Maybe It’s Too Painful to Be Fly on Dodger Wall

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At the risk of causing a stampede at the Dodger Stadium box office for season tickets, all reports seem to indicate the team will hire Rick Down as its next manager.

Instead of last year’s marketing theme: “Being Here Is Everything,” this year’s can be: “Things Are Looking Down for the Dodgers.”

Players such as Kevin Brown and Gary Sheffield have apparently spoken, throwing their support behind old what’s-his-name, which must be a good sign, because unlike most everyone else, at least they can pick him out of a crowd.


The Dodgers still intend to interview Yankee coaches’ Willie Randolph and Chris Chambliss later this week, because Major League Baseball kind of insists on such things--especially when team history includes Al Campanis as your former general manager.

Although Dodger executives aren’t talking publicly because they can’t trust themselves from saying something silly, they reportedly were scheduled to meet with the pair Monday in New York. But the Reds wanted to chat with Randolph and the Diamondbacks with Chambliss, and I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but Dodger Blue seems to have lost some of its magic.

I spent some time as a reporter with both Randolph and Chambliss more than 20 years ago when they were playing for the Yankees, and regard them as stand-up, classy athletes, a tricky task at a chaotic time in New York for a team managed by Billy Martin and featuring overpowering clubhouse personalities such as Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Sparky Lyle and Lou Piniella.

I might even agree to lay off the Dodgers for a week if they hired Randolph. Two or three days if they went with Chambliss.

The pair has outstanding World Series credentials, but unfortunately they probably lack the most important thing the Dodgers require in a new skipper--a willingness to sign a loyalty oath to Kevin Malone.

I’d still like to see them get a shot, so I’ve put together a list of questions to prepare Randolph and Chambliss when the Dodger search team of Malone and accountant Bob Graziano ask the following:


Malone: Before we go any further, would you fall on a grenade for me?

Graziano: Can either one of you use a “ten key?”

Malone: Would it bother you--being a part of 14 consecutive World Series wins--to lose every time we have to go with our fourth and fifth starters?

Graziano: Do you think you’re going to realize your deferred assets?

Malone: Would your No. 1 goal be to make me look good?

Graziano: What is your capitalization policy?

Malone: I see you’ve had experience working with a tyrant for an owner--how about a fan who doesn’t have a clue and takes his orders from Fox?

Graziano: Can we talk debits and credits?

Malone: What if I told you I really don’t like cussing and I’m the guy that gave all that money to Carlos Perez?

*?/&@#*, there’s no other way to answer that, and damn, that’s the trick question that gets them all--except for old what’s-his-name, who apparently has said everything the search team wants to hear.

I hope he gets receipts for everything, because a Dodger shake-up now looks like a yearly exercise, and everybody deserves what’s coming to them.


THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT should be coming almost any day, but it appears Staples Center has won the bidding war for the 2002 NHL All-Star game, which is played traditionally the first week of February.


Look for the Kings to conduct a “Guess which team Rob Blake will be playing for at that time” contest to mark the All-Star festivities.


WHAT’S THE OVER and under on the number of replays Fox would have shown had Roger Clemens actually hit Mike Piazza with the shattered bat?


IF YOU LISTENED to Fox’s Tim McCarver, Clemens should be serving time instead of presenting his glove to the Hall of Fame.


BY THE WAY, does anyone listen to McCarver?


WITH THE BENEFIT of more than 12 hours of hindsight, didn’t the media go overboard in reacting to Clemens’ bat toss?

If you are a writer covering something like a World Series--ever fearful that you will be up against a deadline by the end of the night--an incident like Sunday night’s is manna from heaven. It allows a writer to sharpen the prose while the game is being played, without being pressured by a deadline.

There wasn’t much else to grab onto until the ninth inning, so columnists across the country went hard with the bat toss and challenged umpire Charlie Reliford’s decision not to eject Clemens.


But Reliford seemed to get it right, understanding that Clemens had lost his cool, but had not aimed the bat at Piazza. Clemens’ ridiculous explanation aside, it seemed like a simple case of no harm, no foul.


DO YOU THINK Keyshawn Johnson threw a flashlight at his $5,000 TV when the Jets’ Wayne Chrebet caught that touchdown pass to tie the Dolphins Monday night?


TODAY’S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Howard:

“What do you make of this? Last Tuesday your column ran next to a box promoting The Times’ Web site: ‘Read the best commentary from Times’ columnists: Bill Plaschke, Randy Harvey, J.A. Adande, Diane Pucin.’ Are your editors sending a writer, as perspicacious as you, a message?”

I’m too shrewd to answer that.


T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail