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A New Dawn for Sports

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Kobe is very happy. AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Everywhere you go, there’s a hell of a lot of sentimentality going on. Best of 2009 lists, best of the decade lists despite the fact that the decade doesn’t end until this year. It’s just a bunch of mushy nostalgia served to cheapen the events that actually happened. As Thom Yorke crooned on “Let Down” on OK Computer, “Don’t get sentimental it always ends up drivel.”

Not here. I prefer to look forward to what can be expected so when things fall short I can properly be disappointed. Having said that I don’t see there being too much to celebrate.

The lone bright spot will be the Lakers. They are hands down the best team in the league right now despite their recent struggles. Lakers fans will blow every struggle out of proportion, but it’s always best to keep things in proportion - the Lakers recent losses were to Cleveland and Phoenix, two pretty decent teams. It’s not like they lost to the Clippers and Warriors. Oops sorry Boston (not really).

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The Lakers will make another run to June and will be in the Finals. I’m not going to sit here and anoint them NBA Champs quite yet. There are just too many variables with injuries, motivation and amount of energy. But if they hold it together, I don’t see anyone in the West challenging the defending champs.

As for our local college basketball teams, it’s not going to be so rosy. Let’s face it, Pac-10 basketball is awful - perhaps the worst it’s ever been. The only Pac-10 team to defeat ranked opponents so far is USC when they beat Tennessee and UNLV. I’m convinced the Pac-10 will only get one team to the big dance, two if they’re lucky, making the Pac-10 Tournament that much more crucial to win. However even if USC or UCLA gets the invitation they will be one-and-done.

And as things fade for the college basketball teams, so too will the Dodgers. With the run they have been on the last two years making it to the NLCS, I really thought that this year they could get over the hump. Then on the eve of the NLCS last year word came out that the Carpetbaggers were getting a divorce. All the ugliness then started to gush out of the broken dam and I proclaimed that the descent will begin.

We’ve already seen it. No more Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson, Ronnie Belliard. They are now courting Joel Pinero from the St. Louis Cardinals, a mediocre pitcher at best. While the descent isn’t going to be too precipitous, once the “kids” start becoming eligible for free agency (the first round of them become eligible in 2012), it’s going to get very ugly if something isn’t done quickly.

Across the curtain however, the Angels will maintain. They’re never flashy, boring to a certain degree, but they won’t change their demeanor. They will probably be tested by the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, but they’ll just stick to their guns and keep it interesting in September.

Now the collegiate football ranks baffle me a little bit. I can’t quite decide if USC lackluster play and the actions of their coaching staff handing the starting job to Matt Barkley have done irrevocable damage to the program. Also with their apparent lack of institutional control (cue Vincent Price orchestra) there could be a lot of distractions flying around. If they win the conference, I won’t be surprised. If they wind up playing another peanut bowl, that won’t surprise me either.

UCLA is equally perplexing. While not too obvious there is a tiny rift starting to form between head coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow. With Neuheisel in the Richard Brehaut camp and Chow behind current starter Kevin Prince. Regardless something needs to be resolved in the spring because that offense needs something. Anything. But just like USC, I won’t be surprised if they play a Rose Bowl or wind up playing with poinsettias.

As for all the other teams the Kings will be in the playoffs for the first time in seemingly forever. The Ducks will quack away into the sunset after the regular season. The Galaxy will build on what they started this year and win an MLS Cup. Chivas USA unfortunately will lose Sasha Klejstan to Europe and will not make the playoffs. And the Clippers will be the Clippers though they will play exciting basketball.

Am I far off?

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