week. But it’s already maddening before the first tipoff.

The tournament is as wide open as it’s been in years. There are about a dozen teams with realistic chances of winning the tournament.

The favorite is Florida. The Gators are the No. 1 team in the country, as ranked by the Associated Press, and the top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament.
But you don’t have to look far to find the biggest fraud in the tournament. Wichita State is ranked No. 2 in the country and is undefeated at 34-0. But, they won’t make it out of the Sweet 16.

After that, there are a bunch of teams that will make a legitimate run at the NCAA championship.

Arizona, Louisville, Duke, San Diego State, Kansas, Syracuse, North Carolina, Connecticut and Michigan State are all for real.

There is little reason to have faith in Villanova, Virginia, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Creighton, Iowa State or Oklahoma.

Here are some first-round upsets to look for:

North Dakota State over Oklahoma
Oklahoma is coming off a very disappointing loss to Baylor in the Big 12 championship. The Sooners have a nice win over Texas, when the Longhorns were ranked No. 24 earlier in the month. But the Sooners have bad losses to Texas Tech and West Virginia.

North Dakota State has a nine-game winning streak. Granted, the Bisons don’t play a particularly strong schedule. Their biggest win came against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne in the Summit League championship.
North Dakota State has only six losses. One was to Ohio State back in December. North Dakota State also has 25 wins. One was over Notre Dame in December.

Arizona State over Texas
Texas is a No. 10 seed and reeling. The Longhorns are 3-5 over their past eight games. Two of those losses were to ranked teams (Iowa State and Kansas). But, there is no excuse for losing to Texas Tech and Oklahoma down the stretch.

Arizona State isn’t much better at 2-5 to end its season. But Arizona State found a way to beat Arizona when the Wildcats were ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Look for Arizona State to pull out another stunner.

Harvard over Cincinnati
Harvard has an eight-game winning streak. The Crimson didn’t play a ranked team all year, but they beat Boston College and played Connecticut tight. That was back in January, but still impressive games.

Cincinnati is ranked No. 13 in the country, but lost to No. 21 Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference championship. The Bearcats also have a bad loss to Southern Methodist University.
Harvard is set for the upset.

Stanford over University of New Mexico
This is another 10 vs. 7 seed matchup. New Mexico might have used all its mojo beating No. 8 San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference championship. New Mexico is still ranked No. 20 in the nation, but the Lobos might have piqued too soon.

Stanford has quality wins over Oregon, when the Ducks were ranked, and Connecticut. The Cardinal played in a very underrated Pac 12 Conference. Plus, they won three of their past four games, including in the Pac 12 tournament.

The flip side of the coin is that Stanford is 3-4 in its past seven games. Still, Stanford is very capable of knocking out New Mexico.

Local Schools in NCAA
UCLA is the No. 4 seed in the South bracket and plays Tulsa in the first round. The Bruins have a relatively easy path in the first two rounds of the tournament. They will play the winner of the Virginia Commonwealth vs. Stephen F. Austin game in the second round.

But if UCLA wins its first two games of the tournament, the Bruins will most likely face Florida in the Sweet 16. That’s about as far as the Bruins will go this year.

Finally, Cal State Northridge had a chance to make its third appearance in school history in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. That’s until the last five seconds of the Big West championship game.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo beat CSUN to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. A very questionable charging call and a botched jump ball call sealed CSUN’s fate. Both calls went against CSUN. The charge cost CSUN a basket that would have given the Matadors the lead with four seconds to play.

As it turned out, Cal Poly heads to the NCAA tournament. They have a play-in game against Texas Southern. If the Mustangs win that game, they will play Wichita State in the first round.

Wichita State isn’t going to win the tournament, might not even make it out of the Sweet 16, but the Shockers should be able to teach Cal Poly a lesson.
Here’s to hoping, anyway.

High School Boys Basketball
Trinity won the CIF Southern Section Division 6 championship and advanced to the second round of the CIF State Division 5 playoffs.

It was the first time a boys basketball team from the Santa Clarita Valley won a CIF championship since Saugus in 1987.

They won the Southern Section Division 6 championship, then beat Capistrano Valley Christian in the first round of the CIF State Division 5 Southern California Regional.

But Trinity ran into a familiar nemesis in the second round of the Southern California Regional. The boys lost to Renaissance Academy, 60-33, and were knocked out of the playoffs. Renaissance Academy is the No. 1 seed in the Southern California Regional. The team ends its season with a 19-9 record.

The Santa Clarita Christian boys basketball team ended its season with an impressive run through the CIF Southern Section and State playoffs.

