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JERRY CROWE

Text messages from press row ...

September 05, 2008|JERRY CROWE

Imagine how differently things might have turned out if the Dodgers had signed Torii Hunter last winter and the Angels had signed Andruw Jones. . . .

Hunter, who hit his 20th home run Thursday and remains a stellar center fielder, has been a consistent producer and an engaging personality. . . .

Jones has not. . . .

Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers, back at the break-even point after winning five in a row, could become only the third team to reach the playoffs after entering September with a sub-.500 record, according to STATS LLC. . . .

The last to do it was the 1995 New York Yankees, whose 22-6 stretch run leading to a wild-card berth so impressed George Steinbrenner that, after the Yankees were eliminated by the Seattle Mariners in a divisional series, the owner orchestrated the departure of manager Buck Showalter. . . .

In Showalter's place, Steinbrenner hired Joe Torre, who had been fired at midseason by the St. Louis Cardinals. . . .

That turned out OK. . . .

Oddsmakers were so impressed by UCLA's opening-night victory over Tennessee that they've made Kevin Craft and the Bruins only 13 1/2 -point underdogs for their Sept. 13 game at 15th-ranked Brigham Young. . . .

Top-ranked USC is a seven-point pick over No. 3 Ohio State. . . .

Mark Sanchez already has made USC fans forget John David Booty. . . .

If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had his way, fewer NFL exhibitions would be played, the regular season would be expanded (probably kicking off in August) and the Super Bowl would be pushed back later into February. . . .

In an understatement echoing the sentiment of fans from Hackensack to Honolulu, Goodell this week told the Newark Star-Ledger, "I don't think the quality of the preseason matches the standard or expectation of the NFL or our fans." . . .

You think? . . . .

Noting that Jessica Simpson reportedly snoops through boyfriend Tony Romo's text messages, Jay Leno says the Dallas Cowboys quarterback doesn't mind, adding, "In fact, he thinks it's really cute when she tries to read." . . .

It's hard to imagine the same fate befalling Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, but six of the last seven Super Bowl losers have failed to reach the playoffs the next season. . . .

The San Diego Chargers, listed among the Super Bowl favorites, will have visits this fall from Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, all in prime time. . . .

Former Long Beach Press-Telegram sports columnist Loel Schrader e-mails to note that Bill Sharman possessed a wry sense of humor while playing for the Boston Celtics, once making a nearly full-court shot against the Minneapolis Lakers before turning to Lakers swingman Dick Garmaker and saying, "Don't play much defense, do you, Dick?" . . .

In response to a question from reader Phil Norton of Manhattan Beach: Six Brooklyn Dodgers hit for the cycle -- Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Dixie Walker, Babe Herman, Jimmy Johnston and Tom Burns. . . .

Sam Querrey is the answer to this query: Who is the 20-year-old from Thousand Oaks who turned down a USC scholarship to turn pro, made Rafael Nadal sweat through his pedal pushers on Labor Day, is generally regarded as the next big thing in U.S. tennis and wasn't afraid to write in his bio that he's a Clippers fan? . . .

Noting that Tatum Bell allegedly walked off with Rudi Johnson's luggage after the Detroit Lions cut the running back and signed Johnson to replace him, reader Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., e-mails to say, "It's the most famous case of stolen baggage since the Patriots got Randy Moss from the Raiders." . . .

The late George Toley, a Los Angeles High graduate and Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame inductee cited in a clumsily worded item in this space Thursday, was the longtime tennis coach at USC, where his teams won 10 NCAA titles. . . .

With eight-time champion and 2008 points leader Kelly Slater leading the way, the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour makes its annual stop next week at Lower Trestles near San Clemente, perhaps the least exotic locale on the 11-event circuit but home to one of the surfers' favorite breaks. . . .

John Elway, who recently bought a car dealership near Manhattan Beach Mira Costa High, helps sponsor the school's athletic program and will address the Mustangs football team before tonight's season opener against Loyola. . . .

Given his history -- Elway led the Denver Broncos to 47 fourth-quarter comebacks -- wouldn't it be better to ask him to show up after halftime?

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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