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Colts’ Road to L.A. Goes Right Through Riviera

Today they vote to determine who will be mayor of Indianapolis, with one of the campaign issues focusing on the future of the Colts.

Call it a coincidence, or one last calculated alert to voters, but on Monday I just happened to hear that Colt owner Jim Irsay has applied for membership at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

Will his football team follow?

“I asked him about that,” said Todd Yoshitake, Riviera’s engaging club professional, “and he just smiled.”

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I’VE MAINTAINED for some time that when Los Angeles gets a professional football team, it will be the Colts. The word “professional” is the sticking point that makes it hard to seriously consider the Chargers.

The Colts have a way out of their lease after 2006, and apparently Irsay is eager to get his golf game ready for the day when he begins courting potential luxury-suite buyers for L.A.'s new football stadium.

I would imagine The Times will want me to apply now for a Riviera membership so I can begin spending some time with Irsay discussing football.

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“Membership is minimum $200,000,” Yoshitake said, as if that would matter to The Times. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Times insists on paying for a membership for the Grocery Store Bagger too. Riviera could have its very own Rodney Dangerfield.

“When someone applies for membership, their name is posted for 30 days to allow current members a chance to object,” Yoshitake said, and he was already laughing. “I’m not sure your application would make it from the typewriter to the wall before the phone started ringing with objections.”

Yoshitake said Irsay applied some time ago and a final decision could be made soon, but we really won’t know what this will mean for football in Indianapolis and Los Angeles until The Times puts up the $200,000 to get me into Riviera.

I’ll get back to you as soon as that happens.

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WENT TO breakfast with Pam Shriver on Monday in Brentwood. What an ordeal. She wanted to talk tennis over breakfast. I lost my appetite.

She asked that I meet her at some place called Le Pain Quotidien -- the pain in the what, I asked, and she looked at me as if I should know.

I have a feeling it’s going to be that kind of a week. The women are here for the big tennis tournament at Staples Center that no one went to a year ago. Serena and Venus Williams already have announced they’re not playing this year, and frankly, I thought about doing the same thing before Shriver bugged me to give the tournament another chance.

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She’s married to one of the James Bonds, George Lazenby, who has a license to kill. I’m going to give the tournament another chance.

“The No. 1 player in the world is going to be determined by the outcome of this tournament,” said Shriver, who is working as honorary shill, sorry, honorary chairperson for this event, as well as broadcasting for ESPN.

I’m told now, of course, that the No. 1 player in the world figures to be the biggest crab of them all, the Watch Girl, Justine Henin-Hardenne, who had a conniption fit last year when I asked why she wears a watch while playing tennis.

A tennis official scolded me for being too direct with the Watch Girl, so I said something like, “What do you want me to do -- ask her out on a date so we get to know each other first?” and the next thing you know the Watch Girl is running out of the room, and tanks her match the next day.

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“Look at these,” said Shriver while pulling out photos of herself when she was young and in shape. “I’m wearing a watch in this one and in this one.... I just didn’t want to lose my watch, so what’s the big deal?

“Listen, the Watch Girl doesn’t know how to tank. She’s a steely 5-foot-6 competitor, and no one ever thought they’d ever see someone that size winning big again, and she’s dominated tennis the past six months. You can’t rattle her.”

Now I obviously have to go to the tournament.

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I DON’T know what they’re calling it, but it should be the Belgian Invitational since the No. 1 ranking comes down to the Watch Girl and her countrywoman, Kim Clijsters. I know I’m excited; I can’t wait to ask them, where’s Anna Kournikova?

“You know, the last professional match I ever played, I lost to Anna Kournikova,” Shriver said, which I believe makes her the only person I know to have ever lost to Kournikova.

“There have been a lot of changes made to make this a better tournament, and while you’d like to have all your stars in the sport healthy, you’ve got a great rivalry in the Watch Girl and Clijsters,” Shriver said. “You also have one of the greatest players of all time in Martina Navratilova, who is 47, playing with an 18-year-old in doubles, and I’m not sure anyone will ever see that again.”

Before she got too old, Shriver was Navratilova’s doubles’ partner. Together they won 79 titles, including 20 majors. They once won 109 consecutive matches, but now Sports Editor Bill Dwyre tells me she couldn’t even beat him.

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There’s a Bobby Riggs thought. The next time they schedule one of these who-cares tennis tournaments around here, they ought to stage an exhibition between Shriver and Dwyre to kick things off -- everyone enjoys a freak show.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes from an anonymous caller:

“The Clippers had their golf tournament in Yorba Linda Monday, and while most of these events provide a prize for the best drive, the Clippers were offering a prize to the golfer with the worst drive.”

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Figures. I imagine a Clipper tournament would draw only the worst golfers.

T.J. Simers can be reached

at t.j.simers@latimes.com.


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