Los Angeles Sports, we can play 350 days a year, so we sure as hell should be good. Indeed if sports had a home field, it would be LA. Tomorrow is the first official day of spring, March 20th 2013, and what a spring it will be for both Los Angeles Baseball, as well as Los Angeles Basketball.
Everything is up for grabs in this town right now, but of one thing, I am sure: "The Heart of Los Angeles is Purple"
I contend that Los Angeles has two great baseball traditions and two great basketball traditions. In the coming month of April, there will be a tremendous amount of national attention on Los Angeles sports! Indeed in April, LA will be the Mecca of sports, and here is why.
Baseball first (of course), let's start with the Dodgers. Here we have a classic franchise in all of sports, poised for a Rocky Balboa like return to the spotlight. The last owner was absolutely evil, let's be honest, Frank McCourt raped this team and this city for all it was worth, in fact, he was perhaps, the human manifestation of the recession itself. Not so much a man, rather, a bubble in the heart of the Dodgers Franchise.
As the Dodgers enter April this season, they are poised for a well orchestrated comeback, first and foremost, Jackie Robinson and the movie "42". Just seeing the preview, it looks to be a film that will bring a great deal of attention. It looks like it has a chance to be a classic film, a classic story, something we can all be proud of, a story of human triumph. The film will be promoted heavily, and it will open in mid April. It will definitely help resurrect the Dodger Tradition, of that, there can be no doubt. It might even rekindle the love of baseball in some fans out there, who may have stepped away from the game.
Aside from all the hype and attention the film 42 will generate for the Dodgers, they also have heavily invested in Dodger stadium with new concessions, new restrooms, and even installed superior scoreboards and sound systems. With 100 million dollars being sunk into Chavez Ravine, and plans to enhance the outfield in years to come, the Dodgers are obviously doubling down on Dodger Stadium. It's enough to draw me in for at least one visit this season to check out the new "digs", speaking of digs...
An even bigger investment, the most interesting element of the new Dodgers perhaps is what might be called "The Big Dig 2".
The Dodgers ate a quarter of a Billion Dollars of Bostonian Contract Bloat in one Dodger Dog sized swallow. It simply had to be part of the McCourt deal, a handshake and a wink? Who knows really; maybe in order for McCourt to show his face in Boston again, this deal was struck. The deal is simple, in addition to the cash McCourt got and his share of the parking whatnot, the Dodgers have to also, "Eat Boston's Cancer", salt and pepper on top of Crawford, Gonzalez, Beckett, who combined for 2.9 WAR last year, (tastes like Lackey?), and who stand to make a combined 57+ million this coming season, and for many years to come. The Dodgers have probably accelerated Boston's rebuild time by about 2 seasons with this manuever, give or take a year, nice assist. Magic and Co. not only had to buy one franchise, they had to bail out another just to get their foot in the door.
Let's face it, the Dodger's faithful would have paid anything to get this team back.
There is no question that the Dodgers are poised for a big comeback year, and it should be a treat for baseball fans in this city. Just imagine, Vin Scully called games Jackie Robinson played in all the way back to 1950 and his voice will still be crackling on the airwaves this year, imagine. LA will always have a love for the Dodgers, let's face it and rightfully so, it's a great tradition to have. They are back, and they will be fun to compete with!
Baseball is two sports really, American League and National League baseball are like the two lungs. Each does the same thing, but in different ways. In that way, I assert that Los Angeles deserves two amazing baseball teams. One for each style of the game.
The Angels are American League Baseball at it's absolute best. This April in particular, is incredibly important to the Angels. Last year the team never got it's pants off; it was over before the appetizers hit the table. (6-14) meant the Angels spotted the rest of the league an 8 game head start, and with all the buildup and expectations that fans had, after the major offseason additions of Pujols and Wilson, it was a bitter disappointment for the halos faithful. Last April, We watched Scioscia send Jesus to the minor leagues, and then promptly managed the first month with a schizophrenic scorecard. At some point early last season, Scioscia leaned over and asked Mickey Hatcher "who really runs this team?", (toilet flushing sound), "Hatch?!" Things got kinda dark..and then we saw the Trout.
When Mike Trout is up to bat, the official attendance in the stadium rises. It rises because the game pauses, and all the players on the field must temporarily be counted as fans, he is that good. I have never seen this in baseball, but there is a sport I have seen this in, basketball. Michael Jordan. Jordan played in a different league, and so does Trout. It is indeed a blessing to be an Angel this year (knock on wood, not Brandon though) We (Angels' fans) have the most valuable card in the deck, and we get to watch the league play Acey-Deucy on the first pitch every night, play ball.
You take the classic Dodger pride, with it's East Coast roots and tradition, it's beautiful Jackie Robinson heritage and it's winning history (up till 88 that is) and you have a the Blue blood cells of LA.
You take the homegrown Angels pride, that comes with Cowboys, Vaquero's, the ocean air, Southern California American League Baseball, Albert HOF Pujols, Trout, add Hamilton, Weave, Wilson, and homegrown talent, and you got yourself just about the best American League baseball team LA has ever called it's own. Make no doubt about it LA, this is the best damn American League baseball team LA baseball has ever honored your eyes with. Thank you Arte Moreno, Jerry Dipoto, and Co.
Red and Blue make Purple. And LA baseball is about two teams, The Angels and the Dodgers.
Which takes us to Basketball. Baseball is my favorite sport right now, the Angels are my favorite team, hands down, but the Lakers... What they mean to Los Angeles cannot be denied. This town bleeds purple. When I said there are two LA basketball teams that truly matter, they are the Lakers and UCLA.
This April will prove that. This April, the Lakers will scratch, and claw their way into the 6th seed in the playoffs*. The Lakers will then play up to 7 home games in the Staples Center, because quite frankly... the Clippers will never have a true home game in this city against the Lakers, period. It's easier for the Clippers to simply lose, than it is for the Lakers to do anything other than win. It has never been more obvious than now. When Jerry Bus passed away, we could feel it, the love this city truly has for this Lakers team. The joy this Laker team has brought LA; The way Magic, Kareem, and Co. brought us all together in the 80's. When I was a kid, I had to ask myself, what is the best thing about living in LA? The Lakers got us all addicted to winning, and not just winning, winning with a smile, competitive fire, team work, and spontaneous creativity. That was magical to behold, and that crossed all racial barriers. That was an assist for us all, thank you Lakers.
I part with this thought LA sports faithful; in 2013, this city will have a Championship, who will be our champion(s)?