Commentary

We need a break from cops and lawyers

L.A. sports news has been muddled with stories about everything but what's on the field

Updated: June 22, 2011, 9:46 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

They seem to come in every few days, too much and too often now, from all corners of Los Angeles.

Statements from lawyers jostling for the best position in a fight nobody cares to see. Reports from NCAA investigators still trying to get to the bottom of one of the most embarrassing and unnecessary messes in modern college football history. Arbitrators' rulings and jury verdicts with Donald T. Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers named as defendants. Breathless updates on whether Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will be able to make payroll twice a month.

Every few days, I check in with the district attorney's office and the Los Angeles Police Department to see whether there have been any developments in the Bryan Stow investigation. Before that, I spent a month checking in with Stow's family after the San Francisco Giants fan was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day.

It's too much.

It feels strange for a journalist to complain about there being too much news in Los Angeles. Scandal and crisis are like nectar in this field. Our headline stacks have never hopped faster.

And yet none of this feels good. To me or to any of you reading this.

[+] EnlargeCops/Dodgers
Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesIt's exhausting seeing Frank McCourt and the police more than we see him watching the team he is fighting to own.

L.A. has never been a squeamish town. It takes a lot of ugliness to wear people out or make them look away. But this is embarrassing. And exhausting. I'm not sure when we as a city hit the tipping point. I'm only sure that we've tipped. We're through.

But we're also stuck. And frustrated. There are no easy answers or ways out. There might not even be any happy endings. Los Angeles is mad as hell, but it might have to keep taking it for awhile.

On Tuesday afternoon, another one of McCourt's lawyers, Robert Sacks, served notice that his client "isn't going to go away quietly," as if we expected any less.

This development came:

-- A day after the LAPD announced it was holding the suspect in the Stow beating another 10 months on a parole violation because it still hadn't collected enough evidence to present a case to the district attorney's office.

-- A week and a half after Clippers lead counsel Robert Platt announced he would review and "carefully explore the team's various options" after an arbitrator's binding decision to award former coach Mike Dunleavy $13.5 million in a salary dispute.

-- Two weeks after USC football coach Lane Kiffin was called to Indianapolis to speak to the NCAA about recruiting violations that occurred in his time at Tennessee, which could result in further sanctions.

And there are a dozen more lawyers' statements I could quote off the top of my head.

I miss the days when losing was the worst thing a team could do.

So is there anything to do about it?

There has already been a de facto fan boycott at Dodger Stadium this year, with its attendance falling off more than that of any other team in the majors.

Two weeks ago, ESPN LA's Pedro Moura noted that the USC athletic department has sent out 15 reminder emails to students to purchase season tickets, after selling out without a single reminder two years ago.

Voting with our feet is a good start. But it feels more like a manifestation of some collective depression than a plan of action.

On Monday afternoon, callers into the "Mason & Ireland Show" on 710 ESPN in L.A. sustained nearly four hours of discussion about how to organize a boycott at Dodger Stadium that would get McCourt's attention after baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced he'd rejected the lucrative Fox television contract that had effectively become McCourt's last raft toward salvation.

Passionate outcry -- that can be cathartic, even inspiring.

But is it enough? The show ends, and everyone goes back to dreaming about an Orel Hershiser- or Mark Cuban-led ownership group that could someday rescue the team but might never come.

What's sad is how many more column inches Monday were spent dissecting the showdown between McCourt and Selig than on Clayton Kershaw pitching one of the best games of his life, a two-hit shutout of the normally robust Detroit Tigers offense.

Or how many more stories will be written this season about USC's disgraced former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush than about its current Heisman candidate, Matt Barkley, or its future candidate, wide receiver Robert Woods.

Or how many times Blake Griffin is going to wonder whether he wants to keep playing for an owner who seems to believe it's wasteful not to use the lawyers he keeps on retainer every year.

But this is where we are now. Stuck, without a clear way out of all these messes. Tired, of hearing from lawyers and policemen. Mad as hell, but with no choice but to keep taking it and waiting for the next Lakers season to begin.

Oh, wait ...

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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