L.A. Sports Teams Seeking Quick Fix, Look No Further
What’s wrong with . . .
Civil war. Al Davis brings in a new coach, Mike Shanahan, from the Denver Broncos’ staff. Big move by Al, admitting that he and his staff could use an infusion of new ideas, especially on offense.
But the move is fraught with peril. The new guy comes from a rival team, bringing with him two assistants from that rival staff. It’s like three Hatfield girls marryin’ three McCoy fellers. A period of adjustment is to be expected.
Right away the new guy makes it known that the old Raider ways need revising. A small but big thing: He outlaws the practice of the Raiders sitting on their helmets on the sidelines during practice.
The Raiders, who pride themselves on being the last bastion against football para-militarism, grudgingly go along with Shanahan, but it’s apparent now that there was tension when old ways clashed with new.
So what did Davis do to alleviate the tension? By most accounts, not much. He was the unofficial captain and varsity letterman of the Shanahan Second-Guessing Team. That’s Al, he would second-guess his barber, but these were times that required a different approach.
It was bad enough that Shanahan inherited a quarterback problem that the Raiders have been nurturing for years. He also had to deal with internal strife.
What now? Time for Al to unite the Raiders again through 1 of 2 simple solutions:
(1) Jump behind Shanahan 100%, or more.
(2) Fire the guy.
There. See how easy it is to clear up these problems?
Nothing that Eric Dickerson couldn’t have fixed.
Old story, right? Right, Dickerson is long gone. But as long as grown men are playing pro football in this current NFL season, the feeling lurks that the Rams should be among those still in action. They were close. Would Dickerson have made a difference? Hmmmm.
The line is that the Rams had to get rid of Dickerson because he was a bad guy, but let’s not forget why he became a bad guy--because he was getting shafted by the Rams, financially, and Eric is one of those rare people who still care about money.
It is also frequently mentioned that the Rams made a swell deal because they got so much talent for Dickerson, players and draft picks, boding well for the team’s future.
But if it was such a great deal, why didn’t the Rams start trying to make that trade 2 or 3 years earlier? Because you don’t trade a Dickerson in his prime.
The question now is whether the Rams can sign all those great draft picks, and keep their valuable free agents from leaving. If Georgia Frontiere is short of cash, she could borrow some from stadium-mate Gene Autry, who has saved millions and millions of dollars recently by not signing players who didn’t want to play for the Angels.
I was going to be the first to predict the collapse of the Dodger dynasty, but experts in other towns have beat me to it. One predicted a second-division finish for the Dodgers next season.
The shortstop is mad at management over contract negotiations, even though he hit below .200 and still got a giant raise. The second baseman grew 6 years older and several batting-average points lower overnight. The third baseman is a question mark. The left fielder and right fielder are still injury prone. The star pitcher couldn’t possibly match his incredible 1988 season. The former star pitcher will be trying to bring his left arm back from a serious injury.
Why can’t I at least let the Dodgers enjoy their off-season glow-basking before trying to bury them for 1989? Because it’s important that they go to spring training with some strong motivation, and nothing motivates a team like self-styled experts trying to write them off.
They need to go to camp angry at the world.
Last year in training camp, second baseman Steve Sax was angry at being shuffled to third base, third baseman Jeff Hamilton was angry at being shuffled off third, Pedro Guerrero was trying to figure out exactly who to be angry at and where to play, Mike Marshall was angry at being shuffled to first, Kirk Gibson was angry at the whole team and its frivolous attitude, Tom Lasorda was angry at several people, including reporters.
The Dodgers need a little creative tension, and if they can’t count on the local media to supply it, to stir up trouble, whom can they count on?
The Angels and Clippers?
That’s easy. They need new owners.
Each team has regularly changed general managers, coaches/managers, players, styles, philosophies, even home cities. Both owners have spent a lot of money. And yet both teams have histories of failure spanning decades and eras.
That doesn’t mean that Gene Autry and Donald Sterling are bad guys. Sterling can deal real estate the way Bret Maverick deals poker. Autry is a show-biz whiz, both on camera and in the management end. Neither of them grate on the public nerve like Steinbrenner or Turner.
But both have either bad luck, bad karma or lack of the knack to build a winner.
Look, I can’t solve every body’s problems in a day.
This is a more complex situation than the others, something that will require several minutes of careful thought. Maybe next week. Don’t hang up, Lakers, your call for help will be answered in the order in which it was received.