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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

At Chavez Ravine, Mighty Tracy Has Struck Out

April 05, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

So I called the Bobble Head to ask him about the Knuckle Head.

"Which Knuckle Head?" said Tom Lasorda, and I forgot to take into consideration he was sitting in the Dodger front offices when I called.

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I CAN'T TELL you how much fun I had Wednesday night looking into the faces of thousands of Tommy Lasorda Bobble Heads after the Dodger giveaway--every one of them just bobbing and nodding in agreement with everything I had to say. It was a rather pleasant experience, and I called BD&A Inc., the folks who made the ceramic dolls, and asked if they could mold a couple hundred of my wife.

I also inquired if they had any plans to make one of the new Dodger manager, and Jay Deutsch, one of the company's bigwigs, said if he knew who the new Dodger manager was it might help with production.

I said not to worry--we're not sure the new guy's going to make it.

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I HAVE TO claim some responsibility here. I gave Manager Jim Tracy two games by himself, and the Knuckle Head blew the Dodgers' chances of going undefeated. Now it appears they may never win again.

On Tuesday night, while I was sentenced to an overtime hockey game in Phoenix--and believe me I would rather go on a three-day hunting trip with an armed Kevin Brown--the Knuckle Head has Randy Johnson beat, a division rival defeated with a chance to establish some early Dodger momentum.

And the Knuckle Head brings in a kid, who has never pitched beyond Class-A ball before taking the hill in Chavez Ravine, and who still would be in the minors if the Dodgers weren't obligated by rule to keep him in the big leagues. No rule, however, says they have to play him.

I asked the Knuckle Head if his hands were tied because management hasn't given him a reliable left-handed pitcher in the bullpen and he said he had two pitchers in Terry Adams and Mike Fetters who have proven they can retire left-handed batters. So why was he going with the kid in the second game of the season when Adams had an off-season of rest behind him?

The first time the Dodgers fell behind 8-0--that's the first time this kid should have broken a sweat, but the Dodgers lost, 3-2, after Jose Nunez gave up a double and a home run to the first two batters he faced, and then Knuckle Head tells the media before Wednesday's game, "I think he should be very encouraged [by his performance]."

The kid turned a Dodger win into an encouraging Diamondbacks' come-back victory. Hello--is anybody home?

On Wednesday night the Knuckle Head sat frozen to the bench with the fans booing and imploring him to wake up as Darren Dreifort allowed six runners in a row to reach base, with five runs scoring and a 1-1 thriller in the fifth turning into a 6-1 Arizona rout. Hello. . . .

I checked. The Dodgers already have four telephones on the dugout wall within ringing distance of the Knuckle Head.

The one closest to his ear is connected to the executive offices. I'm told it's a party line shared by Dodger Boy and UCLA basketball Coach Steve Lavin, and I would urge him right now to rip it out.

I thought the next one was hooked to agent Scott Boras, but they said it goes to PR. I think it's because Tracy can't tell the difference between Jeff Reboulet and Tim Bogar and PR has their pictures in the media guide.

The third one puts the Knuckle Head in touch with the bullpen, and obviously there was no answer when he called looking for a lefty with experience. Apparently Jesse Orosco does not have call forwarding.

The fourth phone, and they are all black, goes directly to Ross Porter in the radio booth, a new incentive plan instituted by the team to keep players from striking out. If they do, they must listen to Ross doing play-by-play, which explains the glazed look in Eric Karros' eyes Tuesday night after whiffing four times.

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I MENTION THE telephones because I figured it would be a good idea to put in another line so the Knuckle Head and I could keep in touch before he pulls any more bonehead moves. I suggested a blue phone, because he's new on the job, and I'm not sure he could handle five black phones.

I asked Lasorda how he might have responded had we installed a telephone line between the two of us while he was the manager, and the only thing I can think of is he gave up cursing for Lent, because he didn't snap.

"A blue phone would be good," Lasorda said. Not having Tom Niedenfuer pitching to Jack Clark would also be good. "Just remember, when Tracy does what you say and it doesn't work, you have to take the blame."

Can that be any worse than being sent to a hockey game in Phoenix?

*

HOW CHEAP ARE the Dodgers? They have this contest between innings where they ask a fan--with the crowd's help--to answer a Dodger trivia question and if he guesses correctly, his whole row gets free sodas. It should be no tougher than the $100 question on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

On Wednesday the Dodgers asked who has the team record for most triples in a season? A) George Treadway B) Jackie Robinson or C) Davey Lopes?

The crowd urged the contestant to pick Lopes, he did, and management fooled the masses again, saving the sodas with Treadway, who had 26 in 1894.

The only one who knew the answer was Lasorda, because he was in the park the day Treadway set the record.

*

IT'S GOING TO be "Eric Karros Day" Friday in L.A., presumably because he finally hit the ball after five consecutive strikeouts, with Mayor Richard Riordan, who knows something about striking out after his dealings with the NFL, giving Karros a proclamation at City Hall.

The way things are going, it might be more appropriate to have "Paul Lo Duca Day."

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

"Instead of insulting the Kings' hockey players, coaches and especially the fans, maybe you should remember what your mom taught you: 'If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.' "

So that's why my mom had nothing to say to me.

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

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