All Ball Sports: Tiger’s ‘Celebrity justice’; Costa-Redondo football Battle of the Beach

Sea Hawk quarterback Alex Wunderli, shown throwing against Palos Verdes two weeks ago, and Mustang quarterback Casey Pavlick meet for bragging rights this Friday. Photo by Ray Vidal   

by Paul Teetor        

If you live up on Peninsula and you’re late for an appointment it’s perfectly okay to speed down Hawthorne Boulevard at nearly 90 miles per hour – double the posted speed limit — and crash so badly that your 5,000-pound beast of a vehicle goes flying right through and over the oncoming traffic lane and slams into a tree.

If you’re a celebrity.

And if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs before the early morning crash, just tell the cops you haven’t been drinking or taking drugs. They’ll believe you and won’t bother with a urine test or a blood alcohol test to make sure you’re telling the truth and nothing but the truth.

If you’re a celebrity.

And when the cops find an empty pill bottle in your backpack just tell them you don’t remember what happened and you don’t know anything about the pill bottle.

They’ll believe you – if you’re a celebrity. 

They’ll believe you even if you’ve had several DUI’s involving pills like Vicodin and Ambien as recently as four years ago. 

If you’re a celebrity.

Even if you’re a black celebrity.

That’s the bottom line of last Wednesday’s announcement by LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva that he will not be filing any charges against golf great Tiger Woods after learning from an analysis of the black box in Woods’ $80,000 SUV that the primary cause of his horrific crash on Hawthorne Boulevard six weeks ago was excessive speed – somewhere between 84 and 87 miles per hour.

The decision was shocking but not surprising to many who have watched Villanueva’s erratic actions and arrogant behavior since he was elected in 2018. The Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission was so disgusted it called on him to resign last fall, but he ignored them. He has acted so imperiously and out of control that his nominal bosses – the 5-member County Board of Supervisors – has tired of his incompetence, lack of transparency and high-handed approach. They are currently looking into how they can remove him because he will not face the voters again until November 2022.

His two most high-profile cases have both been problematic for him and his department.

He screwed up the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash investigation by trying to cover up the scandal that erupted when his deputies took unauthorized photos of Bryant’s charred body and used the pictures to try to pick up women at a bar.

Then he was sued by Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant for improperly handling the photos. Bryant has won a series of court decisions that allowed the suit to proceed. Now Villanueva has shown that he doesn’t understand the concept of equal justice under the law – celebrity or not.

Just ask prominent defense attorney Tony Capozzola, who lives near the crash site and is a former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney. “This decision to let Tiger skate with no charges is a classic case of celebrity justice,” he tells the Easy Reader. “It makes me sick. Do you think this would happen to a black guy from South Central under the same circumstances? The sheriff is a celebrity sycophant.”

Villanueva, who spent all of three minutes explaining his decision to the press before strutting out of the room, anticipated such criticism.

“I know there are some saying he received special or preferential treatment of some kind,” he said. “That is absolutely false.”

But there were two very curious aspects of the press conference where the no-charge decision was announced.

First, in explaining why he declined to order drug and alcohol tests, Villanueva introduced a sheriff’s captain who said that “there was no evidence of any impairment….no open containers in the vehicle and no evidence of narcotics or medication in the vehicle or on his person.” But Villanueva did not reveal that an empty pill bottle – “an empty plastic pharmaceutical container” — had been found in Woods’ backpack, information he surely knew when he spoke to the press.

That contradictory information was not made public until later in the day when 22 pages of reports from the deputies who responded to the accident scene were posted on the sheriff’s website. Villanueva did not return calls from the Easy Reader seeking an explanation for why he didn’t mention that very relevant fact at his press conference.

Second, although Villanueva quoted one deputy as saying Woods was calm and cooperative at the crash scene, the website contained a report from a different deputy who said Woods was “disoriented” and “combative” when questioned at the scene. At one point, the deputy wrote, Woods said he was in Florida, not California. Another deputy’s report said Woods was “somewhat combative.”

Capozzola said the sheriff’s so-called “investigation” was incomplete and incompetent.

“Of course his blood and urine should have been tested for drugs and alcohol,” he said. “He had two previous instances of driving intoxicated while on medication. That alone is reason enough to order blood tests. He could have killed a lot of people if there had been any traffic on that southbound lane. The public deserves to know if he was driving under the influence and endangering lives.”     

