Posts Tagged ‘Jill Painter’

These are among the worst of times to be a sports fan in L.A.

LA Daily News – May 9, 2011 – Jill Painter – 05/09/11 – We are not a proud sports town today.

How bad is the L.A. sports scene? Let us count the ways.

The Dodgers and Lakers, our two most storied and prideful franchises, are in turmoil.

The Lakers were embarrassed Sunday after being swept by the Dallas Mavericks. More disgusting than the Lakers’ pathetic defense was the cheap shots that caused the ejections of Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum.

Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers in a highly leveraged deal in 2004. His pockets are so empty he can’t pay his employees at the end of the month and Major League Baseball, already having taken control of the team, might force a sale.

Los Angeles once was one of the best sports cities in the country, even without an NFL team.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. You shouldn’t be proud of the Dodgers and Lakers right now,” said John F. Murray, a Florida-based sports psychologist and author of “The Mental Performance Index.”

“They need to make changes so this happens less frequently …”

It’s a good lesson learned, for those who considered our sports successes and championships to be more than just entertainment and fun. If you’re taking these teams too seriously, you shouldn’t.

Bostonians and New Yorkers and even Clevelanders surely think we’re a joke. The joke once was how
Hollywood and fickle fans were, arriving late and leaving early. Now, it’s that we’re no longer competent and have no sportsmanship. In October, “The Sporting News” named Los Angeles the third-best sports city behind No. 1 Chicago and Boston.

In 2003, Los Angeles was named the top sports city.

At this rate, Los Angeles will be on the worst sports cities list, alongside Detroit, in 2011.

The Lakers were at an all-time low Sunday after losing in the Western Conference semifinals in their quest for a third consecutive NBA title. Bynum gave a forearm shiver to guard J.J. Barea, who already was in the air and in a vulnerable position, and was ejected. It was dirty and ugly.

Odom had been ejected earlier for a cheap shot against Dirk Nowitzki.

It was a classless display for a once classy organization. Where was the sportsmanship? Imagine the poor parents who had to explain why the Lakers were such poor losers.

Bynum shred his Lakers jersey as he walked off the floor. With all of his antics, including postponing knee surgery so he could attend the World Cup, injury-prone ligaments and bones, there’s no need to ever see him put on the purple and gold anymore. Trade him. It is the same scenario for those thinking about throwing on their Kings hockey jersey.

“These people are role models, and they set examples for society,” Murray said. “We need to keep sports as healthy and clean as possible. Kids need ideals to look up to. It keeps them focused on being the best they can be.

“It seems ridiculous that sports have to hold some moral standard, but they do. Kids look up to them. Even adult kids. Everyone loves sports.”

The Clippers should be a better ticket than the Lakers. After the Lakers showed their true, ugly colors Sunday, perhaps we should get behind the other NBA team in L.A. They have cheaper tickets and Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin, who’s also known as the human dunk machine. He’s exciting to watch.

The Dodgers are not. McCourt’s sordid divorce and revelations that he was using team money for his personal gain was upsetting. He’s so broke – reportedly $500 million or so in debt – he had to take out a personal $30 million loan last month to pay his employees.

This storied franchise, that flourished under the ownership of the O’Malley family for nearly five decades, has come unglued.

Angelenos are so downtrodden that everywhere Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went here in town last week, fans were begging him to buy the Dodgers … while the Lakers were playing his team.

And on Opening Day, there was the brutal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who’s still in a medically induced coma.

That’s much worse than any divorce drama or McCourt bank statement.

The Angels have Jered Weaver, who’s from Simi Valley and won his first six games, and former Dodger Mike Scioscia managing. But what a drag to have to drive to Orange County to witness a good team with a credible owner. I know they’re called the Los Angeles Angels, but that’s only a name.

The fun even has been taken out of our college sports. USC football was on probation and ineligible for a bowl game.

USC basketball coach Kevin O’Neill ruined a solid season with a public tirade against an Arizona booster in a hotel across from the Pacific-10 Conference Tournament at Staples Center. As if USC wasn’t in enough trouble.

UCLA isn’t doing anything to brag about, either. Rick Neuheisel had another pedestrian football season at 4-8 in his fourth year. He ran out Norm Chow, but hired a new offensive coordinator while Chow still was on staff. Neuheisel then took an eternity to hire a defensive coordinator.

