Column: LA Rams just don’t feel right

E9: What you wouldn’t believe about sports.

Sam L. Jaime

Sam L. Jaime

Sam L. Jaime, Reporter

I was born about a block or so from where the Lakers used to call home in Inglewood, California. Add to that, the Lakers practice facilities are in nearby El Segundo, a rather small city I spent three-quarters of the first decade of my life, so it’s no shock that I have been a life-long Laker fan.

Considering this proximity to the Los Angeles sports world, it shouldn’t be surprising that my first baseball game was a Dodger game, my first hockey game was a Kings game, and my first football game was an L.A. Raiders game. Okay, that last one not only dates me worse than I’d care to admit, but is also somewhat surprising. It’s especially surprising considering while I am still a Dodgers fan and Kings fan, I am not a Raiders fan. In fact, football has never been a quintessential aspect of my life, despite my best efforts.

Growing up, the Raiders practiced at the nearby middle school, and the Rams were also an option. But the Rams and Raiders left town by 1996, leaving 9-year-old me without that proximity. For years I felt like Moses, wandering in search of a team to call my own. I followed the Raiders for a bit, and even celebrated when the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000, but it felt empty.

Fast-forward 20 years, the Raiders now seem destined for Las Vegas, and the Rams are halfway through their first season back in Los Angeles. I should feel elated or vindicated, but I can’t find much satisfaction. I’m 29, and all those years of waiting have taken their toll. It’s like dating someone you’ve already had a relationship with. Yeah, there’s some excitement there, but never forget why you broke up in the first place.

In those years of exile, I became a New York Giants fan, a fandom born of a disdain for Tom Brady more than any defining geographical or momentous event. While I love the Giants, I can feel the distance between coasts, and because I almost never get to actually watch games, my emotional investment is minimal compared to my passion for the Dodgers and Lakers.

After years of pining, it does feel great to have another team in L.A. Yet it feels cheapened by the fact that it’s essentially the same team, with the same colors, the same logo, and the same feel as the St. Louis Rams, a team I never fully embraced, ironically, because I felt they belonged at home in L.A.

Maybe it’s because the merchandise and uniforms look uninspired, or the fact that my only other option might be the San Diego Chargers heading North, I’m not certain, but I’ve struggled to get on-board with the Rams’ return. I still feel lost, dissatisfied with the gift I am well aware I have received.

Of course it doesn’t help that much like the New York Giants games, I haven’t been able to watch the Rams play on a consistent basis. It’s offensive that halfway through the NFL schedule, I’ve seen exactly two Rams games this season. While I’m sure there is some legal-ese-riddled document dictating why, or I just can’t find the right channel, it’s odd that I can watch games of a team nearly five hours away in Oakland, but can’t watch those of a team two hours away.