Dodgers would make Barnum proud on so Manny levels

There’s a sucker born every minute, and Frank McCourt is counting on that so he can continue to fill Dodger Stadium.

This last week, McCourt played Dodgers fans and the baseball world for fools, ESPN buying into it with a crawl at the bottom of the screen and headlines on its website: “Dodgers make huge offer to retain Manny.” called it a “monstrous offer” and Ken Rosenthal began his story, “Even if the Dodgers are unable to re-sign Manny Ramirez, no one will be able to accuse GM Ned Colletti of not trying.”

My old broadcasting pal, Fred Roggin, said he had talked to McCourt and then commended McCourt for stepping to the plate presumably because he agreed to talk to him.

The Dodgers’ website reported and continues to report the offer to Ramirez was “believed to be in the neighborhood of two years at $55 million,” although most every other report had it closer to $45 million.


But whether it was knowing or unknowing exaggeration, promising words like huge and monstrous or misinformed commentary, McCourt got his message to season-ticket holders: “Look, I’m doing everything I can to bring back Manny.”

If true, then maybe he ought to read his own website, Manager Joe Torre quoted as saying, “I think he’d like to come back, but I think he’s at a point in his career where he wants some longevity, and I understand that.”

Everyone in baseball knows Ramirez wants some longevity, so why did the Dodgers use their exclusive negotiating window with agent Scott Boras to make an offer they knew would be unacceptable? Just for show, of course, McCourt consistently mindful of image, going through more PR consultants than GMs and managers.

The only thing that should matter is that Ramirez means more to the Dodgers than any free agent means to any other team.

The Dodgers became relevant again, and only because of Ramirez. If you’re going to make a franchise-changing/saving offer at a time when no one else can, the only offer made should be one so good it can’t be turned down -- before anyone else gets the chance to enter the bidding.

The Angels covet Mark Teixeira and are in the same situation as the Dodgers with the same agent, but they haven’t made an offer for Teixeira, or if they have, no one’s heard about it.

We know about the Dodgers’ offer because they wanted everyone to know about it even though they readily admitted Boras was probably going to wait and listen to others Nov. 14.

“We said think about it for a while,” Colletti told Boras. “It’s not going to be there forever.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was written in invisible ink, because I remain unconvinced McCourt really wants Ramirez back.

Maybe it was just an opening bid, as some contend, although Colletti has already talked about taking it back. Maybe McCourt spends the rest of this week using this exclusive window to close a deal for Ramirez.

Or maybe the Dodgers will just go with Juan Pierre or Andruw Jones in Ramirez’s place.

Anything you want me to pass along to McCourt?

WHILE TORRE waits on Ramirez, he’s already lost the thrill of looking forward to next year’s Kentucky Derby.

He owned a piece of the favorite, Vineyard Haven, but trainer Bobby Frankel had a bigger stake and sold the horse to Sheikh Mohammed this week. The horse is going to be shipped to Dubai to train for the Derby.

Mohammed also owns Midshipman, the 2-year-old Breeders’ Cup champion and the other top choice to win the Derby. Midshipman is also being sent to Dubai.

Now horse racing is losing horses as well as fans.

KARL DORRELL went to a bowl game every year while at UCLA. Preacher Rick needs to beat Washington, Arizona State and USC, or buy a ticket if he hopes to go to a bowl game this season.

They tell me Preacher Rick grabbed the microphone and talked to the UCLA faithful who remained in the Rose Bowl after the game. Wouldn’t think he’d need a microphone to talk to so few people.

THERE IS nothing more exhilarating at a football game than a flyover by jets, four of them from Beale Air Force Base buzzing the Coliseum.

ANTHONY DAVIS wasn’t where he was a week ago signing autographs for 10 bucks a signature. Maybe he was catching up on his Anthony Davis Foundation paperwork.

IN THOSE year-end stories, who will be listed as a bigger bust: The Angels or the USC football team?

The Pac-10 is just dreadful, easy pickings for such a powerhouse as USC, and yet the Trojans lost to Oregon State, struggled against Arizona and did nothing to make their case with BCS observers with their performance against Cal.

Style points mean everything under the BCS format, human voters weighing in along with computers, and the Trojans didn’t do enough against Arizona and Cal.

The Trojans don’t belong in the national championship argument any longer, which is such a letdown after the way they began this season against Virginia and Ohio State.

But they should be favored in the Holiday Bowl.

A TWO-WEEK vacation, which does not include a stop in Angryville, begins today. I hope this doesn’t mean I miss the Clippers’ win this season.