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The Inside Track | T.J. SIMERS

No Tarnishing a Golden Moment for Lasorda

September 29, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Maybe it's the way they have been doing things in the Olympics forever, and after all how many dusty trophies does one man need, but someone should find a way to slip a gold medal into Tom Lasorda's hands.

Maybe he is full of baloney, a regular hand-over-the heart showman in search of the spotlight, who makes it sound like he's always trying to unload a used car on you, but in just the right dosage--less than a month for the U.S baseball team--is there anyone better to provide inspiration?

He's going to make a ton of money giving motivational speeches in the coming months, and former President Bush and baseball great Ted Williams have already called with congrats, but something's missing.

When he appeared at Dodger Stadium Thursday night as a proud American still in his USA team blazer, a gold medal should have been dangling from around his neck.

"You guys don't know how badly I wanted to beat those Cubans," he said. "When we marched out (for the medal ceremony) the Cubans had to go right by me, and I said to each one, 'See ya later.' I figured they would be cutting sugar cane after (Fidel) Castro found out we beat them."

That's my Olympic moment.

"I just can't find the words to tell you how I enjoyed this," he said, and if Lasorda's speechless, it's only for a few seconds.

"It was all about gold, gold, gold and that's what we kept talking about--gold."

Lasorda gets no gold because only the athletes are entitled to medals in the Olympics, even if David slew Goliath, as Lasorda described it, and David got good coaching to do it.

"Before we left I had baseball people telling me that they hadn't given me a good team. 'Are they alive?' I asked. That's all that counts. I believed from the start we were going to win, because this is America and this game belongs to us."

Tell me that doesn't bring you to your feet, even the jaded who long ago grew tired of hearing all that nonsense about bleeding Dodger blue.

"To do something for your country is special," said Lasorda, who deserves the credit for taking a bunch of minor league rejects, who weren't good enough to get the major league September callup, and win it all.

The guy deserves a medal.

"I wish I had one," Lasorda said. "They're beautiful."

*

THE CROWD CAME to its feet to hail Lasorda after he was introduced in the third inning, but in a shameful display of bad manners, almost the entire Dodger team remained in the dugout rather than walking 10 feet to congratulate one of their very own on the U.S. win.

Lasorda appeared lost as he stood on the Dodgers' on-deck circle, walking forward as he waved to the boisterous crowd and then retreating from the dugout when no one moved. Manager Davey Johnson, coach Manny Mota and outfielder Shawn Green finally took the hint, and were the noticeable exceptions--stepping forward to greet him.

This was not some baseball man from the East Coast, but someone who has spent most of his life in a Dodger uniform fresh off an Olympic victory. The organization made no presentation to Lasorda, although it was the final home game, and its last chance to do so. How nice it might have been had someone thought to present him with a gold medal on behalf of the Dodger organization.

*

I NOTICED DODGER Chairman Bob Daly had a very long conversation with Vic The Brick Jacobs at the batting cage before last night's game.

I guess he's begun the interview process to replace Kevin Malone.

*

IT LOOKED LIKE a match made in Cleveland when quarterback Tim Couch began dating a girl named "Kozar," and while she was no relation to former Brown quarterback Bernie Kosar, people figured things were looking up in their dreary little city because no one was going to refer to Playboy's 1999 Playmate of the Year as the "mistake by the lake."

Then along came Cade McNown, as the Sports Illustrated story goes this week, shipping his Porsche from his handicapped parking spot in L.A. to Chicago in an effort to step in front of Couch and woo the Playboy honey.

McNown is somewhat of an expert when it comes to interceptions, and while it's hard to believe the Playmate went for the car, according to SI, "Kozar benched Couch in favor of McNown."

This might explain why McNown's teammates changed plans. According to an Internet report by Fred Edelstein earlier this week, some of McNown's teammates considered taking their cocky teammate outside and working him over.

But after an 0-4 start it's obvious they're not going to get an invite to the White House, so now the guys are hoping their good buddy McNown will take them along to the Playboy Mansion.

*

LOOK FOR UPCOMING commercials featuring U.S. women's soccer team player Brandi Chastain putting her shirt back on.

*

I HAVE TRANSCRIPTS from Larry King's interview with Bobby Knight this week, and if Knight is to be believed, coaches across the nation should be brought up on child abuse charges, beginning with Penn State's Joe Paterno.

After King asked Knight about the video showing Knight choking one of his players, Knight said he heard from Paterno.

"(Paterno) said, 'If that's something that's really upsetting to the people at Indiana, the people at Penn State would be upset 200 times a year with me.' "

King looked surprised to hear Paterno apparently endorses players being choked. "He handles--he touches players?" King asked.

Knight: "He told me that."

King: "You think coaches are touching players all over America?"

Knight: "I don't think there's any question about it."

*

TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Mike:

"My son, Sean, goes crazy every time he hears Vin Scully say, 'Bell-Tree,' instead of 'Bell-Tray.' He e-mailed the Dodgers at their web site, but they didn't answer. Why does Vin Scully continue to make this mistake?

Think about the genius behind what Vin is doing. Every time he says, "Bell-Tree," what does your son say? Error.

*

T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:t.j.simers@latimes.com

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