Santa Clarita Christian reached the second round of the CIF State Division 5 Southern California Regional and lost to View Park, 63-48.

Santa Clarita Christian made its first appearance in a CIF Southern Section championship game and lost to Renaissance Academy.

But, the Santa Clarita Christian boys set a school record for most wins in a season with 21.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Female Athlete of the Week – Destinney Duron

| Gazette, Sports | March 14, 2014

photo 1Destinney Duron
An 18-year-old senior at Hart High School, this soccer star scored two goals in the championship game of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.

Playing since the age of four, Duron has landed scholarships to California State University, Northridge, where her game plan is to study kinesiology and enter the field of sports photo 2medicine. She later plans to join the U.S. Air Force and focus on rehabilitation for veterans.

 

Female Athlete of the Week brought to you by Total Woman Gym and Spa 661-286-0229

Male Athlete of the Week, Ian Caddow

| Gazette, Sports | March 14, 2014

Ian taking a shot in the championship game

Ian taking a shot in the championship game

Ian Caddow
He has made a name for himself as a leader on the basketball court. In the championship game of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 finals, he scored 37 points for Trinity Classical Academy, leading his team to a 77-52 win over Desert Chapel Christian School. The 16-year-old has been playing basketball since first grade and hopes to continue playing at the college level.

 

Male Athlete brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings 661-250-9464 www.buffalowildwings.comIan with the championship plaque

Ian with the championship plaque

Santa Clarita Sports

| Gazette, Sports | March 7, 2014

Dodgers
The battle for the starting second base job for the Dodgers is about as heated as it could be.

Alex Guerrero, the Cuban infielder the Dodgers signed in the off-season, was tabbed as the second baseman in waiting. But, he is a natural shortstop and learning a new position. Reports out of spring training in Arizona indicate that he might start the season in the minor leagues as he learns his new position.

Dee Gordon has been splitting time with Guerrero at second base in spring training. Guerrero has started four games, Gordon three.

There are a handful of other players in the mix for the starting second base job, but none have been seeing the same amount of playing time as Guerrero and Gordon. Justin Turner and Chone Figgins could play into the mix. But, for now, Guerrero and Gordon are battling for the starting second base spot.

Through seven games in spring training, Guerrero and Gordon have been pretty equal offensively. Guerrero is hitting .267, but not showing much power. He was touted as a power-hitting infielder when the Dodgers brought him on board in the winter.

Gordon is hitting .273. He apparently has bulked up, from 135 pounds to around 170 pounds. He has a little more power, but his biggest weapon is his speed.

Gordon is also learning a new position. He was the Dodgers starting shortstop on opening day a couple of years ago. But, with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Gordon has little chance of overtaking that spot in the coming years.

It looks like Gordon will get every chance to start at second base for the Dodgers when the season opens. Whether or not he stays as the starter is up in the air.

The Dodgers would be wise to have some patience with Guerrero. It could be a similar situation with the way the Dodgers handled Yasiel Puig last season. Puig started in the minor leagues before being called up and setting the major leagues on fire.

Guerrero will probably start the season in the minors as well. Let’s hope the Dodgers don’t wait too long before bringing him up to the big leagues.

Professional Basketball
Lakers fans have been divided into two camps: Team Tank and Team Hope.

Team Tank wants the Lakers to lose as many games as possible and have as good as chance as possible to have a high draft pick in the lottery.

Team Hope wants the Lakers to keep winning and stay respectable enough to attract some decent free agents in the off season.

After 59 games, the Lakers are 20-39. They are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in franchise history. This year’s NBA draft is being touted as one of the deepest in years. The Lakers, even if they don’t have the No. 1 pick, will most likely get a top player in the draft if they continue to lose.

But. the Lakers rarely build teams through the draft. Sure, they landed Kobe Bryant on a draft day trade. They drafted Magic Johnson and James Worthy. But, for the most part, the Lakers build championship teams through free agency. Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, all key players on championship Lakers teams, and all free agents.

Team Tank doesn’t know how the Lakers operate. Team Hope knows the Lakers will rebound quickly enough. Of course, in today’s NBA, that type of rebound might take a few years. Accept that Nick Young is the new Cedric Caballos and don’t panic.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have shown signs of life. They have won four games in a row, including impressive wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road and the Houston Rockets.

The Clippers might have a playoff pulse after all. Plus, they seem to be improving their roster with adding Danny Granger. Of course, all bets are off if Chris Paul gets hurt in the playoffs.

Boys High School Basketball
The Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball team is in the championship game of the Division 5A playoffs. This is SCCS’s first trip to a CIF title game in basketball.

