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Smile, UCLA fans . . . then maybe the joke won't be on you

Page 2 will do almost anything for a laugh, but the Bruins' loyal followers consistently fail to see the humor.

October 11, 2010|T.J. Simers

I've been pulling legs for more than 10 years beginning with paragraph one, column one. I've been doing the same at home for 38 years, which probably explains why the wife walks so funny.

I call my granddaughter "Mary." Her name is Mackenzie.

She got very upset initially, insisting her name was Mackenzie and so I would tell her, "Whatever, Mary."

She now answers to Mary without complaint, my dream to live long enough to hire a plane to fly over her graduation pulling a "Congrats Mary" banner.

She calls me "Little Bother."

You don't remember the Southern California Report, but I referred to the Fox TV gig as the "SIMERS-plaschke Show." An irritated Plaschke complained it was his family name and he wanted a capital letter. So I capitalized the "e" at the end of plaschkE.

plaschkE gets it now. It probably helps he's the No. 1 sports columnist in the land most of the time. I would never tease the less fortunate, making an exception only for UCLA football fans and the daughter who can't get a date.

People say newspapers are dying, but I still say it's her best shot to advertise. After all, she refuses to wear a sandwich board.

And UCLA fans think I'm tough on them.

The daughter not only has me as a father, but leaves home every Sunday to watch every NFL game with her old man. I'd like to see a UCLA fan display such courage — because then I'd have the son-in-law I've been searching for.

Now don't get me wrong — I love UCLA football fans. Some of the best writing on Page 2 is provided by these people who live among you.

Once the spelling has been corrected, they have a way of reminding everyone how twisted folks can be when it comes to something as meaningless as sports is much of the time.

That's why there is a Page 2, along with the fact it would look funny having Page 3 follow Page 1.

Some folks get so upset they let it be known they will no longer subscribe to the newspaper, or will read one that lacks the resources of The Times.

This inability to turn from Page 1 to Page 3 in the sports section without peeking seems to speak to a problem they have rather than anything being written.

If there really is this much anger out there, Page 2 deserves an award for providing a regular release for it.

Just don't ask me to accept it at a UCLA game — even if the accuracy of the Bruins' quarterbacks suggests I wouldn't have to worry about being hit by a thrown object.

UCLA fans get their legs pulled, and they kick back as if anything short of getting fired might be considered too lenient.

It's a good thing this world is run by USC graduates.

Hold on there now, I'm just teasing, which, hit or miss, has been the trademark here since day one. Sometimes the teasing goes a step too far — just ask the daughter who can't get a date.

I know there's nothing wrong with being a fan or an avid follower of the school that provided one's education — unless you went to Northern Illinois and never graduated. Thousands and thousands of people follow their favorite teams with great success, and if that was always the case, it would probably put Page 2 out of business.

The intent from the start here was to identify those who have lost their way in viewing sports, or challenge those athletes who really do think they are something special.

"How does it feel to know your legacy will be one of being a mean, sarcastic, hack?" wrote Gary Gustafson.

I would hope my legacy will be my daughters, granddaughters and my starring role in "The Game Plan."

But I can see where some people might think the most important thing in the whole world is whether I'm remembered for gushing about our sports heroes or taking them on.

As for being, "mean" or "bitter" or "mean-spirited," as some suggest, I wake up every day trying to think of funny things to write. Then I read my e-mail.

As for being a hack, I think it goes without saying The Times will not allow me to write for Page 1.

"Would Jim Murray ever write what you wrote?" UCLA graduate Pete Imwalle wanted to know.

I don't know. Was UCLA getting its butt kicked 30 years ago?

Several folks e-mailed to say, "You are no Jim Murray." Why would I want to be Jim Murray? He didn't want to be Mike Royko, who was the best columnist who ever lived. He just wanted to be Murray, who was pretty darn good.

"Would Vin Scully ever say the things you said?" continued Imwalle. "Even if they were true? Of course not, because Murray and Scully have class."

I've got a feeling Scully would have no problem telling everyone UCLA failed to show up. He might not do the same if talking about Frank McCourt on the witness stand, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with class.

Fortunately for all of us, this lack of perspective, show of anger and inability to be teased are confined to those folks who follow UCLA.

Just imagine what it would be like around here if the Clippers and Kings had fans. Or, if Lakers, Trojans and Dodgers fans carried on like Bruins fans.

I'd never be able to retire.

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