Friggin’ Los Angeles.
No. Seriously. Friggin’ LA. We would go stronger, sure, but this is a family newspaper and we can go no further than that. Friggin’ LA. Friggin’ LA. FRIGGIN’ LA!
We knew this already, folks, but the country tilts left — and that has nothing in the least to do with politics. It tilts left, it tilts west, it tilts toward California, and lately it really tilts toward Southern California.
The Lakers won a title in 2020. So did the Dodgers. The Rams won one a year later. The Kings have won two Stanley Cups since we last won anything in the four major sports around here. All the stars go there. LeBron went there. Mookie Betts went there, and stayed there. Matthew Stafford went there. Freddie Freeman. Anthony Davis. Hell, Shohei Ohtani has picked LA twice! It’s endless. It’s relentless.
And now they have Yoshinobu Yamamoto, too.
It’s amazing. It’s infuriating. All along, it seemed like the Mets and the Yankees were gearing up for the first true intracity arms race in their shared history. Steve Cohen flew to Japan, and hosted Yamamoto here. Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone spoke of Yamamoto in hushed, reverent tones, the Yankees wined him and dined him. Both teams went after the Japanese star with open wallets and willing checkbooks.
5 Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing with the Dodgers is just the latest example of Los Angeles beating out New York in sports, The Post’s Mike Vaccaro writes. AP
And it didn’t matter.
New York, New York?
Second place, third place (maybe).
LA wins again.
This one hurts because for one of the few times ever, New York can share the same frustration. Yankees fans and Mets fans can wake up Friday morning and wonder: what about us? What about New York? What about the lure of the city that never sleeps, A-number-one, top-of-the-heap, king-of-the hill, all of that?
5 Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani, right, shakes hands with manager Dave Roberts. AP
5 Yamamoto signed a record deal with the Dodgers.
What’s happened here?
The Yankees offered $300 million to Yamamoto — who, it should be remembered, has yet to throw a major league pitch. The Mets offered $325 million. The Yankees are the Yankees, a live-action storehouse of baseball history. The Mets don’t have that, but they did have the highest bid. Or at least tied for it.
The Dodgers offered $325 million, too.
Yamamoto chose the Dodgers. He did this on the heels of Ohtani doing the same, running to Dodger Stadium for $700 million, and he did this without the Mets and the Yankees ever being serious players for him.
5 Yoshinobu Yamamoto signs autographs for fans during the World Baseball Classic. AP
This is what it feels like to be Pittsburgh.
This is what it feels like to be Cleveland.
Right now, Los Angeles is where the stars want to be. They want the sun. They want the surf. They want the movie stars and the starlets. Maybe they want fans who think it’s cool to have winning sports teams but aren’t fueled by the necessity of them. Whatever it is, whatever it’s been, it’s jarring. It’s sobering. The New York teams wanted Yamamoto. They recruited him. They romanced him. They were happily prepared to pay him.
He goes to Los Angeles anyway.
5 Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated at the plate by Mookie Betts. Getty Images
Goes to friggin’ LA.
Sixty-six years after California pilfered the Dodgers and the Giants straight away from us, the Golden State is still torturing us, still taunting us. Look: maybe Yamamoto will be more bark than bite, maybe it’ll turn out he wasn’t quite equal to the furious pursuit. Doesn’t matter. It still stings. The Yankees and Mets wanted him, pursued him, were willing to pay him an absurd amount of money.
Didn’t make a difference. At. All.
Off he goes to LA, and the Mets and Yankees are now forced to scramble to Plan B, and Plan C, and Plan Q. It’s the way of the world now. The scale is tipped left, it’s tipped west, it’s tipped toward California. We are perpetual bridesmaids, perennial also-rans. All the leaves are brown here, and the sky is gray. It’s safe and warm in LA.
And bursting with stars. Add Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the list. Friggin’ LA.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing is Los Angeles’ latest win over New York
Friggin’ Los Angeles.