The Cardinals will play Renaissance Academy, the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, on Saturday at Godinez High School. The game is set to start at 9:30 a.m.
SCCS is the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. The SCCS boys eliminated Capistrano Valley, 52-45, in the semifinals.

The Trinity Classical Academy boys basketball team is back in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 championship game for the second year in a row. The Knights knocked out Laguna Blanca, 59-38, in the semifinals. They are the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and have a chance to win the first CIF championship in boys basketball since Saugus in 1987. Trinity reached the championship game last year and lost to Rio Honda Prep.

This year, Trinity will play Desert Chapel of Palm Springs for the Division 6 championship Saturday at Godinez High School in Santa Ana.

Renaissance Academy reached the Division 5A final after beating Orangewood Academy, 52-29, in the other semifinal.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Highlights

| Sports | February 20, 2014

The Winter Olympics are boring.
So far, the best story out of the Winter Games in Sochi has been the fake story about the death of the guy responsible for the malfunctioning snowflake in the opening ceremonies.

Between Bob Costas and his pink eye, the stray dogs and the Bode Miller interview, the most exciting stories are happening outside of the events. Don’t get me wrong. I want to root for Team USA. I want to be excited about the Winter Olympics. I keep telling myself Olympic hockey is better than NHL hockey.

It was nice to wake up one morning and see the United States beat Russia, 3-2, in hockey. The game started at 4:30 in the morning on the West Coast. I could have watched it live if I was a die-hard Team USA hockey fan. Then I found out it went eight rounds in a shootout and I was glad I missed it.
The United States curling teams, both men and women, won only three matches.

After the first three days of the Olympics, I stopped watching. I might catch a highlight or two during the night, but for the most part, I’m not interested.

On a positive note, the Winter Olympics made the NBA All-Star game all the more entertaining. The skills competitions were fun to watch. The NBA needs to rethink its changes to the slam dunk contest, but even that was better than watching team ice dancing in the Olympics.

Maybe the medal rounds of hockey will change my views, but for now, the Olympics are a bust.

Local Soccer and Basketball

The CIF Southern Section basketball and soccer playoffs start this week.
There are three boys basketball teams from the Santa Clarita Valley with legitimate shots at a championship.

The Hart boys are the No. 3 seed in the Division 2A playoffs. The Indians are 24-2 overall and won the Foothill League championship with a 10-0 record.

They play Beckman in the first round of the playoffs on Friday. Beckman is an at-large team from the Pacific Coast League and 8-11 overall.

If all goes accordingly, Hart should at least make it to the semifinals, the final four of the Division 2A playoffs. From there it’s up for grabs.

The Trinity Classical Academy boys basketball team is the No. 1 seed in the Division 6 playoffs and the favorites to win a CIF championship. The Knights were 13-8 overall and finished in second place in the Heritage League. But Trinity played much tougher competition, including three teams from the Foothill League, during the regular season. They lost all three games against the Foothill League teams, but it obviously impressed the CIF bracket makers.

The Santa Clarita Christian boys are the No. 3 seed in the Division 5A playoffs. The Cardinals won the Heritage League championship with a 17-5 overall record. They earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

While Hart earned a favorable draw in the playoffs, the rest of the Foothill League did not.

West Ranch is home for its first-round game in Division 1AA. But the Wildcats play Milikan, the No. 10 seed in the playoffs. Milikan is the third-place team from the Moore League, with an 18-8 record.

West Ranch got off to a slow start, but ended up in second place in the Foothill League and 14-11 overall.

The Valencia boys start the Division 1AA playoffs on the road against Quartz Hill, the Golden League champion.

Valencia has a 19-8 record and finished in third place in the Foothill League. Quartz Hill is 21-6.

Perhaps the most interesting Foothill League team in the CIF playoffs is Canyon. The Cowboys are the No. 5 seed in the Division 2AA playoffs. But they stumbled into the playoffs as an at-large team.

Canyon went into a little funk at the end of the season and ended up in fourth place in the Foothill League standings.
Still, Canyon is 21-6. Five of its losses came against Foothill League teams.

Which Canyon team will show up is anyone’s guess. Will it be the Canyon team that won its own Christmas tournament and the Ventura Tournament at the beginning of the season? Or will it be the Canyon team that went 5-5 in the Foothill League?

Girls Basketball

The Golden Valley girls made the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs. That’s the good news.

They play Rancho Alamitos, the Garden Grove League champion, in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs.
That’s the bad news.

Golden Valley better celebrate while it can.

The Hart girls are the No. 9 seed in the Division 2A playoffs. They have a better shot of advancing, but on paper they look evenly matched against their first-round opponent.
The Hart girls finished in third place in the Foothill League with a 14-14 overall record.

