Sports

Ex-FL is trying for strike three

DC DEFENDERS vs. Seattle Dragons in XFL 2020 (Wikipedia/Patricarca).

Is the third time the charm?

Remember the XFL with weird rules and strange nicknames on the back of uniforms? That was back in 2001 and it was an attempt to establish a spring professional football league. It died fast and quiet, although it was able to complete a season. Tommy Maddox of UCLA was the league’s most valuable player as he led the Los Angeles Xtreme to the league title.

Remember the XFL of just this spring, when the rebooted version went belly-up after just five games, battered by the coronavirus pandemic? Both were the creations of Vince McMahon, the wrestling tycoon.

Well, the Ex-FL is like a particularly hardy vampire for whom two stakes in the heart aren’t quite enough. Now, a group headed by actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson” has bought the sleeping football operation for $15 million with plans to take another whack at spring football.

Little is known so far about the idea. Ideas that have been floated include expansion, and a bubble concept a la the NBA to cut down on travel and stadium rent.

Can XFL 3.0 make it, when a) all previous spring football experiments have been disasters and b) some major college football programs cancelled in the fall may reappear in March and April, providing competition for public attention?

Can it? The answer is simple. Yes, if they have enough money. The problem with previous incarnations was that the league raised some cash and counted on unrealistic TV and other revenue to instantly appear and float them into Nirvana.

Anyone who’s opened up a sandwich shop or nail salon knows you need – at a minimum – three years worth of operating cash as you develop an audience. Overnight successes are fictional, like Rocky Balboa.

Lamar Hunt, an oil tycoon, was the founding owner of the Kansas City Chiefs of the new American Football League in the 1960s.. After losing $1 million one season, he was asked how long he could last with that much red ink. “I have $60 million,” he reportedly said. “At that rate, I can keep going for … 60 more years.”

That’s the kind of charm that the XFL, or any “new” sports operation needs to have.

Last Stand In Houston

Speaking of football, it seems like “piling on” to reflect on the woes of the Los Angeles Angels of Dystopia, who have the worst record in the American League and second-worst in MLB. But, friends, it’s time to punt our faith in the Halos if they can’t turn things around soon.

That brings us to a four-game series starting today (Monday) in Houston. If the Angels are going to make a run at respectability, they need to make it now at the mid-point of this 60-game special covid edition season.

The Angels – now 9-20 – do have some bright spots. New Halo Anthony Rendon is batting .319 and has six home runs and 16 RBIs, second-best on the team.  Second-best, of course, is Mike Trout, who has 10 home runs and 25 RBIs.  David Fletcher has been quietly excellent, batting .306 from the leadoff spot with an on-base percentage of .372.

Of course, Houston is a powerhouse … sometimes. The Astros are coming off a three-game slide and have fallen 4.5 games back in the AL West.  They may hope to get well at the expense of the Angels, but the Halos themselves had the same idea against the struggling Giants last week and got their wings handed to them.

Patrick Sandoval (0-3) gets the start for the Orange County boys.  Doesn’t look good, but – as the saying goes – the road is short that never bends. In 2020, the road to glory, or at least self-respect, goes through Houston.

“Wild World of Sports” is posted on Mondays.

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