It is hard to discuss sports with the geo-political events that have occurred over the past week. Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this week and the European continent has become a battle zone for the first time since the Slavic Civil Wars in the 1990s that broke up Yugoslavia and created a bunch of new countries divided by ethnicity (For the record, Yugoslavia became Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia). I will have more thoughts on this later. Since the events are ongoing, any opinion I may give will possibly become antiquated within 24 hours. But there is one thing I can confirm. I DO NOT MISS THE WAR REPORTING (Or Propaganda depending on your point of view) WITH FOX NEWS, CBS, NBC, ABC, & CNN. There is no propaganda more effective than war propaganda and it works on the American citizenry every time. Putin maybe an asshole. But it only took me half a day to start getting irritated with cable news and to begin tuning out all their bullshit.
As a forty yearlong sports fan, there were always a few experiences I wanted to have with my favorite teams. First of all, let me give you a list so I can expand my argument.
Here are my favorite teams in order:
With the Galaxy, they have not only won a title but are currently the MLS’ leading franchise for championships. Since their initial season in 1996, the Galaxy have played in nine MLS Cup Finals finally winning their first championship on their fourth attempt. Since then, they have won four more titles and have a lifetime 5-4 record in the MLS Finals. The MLS titles were in 2002, 2005 (As a 4 seed), 2011, 2012 & 2014.Since their last title, the Galaxy have only qualified for the playoffs three times in the last seven seasons. Of all my favorite sports teams, the Galaxy have won the most championships during my lifetime. In terms of my goals for these teams, there is really nothing left for them to accomplish.
ANAHEIM DUCKS STANLEY CUP TITLE: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
LOS ANGELES GALAXY MLS CUP TITLE: QUINTUPLE CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
The Golden State Warriors are one of the two non-Los Angeles area teams that I root for and there is a reason for my fandom. Like the Rams, Golden State is responsible for two championships that occurred before my birth (As the Philadelphia Warriors in 1947 and 1956). Golden State won their first California title in 1975 when I was a wee 10 months old. My only memory of this championship is that Rick Barry was one of my father’s favorite players throughout his life. I have seen highlights of their 1975 NBA Final win, but this amazing team was as foreign to me as the titles won before my birth. Despite this, being a Warriors fan has been pretty difficult. Even though the late 1980s and early 1990s with Don Nelson as their coach had some very successful teams, the recent history of the franchise has been downright depressing. This all changed recently. As I suffered through ten Los Angeles Lakers championships from 1980 to 2010, the Warriors finally put together a fantastic team that won an NBA title in 2015. After Kevin Durant came onto the team in 2016, two more championships were added in 2017 and 2018 (These did not feel as special as the initial one, but they still count). These titles were very important to me. I finally got to celebrate two things with this Warrior team: First, I no longer needed to hear the arrogant bullshit from the L.A. Lakers fans about my lack of championships and second, watching my dad enjoy these at the end of his life brought me a ton of joy. The Warriors were the only team he successfully propagandized me into becoming a fan. That long almost thirty years of torture finally paid off with the three recent championships (And they could be adding another one in 2022).
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS NBA FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP: TRIPLE CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
GOLDEN STATE BECOMING ONE OF THE NBA’S ELITE TEAMS AGAIN: CHECK (TIED FOR THIRD MOST TITLES) – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
The Anaheim Angels always seemed cursed. This was a team that took nineteen seasons to win its first American League West title. In the team’s sixty years, they have only made the playoffs ten times with a pathetic 5-9 playoff series record. They also have only made the playoffs once in the past twelve seasons. But nothing can take away the 2002 season. Because of my dad’s job, he often got tickets to see the ‘California’ Angels throughout the 1980s and 1990s. I have been to Anaheim Stadium at least 40 times in my life. This allowed me to adopt the Angels as my 2nd favorite MLB team (The Angels will never pass my San Diego Padres as my favorite team) while my dad adopted them as his favorite (His beloved San Francisco Giants were his number two who rewarded him with three World Series wins in the early 2010s). The 2002 World Series title as a wild card team over the hated San Francisco Giants was an incredible run and finally allowed me to enjoy a MLB World Series Championship (More on this with the Padres later). Added bonus for this one because I lived in an apartment on Ball Road in West Anaheim during this title run. So seeing the fireworks from nearby Anaheim Stadium that were also being shown on the Fox Network made this a surreal experience. There was another baseball championship I did celebrate but because of a change in allegiance, I no longer count this title as a fan (More on this later).
