The late and much beloved former L.A. Dodger manager, Tommy Lasorda, was famous, or infamous to some, for his post-game expletive-laced press interviews, especially after his team blew a lead. In one of his rants he commented on the pressures of being a manager, “This f**king job is not that g*d da*n easy!” For those (okay, me) who live and die with L.A. sports teams, given the pressures of rooting with your heart, being a fan is not that G.D. easy! Take the current Dodgers. Please. (And while you’re at it figure out how they can hold on to a lead!)
The reigning World Series champs started off the 2021 season like gangbusters going 13-2, raising wild speculation that the team might break the record of 116 wins set by the 1906 Cubs. Reading that 13-2 was the best Dodger start since the immortal 1955 Dodgers who won a classic seven-game World Series against the Yankees, I impulsively emailed my Dodger friends. (I even speculated the Dodgers and Lakers could possibly pull off back-to-back championships.)
I say impulsively because even as I typed my email I had this strange superstitious fear that my unintentional cockiness might offend the sports Gods. (If you don’t believe in Sports Gods, how did UCLA recently make the Final Four or how did Tiger Woods win his last Masters?)
I know it’s ludicrous to even think that I might have jinxed our boys in blue and yet, since my email the Dodgers have won four out of the last 17 games. Ouch! Put it this way, the Cubs no longer have to worry about their 1906 win record being broken. All the while Dodger fans are muttering WTF and wondering how the team can right the sinking ship. (To the charge of being an embarrassingly spoiled L.A. sports fan, I not only plead guilty but I confess I’m apparently getting worse with age.)
The adult in me (or the reasonable facsimile) realizes there’s 130 more games, the team is loaded with talent (if you don’t count the bullpen) and has the best farm system. But my inner child believes in the “jinx” theory and now can barely watch a game without wondering when the next shoe will drop. I can barely read the sports page without cringing. (Partially because since the pandemic the Times sports page often shares space with obituaries as if the Dodger and Laker news isn’t grief enough.) I swear if they existed I should be attending Dodger and Laker Anonymous meetings.
Think about this. The Cubs waited 108 years between World Series Championships; the New York Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1969; the New York Knicks won their last NBA Championship in 1973 and yet I’m whining about the defending world champs Dodgers and Lakers depressing showings. Calling myself spoiled isn’t strong enough though some might say it is what it is, whatever that means.
So here’s where it stands. The Dodgers have plenty of time and talent but is the bullpen even fixable as they keep blowing lead after lead? (Lasorda must be spinning in his grave.)
As for the Lakers, with injury-plagued Lebron and Anthony Davis, not only will they not be the 6th seed in the Western Division playoffs they might be lucky just to be the 10th. That means they’d have to win two games in a row against the 9th seed and then play the loser of the 7th versus 8th seed to actually get into the playoffs as the 8th seed. (The cockamamie play-in system is so convoluted, well, it’s just plain seedy! Oops. Sorry about that.)
Like a Shakespearean tragedy (okay, maybe I’m overdoing it a bit) in last year’s Covid shortened seasons, fans weren’t allowed to witness the sports miracles in person. Now, with Covid restrictions being lifted more and more each day, fans are rushing to the stadiums in person but are witnessing disasters. (Or read about them in the sports page after passing the obits and noticing people younger than themselves just croaked, a reminder one’s days are numbered. What a lovely thought…not!)
Here’s my only hope. Assuming I offended the Sports Gods last year by my disrespectful arrogance in predicting a Dodger and Laker world championship, by demonstrating humility in currently predicting doom and gloom, it just might please the fates and things could turn around. Oh, I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. I better find Dodger and Laker Anonymous Meetings right away or the men in the white coats are going to come for me. (Assuming that field hasn’t diversified to include women.)
For a slightly more uplifting ending to today’s column, may I suggest you go to YouTube and search for “Tommy Lasorda Rants.” But be prepared, some are definitely uncensored.
Jack also writes “Laughing Matters,” which appears in the Daily Press every other Friday. (Which means you’ve got a 50% chance of being right on any Friday.)