Sunday, November 16, 2014

Remembering Don Paul and the Rams Horn

There it was this morning on the obituary page, a paid announcement for a football player who was a star  at UCLA and later with the Los Angeles Rams. A quick check of the Internet showed  that no newspaper obits had been written on Don Paul, who died on November 8 in Woodland Hills at age 89 of what appears to be complications from Alzheimer's,  but he certainly would have deserved a write-up.
Paul was an All-Pro linebacker for the Rams, a third-round draft choice in 1947 who had a stellar eight-year career in the NFL. At UCLA, he is the only player in Bruins football history to be elected team captain as a freshman.
He was a prominent member of the Rams' 1951 championship team that beat Otto Graham's Cleveland Browns, a stalwart on defense that earned him the reputation as one of the fiercest players in the league.


add Paul: After his football career was over Paul became a football broadcaster for CBS,  and also the owner of two restaurants in Los Angeles. The most well-known was the Rams Horn in Encino on Ventura Boulevard  in the San Fernando Valley. The Rams Horn's marquee was the figure of a noble Ram that at night shown over the sidewalk in gold light along with such other well-known eateries as the Smoke House, Monty's and Pucci's, the latter owned by Len and Mike Pucci, who also played in the NFL.  The Rams Horn was well supported by Valley patrons and Paul's Rams teammates.


add Encino restaurants: A visit this past Saturday morning to DuPar's, the new arrival next to Walgreen's drugstore, was a treat, especially for a lover of pancakes. The menu's No. 2 Blue Plate Special, which includes two pancakes and one egg with bacon or sausage links, was a hit. DuPar's had returned to a Ventura boulevard location a couple weeks ago, taking over the old space that was vacated by John O'Groat's. The menu features ample breakfast and luncheon selections and almost all the tables were filled at 9:30 a.m. A survey of the dining room also showed a remodeling of the restaurant's bar and spacious banquet room.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Familiar Name Returns to Encino

The old space on Ventura Blvd. that was occupied by John O'Groat's for the last few years until the restaurant went out of business this summer will be replaced by DuPar's beginning the first week of November. John O'Groat's, which was rumored to close its doors because of a steep hike in its lease, was mostly known for breakfast and lunch menus, plus its outdoor seating under some splendid Oak trees.
O'Groat's also had a cozy bar that included two large televisions and a banquet room.


add Du Par's: The coffee shop's original location in Encino was at the corner of Petit and Ventura, now the home of Jerry's Deli. It will be interesting to see if it employs the bar in its home or sticks with the comfort food menu that was O'Groat's main attraction.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Utah Takes Big Step in Pac-12

Utah's three-game losing streak to USC ended Saturday night  when the Utes pulled off a 24-21 win in the final seconds in Salt Lake City. It was the Trojans' third loss of the season and their second defeat in Pac-12 play under first-year coach Steve Sarkisian. Utah, which had beaten UCLA at the Rose Bowl earlier this season, used its rough-and-tumble defense to slow down USC's stellar tailback Buck Allen, and pressure quarterback Cody Kessler, who earlier in the week had basked in the attention of fans and media after throwing seven touchdown passes against Colorado.


add Utah: The Utes have a Pac-12 South Division showdown this weekend when they travel to Tempe, Ariz., to play the Arizona State Sun Devils. USC, which has now lost to both Arizona State and Utah, coincidentally on plays at the end of the game, would appear to be out of the race for the conference's South Division championship. With games still to be played against UCLA and Notre Dame, and a road game at Pullman, Wash., against Washington State, the Trojans appear to be set to return to a second-tier bowl game again, such as the Las Vegas Bowl, where they won last season against Fresno State.


add USC: The post-mordem commentary on the radio after the Trojans loss to Utah centered around the offensive play calling, a familiar discussion when Lane Kiffin coached at USC. Both Kiffin and Sarkisian were assistants under Pete Carroll as offensive coordinators. At Washington, Sarkisian's record was barely above .500 while Kiffin's tenure as a head coach with the Oakland Raiders, at Tennessee and USC, is checkered at best.

