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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Compliments to the Sheff: He Gives Us Reason to Care

April 01, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

When I heard Vin Scully talking on the radio about Foam Finger Night, I was surprised, because I thought it would be enough if everyone just agreed to boo Gary Sheffield.

But it made sense. I could also see Binky Brat Night, or Greed Is Good Night with the first 100 fans dressed as Gordon Gekko being admitted free to the left-field seats.

I called the Dodgers to offer my compliments for working to bring passion back to Dodger Stadium, but was told the Friday "We're No. 1" giveaway has nothing to do with Sheffield, which goes to show you I should never compliment the Dodgers.

I mean if the Movie Guy and Dodger Boy knew what they were doing . . .

My mistake.

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LET'S FACE IT, the worst thing that can happen to the Dodgers is the fans losing interest in booing Sheffield.

Now I realize some people will find it fun to drive to Dodger Stadium guessing which of the three stiffs will start at catcher, you know, like guessing which one of the Cartwrights rides forward first on "Bonanza."

But for most, the thrill of coming to the ballpark will be to boo, and see what reaction it draws from Sheffield.

The problem is that Sheffield will have none, and so the fans will grow weary of trying to get one. I suppose fans could boo Tom Goodwin every time he strikes out, but this is not about asking fans to go hoarse.

This is about putting an end to Dodger apathy before it takes root. Do you care what Jim Tracy has to say? See what I mean.

Before the Dodgers can demonstrate they can win regularly--Eric Gagne is pitching this week against Randy Johnson so it might take some time--they must get past Dodger disgust, a Kevin Malone-inspired malady that has some fans wondering if the organization can do anything right.

The malady must be contagious, too, because the Movie Guy came out this week and inexplicably endorsed everything Dodger Boy has done. Mind you, the Movie Guy was also in charge of the studio that gave us the baseball bomb "Major League II."

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NOW ME, I'M just not sure the Dodgers will ever be the same without F.P. Santangelo.

Booing fans, however, would have to be considered a good sign in the interim for the Dodgers, an indication that people still care enough to buy tickets to voice their displeasure.

But beyond having regularly scheduled Dodger Boy Nights to keep the boos coming--with Malone throwing out the first pitch to one of his crummy catchers--it all falls on Sheffield to keep everyone interested.

Sheffield, however, is now being trained by agent Scott Boras with the implied promise from Boras, who tells the Movie Guy what to do, that if he keeps his mouth shut he will eventually get a better pay day from the Dodgers.

And so far Sheffield has been the exemplary phony, which is going to make it tougher in the long run to boo him. It's like those Kevin Brown public service commercials on DodgerVision last season that had him sitting with kids like he was auditioning to be the next Mister Rogers. I know I had trouble booing him after seeing that, but I fought through it.

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AS LONG AS you boo, you're probably going to get the very best out of Sheffield--and his teammates as well--who will be working to shove those boos right down your throat. That ought to be your motto: "Let 'em try."

I know it's going to be difficult on your part to keep it up--booing a bad guy who has a bat in his hand and the ability to do good things with it. A couple of homers, a game-winning hit, and you're going to be tested.

My concern--you won't even make it until Foam Finger Night.

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BEFORE FRIDAY NIGHT'S exhibition game in Dodger Stadium, broadcaster Ross Porter was stuck in an elevator for more than an hour. Porter reportedly escaped in time for the game, but there was no report if those stuck with Porter for that amount of time survived.

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IF I TOLD you who is winning our office pool, I'd be bragging.

By the way, did I mention who won our fantasy football league?

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THE AGENT FOR Jose Canseco said his client was released because "the Angels were counting pennies."

Why should he be any different than the 4,000 Disney employees being laid off? At least they reported healthy to work every day.

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I FIND IT hard to believe the NHL national TV ratings have dropped 21% from last year's all-time low totals--especially after writing a hockey column recently that angered almost every hockey fan in L.A.

I'm telling you, those 12 people who e-mailed were really upset.

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IF THE CLIPPERS win 30 games--doubling last year's mark, and in the tough Western Conference--Alvin Gentry deserves attention for coach of the year.

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

"I was very confused after reading your Shakespeare article."

Pray tell--so was I.

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

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