Some Words of Wisdom That You Can Bank On

I believe I am writing my final column for The Times.

You can take your e-mails and shove 'em . . . to someone who will read them.

No more deadlines, no more Dwyre, no more trying to decipher letters scribbled in finger-paint from hockey fans.

Call it a feeling, but I am absolutely convinced by the time the editors get done manhandling these sentences Saturday night, I will have won the largest California SuperLotto Plus jackpot in history and will be watching the Lakers next season from my new front-row seat next to Jack Nicholson.

MY WIFE must have lotto intuition. She has been on a spending spree for the last 20 years in anticipation of this moment. I'm hoping $141 million minus taxes will cover it.

"If you're quitting your job, we can spend more time together," she said in her most recent telephone call from Nordstrom's. "Maybe learn to square-dance."

OK, SO I'll be back to work Monday, but this time as a millionaire, and Dwyre still can . . . never mind.

But like you, I wonder how I will perform with all that money. Will I become Darren Dreifort overnight--my mind wandering in the middle of a column and losing the train of thought?

If Dreifort is the Jeff George of baseball, will I become the SoCal Living columnist of the sports pages?

Dreifort, looking for a raise, went 8-2 down the stretch last year--a remarkable achievement for a pitcher who doesn't have a career mark of .500--demonstrating how hard someone will work to make an extra buck.

I missed "NYPD Blue" to go to a hockey game--you think there is any chance of that happening again now that I'm going to be a millionaire?

Dreifort has a no-trade clause, but I've always operated under the theory no other newspaper would trade for me. Nothing has changed there.

But the biggest difference between us always has been the guaranteed money. Dreifort knows he is going to get $55 million no matter how he pitches. If I win the Pulitzer Prize for 20 consecutive years, which means Plaschke would have to ghost-write my columns, I figure I'd still have to work 187 more years for the Tribune Co. to get close to Dreifort.

Right now I write columns on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and it's always touch-and-go whether they will allow me back to try again on Saturday. My survival is based somewhat on performance and the fact none of our top editors read the sports section.

As a lottery winner, though, I wonder if I will lose my edge and become the Tim Salmon of journalism?

Salmon was a .291 lifetime batter until he received a $40-million contract extension on top of a $22.5-million deal. Before Saturday night's game, Salmon had officially stepped to the plate 224 times--returning 176 times to the dugout without a hit for a .214 average. Write 224 columns and miss 176 times, and you're never going to make it to page one of the sports section. Come to think about it. . . .

I imagine Salmon was hungry early in his career. I know I put on 20 pounds from the stress of writing about the Sparks, always fearful that someone might make me go to one of their games. You'd write your very best to avoid something like that too.

Salmon was an American League rookie of the year, doing his best to impress. I talked Notre Dame and tennis with Dwyre, doing my best to impress and all at the risk of dying from boredom.

Let's face it, money changes many things. I went to Hollywood Park the other day trying to guess which one of Bob Baffert's horses was drugged because I needed a winner to make the cell phone payment to keep in contact with my wife at Nordstrom's. If I have $141 million, I'm probably accepting a collect call from Salma Hayek.

Kobe Bryant just bought a $13.5-million, 16,000-square-foot house in Orange County with a half-scale replica of a pirate ship on a lagoon with waterfalls, slides and man-made caves. I hope to move into the guard-gated community--designed to keep Phil Jackson out--as soon as I get my lump-sum lotto payment.

I'll be spending more time with rich people, of course, which will be a nice change from having to hang around newspaper people. But like Salmon, who no longer stings the ball, I wonder if I'll still be able to get a rise out of people and generate mail for Saturday's viewpoint page.

The thing about guaranteed money is there is no guarantee you will get top performance in return. The Dodgers owe Gary Sheffield more than $30 million in guaranteed money and Saturday night he dropped a routine fly ball, the kind of ball any Little League player in L.A. catches. Apparently millionaires have a tough time maintaining their concentration.

I'll let you know.

FYI: MY numbers for Saturday's drawing were 12, 16, 21, 24, 28 with a mega number of 2.

If for some reason they are not identical to those drawn in the lottery, let me say this: If Dwyre--the very best boss in the world--wants me to go to a Sparks' game, I'm there.

I TUNED into the NHL draft Saturday because I was eager to learn where my favorite Russian players landed.

ALTHOUGH Times handicapper Bob Mieszerski has 113 more victories than Curtis Crayon, it's money that counts. Crayon's 27 victories have returned $756 dollars--$16 more than Mieszerski.

While Crayon's payoff has shocked the horse world, they're both losers. If you followed their choices at Hollywood Park, they have made their selections based on $850.

JOHN ROCKER'S arrival in town gives a whole new meaning to the old Cleveland expression, "The Mistake by the Lake."

JO LASORDA'S husband, Tom, brought Notre Dame football Coach Bob Davie to the Dodger game Friday night apparently covering all his bases just in case "The Great Dodger in the Sky" has Fighting Irish roots.

THE WAY 11-year-old Aly Meisterling sang the national anthem before Saturday's game, the Dodgers should have her sing at every game. At least that would guarantee someone in Dodger Blue would belt one out every game.

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