Bumgarner Stealing Kershaw's Cy Spotlight

After watching Madison Bumgarner dominate the Kansas City Royals in Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night, the talk of who should win the National League's Cy Young award should shift  dramatically from Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers to the San Francisco Giants' ace left-hander.
Even when Kershaw had lost two games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL's Division Series earlier this month, the 20-game winner nearly had the prestigious award locked up.
But now that Bumgarner is 4-0 in the postseason and on a team that is one win away from its third world championship in five years, many in baseball  are calling  his performance Sunday one of the best in World Series history.


add World Series: Of the four California teams that had a chance  of making it to the World Series this season, the Giants were probably the least likely team to make the Fall Classic,  behind the Dodgers, the Angels and the Athletics, given the fact that they lost six straight games at the end of the regular season and had to play at Pittsburgh to qualify as the league's Wild Card entry. But Bumgarner beat the Pirates to put the Giants in the NLDS against Washington.


last add World Series: It wouldn't be out of line to think about the Giants as starting a dynasty, at least in the National League. If they win one of the next two games in Kansas City, the championship will be their third in five years. No team has done that since the mid-1940s when it was accomplished by the St. Louis Cardinals. And the splashy debut of second baseman Joe Panik on baseball's biggest stage shows how well-developed San Francisco's minor league system is.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fodder for 'Feed' Bag

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could have used a face to go along with his proposals last week to curb the domestic violence that seems all to prevalent among some players this season. A suggestion would be to hire former Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice to head a department of compliance.
Goodell's press conference in which he offered contrition but not too many specifics on how the league was going to deal with such cases, received poor reviews from a number of groups including the media, players and anti-domestic violence organizations.


add NFL: When Rice ran the State Department under President George W. Bush, it was reported that she had an interest in one day working at 400 Park Avenue, the league's office address in New York City. Hiring her would smooth over the growing doubt on how Goodell is going to bring the violence and crime under control.


last add NFL: So far, the college football season has produced few good match-ups among the Top 25 teams. A couple of exceptions were USC's thrilling win over Stanford three weeks ago and last week's close Auburn win over Kansas State. But the pros have produced some exciting games including Seattle's overtime win on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinal's victory against the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers defeat of the Seahawks.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Downtown Pool

Wednesday  marked a rarity in sports scheduling for Los Angeles'  professional teams. The Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Ducks all began their games approximately at the same time--between 7 and 7:30 p.m.
And, to add to the mix, the soccer match between the United States and Mexico kicked off at 8:15 p.m.
So, the copy desk at the L.A. Times sports department decided to have some fun on what was going to be a busy night on deadline. A pool was drawn up and for $1 entry fee a participant had to pick the winner of each team's game. The tiebreaker was to predict the final score of the soccer match.
The Dodgers were in San Diego against the Padres; the Angels were home against Seattle; the Lakers and Clippers were both on the road, against Sacramento and Phoenix, respectively; the King's were scheduled against Phoenix at Staples Center and the Ducks were on home ice against Edmonton. And the exhibition soccer match against the border rivals was at Glendale, Ariz.


add Sports Dept. pool: When the edition was off the floor at 11:15 p.m., Steve Horn announced the results of the  picks. And the winner was Jim Coleman, who had  every winner right. The final outcome of the soccer game was a 2-2 tie, and Coleman took home $10.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On the Town

Up and down the Boulevard: The Sepulveda golf courses complex has  a new digital marquee that has replaced the old one, which had a hole in the center for what seemed like years. Word from inside Encino Glen, the facility's  restaurant and bar, is that the sign is hard to read, especially  if one is driving on nearby Burbank Blvd. ...

add golf: Our Lady of Grace School will host its annual scholarship golf tournament on May 19 at Woodland Hills Country Club. The format will be a scramble and early-bird sign-ups are worth a $25 discount.


Shoppers delight: Upgrades at the Smart & Final grocery store at Balboa and Ventura include remodeled check-out stands that feature the names of some Encino streets. Ventura Boulevard, White Oak Avenue and Lindley Avenue are all mounted on signposts.

add Smart & Final: The store, which was once a Thrifty Mart, has expanded its  produce (vegetables and fruits)  and frozen food sections, offering a wider variety  of products.


Batter up: Encino Little League's  season is underway and two promotions highlight the start of the baseball year. First, Rosti's, the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant near Hayvenhurst Avenue, will award a free pizza each time a home run is hit. And, El Mariachi Mexican Grill is a sponsoring a Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament this Thursday. The festivities include dinner and cocktails at 6:30 p.m. followed by the tournament at 8, which is limited to 120 players.