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Steroid Issue Shouldn’t Bother Dodgers at All

If you’re going to harp on everything that is wrong with the Dodgers, as some people seem to do, to be fair you have to give them credit when it’s warranted.

That’s why I’m happy to report today that the best thing about the Dodgers’ not having a cleanup hitter, or a guy who can hit home runs, or just a plain old guy who can hit, is that you won’t find any of our slugs being accused of using steroids.

Our guys are clean. They aren’t very good, but clean. You didn’t hear Colorado pitcher Turk Wendell’s calling out any of the Dodgers with the suggestion they were on steroids -- as he did Barry Bonds, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear Wendell later begging for the opportunity to pitch against our weaklings.

There has been lots of talk about how skinny Bonds and Jason Giambi appear this spring, some speculating it’s an indication they’re off the juice. If one of the Dodgers looks as though he has lost weight, you can probably assume it’s because of stress from having so many people laughing at him.

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You ask any Dodger about BALCO, and he’s going to want to know what position he plays. Let’s be honest here, if any team needs steroids, it’s the Dodgers.

A number of the teams in the playoffs last year had players who some suspected were using steroids. The Dodgers have made it pretty clear since 1988 that they’d rather not win a playoff game than risk sullying their reputations.

Steroid suspicion can become tedious. Chicago Manager Dusty Baker, tired of being asked by reporters about Sammy Sosa and steroids, said, “It’s like McCarthyism or something. They’re looking to see who looks like a communist.... That’s how I equate it. Oh, he lost weight. He gained weight.”

Baker didn’t make much sense, so you can imagine what a struggle it would be to understand anything Micro-Manager Jim Tracy might have to say if subjected to the same line of questioning. My gosh, I can only imagine the gibberish.

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So it’s really a good thing the Dodgers don’t have any really big, run-producing athletes who can hit a ball out of the park, and probably just as well they don’t seem to be in any hurry to land one. They’re obviously waiting to see who loses weight and who doesn’t before signing another choir boy.

In the meantime, this steroid thing looks as if it’s going to remain a big distraction around baseball with reporters challenging players, and players volunteering to take drug tests -- so long as no one takes them up on the challenge.

The good news, of course, is that we don’t have that problem here because everyone understands what a weak group of players the Dodgers have assembled.

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LAKER COACH Phil Jackson almost appeared irritated when asked if the Lakers could still catch and pass Sacramento. “There are a lot of games left in the season,” Jackson huffed, as if anyone would suggest the Lakers wouldn’t give it their all during the regular season.

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I LOVE Uncle Pete, of course, because I’m a die-hard Trojan fan -- until they lose their next game. But I’m sorry, I don’t buy this benevolent big-brother routine, the one that had Uncle Pete making it sound as if he would provide all the information Mike Williams needed so Williams could make the right decision for Williams.

Nonsense. Carroll was doing what was best for Carroll and his football program. He told The Times in a Feb. 21 story there was no reason for Williams to rush to make a final decision. “He has plenty of time to take a look at this,” he said.

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Four days later he told The Times, “Time’s burning right now and he knows that,” while trying to make a case that Williams was seriously hurting himself by not participating in workouts.

Williams still had until Monday to make a final decision. Missed work in February certainly wasn’t going to affect his USC performance in September, or in early April, when he’ll probably conduct his final private workout for NFL scouts.

Carroll, who thought he had convinced Williams to stay, was needlessly turning up the pressure on Williams, and for only one reason: He wanted what was best for USC, and that was to eliminate Williams as a distraction. An immediate answer would put Williams back at work with teammates or allow Carroll to start making preparations to replace Williams. I guess he got what he wanted.

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DODGER WEBSITE update: The team continues to publicly embarrass its own players, asking fans to vote: Who should hit cleanup behind Shawn Green -- Adrian Beltre, Juan Encarnacion, Robin Ventura or Someone Else?

Someone Else won, of course, and had they made it “Someone Else who is still Somewhere Else,” it’d have been a landslide. Encarnacion, whom Dodger fans have yet to see swing a bat, stands second in voting, obviously because Dodger fans have seen enough of Beltre and Ventura to know better.

I’d imagine tomorrow’s Dodger poll will ask the faithful to pick which date they expect the Dodgers to be eliminated from contention.

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IT WAS great to hear that Steve Mason and John Ireland will have their own radio show on 710 starting next month. I’ve got no interest in Mason & Ireland, but it means one less hour of the Joe McDonnell Show.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Mike Garnet:

“How proud your parents must be when they read your columns each day and know that from time to time you regret some of the things you write. Makes everything OK, or does it?”

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Both of my parents died long ago -- that’s my only regret.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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