In the movie “Bull Durham,” the free-spirited pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh, played by actor Tim Robbins turns to Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis after a successful pitching outing in the minor leagues and says, “It feels out there. I’m… It’s a major rush. I mean it doesn’t just feel out there, I mean it feels out there. You know?”
That describes Riverside-Ontario-San Bernardino and the readership here at SWRNN.com. Southwest Riverside is “out there,” and I’ve always wondered, out there, who you root for?
You have been touched once upon a time by a great NASCAR track in Ontario. You have a blossoming university in UC Riverside, a dynamic football program at Riverside City College and a history of minor league baseball success, with Dodgers and Angels farm clubs in the California League and the San Diego Padres affiliate Lake Elsinore Storm.
Next door, that shiny new arena in Ontario houses an East Coast Hockey League team.
So, who does Southwest Riverside root for?
The road map says you are 60 miles east of Los Angeles, but how easy is it to get to Dodgers Stadium? I am sure the lure of Koufax-Drysdale back in the day was special. The era of Garvey-Cey-Lopes-Russell and LaSorda was an attachment. Guess you cheered lots for Kirk Gibson’s home run and Fernandomania, too. Is Dodger Blue really the color of the day?
The 91 Freeway seems to be a more direct route to major league baseball, emptying out right near Angels Stadium. Orange County is your next door neighbor and I am sure the free agent spending sprees of yesteryear — Reggie Jackson, Bobby Grich and the likes — and the World Series ring team led by Tim Salmon and friends was exciting to see. From Gene Autry to Arte Moreno — do you like the color red?
Southwest Riverside is part of the Inland Empire, though in rush-hour, that seems like quite a commute from the I-215 to the I-15 to get to the Gaslamp Quarter to see Padres baseball. Becoming a Friars fan might be long-distance difficult, just like hitting a home run at Petco Park.
It’s not a void. There is some baseball heritage. Riverside links itself to Barry Bonds, Dusty Baker and Troy Percival among others.
Football fanaticism is everywhere, but there is no team in Los Angeles, leaving former Rams and Raiders fans without a loved one.
I assume hardcore fans from the 951-area code root/cheer/boo the Chargers, and coming to eight games a season is an easier commute on a Sunday.
But before they left, I wonder whom Southwest Riverside liked more — Al Davis or Georgia Frontiere, Marcus Allen or Eric Dickerson, silver and black or blue and gold?
You are in the shadow of the Trojans and Bruins too, though I imagine John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll always outshined Terry Donahue and the cast of characters who have paraded through the Rose Bowl over the last decade and a half.
I guess the likes of Ryan Knight and Sammy Knight are part of a football heritage that ties the city to USC rather UCLA.
I guess a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Great Western Forum then, and the Staples Center now, means Southwest Riverside is Lakers-land. It is better than a once-in-a-lifetime winning season the Clippers would give whatever fans they have. Who would you rather root for — Jerry Buss, who writes checks and wins or Donald Sterling, who pockets money and loses?
Read more of what’s on Hacksaw’s mind:
But the college basketball stars that have come out of region are special — Hall of Famer Reggie Miller and sister Cheryl amongst so many others. I assume that is why when Ben Howland brought his Bruins out for an exhibition game, the new arena in Ontario rocked. USC plays basketball, but not many people notice, not here, and not even close to campus either.
Hockey fans may be few and far between, but there are opportunities to go see the Kings and Ducks at LA Live or the Honda Center-Pond, plus the chance to see something similar to slapshot in Ontario.
Auto racing has had a link to the community, stretching from Dan Gurney to the legendary Mears family from Bakersfield. Sports fans are still very passionate and many still remember Riverside International Raceway’s road course and the historical oval at Ontario.
Southwest Riverside is “out there” for sure, geographically, but not emotionally. Fans root for teams, wear their colors, cheer wins, jeer losses and wait for the next game.
As “Nuke” LaLoosh would say, it’s “out there.” I’d be interested to see which team you root for the most. Southwest Riverside, out there, who are you?