On the day of the crash, Villanueva said it was “purely an accident.” Even before a formal investigation was started, he said it was unlikely that there would be any criminal charges. Wednesday he repeated that same assessment, adding there was no reason to charge Woods with speeding or reckless driving.

A few hours after Villanueva made his announcement that the investigation was over, Woods tweeted out how grateful he was to the Sheriff and his deputies. He even thanked by name a deputy and two paramedics “for helping me so expertly at the scene and getting me safely to the hospital.”

Woods didn’t mention it, but he had a lot more to be grateful for than just their help the day of the crash. For the next six weeks they gave him every break and every benefit of the doubt.                                                                     

That’s how the justice game is played in LA.

If you’re a celebrity.   

Mustang Thomas Southey, a favorite target of quarterback Casey Pavlick, scores against Palos Verdes three weeks ago. Photo by Ray Vidal

Mira Costa heads into Battle of the Beach on a winning streak

After losing their first three games, all brutal last-second losses to good teams, Mira Costa has put together a two-game winning streak heading into the annual Battle of the Beach Friday night against Redondo.

The Mustang’s latest victory was last Friday night, by a score of 23-7 over Peninsula. It was their 13th straight victory over Peninsula. Costa is now 2-3 overall, 2-2 in the Bay League.

Costa Head Coach Don Morrow sounds like a scientist in his lab when asked to explain how he turned his team around: “We just had to find the right formula, the right balance between running and passing for this particular team.”

Morrow, who has been coaching the Mustangs since 1993, has always been known as a fundamentals-first kind of guy. Three yards and a cloud of dust was usually his preferred offensive style.

But last season he realized he had an elite passing talent in his new quarterback, Slingin’ Sam Whitney. Whitney had improved so much between his sophomore season when he led the JV and his junior season that he was named the Bay League Offensive Player of the year after setting eight school passing records.

After Whitney transferred to a Connecticut prep school, Morrow continued to use that Air Raid offense to start this year with new QB Casey Pavlick. Like Whitney the year before, Pavlick had graduated from the JV to the varsity, and amazingly, he put up similar passing numbers to what Whitney had accomplished the year before. The offense was prolific and Pavlick and tight end Thomas Southey, the best in the South Bay, combined for a bunch of TDs to keep the Mustangs in every game.

But after their third straight close loss, Morrow tweaked the formula from pass-first to run first.

“It wasn’t Casey’s fault,” he says. “He played great for us.  We just needed to have better offensive balance, not be quite so predictable. Back in the day, out of 50 plays we liked to run 35 times and pass 15 times. We’re trying to get back to that formula.”

The results were clear two weeks ago, when the Mustangs crushed Santa Monica 49-7, scoring, on five rushing touchdowns. And they continued to use the ground-and-pound attack Friday night to wear down Peninsula.  They gained 220 yards on the ground and scored two TD’s running and one passing. Dean Repetti dove in from three yards out and Ryan Moreno scampered in from 10 yards away.  

The passing game contributed as well when Pavlick found Southey for a 20-yard TD to open the scoring. “Thomas made a real nice up-and-out move to get open, and Casey put the ball right on the money,” Morrow.

Southey, who doubles as the team’s kicker, completed the scoring with a field goal.

Redondo, meanwhile, comes into the Battle of the Beach riding a 3-game losing streak. After winning their first game, they are now 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the league. They were scheduled to play Santa Monica last weekend, but Santa Monica had to cancel the game because of Covid-19 protocol issues.

Scrambling to find an opponent available to play, the Sea Hawks, on short notice, came up with Jurupa Hills, which beat them 18-6.

Morrow said his winning streak and Redondo’s losing streak won’t be factors in the rivalry game, which will be played at Redondo.

“It’s going to be a real slugfest,” Morrow said. “They play great defense, and they run the ball well. It’s going to be a tight, hard fought game. This has always been a great series.”

Although the Mustangs won the last two meetings, Redondo won the three games before that. 

Anything can happen in a rivalry game, and probably will.

Contact: teetor.paul@gmail.com. Follow: @paulteetor ER

 

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Written by: Paul Teetor

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