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THE INSIDE TRACK | NOTES ON A SCORECARD / ALLAN MALAMUD

It's Up to the Players to Make Billy Ball Work

July 30, 1996|Allan Malamud

Now is the time for the Dodgers to show just how much they like playing for Bill Russell. . . .

The interim manager probably will become the permanent manager if the Dodgers win the NL West title and undoubtedly will if they advance in the postseason after being swept by Cincinnati in the first round last year. . . .

The players call Russell's aggressive strategy Billy Ball, nothing original but meant as a compliment. . . .

For sure, they have been more daring under Russell than they were under Tom Lasorda in recent years. . .

But their won-loss record with Russell in charge is 14-16, compared to 41-35 this season with Lasorda. . . .

Their personnel might be overrated, particularly after the illness and injury that have sidelined Brett Butler and Mike Blowers. . . .

There are holes in center field, the leadoff spot and at third base. . . .

Second baseman Delino DeShields has been dreadful the past few weeks in the field and at bat, and the relief corps that was so efficient the first half of the season is coming back to earth. . . .

But certainly there is enough talent--the second-best pitching staff in the National League, the leading hitter in Mike Piazza, explosive batters in Eric Karros and Raul Mondesi, another productive rookie in Todd Hollandsworth, and what generally has been a vastly improved defense--to win a four-team division that lacks a powerhouse. . . .

And now there is the additional incentive of trying to win a permanent job for the interim manager they say they like so much.

*

Since the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn in 1958, they have had two presidents, three managers, four general managers, and one lead radio-television announcer. . . .

It was refreshing to hear a player, Chili Davis, rather than the manager, Marcel Lachemann, take the blame for the Angels' 13-inning loss to Milwaukee on Sunday at Anaheim Stadium. . . .

For the second consecutive summer, I won't miss watching local teams engage in NFL exhibition games. . . .

The most important thing by far during the exhibition season is for players to stay away from injuries. . . .

But the Dallas Cowboys' 35-34 victory over the Oakland Raiders must have been as entertaining as a midseason arena football game. . . .

Indianapolis 10, New Orleans 3 in the Hall of Fame game was more typical of July or August stadium football. . . .

UCLA begins two-a-day practices at Spaulding Field on Aug. 17 in preparation for the Sept. 7 opener at Tennessee. . . .

In case you've begun to think about how to beat the traffic, the USC-Notre Dame game at the Coliseum on Nov. 30 will start at 5 p.m. . . .

Because of uncertain television scheduling, kickoff times for six of the Trojans' other 11 games have yet to be announced. . . .

Lit De Justice, who again came from behind to win Sunday at Del Mar, is the sprinting version of the old white tornado, Vigors. . . .

The NBA champion Chicago Bulls and the Lakers will appear on NBC eight times each next season. The Clippers none. . . .

Sound-a-likes: Gymnast Kerri Strug and jockey Julie Krone. . . .

Every time I read about Chicago Cub outfielder Sammy Sosa extending his National League home run lead, I'm reminded that he wasn't good enough to make the All-Star roster. . . .

So much for those of us who laughed off the trade that delivered catcher John Flaherty to the San Diego Padres from the Detroit Tigers. . . .

Sport magazine should have had both famous Sugar Rays--Robinson and Leonard--on its list of the top 50 performers of the last half-century rather than only Leonard at No. 31. . . .

Six of the top 15 are from the NBA--No. 1 Michael Jordan, No. 5 Magic Johnson, No. 6 Larry Bird, No. 10 Bill Russell, No. 13 Wilt Chamberlain and No. 15 Julius Erving. . . .

Willie Mays deserved better than No. 16. . . .

I haven't seen many good pro boxing prospects on the NBC telecasts from Atlanta. Of course, like everyone else, I haven't seen much Olympic boxing, period. . . .

How come team handball is in the Games, but not handball? . . .

I like the idea of staggering the Olympics. Only two more years until the Winter Games at Nagano, Japan.

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