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INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Dodger Season Will Become Perfectly Claire in 12 Days

September 08, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

If the Dodgers win the National League West, most people who follow baseball will be unimpressed. They expected no less of the Dodgers.

Of course, they also expected no more. The Dodgers have lost six consecutive playoff games the last two seasons.

Now?

Ask the Florida Marlins. I don't think they'd like to meet the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, which they would have to if the season ended today.

In the first seven games between the two teams this season, the Marlins won six. The Dodgers since have won three in a row and will try to make it four tonight at Chavez Ravine.

Does the Dodgers' improvement since the beginning of the season make Fred Claire the NL executive of the year?

No. San Francisco General Manager Brian Sabean called a news conference to announce he wasn't an idiot after trading Matt Williams and has proved it. The Giants have had a miraculous season even if they don't win the division.

But Claire deserves credit, finding the right combination of hitting, defense, speed and, maybe, pitching. The Dodgers might not be favored to win the World Series, but I think they're as good as the 1988 team that did.

Will they?

Ask me again in 12 days, after we know how a talented but erratic bullpen responds in series against Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and, most importantly, San Francisco.

*

Peter O'Malley didn't surprise everyone when he announced in January he was selling the Dodgers. . . .

He and Rupert Murdoch discussed a deal as early as last September, when Murdoch's Fox Sports Network bought television rights to Dodger games. . . .

No matter what you hear, don't expect Ted Turner to fight the sale. . . .

He and Murdoch are practically partners after a couple of recent deals, one allowing Turner to continue televising Brave games from coast to coast even though Fox and ESPN own baseball's national cable rights. . . .

I haven't changed my mind about Washington winning the Pacific 10 Conference, but Stanford looked like a questionable choice for runner-up in its unimpressive victory over San Jose State. . . .

We'll know more about the Cardinal after Saturday's game at North Carolina. . . .

Bob Toledo, like his UCLA Bruins, can't seem to win, getting criticism when he doesn't give the ball to Skip Hicks for a crucial play against Washington State and when he does against Tennessee. . . .

But on third and three at the Volunteer 20 with 53 seconds and no timeouts left, a pass would have been more prudent. . . .

Even with an incompletion, the clock would have stopped. That would have allowed the Bruins to regroup instead of rushing a fourth-down pass. . . .

Still, I like UCLA's chances for an upset Saturday, especially with Texas quarterback James Brown hobbled. . . .

The Bruins shouldn't be overconfident, though. The Longhorn backup, Richard Walton, might be a better passer than Brown. . . .

Cal State Northridge would finish no worse than ninth in the Big Ten. . . .

In their opener, the Matadors embarrassed Boise State, 63-23. That's the same team Wisconsin struggled to beat, 28-24. . . .

The Matadors lost at Hawaii, 34-21, Saturday night but were more competitive than Minnesota in its 17-3 loss to the Rainbows. . . .

CSUN's quarterback, Aaron Flowers, is putting up Peyton Manning numbers. In two games, Flowers has thrown for 753 yards and eight touchdowns. . . .

In a special meeting last week, the L.A. Sports Council voted unanimously to work against the initiative by City Councilman Joel Wachs that would make it more difficult for sports enterprises to gain public financing. . . .

"If this proposed initiative had happened 20 years ago, the 1984 Olympics would have been held in New York instead of Los Angeles, and we wouldn't have had the Super Bowl or World Cup," Sports Council Chairman John Argue said. . . .

Clipper owner Donald Sterling has turned down another offer to take his team to the Pond of Anaheim. . . .

Who cares where they play? It's going to take me a while to get over the loss of Bo Outlaw to Orlando. . . .

Clipper management is relieved he didn't sign with the Lakers. . . .

Wilt Chamberlain is coming back, to play in the legends game Friday night at the UCLA Tennis Center during the World Championships of Beach Volleyball. . . .

Local heavyweight Ed Mahone is making his main event debut tonight at the Forum. But the accomplished trumpet player won't perform the national anthem beforehand. Rules require him to wear gloves into the ring.

*

While wondering if anyone really thought Green Bay would go 19-0, I was thinking: good for Jim Everett, good for Jim Druckenmiller, same old Rams.

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