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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Dodger Movie Guy Suffers Lapse in the Business Part

February 21, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

The new Dodger manager--you know, that guy who has two first names and nothing much else going for him--made his first speech to the team Tuesday and apparently really laid down the law:

"I said to the group today, it's very, very important that we go west with a group of people who really want to be Dodgers."

We know Tom Lasorda didn't write that speech for him because there wasn't one single obscenity.

But I'm sure you noticed the new guy went with the double "very, very" right out of the gate, which explains why Devon White immediately asked to be traded--because it's just not that important to him to be a Dodger anymore.

I'm trying to keep track of this, but I believe that makes two Dodgers to date who have asked to be traded less than a week into spring training, and just wait until Carlos Perez figures out he has no shot to be the fifth starter.

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WE MAY NEED some clarification here, but I believe it was Casey Stengel who said, "Can't anyone here play the game?" and Bob Daly who said, "Doesn't anyone here want to be here?"

Daly, of course, is the movie guy, who has cast Kevin Malone as Dodger general manager and this unknown as Dodger manager. "Ishtar," indeed. If this production called for a love interest, I expect we would see Roseanne.

In addition to being a movie guy, Daly is also a baseball fan, which means he's really sick of greedy, ungrateful baseball players like Gary Sheffield.

This would be all right if he was a baseball fan just like you and me, but he runs the Dodgers--and by the way, not very well.

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THE MOVIE GUY has really mucked this up. There isn't anything new about a greedy, ungrateful baseball player asking for more money--even if coming disguised in a requisition for more respect.

This happens all the time with football and basketball players threatening to become truck drivers before they will play again. And then they rethink their positions, and suggest later, "it was just a misunderstanding."

In some cases, those requesting contract extensions actually get them--like Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

The only thing different about this is the reaction of the movie guy--the fan, who runs the Dodgers. He threw a tantrum, but oddly not because the greedy, ungrateful baseball player wanted to be traded, but because an Internet reporter was about to go public with a Sheffield story that might make the Dodger organization look bad once again. Movie guys, you know, are very image-conscious.

The Dodgers were tipped on Sunday that a reporter had Sheffield's side of the story, and so Daly went public that same day to beat Sheffield with his spin. I'll bet Daly even had someone call "Daily Variety."

The movie guy told reporters he was "shocked," although I've been led to believe has known for months that Sheffield wanted his contract extended. Sheffield's agent delivered that same message Feb. 9, and then Feb. 13 it was Sheffield who met with the movie guy to talk contract.

And yet on Sunday the movie guy exploded as if he had just found out that Sheffield was greedy and ungrateful. He had been given nine days up to that point to make Sheffield go away. I called Daly to ask him about that, but I was advised he wasn't talking--at least not until another Internet reporter had something to report.

Now you might applaud Daly's intense reaction, which leaves trading Sheffield as the team's only option, but it's the movie guy's job to put the best team on the field, and conducting a fire sale because he's the guy who yelled "fire" does not bode well for long-range Dodger success.

If the Dodgers had a baseball man--a real businessman, who knew what he was doing, on Feb. 10 he would have come to the conclusion that a) I'm going to trade Sheffield, and as quickly as I can while I'm dealing from a position of strength, or b) I'm going to tell the greedy, ungrateful player he can rot in Bel-Air for all I care, but he's under contract to the Dodgers.

If the Dodgers had a baseball man--a real businessman, who knew what he was doing, on Sunday he would have let Sheffield pop off through the Internet reporter and continued working on solutions a) or b) at least until Tuesday when Sheffield is obligated to report for duty.

You expect baseball players these days to be greedy and ungrateful--you just don't expect baseball executives with movie experience to bomb so badly.

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IT'S NOT AS if the Dodgers don't have enough problems, but now comes word that baseball is going to strictly enforce the strike zone--meaning it will be bigger. Don't they know what this will do to Tom Goodwin?

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I HOPE THE Lakers patent that Isaiah "J.R." Rider tummy cure.

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CONSIDER THIS LAST line in an Associated Press story about Mark Chmura meeting with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in New York to discuss possible disciplinary action after his romp in a hot tub with an underage girl.

"The NFL, which routinely calls in players who are arrested, said no decision would be announced Tuesday."

If that's the case, I would imagine the line of players who have been arrested stretches twice around Times Square before winding all the way up Park Avenue to the NFL's headquarters.

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USC COACH Henry Bibby announced Tuesday that he has ordered his players to stop talking. I would imagine this will upset their professors.

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I FIND IT interesting that Kevin Brown complained of an irregular heartbeat about the same time he learned the team was trying to make Mike Piazza his catcher. The doctors said Brown was drinking too many Cokes, but I don't know.

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

"In regards to Sheffield, if I made less money than Darren Dreifort, I'd be mad too."

I make less than F.P. Santangelo--now you know why I'm the way I am.

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

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