California lawmakers report meals, sports tickets, other gifts

While a state Senate panel considers further restrictions on gifts, California lawmakers reported Monday receiving thousands of dollars in sports tickets, meals, amusement park entries and other gifts, many from special interests that lobby state government.


The annual statements of economic interest for 2013 were filed Monday with the state Fair Political Practices Commission and show each state official’s financial assets as well as gifts from sources that try to influence the Legislature.

Those reporting gifts include:

— Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) received $345 worth of Turf Club admission, Directors Room entry and valet parking from Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. He reimbursed the expenses but after the 30 day window for legally doing so to avoid it being a gift. He also reported $710 worth of transportation and meals from Presence Switzerland, an arm of that country’s government, for a trip to Europe also attended by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar.

— Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) reported a three-month membership worth

Four schools win arbitration cases to stay in current CIF sports areas

Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, La Verne Damien and Glendora St. Lucy’s have won their arbitration cases against the CIF Southern Section and will remain in their current sports areas for the upcoming re-leaguing cycle from 2014-18, according to the decision announced Friday by a retired judge.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA - NOVEMBER 8, 2013: Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins is chased out of the pocket by the Westlake defense during Marmonte League championship football game between Oaks Christian and Westlake November 8, 2013 in Westlake Village. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

It will force the schools in the Northern Area, Mt. SAC and parochial areas to meet again and restart their re-leaguing process. Those areas already had created new leagues without the four schools.

Asked for reaction about all four schools winning their cases, St. Bonaventure Principal Marc Groff said, “I don’t think any of us did” see this coming.

“I’m absolutely thankful we’ll be going back up here. It’s where we belong,” Groff said.

Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure would have

World Cup 2014 How might England line up for Russia 2018

As the World Cup drew to its conclusion amid the colour and splendour of the Maracana in Rio, England’s brief and undistinguished contribution to Brazil’s World Cup did not even merit a footnote.


Blink and you would have missed them. Months of preparation amounted to defeats by Italy and Uruguay in the space of six days before England manager Roy Hodgson and his squad were making the plans for the flight home.

When the story of Brazil 2014 is told, it will be a tale of ambitious attacking football, Luis Suarez’s bite and the World Cup semi-final carnage inflicted on the host in a 7-1 loss to Germany that will be revisited as long as the tournament is staged.

The immediate priority for Hodgson and the Football Association will be preparations for England’s Euro 2016 campaign, with a sympathetic group draw likely to allow them a relatively straightforward passage to France in two years.

But what of the next World Cup in Russia? While Hodgson puts together briefing notes on how and

Baseball Is Back, Pitchers and Catchers Hold First Workouts

David Price made his first big-money throws of spring training as Boston’s prized offseason acquisition, while new Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke began Day 1 with his new club by drilling on the basics of covering first base.

Johnny Cueto showed off some orange-tinted dreadlocks beneath his off-kilter cap that will fit in perfectly with his new San Francisco Giants colors. His former team, the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, arrived in the desert and were set to get started Friday.

From Arizona to Florida, that familiar sound of baseballs snapping into gloves returned Thursday as many clubs held their first spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers that signaled the true start of a new year. In the greater Phoenix area, a cooling cloud cover provided a respite from the unseasonably warm 90-degree temperatures.

Now, all those franchises that went on offseason spending sprees for pitching are counting on those arms to bring heat.

Greinke, signed to a $206.5 million, six-year contract with surprise suitor Arizona, was picked as the Diamondbacks’ opening day starter in what manager Chip Hale called the easiest decision he has had to make. The right-hander is scheduled for

World Cup’s road to Brazil remains bumpy

In 50 days the best athletes in the world’s most popular sport will convene in Brazil, one of soccer’s sacred spiritual homes, for the game’s most important tournament.

It will be a powerful, uplifting tribute to the “beautiful game” that Brazilians have shaped for decades and the new status of a confident, rising global power in Latin America. Locals and foreigners will marvel at shiny new stadiums and glide across the continent-sized country on upgraded infrastructure.

