The second city
Here in the nation's second-largest market, a phrase the NFL has forced us to commit to memory, we have a saying that the nation needs to learn, because this was us in 2006: We're No. 2!

Take a look at our sports teams and the last 12 months.

USC football: Runner-up to Vince Young and Texas in the Rose Bowl.

UCLA basketball: Runner-up to Joakim Noah and Florida in the men's NCAA final.

The Dodgers: Runners-up to the San Diego Padres in the National League West, runners-up to the New York Mets in the NL Division Series.

The Angels: Runners-up to the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

The Lakers: Runners-up to the Clippers in the L.A. NBA standings.

The Clippers: Runners-up to the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the playoffs.

The Ducks: Runners-up to the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Western Conference finals.

The Kings: Runners-up to the Western Conference's ninth-place team, which finished one game out of the playoffs.

With the exception of USC, which ended its streak of national football titles won or shared at two, none of this was truly considered disappointing.

UCLA and the Ducks came out of nowhere to go as far as they did. The Lakers won three playoff games, which constituted a great leap forward in the post-Shaq era. The Dodgers don't win playoff games, remember? The Clippers had their most successful season ever. The Angels were very satisfied with second place, judging by General Manager Bill Stoneman's decision to stay with the hand he already had.

The Kings have had better seasons, but they have also had worse seasons. At the end of every Kings season, it all washes out the same: again, no championship.

Or as the Kings' 2006-2007 marketing slogan goes, "Celebrating 40 Years of Stanley Cup-Free Hockey!"

There's nothing wrong with being part of the supporting cast. Members of Michael Jordan's supporting cast came away with the same rings as he did.

We were very good at being almost great in 2006.

Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22 — the second-best performance in NBA history, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100.

(Bryant also placed fourth in the NBA most-valuable-player voting, but had the second-most first-place votes — 22 — behind winner Steve Nash of Phoenix.)

Reggie Bush took his Heisman Trophy, Fresno State highlight video and Gale Sayers comparisons into April's NFL draft, where he was said to be the no-brainer top draft pick. He wound up being second — the Houston Texans opting instead for a defensive lineman, Mario Williams.