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The fund's just getting started with Dodgers

August 08, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

ST. LOUIS -- It's Thursday, and Manny Ramirez hasn't gone near a barber, Joe Torre already asking Page 2 to write down the address of Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA so he will know where to send his donation once Monday's haircut deadline has passed.

A few days ago I suggested taking that donation and buying the new Dodgers caps with attached dreads the team will be selling soon, and giving them to the kids at Mattel's.

That prompted reader Chris Danison to e-mail: "Instead of using Torre's money to buy dread-hats for the kids, why can't McCourt donate the hats, and then the hospital can use Torre's money for something else for the kids? Why let McCourt ultimately make the money back?"

Well, I'm not about to start spending money the Parking Lot Attendant might not have, or money he might be trying to save for what he considers a better cause.

As you know, a prerequisite for joining the Dodgers these days is another team agreeing to pay the guy's salary because word on the street is the Parking Lot Attendant is low on cash.

Right now three of the Dodgers aren't getting paid by Frank McCourt, and there were also reports the Dodgers didn't get CC Sabathia and Greg Maddux because they didn't want to set the precedent of actually paying their players.

Ramirez is different. He's a former Red Sox player, and the Parking Lot Attendant is a former Red Sox fan who wanted to buy the team.

He didn't get the team, but now he's got a player everyone in Boston would like to have again.

But how does he keep him after this season, making everyone in Boston jealous and everyone in L.A. thinking him a hero?

Well, as you know, because he tells us all the time, McCourt's grandfather was there as co-owner of the Boston Braves when they started the Jimmy Fund.

The Jimmy Fund started as a way to raise money to buy a TV for a youngster stricken with cancer who wanted to watch the Braves play. The youngster's name really was Einar Gustafson, and he died at age 65 from a stroke after overcoming cancer, but he got his TV set and the Jimmy Fund became a way of helping so many other sick kids.

Now I'm not about to compare long-suffering Dodgers fans to kids stricken with cancer, because as I've learned from the folks at Mattel's, there's much more hope for the kids stricken with cancer these days.

But I do like the sound of the Manny Fund, which could very well become McCourt's legacy.

I know right now he's selling all kinds of tickets because of Manny, the Dodgers website proclaiming, "Manny has joined the Dodger family; so should you."

To become a close family member of Manny's for two months, it costs $1,540 for a preferred box, while distant relatives need only $198 for the top deck. Seed money, I presume, for the Manny Fund, which will be used to sign him.

The Dodgers are also selling T-shirts, blue and brown dreadlocks, and all pure profit when you consider McCourt isn't paying Ramirez anything.

You can just imagine how big the Manny Fund is going to get if Ramirez keeps hitting, another home run against St. Louis, pushing him ahead of Andruw Jones on the Dodgers' all-time home run list.

Why not place a giant thermometer in center field, everyone watching the Manny Fund grow and getting excited about next season?

I mentioned this to Ramirez, and just needed to know how much he wants to become a permanent Dodger, so it can be put atop the thermometer.

He said he's not quite sure where he'll be next year, "because I don't know who will be signing my paycheck," and working for the Dodgers and getting paid by the Red Sox, you can understand why he might be confused.

I mentioned the Manny Fund and the work Page 2 is doing on his behalf, and he said, "bring me back next year," which might very well become the Manny Fund motto.

It's a win-win for Dodgers fans -- spending money the next two months to build the Manny Fund, because I cannot imagine McCourt getting everyone all fired up in L.A., what with Manny being family and all, and then not signing him.

That would be like stealing, ripping off the fans for two months, and then running off with the loot.

I've got to believe the only reason McCourt is going to squeeze every cent he can out of fans for the next two months is so he can pay Manny to come back next season.

Why else would he do such a thing?

CHECKED IN with Juan Pierre, back in the lineup and contributing a run-scoring triple. I wanted to know if the Dodgers were still "sticking it" to him as he had said in the newspaper?

"I don't read the paper, bro," and obviously so, because the name isn't bro.

"I don't care what anyone thinks; I got one man upstairs, only one," he said, while pointing to the heavens. "I'm quite sure people don't like me anyway. You probably don't like me."

I agreed. I told him I found him short on humor and joy, while separating himself from everyone on the team and coming across as self-centered when everyone's excited about Ramirez's arrival.

"I didn't say [the Dodgers] were sticking it to me," he said. "I'm sticking it to myself by not playing well."

I agreed, and he grinned -- so he's capable of doing so.

THE DODGERS took off for San Francisco immediately after the game. I leave in the morning, giving me time yet to visit the Bowling Hall of Fame. I just hate waiting in lines.


T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to

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