They play Sultana, the third-place team from the Mojave River League, with a 12-12 record.

At least Hart will have home-court advantage in the first round.
The Canyon girls, the Foothill League champions, are the No. 5 seed in the Division 1A playoffs. They play El Toro in the first round.

The Valencia girls are the No. 8 seed in the Division 1AA playoffs. They play JW North at home in the first round.

All the girls’ playoffs games are on Saturday night.

The Albert Einstein Academy girls basketball team is in the Division 5AA playoffs. Einstein plays Silver Valley, the No. 10 seed in the playoffs, in the first round.
Finally, the Trinity Classical Academy girls are home for their first-round playoff game in Division 5A against Arrowhead Christian.

The Hart and Valencia boys soccer teams start the CIF Southern Section playoffs on Thursday.

Hart, the Foothill League champion, takes on Colony in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs.

Valencia plays Salesian in the first round.

The Hart girls, the champions of the Foothill League, open the Division 2 playoffs against Ventura at home on Friday.

Valencia is home for its first-round game against Santa Barbara.
The Canyon girls are on the road against Newbury Park for their first-round game.

The Santa Clarita Christian girls enter the Division 7 playoffs, with an unbeaten 15-0-4 regular season record. They finished in second place in the Liberty League and play Dunn in the first round of the playoffs.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Santa Clarita Sports: Hart Boys Basketball Holding At No. 4 in CIF Poll

| Gazette, Sports | February 13, 2014

By Tim Haddock
The Hart boys basketball team is holding tight at No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2A poll. The Canyon boys basketball team dropped to No. 6 in the Division 2AA poll. Hart is in first place in the Foothill League standings with an undefeated 8-0 record.
The Canyon boys are in fourth place in the Foothill League with a 4-4 record. The Cowboys lost two games last week and dropped one spot in the Division 2AA poll.
The Valencia boys basketball team is ranked No. 16 in the Division 1AA poll. The Vikings are 6-2 and in second place in the Foothill League.
The Santa Clarita Christian boys are ranked No. 4 in the Division 5A poll. The Trinity Classical Academy boys are No. 1 in the Division 6 poll. Trinity beat Santa Clarita Christian in a Heritage League game over the weekend.
The Canyon girls basketball team is ranked No. 6 in the Division 1A poll. Canyon is tied with Valencia for first place in the Foothill League standings. The Hart girls are No. 9 in the Division 2A poll. Hart is in third place in the Foothill League standings.
In high school soccer, the Canyon and Valencia girls are in a three-way tie for the 10th spot in the Division 2 poll. Vista Murrieta is also ranked No. 10. The Canyon and Valencia girls are tied for first place in the Foothill League standings.
The Santa Clarita Christian girls are No. 1 in the Division 7 poll. Santa Clarita Christian is unbeaten with a 15-0-3 overall record.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | February 7, 2014

Some thoughts on the Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks held the No. 1 offense in the NFL with a five-time MVP quarterback to eight points in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks were up 36-0 before the Broncos and Peyton Manning scored their first touchdown.

The Seahawks scored on a safety, albeit a gift, high-snap that almost sailed out of the end zone on the first play of the game, and on an interception return. The defense was suffocating, forcing four turnovers and built a five-touchdown cushion in three quarters.

So, where do these Seahawks rank among the greatest Super Bowl defenses?
Here is how I rank them:

1. 1985 Chicago Bears
The Bears had the most intimidating defense to play in a Super Bowl. They set a Super Bowl record, with seven sacks, and allowed the fewest rushing yards at seven.
They had the largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl at the time, at 36 points over the New England Patriots.

Defensive end Richard Dent was the Super Bowl MVP.

Plus, they had a defensive tackle, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, at tailback.

2. 2000 Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. The only touchdown the Giants scored was on a kick-off return.

The Ravens only allowed 152 yards of total offense to the Giants, the third-lowest total in Super Bowl history.

Ray Lewis became only the second linebacker to win the Super Bowl MVP.

3. 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Malcolm Smith won the Super Bowl MVP, but the whole Seahawks defense could have been considered for the honor.

Manning set a Super Bowl record, with 34 completions, and Demaryius Thomas caught 13 passes – another Super Bowl record. But, the Seahawks still kept the Broncos out of the end zone for nearly three quarters.

By the time the Broncos scored their first touchdown, they were down 36-0. They barely avoided the embarrassing shutout.

4. 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers “Steel Curtain” defense was one of the best in NFL history. In Super Bowl IX, the Minnesota Vikings probably had the second-best defense in NFL history.

