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It’s Stiff Competition as Hendrickson Gets Nod

The Mets picked up Shawn Green on Tuesday in preparation for the playoffs, and so my first reaction was to urge the Dodgers to replace Mark Hendrickson with the 6-8 Little League kid from Saudi Arabia, making it an immediate improvement as well as a solid play for the future.

But I believe in giving folks a chance, even if they are a proven stiff and opponents are hitting .311 off them, which is why I suggested to Manager Grady Little he go ahead and pitch the guy that everyone loves to hit -- as long as he started the game with Aaron Sele already warming up in the bullpen.

Little acknowledged he had already done that, warming up a reliever next to the starting pitcher, but that was in the minor leagues. And Hendrickson isn’t there yet.

When Hendrickson pitched recently in L.A., our guys were the toast of the town and winning almost every game, and yet Dodgers fans really let the big stiff have it when he got roughed up.

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“That reaction was a little surprising,” acknowledged Little, but it tells you how much the expectations of Dodgers fans have been raised.

And they should continue to soar. The Dodgers and Angels began Tuesday’s play with identical records, but the Angels will play the final 37 games against nine teams with a combined record of 62 games above .500.

The Dodgers’ remaining opponents are collectively 34 games below .500, which gives our guys a great opportunity to stay on top of the standings. The Dodgers versus Green and Paul Lo Duca; how much fun would that be?

Increased success, though, as easy as it might come, will get everyone looking ahead to the playoffs while lowering the tolerance level for anyone who might ruin those plans a la Mr. Hendrickson. That’s why it was essential for Hendrickson to pitch well against the Padres, and while he gave up only one run, the offense apparently came to the park knowing it really didn’t matter how many runs it scored, because it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the fact Hendrickson was pitching.

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Consider your own expectations when you knew Hendrickson, 1-5, was going to start against the Padres. Game over.

Hendrickson will undoubtedly get another start, the Dodgers thrilled by the one-run aberration, but it was still another loss. And by way of comparison, I still like the upside of that kid who plays for Saudi Arabia.

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ESPN MONDAY Night Football so-called funnyman, Tony Kornheiser, who also works for the Washington Post, was criticized by his paper after his debut and lashed back on a national radio show, calling his Post colleague “a two-bit weasel slug ... who I would gladly run over with a Mack truck given the opportunity.”

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Kornheiser got tagged again, but this time by a different Post critic after Monday night’s Cowboys-Saints game.

” ... Kornheiser observed, matter-of-factly, that it was ‘five thousand degrees’ on the field in Shreveport,” wrote the critic. “Five thousand degrees? It could not have been more than 90. At 5,000 degrees, Tony, steel melts. The entire stadium and everyone in it would have been incinerated -- including Kornheiser. The viewers, alas, had no such luck.”

I think I hear Kornheiser warming up the Mack truck.

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TO HYPE pokerbility.com’s World Series of Strip Poker, Playboy playmate Colleen Marie is challenging any radio talk show host to a game of strip poker. I never thought I’d regret the fact I do a radio show with my daughter.

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THE OTHER day I heard ESPN’s Dan Patrick mention the name of my really good buddy, Gene Wojahwski, or Wajablowski or whatever his name is. Patrick said he read something that my really good buddy had written, and while that was shocking, he said my really good buddy had called Tiger Woods the greatest athlete of all time.

“I disagree,” Patrick said. “Not even close. Maybe it’s just because he’s in shape and other [golfers] aren’t. Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie aren’t athletes. My all-time great athlete is Jackie Robinson.”

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Later, Patrick put the question to Michael Irvin, and surprisingly Irvin didn’t mention himself, while going with Magic Johnson.

I’d go with Wayne Gretzky, but then no one would believe it.

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TUESDAY WAS an off day, but you can imagine how nervous they must’ve been today, waking up and wondering if it will be their turn to be euthanized at Del Mar this afternoon.

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Consider all the get-well cards sent to Barbaro, and while I would imagine he’s still trying to read them all, so far 14 horses have been put down at Del Mar through 29 days of racing like that’s just how it goes -- making it one almost every two days, which suggests one is due today.

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ESPN RAN a mock fantasy draft the other day, and while I know you’re kicking yourself for missing it, I found it interesting, as well as enlightening, the NFL’s best inside information guy, Chris Mortensen, passed on several proven running backs to use the sixth pick in the first round on Reggie Bush.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes from e-mailer Bob Jackson:

“I can believe an erudite elocutionist such as Grady Little using the word ‘regiment’ instead of ‘regimen’ (to refer to Nomar Garciaparra’s quirks), but I find it hard to believe a ‘supposedly’ accomplished journalist such as yourself would not have qualified that with the addiction of a (sic).”

It’s clearly a mistake, but no reason to call someone sic.

T.J. Simers can be reached at

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t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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