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Time to Spread the Love on Dodger Opening Day

THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

April 03, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

As part of their opening-day ceremony, the Dodgers set free hundreds of doves and then immediately set off fireworks to shoot the birds from the sky.

I like that kind of killer instinct to start off the baseball season.

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I LIKED THE way the Dodgers invited Barry Manilow to sing the national anthem and then had a pair of F-16s fly over early to drown him out.

I'm told the Fighter Wing wrote off the exercise as a smart bomb run.

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I LIKED THE pregame tribute to the 10 former Dodgers who have had their numbers retired, a reminder to some of the current Dodgers they don't have a ghost of a chance to enjoy such fame unless they get cracking.

I don't think there's any other way to explain Hiram Bocachica's 1.000 batting average at this point.

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I LIKED THE fact Chad Kreuter was taking time before the game to hit balls off a batting tee.

It would be nice to see one of our very own getting a George Bush invitation to play T-ball on the South Lawn of the White House. And with Angel Pena and Paul LoDuca here, it's not as if he would be missed.

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I LIKED THE way Kevin Brown conducted himself--he was nowhere to be seen.

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I LIKED SEEING the Movie Guy come up to me before the game, saying, "What a cheery day it is," and sending him away by saying, "Have you ever been in the Dodger clubhouse? It's never cheery in there."

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I LIKED INTERVIEWING Mike Fetters after the game, hearing him talk about being nervous on opening day and excited with all the hoopla like someone playing the game just for the love of it.

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I LIKED THE reaction I got from Eric Karros, telling me he would have to mentally prepare himself before talking to me, which proved to be too taxing.

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I LIKED SEEING Peter O'Malley sitting behind home plate with his sons, a guest of management, and suggesting the spring training flap with Sheffield might pull this team together.

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I LIKE THE idea I can disagree with O'Malley.

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I LIKE THE fact the Dodgers are undefeated, have not made an error, Tom Goodwin has yet to strike out and Jeff Shaw didn't blow a save opportunity. Ross Porter might be able to tell you the last time something as outlandish as that happened, but not me.

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I LIKED HOW Gary Sheffield was true to his word--the last man dressed on the team--stiffing his teammates and leaving them to stretch as a group on the field at 10 a.m., while he was just arriving.

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I LIKED THE way Tracy covered for Sheffield, saying he was in the training room getting treatment when Sheffield was really just late, and still dressing in the clubhouse.

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I LIKED BEING reminded why athletes are so arrogant, the doors to an almost-empty elevator opening with Sheffield inside and the operator telling people they would have to wait for the next one--I guess fearful they might rub shoulders with Sheffield.

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I LIKED THE idea we've all moved 24 hours closer to Tom Lasorda Bobble Head night.

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I LIKED READING the bio for Dodger Boy in the team's media guide, which reads, " . . . bringing back popular starting pitcher Ramon Martinez is also a reflection of Malone's commitment to providing Dodger fans with the best players possible."

I looked. No mention of Johnny Damon in the bio.

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I LIKED SEEING Sports Editor Bill Dwyre at Dodger Stadium--apparently there wasn't any tennis on TV--and while the working media was counting pitches, he was counting the minutes he stood in a concession line to get a hot dog. "Seventeen," he said, and for a hot dog, I believe, he'd have waited all day.

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I LIKED THE way Chan Ho Park pitched, because with Chris Donnels, Kreuter and Alex Cora batting sixth, seventh and eighth, it's like asking Mike Penberthy, Devean George and Mark Madsen to provide the firepower.

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I LIKED BEING told it would cost me only $9 to become an official member of the Dodgers' Blue Crew--in case the team keeps winning. I'm told that would entitle me to a Karros baseball card, which I'd trade for Bocachica's.

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I LIKED THE fact there are 161 more games, providing me with plenty of time to stop by the clubhouse and chat with the guys.

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I GUESS YOU can tell I really like the Dodgers.

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

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