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Garciaparra’s home run is straight out of Lourdes

It’s the beauty of sports, the once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness a miracle, man conquering the impossible, or Nomar Garciaparra hitting a home run.

I don’t believe what I just saw.

The Dodgers sent Hong-Chih Kuo to the minors before the game, undoubtedly to keep the pitcher from getting his second home run of the season and doubling Garciaparra’s totals. Jason Schmidt had already been dispatched to the disabled list earlier with the same number of homers as Garciaparra.

And then wham, some 230 at-bats after hitting a home run in April, Garciaparra hit a ball so hard, it had just enough to tumble over the wall. To his credit, he remembered how to run around the bases.

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Saturday marked the halfway mark in the season, and in the first 81 games, the Dodgers got two home runs from the guy who carried them through much of last season. It’s been a struggle, all right, just like the Dodgers’ season, and maybe they go hand in hand.

Garciaparra, a new father of twins, has been a .336 hitter at home, and a .224 wreck on the road. Time to pipe in babies crying into his hotel room.

You will note, though, that Saturday night’s game had a playoff feel to it, which made it a pretty good bet the Dodgers would lose. But with the pressure turned up, you will also note it was Garciaparra who responded. The sign of a rebirth, or a fluke?

We’re getting to that point in Dodgers history when serious consideration must be given to erecting a statue in Jose Lima’s honor. A generation of youngsters is about to grow up thinking Lima is the franchise’s greatest clutch player.

Lima pitched the Dodgers to their only playoff win since 1988, and did so by going the distance in a shutout. This is great news for the present-day Dodgers, of course, who still have the Lima playoff likes of Mark Hendrickson, Brett Tomko, Chad Billingsley and D.J. Houlton on the roster.

The Dodgers really do have a fight on their hands, and while the Angels have done their part to raise postseason hopes, the only thing the Dodgers have done is raise questions and interest in the July 31 trading deadline.

How much does Jeff Kent have left? Can Luis Gonzalez play this well all season? How much of a talent upgrade do the Padres get from Michael Barrett and Milton Bradley?

Are Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Randy Wolf and a collection of stiffs enough to offset Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux and David Wells?

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Does James Loney wake up, or is he a season-changer? When is Andre Ethier going to be something more than mediocre? Do the Dodgers give up on Wilson Betemit? Does Russell Martin wear down?

Hey, on the bright side, maybe Garciaparra has been saving himself for the second half of the season. After watching him hit a home run, I can be convinced of almost anything.

IS IT just a male thing, or a bad-hair day? I noticed a number of women standing for the national anthem in Dodger Stadium and not removing their baseball caps. What’s up with that?

I PLAYED golf a few days ago with the Baedeker brothers. If there is time to be served someday in purgatory, I thought I might as well get started on it.

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At some point during the round there was no avoiding talking to them, and they mentioned that last week was the 57-year anniversary of their dad’s big break.

Bud Baedeker, and 50 or 60 other guys, used to stand outside Hollywood Park when horse racing was big -- selling tip sheets for a buck. On June 27, 1950, Bud went eight for eight picking winners, the next day hitting four more and a day later completing the three-day stretch with 18 wins in 24 races -- making the “Baedeker Guide” must reading for anyone going to the races in Southern California.

One of the Baedeker brothers, Bob, the one that works for a living, took over the “Baedeker Guide” more than a decade ago, and so how did he do on June 27-28-29 -- 57 years after his father’s dazzling performance? I know this, I lost probably a dozen and a half balls while playing golf with the boys, and that still wasn’t as many races as Bob lost between June 27 and June 29.

As for Rick Baedeker, and I have no idea what he does for a living or if he even works, he told a funny story, and it’s the kind of rare moment that should probably be commemorated.

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According to Rick, his father once helped J. Edgar Hoover pick winners at Del Mar. A day later Hoover wanted him again, but Bud was selling his tip sheets and sent word to Hoover that he should just follow the “Baedeker Guide.”

That wasn’t good enough for Hoover, who also wasn’t one to be trifled with in those days. He wanted to know who Baedeker “really liked,” Rick said. “Well now, Dad prided himself on giving the public his picks while holding nothing back, so he said, ‘Tell Mr. Hoover we’re done.’

“You hear about people who were on J. Edgar Hoover’s list, well, J. Edgar was on Dad’s list.”

MICHELLE WIE, complaining -- and isn’t she always? -- of a sore wrist, pulled out of another tournament while in the middle of a poor round and took her clubs home. She told an NBC reporter, “I just want to keep taking baby steps.”

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Steve Block:

“Happened to browse your column after seeing the picture of James Denton. My criticism is that it seems like every few days you write mainly about the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA trying to raise funds or get donations. Try writing about some inside info if you are able to get any on sports in L.A. since your column appears in the sports section of the newspaper. Take a page from a former columnist Allan Malamud who had your role previously to see his direction for Page 2. Get a job with a nonprofit charitable organization if you want to do some real good in this society. The public will not miss your worthless column at all.”

Thanks for your contribution.

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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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