But, the Steelers defense destroyed the Vikings offense. It scored a safety and recovered a fumble that set up the first touchdown of the game.

The Steel Curtain held the Vikings to 17 rushing yards and a Super Bowl record low of nine first downs.

5. 1983 Los Angeles Raiders

It was the Washington Redskins who came into Super Bowl XVIII with the bottle-clogging defense. The Redskins gave up the fewest rushing yards in the NFL during the regular season.

But, it was the Raiders who scored two first-half touchdowns on a blocked punt and an interception return.

The Raiders defense held the highest scoring offense in the NFL to only nine points in the Super Bowl. The Redskins quarterback, Joe Theismann, won the regular season MVP. (Sound familiar 2013 Seattle Seahawks?).

The Raiders were up 21-3 at halftime and outscored the Redskins, 17-6, in the second half.

The 1983 Raiders were the first team to score a touchdown on defense, offense and special teams in the Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks are, without a doubt, one of the greatest Super Bowl defenses to ever take the field.

But, can they create a dynasty?

If a dynasty means multiple Super Bowl victories, then the answer is “no.” The NFL isn’t set up that way. Just look at the Baltimore Ravens, from Super Bowl champs to out of the playoffs in one year.

If dynasty means multiple playoff appearances, then the answer is “probably.” It’s not even most likely, more like 50-50, at best.

The NFC is brutal. The NFC West might be the toughest division in football. The San Francisco 49ers are already favorites to dethrone the Seahawks as NFL champions. The Arizona Cardinals actually beat the Seahawks late in the regular season. The St. Louis Rams are a couple of draft picks away from making the playoffs.

Throw in the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and even the New York Giants and the Seahawks have their work cut out for them.

The Seahawks players have youth and talent on their side. The rest of the league has draft picks and free agents on their side.

Local Boys Basketball

The Hart boys basketball team is 6-0 in the Foothill League after three weeks of league play. The Indians are ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2A poll. They are 22-2 overall and their last loss was by two points against Oaks Christian on Jan. 20.

The Canyon boys basketball team might be the only threat in the Foothill League to Hart’s chances of staying undefeated.

Canyon is ranked No. 5 in the Division 2AA poll. They are 20-3 overall and lost to Hart by only four points on Jan. 28.

Hart and Canyon meet in the Foothill League finale on Feb. 13.

Local Girls Basketball

The Valencia girls are also undefeated in the Foothill League at 6-0. The Valencia girls have won seven of their past eight games. While tearing up the Foothill League, Valencia lost to Ventura, one of the top teams in the state, 49-34, in the Ventura Shootout.

The Canyon girls are in second place in the Foothill League at 5-1 and ranked No. 6 in the Division 1A poll.

The Hart girls are tied for third place in the Foothill League standings at 3-3 and ranked No. 9 in the Division 2A poll.

The Valencia girls are unranked.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Where in the World is Wolitarsky?

| Gazette, News, Sports | January 24, 2014

Drew and Martha

It was winter break for “true freshman” Drew Wolitarsky, who is recognized across the Santa Clarita Valley, after record-breaking years on the Canyon High School Cowboys football team. He returned to the University of Minnesota last Sunday, where he begins his second semester, and back to football practice, though it is off-season now.

While the sport of football has often been compared to the art of war, there are other similarities that sometimes go unnoticed. It may be due to the seriousness with which football is treated by fans, coaches and athletes, but Wolitarsky has become acquainted with some of the sacrifices built into competing at the college level. Not only did John and Audrey Wolitarsky celebrate Christmas without the third of their four children this year (the University of Minnesota Gophers had a game two days later), but the family gathered without Drew to mourn the death of someone very close to him. For more details visit www.santaclaritagazette.com.

Though thousands of miles away from Santa Clarita, Drew Wolitarsky has developed a family atmosphere with teammates. In fact, after rooming in a dorm situation with fellow players, a group of them are moving into an apartment together this semester.

The living quarters are still on campus, said Wolitarsky, and when asked about food, he said, “Everything is provided, they take care of everything we need.”

What they need includes tutoring in multiple subjects, food, transportation and more for the players who, like Wolitarsky, attend U of M on full-ride scholarships. At Christmas the team resided in a hotel, offering as nice a holiday as possible while away from their homes. They all dispersed following their game against Syracuse University in the Texas Bowl on December 27.

For the couple of weeks that Wolitarsky was home in Canyon Country, he was stopped all over town, sometimes by adults he had never met. A lot of the conversations were the same, including, “What’s it like living in Michigan?” Wolitarsky would usually go on with the conversation, resisting the urge to offer a correction, such as, “I don’t know…I go to University of Minnesota.”

