Susan Schmolke is a Los Angeles Dodgers fan and still smarting over their loss to the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.
She was looking forward to the Rams facing the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday and winning back a championship for the city.
“The Red Sox win is still fresh. We just barely got over it, let’s face it,” Schmolke said. “Yet here we are again.”
Wearing matching blue Rams jerseys, Schmolke and her son Garrett watched the game at the Yard House at L.A. Live. A longtime fan, she was excited that the team, which played in St. Louis from 1994 until 2016, had made it to the Super Bowl just three years after its return to Los Angeles.
“It’s a win even just getting here,” Schmolke said. “It’s the ultimate homecoming for people excited about the Rams coming back to L.A. People in this town love an instant payoff.”
Then it happened again.
The Rams suffered a heartbreaking 13-3 loss to the Patriots in Sunday’s big game. The team had been hoping to redeem its 20-17 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.
But Schmolke said she wasn’t going to let it get her down.
“It’s their first time getting to the Super Bowl with a new coach, a young quarterback,” Schmolke said after the game. “They’ll have other opportunities. The big picture is they’re still a solid team. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for them.”
Like Schmolke, Mike Trevizo, who was among those cheering on the team at the Yard House, remained optimistic about the Rams’ future.
“We’re a young team, it’s OK,” he said. “Next year we’re going in with more experience. It takes baby steps. You can’t win a championship overnight. It was a great year. The Rams got here — that’s what matters.”
Trevizo has followed the team for years. “I was born in L.A., so I’ve always been a fan,” he said. “I’m also an Aries so that literally makes me a Ram.”
He said he was ecstatic when he heard the Rams were moving back to L.A. and immediately bought season tickets. Now a San Diego resident, he drives up to Los Angeles for games.
“I really believe in loyalty,” he said. “If you follow a team, you should stay with them.”
Yolanda Ramirez, 42, another longtime Rams fan, echoed similar sentiments.
“Of course I’m sad,” she said after Sunday’s loss, “but at the same time, at least we went all the way to the Super Bowl. I’m good with that.”
Larry Agilar, 60, is a native Texan but a lifelong Rams fan, something he inherited from his father. He said he and his wife drove from El Paso to watch the game here.
He said Rams fans should be proud of what the team accomplished this year, despite the loss.
“We came all the way from Texas to celebrate with local Rams fans,” Larry Agilar said. “This is a chance for L.A. to embrace a new era of football. We came a long way in a short time, and I’m proud of our team — we were in the Super Bowl.”
Agilar wasn’t the only one who traveled across the country to watch the game in Los Angeles.
Paige Cayon said she flew from Chicago to watch the game with her husband, a corporate pilot who was in California for business and is “born and bred Boston.” They decided to watch the game at Sonny McLean’s, an Irish pub in Santa Monica and a stronghold for Boston sports fans.
They thought they would arrive early to avoid the crowds. But when the couple got to the bar at 9:30 am, she said, “there was no seats. None.”
A line of Pats fans stretched outside the bar about an hour before kickoff, creeping sluggishly toward the pub doors. Expletives issued from the cars of passing Rams fans, streaking by on Wilshire Boulevard.
“It’s crazy here,” Cayon said. “But it’s kind of fun.”
Things got tense between some opposing fans around L.A.
As the seconds ticked down on Super Bowl LIII, a handful of gleeful Patriots fans began taunting the home crowd inside the Rusty Mullet, a Hollywood bar. A scuffle broke out, and some punches were thrown before a bouncer marched the offending fans outside.
Across the bar, Blake Shelburne and Jason Tavano offered a foil in Boston-Los Angeles relations. Shelburne, wearing a Rams T-shirt and cap, hugged Tavano, who was sporting a Tom Brady jersey, after the game.
But Tavano wasn't letting his friend forget who'd won.
"You want one word?" he said. "Inevitable."
The Patriots' celebration, splashed across the TVs lining the walls of the bar, illuminated Tommy Banner's glum face. His fellow Rams fans were leaving the bar. Staff were cleaning up the damage from the bar fight.
"It feels horrendous," he said. "What else can I say?"
Rams quarterback Jared Goff performed like the young player he is, Banner said, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady proved — once again — that he ranks among the game's greatest players.
"We've lost so much to Boston,” he said. “It sucks. There's no other way to say it."
Longtime Rams fan Joe Ansalvish was hoping for a celebration. He wore his blue cowboy hat, the one embroidered with a Ram and a yellow feather he'd gotten for Christmas as an 8-year-old. He sported his vintage Rams windbreaker, layered over his Rams T-shirt. He'd even tucked a Rams towel into his pocket.
He'd waited so long for his Rams to come home. To come so close to winning it all — it hurt, he said.