Advertisement

T.J. SIMERS

This win is simply par for the course

September 06, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

Big, big series, and they certainly don't have those around here very often.

Casey Blake sits in front of his Dodgers locker reading a Waterfowl 2008 catalog, shopping for gloves and parkas just in case this big, big series goes badly and he's back in Iowa before he knows it.

Greg Maddux is swinging a bat, so nervous that it appears for a moment he has forgotten he's a pitcher, someone asking if he's about done as a baseball player.

"I was done like six years ago," he says, apparently hanging on as long as he could to once again see a big, big series played in Dodger Stadium.

Manny Ramirez says he feels the pressure. "I don't know if I'm going to be here next year," he says, and if the Dodgers win this big, big series the Parking Lot Attendant will just have to bring Ramirez back next season, won't he?

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti enters the clubhouse, and so he's already put in more time here than Jason Schmidt.

Ramirez steps behind Colletti, but instead of holding up two fingers behind Colletti's head as some people might expect, he gestures to the media to ask Colletti about his future.

"I can't answer that," says the Schmoozer, who spots ESPN's Rick Reilly, everyone knowing by now Reilly is a member at Bel-Air because Reilly has been telling everyone, and Colletti might be looking for a free round of golf in a few weeks.

The Schmoozer starts working Reilly, and when Page 2 asks Colletti to give a sign when he's ready to talk baseball, he says, "You want sign language. I can give you sign language."

I just know he's dying to let me know the Dodgers are No. 1.

Joe Torre meets with the media, and when's the last time he faced such a big, big series this late into September to go one game above .500?

"I'm excited," he says, just as Ramirez walks by.

"Manny can't handle this pressure," Page 2 suggests.

"He's going into [the clubhouse] now to get nervous," Torre explains.

It has been a long, long time and Vin Scully is so nervous he comes to the ballpark wearing an old sports jacket. "You see," he says, while trying to button it across his middle.

"Didn't see you out at Bel-Air today," Reilly tells Scully, and maybe you didn't hear: Reilly is a member at Bel-Air.

THE DODGERS choose Derek Lowe to start this big, big series. Who better to understand the significance of climbing above .500? Lowe is 11-11 this season, and after pitching well recently against crummy teams, 51-48 over his Dodgers career.

"Three games above .500," he says in the dugout before the game. "I've overachieved."

Lowe is a funny guy, usually making fun of himself, which is easy to do sometimes the way he pitches. He always looks gassed, though "everyone in our family sweats," he explains. "We have to have the temperature set at 68."

But no sweat, Page 2 says before the game, "This is the biggest Dodger game of the year and it's all riding on you."

"Hey, Kent is in the clubhouse, go aggravate him," Lowe says. "Or talk to Chad Billingsley; he's cute like a little poodle."

Now you know why some folks refer to the Dodgers as Dogs. As for the cute poodle, he pitches Game 2 in this big, big series against Cy Young candidate Brandon Webb -- the biggest start in Billingsley's young career.

Upstairs Charley Steiner joins Reilly for dinner. Reilly asks Steiner, "You play golf, Charley?"

THE BIG, big series begins with only one team showing up, the Diamondbacks losers of seven of their last 10, proving it's no fluke. Page 2 isn't surprised, declaring back on July 21 the Dodgers would have to be Choking Dogs not to win the National League West after scoring a come-from-behind 6-5 win in Arizona.

Don't ask how -- Page 2 just knows things. Too bad, UCLA -- it looked like a promising season for at least a week.

The Dodgers whip the Diamondbacks to start this big, big series, Andre Ethier, the player that Torre had to be persuaded to start every day, hitting a home run to get it going.

Ethier goes five for five, and is now 13 for his last 20, and Torre had to be persuaded to start him every day.

The reason for Ethier's success, he says, "Manny Ramirez," hitting in front of him now -- like Kent had been doing. Kent will love that.

Dodgers win, Dodgers win, Lowe obviously taking his Page 2 pregame pep talk to heart, although he gives himself the credit afterward, making it 19 straight scoreless innings -- as if he could do that himself.

"First time I've been above .500 all year," he says, and where's the confetti?

The crowd hangs around to savor the 7-0 win, but Reilly's gone by the seventh inning. Early tee-off time.

THE DODGERS asked the following question on the scoreboard: What would you rather do, a) throw a first pitch, b) meet a Dodgers legend or c) go to a World Series game?

Sixty-five percent said "throw a first pitch," while 22% would rather go to a World Series game -- which obviously would not include the Dodgers.

As for meeting a Dodgers legend -- whoopty-do! Only 12% had any interest in spending time with F. P. Santangelo.

OF THE 16 NFL openers, only the Chargers game in the dinky little town down south was not a sellout early Friday. A local TV station bought the necessary number of tickets to lift the blackout, Channel 5's Ray Schonbak saying, "Charger fans all around San Diego are excited to see this new season begin."

Just not excited enough to buy tickets.

--

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@ latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|