That, at least, is what the government and organizers are hoping will happen given that the price tag for their six-week World Cup party is expected to top $11 billion, a figure local media estimates say is extremely conservative.

And although it’s still likely that things will go well overall, officials and other observers are keenly aware of three types of risks that have emerged: protests, an overwhelmed transportation infrastructure and soccer stadiums that remain incomplete more than seven years after Brazil was awarded the right to stage the World Cup.

There appears little chance that any of these three could interfere with where the real action is, on the field, from which

Sources Warriors are favorite to sign Anderson Varejao

The Golden State Warriors have emerged as the heavy favorite to sign soon-to-be free agent Anderson Varejao, league sources told ESPN.

League sources told ESPN that Varejao is leaning strongly toward joining the Warriors now that he has cleared waivers.

But sources say that the San Antonio Spurs are still trying to convince Varejao to spurn the opportunity to join the NBA’s reigning champions.

The veteran big man spent the first 11 1/2 seasons of his career with the Cavaliers until being traded Thursday. Sources say Varejao ?has narrowed his choices down to Golden State and San Antonio after also attracting offers from, among others, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Warriors would have to release a player to create an open roster spot but have a need for an additional contributor on the front line with Festus Ezeli recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and Andrew Bogut nursing an Achilles injury.

Heading to Golden State would not only unite Varejao with his Brazilian national team teammate Leandro Barbosa but, of course, raise the possibility of an emotional homecoming to Cleveland during the NBA Finals if the ?Warriors and Cavs

Time to celebrate the star of sports at the All-Star break — baseball

We’re circling the sidewalks around Chicago’s Wrigley Field on a recent summer night, the Cubs out of town (perhaps banished, perhaps disowned), and I’m explaining to my 9-year-old how the very best ballparks have their own recognizable sets of acoustics.

The murmur of Wrigley is different from the strumming of Fenway, I tell him, which are both different from baseball’s other vintage opera house, Dodger Stadium.

“They are as different,” I tell him, “as root beer and wine.”

When all of a sudden the little guy and I come across groundskeepers replacing the Wrigley Field grass. Great gobs of discarded sod rest in dumpsters outside the heavy Sheffield Avenue gates.

“Nothing is as obnoxious as other people’s luck,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, as if summarizing the zeitgeist of a baseball fan.

Now finally, we have a little good fortune of our own.

So we smuggle away a small rug of the sod and plant it in my sister’s suburban Chicago yard, kick it, water it, spritz it with holy water Old Style beer.

For ever after, this will be her Zen garden, a symbol

During March Madness, fans seek a Cinderella story

Most college fans would be hard-pressed to tell you anything about the Eastern Kentucky basketball team.

The school from just south of Lexington has no All-Americans on its roster. The coach isn’t famous and the fight song isn’t particularly catchy.

But when the NCAA tournament begins later this week, don’t be surprised if people start paying attention to — and rooting for — the Colonels.

The reason is simple. As forward Deverin Muff says: “They want to see us upset a big school.”

March Madness gets much of its excitement and unpredictability from the underdog. With 68 teams in a bracket that matches top seeds against lower-ranked — and lesser-known — opponents, no other sporting event offers so many chances for David to slay Goliath.

That makes for dramatic television and cutthroat office pools. Just as important, underdogs personify one of our favorite cultural beliefs: With enough grit, anyone can succeed.

“We’re talking about the concept of the Cinderella,” says Annemarie Farrell, an Ithaca College professor who studies fan behavior. “It focuses on American ideology.”

This year’s lineup of potential giant-killers includes Wofford, Milwaukee, Coastal Carolina and North

Paris Fashion Week 2014 At Dior, sport meets couture

Raf Simons showed his most dynamic and commercial Dior collection yet on Friday at Paris Fashion Week, turning the focus away from the fantasy world of the red carpet, which the brand has virtually dominated in recent years, and toward the real world.

