Mark Whicker


Sports Columnist

Mark Whicker

Recent articles

  • USC

    Whicker: How USC’s Nico Falah turned risk into reward

    LOS ANGELES — They were on a three-game losing streak when Nico Falah’s Signing Day came around.They had just been shredded by Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, and by the media covering it. They had lost their five-game winning streak over UCLA, which had the new coach and the style and the promise.Falah’s dad had gone to UCLA. Now Oregon, coolest of the cool and the Pac-12’s resident bigfoot, was calling.USC was selling memories and faith. Those...

  • Angels

    Whicker: Angels’ season was over, but they kept playing

    The season did not end Monday morning. The Angels are not the American League’s second wild-card team, at least not yet.Occupancy is not the law. One-fourth of the schedule lies before them.“All I know is that the standings are pretty crowded,” said Billy Eppler, the Angels’ general manager. “We’ve got our heads down. All we want to do is win the game we’re playing.”But somehow the games are worth playing and the...

  • Los Angeles Rams

    Sammy Watkins, once a Ferrari, joins L.A. traffic

    Sammy Watkins was supposed to wait his turn at Clemson.He was all-this-and-that in Fort Myers, Fla. but the Tigers always had receiver talent. Maybe by his sophomore year ….“We had a guy named (Marquan) Jones who was going to start,” said Tajh Boyd, the quarterback. “We’d all heard about how good Sammy was but nobody had seen it yet.“Our first 7-on-7, I went back and threw it as far as I could, and Sammy got...

  • Golf

    Whicker: Late bloomer Robert Funk, minus the thorns, eyes the U.S. Amateur

    CANYON LAKE >> Robert Funk lives on a promontory, inside gates, near Lake Elsinore.His two sons, Corey and Capron, are razor scooter champions who record their stunts on You Tube, much to the delight of their 3.5 million followers and various orthopedists. Funk handles their contracts and their business.He has his own business, too, as an electrical contractor. He nearly lost it to a friend’s malfeasance and another time to a recession, so he keeps it under his...

  • Boxing

    Waisted time: Ronny Rios’ chance at a belt is finally here

    SANTA ANA >> Go ahead and say boxing has too many belts. Just make sure Ronny Rios, 27, is out of the room.“I’m barely into the prime of my career,” Rios said Monday, just leaving the ring at the TKO Boxing Club after two hours of work that encompassed 14 rounds of sparring.He smiled. “But it’s better late than never.”On Aug. 26, while Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor re-illustrate Solomon’s adage about fools and...

  • Dodgers

    Pantone 294 — a haven for Dodgers fans in a banner year

    LOS ANGELES >> It should be Dodger Purple by now. The bruises have accumulated for decades.Mike Piazza got traded. Fox, and then Frank McCourt, bought a golden franchise and used it to scrape dirt off their shoes. The McCourt Divorce chased RBIs and strikeouts off the sports page. The intricate strategy of getting in and out of Dodger Stadium, inspired by Dunkirk, has gotten no easier. Inside, the $14 beer is now offered without remorse. The stadium itself has become a...

  • Angels

    Whicker: Without Don Baylor, baseball misses its Groove

    Don Baylor and Bobby Grich grew up as Baltimore Orioles, playing on a legendary Rochester Triple-A team.“We had a mantra throughout that organization that I never heard anywhere else,” Grich said Monday. “We said, ‘If we win, everybody had a good year.’’’If you played with Don Baylor, you had a good year.You generally won, too. From 1986-88, Baylor went to three World Series on three different teams. Bruce Hurst told him,...

  • NASCAR

    Whicker: If the cars don’t matter anymore, does NASCAR?

    Drivers came and went. The cars remained.The Fords raced the Chevrolets. They chased one bright red-and-blue Dodge. Richard Petty drove it, and David Pearson drove a Mercury and Cale Yarborough generally drove a Chevrolet. The race was on Sunday and the auto showrooms were hopping on Monday, because that wasn’t just Petty’s or Pearson’s car or Yarborough’s car. It was yours.Now NASCAR isn’t what it used to be. Marketers, pundits and media...

  • Columnists

    Adrian Beltre is the 3,000-hit man who Dodgers let get away

    The Dodgers lost Adrian Beltre after the 2004 season.Apparently they figured anybody could play third base. Turned out, everybody did.Beltre’s position became as erratically staffed as the drive-thru window at Arby’s. Anybody who can recite all the Dodger third basemen in the span between Beltre and Justin Turner should either appear on Jeopardy! or get serious counseling.There was Wilson Betemit, Luis Cruz, Oscar Robles, Blake DeWitt, Aaron Miles, Juan...

  • Los Angeles Chargers

    Whicker: Gus Bradley’s smile survived the Jacksonville nightmare

    Gus Bradley grew up in Zumbrota, Minnesota, a deceptive name for a town that doesn’t exactly have everything from Z to A.But he did take one great gift from his mom Gloria. He says that she greeted him every morning with the same promise: “Something good is about to happen.”He thought about it during the crash-and-burn Sundays of the 2016 season, when he and everyone else in the NFL knew he would soon be the ex-coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It...