Goon: L.A. teams learning money can't buy everything
Cleveland still has the edge for sports misery capital of the world. They've defended that title as successfully as Rocky Marciano.
But gee, it's got to be tough to flip to the sports section in Los Angeles lately.
There's not many people outside of California ready to shed tears for L.A.'s recent bumps as a sports town, but things certainly haven't gone well for the market's big-name and big-money teams that are now languishing.
For the Angels, Josh Hamilton was bought as an explosive piece to the lineup, but his debut in his new home stadium has already brought out the boo birds. Through 10 games, he's struck out twice as often as he's hit. And an unfortunate injury to star ace Jered Weaver has baseball observers wondering if the team that has both the greatest active hitter and the most exciting young player in the league can even make the playoffs.
The Dodgers, held in limbo for years by their ex-owner's bitter divorce, had a Hollywood-worthy setup for a comeback: Magic Johnson was among the owners who helped liberate the franchise and bring in stars how perfect is that? Well, not as much after an ugly brawl on the diamond that has Zach Greinke out for a while, in addition to being a stain on the game itself.
Kobe Bryant is the latest victim of woe, tearing his Achilles as the Lakers try to best the Jazz in the chase for the last playoff spot, a berth that will probably only bring disappointment anyway. Now, without their rock, what chance would the Lakers have against the Spurs or the Thunder even if they made it?
The Lakers, Angels and Dodgers have this in common: They're all near the top of their respective leagues in payroll. But whereas money can keep Kobe, Weaver or Greinke in the headlines, it can't keep their bones from breaking or their knees from popping. Money really helps get championships, but its no guarantee of gliding through hard times.
Here's the problem: Sometimes, money makes the hard times harder.
Most average sports fans know how much money their team makes, and they want to see a return on the investment. And while a 40-point night from Kobe is enthralling, or Albert Pujols hitting two homers in one afternoon feels like witnessing greatness, it's not winning. Sooner or later, these franchises need to win.
That's true of every franchise, really, but the pressure and expectations get built up with each dollar that gets spent. So when the Lakers bring in Dwight Howard, when the Angels sign Hamilton or when Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are both making over $20 million, the winning needs to get there, or people start to talk.
Oscar Wilde is credited with saying the only thing that's worse than being talked about is not being talked about. This kind of attention probably isn't the kind these Los Angeles titans might really want.
Take heart, L.A. fans. The Clippers are still in the mix for a title this year if nothing else, proof positive that what goes around comes around. No matter how much money you're spending.