No Football? No Problem.
January 27, 2014

'Twas the week before the Super Bowl, and no football in the house, but no Richard Sherman, either, that loud-mouthed louse. There was this tense feeling out there, no football in the air, but with tennis, the Grammys, and hockey, why should I care?

Actually there was football Sunday, I think. Did anyone watch the Pro Bowl? I have no idea what happened. Let me check Google...My Android version of Siri just told me Team (Jerry) Rice defeated Team (Deion) Sanders 22-21. DeMarco Murray scored a last-minute touchdown for the comeback win. I was actually much more interested in the player draft than the game, but I didn't watch that either. If you weren't following the Pro-Bowl hype, hall-of-famers Rice and Sanders picked teams, instead of the old NFC vs. AFC format. According to dallascowboys,com, where Android Siri directed me, “the NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl, and it got it.” I'll take their word for it, because there were too many other things going on.

I would have written an entire column on the outdoor hockey game at Dodger Stadium Saturday night, but I still haven't watched it. I'll watch most of it after I publish this, but I did see the pregame show. The open of the telecast on NBC Sports Network was voiced by Vin Scully. Scully and Los Angeles Kings legend Bob Miller co-welcomed the crowd. After the national anthem, sung by Jordin Sparks, the TV announcers started talking, but you could hear Scully tell the crowd, “It's time for NHL Hockey”. Very cool.

If you like tennis, there was the Australian Open, although to watch live you had to stay up late. Li Na finally won the so-called “happy slam” after losing in the finals twice. Rafael Nadal did not win the men's title. Neither did Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, or Andy Murray. It was Stanislas Wawrinka. I did see the first set, but was shocked Sunday morning to find out he won it all. If you had a field bet, or a longshot bet on the Swiss (sports betting is legal in Australia), you'd be a richer person. Great drama.

Even away from the sports arena, instead of the usual Sunday Night Football on NBC (where Al and Chris are the best on TV—you know the song), it was the Grammy Awards on CBS. There's always something in that show for everyone. I missed the first hour, but made it in time to see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr together. It was unfortunate and disappointing to see them do a song no one knew, but McCartney's new song was catchy, and even watching Starr on the drums was a great feeling, because we hadn't seen it in so long. Awesome.

I suppose those going through football withdrawals could find plenty of chores to do. I sure did, but that doesn't mean there wasn't anything worth watching. I think fans, and the National Football League need to remember that.

And I heard the football fan exclaim, almost in a fright. “But there's no football this weekend!” You know what? You're right.

More hockey: Still haven't watched the game, but the overhead shot of Dodger Stadium was amazing. The rink stretched from first to third base, and organizers had to 'Socal it up' with a beach volleyball court next to the ice. The rock group Kiss performed before the game. I haven't gotten to the between-periods entertainment yet...It looks like you at least needed binoculars to see the puck if you were one of the 55,000 people there. Can't tell by that photo where the best seats actually were. Still wish I had gone, though.

Nailed it: Since the hockey game was at Dodger Stadium, I can mention this. In a press release announcing the unveiling date of the new Dodger TV channel next month, it was confirmed that Charley Steiner and Orel Hershiser will be the announcing crew when Vin Scully isn't there. In those games, Rick Monday and Nomar Garciaparra will work on the radio side. The new channel, called Sports Net LA, will debut in late February, and at least start off by featuring Dodger-related programming 24 hours a day. According to to the release, the programming also includes classic games. TV networks like these almost never carry games in their entirety, but wouldn't it be fun to see Fernando's no-hitter or the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home run game again?

More baseball: Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka signed a seven-year, 155 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees. How am I supposed to like him now? I didn't think the Dodgers would get him, but anyone but the Yankees..Former Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs pitcher (and former Gold Sox opponent) Matt Garza is now a Milwaukee Brewer...Prediction: with some other free agent arms still out there, I wouldn't be surprised if the Dodgers don't land them, and bring back unsigned free agent Chris Capuano.

More Grammys: I was surprised Lorde (whose real name is Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor) didn't win more awards, but her song did Royals did take Song of the Year, and she won for Best Pop Solo Performance. Lorde, who is from New Zealand, was 16 when that song was released...Daft Punk, a French duo who were dressed as robots, were the big winners. They won Album of the Year for Random Access Memories (hence the robot outfits, I guess), and won two other awards for their hit song Get Lucky...CBS is having a special on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show (February 9), and McCartney and Starr are scheduled to perform together that night...Another thing that was both disappointing and cool was the two living Highwaymen Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson teamed up with Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton. The quartet opened with Highwayman, but instead of Haggard and Shelton singing the parts of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, they segued into Haggard's signature Okie from Muskogee. That turned out great, though, and then they all sang Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys, which was terrific. The 80 year-old Nelson doesn't really sing anymore, he kind of talks through a song, but still has the voice, and can still play.

Note: My mom is out of the hospital, but has been sentenced to a couple of weeks in a physical therapy center after falling out of bed over a week ago. Nothing broken, fortunately, but she can't walk. I did see her this weekend, and she seemed in good spirits. Hopefully she'll be home soon.

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