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T.J. SIMERS

Win with Torre, and wait with Scioscia

October 05, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

Good thing Mike Scioscia isn't managing the Dodgers as they bathe again in champagne -- hopefully careful not to wash away any of the magic dust.

Scioscia probably benches Manny for standing out from everyone else, or vetoes the acquisition of the carefree one.

OK, so no question the great guy is a really good manager, but Scioscia is the reason why the Angels have fallen flat and now appear to have been lapped by the Dodgers -- four wins away from the World Series.

He spends most of the season squeezing the emotion out of the Angels, making what's supposed to be a game, just a job. The playoffs start, everyone else gets juiced -- and that's no Gary Matthews' reference -- and the Angels get left behind.

Manager Joe Torre, meanwhile, wears his emotions on his worn face, talking about meaningful games in May, scoreboard watching on a regular basis and almost crying after a first-game win in Chicago.

A few months back I made the calculated decision to stop paying attention to the Angels, skipping games at Angel Stadium, which is 10 minutes from home, to hang with the Dodgers wherever they went because they had Manny and are allowed to display personality.

The Angels, meanwhile, are boring. They are corporate 9-to-5, just the way Scioscia insists, never too high, never too low, just punch the clock and execute. Everything and everyone closely monitored by Scioscia.

It's unclear if Torre knew the name of all his players when the season started, off to China with half the team only to return hands in jacket pockets, and rolling with Page 2 when reprimanded for not making everyday starters right away out of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Ask Scioscia where the Angels reside in the standings, and he will tell you he has no idea and really doesn't care, although the Dodgers will tell you no matter how many games you lose, the only thing that counts is where you sit in the standings.

Torre frets. Torre second-guesses himself. Torre rolls with the hypothetical and listen to him explain why he says it's so important for the Dodgers to bring out the champagne again before moving on to the next round.

"There's so much pressure and tension in the playoffs," he says. "I think it's important when you get that high to come down and take a break before getting back up again."

It's why he had Nomar Garciaparra managing the Dodgers on the final day of the season in San Francisco. Yucks all around, knowing the next time they got together it would be for a monumental game in Chicago.

Torre embraces emotion, while Scioscia seems to ignore, if not abhor the suggestion it might have anything to do with the way his team performs.

And yet the Angels were at their best in 2002, wild-card underdogs, fueled by the antics of the Rally Monkey and emotion as much a part of their attack as Troy Glaus hitting home runs. And Scioscia with less control than he has today.

So many times in the playoffs, it's about group dynamics, the Dodgers feeding off the fun Manny is having and the professional approach Casey Blake has brought to the team.

And then there's Torre, a scene on the field saying it all after the Dodgers had clinched, Torre putting a hand on each side of Ethier's face and leaning in with the kind of pride one might expect to be given by father to son.

Nothing wrong with a little emotion, or for that matter, a lot of emotion. Maybe in the future Scioscia will let his charges show a little before it's too late.

THE CUBS intentionally walked Manny twice. Do you think the Red Sox will intentionally walk Manny in the World Series?

THE BIGGEST difference between Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium -- the Cubs paying the price in home-field advantage -- is a video board.

Maybe it's because the Cubs don't have many highlights to show, but imagine Dodger Stadium and no chance to see a Fernando retrospective, a tribute to Tom Lasorda, Kirk Gibson's home run or Manny hitting like Manny as everyone did Saturday night.

An excited crowd here just became more excited, while I would guess they were still sitting on their hands back in Chicago . . . to get them warm, of course.

THEY SHOWED actor Vince Vaughn on the video board wearing a Cubs cap, and he got soundly booed. Billy Crystal was also here, but the Yankees leadoff man was smart enough to leave his hat at home. The Dodgers slipped him an L.A. division champions' cap, though, just in time when the camera found him in the fifth inning.

Why is it that we never see Frank McCourt or Lasorda wearing Dodger caps?

JUST WONDERING. Why aren't Brad Penny and Andruw Jones here cheering on their teammates? Several players, such as Mark Sweeney and Delwyn Young, who aren't on the playoff roster, are here in uniform rooting on the Dodgers. Penny and Jones will get playoff shares, as well as World Series rings.

MANNY TO the crowd: "We're going to party at my house. We're going to party like rock stars, if you can find my house."

NOTE TO Jim Belushi: Please make out $50 check to Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

A FINAL thought: When the Cubs failed to win the World Series in 1909, do you think someone said, "Just wait until next year?"

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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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