It Appears Nothing Can Avenge This Woeful Season


So, Phil Jackson has been shaken, expressing doubts that he can motivate his team.

I wonder how he’d hold up if he were a paying customer, a fan trying to motivate the USC and UCLA basketball teams, the Kings, Clippers and Lakers to win more games than they lose.

He’s got Jeanie Buss. All we have to keep us going this winter is the reporting date for Angels’ pitchers and catchers.


ONE MORNING we’re waking up to the Super Bowl, and a day later, the Clippers are losing to the worst team in basketball.


The Kings take the home ice and don’t score.

The Lakers have fewer wins than the Golden State Warriors.

UCLA probably will finish below .500, and if it makes the eight-team Pacific 10 tournament in Staples Center, it will probably be as the No. 8-seeded team taking on Arizona -- currently ranked No. 1 in the nation.

USC has a tougher schedule, fighting both referees and opponents the rest of the way, and March Madness will take on a whole new meaning around here if both the Trojans and Bruins fail to make the big bracket.

And then there is this countdown to despair on the Dodgers’ Web site: Only 14 days, 10 hours, 38 minutes and 53 seconds until pitchers Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort return to work.


THE DODGERS’ site also features a picture of outfielder Daryle Ward and General Manager Dan Evans standing side by side and grinning. I guess they understand what a joke the Dodgers have become.

In fact, according to the Dodgers’ Web site and a story by’s Ken Gurnick, “The Houston Astros are happy Ward’s a Dodger too. They didn’t want to pay Ward $1.35 million this year with nowhere to play him, and they had pretty much given up hope that Ward would ever fulfill the high expectations that come with” being the son of former major leaguer Gary Ward.

As you can see, he’s a perfect fit for the low-expectation Dodgers.

(Make that 14 days, 9 hours, 33 minutes and 11 seconds until the Dodgers report for work, and can you feel the anticipation, and the excitement that comes with that first opportunity to watch Todd Hundley strike out?)



THERE IS still hope for some local excitement. The L.A. Avengers remain undefeated. In fact you couldn’t ask for better local sports’ conditions for a team that needs every break it can get to capture attention, and this year by good fortune, they start their schedule earlier, beginning Sunday in Staples Center.

The Arena Football League is starting its 17th season, and although the first 16 have pretty much gone unnoticed, NBC will be televising 70 games this year, seven of them Avenger games. The way the Lakers, Clippers and Kings are going, the only team playing in Staples and appearing on TV in May could be the Avengers.

This is the Avengers’ chance to grab L.A.’s interest, so I called the team’s coach and asked him if he’d guarantee just a couple of victories in a row to satisfy deprived sports fans. (I was also hoping he might tell me his name, so I’d know who is coaching the Avengers.)

“I can’t do that,” he said, and since I’m new to this Arena League stuff, I thought maybe the coaches aren’t allowed to identify themselves.

“No, I can’t guarantee a win,” said Ed Hodgkiss. “I can’t guarantee we’re going to keep winning either -- I just can’t do it.”

I said: “But this is the time to do just that. What have you got to lose?”

Said Hodgkiss: “I can’t do that after preaching to our players that they should be humble and not say anything wild to the media.”


I said: “So let me get this straight. You can’t guarantee a win -- like anyone will remember, or care, if you lose -- and you can’t guarantee your players will have anything interesting to say to the media. Well, thanks for the memories.”

(Only 14 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes and 23 seconds until it’s time to start making fun of the Dodgers again.) Can’t wait.


LeBRON JAMES, the high school phenom, backed his $100,000 Hummer H2 into a woman’s Dodge Stratus, and his attorney said the kid’s insurance company will take care of it. I wonder what the insurance premium on a $100,000 Hummer H2 driven by an 18-year-old male -- now with one accident on his record -- might set him back. I wonder if he can afford it.


HE’S BACK.... Now a state assemblyman, Mark Ridley-Thomas sent a letter over the weekend to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, telling Tagliabue he’s going to head a committee that will begin hearings in San Francisco next month to measure the economic impact of having NFL teams and the Super Bowl in California. This will go a long way toward determining whether the state takes a role in helping the NFL address stadium problems in Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego and L.A.

Ridley-Thomas, a former L.A. councilman, had the NFL persuaded to return to the Coliseum until a Houston investor outbid the L.A. effort. So when he speaks, you and I might fall asleep, but amazingly enough, the NFL listens.


A RADIO reporter was talking about being in the Raider locker room after the Super Bowl, and seeing the shocked look on the faces of assistant coaches. He said he “hadn’t seen head Coach Bill Callahan yet.”


I fear we might never again.


TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Ralph:

“So when is your daughter and the UCLA guy tying the knot?”

The day after Steve Lavin leads the Bruins to a national title.


T.J. Simers can be reached at