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 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT