Los Angeles Rams: Culture change should mimic Dodgers, not Lakers
The Los Angeles Rams culture needs a fix akin to baseball brethren Dodgers, rather than more popular Lakers.
That the Los Angeles Rams culture needs an overhaul is a given. The franchise has suffered 13 consecutive non-winning seasons and have not been to the playoffs since 2004.
The Ringer recently blamed the Rams millennial failures on the franchise’s cluelessness “about how to build a culture”:
A winning culture for all successful sports teams is grounded in a recognized mission and shared team goals. It places the good of the team above all else — winning matters more than personal goals or making money, and no one is bigger than the team. Everyone works toward one common purpose, guided by a leader with great knowledge.
The Ringer points to the Rams’ final days in Los Angeles before moving to St. Louis in 1995 as the roots of losing their ways. Now that they’re back in L.A., they have a couple of franchises to study in their own backyard: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Rams already should be studying how they can emulate the Dodgers. They also should be studying how to avoid copying the Lakers.
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In MLB, the Dodgers are winners of four-straight division titles. True, they do not have a hard salary cap limiting their ability to acquire talent. But what they also have done is find players who want to be in L.A. and be part of something bigger than themselves.
The Dodgers have their ace in pitcher Clayton Kershaw (their version of the Rams’ Aaron Donald?) but also have built a deep team through player development that compliments a core of strong veterans. The Dodgers have rising stars such as Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger that have developed through their system. They signed closer Kenley Jansen for less money then the Washington Nationals offered him during the offseason.
Perhaps more importantly, the Dodgers also refused to cripple themselves financially when they refused to give pitcher Zack Greinke an exorbitant contract. Unlike the Rams giving Trumaine Johnson crazy money, the Dodgers decided to spread their money on creating depth.
Other moves have not seemed to have panned out. Pitcher Rich Hill has struggled after signing a long-term deal. The Dodgers traded a top prospect for second baseman Logan Forsythe, who is hitting just over .200. But their depth has allowed them to ascend to the National League’s best record.
The Rams culture issues, at least recently, resemble those of the once-proud Lakers. Before turning to a young head coach in Luke Walton in 2016-17, the Lakers set records for losing in three-straight seasons.
The Lakers just traded their No. 2 overall draft selection in 2015, point guard D’Angelo Russell, to the Brooklyn Nets. The Rams just traded the No. 2 overall selection in 2014, Greg Robinson, to the Detroit Lions. Neither team can afford to whiff like that on a high draft pick.
The Lakers failed to land any big-name free agents and tried to build through the draft. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is trying to lure free agents back to L.A. to raise the level of play and teach the young players about a winning culture.
The Rams at least have brought in left tackle Andrew Whitworth and outside linebacker Connor Barwin to help groom the likes of quarterback Jared Goff and linebacker Corey Littleton who represent the future of the Rams.
Both team seem to have lacked a plan. The Lakers now are looking for Magic to get them back to the top. The Rams are hoping Sean McVay provides them with the magic they need to contend.
Just the Dodgers have done.