Is there enough room in L.A. for three NBA teams?

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Is there enough room in L.A. for three NBA teams?

March 31, 2011
KINGS PAGE KINGSVIDEO

ANAHEIM (AP) The five-county Los Angeles metropolitan area already has two NBA teams, two baseball teams, two pro hockey teams, two major collegiate sports programs and dozens of minor athletic endeavors for a laid-back, West Coast population that doesn't obsess over sports in the first place.So why are the Sacramento Kings so eager to crash this already packed party by moving to Anaheim?Because much more than freeways separate Orange County and Los Angeles, according to Anaheim's mayor. Because the sprawling Southland has more than enough population and wealth to take an even larger role in the national sports scene, according to demographics experts - even some who never went to college."It's L.A., and people love basketball in Southern California," said Kobe Bryant, who lives on the Orange County coast. "It would be great to have a team here."Bryant spoke before the theoretical possibility of an NBA team moving to Anaheim became an imminent reality. Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof appear determined to relocate to Honda Center in the fall, with a majority vote of the NBA's owners looming as the biggest remaining obstacle.If it happens, the Los Angeles area's roughly 18 million residents will have three teams in the same pro sport - the transcendent Lakers, the star-crossed Clippers, and a well-traveled franchise likely to be christened the Anaheim Royals, reclaiming the nickname from their 1940s genesis in Rochester, N.Y.The New York City area's three NHL teams for 19 million people have the only comparable arrangement in North America. Some don't see how it can work, with Lakers coach Phil Jackson calling the prospect "ridiculous," but those with their fingers on the pulses and wallets of Orange County residents largely agree with the Maloofs, who declined to comment for this story."As we all know, Orange County is different," Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said Tuesday after announcing Anaheim would approve 75 million in lease-revenue bonds to entice the Kings. "You go up to L.A. for a game, it can take you two hours. This is a different place, a different population. ... Orange County is 3 million people. If you add people from the Inland Empire, north San Diego County, that's millions more, maybe 5-6 million. It's a big area. We've been trying to get an NBA team in Orange County for 20 years."Indeed, Orange County alone has more than twice the population of Sacramento County, with a per-capita income more than 20 percent higher. It's larger than current NBA markets such as Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee.Although the Kings draw their fans from throughout Northern California in a population base of roughly 2 million, the Royals could market themselves north to Riverside County and south to San Diego County - which hasn't had an NBA team since the Clippers left in 1984 - further expanding their footprint to more than 5 million people outside Los Angeles.But can Orange County be separated from Los Angeles, as Tait and others insist? Most people in Anaheim say it can.Given Los Angeles' traffic, a drive from San Diego to Anaheim sometimes takes just about as long as a drive from Orange County to Staples Center, San Diego native Luke Walton noted. Anaheim boosters also cite demographic shifts that have long shown the Los Angeles area's population shifting to the south and east.In a measure of the Kings' belief in Anaheim, AEG President Tim Leiweke said his sports conglomerate would love to move the Kings back to Kansas City and the 3 12-year-old Sprint Center operated by his company."But they won't talk to us," Leiweke said. "I think you can pretty well assume they're going to Anaheim. I think that's a foregone conclusion. Anaheim is 4 million people, Orange County, and so I understand why they think that."I know they see that as the land of dreams. I think they are inspired by being part of the Hollywood scene. But Orange County is not Hollywood, and what they're going to learn pretty quickly is it's the most competitive marketplace in the United States today, and it's going to get even more competitive in the future. I think it's unfortunate that they're not taking a look at a place like Kansas City. But they're not."And it's easy for people of means to enjoy a good life in Orange County. Just ask the NHL's Anaheim Ducks or baseball's Los Angeles Angels, who invariably cite the balmy weather, 42 miles of coastline, nine beaches and countless upscale amenities in the area in their decisions to stay with or sign with an Anaheim team.Bobby Ryan, the Ducks' high-scoring right wing and a New Jersey native, cited Orange County as a major reason he signed a new five-year contract to stay in Anaheim last fall."I can't imagine any better place to live and play," said Ryan, who lives in tony Newport Beach. "Look around: You're 13 miles from the water. I've fallen in love with the area completely, and a lot of guys do. I'm sure being in Orange County would be a huge positive to any Sacramento Kings or any NBA free agents, there's no doubt. You can definitely sell it to guys."The city-owned Honda Center was built in 1993 with the intention of housing two pro teams. The Vancouver Grizzlies considered moving there in 2001, and the Clippers played a handful of games in Anaheim every season from 1994-99, always drawing larger average crowds than in the outdated Sports Arena and considering a permanent move before owner Donald Sterling elected to live in the Lakers' shadow at Staples Center.The Ducks have sold out just four home games this season, yet Honda Center never looks half-empty, as the Kings' home, formerly known as Arco Arena, frequently has been over the past three seasons.Although buzz around the KingsRoyals built slowly in recent weeks, adding fuel to the saturation theory, interest appears to be picking up. Dozens of fans and businesspeople attended the dry City Council meeting approving the bonds - and with almost no promotion, 500 fans put their names on a waiting list for season tickets 24 hours after Honda Center announced it this week."I'm confident an NBA team in Orange County will do very well," Tait said. "L.A. and Orange County are far apart. Anyone who lives here knows that. We will fill the stands when the NBA comes to Honda Center, believe me."

