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Gastelum: California owns summer headlines

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, August 23, 2012

California knows how to party.

And our beloved world of sports has shown up fashionably late.

This summer, the center of the sporting world finally made the grueling cross-country move to California, and it took a whole lot more than a U-Haul and a “California or bust” sign to get it there.

Maybe it was tired of the muggy, dull East Coast weather and summer boredom. Or possibly it was just done with the overhyped buzz and overreacting fan bases out East year after year.

Whether you don’t believe it or don’t want to believe it, it has already happened in every major sport.

To kick off this lovely summer, the Los Angeles Kings made one of the most remarkable runs in Stanley Cup Playoffs history. Leading up to the finals, the long-suffering Kings won 12 of their 14 playoff games against the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds, respectively. All that was accomplished as the measly eight-seed who barely made the playoffs in the final weekend of the regular season.

Led by eventual Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick and his playoff-record .946 save percentage, Los Angeles got to see the Stanley Cup for the first time in 45 years, the trophy gleaming in the beautiful California sunshine as it strode down Figueroa Street. So much for hockey only mattering where the ice won’t melt.

Also, I heard LeBron won some sort of title this past summer, and I’m not talking about a gold medal, either. But everyone is buzzing about La-La Land – and I definitely don’t mean the Clippers. As far as LeBron goes, we should almost feel sorry for him, as that was the shortest title celebration/recognition in NBA history, coming just after the longest in Dallas, due to last season’s unnecessarily added lockout vacation time.

Thanks to the addition of the Dwight Howard saga and Steve Nash, a combined 33 All-Star game appearances now reside in the scariest starting-five in basketball. How Orlando traded away one of the best players in the NBA and in return got back the fourth-best player in the four-team trade, I will never understand. But the Lakers do always seem to come away with something just short of grand larceny in every trade they make, in the process stealing away all of the Heat’s Thunder – get it?

And if that wasn’t enough, the dog days of summer baseball carried on without the dreadful humidity. While baseball’s big dogs remained in their cozy kennels at the trade deadline – some injured (Phillies), some whining (Red Sox) – the biggest moves were made out West. The Dodgers reeled in a former clubhouse cancer and batting champ in Hanley Ramirez with great dividends along with Shane Victorino, the Giants stole an All-Star in Hunter Pence while losing another All-Star to a fake website, and that other California team in Anaheim (not Los Angeles) poached a former Cy Young-winner in Zack Grienke.

And somehow, Oakland has even jumped into the news, whether it was a 19-5 record in July to spark the A’s to relevance in what movies producers are calling Moneyball 2.0, or becoming the second Bay Area team to have a player suspended for performance-enhancing drugs in a week.
Meanwhile, all four are caught in thrilling division races heading into the homestretch of the season.

And to put the bun on top of our delicious In-N-Out Burger, USC and Heisman candidate Matt Barkley are unfortunately drawing all the attention in college football with a No. 1 ranking in the preseason AP poll.

Oh, and even with the event in the United Kingdom, California was still at the center of the Olympics, as 93 of the 256 medals dished out to American athletes are coming back to the Golden State.

West Coast, best coast? Looks like this isn’t just a vacation.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at agastel1@nd.edu
The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.