ST. LOUIS -- It happens overnight, the Dodgers relevant again, fun and preparing to sell baseball caps with dreadlocks attached, everybody charged up by the arrival of Manny Ramirez -- except for Juan Pierre.
Is there some kind of rule that says every time we are rewarded with athletic excellence we're also supposed to be reminded how selfish today's millionaires can be?
Boo-hoo, says Pierre, it's great the Dodgers were able to land Ramirez, but what about me?
What happened to that old expression, Little Leaguers should be seen but not heard?
Dodgers fans are starting to think playoffs, maybe a Freeway Series, but the Boo-Hoo Kid, two years into a five-year contract calling for $44 million, is unhappy the Dodgers might advance at his personal expense.
Andre Ethier is the only player in uniform with a legitimate gripe of not enough playing time, and he's not saying anything to disrupt the 25-man effort to win it all. OK, so make that 24-man effort, not counting Pierre.
"All I've ever done was be Juan Pierre," Pierre tells The Times' Dylan Hernandez, and every once in a while we're reminded what a ridiculous job this is -- writing down the inane things some athletes have to say.
"I don't know why, for some reason, they're just sticking it to me this year," Pierre says, after moving from left field to center field because Ramirez is more hitter than defender.
"I applaud the move," says Pierre. "Any time you get a chance to get Manny Ramirez, you get him. But from a personal standpoint, it's putting me in a tough position."
I would argue the best position for Pierre is on the bench, waiting to pinch-run and swipe a base. Then grab a shower.
If Andruw Jones is earning his keep these days, Jones is playing center, flanked by Ramirez and Matt Kemp, while Pierre returns to getting mistaken for a bat boy.
"To be honest," Pierre tells Hernandez, "if we're winning and Andruw starts hitting, I'll probably be back on the bench. That's that power they went out and got in the off-season."
And he's never gotten over that, much like Gary Matthews Jr., the Dodgers and Angels trying to upgrade in center field.
OK, so maybe Pierre doesn't really mean what he says, so I ask him whether this is how he really feels.
"Write whatever you want to write," Pierre says, and so OK, what a self-centered brat, Manny mania the best thing that's happened to the Dodgers in years, and Pierre pouting.
Happy days are here again, although you'd never know it by the grim look on Pierre's face, Manager Joe Torre talking about Ramirez's arrival and saying, "Everybody personality-wise on the team now seems to be in a better place."
But what about Pierre?
"I was talking about as a team," Torre says, which obviously leaves out the Boo-Hoo Kid.
JONES HAS caught a case of Manny Mania -- better, of course, than Ramirez catching a case of Jonesitis.
Jones and Ramirez now hang out together in the clubhouse, one coach contending that Ramirez's free-wheeling attitude and his professional approach to hitting might be just the key to relaxing Jones.
Fast forward to the ninth inning, the Dodgers down, 4-0, and Jones comes up as a pinch-hitter and hits a ball more than 400 feet for a home run.
You can also imagine the terror gripping those in the Cardinals' dugout, Ron Villone throwing two pitches to Jones, and Jones hitting one out of sight.
Manager Tony La Russa is so rattled, he immediately jerks Villone from the game, the Dodgers going on to tie it.
Took them two whole innings to recover, but the Cardinals won it in 11.
STOPPED TO see the Angels before taking a red eye to St. Louis to hang with Manny, and heard Mark Teixeira say his three favorite places to play are New York, Seattle and Anaheim.
Is it safe to assume he will sign next year with New York, Seattle or the Angels?
"I said my three favorite stadiums are in those places," Teixeira said.
"So it just comes down to money and who pays you the most, and that's where you will play next year?" I said.
Teixeira was taken aback. "Am I on 'Candid Camera'?"
Close. Page 2.
TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Alan Nahmias:
"I am not taking a position on whether Manny should cut his hair, but if he did, he could donate it to 'Locks For Love,' a group that collects hair to make wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment. My son, Blake, has donated his hair twice to this great cause, and has come away feeling very gratified. Just a thought, but there'd be another positive coming out of this if it were to happen."
If he doesn't get it cut, we'll use Torre's donation, after he loses his bet, to buy each kid at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA a Dodgers cap with dreads attached. Either way, the kids win.