As for adapting to the obvious contrast in climate conditions, the college student said that when it is really cold, they simply stay indoors a lot more. He added that playing football in the extreme cold is less than ideal. “When it’s really cold, the ground feels like rocks,” he explained.

After covering the differences in weather, most people asked about school, whether he was happy with his choice of colleges, etc. His answer to that one, by the way, is “yes.”

A funny thing happened when Wolitarsky and his friend went out to a Canyon Country restaurant last week.  click on Tell Me More.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | January 23, 2014

Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman has been called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the field of public opinion after his trash-talking, post-game interview following the NFC championship game.

Sherman, never at a loss for words, even though he needs to consider second thoughts at times, proclaimed his team the best, his play the best and took some unnecessary shots at the San Francisco wide receivers in an interview with Erin Andrews from Fox Sports.

It caught most fans by surprise.

After years of the egocentric athlete making headlines with stupid statements, silly statements such as these should have lost their shock value by now.

Instead, Sherman’s shout-out will be the top story for the next two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

Blame Muhammad Ali.

Ever since he proclaimed, “I am the greatest,” athletes in every arena have been trying to top it.

Granted, when Ali said it, he was the greatest. He still is the greatest in many ways. Those trying to be the greatest always fall short.

But still, it is not the athlete’s job to decide who is the greatest. It is up to writers and historians to sift through the statistics and stories to come up with the list of all-time greats. It is up to former athletes and coaches, those who have already been chosen as the greatest, to decide who joins them.

As for the athletes themselves, they should focus more on playing the game and less on their proclamation skills.

To be honest, Sherman’s latest diatribe of trash talk wasn’t all that bad. It was a little arrogant and self-serving, but it was hardly creative or demeaning.

Three little words, “I’m the best,” have turned Sherman into the poorest sport of all time.

It was actually quite ingenious.

He tried to explain it afterward as a response to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree blowing him off after the game. Sherman said he tried to shake Crabtree’s hand and talk to him after the game. Crabtree ignored him. Andrews stuck a microphone in Sherman’s face and the rant began.

The interview lasted about 10 seconds. But, for the next two weeks, Sherman will be the focus of interviews and storylines.

No one will be interested in how anemic the Seahawks offense has become. No one will ask about Russell Wilson’s first trip to the Super Bowl or Pete Carroll’s first trip to the Super Bowl. They won’t have to answer questions about the pressure they will face, the weight of potentially winning the first Super Bowl for Seattle or what the weather will be like in New York in two weeks.

The Seahawks won’t have to face questions about stopping Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his Pro Bowl squad of receivers. The Seahawks might not hear the names Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker from reporters.

Sherman said he was caught up in the moment and his adrenaline was doing most of the talking after the game. But he probably knew exactly what he was doing. All the attention is on him, taking it away from his teammates and coaches.

The Super Bowl is two weeks away. Sherman gave the media and fans plenty to talk about until then.

Despite Sherman’s rant after the NFC championship game, the Seahawks should have no problem with the Broncos.

The Broncos opened as a one-point favorite, and the point spread quickly jumped to three within hours. Not that anyone is encouraging gambling on the Super Bowl.

However, the Broncos are apparently the fan favorite. The line moved two points, because so many people are betting on the Broncos to win the game, and win it by more than three points.

If anything, the points spread indicates that the game will be close.

Don’t believe it.

This will be a blowout of 1980s Super Bowl proportions. The Seahawks are considerably better than the Broncos. The Seahawks run the ball better, play defense better and are better on special teams. If the weather is bad, and history dictates that February in New York is brutal, the advantages for the Seahawks are magnified.

Don’t just take the Seahawks and the points. Take the money line on the Seahawks. They will win this game outright.

The Foothill League season in high school basketball started last week.

Hart, Canyon and Valencia won their first two games.

Hart easily disposed of West Ranch and Saugus. The Indians are 17-1 and have a 16-game winning streak.

They are also on the list of teams to qualify for the new CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs. It’s early in the season, but still a good place to be.

The Canyon boys beat Golden Valley and West Ranch. The Cowboys are 18-1 and have a 15-game winning streak.

West Ranch gave the Cowboys a game, though. Ben Taufahema hit a 3-pointer with about a minute to play to win the game.

The Valencia boys won their first two games in the Foothill League over Saugus and Golden Valley on the road.

The Vikings have a six-game winning streak, including a 67-60 win over Pacific Hills in the Lancers Hoops Showcase at La Salle High School.

