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The Best of Neil's Watchdog

Raiders make Ice Cube melt

Next in ESPN's "30 for 30'' series is Tuesday's "Straight Outta L.A.,'' a look at the relationship between the Raiders and Los Angeles' music and gang scenes in the 1980s from hip hop star Ice Cube.

The film is a mostly lighthearted look at the notorious Raiders of that era and how they bonded with the less glamorous, less wealthy side of Los Angeles. during their pit stop there from 1982-94.

I sat down with Mr. Cube before the premiere April 23. Some excerpts:

On his rare one-on-one interview with owner Al Davis:

"He just knows I'm a big-time and longtime Raider fan. I think that kind of got the interview more than anything else . . . It was cool. It was kind of like you're going to meet Yoda or something.''

On why the team resonated with young fans:

"The team to me spoke to an L.A. that was unseen to the rest of the world. When most people saw L.A. in the '80s, they saw the Showtime Lakers or '84 Olympics, a fun and sun kind of thing. But we knew an L.A. that was a lot more grimy.''

On whether he is surprised L.A. still doesn't have an NFL team:

"It's unbelievable. When they left in '94, I thought we were going to have a team in two years, three years. But 15 years, it's strange."

On his life as a sports fan:

"More than music, sports have always been constantly in my life in some way or another, so I get a kick out of having something on ESPN and going to Raiders camp. I had more fun doing that than any movie I've done. Or jumping on stage and all that.''

Harwell was one of the last left

The outpouring of emotion in the Detroit area after the death of Ernie Harwell was a reminder of the strong bond between announcers - particularly baseball announcers - and their cities.

It also was a reminder that Harwell's generation of famous voices is all but gone now.

A few months back, MLB Network did a "Prime 9" show listing the top announcers ever. Sadly, only one of the nine - Vin Scully - still is with us. Happily, he still is on the job.

The list: 1. Vin Scully, 2. Mel Allen, 3. Red Barber, 4. Jack Buck, 5. Ernie Harwell, 6. Harry Kalas, 7. Harry Caray, 8. Phil Rizzuto, 9. Curt Gowdy.

Odds are, LeBron will stay put

LeBron James will do just fine financially regardless of where he ends up next season. But the only way for you to make a killing on his whereabouts is to be bold and predict he will turn up in, say . . . Greece?

Here are the latest odds from Bodog.com on what team James will be playing for come October:

Cavaliers, 1-3; Knicks, 3-1; Nets, 10-1; Mavericks, 25-1; Heat, 35-1; Bulls, 40-1; Clippers, 40-1; Olympiakos SFP, 100-1; any other team, 18-1.

SNY seeks successor to Sandwich Man

The most memorable sportscasting debut of 2009 was the visit to SNY's booth by then 10-year-old Kyle Singh of Queens, who unveiled his distinctive strikeout call during a Marlins-Mets game.

"Here's the pitch to Anderson Hernandez, and the pitcher for the Marlins is going to try to get a sandwich,'' Singh, the winner of SNY's "Kidcaster Contest,'' said on the air.

"To get a sandwich, you need to try to strike out the hitter. And that's strike one. He just threw the buns of the sandwich, so he's one-third of the way there.''

Children ages 7 to 15 can apply for this year's contest, which requires an essay of 100 words or less on "what contestants would show Mr. Met if they could bring him to school for a day and why.''

Umm. The sandwich selection in the cafeteria?

For information: www.sny.tv/kidcaster.

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