Rachell Guerra takes her turn at the microphone during the Red, White and… (Juan Ocampo )
First thing I do as Magic Johnson is to call Matt Kemp's bluff: "I think I heard you saying you could take me in basketball," I say. "Bring it on."
If the Dodgers are serious about reconnecting with the city, they'll throw a hard court down in Dodger Stadium some off-night this spring, put on a little exhibition between Johnson and Kemp to benefit AIDS research and youth baseball. Fill the field level with kids.
After a quick one-on-one game in which Magic swats Kemp's shots into the upper deck, each player could bring a few of his friends out for a little scrimmage. Larry Bird says he may have some free time coming up soon. Billy Crystal would host. Vinny might do the play-by-play. Lasorda could throw the opening tip.
Kemp can bring Dee Gordon and Clayton Kershaw and anyone else from the current Dodgers roster. They'll have the kids behind them. Magic will have the moms and dads.
My money's on the antiques.
The Dodgers groundskeepers would have their own conniption, seeing as how they've put in a sensational new field that looks as if it's been prepped with a pocket comb. I have never seen it so green and good.
But hey, they play hockey in Fenway and basketball on aircraft carriers. Why not a little feel-good exhibition in Dodger Stadium?
First thing I do as Frank McCourt when I pocket $1 billion is to write a big check to Bryan Stow and his amazing family. That's probably not smart legally; in fact, your lawyers probably will have a conniption.
But that's what I do when I pocket the biggest lottery win in baseball history. On my way out the door, I pick up a pen. I do the right thing. I give the lawyers a conniption.
Teeth chattering from the cold and drizzle, their lips Dodger blue, several hundred wannabes auditioned the other day for the privilege of singing the national anthem at Dodger Stadium.
Oh, say can you sing?
Turns out many of them can. This being L.A., they come with resumes and CDs, business cards and some pretty amazing chops.
Ruth Andrea Featherstone didn't win but belted out a gospel-tinged version that might have gotten her to the finals of "American Idol."
Mark Allen Church didn't win, but the former USC voice student removed his cap and performed a soulful rendition — sung from the heels.
Sisy Mohorko didn't win, but she got up at 3 a.m., drove down from Oxnard to stand in an empty stadium and laser her voice off the empty seats like a sharp line drive. They gave her headphones to deaden the echo, but still. Knocked it out of the park, she did.
"Honestly, it's my favorite song," she says after. "I sing it everywhere."
"I had a twin sister who passed away at 18," she says. "I did this for her."
Anthony Mercado of Redlands did win. All of 8, he had the advantage of youth and a red bow tie and a shiny tux.
"My dad paid only $60," the second-grader says of his monkey suit.
Anthony also had an American flag in his right pocket, which he pulled out and waved to great effect at just the right moment.
He's a crowd pleaser, this kid, with DiMaggio's nerves and the lungs of a love-struck sparrow.
Congrats, Anthony. Touch 'em all.
You might have seen him Tuesday night, belting the song out of the park at the Dodgers-Angels exhibition, three flavors of perfect.
And congrats to all the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, barbershop quartets, wannabes and never-weres who got up in the dark, waited in the cold, sang their hearts out in performances that were mostly good, occasionally comic, often on key.
"This is wonderful," said 77-year-old Sweet Lou Johnson, one of the judges. "This is the greatest song of all."
Same song, 300 interpretations. Same song — sometimes a lullaby, other times a Wagnerian war march.
But in a couple of hours, on a dreary Saturday, they reminded us that when the courts are done and the billionaires finished posturing, baseball still manages to belong to the fans.
And little kids in shiny tuxes.