Skip to main content

'L' is for losers in L.A. sports

By MIke Downey, Special to CNN
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Mon May 20, 2013
Zack Greinke of the Dodgers is back after breaking a collarbone in April. Could it be the start of an L.A. sports comeback?
Zack Greinke of the Dodgers is back after breaking a collarbone in April. Could it be the start of an L.A. sports comeback?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mike Downey says L.A. teams are "playing 99 Cent Store ball"
  • "SoCal is in the midst of some kind of too-big-to-fail madness," he says
  • Downey: "We've seen our more famous teams go from good to bad"

Editor's note: Mike Downey is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

(CNN) -- "LMAO @ L.A.," came the text.

"Laughing My (Butt) Off at Los Angeles," it meant.

A friend from the Midwest sent it.

"Hahaha," the next text heckled. "Dodgers & Angels spent $$$ & still stink!"

If you say so, I said.

"Lakers Stink 2," it continued.

OK, OK, I got it.

Mike Downey
Mike Downey
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



This joker -- I guess others out there, too -- gets a weird satisfaction out of L.A.'s teams being so rich but playing so poorly.

The digs do keep coming.

Jay Leno: "The Dodgers have lost seven straight. They're so bad, they've changed 'Bobble Head Night' to 'Shake Your Head in Disbelief Night.' "

Then it became eight straight.

Leno: "President Obama wants to close Gitmo. Gitmo? How about closing Dodger Stadium? How many people are being tortured there night after night?"

A funny thing happened on the way to a Freeway World Series here in smug, smoggy, sunny, show-me-the-money Southern California.

Our big-buck teams are playing 99 Cent Store ball.

In fact, all of SoCal is in the midst of some kind of too-big-to-fail madness. We've got more flops than Nicole Kidman.

We bought. We splurged. We invested. We went for broke. We spent like Real Housewives at a Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. But what did it get us so far? Losers across the board.

I can't figure it out.

Where did L.A. go wrong?

Bleacher Report: What Lakers need for next year

The Lakers were loaded. Stupendous payroll. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joined a team that already had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. It could be the best team of all time! It could win 75 of its 82 games! NBA, get out of their way!

The Angels reloaded. They already had the mighty Albert Pujols and the cool kid Mike Trout. Oh, so how about we go get Josh Hamilton, too? A murderers' row! See you in October!

The Dodgers recovered. They were bankrupt, then were bought up -- by Magic Johnson and friends -- for more than $2 billion, yet! Let's go shopping! Hanley Ramirez, ka-ching. Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, ka-ching. Zack Greinke, ka-ching. Money is no object! It's time for Dodger baseball!

Well, so far, so bad.

Bleacher Report: First quarter grade for Dodgers

Lakers: An 0-8 preseason and 1-4 start get the coach canned. A replacement is hired while much-loved Phil Jackson is still mulling it over. Much-loved owner Dr. Jerry Buss dies from cancer. Howard's hurt, Nash hurt, Kobe hurt, Pau hurt. The new coach is not much-loved. Fans chant: "We Want Phil!" Lakers use players in the playoffs who are named Who, What and I Don't Know. They lose a game by 31 points -- worst home playoff loss ever. Howard gets ejected from Game 4. The season ends and Kobe sues his mom for selling his memorabilia. Get me CBS or NBC. Have I got a sitcom for you.

Angels: A week into the season, ace pitcher Jered Weaver breaks his elbow. Angels lose eight of first 10 games. Pujols, a slow start. Trout, ditto. Hamilton, a slower than slow start. The dependable Torii Hunter gets traded to Detroit -- where he's hot. The expendable Vernon Wells gets traded to New York -- where he's hotter than hot. As of May 16, only the hopeless Houston Astros have won fewer games in the American League than the stars-R-us Angels have.

Dodgers: A week into the season, ace pitcher Greinke breaks his collarbone. Other pitchers get hurt. Other hitters get hurt. Not a lot to smile about at Dodger Stadium except a Korean pitcher named Hyun-Jin Ryu who looks good and a Korean entertainer named Psy who comes to a game to dance in the aisles between innings while a wide-eyed Tommy Lasorda looks at him like he's a man from Mars. As of May 16, our Two Billion Dollar Men are in last place.

Call 911. Call CSI: L.A.

Something's killing our teams.

Not that we don't appreciate the L.A. Kings and L.A. Galaxy winning championships in hockey and soccer the way they have. I like hockey. I like soccer. I just don't get a lot of texts that go, "Wow, L.A. sure does have big-name hockey stars!" Or: "Whoa, I've got Galaxy fever!"

We've seen our more famous teams go from good to bad.

USC football finally got off NCAA probation, had star quarterback Matt Barkley back, was ranked No. 1 in the nation in a preseason poll -- then went 7-6, embarrassed itself in a bowl game and saw Barkley disappear on NFL Draft Day.

UCLA basketball christened a remodeled arena, brought in blue-chip recruit Shabazz Muhammad, looked OK -- then lost by 20 points in the NCAA tournament to Minnesota and fired the coach.

Things turned so dark, we even turned our dials to America's Funniest Home Basketball Team -- yep, the L.A. Clippers -- to save our city.

I mean, come on. Expecting a championship from the Clippers is like expecting Mark Zuckerberg to end up on a 10 Best-Dressed List.

But there they were, L.A.'s new darlings, winning 16 games in a row, dunking and funking, popularizing the cool name "Lob City," doing TV ads for cars and stuff, having a 50-win season for the first time, winning the NBA's Pacific Division for the first time, winning two playoff games -- mmmm, kiss my red Clips, baby!

Then they blew Games 3, 4, 5 and 6 and kissed off the whole year.

Well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, as Kelly Clarkson likes to scream on iTunes.

OK, so David Beckham doesn't want to kick soccer balls for us anymore. OK, so the NFL still won't give us a team. OK, so the Hollywood Park horse-race track is shutting down for good.

We will survive.

Besides, baseball season's still early. I wouldn't count out those Dodgers or Angels of ours just yet. They've got time. They've got talent. They've got $$$. If u think they stink, hey, go text yourself.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
updated 3:00 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
John Sutter says the right is often stereotyped on climate change. But with 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing global warming, we all have to get together on this.
updated 8:57 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Andrew Liepman and Philip Mudd: When we declare that we will defeat ISIS, what do we exactly mean?
updated 4:40 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Thailand sex trafficking
Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global industry. To beat it, we need to change mindsets, Cindy McCain says.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
The leaders of the GOP conferences say a Republican-led Senate could help solve America's problems.
updated 10:01 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Nicholas Syrett says Wesleyan University's decision to make fraternities admit women will help curb rape culture.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Mike Downey says New Yorkers may be overdoing it, but baseball will really miss Derek Jeter
updated 8:32 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Quick: Which U.S. president has authorized wars of various kinds in seven Muslim countries?
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Women's issues should be considered front and center when assessing a society's path, says Zainab Salbi
updated 2:05 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
A catastrophe not making headlines like Ebola and ISIS: the astounding rate of child poverty in the world's richest country.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT