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Text messages from press row...

October 17, 2008|JERRY CROWE

For some, Rafael Furcal's three-error fifth inning Wednesday night stirred painful memories of former Dodgers center fielder Willie Davis. . . .

In Game 2 of the 1966 World Series, the last game Sandy Koufax would ever pitch, the usually reliable Davis made errors on consecutive fly balls to center field in the fifth inning, compounding the second with a throwing error. . . .

Thanks in part to six Dodgers errors, Jim Palmer and the Baltimore Orioles won the game at Dodger Stadium, 6-0, en route to a sweep. . . .

Russell Martin and the Dodgers won't believe it, but Cole Hamels was once considered so fragile and injury-prone that Baseball Prospectus likened him to "Faberge eggs, china dolls and ice sculptures." . . .

Hamels played at San Diego Rancho Bernardo High, which has produced such a plethora of prospects that baseball scouts call it "The Factory." . . .

When Hamels was a sophomore, his teammates included two seniors who would be first-round draft picks, pitcher Matt Wheatland and catcher Scott Heard, but Coach Sam Blalock says, "We thought Cole was better." . . .

The Dodgers won't argue. . . .

In five games against the Philadelphia Phillies, by the way, Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers scored no runs after the sixth inning. . . .

Memo to TBS commentators: Although star left fielder Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays undoubtedly was a stellar high school athlete in Houston -- a second-round draft pick of the Rays, Crawford also signed with Nebraska as an option quarterback -- he was not offered a scholarship to play point guard at UCLA. . . .

Crawford was a district player of the year in football, basketball and baseball, but he didn't play basketball as a senior and never made it to Nebraska after the Rays made him the 52nd pick in baseball's 1999 amateur draft. . . .

Pete Carroll and sixth-ranked USC, 42 1/2 -point favorites over Washington State this week, have been favored by as many as 37 points in four other Pacific 10 Conference games over the last five seasons and twice failed to cover the spread, according to the betting website BodogLife.com. . . .

Most famously, of course, the Trojans not only failed to cover but actually lost last October against Stanford, a 41-point underdog. . . .

The Lakers are hungry for a championship and Lamar Odom didn't play well in the championship round last June, so nobody should be surprised that Phil Jackson is playing mind games with Odom in an effort to light a fire under him. . . .

Darren Collison returned to UCLA for his senior year to "leave here with a national championship," he said this week, but a more likely reason is that he was badly outplayed by Derrick Rose of Memphis in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament and realized he wasn't ready for the NBA. . . .

Whatever the reason, Ben Howland should be happy to have him back despite what appears to be a potential logjam in the Bruins' backcourt. . . .

Perhaps hoping to gain an edge through osmosis, the winless Ducks will honor gold-medal-winning swimmer Jason Lezak and other Orange County Olympians and Paralympians before Sunday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. . . .

Only because of their similarly alliterative nicknames, Dodgers-killing center fielder Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino of the Phillies evoked memories of Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson, a former Washington State quarterback and No. 3 pick in the 1979 NFL draft. . . .

Update: Jerry Rice Jr., a senior receiver at the Menlo School in Atherton, Calif., filled in at quarterback last week because of a teammate's injury and scored three touchdowns while racking up 316 yards passing, rushing and receiving. . . .

Does anyone still cling to the notion that baseball is the national pastime? . . .

The Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints game on Oct. 6, a Monday night shootout featuring two punt returns for touchdowns by Reggie Bush, drew a national television audience nearly double the size of the one watching Game 4 of the American League division series between the Angels, who had the best record in baseball, and the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. . . .

Noting that the constant spitting by major league baseball players is an "obnoxious habit," reader Armand Varlotta of Rancho Palos Verdes e-mails to ask, "Why do cameras zoom in on players at these moments?" . . .

In baseball, after all, the expectation for expectoration is always high.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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