Our Daily Dread: Manny may be the new health tonic for L.A., or hazzardous to our well being

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The man on the newest cover of ESPN The Magazine looks happy. And healthy (it shows no hamstring wear and tear).

His smile is infectious. And that’s good for you.

We’ve come across this item on the Wall Street Journal (linked here) that both disturbs us, yet distinguises Southern California sports fan as not so laid back when it comes to how our local sports team affect our laid-back nature.

Here’s the theory:

L.A. has obsessed sports fans, apparently, who don’t know how to handle their rooting interest. We’ve become the guinea pigs for a study that’s cited here, going back to when this fine city had NFL teams in its perpherial vision.

The story says, in relation to how those can die from rooting too hard:

The latest evidence comes from a report showing that deaths, including heart-related deaths, increased in Los Angeles County during the two weeks following the 1980 Super Bowl. The underdog Los Angeles Rams lost that battle to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game in which the lead changed seven times. By contrast, four years later, when the L.A. Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins by a lopsided score, deaths in L.A. fell.

Getting really emotionally involved in your team “can result in emotional stressors,” says Robert A. Kloner, director of research at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, and an expert in heart-attack triggers. “That isn’t always good for the heart.” Dr. Kloner is presenting the research this weekend at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Doc, you got our attention.


But now, how do we draw any conclusions from this? We’re not sure.

First … The NFL was actually in L.A.? My kids kid me about that.

Maybe it’s good that it hasn’t been around here for the last 15 years. We don’t have that unhealthy barometer around to keep us on the edge of our seats, or on the ledge of our office buildings.

This may apply closer to the rise and fall of the Dodgers and/or Lakers. The Dodgers’ fans — or any fan of baseball — seems to be more laid back, wouldn’t you say? A World Series celebration hasn’t been seen around here since 1981, so there’s no way to gauge evidence they cause harm to our bodies.

Last year’s trip to the NL Championship Series could have been a good test case. Did the city really fall into a depression after that loss to the Phillies? Maybe not, because it wasn’t a one-or-nothing proposition.

Same for the Lakers. In a series to the Celtics, there are times to inflate or deflate your blood pressure and accept victory or defeat at different levels.

A Super Bowl scenario makes a lot more sense on how to judge someone’s obsessive allegiance. You can’t really gauge it on a college football championship game, especially one involving USC in the last five years, because there are probably too many indifferent fans watching. Those who consider themselves “die-hards” are more likely to take a defeat in the NCAA title game to Texas personally, just as they celebrated victories over Michigan or Oklahoma as a euphoric tonics to keep life looking rosy.

It’s more food for thought, but that’s another issue. Don’t most people you know living in L.A. eat better than fans in other parts of the country? Obesity is a nation-wide problem, but we seem to be far more health conscious and that could contribute to whether we collapse into a La-Z-Boy with a heart attack or not, even after an episode of “American Idol.”

Meanwhile, we look forward to the days ahead when we can cram a Dodger Dog down our throat, chase it down with a high-calorie Coke and watch Man-Ham-Ram circle the bases without killing himself.

Let us know what you think here or at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

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