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Now, It’s Sticky for Fans in San Francisco

Have the Dodgers, looking for that one strong arm to bail them out of tough late-inning situations, thought of checking out Mike Ditka?

Nobody speed-gunned Ditka’s high, hard one Monday night when he fired a wad of chewing gum at some hecklers in the Candlestick Park seats, but baseball scouts were impressed with Goose Ditka’s velocity and location.

The question for San Francisco now is this: Isn’t it time for your sports fans to take that one big step up the ladder of evolution? Leave the cave?

For years the Candlestick Park crowds, baseball and football, have been among the nastiest, sloppiest, most inane and confrontational. Maybe it’s the weather.

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From a city proud of its sophistication and sense of style, we get fans who huddle together and scream kindergarten insults at an opposing coach whose team has just suffered a 41-point humiliation.

The lady who allegedly was struck on the head with the flying gum is considering legal action. Good luck. With a Candlestick Park fan, it might be very difficult to assess the exact cause of brain damage.

Do you get the feeling that the Dodgers, with their recent Big Deal, haven’t yet turned the corner?

They export baseball’s rarest resource, a proven winning starting pitcher, and import three question marks.

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Hey, it’s never too early to start the second-guessing season.

As for the pending Pedro Guerrero for Kirk Gibson trade: Would that be a bad deal for the Dodgers, or did I only dream Pedro underwent a major attitude adjustment last season and batted .338?

One rumor is that the Dodgers want to unload Guerrero because he and Mike Marshall don’t get along.

What is this, a ballclub or a computer dating service?

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Remember the old days, when UCLA and USC were too snooty to play any of the other local colleges in a basketball game?

Soon it might be the other way around, the two superpowers having fallen upon hard times.

Chuck DeBus, coach of the famed L.A. Track Club, suggests ranking the Southland’s leading basketball schools, just for fun.

So, off the top of my head, which has never been dented by a Ditka gum wad, here is the first-ever L.A. Basketball Top Seven:

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1. Pepperdine, 2. Loyola Marymount, 3. UCLA, 4. UC Irvine, 5. Cal State Long Beach, 6. Cal State Fullerton, 7. USC.

DeBus further proposes an annual preseason hoops tournament among the above seven, with one wild-card. He credits the original idea to Orange County Register columnist John Hall.

The tournament would be played at the neutral-court Forum. It would jack up the interest in, and the quality of, L.A. area college basketball. And it would give USC and UCLA a chance to play schools that, someday soon, might not otherwise stoop to scheduling them.

In the recent UPI basketball poll, none of the 35 vote-getting schools were West Coasters. In the AP poll, Pepperdine was the only West Coast school getting votes.

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The only way the West Coast will get a Top Ten team this season is if The Big One (earthquake) hits and Wyoming becomes the West Coast.

Here’s an owner with a heart: Avron Fogelman of the Kansas City Royals.

Av gives Bo Jackson the OK to play football, then gripes because Bo isn’t spending his winter taking batting practice and catching dysentery in the cockroach leagues.

“Bo definitely needed to play winter ball,” Fogelman said, “and he has two months left to make it up.”

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Bo plays baseball, then football, then plans to take a brief vacation with his wife before spring training, but Scrooge Fogelman has other ideas.

Good plan. Have your young phenom show up for spring training exhausted and disgruntled.

Make the kid pay the price for being daring and talented.

OK, I give. I’m ready to admit that the idea of a college football playoff system is ridiculous, and that the present bowl system is really the best way to wrap up the season.

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The only logical step now is to do away with the College World Series and the NCAA Final Four, and institute bowl games for baseball and basketball, with random pairings, silly bidding and restrictive conference commitments.

That way we’ll get the student-athletes back to classroom sooner, and we’ll eliminate a lot of undue stress and excitement.

And maybe, once every 10 years or so, a basketball or baseball bowl game will, by sheer coincidence, turn out to be a showdown between the country’s two best teams.

Remember when Ray Malavasi, then coach of the Rams, fell asleep on the phone during a morning radio interview, providing radio with its first live snoring?

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For years, Malavasi swore it had been a joke, that he did it to show people he really did have a sense of humor.

And nobody would believe him. He was roasted and ridiculed. Now people tell me Ray really did have a great sense of humor.

This is a little late, but . . .

Hey, Ray, we were just kidding. We believe.

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