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T.J. SIMERS

When the going gets tough for the Dodgers, he gets going

Mattingly says the L.A. media let the players off the hook, but no danger of that here . . . the 11-0 loss is an embarrassment with plenty of blame to go around.

October 19, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

FROM PHILADELPHIA — A couple of weeks ago, Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly told a San Diego radio station the media on the East Coast are so much tougher than those out West.

"If a guy makes a mistake, they make a big deal out of it," he says. "They don't let them off the hook like you do on the West Coast."

That might explain why I'm so often called a "homer"; I just like athletes, and I can see it's beginning to hurt our local teams.

The players on the East Coast are forced to play better, Mattingly says, knowing they will be held accountable by the media.

Mattingly, the leading candidate to replace Joe Torre as manager a year from now, says the Dodgers laugh at how much slips by the L.A. media.

It's not unusual to have a manager or coach who looks down on the L.A. media, Phil Jackson immediately coming to mind, but usually folks think the media here are far too negative, Phil Jackson immediately coming to mind.

"You don't think we're tough enough on the Dodgers?" I ask before Game 3, and Mattingly immediately shakes his head.

"I think you should be tougher on the players," he says. "Be really hard on these guys."

OK, but only because Donnie Baseball insists.

--

TALK ABOUT your Dodger Duds.

What an exercise in embarrassment, 11-0, and the Phillies scoring more against the Dodger Duds than the Eagles did against the Raiders.

Just a wild thought, but maybe if these playoff stiffs received some help from their gabby hitting coach, a guy by the way who never played in a World Series -- like he's the role model the Dodgers need right now -- they might be ahead in this series.

The Dodgers have gone 19 consecutive innings without an extra base hit, Donnie Baseball pitching batting practice before the game and probably throwing a shutout too.

"You know I don't read the paper," Donnie Baseball says, but obviously clairvoyant knowing the media here aren't very tough.

As you might imagine, I'm alarmed.

"You don't read Plaschke?"

"I see him on TV; I didn't know he could write," Donnie Baseball says, and while that's a whole different topic, he adds, "I'm getting in trouble here, aren't I?"

I want to be tough to Donnie Baseball's satisfaction, so I start with a bum like Hiroki Kuroda.

"That's not my player," Donnie Baseball says, and I wouldn't want anything to do with him either. I think I'm beginning to get a grasp of what Donnie Baseball is talking about.

As someone else notes, it probably took longer to read Times' reporter Dylan Hernandez's story about Kuroda that ran Sunday morning than time spent watching the bum pitch.

Eight batters into the Phillies' lineup and they already had hit for the cycle against a guy who has not pitched since Sept. 28 and could have waited until next year as far as Dodgers fans are concerned.

"We didn't make any mistakes defensively," Donnie Baseball says, and I'm beginning to wonder -- is Donnie Baseball tough like Scott Elbert in relief?

The Phillies have Cliff Lee on the mound because the Dodgers had no interest in being favored to advance to the World Series. General Manager Ned Colletti stays away from Lee, but adds Kuroda and Elbert to the playoff roster just for this series -- eight of the 13 batters they face reaching base.

I wonder if he also placed a call to Jason Schmidt?

Now some people might wonder why anyone would want to kick the Dodger Duds while down, but listening to Donnie Baseball, how can they beat a team from the East if not treated like one?

"These guys know when they make a mistake," Donnie Baseball says, "and they're good with hearing about it."

Oh yeah, I'm very familiar with that, on those few occasions when I point out their shortcomings. Just great about it.

So let's begin with Rafael Furcal, his shortcoming right now the fact he stinks.

"What's wrong with Raffy?" Donnie Baseball says, and the Dodgers' lead-off hitter is one for 11 and I'm the one breaking the news to the Dodgers' hitting coach.

Casey Blake is one for 11 and soon will be duck hunting. I wouldn't think the ducks would worry, though, about him hitting any of them.

"There's nothing wrong with Raffy and Casey," Donnie Baseball says, a little put off by the line of questioning. "You're sounding like George Steinbrenner."

A few hours earlier he's got me confused with Eric Collins and Steve Lyons.

"If the guys aren't trying, then I have to be hard on them," Donnie Baseball says, and while that's great, we're here to discuss how I might be tougher, seeing how our guys wilt.

The crowd starts chanting, "You took steroids," and just to prove to everyone he's no longer on the juice, Manny Ramirez whiffs.

Later I ask Manny, "Where did they get this crazy idea you took steroids?" "Next," he says, whiffing again.

This is a game made for Jeff Weaver, but the Dodgers don't even get that right, failing to include him on the roster.

This is a game lost so badly the Dodgers can finally turn to Chad Billingsley. They are losing, 6-0, and they let him bat for himself -- can't do any worse than Blake or Furcal, and just who is the hitting coach for this outfit?

"Yeah, it's my job to get them to hit," Donnie Baseball says. "Hopefully, we learned something against Lee."

How to get shut out and get out of the cold?

"I think you're taking what I'm saying the wrong way," Donnie Baseball says, and if you can't be tough on the players now as it's suggested before the game, I worry I might never get the chance.

--

A DODGERS spokesman said both the Mr. & Mrs. were here, Frank McCourt sitting in one suite, and Jamie McCourt sitting with Sandy Koufax. I have no idea what Koufax has against Frank.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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