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They Look at Moves as Part of a Whole

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bob Sibole has been attending Dodger games since he was 10. He saw his first game in the Coliseum. Carl Erskine pitched against the St. Louis Cardinals.

So Sibole knew that the Dodgers’ game against the Angels on Monday night was a watershed moment, and that wasn’t referring to interleague play.

“We’re witnessing history tonight,” said Sibole, 50, who lives in Banning. “The Los Angeles Dodgers have never fired a manager before.”

But like most Dodger fans, he was neither shocked nor saddened by the latest bombshell by Fox, the Dodgers’ new owners.

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General manager Fred Claire fired. Manager Bill Russell fired. Tommy Lasorda back as interim general manager. Glenn Hoffman brought from triple-A Albuquerque as interim manager.

You can’t floor Dodger fans any more. They became desensitized to such moves long ago.

“They did the Mike Piazza deal, so they can do anything,” said Luis Garces, 22, of Hawthorne. “I guess this is a business. Fox treats it that way. After Piazza, I knew they could do anything.”

Piazza was shipped to the Florida Marlins on May 15 in a deal that split Dodger fans. Monday’s news seemed to unify them.

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The Dodgers began the day two games under .500 and 12 1/2 games behind the first-place San Diego Padres in the National League West Division. Someone had to get the blame. Claire was the loser, hands down. Russell, to fans, was more an innocent victim--the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“The team wasn’t winning,” Sibole said. “It wasn’t Russell’s fault. He is just too much like [former Dodger manager] Walter Alston. They need someone to light a fire under them.”

That comparison was prevalent Monday. Russell was linked to the laid-back Alston, who managed the Dodgers from 1954-76.

“The game has changed,” said Kelly Gallagher, 39, of Tustin. “Russell was like Alston. That style worked in the ’50-'60s, but athletes are different. Glenn Hoffmann is more fiery.

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“I think the talent is there. Why not make the change now, when there is still time to get back in the race? Hopefully Glenn isn’t just warming the seat.”

Some fans, though, already had Hoffman out the door.

“What we need is someone like Terry Collins,” Sibole said. “He’s done a great job with the Angels. There’s a guy the Dodgers shouldn’t have let get away.”

Collins was a manager in the Dodger organization from 1981-88. It is unlikely he will return.

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“Maybe then can get [Florida Manager] Jim Leyland,” Sibole said. “He would get something out of this team.”

Leyland seemed to be the front-runner Monday in the stands.

Dodger fans had sympathy for Russell. But they seemed glad to be rid of Claire.

“We need a closer this year and John Wetteland is with the Texas Rangers,” said Bob Sieger, 36, of Thousand Oaks. “We could use another starter and Pedro Martinez is with the Boston Red Sox. He’s won a Cy Young award. Fred Claire traded both of them.

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“I know Fred has been with the Dodgers a long time, but we needed a change. We needed to turn this thing around.”

Said Mark Hill, 39, of Yorba Linda: “Other than the World Series in 1988, what has Claire done? This is the best move.”

The return of Lasorda was a welcomed by some.

“I’m really not sure if he will be competent as a general manager,” said Brice Logan, 21, of Los Angeles.

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Logan was wearing a San Diego Padre jersey. Padre fans have never been among Lasorda’s biggest boosters.

Like Logan, fans of other teams are bemused by the Dodgers this season.

“My grandpa was a Yankee fan and my dad was a Yankee fan, so I’m a Yankee fan,” said Michelle Ferraro, 22, of Lake Forest. “All the turmoil the Dodgers have had this year reminds me of the Yankees.”


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