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A Signature Moment for This Relationship

We almost won, we almost won.

Had the streak continued, we would have been in first place, but that’s all right, the guys are still great, and it’s like I was telling my bro Jeff Kent before the game, we’re one big family around here when the Dodgers are going good.

Now you’ve probably heard the stories about Kent, the grouchy, nasty son of a policeman, who bites the head off reporters. Yeah, and the Cookie Monster is really a monster.

The big pussycat has fooled players, reporters and fans for years, even scaring away Grady Little on occasion because he’s still new here and hasn’t learned that Kent is struggling to keep a straight face most of the time.

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“I don’t talk to him much because he yells at me,” Little said, but then Kent yells, glares and mocks everyone -- baseball’s version of Dr. House.

Deep down, of course, he’s a big pussycat, and in fact when I went on my horrible vacation, Kent hung my picture above his locker, just the kind of thing that most of us do when we can’t be around our loved ones.

It was still hanging there when I returned, and I was so proud of him, because I was wearing an Angels cap in the picture and it looked like Kent had stayed within the lines while using his crayons to color it blue.

“It was a cut and paste job,” he explained, and although he said a friend did it for him -- remember, we’re supposed to think he has none -- I could just picture Kent sitting at his dining room table, scissors in hand -- fighting off the inclination to cut someone’s head off, before going to work with his glue stick.

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THE OTHER night Kent hit a home run and then asked for my autograph. Between you and me, I don’t know what took him so long. Shy, I guess.

“I bought this so you’d sign it,” he said, pulling out a Los Angeles Magazine, which included other Times sportswriters trashing Page 2, one of them, who writes about hockey and would have to be considered an expert on such things, calling it a “waste of a space.”

Kent had a big grin on his face when he read the “waste of space” comment, and mentioned it several times before insisting I sign his copy of the magazine, or else. The way brothers sometimes tease each other.

“I’m not going to talk to you again until you do,” he said, throwing me into a panic when I thought of the alternative -- talking to Kenny Lofton again.

I refused to sign, though, until I got his autograph, but then wondered what I was going to do with it. We’re almost family, and I wouldn’t know what to do with my daughter’s autograph, although she has no problem cashing the ones I give her.

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WHEN I suggested letting other fans like me bid for his autograph, the money raised going to Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, he was all for it.

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And the Dodgers were so happy to learn someone might want the autograph of one of their Old Timers, they offered to include two tickets to the team’s first playoff game at home this season.

Because Kent paid for the magazine, I had to buy a $175 Kent jersey. He signed his name and number on it before Wednesday’s game, and said, “I added ‘NL MVP 2000' because that’s something you’ll never be.”

I thought about punching him in the arm, because he’s such a kidder like that, but thought again.

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SO HERE’S the deal, if you want my bro’s autograph on a $175 Dodger jersey along with two tickets to a Dodgers playoff game, all for the benefit of the pediatric cancer ward at Mattel, e-mail your offer before the end of Saturday’s Giants-Dodgers game. If the bidding is brisk, we might extend that to the conclusion of Sunday’s game. Whatever benefits the children’s hospital.

By the way, I noticed Eva Longoria was at Wednesday’s game, and who knows, you might be wearing Kent’s jersey and find yourself sitting next to her at the Dodgers’ first playoff game.

And from what I understand, she likes hanging around with guys who wear jerseys.

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THE DODGERS are the big story in town, but I thought I’d check out the Sparks, trying to do so every three years or so.

I called the Sparks, was told to park in Lot C on Cherry Avenue and arrived to pay $15 for an afternoon game. It’s a considerable walk to Staples, so I cut through the Convention Center garage, which is adjacent to Staples, and learned you can park there for $10.

The Anschutz lot is farther away, more crowded and costs $5 more.

An Anschutz Empire spokesman said “it was an oversight,” and said in the future Lot C and the Convention Center parking will be the same price. I guess that’s the last time we’ll see $10 parking for a basketball game.

Once inside, I thought I’d chat with Lisa Leslie before the game because I’ve never heard of anyone else who plays for the Sparks. I put in a request, and a Sparks official said Leslie would speak to me after returning from chapel.

I think some players probably should pray before we meet, but I didn’t think Leslie had any reason.

I waited, and then was told to talk to her on the court. That was just before I was told she wouldn’t talk until after the game.

I figured I could wait the three years before my next visit to hear what she had to say, and left.

After all, I had a long walk to my car and a meaningful Dodgers game to attend.

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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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