Congratulations, Los Angeles, you're the worst sports city in
the country! Arsenic for everybody!
How'd you do it? How'd you go from being the dominant sports
town of the 1980s to flushing it all down the L.A. Basin? It has
been 11 years since any of your major pro teams won a title. Six
years since any of them even played for one. The last two times
the Dodgers, the Lakers and the (cough, cough) Mighty Ducks have
tried the playoffs, they've been swept out of them. The last
Kings appearance ended in a sweep. Yessir, you're a real western
Right now L.A. is a guy stuck in three hours of traffic, chewing
on a sorghum-enriched rice cake and listening to somebody on the
radio go, "Hey, Hacksaw! How's Tampa Bay gonna be this year?"
You used to be a great baseball town. The Penguin. Carew. Nolan.
Garv. Now the only way either of your teams ends up first is if
the newspapers are read upside down. Combined, your Dodgers and
Angels were 33 1/2 games out through Sunday, and school hadn't
even started yet. And this is with the second- and 12th-highest
payrolls, respectively, in the big leagues. Somewhere, Tommy
Lasorda has his head in an oven.
The other day, your punch-drunk Angels decided to use the same
bat the first time through the order. Leadoff hitter Orlando
Palmeiro walked up to the plate with the bat, struck out
looking, laid the bat on the plate for the next guy and walked
off. Umpire Tim Tschida, thinking Palmeiro was showing him up,
nearly tossed him. Next week's idea: 25 players, one wad of
The Lakers are All My Egos. The Clippers? Where else but L.A.
could a Velveetabrain like Elgin Baylor stay vice president of
basketball operations for 14 years? Let's see, during Elgenius's
tenure, the team's had 12 losing seasons and nine coaches, and
legions of first-round picks have become very tall doormen at
SkyBar at the Mondrian Hotel. Yet Baylor keeps getting a check.
Fans would like to see him fired, but nobody will admit to
owning the Clippers.
You built a gorgeous golf course, Ocean Trails in Rancho Palos
Verdes, and before it could open, the 18th hole fell into the
Pacific. Last year you hosted the U.S. Senior Open at
Riviera--Italian for very dead poa annua--and the public stayed
away in droves. This year the tournament went to West Des Moines
and sold out. West Des Moines! Hey, sometimes you've got to go
Your two biggest sports stars are Vin Scully, 71, the Dodgers'
announcer, and Chick Hearn, slightly older than carbon, the
voice of the Lakers. How they stomach watching their teams, I'll
never know. I'm just waiting for the day cashmere-smooth Scully
says, "Mondesi rifles one to the wrong base and...oh, for the
love of.... That's it! I &#@% quit! I don't have to sit here and
watch this--" (click).
Near as I can figure, the best things athletes do now in the
Lesser Los Angeles area is illegally obtain handicapped-parking
Things got worse for you last week. Looks as if you blew your
shot at an NFL team--again. Second-biggest market in the
country. Media hotbed. Can't spill a plate of tomatillo-braised,
hand-rubbed poblano meat loaf without hitting a billionaire's
lap. And you still can't get a team?
You wanted the Coliseum. Had to save the Coliseum. Uh, L.A.?
Hello? People won't go to the Coliseum. Let it die, already. The
Romans had a nice one, too, and they got over it.
But everything's cool, right? To you, the NFL is just another
spec script. Green-light it or pass, no big deal. Another one
will come along. If it's on, fine; if not, there's always the
nightly high-speed police chase.
The people I feel sorry for are the folks putting out the sports
sections. The other day the Los Angeles Times had two soccer
stories on the first sports page: Mexico over Brazil and the big
L.A. Galaxy exhibition victory over Chivas of Guadalajara.
Not that you want champions, anyway. You've got enough riots as
it is, right? Come to think of it, you don't really want teams.
All you want is something to get your mind off the worst parts
of living in L.A.--the crime, the smog and Carrot Top. And your
teams give you all the distraction you need. This is no joke:
The other night at Edison Field, Scoop, one of the Angels'
inexplicable bear mascots, was handing out free Sharon Stone
videos. Nice souvenir for the kiddies. Daddy is that really her
Beat L.A.? Doesn't everybody?
Sunday, and school hadn't even started yet.