Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lose the Halo and Think Blue

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.


DancingChef said...

Hey Big Tex,

It's your Prince-singing acquaintance from not so long ago. That should suffice as decent identification.

While ESPN was conducting its Titletown competition, and the candidacy of Los Angeles was being discussed, the fair-weatherness of the fan base arose as the number one reason why LA, despite its rich sports history, should NOT be Titletown. A local talk show took up the issue and had an interesting theory.

When you live in an area that has multiple sports, recreational, and cultural offerings, it is easy to move from being interested in one place or activity to being interested in another. The same goes for sports teams. There are so many in LA that it's easy to jump from one to the other, and if ALL of them are bad, you can simply go to the beach.

Consequently, fans in most other locales don't have such options at their disposal, so reveling in the euphoria of winning as well as sulking in the devastation of defeat comes much easier to fans in Chicago, New York, Boston, and the like.

So can you blame Los Angeles sports fans for being such blatant front runners? By this argument, maybe not. They can't help that they were born into a landscape with so many outlets for their time, sports or otherwise.

But you can say they don't know what it means to be a true sports fan.

MannybeingManny said...

Here is the deal. Most people in LA are DODGER fans. The angels are a nice bonus. Case in point, Juan Villareal, a comedian on my tour, wore an Angels Shirt on stage for a show in LA thinking it would appeal to the audience. It backfired. He was booed off the stage. I'm a fan of both teams but if given the choice I would take a Dodger World Series title any day of the week. Angel fans suck anyway. They are OC people who watch a game to chill and not to root on the team. Dodger fans are loud and obnoxious, just like fans should be.
You want to talk Bandwagon look no farther than your precious Dallas Cowboys. Sure right now there are Jerseys and hats and everyone drinkin the Cowboy kool-aid. But where were the Quincy Carter jerseys? Where is the loyalty? Cowboy fans and Patriot fans should hang out because they only announce they are a fan of their team when they are winning. You go to Denver when the Broncos are good, the town supports them, when they suck, the town supports them, when our QB gets diabetes, the town supports them. Cowboy fans are bandwagon wannabes who talk big now. But wait until Romo and Jessica Simpson get married, TO has a blowup, and Pac-man shoots someone else. Then the jersey's will go away and the support will be gone until Jerry Jones decides to try and buy another Super Bowl.

Jessica said...

You are from Texas. You must have been born here, raised here, and cultured here to fully understand why people in L.A. act the way they do. It seems that you haven't been out here in L.A. long enough to justify your comment on how "sports fans follow in the footsteps of entertainment junkies". That's not how the way things works out here. How would you know what Major League Baseball fans are like? The only thing you have out there are the Triple-A Rangers out in Arlington.

By the way, the carpool lane is no use for anyone traveling on the 5 Freeway. The 30 miles that distance Angel Stadium and Dodger Stadium, only 5 miles of carpool lane exist (all in Orange County).

Anonymous said...

First of all, I don't think you can make the blanket statement that ALL L.A. sports fans "don't know what it means to be a true sports fan." I agree that there is a disproportionately large number of fair weather fans in L.A. compared to other cities. I don't know all the sports fans in L.A. personally, so the only example I can give is myself. I am a die-hard L.A. sports fan. I support the Dodgers when they win and when they lose. I do not under any circumstances support the Angels. I support the Lakers when they win and when they lose. But I do not support the Clippers just because they have "L.A." in front of their name because I know what it means to be a true fan of a team. Believe me, I was absolutely devastated when the Lakers lost to the Celtics in the NBA finals.

So maybe I'm not representative of most L.A. sports fans. But try not to stereotype us too much. I'll wager that I'm much more passionate than a lot of sports fans from other cities.

ArmadaFan said...

"Incentive" seems to be a major factor in how much teams win games. The Angels have put up good win records in the last few years, but are always under the radar by the media. So, The Angels have a lot to prove, and Mike Scioscia gives his team the incentive needed to win 100 games during the season. During the Post Season, things change, and then often the other team(s) (such as The Red Sox) which has more incentive. Who wants to see a "Phony" get a World Series ring? A team which tries to be something special by trying to pass itself of as something that it isn't will never win championships.

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