LA, NO WAY!
The Los Angeles sports scene is once again in a time of championships and prosperity. Within the past year both the Dodgers and the Lakers ended their seasons hoisting their respective championship trophies. For many LA sports fans, the burden of living through the pandemic was a bit more palatable knowing that the Lakers and the Dodgers were World Champions in 2020. While others were pumping their fists and pouring champagne on themselves (Kevin Onishi), I sat there with my face buried into the sweaty palms of my hands. I could not partake in these joyous occasions because, unfortunately, I am an Indiana Pacers and Arizona Diamondbacks fan.
Growing up in the South Bay, I was surrounded by friends and family who bled purple and gold or sweat the Dodger blue. That was not the life for me. I loved to be the pest cheering when the opposing team scored or when the home team lost. Supporting the Lakers and the Dodgers was not going to be an option. Having played for the Pacers and Diamondbacks in the Sansei League, I figured I'd adopt my youth teams as my go-to pro teams. In 2000, I made my lifelong commitment to the Indiana Pacers and Arizona Diamondbacks official. This would be part of my ongoing identity. This would be My Decision.
**Insert Lebron’s The Decision Picture (optional photoshop my face on there)
To say the past 21 years have been challenging would be a gross understatement. I could have hitched myself to the bandwagon like everyone else and rode the groovy train to watch the Lakers capture 6 titles and the Dodgers multiple NL Titles and one World Series. Instead I opted for two decades of early playoff exits and superstars demanding trades to bigger market teams. My lone bright spot was in 2001, when my Diamondbacks took on the great New York Yankees and went on to become the fastest expansion team to ever win a championship. Aside from that sole early title I have had constant and consistent heartbreak, which have challenged my devotion to my squads. But, as I have said before, this is part of my identity, and I will continue to stubbornly stay loyal.
All superstar talent want to come to Los Angeles, and who can blame them?! It’s amazing out here and there are owners who are willing to pay whatever it takes to win. LA has been graced with stars like Kobe, Lebron, and Shaq, whereas the Pacers have had Reggie Miller and some creature named Lance Stephenson. The people of Los Angeles have grown to expect championships and superstars as if they grow on trees. Too often do I hear friends complaining after one year of the Dodgers not making the playoffs or the Lakers failing to acquire a 4th superstar. To them I say “boo hoo,” you do not understand our struggle--the struggle of being loyal to small market organizations.
I dream of the day when I hear the Pacers or Diamondbacks are World Champions. I will savor that moment like there is no tomorrow. The lifetime of mediocrity will be forgotten for that brief moment of bliss. Like eating a cut of prime rib at Lawry’s or what I would imagine is the experience of eating Jiro’s sushi in Tokyo, all good things are best in moderation. Someday this will happen, and when that day comes, the amount of alcohol I consume that evening will not be in moderation.