The Dodgers are feeling a bit tight around the collar


I guess this would be the appropriate time to point out the difference between winning and losing to the Choking Dogs.

And why it’s so important to finish on top.

Everybody feels great and is just the greatest when you win.

In this case, if the Dodgers win again, the champagne is going to flow, erasing everything that is no good, including Manny Ramirez’s remarkable ability not to touch the ball in his last nine at-bats, which include two walks and seven strikeouts.

The Angels clinched the other day and Dwyre was so moved, he wrote a column for The Times’ website, going gooey over almost every one of them.


I think he had one of them helping old ladies across the street between innings while praising Gary Matthews Jr. for taking his $10 million from the team without a word of complaint.

The guy never had a nice thing to say about anyone when he was sports editor of The Times, the Notre Dame monster that he was, but the Angels win and suddenly Kendry Morales is better than Mark Teixeira, although the fine print lists Teixeira as the American League’s leader in home runs and RBIs.

Now as you know, the Dodgers are choking, and while they still have the best record in the National League, they are close to establishing themselves as the laughingstock of baseball.

The difference between winning and losing was evident again in the morning newspaper, most everyone else pegging Andre Ethier as the Dodgers’ MVP this season, while Times beat reporter Dylan Hernandez was making the case to bench him.

What have you done for us lately, Ethier?

Now I have no idea why these guys at The Times have to be so negative, but I can tell you this, right now he’s sitting in the front row of the Dodgers’ press box next to Plaschke.

In his depressing story, Hernandez refers to an unnamed baseball scout, much like he does, I’m sure, when he turns in his expense account.


This unnamed scout says Ethier is “an out” when he bats against left-handed pitchers. He suggests playing Juan Pierre.

I presume he’s a scout for Philadelphia or St. Louis looking to get an edge next week in the playoffs, hoping Hernandez might influence Joe Torre to sit the guy.

Pretty much everyone in baseball knows Torre doesn’t do much without first consulting with Hernandez, so the strategy makes sense, but Ethier is probably closer to the truth when he says, “It’s probably the same scout who didn’t think I’d make it in the major leagues and recommended I not be taken until after the 37th round.”

Hernandez, the muckraker, spent the first 41 paragraphs of his story trashing Manny Ramirez, and while probably instructed by an editor to write 47 paragraphs, he unbelievably ran short.

If you can’t put together 47 paragraphs absolutely annihilating Ramirez for inept play, well, heaven help Hernandez if he’s ever assigned to the Clippers.

Hernandez devoted the final six graphs of his downer to Ethier, who has six game-ending hits this year, including one that I remember against a left-handed pitcher.


Hernandez made the point that Ethier, while hitting better than .300 against right-handers, is hitting .189 against left-handers, letting everyone know that the pricey dinner he had on The Times’ dime is a justifiable business expense because the scout recommended benching Ethier.

“Typical, we’re losing and someone has to be blamed,” Ethier says, and did I mention Plaschke is sitting right next to Hernandez?

So what happens -- first inning and Ethier gets a hit against a right-handed pitcher. Take that, Hernandez. A few innings later he throws a player out at the plate. Pierre doesn’t get the throw as far as the infield.

Seventh inning, Dodgers losing 4-2, and the Micro Manager goes to the Colorado bullpen because he read Hernandez’s story. He brings in a left-hander, hitting coach Don Mattingly spotted in the Dodgers’ dugout encouraging Ethier and telling him to forget Hernandez.

Ethier then singles to left to drive in a run.

Had the Dodgers gone on to win, Hernandez would have credited Russell Martin’s home run with getting it all started.

IT’S STILL early, and maybe things change as the night goes on. But Ramirez has just struck out with runners on second and third.


His last 10 at-bats have gone this way: strikeout, pop-up, double play, strikeout, strikeout, walk, walk, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. Take away the walks, which are not considered official at-bats, and he has struck out five straight times. His bobblehead could do that.

Fifth inning, and he strikes out again, six consecutive, and it sounds like everyone who was on their feet a few innings earlier chanting, “Manny, Manny” is now booing.

Seventh inning, another whiff and more than anyone, Manny needs a champagne bath to wash away the stench of disappointment.

IT ONLY looked as if the Dodgers were sending him a personal message. When Ramirez came to the plate in the first inning, they showed pictures of him on the scoreboard along with a circle and inside the circle the words, “Get Crackin’.”

You can certainly understand why, but apparently it’s some kind of sponsor trying to sell nuts, the Dodgers saying it’s used for every Dodgers hitter coming to the plate, and you can certainly understand why.

ANYONE WHO tried hanging in there for the National Anthem before the start of Friday night’s game in Dodger Stadium must feel two years older.


I think I counted 11 syllables in “wave” as sung by Jimmy Demers -- great voice and all that, but just sing it. It was as if he was getting paid by the minute.

He had Cheryl Tiegs waiting for him off to the side, so why he wasn’t in more of a hurry, I have no idea.