But, Valencia plays Hart and Canyon this week. The Vikings will soon find out if they have enough to contend for the Foothill League championship.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | January 10, 2014

College Football
This is the last time the BCS rankings will decide who plays for the NCAA football national championship.

No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn played in the final BCS title game at the Rose Bowl. There is little doubt these are the top two teams in the country.

Who is No. 3 and No. 4 is entirely up for debate.

Next year, the top four teams in the country will be in a playoff for the national championship. Picking those four teams is going to be challenging. Take the 2013 top four before the bowl games began.

Alabama was the No. 3 team in the country, according to the BCS. The Crimson Tide lost to Oklahoma, 45-31, in the Sugar Bowl.

Perhaps Michigan State was the No. 3 team. The Spartans, at least, won the Rose Bowl, 24-20, over No. 5 Stanford.

That kind of knocks the Cardinal out of the top-four discussion, leaving Baylor, Ohio State and Missouri to battle it out for the fourth and final playoff spot. Baylor lost the Fiesta Bowl, 52-42, to Central Florida. Ohio State lost the Orange Bowl, 40-35, to Clemson.

Missouri, ranked No. 8, won the Cotton Bowl, 41-31, over No. 13 Oklahoma State. Does that make Missouri the fourth-best team in the country? Does Central Florida or Clemson have a case for being ranked No. 4? These types of questions will be asked next year when it comes time to narrow down the top four.

Here are three rules that should be followed when it comes time to make the NCAA football playoff field next year.

1. Two teams from the same conference can’t be in the top four.

This would automatically eliminate Alabama from the top-four discussion. The SEC already has a superiority complex. There needs to be a rule that prevents the conference and its fans from having their collective heads swell to unbearable proportions. Actually, this rule applies to fans of all conferences.
2. No team with two losses can be in the top four.

This would have eliminated Stanford and Oregon, leaving the Pac 12 shut out of the top four. Even though the Pac 12 was probably the best conference in college football, one team has to make it through the regular season and the Pac 12 championship game with no more than one loss. Sure, the Pac 12 was tough, but none of the teams were up to the challenge.

3. Any team that plays a Division II school is automatically eliminated.

Ohio State and Alabama do this every year. Sure, it helps maintain undefeated records during the regular season, but is playing Georgia State and Chattanooga a true measure of a team’s quality? Stanford’s biggest cupcake was San Jose State. No doubt a cupcake in every aspect, but a Division I cupcake, nonetheless.

Even with these three rules, there will be plenty of debate about who the top four teams are. Ultimately, that’s what the NCAA wants: passionate discussion about who the real national football champion is.

At least next year, a part of the debate will be settled on the field.

Pac 12 Football
The Pac 12 went 6-3 in bowl games. They lost the big ones, the Rose Bowl and the Holiday Bowl. They won some impressive ones, Arizona, 42-19, over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl and Oregon, 30-7, over Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
But seriously, who wants to have an AdvoCare 100 celebration hanging over its head?

The two Los Angeles teams represented well in the bowl games. USC won its game, 45-20, over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Trojans avoided the embarrassment of losing to Fresno State in a bowl game for the second time.

UCLA won the Sun Bowl, 42-12, over Virginia Tech. All told, it was a banner year for UCLA. They beat USC for the second year in a row and won a bowl game.

More good news came out of Westwood. Coach Jim Mora signed a six-year contract extension with UCLA. That would keep him at UCLA until 2020. However, that didn’t stop Texas from trying to pluck him away to fill its coaching vacancy.

Plus, quarterback Brett Hundley is staying at UCLA for another year. Not many teams in the Pac 12 can boast having an NFL quarterback. Hundley will be one, just not until 2015.

USC looks like it’s in good shape too. They will have some coaching stability with Steve Sarkisian. They will not have NCAA sanctions holding them back. USC has no excuses next year, which will make UCLA’s third win in a row over the Trojans all the more sweet.

High School Basketball
The high school basketball season is well under way. Two teams to keep an eye on: the Hart and Canyon boys.

Hart won its own Holiday Classic and has a 12-game winning streak. The Indians are 13-1 after 14 games. They are coming off a 65-45 win over University from Los Angeles in the College of the Canyons Showcase.

Their only loss came against Westchester in the Trevor Ariza Tipoff Classic, the Indians’ second game of the season.

The Canyon boys won the Ventura Tournament and are 14-1. The Cowboys have an 11-game winning streak. Their only loss came against Alemany, 80-78, in the semifinals of the San Fernando Valley Invitational.

The Foothill League season starts on Jan. 17. Hart and Canyon meet for the first time on Jan. 28.

