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T.J. SIMERS

Why wait? He's crowning the Dodgers as N.L. West champs

August 28, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

FROM DENVER — It's over, as if there was ever any doubt, at 4:31 p.m. Mountain time, Aug. 27.

The Dodgers have won the National League West Division title. Congratulations to all.

Take the next month off, Vin Scully.

No reason really to watch the final 34 games, 25 coming against crummy teams a combined 150 games below .500, which explains now why the Dodgers hired broadcaster Eric Collins.

With only exhibition games to be played by the Dodgers the rest of the way, at least it's a chance for Russell Martin, James Loney and Rafael Furcal to find their batting strokes.

I expect an announcement from the Parking Lot Attendant -- free parking for the remainder of the regular season, given what little meaning the games have.

By the time the Rockies end the season in L.A., September call-ups will be manning most every Dodgers position while the regulars make playoff preparations.

"Stop it," says Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti when told it's over.

"There ain't nothing over," Colletti says, and he went to the same university as I did, which I'm sure comes as no surprise to anyone who has read Page 2.

Come on, you know it's over when Colletti makes a good trade -- obviously, the stars aligned just right, it's a leap year or he took the advice of someone else.

George Sherrill is so effective so far it's as if Colletti knew what he was doing when he went after him.

Tell me the Giants and Rockies don't know it's over when they see Colletti getting it right.

In 13 games, Sherrill has yet to allow a run, and with word coming that Jason Schmidt is done for good with the Dodgers, one might even say Colletti is batting .500.

But then Joe Torre mentions the name of Andruw Jones, I kid you not, when I suggest Schmidt might be one of the biggest busts in Dodgers history -- Colletti all of a sudden falling to .333.

There's also the deal for Cliff Lee he failed to swing, Colletti bristling at the mention of Lee and saying, "Our problem isn't pitching."

It will be when the playoffs start and they find themselves matched against the Phillies, and anyone putting this team together a month ago at the trading deadline, with a commanding lead in the standings, should've been thinking pitching and playoffs.

OK, so now Colletti is only a .250 hitter, but there's still Vicente Padilla, available cheap to the Dodgers because his teammates despised him in Texas, and who is better at trading for cheap players than the Parking Attendant's GM?

Padilla is now 1-0, and that's how good it's going for the Dodgers, Furcal delivering the game-winning hit in the biggest Dodgers game of the year. And when was the last time Furcal did anything against anyone?

A night earlier it's Loney hitting a home run, something that almost never happens, and how is anyone supposed to beat the Dodgers if Colletti's on top of everything and everyone else believes they can do the impossible as well?

The poor Rockies, probably believing every word the Micro Manager has to say these days, only to learn the most brutal lesson of all -- the best team usually wins.

Instead of trailing the Dodgers by two games, it's now four and probably five after they move on to San Francisco tonight to face Tim Lincecum.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Rockies fail to make it as a wild card -- one of Jim Tracy's Dodgers teams went 92-70 and missed the playoffs, so he's already been there.

It was a fun ride for the Rockies, but it was the Dodgers who had the look of champions when going on the road to San Francisco and then proving here it was no fluke.

Everywhere else they're chirping about the Rockies' rise and the Dodgers' fall, but it's Torre who says, "We were 27 up [over .500] and now 24, so it's not like we're giving anything away."

They lose the series opener here, but show something by roaring back to wring the energy out of the Rockies.

A champion has to play like one, and the Dodgers do.

As meaningless as everything else is now, I wouldn't be surprised if Torre just has Charlie Haeger throw knuckleballs every night to let the pitching staff rest up for the playoffs.

The only problem: Hollywood hates these kinds of stories -- no drama, and not much chance of celebrities showing up to watch Arizona and San Diego next week. There's always Pittsburgh down the road.

I know, I know, you'd have to be on something these days to make the case that any game Manny Ramirez is playing is still worth watching. We already know he's capable of getting busted, but he's going to bust out, isn't he?

"Everyone in baseball hits a home run in Denver except you," I'm telling him before the game, by way of motivation.

He's walking around the clubhouse swinging a bat, hitting nothing, of course -- one extra-base hit in his last 12 games.

"I've got 550 homers," he playfully yells while enhancing his performance, the record book noting he has only 540 home runs.

"You might want to talk to Juan Pierre," I suggest. "He hit a home run in Denver. You have not, and that's unbelievable."

Guillermo Mota is sitting at a table in the middle of the clubhouse, and I say, "Mota's probably hit a home run in Denver," and sure enough, Mota confirms it.

But not Ramirez, who once again has almost no impact on the outcome, with the Dodgers still winning.

Maybe he just needs the playoffs to get hyped again, but whatever, it's nice to note that others can step forward in big games for the Dodgers -- which means that for teams such as San Francisco and Colorado, it really is over.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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