Baseball buzz no longer distant memory in L.A.
Yes, the Dodgers still pack Dodger Stadium most nights, more than 3.5 million fans expected to turn out by season’s end. True, they drew 115,000 for their nostalgic return to the Coliseum this spring for an exhibition.
The fans come for the memories, they come for the experience, they come because Vin Scully tells them to come.
But they don’t come for the buzz. This is a town built on star power, the home of Showtime. And it’s been a long time since the Dodgers had somebody in town with the wattage to create the kind of sizzle Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela produced whenever they took the mound.
It’s been 20 years since Kirk Gibson slugged his game-winning home run in a World Series and it’s still the first moment on every team highlight reel.
Now, they may finally have a new star in Manny Ramirez.
Bad hair, bad attitude. But for the Dodgers, good vibes.
Love him or hate him, nobody ignores Kobe Bryant.
So it could be with the slugger obtained in Thursday’s three-way trade with the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The first evidence of Ramirez’s impact could rumble through the Southland this weekend during the three remaining games with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are battling with the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. All the games are on FSN Prime Ticket. Tonight’s game starts at 7:30, Saturday’s at 7 p.m., Sunday’s at 1 p.m.
The Angels don’t have to worry about being second best to the Dodgers. Or to anybody else for that matter. Not with the best record in baseball.
They already have a star-studded roster, but they too added a big slugger this week in Mark Teixeira. And they too have a big weekend on television against the Yankees in New York, with games today (4 p.m., FSN West), Saturday (12:45 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (10 a.m., Channel 13).
As always, the Dodgers can be heard on radio on 790 and 930, the Angels on 830 and 1330.
With the Lakers and Clippers done wheeling and dealing and the Olympics still on the horizon, baseball has center stage in Southern California this weekend. And two new leading men to amplify the buzz.
Stat of the day
In the wake of the Ramirez trade, ESPN’s Buster Olney cited a number he felt bolstered the Boston Red Sox’s belief that Ramirez could no longer be counted on to give his maximum effort.
Though the Angels’ John Lackey was working on a no-hitter against the Red Sox last Tuesday at Fenway Park, Ramirez, Olney said, was clocked at 5.17 seconds going to first base.
Even Andruw Jones, in his pre-Weight Watchers days, could run faster than that.
Sign of the week
In Wednesday’s Angels-Red Sox game, a camera caught Ramirez holding up a sign in the dugout that read: “I’m going to Green Bay for Brett Favre straight up.”
Dallas, the reality show
Hard Knocks, the weekly HBO show that takes viewers into the trenches of an NFL training camp, returns Wednesday with the lens focused on the Dallas Cowboys and their Oxnard training site.
“A summer training camp is a laboratory of emotions,” said Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, whose cameras will produce over 700 hours of video for the five-week series.
There is no daily game plan heading into this venture. The film, collected by a crew of 24, will determine the story line.
“It’s like building an airplane in flight,” Sabol said.
On the tube
The final three pre-Olympic basketball games for the U.S. men’s team can be seen on ESPN2 today (vs. Lithuania, 5 a.m.), Saturday (vs. Russia, midnight; repeated Sunday at 4 p.m.) and Tuesday (vs. Australia, 5 a.m.). . . . The induction ceremony for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, hosted by Jim Lampley, will be telecast Sunday on Channel 4 at 10:30 a.m. . . . The NFL Hall of Fame induction will be shown Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN and the NFL Network. . . . Sunday’s Hall of Fame game -- Indianapolis vs. Washington -- will be on Channel 4 at 5 p.m. . . . Starting at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, HBO will show a replay of last week’s Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto pay-per-view match followed by the Zab Judah-Joshua Clottey welterweight title fight. . . . X Games action airs today, Saturday and Sunday on either Channel 7, ESPN or ESPN2.