ANAHEIM/CALIFORNIA/LOS ANGELES ANGELS WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
The Los Angeles Kings are my 2nd favorite team. They were the 2nd team I became aware of as a child and my fandom goes all the way back to the years of Marcel Dionne before Wayne Gretzky changed the future of hockey on the West Coast forever. Being a Los Angeles Kings fan was not much better than being a Golden State Warrior or Los Angeles Angels fan during my childhood into my 30s. There were many more years of losing than seasons of winning. The 1993 loss to the Montreal Canadians in the Stanley Cup Finals was one of the most difficult losses of my life. But just like the Warriors (Almost 30 years), and the Angels (Almost 20 years), I waited over 30 years for the Los Angeles Kings to finally reward me with an elusive title. In 2012 after sliding into the Stanley Cup playoffs as the 8th and final seed, they became the first team to win a championship as the aforementioned 8th seed by defeating the New Jersey Devils in 6 games in 2012. After losing a tough NHL Western Conference Final in 2013 to Chicago, the Kings became one of only a handful of teams to come back from 3 games to zero and win a hockey series against the hated San Jose Sharks. This led to an unexpected 2nd Stanley Cup title against the New York Rangers in 2014 in 5 games. The Kings are now one of 13 NHL teams with multiple Stanley Cups (Putting them into the upper 50% of teams) which was always my wish for the franchise.
LOS ANGELES KINGS STANLEY CUP TITLE: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
LOS ANGELES KINGS ONE OF THE NHL’S TOP 50% TEAMS: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
This leaves two final teams to discuss, my beloved Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Padres. We will review the Rams first.
As mentioned last week, the Rams had two pre-Super Bowl championships that occurred a generation before I was born in two separate cities (Cleveland in 1945 and Los Angeles in 1951) which matches the accomplishments of the NBA Warriors. For so many years of my fandom with this team, those two championships before my birth were all I could hang onto. The Rams did make the Super Bowl in 1979 against the Pittsburgh Steelers but lost a 4th quarter lead and the game 31-19. The 1980s and 1990s saw NFC teams like the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and an individual title for the legendary NFL teams Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers win Super Bowls for 13 consecutive years against overmatched AFC teams. This changed in 1997 when the Denver Broncos prevented the Green Bay Packers from repeating (And handing them their only Super Bowl loss). The St. Louis Rams (Relocated to a 3rd city by their owner in 1995) finally came through and got my franchise its first Super Bowl. Little did I know then that 21 years after that move, the Rams would be back in my beloved Los Angeles. And during the 2021 season, they would deliver their second Super Bowl but more importantly, their first one in Los Angeles. The Rams are now in the Top Ten for NFL Championships and Super Bowl wins, a place I hope that they remain.
RAMS FRANCHISE SUPER BOWL: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
LOS ANGELES RAMS SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
BEING A TOP 10 ELITE CHAMPIONSHIP FRANCHISE: CHECK – GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
CATCHING THE 49ERS in CHAMPIONSHIPS: GOAL NOT ACCOMPLISHED (49ers 5, Rams 4)
Finally, I am a fan of a team that has disappointed me for almost 40 years. Growing up, I idolized Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey. Garvey played in 4 World Series, winning 1 with the team in 1981 (And losing in 1974, 1977 & 1978). Before the 1983 season, the Dodgers traded my favorite player to the San Diego Padres. For the only time in my life, I switched my team allegiance. The 1981 Dodger World Series victory no longer mattered to me. I was a Padre fan now. What a fucking decision this turned out to be! Since this switch, the Dodgers have won two more World Series titles (1988 & 2020) and the Padres have managed only five TOTAL PLAYOFF APPEARANCES, 4 DIVISION TITLES, and 2 NL PENNANTS (1984, 1998) in almost 40 years. In their two World Series appearances, they won only one game against both the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, two of the greatest teams to ever take the field. I have learned to accept the fact that in my late 40s, I will likely never see a San Diego Padres Championship. With all my other teams’ recent successes, I have learned to accept this reality.
JUST ONE SAN DIEGO PADRES WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP: GOAL NOT ACCOMPLISHED
What is the point of all this besides showing my ridiculous knowledge of sports history? Well, come back next week for what the Rams Super Bowl victory and thinking long and hard about sports fandom has done. See you next week!
EXPERT OF SOME