Story of the Week
L. A. & PRO SPORTS
L.A. is a great city, and I love it, but itís a lousy pro sports town. Now that I have your attention, letís take a look at why I feel this way. With but one exception, the Lakers, we L.A. pro sports fans have little to applaud.
The Dodgers: They sell lots of tickets; great attendance. They spend lots of money on players; the Dodgers have one of the highest payrolls in baseball. Yet they donít know what the playoffs and World Series look like. Since 1988, the year Kirk Gibson emulated Robert Redford in ĎThe Naturalí and hit his famous home run off Dennis Eckersley, the Dodgers havenít been to a World Series. A sky-high payroll with a mediocre team means just one thing; very poor management.
The Kings: I wonít waste a lot of time on this one. Please refer to my article of 8-30-01; it said it all. In a snapshot, unlike the Dodgers, they donít spend lots of money on players, so they, at least, have a good reason for being the mediocre team they are.
The Clippers are a basketball team in the NBA. Did you know that? They make it to the lottery draft virtually every year. With all their lottery picks, they havenít come close to being successful. Something to consider; Corpus Christi doesnít have an NBA team. How about the Corpus Christi Clippers? Now that sounds good to me.
The Rams and the Raiders said bye-bye to L.A. for financial reasons, the lack of fan support, and the lack of a bona-fide NFL stadium. They are two of the best teams in the NFL, if not the two very best, and donít be surprised if they play each other in a Super Bowl soon. A good sports town does not lose a franchise in the NFL. Weíve lost not one but two of them. (The Chargers were in L.A. in their infancy before they moved to San Diego in 1961; they were an AFL team at the time.)
Thank goodness for the Lakers. They are the only team in this town that spends its money to win, and spends its money wisely. They have been a credit to L.A. since they arrived from Minneapolis, and thereís no end in sight. Everything about the Lakers and their ownership and management, from the top down, is positive and professional period. I shall now stand and applaud Jerry West, former great Lakers player and G.M., for his many contributions; he will be the subject of one of my articles in the future.
If youíre waiting for me to cover the Angels and the Mighty Ducks, donít. Thatís Anaheim. Thatís not L.A. Anyway, their record speaks for itself.
Now for the fans. In general, fans here lack the intensity and the enthusiasm seen and heard at games in other cities. I can go down the list and name many cities that have great fan energy, sport by sport; so can you, so I wonít bother. Sports fans in L.A., by comparison, just donít have it. Make no mistake about it; the athletes wearing L.A. gear wish they did.
As stated at the top of this article, L.A. is a great city, and I love it, but itís a lousy pro sports town.
Last Weekís Trivia
Who is the youngest person ever to play major league baseball? Joe Nuxhall pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 1944 when he was 15 years old. That is absolutely incredible. Someone had to drive him to Crosley Field; he was too young for a driverís license.
Trivia Question of the Week
What member of the Cleveland Browns had his number retired by the team although he never played a game for them? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.