OK, so maybe that incredible pink Astrakhan coat doesn’t necessarily qualify as work attire, but still, overall, there was a sense that wearability and comfort were chief concerns in this collection.

City lights were the inspiration according to the show notes, but it was more about the pace of the city. These clothes were made for speed, a sentiment underscored by the pace of the models, who walked the runway in quick succession, sometimes two at a clip, wearing sneaker-stilettos that looked like they could handle the mean streets.

There was an undercurrent of athleticism throughout the collection, from the bright color palette, to the sporty lacing details corseting coats and mini-dresses, to the quilted nylon used to create high-low gowns (how great would it be if we saw one of those at the Oscars?).

Another takeaway? Tailoring. Simons put the world on notice that in addition to unforgettable evening looks,

For Dodgers fans, just call this new channel Sports ‘Nyet’ L.A.

If you’re a Dodgers fan, you know somebody like Brian Gadinsky. Chances are, you may even be like Brian Gadinsky.

The TV producer moved to Los Angeles on an October day in 1988. The next night, Kirk Gibson hit the home run, and Gadinsky has been hooked ever since.

He has season tickets on the reserved level. He is neither famous nor entitled, he is just an average guy with a powerful passion about a team that has come to represent his love for his city.

When Frank McCourt’s regime began to slowly burn, Gadinsky angrily canceled his tickets. When the former owner invited Gadinsky to lunch in hopes of regaining his support, Gadinsky refused. When that story was told in this column, it marked the beginning of the Dodgers’ fan revolution.

When Stan Kasten arrived with the new ownership group, he invited Gadinsky and other grass-roots fans back to the stadium. Gadinsky showed up, listened to a presentation, and decided to give the Dodgers another chance.

“The Dodgers are a religion,” he said Tuesday.

But he said it with a sigh, because less than a month from now

Times sports section is honored by Associated Press

The Los Angeles Times was named one of the top-10 daily Sports sections among large-circulation papers and received five top-10 writing awards in the annual section and writing contest conducted by the Associated Press Sports Editors, which concluded Wednesday in Indianapolis.

The Times also received top-10 honors for its special section on the life of former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, and for its website and multimedia presentation.

Bill Plaschke received three top-10 awards in the writing divisions.

The top-10 winners in the writing divisions for The Times:

•Plaschke for column writing.

•Mike Bresnahan, David Wharton and Plaschke in breaking news for their coverage of Buss’ death.

•Gary Klein, also in breaking news, for his coverage of USC’s firing of former football coach Lane Kiffin.

•Plaschke in project writing, for his seven-part series looking at mostly unheralded contributors to the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series run.

•Ken Bensinger, Armand Emamdjomeh and Maloy Moore in the investigative category on professional athletes filing for workers’ compensation in California.

Also, Mike Hiserman and Emamdjomeh were awarded top-10 honors in the multimedia category for their interactive online comparison of Major League Baseball

Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony both miss clutch 3s down stretch as Knicks fall to Pacers

The Pacers wore their maroon Hickory High uniforms from “Hoosiers,” but the Knicks were the overmatched underdogs Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The visitors also couldn’t pull off the upset because of a dud from Carmelo Anthony, who missed 15 of his 20 shots, committed a costly flagrant foul and air-balled a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer of Wednesday’s 108-105 loss to the Pacers.

At least the Knicks played hard two days after Anthony questioned his team’s desire following an embarrassing loss to the Raptors.

“It was a tough one. Guys really did step up tonight and played well and they responded well. And in a night when everybody stepped up, I had one of my worst nights,” said Anthony, who had 14 points.

It didn’t take long – just about two weeks, in fact – but interim coach Kurt Rambis has gone from talking up the playoffs as “the only goal” to hoping for progress heading into next season. In other words, he has caught up with Derek Fisher and pushed aside the idea of the playoffs.

The Knicks (24-35) have lost 13 of their last 15 games and dropped to

F1 testing Nico Rosberg says Mercedes yet to show their cards

Nico Rosberg has admitted his Mercedes team had not shown their hand so far in pre-season testing in Barcelona.

