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Finley Remembers That Charity Begins at Home

The granddaughter and I were talking the other day on her two-month birthday, and while I know there are some in the family who haven’t heard her talk yet, I’m not surprised she hasn’t let on to some of them.

We’ve been on the same wavelength, of course, for some time now, and we were talking about Steve Finley, because you can tell already that she has this thing for old men.

She wanted to know if Finley was a G.P. like me, because he always seems to have the day off, and I smiled, and she really liked that. I wouldn’t be surprised if she tells all her friends that she can get her G.P. to smile whenever she wants.

We were lucky, of course, to have a healthy kid, which gave me the idea of pitching a challenge to Finley shortly after her birth. Surprisingly, he didn’t whiff, agreeing to donate $100 to Mattel Children’s Hospital pediatric cancer ward for every hit down the stretch for the benefit of youngsters not as fortunate as the 7-Eleven Kid.

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Manager Mike Scioscia immediately matched Finley’s offer -- knowing he’d just keep the guy on the bench and not have to donate very much.

There wasn’t much argument when Finley failed to hit the ball, prompting Finley at one point to amend his contribution to the kids’ hospital and agree to donate $100 for every game he remained on the bench.

That was important, because Finley has been a bigger help to the kids sitting on the bench -- donating $2,100 for games he’s failed to pick up a bat, and another $1,400 for hits actually delivered.

I offered to donate $500 if Finley went four for four, but, like Scioscia, I got off easy knowing there’s a better chance Bengie Molasses would hit an inside-the-park home run before we’d see Finley go four for four.

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Finley was in the lineup Thursday night, however, and Scioscia explained why. “I had my taxes done and found I could use some more [charitable] deductions. I hope he comes through; that would be beautiful.”

It’d also be a miracle. “I still think he’s going to be productive,” Scioscia said.

I checked for myself, watched Finley take batting practice, and as I later told him, I was impressed. “You didn’t miss a single pitch.”

He said, “Say what you want, but I’m not giving up. I still believe I’m going to make a difference.”

He already has -- as far as the kids at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA is concerned, but that’s our little secret. Let’s see if he can still REALLY make a difference down the stretch -- and into the World Series.

I think it’d be very nice if Scioscia had to write down a really big charitable donation on his tax return.

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THE ANGELS put Plaschke and I on the scoreboard -- on “Kiss Cam.” All I have to say is it would be nice the next time if Plaschke shaved.

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THE ANGELS have gone 6-0 since I called them out for being potential chokers, but now I’m going to be out of town for the weekend and the newspaper will be sending Plaschke with the Angels when they go to Oakland next week. If the Angels gag in Oakland, I’d urge them to blame sports editor Bill Dwyre for sending him there and keeping me home. I hope he’s not predicting that a sad tale will be told.

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SHAQUILLE O’NEAL has one more admirer, but now there’s one more reason to discount the Miami Heat’s chances of winning the NBA title: Gary Payton.

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SAN DIEGO, the little village located south of Los Angeles, has always had an identity crisis, which explains this weekend’s most overblown story: Eli Manning’s visit to San Diego after making it clear before the NFL draft he didn’t want to play for the Spanos Goofs.

Under the headline: “Bitter fans counting on Chargers to stick it to Eli” on the San Diego Union-Tribune’s website, writer Jay Posner quotes an e-mail received from long-time Charger fan Terry Rice: “If Eli tears it up, I would say that would be the lowest point ever for this fan.... It’s not about the Giants; it’s all about the slap in the face from Eli Manning.”

I’d be upset, too, if that meant I was stuck with Drew Brees, but Manning made it clear he had nothing against San Diego. He had never been to the city before the draft, but apparently he knew enough NFL history to know the Chargers never get it right.

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I was covering the Broncos when John Elway returned to Baltimore his rookie season after insisting he would not play for the Colts -- before you were born, the Colts played in Baltimore.

The fans booed Elway most of the day until he was relieved by Steve DeBerg, but I’m sure they were watching on TV later in the year when he played the Colts in Denver and threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to wipe out a 19-0 Baltimore lead. It was the first of 47 career comebacks, while the Colts would go on to load their gear into trucks and move to Indianapolis.

I wonder if the Chargers will eventually load their gear into trucks and start driving up the interstate ... something for the local yokels to ponder.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Scott Parker:

“This is not the only reason I’m an Angels’ fan. Here is a link related to (Los Angeles Department of Health Services, listing restaurant closures:) ‘Dodger Stadium (STD #427), 1000 Elysian Park Ave 427, Los Angeles. Date closed: September 06, 2005. Reason for closure: Gross contamination of utensils/equipment ... vermin infestation.’ ”

I guess the rats aren’t abandoning the sinking ship yet.

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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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