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Maddux Not Leaving a Lasting Impression

The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

September 10, 2006|T.J. Simers

I don't know what Grady Little has against Mark Gubicza, but if I'm Gubicza, he might as well pull out his checkbook and start writing a $100 check to Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

Gubicza, former pitcher and now TV analyst, took exception to Page 2's prediction that Greg Maddux wouldn't win five games pitching for the Dodgers, and offered the donation if he was off the mark. I saw Gubicza pitch during his career, so I was pretty sure he'd be off the mark.

I also was confident Maddux, now 3-2, didn't have much left in his Hall of Fame arm. And while everyone else in town was gushing about the guy as if he was about to be canonized a saint, I wondered how the Dodgers were going to cover for Maddux beginning with the sixth and seventh innings.

I had a pretty good idea how those games might end.

What I wasn't counting on was an assist from Little, although looking back on his track record, he has this reputation for not knowing when to remove a starting pitcher.

Take Saturday in New York, Jose Valentin was on second base with one out in the sixth and the Dodgers up, 2-1. By the way, I don't recall Valentin ever advancing that far while playing for the Dodgers last season.

Little visited Maddux, who had thrown 68 slow pitches, and had him intentionally walk Carlos Beltran. That put the go-ahead run on first base with the likes of Carlos Delgado and David Wright to follow, but who better to get a double-play ball than the crafty Maddux or Derek Lowe?

Little returned to the mound, and opted to go with the Hamulack maneuver, and the way Little managed this game, you understand what I mean. He replaced the Hall of Famer with Tim Hamulack -- the opposition batting .341 against him with runners in scoring position.

We hear now Mad Dog told Little he was tired. I guess we know why he's not called Bull Dog.

If Maddux can throw only 68 pitches before running out of gas, how can anyone count on him as one of the Dodgers' three starting options entering the playoffs? Does Maddux admit to his grandchildren one day he was replaced by a Hamulack? When Maddux goes into the Hall of Fame, will there be an asterisk attached to loss No. 202 -- with Little getting the credit for ordering Maddux to intentionally walk himself into a defeat?

Brett Tomko eventually came on to replace Hamulack, surrendered a two-run single, and that was it. Little not only made a loser out of Maddux, but took a bite out of Gubicza as well. Not that I'm complaining.

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IF I have anything to do with Rice's football program, I'm hoping for the death penalty just to put it out of its misery.

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I WENT to UCLA's football game Saturday night against Rice, and right now I just don't like the Bruins' chances of beating Ohio State in the title game.

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THE COVER of this month's Smart Business Los Angeles magazine is a picture of Frank's Old Lady. The story inside is headlined: "Swinging for the Fence, Dodgers' president Jamie McCourt shares her thoughts on leadership and the secrets of the team's turnaround."

The team's turnaround? The Dodgers finished 20 games under .500 under the McCourts' leadership last season.

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I HAVE a mystery e-mailer, who wrote to say the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas has USC favored by 3 1/2 points over Notre Dame, and 13 over UCLA.

I wonder if this is Steven Sample's way of finally reaching out to me.

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WOULDN'T YOU like to see the looks on the faces of everyone who played for Team USA in the world championships -- the very moment they got the chance to read Kobe Bryant's remarks on the value of team chemistry?

If there are 12 players on Team USA, what's the over and under on the number of whose first words in response were: "What would he know?"

Bryant, who surprised Team USA officials with the last-minute word he'd need knee surgery rather than train with the team, weighed in on the team's future while visiting Taipei, Taiwan.

Here's hoping something was lost in translation, because the report from Taiwan began: "The U.S. basketball team will have to work on its internal chemistry if it wants to perform well at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Kobe Bryant said."

Bryant reportedly told reporters, "Years playing together will jell us as a unit, [but] if there is no chemistry, it's going to be tough to beat all those talented teams."

Bryant had just come from the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, where he had spent some quality parade time with Mickey and Minnie, who probably would know a thing or two about chemistry -- which might explain his insight now on the subject.

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I CAN just hear Tony Stewart now, I'll talk about anything except failing to qualify for the Chase. Too bad I can't be in two places at the same time.

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BILLIE JEAN KING will talk tennis on the father/daughter gabfest today on 570 at 9, although we'll certainly try to change the subject. We'll also chat with former Nebraska punter Darin Erstad, who married a girl from Nebraska, and probably will make the case that Nicholls State was just as big a test as USC.

King and Elton John will be co-hosting the 14th annual Advanta World Team Tennis Smash Hits benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation on Thursday at the Bren Center at UC Irvine. Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick will play each other in a singles match, and later Anna Kournikova will join in. Hard to believe tickets are still available.

\o7T.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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