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JERRY CROWE

Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw are postseason keys for Dodgers

Text messages from press row . . .

September 25, 2009|JERRY CROWE

If Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw are ready for October, the Dodgers should be too. . . .

This is only the fourth time that the Dodgers and Angels have each won as many as 90 games in the same season, but it's the third time it has happened since 2001. . . .

A Freeway World Series, of course, would be a first. . . .

Fifty years ago next Tuesday, Gil Hodges and the Dodgers clinched their first National League pennant in Los Angeles by sweeping the best two out of three playoff series with a 12-inning victory over the Milwaukee Braves at the Coliseum. . . .

The Braves' first baseman in the final game was Frank Torre, older brother of Joe. . . .

With Carl Furillo at the plate, Felix Mantilla at shortstop for the Braves and a World Series date with the Chicago White Sox hanging in the balance, Vin Scully called the winning play: "Big bouncer over the mound, over second base. Up with it is Mantilla. Throws low and wild. Hodges scores. We go to Chicago." . . .

For some fans, those words are burned in their memories. . . .

Mark Gubicza sounds like a less caffeinated Rex Hudler. . . .

In an ESPN.com story written by Marc Stein, Jerry West calls Vlade Divac "the finest person I've ever been around in my life" and Divac calls West "my favorite man in the NBA." . . .

Obviously, no hard feelings linger from the summer of 1996, when West traded Divac to the then-Charlotte Hornets for the rights to Kobe Bryant -- and to clear salary-cap space so that the Lakers could sign Shaquille O'Neal. . . .

The only problem with the Sporting News' anointing of Matt Leinart as college football's athlete of the decade is that Tim Tebow is not yet finished at Florida. . . .

Otherwise, it's a solid pick, even if a poll of the magazine's readers favored Tebow over Leinart, 79% to 21%. . . .

Bryant got the NBA nod. . . .

Other Sporting News picks as athletes of the decade in their respective fields: Peyton Manning, NFL; Albert Pujols, MLB; Tyler Hansbrough, college basketball; Nicklas Lidstrom, NHL; and Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR. . . .

The nominees list for the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame class includes Doug Williams, still the only African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. . . .

That was 21 years ago, Williams' leading the Washington Redskins over the Denver Broncos at San Diego. . . .

For those who can't get enough of Tim McCarver -- anybody? -- the Fox baseball analyst has released a music CD, "Tim McCarver Sings the Great American Songbook." . . .

One of the songs he tackles is "There Used to Be a Ballpark," which will remind no one of Frank Sinatra's version. . . .

Stanford, alma mater of Herbert Hoover, Jim Plunkett and John Elway, is among the four colleges that have produced a U.S. president and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. . . .

The others: Navy (Jimmy Carter and Roger Staubach); Michigan (Gerald Ford and Tom Brady); and Miami of Ohio (Benjamin Harrison and Ben Roethlisberger). . . .

It's only two games, of course, but Drew Brees is on pace to pass for 72 touchdowns, 22 more than Brady's NFL record. . . .

Reader Bob Lichstinn of Fountain Valley e-mails to note, "Yes, 0-0 is a score! Just ask a hockey or soccer fan." . . .

Further evidence that "the beautiful game" continues to struggle gaining a toehold in the United States: The U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., is no longer open to the public except on days of special events. . . .

Reader John Moran of Thousand Oaks e-mails to ask, "When did MLB become ML Spit Ball? I'm glad my doctor doesn't have to spit before and after checking my ears or my barber between every snip. It's distracting at best, disgusting and gross at worst." . . .

There's always soccer. . . .

While discussing Texas' victory over Texas Tech last Saturday, ESPN's Lou Holtz said of the Red Raiders, "They could never get within two touchdowns of Texas." . . .

The final score was 34-24. . . .

Attention, A.S. of Culver City: Nearly four decades removed from his glory days in the Coliseum and only months after calling it "asinine" that it hadn't happened earlier, Deacon Jones on Sunday finally will have his No. 75 retired by the St. Louis Rams. . . .

Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus, added this month to Kurt Rambis' Minnesota Timberwolves coaching staff, were high school rivals in the South Bay 35 years ago. . . .

Laimbeer played at Palos Verdes High, Theus at Inglewood. . . .

Only one of the top 18 television markets in the United States is not home to an NFL franchise. . . .

Here's looking at you, L.A.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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