Two weeks' vacation, and I'm in Vegas at one point, winning 10 free spins in the Elephant Graveyard, almost as good as it gets on the one-cent slots at the Monte Carlo, raking in $26.24 to double my 401(k) at the paper.
Happy days are here again, all right, and I get an e-mail learning the chumps have found someone to adopt the Clippers' team dog, the Knicks agreeing to take on Tim Thomas. Bow wow, indeed.
Another e-mail follows from a reader who passes along a newspaper story regarding utility broadcaster F.P. Santangelo, who has been fired from a Sacramento radio station.
They say these things happen in threes, so I sit there for hours and hours waiting for news on Gary Matthews Jr.
LET'S SEE, with $26.24 in my pocket I need only an additional $63.76 to buy a ticket, get a scented towel and watch a Dodgers exhibition game in Arizona and maybe catch the late-inning heroics of Pablo Ozuna.
Ninety dollars a ticket sounds like a lot until you break it down. It's really only nine Anthony Davis autographs, or $410 less than what the Dodgers charged 250 fans each the other night to take batting practice at Dodger Stadium and pose for pictures with Russell Martin and Andre Ethier.
"The chance to step into the cage for many of these fans is a dream come true," says the Dentist, the Dodgers' PR guy.
I tell him I can put him into a batting cage with a roll of quarters, but he says the $500 fee also includes "baseball cuisine."
I take it the Dodger Dogs are not left over from the last playoff game. But maybe someone can let me know for sure after attending the next session on Dec. 13 with Matt Kemp -- if not too embarrassed to admit they spent $500 to be there.
The McCourts deserve credit in these tough times figuring yet another way to get into the pockets of fans, but I wondered where the money might be going.
"This was not a charity fundraiser," the Dentist says, which is probably his way of saying the Screaming Meanie is due for another shopping spree.
I GO away and Plaschke immediately makes the case again not to bring back Manny Ramirez, while suggesting the Dodgers trade for Jake Peavy, Adrian Beltre and "count on the kids."
Sounds like I'm not the only one in need of some time off.
Plaschke quotes some joker named Ned Colletti, as if this guy Colletti is some kind of baseball expert.
"Our six or seven young players are still the key to this club," Colletti says.
"Manny was tremendous, but this is not tennis, one player does not make a difference."
One player made the whole difference for the Dodgers, but Colletti took no notice, so what does that say about the guy charged with the task of adding talent to the Dodgers' roster?
If the Dodgers are going to hang on to their younger players, whom do they trade for Peavy and Beltre?
Hard to pass on Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones -- as Colletti could tell you.
SPENT TIME with the 7-Eleven Kid in Arizona, because it's time she begins working on her jump shot. After all, she will be 4 in July.
No way her G.P. wants her growing up to shoot like the chumps' Ricky Davis.
HARD TO imagine a worse place to live.
The Padres are trying to trade away their best player for prospects, the college football team just fired its coach and the San Diego Super Chargers are the NFL's biggest duds to date.
Here's hoping the Lakers play an exhibition game down there next year so the small-town locals have a reason to get excited.
BACK TO work, and the first thing I hear is the chumps' PR guy saying, "Is our vacation over already?"
The chumps are so bad, they make a trade but can't play the players they dealt or the ones they've acquired. This leaves the chumps short on talent, which is hardly breaking news.
Mike Dunleavy says the chumps stink because they're not shooting well. I remind him his forte as a player was shooting, so why doesn't he have the chumps doing better?
"I wish I could go out and shoot them," he says.
"The players or take the shots yourself?" I ask.
"I'll say the shots," Dunleavy says, but only after pausing to give it some thought.
INSIDE THE chumps' locker room nothing has changed from last year or the decade before that. The chumps just seem to have a knack when it comes to stockpiling knuckleheads.
Thomas is gone, but Al Thornton is quickly proving to be a worthy head-case replacement.
I ask him about being eliminated from the playoffs so early, and he turns his attention to the female beat reporters for the Daily News and The Times.
I ask him about the Clippers' woes, get a blank look and offer to write the question down so he might have time to study it, but instead he turns to the female reporters urging each of them to ask a question.
I went through this with Ryan Leaf, and when I mention it he makes a break for the door, but not before tapping the Daily News reporter on her thigh and the Times reporter on her hip.
Meanwhile, I get only his backside, and you know what -- I sure could use a few days off.