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MORNING BRIEFING

Angels, Dodgers both disappoint

August 09, 2012|T.J. SIMERS

The other day Matt Kemp asked if I thought the Dodgers were going to make the playoffs.

How would you have answered him?

And what about the Angels' chances of making it into postseason play?

The Dodgers and Angels began Wednesday with identical records. That's a fact, but as mean as anything I could write in describing the underachieving Angels.

The guys in red should be embarrassed sitting behind Oakland. The Dodgers' lineup was minor league quality for a good part of the season without Kemp and Andre Ethier, while the Angels are stacked.

Most everyone says Mike Scioscia is a great manager, but where is the proof if the Angels fail to make the playoffs a third straight year?

And if they do fall short, there is no Mickey Hatcher or Tony Reagins to blame, so what's Angry Arte going to do now?

The Angels lost earlier in the day and have fallen seven games behind Texas. They have very little margin for error.

As for the Dodgers and Giants, most folks probably give L.A. the edge because of the moves it made to improve.

But will Ethier hit another home run this season?

"I'll take that bet," says Ethier, insisting he's healthy.

Ethier has hit one since signing a mega-million-dollar contract extension. That's one home run in his last 39 games before Wednesday night -- none in the last 22.

Shane Victorino hears me pressing Ethier about his failure to hit with power and the new guy is obviously upset. He played in Philadelphia, or Angryville as it is better known, so it's easy to understand why he's so uptight.

He interrupts the interview to shout with the obscenities deleted here, "What a ... swing harder. Geesh."

Now how would he know? Victorino has one home run in his last 47 games, and that was playing in a home run-friendly stadium in Angryville.

Manager Don Mattingly says he expects Ethier will hit a homer again, but he cannot explain the power shortage. It's kind of his job to know these things. A few years ago he was a hitting coach.

He also has no idea what to say after his team has lost two in a row to the no-name clowns from Colorado.

"How about getting mad and letting the players know you're unhappy with them after failing to beat these slugs?"

Mattingly: "If I thought that would do any good, I would."

His approach isn't working, so why not try something like that rather than just guessing it won't work?

"My approach has worked pretty good this season," he says, the Dodgers 30-13 to start and 29-39 since.

The Angels got off to a bad start, but they are obviously better than the Dodgers.

"I think we're as good as anybody," says Mattingly in disagreeing that the Angels are better. "We're capable of beating anybody."

It should be some kind of World Series.

But for right now how about just beating the Rockies?

Eric Young Jr. leads off the third game of this series hitting a ball over Kemp's head, the ball bouncing off the wall and away from Kemp. Victorino is nowhere in sight to back up the play.

Young keeps running for an inside-the-park home run.

So much for taking advantage of the free spots on the schedule. The Dodgers began the week with 15 games remaining against crummy teams like the Padres and Rockies.

And they promptly lose two of those.

The Giants began the week with 25 games remaining against such losers as the Padres, Rockies, Astros and Cubs.

So I told Kemp the Giants have a considerable advantage on the Dodgers, Vin Scully saying as much in the first inning with a little pop to his voice: "The Dodgers have got to wake up."

A minute or two later, Kemp hits a three-run homer, and like I tried telling Mattingly before the game, it couldn't hurt to give the players an earful.

Scully does, and look what happens.

WHEN I ask Mattingly about what's wrong with the Angels, he says, "Never go into another man's dugout."

MATTINGLY LIKES to joke that truebluela.com's Eric Stephen knows more about the Dodgers than anyone else in the media.

"Go ahead, Eric," I tell him after Mattingly speaks highly of Stephen again, "ask him about some minor leaguer."

"All right, I'll ask about Juan Rivera," says Stephen, while asking Mattingly how he can stay with someone playing so poorly.

Ouch!

The obvious answer: What's his other choice, playing James Loney? But then Rivera was actually hitting below the Loney line before Wednesday.

"I think you should pay attention to what Eric has to say," says Mattingly, Stephen pronouncing Rivera as disappointing as Loney. "But everything Eric is saying is up to this point."

And Mattingly apparently thinks things will change, so it's too early to say whether Stephen knows more than the media and Mattingly as well.

I WAS listening to the Roger Lodge radio show, and before you ask, I feel fine.

UCLA football Coach Jim Mora was talking about recruiting and how he makes a point of telling parents his campus is safe.

"We don't have murders one block from our campus," Mora said, and although you and I know what he was really saying, Lodge obviously wasn't listening to his own interview.

Lodge makes the statement that Mora obviously doesn't concern himself with the school across town. Mora agrees and says all his efforts are focused only on UCLA.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER sent out a news release trumpeting its four-cover special issue on the Dodgers.

"The four covers of the Dodger issue," notes the release, "are graced by owners Magic Johnson and Peter Gruber ..."

Impressive, but so much better had the Hollywood Reporter spelled the famous Hollywood movie producer's name Guber, as he usually does.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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