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JERRY CROWE

The Dodgers just got a lot more interesting

Text messages from press row...

March 05, 2009|JERRY CROWE

Rhapsody in blue: No. 99 is back. . . .

The question now is, do the Dodgers have the pitching to make a serious run at a championship and keep Manny Ramirez fully engaged through a six-month marathon as opposed to a two-month, salary-driven sprint? . . .

One thing's for sure: Joe Torre's crew will be more interesting with the dreadlocked slugger than it would have been without him. . . .

Stephon Marbury is sort of an NBA version of Ramirez, a pariah hoping to reclaim his good name in a new home. . . .

Speaking of Marbury, he was named most often by NBA players who were asked in a Sports Illustrated survey, "Which player would you least like to have on your team?" . . .

Kobe Bryant makes 30-point games look almost routine. . . .

Those "Noche Latina" jerseys worn Tuesday by Los Lakers drew raves from fashion maven Lien Ta of Hollywood.com, who gushed, "Look at that stellar font cohesion. The alliterative L's? Amazing. They look like they belong together in purple harmony." . . .

So did Shaq and Kobe, once upon a time. . . .

Pau Gasol vs. Marc Gasol could be a sizzling sibling rivalry for years to come, or as Coach Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies noted of the brawnier Marc's effort Tuesday against his older brother, "He . . . beat him up a little bit." . . .

Isn't it about time for the Clippers to start tanking games so as to get a better shot at drafting table-hopping Blake Griffin? . . .

Kurt Warner's re-signing with the Arizona Cardinals was good news for everybody in Phoenix not named Matt Leinart. . . .

Speaking of former USC quarterbacks, it was speculated that one might wind up with the Kansas City Chiefs, but Mark Sanchez probably hoped it would be him instead of Matt Cassel. . . .

It's impressive that Gonzaga won its ninth consecutive West Coast Conference championship, but even more remarkable is that UCLA won 13 conference titles in a row from 1967 to 1979. . . .

That's a record. . . .

USC, incredibly, has never reached the NCAA tournament three years in a row, a head-scratching run of inconsistency that almost certainly will be extended beyond this month. . . .

More noteworthy than John Wooden's family asking fans to stop shipping items to him for his signature, is that daughter Nan Muehlhausen and son Jim Wooden waited until the former coach was well into his 99th year before making the request. . . .

He's so accommodating, he would never say no. . . .

Sean Avery: lewd, rude, crude and back in the NHL. . . .

Reinforcing the perception that football is king in the U.S., ESPN announced this week that it would nationally televise next month's Alabama spring game. . . .

The LA84 Foundation took issue with a claim by race broadcaster Versus that last month's Tour of California was the largest sports event in California history, noting that the tour drew an estimated two million fans but that nearly three times that many tickets were sold and distributed for the 1984 Olympics. . . .

Also notable: Very few cycling fans actually paid for the privilege of watching Levi Leipheimer win the event for the third time -- with support from teammate and fan-magnet Lance Armstrong. . . .

Several readers e-mailed to suggest that a Mt. Rushmore of Northern California sports would be incomplete without San Francisco-bred Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio. . . .

If Santa Anita jockeys can play a team of seventh- and eighth-graders in a charity basketball game, as they've done for 42 years, how about Lisa Leslie and the Sparks taking on a high school boys' basketball team in a charity battle of the sexes? . . .

Described by J. Hoberman of the Village Voice as "the best football movie I've ever seen," Kevin Rafferty's documentary about the 1968 Harvard-Yale game, "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29," opens a seven-night run Friday at Landmark's Nuart Theatre. . . .

Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones, interviewed in the film, was an All-Ivy League offensive tackle at Harvard in 1968. . . .

Noting that former NASCAR driver and Junior Johnson crew chief Dean Combs was busted for illegally distilling liquor, fark.com comments, "You can actually hear the banjo when reading the headline: Ex-NASCAR driver busted for making moonshine."

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jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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