Summer has faded into fall in Los Angeles. The leaves are changing color. The days are shorter. The temperature is cooler outside.
When people talk about how the weather in Southern California is always perfect, it strikes an uncanny similarity to the fair-weathered nature of Los Angeles sports fans. And after the Red Sox eliminated the 100-win Angels in Game 4 of the ALDS, the stormy weather hovering over Anaheim was ignored as the clouds parted and sun shined down on Chavez Ravine.
**Now arriving on track 3, the Dodgers bandwagon**
The transition would stun fans in New York or Chicago, markets that serve as homes for multiple teams. Fans who had erupted for Torii Hunter's game-tying 2-RBI single and cursed a failed squeeze play were seen immediately brushing off the loss with a "Think Blue" attitude. Men at the bar tried to justify their flip flop like a politician in an election year.
"Let the record show, I've always really been a Dodgers fan."
"I was for them before I was against them!"
"As long as one of them is moving on, that's all that matters."
That's all that matters? Prior to the Rays knocking the White Sox from the playoffs, I wonder if Cubs fans coping with their latest playoff debacle with the oh so comforting idea of "at least the White Sox are still alive." Doubtful. When the New York Yankees met the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series, the city divided. Thoughts of "at least one of the New York teams will win it all" were outlawed by the state's supreme court.
But not in Los Angeles. On the West Coast, sports fans follow in the footsteps of entertainment junkies. It's more about who is "in" at the moment. Which star is on the cover of the most recent tabloids? Which celebrity is currently attracting the flashbulbs? Instead of Southern Californians thinking "who is my favorite star?" they rely on the buzz of the entertainment world to tell them "This is the hottest star." If Lindsay Lohan is going into rehab, Britney shaving her head is passe. That same mindset translates into how the locals follow sports.
As the Angels piled up wins en route to the best record in baseball in 2008, the Dodgers limped along with fewer wins and less attention. The Dodgers won 84 games in Joe Torre's first season as manager, but it wasn't until the Angels had all but clinched the AL West and Manny was traded to the Dodgers that the spotlight in LA shifted.
In this town, that spotlight represents the focus and attention of all the fans. But just as twisting glowing beams of light twirl above the latest movie premier in Hollywood, so too do the loyalties of Los Angeles sports fans twist and twirl to focus on whichever team currently headlines Entertainment Ton- I mean, Sportscenter. Right now, it's the Dodgers.
Just as the Dodgers now prepare for the Phillies, plenty of Angelinos scramble to hide their rally monkeys and dig out their blue shirts. In a two-team market, there will be no dwelling on the Angels elimination. The attention of the fans, the media, everyone will shift north up I-5. Better use the carpool lane - they'll be a lot of Angels fans also getting on the freeway.