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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph RogersSometime in the future, when sports fans look back, they will realize that these are the "Good Old Days." Unbelievably, the Angels and the Dodgers both swept their opponents in the first round of the MLB Playoffs. Who would have thunk it? So, now the Angels will challenge the wealthy and powerful New York Yankees. They appear to be invincible, but then so did Boston. The Dodgers have to face the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. It is difficult to defeat a Champion, but it has been done.

Do we dare even hope that there could be a World Series between the Angels and the Dodgers? Hope does spring eternal. Manny Ramirez seems to have lost some of his gusto. He is no longer able to use banned substances, so maybe the Dodgers ought to have him drink lots of Red Bull.

The Baseball Playoffs won't start again until Friday, and this lull in their schedule leaves us with time to think about the activities of USC and UCLA. The Trojans will be going back to South Bend Indiana to face dreaded Notre Dame. The Irish are on the verge of becoming a national power again, so the sports world will be watching this game with keen interest. They are a desperate team, and possibly more determined than the Trojans.

Other than their quarterback, the Trojans don't have a star player who has proven his mettle in game after game. It is difficult to question the methods of Coach Pete Carroll, because he has been so successful. However, he seems to have so many talented players, that none of them reach their full potential. Almost every championship team that I can think of always had a running back that everyone feared and respected. He would typically carry the ball about 25 to 30 times a game, and score two or three touchdowns himself. His success in running the ball would allow his team to keep the ball away from the opposition. Also, when things were not going well, he would become the rallying point for the team. At this point, USC does not have that, but Stanford does. How on earth did this happen? The answers will reveal themselves on Saturday.

There isn't much you can say about UCLA right now, as they struggle to reclaim their identity. They have excellent coaches, and they had dedicated to the program. However, turning a losing program into a winner is extremely difficult. If you don't believe me, ask the Clippers or the Raiders.

The Rams left the Los Angeles Coliseum to play in Anaheim, because the owner of the team was given a $100 million incentive to make the move. The people in Anaheim were a happy bunch, for a while. Then the good people of St. Louis offered them $250 million in incentives to move there. So, they did. Everyone was happy, for a while. The Rams became a championship team, and they were known as the "Greatest Show on Turf."

The team has since fallen on hard times. They are losing a lot more games than they are winning. Attendance has fallen off, and so has their income. They are threatening to leave St. Louis, unless the good people back there, come up with another $250 million. The good citizens who enticed the Rams to go to St. Louis did not realize that it would take that kind of money every 10 years to keep them there.

The NFL has worked very hard to try to convince us that we're suffering because there is no professional team here. They would like for us to open our hearts and our wallets and to beg one of the owners to move his team here. So far, we have been wise enough not to do that. But we know that they smell that money, and they will never give up. Our message to them has been, "We don't need no stinkin' NFL." We need to stick with that.

John Lucas is now an Assistant Coach with the hapless Clippers. The team now has some talented players, probably better than any team that Lucas has ever coached. Mike Dunleavy is still the Head Coach of this pathetic organization. After he loses one job, he manages to get himself recycled into another one. His career is littered with one failure after another. It boggles my mind, that anyone would expect him to lead a successful organization. The sooner they get rid of him, and give Lucas his shot, the better they will be. The NBA ought to have a way to force inept owners like Donald T. Sterling to sell their teams to people, who are capable of turning them into winners.

Parents of young people who are Cheerleaders in high school and college need to be certain that they are not doing dangerous stunts. Too many of them are seriously injured by taking risks that should have been prohibited. On many an occasion at the Coliseum, I have witnessed Cheerleaders fall backwards from the top of a human pyramid. They have to trust that they will be caught, before they hit the ground. I have never seen an accident, but I was always very uncomfortable watching them take chances. They have many routines that they can do, that are both entertaining and safe. Young people are willing, and sometimes eager, to risk serious injury to themselves. They do that, because they don't think that it can happen, until it does.

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