The German and team-mate Lewis Hamilton have done more laps than anyone but not come close to setting the fastest times on any of the days so far.

But Rosberg said: “We haven’t shown our cards yet. We’re still holding back – and for sure the car is quick.

“The opposition also seems to be quick, so how quick we are nobody knows for now but we are confident.”

Mercedes have done more than a third more laps than any other team over three days at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, but Rosberg and Hamilton were only fifth and eighth fastest in the list of times on Wednesday.

They were in similar positions on the first two days.

Rosberg, 30, said Mercedes were mainly concentrating on reliability at this stage of testing.

“We need to push the car to its limit in order to find little problems,” he said.

“At some point something will break and for now we need to keep on going to find out where the little

Mocs Finish Second At Mobile Sports Authority Golf Intercollegiate

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s golf team got the spring schedule off to a grand start with a runner-up finish at the Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate. The final round 284 (-4) gave the squad its best total (-12, 852) since the same number winning the 2009 Southern Conference Championships.

No. 4 Auburn won the event shooting 838. Chattanooga was second by four shots over second-ranked Wake Forest and six clear of Kansas State.

“The really cool thing…at lunch the guys were talking about how we didn’t play our best,” coach Mark Guhne shared. “We left a few shots out there. I really like that fire and competitiveness heading into this semester.

“That attitude of not being willing to settle is what we need. We said it over and over in the fall that the talent was there. We played consistently and closed out rounds.

“We finished every day.”

Lake Johnson had his best showing of the year. The freshman turned in three par or better cards for a 4-under 212 to tie for eighth, his first career top 10. Andrew Weathers added three consecutive 71s to finish one stroke out of the top 10 in 11th at -3.

Wes Gosselin made it three

Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving gets apology after being bitten by bedbugs

Hilton Hotels apologized Tuesday after Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving said he was bitten by bedbugs during a weekend stay in downtown Oklahoma City.

Irving played just nine minutes Sunday in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team blamed flu-like symptoms, but Irving later said he was not feeling well after discovering bedbugs on a pillow and ending up on a couch instead of his bed at the Skirvin Hilton. He said he didn’t get much sleep Saturday night and had a sore back.

Hilton and environmental health inspectors from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department both called it an isolated case and said the room was being treated.

“The comfort of our guests is a top priority, and we are very sorry to hear about Mr. Irving’s stay,” Hilton said. “Since bedbugs can be easily transmitted anywhere and are often lodged in luggage or on clothing, our hotel maintains high levels of vigilance and we perform regular inspections.”

Irving said he had just three hours of sleep the night before the game and felt nauseated.

“Just imagine how freaked out you’d be if you saw friggin’ five big bedbugs just sitting

Draft hopeful Peyton Barber motivated by ‘homeless’ mom

Among the underclassmen to declare for this year’s NFL draft, former Auburn running back Peyton Barber is one of the more unexpected entrants. His motivation to go pro was equally surprising.

Barber, who rushed for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore last season, told reporters Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine that his mom’s living situation spurred him to forgo his final two years of eligibility at Auburn to pursue an NFL paycheck.

“My mother is homeless right now,” Barber said. “Right now, she’s staying with her sister. It’s her and her three kids staying in an apartment back home.”

Barber, who was one of 24 running backs invited to Indianapolis for the combine, said his mother has been only uplifting and supportive as he readies for a Friday workout he hopes will raise his draft outlook.

“She really just asks me if I’m OK and how I’m doing,” he said. “She never pressured me to do anything. I just decided to do what’s best for me and my family.”

Barber is jockeying for draft position against better-known backs such as Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, Heisman Trophy winner  Derrick Henry of Alabama, and Notre

Chattanooga Softball Hosts Frost Classic

The Chattanooga Mocs softball team hosts its second home tournament in a row, the Frost Classic presented by Ruby Falls, Feb. 26-28. UTC is 8-3 after a 3-3 finish last weekend.

