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T.J. SIMERS

The Dodgers could be gagging

Upon his return from vacation, columnist T.J. Simers goes about finding out whether the team's season is going downhill.

August 15, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

PHOENIX — I'm back -- here for our floundering boys in blue, but it was touch and go.

I'll tell you how much I needed a vacation, I found myself putting a deposit on another RV, a pretty good indication I had lost my mind, planning to take along the wife and puppy.

A dog is man's best friend, which I figured would be an improvement over the rest of family, who staged a mutiny the last time we tried such a thing.

The only problem, of course, the puppy being of an impressionable age, we wouldn't be able to listen to the radio and all the Michael Vick talk.

And that was going to be a humongous sacrifice, turning off the radio and not knowing what Brett Favre was going to do.

But the wife has always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore, the postcard a few years back for Christmas just not doing it for her, so I thought we'd set out for South or North Dakota, wherever the mountain is, and spend a few minutes.

"There it is, sure looks like the postcard, time to go."

Then we were going to drive to Wisconsin to see friends, and while you're probably not surprised to hear I'd have to drive so far to find friends, it would mean talking to no one for days but the wife.

For more than a thousand miles. And then back without the ability to turn on sports radio.

We've been married almost 40 years. We ran out of things to talk about 19 years ago, and we were going to be returning through Nebraska and Iowa, which offer nothing to see so, therefore, nothing to talk about.

I canceled the RV trip, losing the $250 deposit, as well as deposits on camp sites in Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. I knew I had to make it up to the wife, so I told her we'd stay home, clean closets together, and I've never seen the woman happier.

It also explains why I'm back a week early off vacation, out of the closet and a new man, a little surprised, though, the wife lodged no complaint when I said I would be going back to work early.

I was eager to find out if the Dodgers were gagging, 13-15 since the All-Star break, the Micro Manager and the Rockies now within striking distance. I went easy, of course, because I'm just getting back into the swing of things, asking Joe Torre, "is this team in the process of gagging?"

This was before the Dodgers gagged Friday night against the lowly, pathetic who-are-these-minor-leaguers in Diamondbacks' uniforms?

"It doesn't matter what I say to you," says Torre, which makes me wonder why anyone would buy his book.

Now I hate it when I have to remind someone they are the manager of a team, figuring he might know better than most if his team is gagging.

"We'll see," he says, which pretty much can be the answer to any question about the Dodgers or any other team. "That's all I got," he says after repeated attempts to get him to say something of substance.

"I think I'm ready for a vacation," I tell him, and Torre pipes right up, "I'll write the check."

Then I run into Manny Ramirez while looking for Rafael Furcal. Ramirez immediately begins testifying: "That's what I did; I chewed a piece of potassium gum in 2003."

I didn't think I looked anything like George Mitchell.

"I got nothing else to say," he says, and he always has something more to say. "Talk to [Matt] Kemp or [Andre] Ethier. I'm going to be here next year."

I have no idea what he's talking about, and to think I was complaining when the wife couldn't think of anything to say.

"There's no more lists," he shouts, before saying something about "a vacation." Why would anyone who took 50 games off this season need a vacation?

The guy makes no sense, obviously a side effect of too many female fertility drugs, so I tell him I'm more interested in Furcal, who hasn't really lived up to his ability of being a difference-maker. Apparently not enough female fertility drugs.

"When we lose a one-run game, I don't sleep all night. I always feel I could have done more to not let that happen," Furcal is saying while Ramirez interrupts to repeat, "I had a piece of potassium gum."

I'm not interested. I tell him if he really wants to talk to a sportswriter, go call someone from Boston.

"I know if I can do more it will help this team win," Furcal is saying just before a pair of baseball pants comes flying across the room to hit him in the head. It might be the first time all season Ramirez has hit the cut-off man.

And so it goes, moving to the dugout before batting practice only to have Ramirez come over and park himself beside me. "You still like me," he says, more of a statement than a question and so at least I know he will never mistake me for Plaschke.

As if he's looking for any more attention, he drills a single to center, beats the throw to second while taking advantage of a wild pitch, keeps the Diamondbacks from scoring on a single with a strong throw home, singles again sharply and again hustles to second on a wild pitch.

Then he doubles off the left-field wall before getting robbed of another double with a catch against the wall.

What's not to like?

MY MAJOR concern about Vick signing with the Eagles, you really can't tell the difference between the people living in Philadelphia and pit bulls.

WHEN YOU have to listen to Eric Collins broadcasting a Dodgers' game, and I can't imagine anyone doing it twice, it makes you long for Charley Steiner.

HOW BAD are the Diamondbacks? According to the scoreboard here, 10 "lucky" fans were going to receive autographed Augie Ojeda bobbleheads. Lucky indeed.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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