Dodgers prep for Aussie debut, but few fans will see it

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The Dodgers open up a new baseball season tomorrow – and they’ll be doing it in Sydney, Australia. It’s part of an ongoing drive to plant the seeds of baseball fandom Down Under and around the world. The Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will play two games at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Dodgers will carry the games live on their new cable station – SportsNet L.A. – but most fans won’t be receiving that signal. Time Warner Cable, which owns the Dodger station, hasn’t been able to reach deals with most cable and satellite companies to carry the channel. The team, meanwhile, has high hopes for reaching the club’s first World Series in more than 25 years. With a roster full of pricey talent, they start the season as favorites to win the National League West division.

santaclaritariverA California court has cleared the way for a massive housing development in the Santa Clarita Valley, north of Los Angeles. The court has restored a state permit that granted the Newhall Land and Farming Co. permission to alter the Santa Clara River as part of construction of Newhall Ranch. The court found that an environmental report adequately analyzed the project’s potential impact on endangered fauna and flora, as well as Native American cultural artifacts. Critics of the plan say they’ll probably appeal to the state supreme court. The 2,500-acre development calls for nearly 20,000 housing units and 60,000 residents.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has slapped a freeze on fire department recruiting and ordered changes to what he calls a “fatally flawed” process. The move follows reports that department officials put on recruiting workshops for LAFD insiders and that many recruits were related to current firefighters. The L.A. Times also reports thousands of qualified applicants were surreptitiously eliminated during the latest round of recruiting, for failing to turn in their paperwork within the first 60 seconds of the first day of the filing period.

acunaAn L.A. jury has absolved one of the country’s biggest manufacturers of football helmets of any responsibility for the severe injuries suffered by a player at Pomona’s Garey High School. Edward Acuna was 17 when he was involved in a helmet-to-helmet hit with an opposing player. He was partially paralyzed and suffered permanent brain injuries. Acuna’s lawyers argued that Riddell Sports should have used a different material to cushion its helmets to provide better protection. But it took a jury just 30 minutes to conclude that Riddell was not liable.

uclabasketballThe UCLA men’s basketball team opens its bid for the school’s 12th national title tonight in San Diego. The Bruins are matched up with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane for their first game in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA is a No. 4 seed and Tulsa is a No. 13 seed. The Bruins enter the tournament on a nice roll, having just beaten top-ranked Arizona to win the Pac 12 Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:57 p.m. UCLA’s 11 basketball titles are the most by any school.