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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

It Would Serve Him Right to Keep Sheffield in L.A.

February 20, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

Now the way I understand it, as soon as the Dodgers unveiled their 2001 marketing campaign to Gary Sheffield's agent, Sheffield wanted out of town.

There's no way this could have happened a year ago, of course, because the Dodgers' marketing theme was "Being Here is Everything," which would have made it kind of hard for one of the players to announce they didn't want to be here.

But this year's plan must really stink, or it favors Eric Karros. In either case that would make Sheffield very unhappy, which presents a problem for the Dodger brain trust.

Now imagine Pee-wee Herman sitting across from Regis on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," struggling to make it from the $100 question to the $200 question, and you have the Dodger brain trust.

Pee-wee's a celebrity, of course, so the audience would be allowed to shout the correct answers until he got to the really big money.

I hope the Dodgers can hear me.

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THE TEAM APPARENTLY has two options:

1. Let Dodger General Manager Kevin Malone use his expertise to engineer a trade.

Whatever the second option is--take it.

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FIRST OF ALL, I would call Sheffield's $9.5-million bluff that he isn't going to play for the Dodgers this year, his $9.5-million bluff that he's not going to play for them next year and his $11-million bluff that he's not going to play for them in 2003.

I'd even go so far as to pick up his $11-million option for the 2004 season right now, and then introduce the marketing plans for 2001: "Come Boo Sheff--The Slug's Not Going Anywhere."

We're talking standing room only--fans tired of whining athletes.

I'd work out a deal with Krispy Kreme, and every time Sheffield strikes out three times in a game, every fan in attendance is entitled to a free box of doughnuts. You wouldn't have fans leaving early anymore.

I'd insist on Ross Porter going out of his way to make small talk with Sheffield every day, and then ask Rick Monday to put him on his pregame show and then announce the free gift is going to Karros.

Why shouldn't the guy suffer like the rest of us who have to watch these miserable egos earn their millions of dollars and be so unhappy? I say make him live in the same locker room as Kevin Brown.

A few days ago somebody named Terry Adams, who was 6-9 last season, was told he would earn $2.6 million in 2001. He said he was mad. "Right now I'm just looking forward to being a free agent [next year]."

I say boo them all until they appreciate how good they have it.

Besides, if the Dodgers trade everyone who is unhappy, we're going to be left with Mike Fetters throwing the ball to Paul LoDuca.

Didn't they learn their lesson when they had to trade Mike Piazza?

My fear, however, is that Malone is going to trade Sheffield.

And you know Malone. I heard he's already focusing his attention on Garrett Morris, just because "baseball been very, very good to him."

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IF THE DODGERS insist on trading Sheffield, I just hope they also throw in Rob Blake.

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THE NEW JERSEY NETS were upset the other day because George Steinbrenner, a YankeeNets corporate partner, said a team of five reporters could beat them.

The Nets showed him. They went out and beat the Clippers in overtime.

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THE CLIPPERS ARE 1-8 in overtime, probably an indication that today's young athletes won't work extra without assurances of additional compensation.

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A WHOLE NEW generation of young golfers hit the links Monday telling themselves, "I am Joe Durant."

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IF PAUL HACKETT were coaching either one of these teams . . . The USC men's and women's basketball teams lost to their Arizona counterparts last weekend by a combined total of 60 points.

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THE ZEN MASTER--all peaceful like he is--probably has never had an upset stomach, leaving him ill-equipped to deal with J.R. Rider.

Rider, 14 of 41 from the field the last four games, ran off the court Sunday against the Indiana Pacers because his tummy was upset. John Black, the Lakers' director of public relations, told me Rider ran off the court once again during Monday's practice for the same reason.

I'm not the kind of person to butt in and tell someone how to do their job, but if I'm Phil Jackson, I buy a bottle--no, a gallon--of Pepto-Bismol, fill up Gatorade bottles with the stuff and have Rider gulp it down during timeouts.

He'll probably start feeling better in no time at all.

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ON SECOND THOUGHT, the way Rider is shooting the ball, pass me the Pepto-Bismol--he's making me sick.

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

"You quote Steve Lavin as saying, 'Everyone likes to be wanted by their boss.' Tell me, T.J., have you ever had that feeling?"

I remember a time in 1982. August, I believe.

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

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