With the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, several other southland teams hoped to follow suit and bring a championship to the City of Angels in 2013. While the Kings are still alive on their quest to repeat, the other L.A. teams have not fared well. The Lakers and Clippers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The Angels and Dodger have stumbled through the first month of the MLB season. In this edition of GatorLinks, we look at the challenges facing each struggling team and highlight an article for each that adds more to the conversation.
After acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash during the 2012 offseason, many fans and pundits were ready to hand the keys to the Western Conference to the Lakers. A horrible start to the season led to the firing of coach Mike Brown, who was replaced by Mike D’Antoni. A late season surge saw the Lakers earn the seventh seed in the playoffs, but a season-ending injury to Kobe Bryant killed any hope of the Lakers advancing. While many Laker fans are focusing on Kobe’s health status for next season or Dwight Howard’s free agency, Bill Reiter points out that the Buss family’s decisions will have the greatest effect on the future of the franchise.
The 2012-13 regular season was actually the Clippers’ best in franchise history, which made their abrupt playoff loss even more disappointing. The Clippers finished the regular season with a 56-26 record, good for the franchise’s first Pacific Division title. However, after winning the first two games in their first round series against the Grizzlies, the Clippers lost four straight and were eliminated. While Chris Paul’s impending free agency and coach Vinny del Negro’s job status will likely be offseason priorities, there are other issues the Clippers need to address. As Jovan Buha explains, the Clippers will need to add more toughness, athleticism, and frontcourt depth to make a deeper run in the coming seasons.
The addition of free agent slugger Josh Hamilton to an already potent lineup including Mike Trout and Albert Pujols was supposed to propel the Angels to the top of the AL West. Through the first month of the season, the Angels still have a ways to go. Hamilton is batting just over .200 and the Angels now own the second-worst record in the American league, leading only the Astros. With the team matching the worst start in franchise history, many are questioning the job security of Mike Scioscia, the longest tenured manager in the league. Jay Jaffe notes that even though “you can’t fire an entire team for such underperformance”, Scioscia’s job should still be safe. Jaffe argues that firing general manager Jerry DiPoto would be a more logical long-term solution.
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the majors in 2013, but now sit in last place in the NL West. When the Dodger new ownership group injected energy, and more importantly money, into the franchise after taking over last season, they expected better on-field results. Though the team has shown flashes of proficiency, their once promising pitching staff has been plagued by injuries and the offense has often been nonexistent. Mark Saxon asserts that the Dodgers’ woes can be attributed to a lack of execution, but there is no quick fix.
Image credit: Dave Richard, USA Today Sports