Bruins basketball is trying to get back to the glory days and made progress this season, but then lost two players to the NBA. UCLA even has to play at the Sports Arena, on USC’s campus, while Pauley Pavilion is being renovated.

Everything is turned upside down.

The best thing going at UCLA was women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell, and the Bruins couldn’t keep her. She left for LSU, where she’s making $700,000 a year over five years. She’s bright, articulate, a philanthropist, a fashionista and a brilliant coach and recruiter.

And after three years, she’s gone.

It was understandable as she’s closer to her family in Tennessee and is making a much better living in a place that adores women’s basketball. But this one hurts UCLA.

Let’s not forget hockey. The Kings had one of the best starts in franchise history and stumbled late but managed to make the playoffs.

Then they squandered a 4-0 lead at home in Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks and lost three home playoff games and the series, 4-2.

What’s up with that?

We couldn’t even get back on the horse in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Of the entrants with Southern California connections, the highest finish was Twice the Appeal, in 10th place.

Guess there’s always the Galaxy and the return of Candace Parker to the Sparks.

“Sports are a great diversion and great entertainment,” Murray said. “There’s a lot worse things we could be doing. They are a healthy pursuit physically and a challenge. When things go bad there, like they are now, there needs to be change in order to make improvements and realize what they have is delicate and precious.

“They better improve their management or they’re going to lose it.”

L.A. fans might lose it if we don’t get our sports teams back in shape.

I hope you enjoyed these insights from the world of sports psychology.

We Can Forgive Tiger But Not Forget

Los Angeles Daily News – Jill Painter – December 12, 2009 – Sports Psychology Commentary – Let’s forgive Tiger Woods already.

‘Tis the season of giving, and Woods could use a hearty dose of forgiveness.

It’s not to condone the litany of mistakes he made. Not a chance.

But he didn’t kill anyone, did he?

E-mail jokes, “Saturday Night Live” skits and ongoing cocktail waitress revelations surely can’t compare to the inner torture he’s facing from the revelation of his double life.

No yacht named “Privacy” or banged-up Escalade or private jet could take him to a corner of the world that would provide him a safe haven from his demons that have been exposed.

Woods is a billion-dollar athlete, but money can’t buy his happiness.

He’s surely living in a very dark place.

He is in danger of losing his family and would have no one to blame but himself. He’s soiled his reputation and legacy. He’s losing sponsors. He might never be the same golfer.

He seems like a robot, but he’s not.

Woods finally admitted “infidelity” on his Web site Friday and said he was taking a break from golf.

“I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness,” he wrote. “It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.”

Woods is asking for your forgiveness.

We forgave Michael Vick for running the Bad Newz Kennels in which innocent dogs were murdered, some by his own hands. The Eagles quarterback was applauded when he ran into the end zone for a touchdown on Sunday.

We forgave the Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, who was ruled by drugs, alcohol and women. Once sober and with his career back on track, he became a wonderful comeback story. He hit home run after home run in the Major League Baseball All-Star home run derby in 2008. That he did drugs didn’t matter anymore.

We cheer for Kobe Bryant and have forgiven him after his infidelity. The woman alleged rape, but the charge later was dropped.

Doesn’t Woods deserve our forgiveness, too?

“A lot of how we might forgive him as individuals differs greatly as how we’ll view him as a role model for society,” said Dr. John F. Murray, a sports psychologist. “Those are two separate issues. We don’t forgive someone in that he’ll be the same role model as before, but you can forgive him on a human level and realize even great presidents had multiple affairs.

“In some ways, it’s very shocking to us. In other ways, it’s the same old same old.”

Woods isn’t perfect. He’s far from it.

We realize such as the parade of women who allegedly had affairs with him continues to grow. There’s so many we’ve numbered them. No. 14 is a 48-year-old fitness instructor from Florida.

Whether it was one or 100 doesn’t matter. His behavior was unacceptable with his first affair.

It’s so bad that Jamie Jungers, one of his alleged mistresses, claimed she was with Woods the night his father, Earl, passed away.

Who trumpets that as though it’s some badge of honor?

Let’s forgive him and hope he emerges a man who has atoned for his mistakes and does more good with his money and power. He’s done many charitable endeavors, especially with the Tiger Woods Foundation, but maybe he can do more.

Golf fan Nick Weiss, a 27-year-old who lives in Santa Monica, doesn’t condone what Woods did but he’s willing to forgive him.