Tim Haddock is the sports director for KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Sports, Uncategorized | December 26, 2013

By Tim Haddock
There wasn’t much to celebrate in the Los Angeles sports scene in 2013. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon. Lane Kiffin was fired as USC head coach. Matt Kemp was never fully healthy. The Clippers played without any heart in the playoffs.

At least in the Santa Clarita Valley, the Hart and Trinity Classical Academy football team gave everyone something to cheer about.

But, sports in Los Angeles was a downer for the most part.

Let’s start with the Lakers.

Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and needed season-ending surgery to repair it. He missed the playoffs and the first 19 games of the 2013-14 season.

Just when it looked like Bryant was back in his groove, he broke a bone in his knee. He will be out at least another six weeks, meaning he won’t play again until after the NBA All-Star break.

That’s not good news for Lakers fans.
Not only are the Lakers in store for a spiraling season that might not include a playoff run, the Kobe Bryant era might be over.

Even if he returns, Bryant won’t be the player he used to be.Age and injuries are catching up with him. He signed a two-year extension with the Lakers too, so they are stuck with each other until 2016.

It might be that long before the Lakers are serious NBA title contenders.

Lakers fans survived Nick Van Exel and Elden Campbell. They can survive Nick Young and Pau Gasol. While the Lakers look like a team destined for three years of disappointment, the Dodgers at least have hope.

Now for the Dodgers

The Blue Crew need a healthy Matt Kemp. They need another hot Cuban prospect to play second base. They need a third baseman and some bullpen help. But they are still in better shape than the Lakers.

The Dodgers have a problem in the outfield: four players and only three spots. But they needed all four outfielders, Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, last season. With all that potential and talent, the four outfielders were all healthy and available for just two games.

To be honest, that Kemp is dating a Kardashian is more troubling than his health. When he was dating Rihanna, Kemp was in one of the longest slumps of his career. Here’s to hoping that his current relationship ends before spring training.

Then there’s college football

The USC football team was a mess. Athletic director Pat Haden not only gave Kiffin the dreaded vote of confidence before the season started, he pre-empted any questions about Kiffin by releasing a recorded statement about how much confidence he had in Kiffin.
After losing to Washington State at the Coliseum in the second week of the season, that confidence started to wane. When USC lost to Arizona State in the fifth week, Kiffin didn’t hold his job long enough to make it home to Los Angeles.

Enter Ed Orgeron. He infused the program with energy. He was feeding the players In-N-Out. The USC fan base embraced Orgeron and he rewarded them with a loss to Notre Dame.
Oooops!

But then, USC won five games in a row. They were ranked nationally again. There was talk of making a Rose Bowl run.
Then USC lost to UCLA.

Another oooops! Orgeron had hopes of being the next USC coach. But USC coaches don’t lose to Notre Dame and UCLA. Not in the same year. Certainly not with the interim tag. USC coaches don’t lead their teams to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Orgeron was out. Enter Steve Sarkisian.

The longtime assistant under Pete Carroll was hired as the USC coach after the Trojans lost to UCLA.

Time will tell if that is the right move. The one shining light in the USC football future is that the NCAA sanctions from the Reggie Bush debacle are ending. USC will have more scholarships and will be able to add more depth. USC won’t be down for very much longer.

That brings us to the Clippers.

With the Lakers out of the NBA playoff picture for a while, the Clippers are the only hope for an NBA championship.

They have a decent shot at one, as long as Chris Paul stays with the Clippers. But, for some reason, the Clippers fall short of delivering any hope of a title run.

Their first run through the playoffs with Paul and Blake Griffin ended in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The puzzling part is the series against the Grizzlies started so promising. The Clippers won the first two games. Paul looked like the most dominating player in the series.

Then the Clippers lost the next four games of the series.

What happened? It was as if the Clippers took a deep breath, then the Grizzlies knocked the wind out of them.

The Western Conference is stacked again. The Clippers will have to dig a little deeper to make a legitimate playoff run.

Back to the SCV and football.

By contrast, at least two Santa Clarita Valley high school football teams gave its fans plenty to cheer about.

The Hart football team won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship. It was the ninth CIF football championship for Hart and the first in a decade. Hart beat Valencia in the championship game in an all Foothill League final affair.

Poor Valencia. The Vikings have played in four CIF championship games and lost all four. Three times they lost to Hart.

Hart, meanwhile, advanced to the CIF State South Division 2 bowl game against Chaminade. The Indians weren’t as fortunate in their first CIF bowl game, losing to Chaminade, 28-10.

The Trinity Classical Academy won its first CIF football championship. Trinity won the CIF Southern Section Division 2 8-man football championship.
At least it looks like football in the Santa Clarita Valley is in good hands for awhile.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

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