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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

Dodgers Don't Have to Send a May Day Signal for Rocker

March 02, 2000|RANDY HARVEY

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants:

No matter how you view the independent arbitrator's decision, there were no winners in the John Rocker affair. . . .

Except the Dodgers. . . .

The Braves are scheduled to play in Los Angeles on May 1, the day Rocker's suspension would have been lifted if penalties levied by Commissioner Bud Selig had been upheld. . . .

Now that Rocker is eligible to return two weeks sooner, on April 18 against Philadelphia at Atlanta, the media circus will pitch its tents at Turner Field instead of Dodger Stadium. . . .

You can still boo him, though. . . .

Todd Hundley was feeling good about spring training until he was confronted with speculation making the rounds in New York that Davey Johnson will be replaced after this season if the Dodgers don't improve by Bobby Valentine. . . .

Even if Hundley doesn't drink too much (Valentine implied he did a couple of years ago at the height of their feud), that could make him start. . . .

Buying out the final year of Hundley's contract, enabling him to become a free agent after this season, looks like a no-win deal for the Dodgers. . . .

If he has another lousy season, it means they got nothing for Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. . . .

If Hundley returns to his pre-elbow surgery form, the Dodgers could lose him. . . .

The more there is of Angel Pena, the less it appears he is the Dodgers' catcher of the future. . . .

He reported to spring training at 262 pounds, 34 above his listed playing weight. . . .

What was he doing during the winter in the Dominican Republic, eating dinners at Raul Mondesi's house?

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There was little good news for Oscar De La Hoya in Bob Arum's pronouncement Wednesday that a tentative agreement has been reached for De La Hoya to meet Shane Mosley in June instead of Felix Trinidad. . . .

First, De La Hoya will earn $33 million less for a fight against Mosley than he would have for the two-fight deal against Trinidad that had been proposed. . . .

Second, De La Hoya needs to fight Trinidad to avenge his lone professional loss. . . .

Third, Trinidad is an easier fight for De La Hoya than Mosley will be. De La Hoya knows that all he needs to do to beat Trinidad is fight 12 rounds instead of nine. . . .

But it was good news for Staples Center, which had no chance to land De La Hoya-Trinidad. Arum will meet Monday with arena officials Tim Leiweke and Bobby Goldwater before deciding whether to take the fight to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. . . .

The Trinidad-David Reid fight Friday night at Caesars Palace is intriguing, but there's more interest in Las Vegas this week in the NASCAR race. . . .

Arum said Don King will lose more than $6 million on the promotion. . . .

King backed down on his threat to bring a country and western show to Vegas on Saturday night to attract the NASCAR fans and detract from Arum's promotion at Mandalay Bay of Paulie Ayala vs. Johnny Bredahl. . . .

Too bad. I'd like to see King fit his hair into a cowboy hat.

*

Reports of Laffit Pincay Jr.'s demise as a premier jockey were greatly exaggerated. . . .

Proving that he remained capable of winning with good horses while chasing down Bill Shoemaker's record for career victories last December at Hollywood Park, Pincay has stayed hot at Santa Anita. He was fourth in the standings at the start of this week. . . .

For the first time since 1996, he also has a ride in the Santa Anita Handicap. He will be on Puerto Madero on Saturday. . . .

The Trojan Invitational track and field meet Saturday at Cromwell Field could feature USC's Football Foursome in the sprint relay--Sultan McCullough, Darrell Rideaux, Kareem Kelly and Miguel Fletcher. . . .

Alarmed by the number of crimes involving players, the National Felony League is wrestling with how to promote nonviolence among players who are trained to be aggressive. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is considering calling on the U.S. military for advice. . . .

Stricter testing for steroids might help. . . .

Hack-a-Shaq didn't work for the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, but guard Steve Smith said they'll try it again next time. . . .

"You still have to play the percentages," he said. . . .

Surprised by Kobe Bryant's defensive play lately against players such as Allen Iverson and Steve Francis? The New York Post's Peter Vecsey isn't. He says Bryant had plenty of experience last season denying Shaquille O'Neal.

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Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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