San Diego isn’t exactly the first name to pop into people’s heads when asked what America’s premier sports town is, and among those heads is the one located atop me. Many of us America’s Finest Cityans have no illusions about it: we know we ain’t no Chicago. We’ve got nothing on New York. We’re the un-Pittsburgh. We’re Philadelphia’s antidote. We’re Bizarro-Boston.
I’ll even freely admit jokes at my town’s expense have given me a little chuckle: What does PADRES stand for? Playoffs Avoidance Determined Reliably Every September. Or the one about the guy in the sports bar with a pet monkey who screamed and danced with delight when he saw the Chargers score a field goal on their first possession. (He was asked if the monkey reacted the same way to touchdowns, and replied “I dunno, I’ve only had him for two years.”) I’m sure there are more, as there’s no sports joke fodder like a joke sports town.
This is where the owner of a two-time National League champion demanded a new ballpark so the team could be “more competitive,”got said ballpark, and then went on to win a grand total of one playoff game out of seven ever since. (I’m not exactly a mathematical genius, but I assume even Prof. Stephen Hawking would agree that zero playoff series victories in your new venue vs. two World Series appearances in the old one is “less competitive.” I’ll be sure to ask him during our next brunch.)
This is where Marty Schottenheimer was replaced by Norv Turner following a 14-2 season, the NFL head coaching change equivalent of hiring a drunk Vespa mechanic to tune up your Ferrari.
And as of a few days ago, this is where an NFL franchise, after failing to get a new stadium with help from the taxpayers, left to become the second team in a city that cares for football just barely enough to justify the first one. Semi-competent Chargers CEO Dean Spanos, in an effort to be as admired and respected around here as contaminated mulch, is blowing town for Los Angeles. Granted, he’s the type of guy who’d try to improve his gin rummy game by overspending on a new deck of cards, so he didn’t exactly give off the smell of respectability before now.
Okay, maybe I’m being too hard on Spanos. Maybe my describing him as “a spoiled jerkbait son of a tycoon whose sole field of excellence is the pursuit of mediocrity” is, well, a wee tad harsh.
I could very well have been out of line to want a Super Bowl title while the Bolts played at Qualcomm Stadium, you know, sort of earn that new building. After all, no matter how much dough you’ve already dug out of your own pocket to attend games, unless you also shovel up a whole sinkholeful of public money and resources for a nice, sparkling, spanking new facility, with luxury boxes that make the Sultan of Brunei’s master suite look like a cubicle in a crack den and a jumbotron big enough to shelter the Pentagon, you can’t expect an extremely rich guy to just up and BE GOOD AT HIS JOB.
While it has held true since the early days of professional football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, you need only go back as far as August 1967, when then-uncorporately named San Diego Stadium first opened, to see countless teams demonstrate you need a modern, newer venue to win a title. Like the Seattle Seahawks, who never got remotely close to a Super Bowl when they played in the Kingdome, but won the 2013 Super Bowl (and played in two others) after moving into CenturyLink Field. Think about them next time someone like Mr. Spanos demands a new crib, and don’t be distracted by the occasional exception to the rule, like, say, the Green Bay Packers. Or the Chicago Bears. Or the Cubs for that matter. Or even the Bulls, come to think of it. Or the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Detroit Tigers, Denver Broncos, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Miami Dolphins…
Don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty to be proud of here: the late Tony Gwynn, Major League Baseball’s best pure hitter since San Diego-born Ted Williams. Sid Gillman and Don Coryell, coaches whose innovations continue to make NFL offenses soar and defenses work harder. Native son Bill Walton, the shaggy red creature who did the nearly unthinkable: fill the tremendous void in UCLA’s frontcourt left by Lew Alcindor’s departure. San Diego State University’s own Marshall Faulk, the dangerous, uber-versatile offensive weapon in the championship Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf.
If that’s not enough, San Diego also blessed the LPGA Tour with Mickey Wright, NASCAR with Jimmie Johnson, and the X Games with Tony Hawk.
It’s nothing to sneeze at to live in the same place that sprouted the likes of Ted, Bill, Mickey, and Tony. It almost makes you forget this is where former Charger Ryan “Sociopathic Adolescent Girl in a Man’s Body” Leaf got paid millions of dollars for sucking like a Kirby.
I’d wish Dean Spanos good luck, but seriously, his dad is the owner of an NFL franchise. If he were any luckier he’d crap rabbits’ feet and shamrocks.
In Other News…
Shred your ticket just to be sure, Congressman: Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has called President-elect Donald Trump “illegitimate” and will not be attending his inauguration. Can’t say I blame him—if he couldn’t pull off a race hoax outside the Capital in 2010, he sure as hell won’t be able to do it now.
I say good riddance. If there’s one thing that has no place at a huge gathering in our nation’s capital, it’s some lying schmuck.
What a Twurd: mega-producer/writer/director Joss Whedon, in a move that is just so dang unusual for a Hollywood lefty, recently tweeted that he’d like House Speaker Paul Ryan to be sodomized to death by a Rhinoceros. Rumors that Ryan replied with “well, it couldn’t be any worse than watching an episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’” have not been confirmed.
Y’know, he’s starting to look a bit narcissistic: the president’s relentless farewell tour (hopefully) concluded with his farewell address on January 10th. In a loud, lavish party at Chicago’s massive convention center McCormick Place, Obama spoke for just under 50 minutes, more than his three most immediate predecessors combined, ditto the three previous Democrats. That whooping sound you heard was half of Gary, Indiana desperately clinging to their oxygen supply.
Lucky for the Indians: The Cubs were at the White House this week to celebrate their World Series title with the president, who in classic-him fashion spent much of his 20+ minute speech referring to himself. Hey, I never said it was entirely bad to play for the Padres.