Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Sad State for Sports

More and more people are tired of living in California. Folks don’t want to live in a broke state full of high prices, foreclosures and layoffs. And sports fans in the formerly Golden State are also a disgruntled bunch, because the teams we’re watching are mostly terrible.

I should say first that the L.A. Lakers, the San Diego Chargers, the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks and the S.F. Giants probably don’t belong in this discussion…for now. The Lakers are the reigning NBA Champs and could repeat this year. The team has an incredible track record and the organization has always been a class act. The Chargers are in the playoffs almost every year, although they’ve never won the Super Bowl. The Ducks are former NHL champs and feature a competitive squad each season. The Sharks are consistently at the top of the hockey standings every year. They have some marquee players and play in a great arena. But, they’re starting to establish a reputation for choking in the playoffs. The team has never even made it into the Stanley Finals, so that’s their immediate goal. If the Sharks fold in the first or second round of the playoffs yet again this year, you’ll start to hear more and more boos and see more empty seats. The Giants built an incredible stadium ten years ago (AT&T Park) and the team has gradually gotten better over the last several years. Of course, they’ve never won the World Series and the Barry Bonds steroids affair has tainted his records and the team. But, when compared to the other dysfunctional professional teams in California, this group looks respectable.

After that, the state’s pro sports scene is full of wannabes, once-wasses and never beens. First, both the S.D. Padres and the L.A. Dodgers are being destroyed by the Big “D”—divorce. Both team owners are going through nasty divorces and it’s affected the overall attitude and approach of both franchises. These teams won’t spend any significant cash on much-needed free agents, until their ex-wives and the judges involved figure out how much they’ll have left. It’s a sad situation when team owners can’t keep their marriages together, because in the end, the fans pay too.

The San Francisco 49ers used to be the very best with a plethora of Super Bowl victories featuring some of the finest players in the history of the game. But now, after their former owner getting busted for bribery, the new owners are more like cardboard cut-outs in suits rather than people who truly understand how to build and field a competitive football team. And don’t even mention Monster Park (formerly Candledick)—another ugly, smelly, poorly run facility. The stadium is painted in green and white. Oh wait a minute—that’s not white paint; it’s seagull poo!

The Oakland Raiders are probably the biggest disappointment of the bunch. They play in a sub-standard facility and they have a senile owner who can barely eat his fruit compote without having three Raiders cheerleaders standing by to clean up the 80% that doesn’t make it to his mouth. They are the joke of the NFL and no coach with any ability won’t put up with the idiocy that surrounds this team. This team will not win--until the owner dies.

The Sacramento Kings play in a warehouse and they’ve never done anything significant. They’re a forgettable squad and the only reason anyone who lives out there supports this team is because they aren’t any professional sports anywhere nearby.

And don’t mention the San Jose Earthquakes in the same breath with pro sports. Soccer will never draw in this state on a consistent basis. If you want to find the Earthquakes’ scores in your local newspaper, you’ll have to look way back on the last page, next to the high school and Div. II college sports scores. Name three players on the Earthquakes and then get a life.

Then, we have three other chronically poor teams that are bad for different reasons—the Warriors, the A’s and L.A. Clippers. The Golden State Warriors haven’t won a championship since I was in high school and I’m old. The team has gotten accustomed to living at the bottom of the NBA standings after a series of general managers who have made an unending series of bad decisions. The Clippers are in the same boat. They’re the Lakers annoying little sister. Mediocrity would be a huge jump up for either of these sad story organizations.

The A’s have a crappy stadium and they’re constantly crying that they don’t have enough money to field a decent team. Thanks to a very astute general manager, the team has used a methodology that helps them draft good players to stock their farm system. But, once these players make it to the majors, they realize where they’re playing, and they run for greener pastures as fast as they can; which means that the A’s have to re-stock their team once again. The A’s had a potentially nice deal building a new stadium down the street in Fremont, but they blew that and now they’re stuck in a stadium that would function better as a prison (just put a dome on it). It is surely one of the worst stadiums in any sport!

And one last thing--why isn't there an NFL team in the Los Angeles area? Why does the third or fourth largest TV market in the nation not field a pro football team? It was amusing for a couple years after the Rams fled to St. Louis, but not it's becoming "that thing"

So, that’s the state address of so-called “professional” sports in California right now. In most cases, I’d rather watch college or high school sports than this stuff. It sucks.

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