Relocated Rams Look Lost In Cali Return
September 12, 2016

If you are a professional football fan in southern California, you're probably thinking, “I've waited over two decades for this?”. If you are in St. Louis, you are either laughing your head off, or just shaking your head in disgust. The once-again 'Los Angeles' Rams are back, but lost at the rival San Francisco Forty Niners tonight 28-0.

While way too much was made over Niners backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem, the football game wasn't that much better. The Rams punted 10 times, never really got close to the end zone, and even the Niners didn't look all that great. It was the second game of the opening weekend Monday Night Football doubleheader, but who could blame those back east for going to bed early.

“The Rams are going to get better,” ESPN analyst and former Niner quarterback Steve Young said. Of course they are. They couldn't play any worse. LA fans had to know the team was going to be bad. As former Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden said about the Sacramento Kings when they re-located from Kansas City in 1985, “Good teams don't move.”

As we correctly predicted in this space before this year's schedule was announced this summer, the Rams would mark their return as the second game of the Monday night twin bill. We also thought the Rams would get a home game against a division opponent, and perhaps 70-thousand fans at the decrepit Coliseum for a welcome fanfare. We also thought Seattle would make a good opponent because coach Pete Carroll used to coach at USC on whose field the Rams will be occupying for the next three years. That will come next week—at least the Rams vs. Seattle, but no Monday night, no national television audience, and who knows how many people on an expected warm Sunday afternoon.

Many people in St. Louis are upset that the Rams, who moved there from Los Angeles in 1995, bolted back to Tinseltown under the promise of a new stadium. Back then, many people in LA were upset that the Rams left because they couldn't get one. The saying from Field of Dreams is probably true. 'If you build it, they will come.' What wasn't said was the team that comes will probably not be very good.

Oh say can you see?: Kaepernick has the right to kneel during the national anthem if he wants, but that doesn't mean ESPN and the NFL has to glorify it. Presumably because of 9-11 weekend, ESPN televised the anthem as they came on the air, but all the focus was on the Niners backup quarterback even high-fiving his teammates afterwards. Meanwhile, not ten feet away, were first responders and members of the military on the field holding the giant flag in place. You have to wonder how they feel.

New rules: A few years ago, the NFL decided to move up the line for kickoffs, hoping there would be fewer returns, which might mean fewer violent plays which would hopefully mean fewer concussions. This year, in its infinite wisdom, the league decided that touchbacks will come out to the 25 yard line instead of the 20. So the league wants fewer returns, but in essence penalizes the kicker five yards for not allowing one. Dumb.

Back back back: Sure, he can get on your nerves quickly at times, but it was good to hear Chris Berman do the play-by-play of the game, paired up with Young. Berman is an ESPN original, and still is the anchor of the NFL highlight show, but rarely gets a gig outside the studio anymore. His play-by-play was thorough, he knew the players, didn't resort to kooky nicknames and imitations, and seemed well prepared. We probably shouldn't be surprised, but it was refreshing.

Could've been perfect: Congratulations to Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts for being the first manager in history to remove a pitcher while he was working on a perfect game. Rich Hill retired all 21 batters he faced in Miami Saturday, threw only 89 pitches and had a 5-0 lead, but Roberts felt the danger of Hill getting a recurring blister might have landed him unavailable for the playoffs. Had Hill tossed just the 24th perfect game in MLB history, he would have likely needed no more than 20 more pitches to do it, and if he gave up a hit, Roberts could have then taken him out. Kudos to Hill for at least saying the right things after the game, and staying in the dugout to cheer on his teammates. Makes you wonder why a free agent pitcher would come to LA though if he's going to get yanked for doing something good.

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