“It’s a good field coming in for the tournament,” head coach Frank Reed stated. “There’s not a weak opponent there. All of them play really strong softball.”

The Mocs are coming off wins over Dayton (1-0), Wright State (4-3) and Detroit Mercy (14-0) and losses to UT Martin (6-2), the Raiders (3-1) and IPFW (7-5).”We need to have more consistency,” explained Reed. “We felt like we lost a little bit of that last weekend. I’m also trying to solidify a more solid lineup, so we’re not making mass changes.”

Chattanooga faces Eastern Illinois first Friday at 1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.). The last meeting between the two teams was Feb. 19, 2012 when the Panthers took a 5-4 win over the Mocs.

Eastern Illinois is 3-7 with a six-game losing streak, including five losses at the Troy Classic last weekend. The Panthers lost to both McNeese State and Ole Miss twice, in addition to a lone loss to Troy.

Friday play finishes with UTC squaring off against Evansville at 4:00 p.m. Chattanooga beat the

World Cup Germany welcomes conquering heroes home

Tens of thousands of German football fans have given a heroes’ welcome to the World Cup-winning team in Berlin.

The main celebrations were at the Brandenburg Gate, where players displayed the cup on a large stage while performing an impromptu dance.

Many had gathered since dawn to welcome the players, who touched down from Brazil on Tuesday morning. Huge crowds lined their bus route into the capital.

It was the fourth German cup win and the first since reunification in 1990.

Berlin transformed

The team’s 1-0 victory over Argentina in Sunday’s final sparked delirious scenes across Germany, culminating in Tuesday’s celebrations in central Berlin.

The team arrived in an open-top bus emblazoned with the years they have won the competition – 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.

The BBC’s Lucy Hockings in Berlin says there was a carnival atmosphere in the city, with thousands taking the day off to witness the spectacle even though Tuesday is not officially a holiday.

Speaking on the stage near the Brandenburg Gate, coach Joachim Loew paid tribute to his team and the German people for their part in its victory.

“For our

Lee Basketball Splits At Delta State

Freshman Haris Price spun into the lane and laid in an acrobatic shot with just one second remaining to give the Lee Lady Flames a thrilling 54-53 road victory over Delta State on Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Flames came up with a huge defensive stop to set up the game winner with 10 seconds remaining. Delta State’s Chelsey Rhodes missed a jumper and Lee’s Christina Johnson grabbed one of her 10 rebounds to give her team the final possession.

Sophomore Erin Walsh, proving once again she is one of the elite players in the GSC, led the way with 24 points on 9 of 18 from the field and canned 6 of 8 3-pointers.Price finished with 14 points, dished of six assists and grabbed four rebounds. Shelby Brown added seven points and three boards and Carrie Cheeks, coming off an ankle injury that has sidelined her for two weeks, gutted out 16 minutes and scored two points to go with three rebounds.

“What a great game between two really good teams,” said head coach Marty Rowe after the game. “We came up with a big defensive stop and that gave us the chance to win it at the end. We wanted

NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives

Football has a numbers problem. We’re told that 1 in 3 NFL players will suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia at younger ages than their peers; that they’re four times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases; that 78 percent will be broke or nearly so within two years of retiring; that they may be disproportionately inclined to beat their wives; and that they live, on average, to the age of 55 or 60. It’s enough to make you wonder if banning football would be good for America.

But there’s another numbers problem here: Each of the figures cited in the paragraph above is false, misleading, or incomplete. They’ve nonetheless become ammunition for anyone who wants to criticize the sport, the NFL, or its players. If we’re going to talk about the social value of the NFL—or, more importantly, its social costs—then it’s time we reckoned with the stats. But which numbers, if any, can we trust?

Some of the most widespread statistical mistakes are simply sloppy. The recent claim that 1 in 3 pro football players will experience accelerated cognitive decline derives from actuarial reports prepared