Please do not argue with the Sports Editor. It’s like rooting for a Los Angeles team. It’s just not a good idea. Illustration by Michael G. Brown. Lakers, Dodgers, USC, and UCLA are all in the dumpsBy Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
This has to be one of the worst periods ever in Los Angeles sports history. To put it nicely, there isn’t anything good going on with the sports teams in this city. To put it bluntly, it really blows right about now. This is a Lakers town, and after flaming out a couple weeks back, there has not been any good stories coming from that team. First it was rumors about Pau Gasol and his girlfriend, which Shannon Brown took it upon himself to say that he had no part of Gasol’s girlfriend. There are also rumors that Kobe Bryant and his wife had something to do with Gasol’s girlfriend and poor play.Next it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar going off about not having a trophy outside of Staple Center. Should the Captain have a trophy there? Of course! Is this the way to go about getting one? Of course not!Sorry Kareem, but Magic was getting one first. And Jerry West was a great Laker as a player and a General Manager. Should Wayne Gretzky have gotten one before Kareem? Well, the Kings ownership pretty much built Staples Center, not the Lakers, so they had to be represented. Chick Hearn? Kareem was in line before Hearn, but when Hearn passed away he was bumped up the list. That’s understandable. Oscar De La Hoya? Okay, that’s where Kareem can have a gripe. De La Hoya was one of the most popular and probably the most profitable boxers of his generation, but he wasn’t close to being the greatest of all time, let alone his own era. He’s nowhere near as great as Kareem, and seeing that De La Hoya posted a 0-2 record at Staples Center, he probably shouldn’t have a statue in the first place. Seems like a big time favor was done for De La Hoya.So Kareem does somewhat have a gripe, but was there a need to go public? To call out the Lakers for not giving him a good seat on the airplane, for not giving him a playoff share, for not considering him as the next head coach, and for not giving him whatever type of respect that he thinks he deserves? Kareem was told that he was next in line to get a statue. That’s not good enough for him? Who goes around demanding recognition? When Kareem finally gets his statue, it’s going to be pretty awkward because he put the Lakers on blast. That’s really just a minor issue for the Lakers. Their head coach search can’t sit too well with any fan. Reports are that they are going to pay the upcoming head coach in the $3 million to $5 million a season range, when Phil Jackson made between $10 million and $12 million. The list of coaches isn’t very encouraging. The list of coaches so far is Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Brown, and Brian Shaw (who might be going else where pretty soon). That’s not an exciting list in all. As a matter of fact, it sounds a lot like hiring Rudy Tomjanovich again. That one didn’t turn out very well for the Lakers. Well the Lakers aren’t playing any games until late October, so we can turn our attention towards the Dodgers… or… maybe we shouldn’t. The owners of the New York Mets said that they were bleeding money, and that they were going to lose $70 million this season. As bad as it is over there, Major League Baseball (MLB) owners view that franchise as being in better shape than the Dodgers. Reports are that the Dodgers may not make payroll this coming month, and if they don’t, Commissioner Bud Selig will have his reason to take total control over the team. Many Dodger fans are really hoping for that one right about now, and as hard as it is to swallow, many of them are rooting for Jamie McCourt, ex-wife of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, to win her bid to have the team sold. It’s a hard one to swallow because Jamie is as much of the disaster that the Dodgers have become as Frank is. Jamie was living a lavish lifestyle at the Dodgers expense, and now she wants her cash. That seems to be the only thing that she cares about right now. Forget the Dodgers tradition, legacy, and fan base, she just wants her money. Many fans feel that the best thing for this team is for the McCourts to sell, so rooting for the lesser of two evils is the only way to go. Frank wants to keep the team, which fans do not want to see. To add to the financial problems, the Dodgers are being sued by Bryan Stow’s family because they feel that the Dodgers should be held responsible for Stow’s beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. There is no question that the Dodgers will be paying up for that one. It’s interesting that the lawsuit did not name Jamie, so she does not have to worry about losing any money over this issue, even though the lawsuit blamed the McCourts “lavish lifestyle” for what they called a “disturbing reduction in security staff.”It must be awesome to be Jamie right about now. Not so awesome to be Frank. The Dodgers woes are showing up in the attendance, or lack there of. Two seasons ago, when the Dodgers made it to a second consecutive National League Championship Series, they led the league in attendance with an average of 46,440 fans per game. Dodger Stadium was filled to 82.9 percent capacity. This season, after the McCourt’s nasty divorce, reports of financial woes, MLB taking partial control of the team, and the Stow beating, the Dodgers are ranked ninth in the league in attendance with only 36,360 fans per game. Dodger Stadium is only at 64.9 percent capacity. The Dodgers are on pace for the worst attendance figures that they have had in about two decades. It certainly is not helping that the team is horrible. They have a record of 21-28, which is fourth worst in all of baseball. It also doesn’t help much when the team’s offense is horrible. The Dodgers are 16th in the MLB in batting average but they are 27th in runs scored. The Dodgers are 9th in hits, but when it comes to extra base hits, they are 25th in homeruns, 25th in triples, and 24th in doubles. The poor product that the Dodgers are putting on the field will make any Los Angeles sports fan long for the fall, when USC and UCLA football kicks off. But there might not be too much to get excited over with those two teams either. USC is coming off of a lack luster season, and seeing that they are still on probation, they aren’t playing for much of anything. No national championship chase, no Rose Bowl, no post season at all, and the question if they weren’t on probation would be whether or not they’d be good enough to compete for any of those anyways. As for UCLA, there is no need to even ask any of those questions. After a 4-8 season there is no question that they are not good enough to complete for a national title, they are not good enough to compete for the Rose Bowl, and they might not make a bowl game for the second consecutive season. The only good thing that might happen is UCLA football fans might get their wish and see head coach Rick Neuheisel get fired. UCLA was wrong, the football monopoly isn’t over in Los Angeles. And it’s not held by USC either. It’s held by Crenshaw High School. That’s who we should all root for. They win, and by a lot! Yeah, they’ve lost some key players, but the pipeline into that school is filled with talent. High school football is going to be awesome, and that’s about the only thing on the Los Angeles sports scene that’s worth getting excited about.
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