Advertisement

Playing the over/under in L.A.

Our year-end survey ranks Southland teams based on whether they met, fell short of or exceeded expectations

December 30, 2012|Diane Pucin
  • UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin beats USC defenders Morgan Breslin, Nickell Robey, George Uko and Dion Bailey for a 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of their rivalry game last month.
UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin beats USC defenders Morgan Breslin,… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

It's the holiday season and we love lists. Who's naughty. Who's nice.

We love rankings too. Top 10 stories of the year. People of the year. Man of the year. Woman of the year.

Who didn't go home from a holiday dinner and rank the proteins (turkey, ham, prime rib, oysters), the sides (stuffing, corn, spinach casserole, cranberries), the desserts (pumpkin pie, pecan pie, yule log, cookies)?

You saw the kids in the corner dismissing action figures and embracing video games. You saw the adults in the living room hooking up the new TVs and playing with the new iPads while crumpled sweaters were stuffed back in boxes that somehow had found their way behind the tree.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, January 01, 2013 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 Local Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA basketball: In the Dec. 30 Sports section, an article ranking underachieving and overachieving Los Angeles-area teams in the past year said that Jeremy Lamb had left the UCLA basketball team. The player's name is Tyler Lamb.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, January 06, 2013 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 Local Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA basketball: In the Dec. 30 Sports section, an article ranking underachieving and overachieving Los Angeles-area teams in the past year said that Jeremy Lamb had left the UCLA basketball team. The player's name is Tyler Lamb.

Rankings, they're what we do, intentionally or not.

So here is our 2012-going-on-2013 ranking of Los Angeles' major sports teams. (Sorry, USC water polo and tennis -- national titles are nice, but your stage isn't quite large enough.)

The ratings are broken into three categories: Overachievers, achievers who performed as expected, and underachievers who prompted bitter disappointment, caused fans to say bad words and discouraged them from putting little flags on their big cars.

Choosing the most overachieving team kept us up nights. (Well, that and reruns of "Real Housewives of Miami." Come on, who doesn't rank plastic surgery?)

Had there been an NHL season this fall, or maybe even the prospect of one starting soon, the No. 1 spot would have been easy, like picking low-hanging fruit.

Picking the biggest underachiever? That was easy.

So, in the spirit of today's fans and the prevalent idea of what have you done (or not done) for me lately, here is The Los Angeles Times' 13-to-1, worst-to-first ranking of the moment. (See, that way next week you can't yell at us. It will be a new moment.)

Underachievers

13 - USC FOOTBALL: Picked No. 1 in the nation in the preseason by some polls and No. 2 by most others, the Trojans finished unranked and were sent crankily off to the Sun Bowl, which hasn't been played yet. Totally likable quarterback Matt Barkley announced he would stay and play his final season with two wide receivers, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, who are among the best in the country. Apparently someone forgot to tell Coach Lane Kiffin's dad, Monte, the assistant head coach in charge of the defense, that he was still working. A year after they pounded UCLA, 50-0, the Trojans lost to their crosstown rival for only the second time since 1998, then lost to Notre Dame for the second time since 2001 to finish the regular season with four losses in the last five games.

12 - USC BASKETBALL: Able to start two 7-footers and loaded with transfers from basketball powers such as Wake Forest and Iowa, the Trojans were supposed to be past all the Tim Floyd sanctions and ready to fill the lovely Galen Center. Never mind. Going into Sunday's game against Dayton, USC has a record of 4-8, with losses to the likes of Georgia, Nebraska and UC Irvine. Until the mistake was publicized a couple of days ago, the first line of Kevin O'Neill's Wikipedia biography read "Kevin O'Neill (born January 24, 1957) was American head coach of the USC Trojans basketball team." Omen?

11 - UCLA BASKETBALL: The Bruins were expected to contend for a Pac-12 title last season, but then Reeves Nelson was kicked off the team, Joshua Smith seemed to gain weight every day and UCLA didn't even make the NCAA tournament. After beleaguered Coach Ben Howland signed what was considered one of the best freshmen classes in the nation, the Bruins began the season nationally ranked. But then Jeremy Lamb left the team, and then Smith did too, and the Bruins were beaten by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, among others. Now they're unranked and Howland's job might be in jeopardy, though an upset win over seventh-ranked Missouri on Friday night has given Bruins fans hope.

10 - ANGELS: Remember when Angels fans were spitting mad that they couldn't buy tickets fast enough after Albert Pujols was signed? And that was even before they knew the next Mickey Mantle, rookie Mike Trout, would turn heads in the league. Yet a horrific start meant the talented Angels missed the newly expanded playoffs. How does that $400 Pujols replica jersey fit now, Angels fans?

9 - LAKERS: They've already dumped a coach. They desperately hope a 38-year-old point guard, Steve Nash, will make Kobe Bryant happy and the team a champion again. Is there an AARP division of the NBA? And they're playing second fiddle in L.A. to the Clippers. Doesn't that make all Lakers fans at least a tiny bit nauseated?

Achievers

8 - DUCKS: They didn't make the NHL playoffs, but they did put on an exciting late-season surge to almost join the Kings. And, hey, the Ducks already have one of those Stanley Cups. It even looked like they were going to have Teemu Selanne for another year, but he might be 80 when the NHL comes back. So never mind.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|