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THE CREME DE L.A. CREME | Sports

August 10, 2000|BILL PLASCHKE | TIMES SPORTS COLUMNIST

Understandably, giving visitors to the Democratic Convention a guide to local sports events is a bit like giving auto conventioneers a guide to local chrome.

Won't you folks be able to see lots of home runs and aces and strikeouts and spin-outs without ever leaving your Staples Center seats? Not to mention, hours of jabbing and counterpunching?

Nonetheless, for those who are able to rid their shirts of those pesky bloodstains and leave the building for sporting side trips, Los Angeles is ready for you.

In fact, Los Angeles is challenging you.

All your annual talk about gender equity, about women's rights, about maybe even one day holding one of these things to nominate a woman for president?

This is the time for you Democratic sports fans to prove it.

The Southland is filled with the best female athletes in the country and holds them in appropriate appreciation. During this time period, so can you.

First stop, Manhattan Beach, for the Women's Tennis Assn. annual Southland stop here at the estyle.com Classic Aug. 7-13.

The location is cool--literally cool, because of the proximity of the beach--the courts are nice, and the tennis could be a blast.

This is the third stop in the WTA's annual California tuneup for the U.S. Open, so nearly everyone should be there. This includes one of the Williams sisters--Serena--for her annual homecoming in front of former Compton neighbors and friends.

The field will probably also include another local favorite, Lindsay Davenport, plus the likes of Martina Hingis and Mary Pierce and a bunch of other women who are as tough as they are talented.

If the early part of the tournament inspires you, steer that rental car north a couple of hours to Pismo Beach for a professional women's beach volleyball tournament Aug. 12-13.

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Some folks say this is just another example of sex-ploitation, what with the women wearing a couple of tiny scraps for bathing suits and the men crowding around them as they frolic in the sand.

But take the drive, look closer, and you will see as much muscle there as in Venice Beach and as much skill as in Manhattan Beach.

Both of these events will eventually focus your attention back to where most Angelenos' attention is usually focused.

Yep, the basketball court. Yep, a pro team.

Only these aren't the Lakers, these are their "sisters," the Sparks.

Sometime during the convention, the WNBA powerhouse will be hosting playoff games at the Forum, as it is favored to become the first team other than the Houston Comets to win the title in the league's four-year history.

The WNBA is a no-dunk-but-no-dumb-pass sort of league. Sort of like the NBA, but with less hops and more brains.

To complete a look at the advancements made in women's sports today, just look at the Sparks roster.

Their biggest star is local product Lisa Leslie, a center who models in her spare time. But when a national magazine recently picked its "sexiest athletes," the only Spark on the team was DeLisha Milton, a graceful forward who proves that today, sex appeal and athleticism are thankfully becoming the same thing.

OK, OK, so you also want to do some guy stuff. Plenty of that here too.

The Galaxy soccer team, one of the cornerstones of a Major League Soccer endeavor that is still looking for cornerstones, plays to a small but horn-blowing audience in Pasadena on Aug. 12 against Kansas City.

Del Mar race track, Bing Crosby's former hangout, a legendary place about two hours south, is also in season.

Its motto is "Where the turf meets the surf." Leave early for the afternoon cards, or the traffic will be so bad that the motto becomes "Where the palm meets the steering wheel."

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Oh, yeah, and there's baseball. Our teams are hot, but the Los Angeles Dodgers haven't won a championship in 12 years, and the Anaheim Angels have never won a championship, so excuse us if we still have reservations.

But if you insist . . .

Dodger Stadium is nearly 40 years old but still one of our sweetest local treasures, and will be open for business on the weekend of Aug. 18-20 when the Dodgers host the New York Mets. It's only five minutes from downtown and well worth extending your stay.

This weekend, consider visiting Edison Field in Anaheim on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The Angels are hosting the New York Yankees then, in a place that is like a Disneyland version of Baseball Fantasia, with sparkling floors and good seats.

It's an hour south of the Staples Center, but don't worry. A good bean-ball war could always break out. Makes you feel right at home.

Schedules, locations, prices, Page 26.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

"The Border Grill in Santa Monica has outstanding Mexican food. It's something you can't leave L.A. without going to. I recommend it any day of the week."

MIKE SCIOSCIA

Manager, Anaheim Angels

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