“Everyone, including me, thought he was superhuman – a machine,” Weiss said. “He preached moral values and family and always put on a show. He was clearly hypocritical. He got a little crazy, and I lost respect for him.

“Everyone has demons in their closet. Unfortunately for him, he’s in the public eye. He made numerous mistakes, just like A-Rod and God knows how many other athletes. I forgive him. I want to see him back on the tour.”

Murray doesn’t believe Woods’ image ever will be the same, but he believes forgiveness is possible.

“He wasn’t accused of raping anybody,” Murray said. “It was immoral, but it wasn’t illegal. More than anything, I think it’s the shock of the fall. He was on this incredibly high platform and he’s obviously fallen from it. He is probably under enormous amounts of stress and so are his wife and everyone involved with him.

“Let’s have a little compassion.”

We can’t pretend we’ll forget.

But we can forgive.

I hope you enjoyed this insight from the world of sports psychology.

Bad time for Ramirez to push reject button on Dodgers

LA Daily News – Jill Painter – Feb 4, 2009 – Manny Ramirez scoffed at $25 million.  He needed only one day to reject the latest offer from the Dodgers, aone-year deal in which Ramirez would become the second-highest paid player in baseball.

If that’s not good enough, what is?

Ramirez is a rock star in Los Angeles for powering the Dodgers to their first postseason series victory in 20years. The Dodgers couldn’t keep their shelves stocked with enough Manny wigs and skull caps.

But a lot has changed since Ramirez lumbered around left field in Dodger Stadium with those dreadlocks flapping on No. 99.

Many of those fans who scooped up expensive Dodgers jerseys and playoff tickets have undoubtedly lost their jobs and their homes in this unstable economy. They’ve watched the bottom fall out of their retirement accounts and stocks. They’ve delayed retirement plans.For $25 million, 50$500,000 homes could be saved from foreclosure in California.

Ramirez’s inability to run out some grounders and lackadaisical attitude wore on teammates and fans in Boston.

Money might crush his love affair in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers were willing to pay Ramirez about $154,320 per regular-season game, and Ramirez wasn’t buying it. How much more does he need?

“Everybody is conscious today about being modest,” sports psychologist John F. Murray.

“You want to keep things in perspective. Everyone is struggling and when a player of that status
(rejects that offer), it’s naturally going to create some dissent among people that might be enthusiastic about him.”Privately, this is a business, and he could get more money. What’s wrong with that?”

Ramirez’s contract negotiations are anything but private. Ramirez and agent Scott Boras never officially responded to a two-year, $45 million offer from the Dodgers, either.

Yet the Dodgers, who need power in the middle of the lineup, are still interested in signing him. They also need pitching.

A soon-to-be 37-year-old outfielder known for his hot bat and not the ground he can cover in the outfield is digging in his heels and holding out for more. When spring training starts, Ramirez might still be waiting. He has no other known offers.

What’s a parent to tell their child? How do you explain that $25million isn’t good enough?

“We’re pretty straightforward,” said Sandra Shaikin, whose 12-year-old son, Sam, is a Dodgers fan. “I think it’s ridiculous turning down $25million when people are losing their jobs and starving. I know the economy and supply and demand. We explain this.”

Sandra’s son, Sam, couldn’t believe Ramirez didn’t accept the Dodgers’ offer. He’s a Ramirez enthusiast and has worn his wig, but he doesn’t get it.

“It was pretty dumb,” Sam Shaikin said. “I think they should’ve taken the offer. I don’t think anyone is going to sign him. They don’t want him for four years like he wants.”

Does Ramirez think he’s smarter than this sixth-grader?

Since Sam was in kindergarten, his father, John, has taken him out of school to go to Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. It’s a tradition.

Shaikin, who plays shortstop, catcher and pitcher for the Woodland Hills Sunrise Little League team, would give Ramirez more years for less money if he was running the Dodgers.

And if he was Ramirez, he’d sign for $25 million. First, he’d give some to charity. Then he’d buy a house, a car and provide for his parents and little sister.

“Well, because of the economy, he should be looking for less money and a better deal,” Sam said. “Last year with the Red Sox, he didn’t want to play for them anymore so he didn’t play his best. Teams don’t want that.”

And fans don’t want another superstar who’s insistent on ridiculous money.

It’s not the time.