As the world continues to rapidly change since the COVID-19 outbreak in March of 2020, there is one cultural artifact that has become a secondary or even tertiary matter of concern in my life. That artifact is the world of professional sports. It can be blamed on a couple of recent factors. This brief blog will explain these three factors in detail with a conclusive summary of the performance of my favorite sports teams’ 2021 seasons. Yes, many of my favorite teams had bad to average seasons but this is actually not the reason for my lack of interest. There are other more important factors at play.
The first most important part relates to government policies related to entertainment venues in general. As a person who has seen hundreds of rock concerts, sporting events, stand up comedians, toured museums, and probably have seen over 6000 movies, the new regulations related to attending these events are punitive and over-reactive. Here are the rules for Sofi Stadium, the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. Masks must be worn throughout the game even if you are vaccinated. They are encouraging you to show them your tickets through Ticketmaster while putting the CA Notify tracking app on your phone in case you accidentally come near an individual who has COVID-19. They now have a clear bag policy. Because you never know who is going to be bringing in that black tar heroin. Too much trouble, too expensive, and too much of a pain in the ass for a short three-hour event. My family is seeing Gabriel Iglesias at Pechanga Arena in Temecula on October 2nd (A show that has been delayed for over a year due to COVID-19). Their rules are even more restrictive. Clear bag policy, CHECK. Providing either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event, CHECK. Movie theaters are my wife and I”s favorite place for a nice cheap date. Now, face masks are required (In Southern California) and it can only be removed when eating. Each movie now has safety “advisors” who will confront you if the rules are being violated. Plus, the seating is still spread out meaning that theater times are more difficult to come by during the prime-time hours. As a person who loves culture, these new protocols are sucking the fun out of attending cultural and sporting events.
Second, everything has become political including all the professional sports leagues. This has not been beneficial to many of them. People do not like being alienated. If athletes in the NBA are complaining about the inherently racist Caucasian culture of the United States, you are alienating a majority of your potential viewing audience. This leads to massive rating declines. Throw in the participation of male athletes that have “transitioned” to female after going through puberty as a male and sports is becoming a laughingstock for the world.
Finally, much of the reason for my walk away from sports has to do with my own personality changes. As many of my friends and family know, sports were a huge part of my childhood. I have not missed a Super Bowl (Even if I missed a quarter or two in a few of them) since 1981. My knowledge of the champions in each league (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL & MLS) and who won a championship in a particular year is sickening. As a child, I was obsessed with statistics, an industry I should have continued to pursue after sabermetrics and statistics took over sports and data algorithms over this last decade. But as a person who loves to learn and lives life as open-mindedly as possible, my interests are diverging. Political Philosophies, Cryptocurrency and Linux, Investment, Interest in Studying Educational Research Topics like Culture, Film, Technology, etc. has also become an obsession with my life. Throw in my childhood interests in sports and entertainment and mix that with my young adult interest in video games, music, ornithology, and taking hikes in nature and there is only so much a person can accomplish and enjoy in a single day.
Despite these explanations above, I still pay close attention to my sports teams. Here are the recent records of my favorite sports teams and how their 2020-2021 seasons ended. Since the NFL just started, I will explain how the 2020 season for my Los Angeles Rams completed.
2020 Los Angeles Rams: 10-6, 2nd Place in the NFC West, #6 Seed in Playoffs. They played a complete game against the NFC West Division Winner #3 Seed Seattle Seahawks and knocked them out of the playoffs in the Wild Card game 30-20 despite Jared Goff’s broken thumb. Reality hit them the following week when the Green Bay Packers finished their season in the Divisional Playoffs 32-18. The Rams made some significant changes in the offseason trading their #1 pick QB Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for another first round pick Matthew Stafford who is seven years older than his predecessor. The Rams won their first game easily 34-14. We will see what happens during the 2021 season.
After an amazing 2020 season that ended with the San Diego Padres making the playoffs after a COVID shortened season and getting the #4 seed in an expanded eight team field, the Padres won their first playoff series since 1998 by defeating the #5 St. Louis Cardinals in the first round 2 games to 1. The season ended abruptly when the eventual 2020 MLB champion Los Angeles Dodgers wiped the Padres injured pitching staff right out of the playoffs in three straight games. With a load of offseason signings, the Padres were expected to compete for the division. Instead, the San Francisco Giants are the ones leading the NL West with the Dodgers only 2.5 games behind. Both teams are shoo-ins for the playoffs. The Padres have declined and played under .500 baseball in the second half due to a fading bullpen, starters who have been ineffective over the past two months, and a host of injuries. Sitting at 75-69, they are now tied for the 2nd and final wild card spot in the National League while having the most difficult remaining schedule in baseball. The Padres season is quickly sliding down into a massively disappointing one.
The 2021 Angels are even more baffling. With phenom Shohei Ohtani and the amazing Mike Trout, their pitching has just been mediocre, and they are heading for another disappointing season while sitting in 4th place in the AL West at 70-73. The only hope the Angels have is to end the season respectably late and pull their record over .500. But any hope for the postseason is gone.
Not much to say here. In a COVID-19 shortened season, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks were terrible. The L.A. Kings finished sixth in their division due to the incompetence of the other two California teams, the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks who had nightmarishly bad seasons. The Kings are in a rebuilding mode, and they only finished with more points than six teams while only finishing ahead of the Sharks based on tiebreakers. The Anaheim Ducks who have been a consistently good team over the past decade only had a better record than one team (The Buffalo Sabres). Both teams have a long way back to be competitive once again.
My three-time NBA Champion (2015, 2017, 2018) and five-time consecutive Western Conference Champion (2015-2019) Golden State Warriors got back into the playoffs after an injury plagued 2019-202o season. Finishing 39-33 in a shortened season, they got the #8 seed and were subjected to the new play-in game format. After losing a close game to the #7 Los Angeles Lakers, the #9 Memphis Grizzlies beat them in the second play-in game to end their season. With a great draft and the full return of all their injured superstars, the Warriors should have a bounce back 2021-2022 seasons that will find them in the upper echelon of the Western Conference again.
After a miserable 2020 season that saw the Los Angeles Galaxy, the only five-time champion of the league, miss the playoffs. The Galaxy are playing well and seem secure in qualifying into the sixteen-team postseason tournament to determine the 2021 MLS Cup winner. They are sitting at 11 Wins, 4 Draws, and 8 Losses and in 4th Place in the Western Conference with 37 points, 10 points ahead of the current 9th place team LAFC. Now that there are two professional soccer teams in the Los Angeles area, I have always preferred the Galaxy. They were part of the league since Day One in the mid-1990s and have proven themselves to be a dynastic franchise. I don’t give a shit who owns the LAFC soccer club. I hope the Galaxy destroy that team continuously.
My predictions for the 2021 season are going to be very simple. Since the first week is already over, these predictions really have no meaning or value if I put them on the line in Las Vegas. I will just predict my seeding and will move onto my playoff predictions after the season is over. Here we go.
1): Kansas City
7): Los Angeles Chargers
1): San Francisco
2): Tampa Bay
5: Los Angeles Rams
7): Green Bay
Enjoy the season! Until next week!
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