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T.J. SIMERS

He's positive a negative approach can only serve to motivate Dodgers

Page 2's recent column on Andre Ethier seemed to stir up more controversy, but look what's happened to team since.

August 30, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, left, and infielders Aaron Miles, center, and James Loney celebrate their victory Monday over the San Diego Padres.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, left, and infielders Aaron Miles, center,… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

The wife was watching Steve Lyons the other day.

And here I've been writing the Dodgers have problems.

We don't ordinarily watch TV in the same room; after all, we've been married for 38 years. I like old movies where everybody gets shot; she likes "Big Brother," "The Biggest Loser" and apparently the Dodgers' postgame show.

She said I needed to hear what Lyons was saying, and I can't tell you how many times I've said the same thing to myself.

Lyons was talking about the Page 2 Sunday column on Andre Ethier and explaining to everyone in TV land there is nothing wrong with the Dodgers. The problem is with the Page 2 columnist who never writes anything positive about the Dodgers.

As the wife put it, "That guy sure has that right."

I think back to the beginning when Frank McCourt arrived in town and maybe Lyons is right and I should have given the Parking Lot Attendant the benefit of the doubt like everyone else.

I should probably learn to back off.

In fact, I worry now that maybe I shouldn't write Matt Kemp has no business winning the MVP award or Clayton Kershaw the Cy Young unless you think they deserve credit for keeping the Dodgers out of last place. I say whoop-de-do.

Hey, I tried writing nice once. I did everything but suggest the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Manny Ramirez and look what happened? Plaschke made fun of me.

Lyons told his TV audience Page 2 didn't have it right when writing about Ethier. I seem to remember former Vice President Spiro Agnew having the same problem with the media. They were writing he might very well be a criminal and he was telling everyone they didn't have it right.

Before he resigned from office, with the help of speech writer William Safire he referred to the media as the, "nattering nabobs of negativism."

But I got the impression listening to Lyons, over the wife's applause, there's only one nabob in town.

And while I'm quite sure it had nothing to do with the suggestion on Page 2 earlier in the week that Lyons isn't as good as Vin Scully, he's right on target.

I just can't help myself, I'm a nabob.

Take this bizarre Ethier story. I swear when I set out to write a column about him I had no intention of being a nabob. I was just curious, so I asked Ethier, "Why do you suck right now?"

I was a little surprised no one else had asked the same thing. Ethier was hitting .220 since July 15 with one home run.

Right away Ethier starts crying about a bum knee that won't allow him to swing the bat like he should. I write it down and the next day folks seem more concerned about Manager Don Mattingly's bruised feelings rather than Ethier's knee.

An emotional Mattingly, and I don't think I have written that before, claims he's been "blindsided."

Mattingly says he would never play a player who really shouldn't be playing. Tell me then why he pinch-hit Eugenio Velez, who was 0 for 27, with the bases loaded the other day?

Mattingly says later he had no idea until it's mentioned in the newspaper that Ethier has had fluid injected into his knee three times over a span of three weeks.

That bothers Mattingly, so he questions the team's trainer. He learns the trainer sent out emails letting everyone know Ethier has been treated, but didn't include Mattingly on the email list. That's odd, because the trainer emails Mattingly daily with injury updates.

Talk about being blindsided.

"I didn't like that," Mattingly says Tuesday, while calling it just a miscommunication. The injections were nothing more than "maintenance," and it probably wouldn't have affected his decision-making had he known.

This might explain how the Dodgers got Jason Schmidt, and here I go again being a nabob. Stan Conte was the Giants trainer, and when Schmidt left the Giants to come here, so did Conte.

Maybe Conte sent out an email letting everyone know Schmidt was going to be a big waste of money, but the right people just never got it. Or Ned Colletti doesn't read his email.

Conte told reporters he can't talk about Ethier, but there was no shutting him up when asked about Juan Uribe's injury. Maybe he only talks about ex-Giants who are big disappointments.

A Dodgers spokesman said Ethier's agent asked that all medical information come from Mattingly, who may or may not know what he's talking about depending on whether the trainer includes him in future emails.

OK, back to Lyons who was making the point on TV that Page 2's only intent when coming to a Dodgers game is to "stir things up."

I didn't know there was any other reason to go to a Dodgers game these days.

Lyons was making the case that's a bad thing, and I'm guessing he's never tried selling a Trent Oeltjen column to the editors.

All I know is as soon as I noted James Loney was down to his final 42 games as a Dodger, you know, just stirring things up, Loney started blasting the ball.

Who has Lyons ever motivated?

No one wearing a Dodgers uniform could get a thing out of Ethier since July 15.

But with just a hint of controversy, Ethier poked a grand slam and is now hitting like the guy everyone remembers.

I'm not sure that if I can't be a nabob there's any reason to attend a Dodgers game.

Maybe we all just look at things differently.

Take Velez, for example, who is

0 for 28 with the Dodgers. I'm guessing Lyons might sympathize or relate to him on what it must feel like to struggle, while I'd be reminding the bum he'll soon be bowling with his pals if he doesn't get a hit soon.

But that's just me.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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