Trio of A's rookies make history in win over White Sox

Trio of A's rookies make history in win over White Sox

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO -- Matt Olson hit his first two major league home runs, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto also launched their first career shots and the Oakland Athletics routed the Chicago White Sox 10-2 on Saturday.

Barreto homered in his big league debut. He joined Olson and Brugman in becoming the second trio of teammates to hit their first homers in the same game, the Elias Sports Bureau said. It also happened in 1914 with the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League - the rival circuit lasted a couple of seasons, and included many big leaguers.

Former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle had his No. 56 jersey retired in a pregame ceremony. After the 30-minute tribute ended, the A's roughed up James Shields (1-1).

Daniel Gossett (1-2) took advantage of an early 6-0 lead to win for the first time in three big league starts. He gave up two unearned runs in six innings.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected for the second straight game. He threw his hat to the ground and was tossed, right after third baseman Todd Frazier was ejected for showing his displeasure over a replay review that wasn't reversed.

After a leadoff walk in the first, Olson homered to right. He added a two-run homer in the seventh. Olson was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Thursday and is in fourth stint with the club.

Brugman hit a solo drive in the second. Barreto had a two-run homer in the third.

Barreto, a top prospect in the Oakland organization, was called up after shortstop Chad Pinder injured his hamstring Friday night and was placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Barreto was a late addition to the lineup at second base when Jed Lowrie couldn't play after a mild knee injury he sustained Friday night.

Shields gave up six runs on seven hits in three-plus innings. He allowed three home runs in his second start since a two-month DL stint.

Buehrle's number was stenciled onto the dirt behind second base. He went 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA in 390 appearances for the White Sox from 2000-11.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
White Sox: All signs are reporting for White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon to making his season debut sometime next week. Rodon, who has been out with a biceps bursitis injury, pitched Friday night for Triple-A Charlotte. White Sox Renteria was satisfied with the reports after his fourth rehab start.

"Another start last night. He went 4 1-3, 93 pitches. Actually, in talking to everybody, he threw pretty well. Had a couple miscues in the field that were probably limited his outing. He felt good, pain-free, we're very happy with that. According to the reports, the slider was working very well. He's on track to come on back," Renteria said.

UP NEXT:
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (2-3) is scheduled to start Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA over his last five starts.

White Sox: LHP Derek Holland (5-7), who is scheduled to make his 15th start on Sunday. He is 1-4 with a 9.55 ERA and nine home runs allowed over his last five starts.

Jones finally gets the call, will be Giants' everyday third baseman for now

Jones finally gets the call, will be Giants' everyday third baseman for now

SAN FRANCISCO — Ryder Jones is 23 years old and Christian Arroyo just turned 22, so when Jones got the call to the big leagues, the first step in the preparation process was about what you would expect. Jones and Arroyo fired up the PlayStation and Arroyo started pumping pitches as Jacob deGrom, the starter Jones will face in his debut Saturday. 

“I faced him last night and got a hit and a pop-up,” Jones said, smiling. 

The real thing will be considerably tougher, but Jones said he’s looking forward to the challenge, noting that deGrom will help make his debut that much more memorable. The Giants are looking forward to the debut, too. Jones is a player Bruce Bochy has been eyeing for a while, and he has finally been deemed ready. 

While Eduardo Nuñez is on the disabled list, Jones will be the everyday third baseman. He’s hitting seventh Saturday, one spot ahead of 24-year-old Austin Slater. Arroyo is sidelined by a bone bruise but he should join the other two at some point later this season. 

“Unfortunately we’ve put ourselves in a position here (with our record) where we’re going to look at younger players, but the good thing is that these guys are going to get a chance to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “They’re going to get some playing time. I look forward to watching him play.”

Jones took Aaron Hill’s roster spot after the veteran was designated for assignment. Bochy said Hill was one of his favorite players to manage, noting his professionalism and solid at-bats, despite the .132 average. He hopes Hill gets a shot on a contender, but that won’t be the case in San Francisco this year, and the Jones promotion was the latest indication that a rebuild/reload is underway. 

Drafted in the second round in 2013 — one round after Arroyo — Jones can play third, first and left field. He has more power than most in the farm system, and he’s athletic enough to handle three spots. The Giants will live with the mistakes at third for now, hopeful that the big arm can stick there. 

Jones was batting .299 with 10 homers and 16 doubles in 53 games for the River Cats. The knock on him has always been a lack of patience at the plate, but he has upped his on-base percentage to .390, a jump of 99 points from his 2016 season in Double-A. In June, Jones had put together a .343/.450/.701 slash line. 

“Patience at the plate is the biggest thing for me,” he said. “If you look at all my years in the minors, I was a little aggressive and antsy. You learn as you get older that you have to pick a pitch you can drive.”

The new approach has Jones in a big league lineup -- the real thing, not the video game version. He went millennial with his preparation, but his promotion was as old-school as it gets. The River Cats have a doubleheader Saturday and when Jones reached third base in Friday night’s game, manager Dave Brundage told him he would get one of the two games off. 

“I told him I could play two,” Jones said. “I know we have some older guys there.”

Brundage called him in later and told him he would only be playing the night game on Saturday. 

“But you’ll be in San Francisco,” the manager added. 

Jones called his parents, who will be in attendance, along with his brother and girlfriend. Then he fired up the PlayStation, packed, and prepared for a short flight to San Francisco. He was still so fired up Saturday morning that he couldn’t handle more than a 30-minute nap. 

“I didn’t know what time I could come to the park,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep.”