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The Inside Track | T. J. Simers

You Can Count the Runs on One Hand This Season

April 03, 2002|T. J. Simers

Dodger Dogs cost a quarter more, beer's up 50 cents and parking has been boosted a dollar, but the team on the field doesn't appear to be worth a plug nickel.

On the bright side, Major League Baseball is trying to cut four minutes off every contest, and could go a long way to really shortening the misery here if it allows the Dodger Mercy Rule: Calling it a day after the other team has posted its third run.

I can't imagine the Dodgers scoring three runs in a game this season. If they do, I'd bring back the opening-day bunting and celebrate as if it's a postseason victory so everyone around here can remember what that feels like.

I'm telling you, it's bad enough the Dodgers were pummeled, 9-2, and were out of it in the second inning after the Giants took a 5-1 lead, but now here's the bad news: "We have 161 more games left," catcher Paul Lo Duca said.

*

WHEN I chastised Lo Duca for going early to the cliches, he said, "You didn't know I was a good mathematician--did you?" and while I appreciate his sense of humor, he was hitting a little close to home because the Dodgers played baseball Tuesday like a bunch of accountants on their lunch break.

I thought about chastising Kevin Brown too, but I figured Barry Bonds already had spanked him hard enough.

*

THE DAY had started with such promise too. I arrived at Dodger Stadium and the first face I saw was the friendliest face in the place--that of Luis Arevalo, beginning his 25th year as elevator operator. It's easy to understand, of course, why he's never depressed--he's never seen a Dodger game in all that time, and refuses to watch it on the TV in his elevator, "because I'd hurt my neck turning to watch."

Down on the field the first thing I noticed were new faces on the outfield wall, and these weren't friendly faces. Obviously we all know why the Dodgers have Eric Karros pictured on the right-field wall catching the ball instead of trying to hit it, but I struggled a little bit with the picture of Mr. Grumpy, which had to be computer-enhanced, because it had him smiling.

Maybe Brown is smiling every time he gets on that private plane the Dodgers have to let him use, but it's not as if I'm going to get an invite to see it, and if I do, I'm not going anywhere without a parachute.

It's going to be pretty darn distracting this year to sit in the press box and see that toothy smiling mug looking back at me knowing the guy probably needs pliers to pry apart his lips every morning just to brush his teeth.

I thought about chastising Brown for being a party to deception, but instead I figured I'd just print his earned-run average in bold--15.75, and smile myself.

*

WHEN IT came time to address the media after the game, Brown not only was civil, but a stand-up guy taking every question without unleashing a single snarl, which tells me he really wasn't on his game Tuesday. "No excuses," Brown said. "It was a bad day."

You have to give a guy credit for being accountable, and I'd also like to give credit to my computer, because I didn't think it'd allow me to type in anything even remotely positive about Brown. But I applaud Brown for being a real good loser.

*

THERE'S NOTHING like opening day, of course. Last year the Dodgers set free hundreds of white doves and then shot off fireworks, the birds probably still seeing therapists to get over the scare, and they were set free again Tuesday only to take to the skies and find five jets heading straight for them.

*

AS PART of the ceremonies former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley threw out the first pitch, which was caught by Chad Kreuter. I wasn't sure he'd catch it either.

Like everyone else, I was worried Kreuter might never catch again after playing caddie to Chan Ho Park, who left for Texas. But I've been assured that every time O'Malley takes the mound, Kreuter will be his catcher.

*

BEFORE THE game Lo Duca walked past me without saying a word or even looking my way, but he nearly trampled a pair of slow-moving radio guys who got in his way as he tried to say hello to Fox Sports Net's Lisa Guerrero. I guess I'll have to start carrying a microphone around with me to get noticed.

I was telling this to Steve Brener, L.A.'s top sports publicist, who had brought his 15-year-old son, Danny, to the game, when Danny just blurts out: "Lisa Guerrero is hot."

The look on his dad's face told me he didn't disagree, but he said, "All this time he's been telling me he's doing his homework while he's on the Internet."

I believe he has.

*

KARROS AUTOGRAPHED baseballs are selling for $99 at Art of the Game down the left-field line. Obviously they've never been hit.

*

THE DODGERS trailed the Giants, 5-1, in the second with Adrian Beltre on first and the Double-Play Machine at the plate. No one expected Beltre to run, but he did, and he was thrown out. Then Karros walked.

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