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JERRY CROWE

Coach remembers Charlie Sheen as cool-headed bullpen ace — at least until he got expelled

Text messages from press row …

March 10, 2011|Jerry Crowe
  • Charlie Sheen was Santa Monica High School's bullpen ace in 1983.
Charlie Sheen was Santa Monica High School's bullpen ace in 1983. (Santa Monica High School…)

Charlie Sheen was an adaptable, even-tempered and not easily rattled figure — just the qualities you'd want in a relief pitcher. …

That, at least, is the recollection of Jose Lopez, the Santa Monica High varsity baseball coach in 1983. …

Lopez says that Sheen, then known as Charlie Estevez, was his bullpen ace, foreshadowing the actor's unforgettable role as reliever Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the 1989 film "Major League." …

"He was very, very efficient," notes Lopez, describing the senior as "an outstanding athlete" and, "with me, a model kid." …

The Vikings, who finished third in the Bay League, could have used Sheen in the Southern Section playoffs, where they squandered an early 3-0 lead and lost to future major leaguer Wally Ritchie and Glendale Hoover in an opening-round game. …

Unfortunately, Lopez says, the future "Two and a Half Men" star had been expelled from school two days earlier. …

Lopez, by the way, was a standout soccer player and backup baseball player at UCLA, where his teammates on the baseball team included current Bruins Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. …

Lopez also was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League, helping the Aztecs win the NASL championship as a rookie in 1974. …

A strong finishing kick against Cal kept Alex Stepheson and USC in the running for a possible NCAA tournament bid. …

Mike Scioscia and the Angels won't care how many letters Kendrys Morales adds to his name as long as the injury-rehabbing first baseman removes the question mark at the end of it. …

Reader Mark Hager of Woodland Hills, reminding that Major League Baseball defines any matchup that starts before 6 p.m. as a "day" game, e-mails to note that the Dodgers' tradition of daytime home openers technically will continue when they face the San Francisco Giants on March 31 at 5 p.m. …

The Dodgers last opened their home schedule at night in 1995, when a strike wiped out their planned day opener. …

Michael Jordan, endorsing Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls as the NBA's most valuable player: "And if he doesn't get it, now he'll see how I felt a lot of years." …

Jordan, a five-time MVP, was runner-up to Magic Johnson in 1987 and 1989 and to Karl Malone in 1997. …

Twice, he finished third. …

Strange but true: Malone and John Stockton are the only players in NBA history with as many as 4,000 turnovers. …

Malone, with more than 4,500, is the all-time leader. …

DeAndre Jordan wasn't the highflier that Boston Celtics fans came to see Wednesday night, but the energetic Clippers center happily put on a show worthy of Blake Griffin. …

A tweak in NHL rules making non-shootout victories the No. 1 tiebreaker in the standings could prove costly to Anze Kopitar and the Kings, who trail a number of Western Conference contenders in the all-important statistical category. …

Tiger Woods, explaining that family obligations preclude him from expanding his tournament schedule: "If you've been divorced with kids, then you would understand." …

Landslide winner: In a USA Today reader survey asking who is the greatest player in UCLA basketball history, 78% of respondents named Lew Alcindor and 19% tabbed Bill Walton. …

Lagging far behind, each garnering about 1% of the vote: Gail Goodrich and Sidney Wicks. …

Ben Howland and UCLA may be headed back to the NCAA tournament, but the Bruins' average home attendance was their lowest since Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965. …

Leave it to a New York Post headline writer to encapsulate what happened at the end of Wednesday's St. John's-Rutgers game: "Johnnies win as clueless refs rob Rutgers in clock crock." …

Cal State Fullerton and Louisiana State, which between them have won 10 of the last 32 College World Series championships, meet for the first time in a regular-season series this weekend at LSU. …

Mike Tyson's misidentifying the Michelin Man as the "Michigan Man" this week reminds reader Geoff Strain of Redondo Beach that Tyson once refused to answer a question from UPI because, "One of your drivers ran over my dog."

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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