What a time to be a sports fan in Los Angeles.
With the calendar now fervently flipped to September, the Los Angeles sports scene just got an electric jolt, like a loud blast of lightning that tears through the skies. It’s as if Zeus himself as climbed down from Mount Olympus to take a front row seat for the intrigue, excitement, and scintillating action that is now upon us.
So without further ado, here’s a current, as well as anticipatory look at the state of LA sports, and what the next few months will or could have in store for fans.
Can anybody stop this juggernaut? Is this the year we finally get the Fall Classic of our dreams?
Fresh off clinching their 10th consecutive playoff appearance and their 9th NL West title over the same span, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in cruise control for the rest of the regular season.
The franchise record for regular season wins, 106, is directly in their crosshairs, but this team has their eyes on a more superlative prize.
Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts guaranteed his team would win the World Series in 2022, and thus far he has navigated the ship towards that ultimate destination. Through season-ending injuries to Walker Buehler and others, a depleted bullpen, and lackluster seasons at the plate from former All-Stars and MVPs, the Dodgers remain the frontrunner to play in their fourth Fall Classic in the last six years.
Familiar foes stand in their way in the form of the San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and New York Mets, but the team that leads the league in almost every statistical category fears nobody, and their three-headed monster of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman can out-hit, out-run, and out-catch any other trio in the league.
Does a date with nostalgia and a matchup with the New York Yankees await them in The World Series? Or perhaps a payback rematch with the hated Houston Astros?
All will be revealed in the next couple months.
Los Angeles has always been known as a Lakers and Dodgers town. For decades, there was no room in Hollywood for another franchise to share the marquee. But fanbases in general tend to get behind whichever team is the most successful and has the most compelling story at any given moment. That, and we love winners here in the City of Champions.
Enter the LA Rams from stage right.
One of LA’s newest franchises returned for a second act in 2016 and in five years they won three NFC West titles, appeared in two Super Bowls, and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in their brand new $5 billion dollar stadium back in February.
Now that the 2022 NFL season has kicked off, the Rams have reloaded and are ready for a sequel. Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson have joined stars Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Jalen Ramsey in the crusade to keep the Lombardi Trophy in Tinseltown.
From a fans perspective, the insatiable appetite for the Rams would have seemed unfathomable a decade ago, but then again so would winning Super Bowl LVI on your own field in SoFi Stadium with the likes of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. on your roster.
There was some cause for concern after the team’s blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills in that same stadium on opening night, but in Sean McVay we trust.
So to quote Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Get out of your seat, stomp your feet, it’s time to repeat!”
In less than a month the NBA season will begin, and with it comes renewed hope and optimism that the Los Angeles Lakers can win the Larry O’Brien trophy and surpass the rival Boston Celtics for the most titles in history.
Fresh off their most disappointing season to date, the Lakers are hoping that a new voice in the locker room, along with a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis, will make all the difference during the 2022-23 season.
Darvin Ham was hired as the Lakers new head coach and his tough, gritty, and fearless style of play is already rubbing off on the new-look Lake Show.
The revamped roster got rid of all the “old guys” and replaced them with younger, longer, and more athletic 3-and-D type players who should be able to excel on both sides of the ball.
Perhaps nobody personifies Coach Ham’s persona more than new addition Pat Beverley, who was acquired from the Utah Jazz this month for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson. Beverley will bring a ferocity and fight that the Lakers haven’t’ had before and he’s making it his own personal mission to get the team back to the playoffs this year.
Yes, Russell Westbrook is still on the roster (for the time being), but Ham is hoping that with a new outlook on life, he can bring the best out of the former MVP. Ham is encouraging Westbrook to focus more on the defensive end of the floor, and become a corner three shooter.
Time will tell if Westbrook truly is able to reinvent himself, or even remains on the roster by Valentine’s Day.
The Lincoln Riley era is upon us, and boy is it a breath of fresh air compared to the previous regime.
For evidence, look no further than last Saturday’s blowout victory over Stanford at the Farm.
Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Caleb Williams, the Trojans put up 35 first-half points on the Cardinal and led 41-14 entering the fourth quarter.
That’s a night-and-day difference to last season’s week two blowout loss at home to Stanford 42-28. Former head coach Clay Helton was fired a day after that loss, and needless to say it was a long time coming.
Over 40 different players have arrived to revamp the roster, and the Trojans offense hasn’t looked this good since the Pete Carroll championship runs of the mid-2000s.
Riley has just two seasons to take on the Pac 12 before leaving for the Big 10, but he already has the Trojans ranked in the top 10 (Number 7) again, and the alumni is beaming with excitement and vigor.
Is a Pac 12 championship in the cards in his freshman year? Could he do the unthinkable and get USC into their first ever College Football Playoff?
Soccer’s newest rivalry, lovingly deemed “El Trafico” is already the hottest derby in the entire MLS. From Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Carlos Vela, the head-to-head battles are already the stuff of legends.
Following their record-breaking sophomore season in the league, LAFC is back in 2022 with a new head coach, Steve Cherundolo, and a new starting XI.
The Black and Gold currently lead the Western Conference and are in the running for their second Supporter’s Shield trophy. Summer transfers Giorgio Chiellini, and Gareth Bale easily give LAFC one of the most talent rosters in the country, but will they be able to gel in time for an MLS Cup run? With only four games left in the regular season time is running out, but now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon if you haven’t already.
Meanwhile, the most decorated franchise in MLS history is fighting for their playoff lives. 4 draws in their last 5 matches is not going to get it done, but a strong finish over their final five matches can get the Galaxy back in the postseason again, and for the first time under head coach Greg Vanney.
Chicharito might be playing for his future with the club, and newcomer Riqui Puig has already made an impact in just a short time. The future looks bright for the Galaxy, but first they need to get back to their rightful place amongst the pantheon of MLS powerhouses.
Hockey season is just weeks away and the L.A. Kings are looking to take another step in their rebuild from their two-Stanley Cup championship run of the early 2010s.
I’ve always thought luck was factored into hockey’s geometry in a way that no other sport can duplicate. An odd bounce here, or a ricochet there, can make the difference between playing for a championship and vacationing in Cancun.
Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan got the team back into the postseason for the first time in four years after finishing third in the Pacific Division. The young and scrappy Kings took the Edmonton Oilers all the way to Game 7, after leading the series 3 games to 2.
Now the team is looking to rebuild off last season’s success, and they will have to do it without longtime captain Dustin Brown.
The Kings added left-winger Kevin Fiala in the offseason and the young stars are expected to take another step forward in their maturation process. With less than a month from the start of the new season, the Kings expectations have substantially changed.
L.A. is now expected to be a playoff team and compete for the Pacific Division title. Injuries can always derail a season, but the next steps are clear. Now the Kings must talk the talk, and walk the walk.