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Dodgers are spooked by bold prediction

September 11, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

SAN DIEGO -- As a columnist, most of the time you've got everyone telling you how negative you are.

But here I am being positive, writing on July 21, "It's over," our heroes winning the National League West, and Wednesday telling the Dodgers they will be playing in Wrigley Field on Oct. 1 to open the playoffs. And everyone's upset.

You're against them, and they get annoyed. You're with them, and they get irritated.

The Diamondbacks lost again to the Giants, and may never win again, so I thought it was time to start looking at the team's playoff rotation.

"Zip it," Derek Lowe shouted.

"Stop it," Russell Martin said.

"I'll be ready," said Brad Penny, and someone always bites.

"All you do is shout things out, wait for players to yell things back and then write them down," said Lowe, and while figuring it out, he couldn't help himself from shouting back in mock imitation, "It's over, we're going to Chicago."

I wrote what he had to say down, and thanked him for confirming the team's playoff plans. The Dodgers will play the Cubs in the first round Wednesday and Thursday, take a day off, and then play in Dodger Stadium on Oct. 4 and 5.

"Hopefully, we'll make the playoffs," Manager Joe Torre said, and sometimes he sounds so clueless.

The Brewers could mess it up if they fail to win the wild card, but right now I've got Lowe opening against the Cubs, Chad Billingsley following and then everything riding on the No. 3 starter.

If it's Penny, the guy who led Florida to a World Series win, and a healthy Takashi Saito closing the game -- the Dodgers have a shot of being a real force in postseason play.

"I don't disagree," Torre said when I listed the ideal rotation, placing Hiroki Kuroda fourth and everyone else beyond Lowe, Billingsley and Penny as no factor.

Lowe pitched previously in the World Series on two days' rest, so he can go in Game 4 for the Dodgers, setting up Game 5 for Billingsley. I just need to know where there's a good restaurant in Chicago.

"You sick so-and-so," Torre joked, "but I say that with love."


THE DODGERS will go on to play the Mets, and then the Red Sox in the World Series, J.D. Drew versus Manny Ramirez, and how much fun would that be?

This only happens, though, if Penny comes on like the All-Star pitcher of old, it all beginning with a rusty Penny pitching in relief against the Padres, his first appearance in four weeks.

He didn't get any of the Padres out, but it's all about working his way back now, and doing so without pain while building stamina.

Penny's nickname is Big Brown, accounting for his love of racehorses, and like a thoroughbred, he's been unpredictable, the good Penny an ace on most staffs, the bad Penny for much of this season.

"For the first time all year, I have now thrown three straight times without any pain," Penny said. "I was stupid earlier, putting myself out there when I was hurt.

"I'm good now, and I'm excited. Now I want to go out there and show everyone I'm healthy."

The Dodgers want to see him work his way back gradually, but Penny said, "I'm not a reliever. I think I can be ready to start soon and be strong as a starter for the playoffs."

The World Series begins Oct. 22.


I TOLD Ramirez, "It's over," and he said, "Let's pack."

In the last five games, Ramirez has hit four home runs and driven in 11 runs, raising $7,400 for Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA -- Steve Soboroff agreeing earlier to match Ramirez's donation, making it $14,800 for the cancer ward on top of all the money the duo has already contributed.


SAITO SAID he was ready, and with the exception of a sore hamstring, Rafael Furcal said he was almost ready. Furcal hit against Saito, and struck out. "I know he's ready," Furcal said.


GOING TO miss the next eight or nine Dodgers games to be with USC and get the knee fixed, which is good, because the boys probably need to show everyone, as well as themselves, they can win without help.


SEVERAL SCULPTORS offered to help with a Vin Scully statue, and a number of e-mailers asked that any statue of Scully include a voice box with some of his best-known calls.

Talked to the Dentist, the mouthpiece for the McCourts, and he said, "The idea of immortalizing a legend is enormously attractive."

The Dodgers are always big on ideas, but following through is often something else.


SCULLY STOPPED by Torre's office before Tuesday's game, the Dodgers won, and so a superstitious Torre had Scully stop by before Wednesday's game.

"He had to move a chair to make sure I sat in the same one," Scully said.

Scully and the Dodgers go to Denver now, the team moving on to Pittsburgh while Scully returns home.

But what happens if the Dodgers continue to win.

"The chair goes to Pittsburgh," Scully said.


T.J. Simers can be reached at

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