March is quite a mixed bag for sports fans. Depending on your preferences, it can either be a dreaded lull in the excitement or the highlight of the season. For NFL fans, it is the quietist month of the year. The Super Bowl is long gone, the combine is over and the draft isn’t until April.
However, for baseball fans, it’s the time of new beginnings. Spring training is in full swing in Florida and Arizona, and it’s the oldest cliché in baseball that everyone is undefeated in the spring. It is a time of rebirth, optimism and, inevitably, some young pitcher who appears unstoppable for a couple of weeks or a young hitter who makes batting .400 seem easy. Reality will set in and they’ll be sent to the minors for seasoning, but it’s sure fun while it’s happening.
If you can’t wait for opening day (Sunday, April 5), you do have a chance to see our local boys play if you feel inclined to travel to Arizona. The Los Angeles Dodgers train in Glendale, Arizona, the San Diego Padres train right next door in Peoria and the Los Angeles Angels train a few miles down the road in Tempe—and all three teams have a full slate of March games.
If basketball is your pleasure, March is an interesting month for Southern California. The Los Angeles Clippers continue to fight for a playoff spot, hosting five home games at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Portland Trail Blazers will visit on March 4, followed by the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 9, the Houston Rockets on March 15, the Charlotte Hornets on March 17, the Washington Wizards on March 20, the New Orleans Pelicans on the March 22 and, lastly, the Golden State Warriors on March 31.
For fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the only date that really matters is June 25, the date of the NBA Draft. The Lakers are in the middle of their worst season ever, and even the most loyal of fans are starting to wonder if a loss (improving their draft ranking) is better than a win at this point. Either way, the Lakers host seven games in March, all at the Staples Center. They open with the Oklahoma Thunder on March 1, followed by the Dallas Mavericks on March 8, the Detroit Pistons on March 10, the New York Knicks on March 12 and the Atlanta Hawks on March 15 (a doubleheader for the Staples Center, with the Clippers also playing there on the same day). They close with the Utah Jazz on March 19 and the Philadelphia 76ers on March 22.
March is the happiest of months for college basketball fans—March Madness has finally arrived! The odds are pretty good that Southern California will not have a team playing for the championship, unless either UCLA or USC can win the Pac-12 Tournament, held in Las Vegas in the middle of the month. Before then, UCLA’s regular season ends with them hosting Washington State on March 3 and USC on March 4. Both games will be at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus. USC, however, has no home games in March. As a part of March Madness, the Staples Center will host the West Regional on March 26 and March 28. And, both the UCLA and USC women’s teams will be playing in the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle, Washington in early March.
While much of the nation is still battling record cold and snow, we have to manufacture ours here in Southern California. But, we’re willing to do that to watch a little hockey. This month, the Anaheim Ducks have invited the following to join them at the Honda Center: the Montreal Canadians on March 4, the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 6, the Nashville Predators on March 15, the Los Angles Kings on March 18 (great rivalry game!) and the Colorado Avalanche on March 20.
Right up the freeway from the Honda Center, in the heart of Los Angeles, is the Staples Center, which will be quite active this month. In addition to being the home of the Lakers and the Clippers, as well as hosting the NCAA West Regionals, the Staples Center is home to the Los Angeles Kings. In March, the Kings will host the Montreal Canadians on March 5, the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 7, the Nashville Predators on March 14, the Arizona Coyotes on March 16 and the Vancouver Canucks on March 21.
For the events listed above, detailed information is available at the team and event websites. Be sure to check the dates, times and ticket availability. And, please know that this short column only touches the surface of the various sporting events available for your viewing pleasure. I’ve tried to cover the “bigger events” and a couple of those that might be less known. While you’re visiting, should you find an upcoming event that you think would be of interest, or one I missed this month but should note for next year, just drop me a line. Enjoy!