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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

At Least Dodgers Have a Reason to Mope Now

April 27, 2005|T.J. Simers

We've now gone full circle in the Dodger clubhouse, from grumps such as Kevin Brown and Gary Sheffield, to fun-loving good guys such as Shawn Green, Paul Lo Duca, Adrian Beltre and Steve Finley, back to a bunch of grouchy mopes.

Hey, I've tried talking to Mr. Chuckles on several occasions, but let me tell you, for pure enjoyment I'd rather spend a day -- make it Super Bowl Sunday -- shopping with the wife than trying to make small talk with Jeff Kent.

Until Tuesday I had never seen J.D. Drew in the clubhouse. The guy is obviously a loner who goes into hiding before every game -- hiding, I presume, from Mr. Chuckles.

"I'm watching TV," Drew insisted, and I know if I had Milton Bradley on my team, sooner or later I'd be looking for Dr. Phil's advice too.

There's no question Derek Lowe is a chatty guy as long as you don't mind listening to him talk about the Red Sox and Yankees all the time. You can just imagine the frightened look on Jeff Weaver's face every time Lowe brings up the Yankees, or for that matter, the satisfied look on the Boston Parking Lot Attendant's face every time Lowe mentions the Red Sox. At least Lowe knows who signs his checks, but I'd like to see the look on Lowe's face when he tries to cash them.

Just a little joke, of course, although you won't find any of these mopes laughing, which brings me to the return of Green.

If you spent any time following the Dodgers recently, you know Green is one of the nicest athletes to ever play here. He never took himself too seriously, which already separates him from Mr. Chuckles, and although he went hot and terribly cold at times, his second-half play last year helped put the team in the playoffs.

A few seasons ago Green was struggling, so I sat him down to talk hitting -- Green playfully going along with the gag, and responding a few days later with two homers against Milwaukee. Two days after that he had four home runs, a double and a single in the same game to set a major league record for total bases.

Last season I walked the Choking Dogs all the way to the finish line, Green & Co. jokingly going along with it. Had the guys signed on earlier, of course, they might have won a World Series -- you know, like the Los Angeles Angels.

"I hate to break it to you," Mr. Chuckles said the other day, "but you have no impact on what goes on around here."

He'll learn, of course, but in the meantime I thought I'd teach Mr. Chuckles a lesson.

I told Green before Tuesday night's game that I had traded Jeromy Burnitz to the Bagger in our fantasy league to acquire Green.

I then asked Green to hit a home run for me against the Dodgers. I even took him out to the field and pointed to where I'd like to see the ball land -- just draw an imaginary line from home plate over Kent's head and into the seats.

Green came to bat in the second inning, and hit a home run over Kent's head into the seats in right field. When he got back to the dugout, Green looked up to the press box, and while laughing, gave me a thumbs up.

I waved. I just hope it didn't distract Mr. Chuckles.

(Funny thing, but Green's team won by one run too.)

*

I WANTED to work Monday, but Bill Dwyre is always trying to get even for the things I write about our broken-down sports editor, so he had me playing golf behind Oscar De La Hoya in the Casa Colina Padua Village Golf Classic.

Ever play golf behind a shrimp who swings a golf club like he's wearing boxing gloves? I'll say this, De La Hoya gave the Red Hills course a beating it won't soon forget. In fact, had jockey Alex Solis, who was also playing in the tournament, stepped into one of the divots left by De La Hoya, we might have never seen Solis again.

These charity golf tournaments are an ordeal. It's a great cause and all that, but I was put in a group with some bowlers who apparently thought it might be a good idea to give golf a try for the first time in their lives.

Chris Leggio, the "Christopher" in Mark Christopher Chevrolet in Ontario, took the little pencil they give him to keep score, apparently mistook it for a tee and hit off it most of the day. As you can see, at times it was like playing with the Beverly Hillbillies, which probably explains why Ray and Jason Crebs felt so comfortable in our group.

The featured speaker for the post-golf dinner was Darrell W. Lukas -- next to Bob Baffert, probably the best horse trainer in the business. Odd, but Lukas argued that point.

Lukas, who prefers to be called D. Wayne, named the three horses everyone should be betting on in the Kentucky Derby. I'd tell you who they are, but the sport of horse racing frowns on giving the public too much information.

*

LUKAS TOLD the crowd I wasn't the biggest (jerk) he has ever met. Everybody seemed to believe him because he had just gotten done telling them Bob Knight was a good friend.

*

TOM LASORDA was bragging about his 9-year-old granddaughter, Emily Tess Goldberg, a.k.a "Clutch."

"I was pitching Wiffle balls to her and you should've seen her hit the ball," Lasorda said, like that's some kind of accomplishment, hitting the ball off a guy who went winless pitching in his major league career.

*

TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Paul Whitefield, executive editor of The Times' national edition:

"Hey colleague, I don't know if this is interesting BUT my 9-year-old son Ben plays for the Dodgers in La Canada; well, he's batting .700 ... and THEN on Tuesday he falls off his scooter and breaks two fingers and is gonna be out 4 to 6 weeks AND as soon as that happened THE REAL DODGERS started losing! Coincidence? I think not."

Very interesting. Maybe we CAN get together for some HOME MOVIES too.

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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