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Stay in the Race and They Will Be Put to the Test

When I asked one of the Dodgers’ PR guys to tell the Boston Parking Lot Attendant I wanted to speak with him before Tuesday’s game with the Giants, he said he wasn’t sure the Dodgers’ owner was in town.

Silly me, I forgot the Red Sox were playing the Yankees, and he’d be otherwise occupied.

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I NOTICED after the Giants had batted in the first, however, that the Parking Lot Attendant had taken his seat behind home plate. I checked the Internet, and yes, the Red Sox game had just ended. I would’ve never dreamed he had the money to buy the DirecTV baseball package.

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Anyway, I wouldn’t have bothered him had I known the Red Sox had such a big week ahead of them, but I had read in the morning paper that Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta had said the results of the next month would determine whether the Dodgers would be buyers or sellers before the July 31 trading deadline.

If the Dodger owner has no money, the last thing he’s going to want is a team in contention nearing the trading deadline and public pressure building to acquire better players and add to the team’s payroll.

A team in contention also eliminates the chance to dump Adrian Beltre and Odalis Perez for minor league prospects at the deadline -- rather than letting them walk away during the off-season as high-priced free agents.

So I just wanted to know if the Parking Lot Attendant would be cheering openly against the Dodgers in the next month.

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ANOTHER DODGERS’ PR guy said he’d deliver the team’s owner.

A short time later I watched as the PR guy took a seat behind home plate next to the Screaming Meanie; you know, the Parking Lot Attendant’s wife. I figured that if the PR guy mentioned that I wanted to talk to Frank McCourt, the Screaming Meanie would go bonkers.

Sure enough, a few minutes later the Dodgers’ PR guy said the Parking Lot Attendant would be unavailable, a blessing, I guess, when you consider I might’ve had to take a seat between the Parking Lot Attendant and the Screaming Meanie -- and me, the only one rooting for the Dodgers to beat the Giants. But I guess that’s what Dodger baseball has become.

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IT’S 1-1, bottom of the eighth, runner on third, Paul Lo Duca at the plate and Dodger fans are going crazy. The Parking Lot Attendant and the Screaming Meanie are sitting silent in their seats. They must be really nervous.

Lo Duca singles, Dodgers go ahead of the Giants. I notice the Boston twosome coming to their feet and clapping madly -- they obviously know the next batter is Shawn Green.

The Dodgers win -- wouldn’t it be fun if the Dodgers remained in contention for a while and really made the owners miserable?

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THEY CONDUCTED a news conference Tuesday for the Sept. 18 Oscar De La Hoya-Bernard Hopkins fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas because it’s never too early to start hitting up fans for the $54.95 pay-per-view.

The fighters stood on the steps of a lavish set, spotlights on the fighters moving up the steps, turning and placing their hands on their hips in perfect synchronization. I asked someone whether they thought the fight would be staged too, but I got this look as if something like that would never happen in boxing.

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THE PROMOTERS had me meet privately with De La Hoya, so I wouldn’t call him a flabby whiner in public. When I asked him about being flabby, he patted me on the tummy, and said, “I almost looked like you.”

He said he made a mistake before his controversial victory over Felix Sturm, training in Vero Beach, Fla., where the Dodgers work out, which explains a lot. I don’t know of anyone who leaves Vero Beach in shape to do anything but lose.

“Tom Lasorda is my buddy,” he said, and his eating role model as well.

He’ll train in Big Bear, and he said he’s in for the fight of his life, “because I’m an underdog for the first time in my life. It’s just like the Pistons.”

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I suggested if he really wanted to train under trying circumstances, he ought to go spend some time in Detroit like the Pistons.

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I RAN into attorney Robert Shapiro, and took for granted he was at the news conference trolling for clients. After all, it was a boxing news conference. He said he’s a big boxing fan, and just wanted to hear the fighters speak. He passed on the food, much to the relief of promoter Bob Arum, who was paying for it, and then Shapiro tried to convince me the sport of boxing has an intellectual appeal. I listened to him, and all I’ve got to say is it’s a good thing I wasn’t on that jury, if you know what I mean.

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THEY TOLD me Hopkins served time in a penitentiary for armed robbery, so I asked Shapiro whether he had been Hopkins’ attorney. He said he hadn’t represented Hopkins, but if it made for a better story, go ahead, use it and “take some license,” he said. “Dominick Dunne [who wrote about the O.J. Simpson case] does.”

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from T. Akopian:

“The solution to trading Shaq is simple. Trade Shaq and his ridiculous $30 million salary for $30 million worth of cheerleaders, so there would be a handful of cheerleaders in every section at Staples. That way, even if the Lakers go 0-82, all games will be sold out. What do you think, T.J.”

Jerry Buss has been experimenting with an idea like this, taking young ladies to Laker games for years, and so far he hasn’t complained.

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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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