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 broomtown.
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� 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 tobacco!
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 deadpoa 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 upmarket.
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 permits.
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?