As a 50-year-plus L.A. fan (Dodgers, Lakers, 'SC). I wish one thing from any of these teams: a championship before I depart this earth. Watching the Dodgers implode on national TV Sunday made me only hope that this current team has what it takes to bring Dodgers fans a World Series trophy. Then a graphic on the screen shows their record against below .500 and above .500 teams. Yikes! I can't wait for 'SC football to start.
I was finally able to watch a Dodgers game on TV and almost wished I hadn't. Two things became apparent: The Dodgers miss Dee Gordon more than they will admit (speed camp?), and Don Mattingly is not getting any better as a manager. I have read about the late-inning meltdowns, but witnessing them firsthand is worse. The announcers called the Dodgers "lethargic" (ever hear a Tommy Lasorda team described as lethargic?) and questioned Mattingly's moves and non-moves in the bullpen. All we can ask as fans is for the manager to play percentages and put us in the best statistical position to win games. Mattingly does not do that, and the results are becoming predictable.
If I were blind, I could still see that the problem with the Dodgers is Manager Don Mattingly and relievers Jim Johnson and Joel Peralta. Mattingly has no clue as to what he is doing and it was evident this past weekend. It is time for Magic Johnson and the others to say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" The Dodgers are just lucky that they are not out of first place.
Wake up, management. It's time for Mattingly to go! I've been a fan since 1958, but I am seriously thinking of following the Angels.
Andrew Friedman: You have stated that, in effect, you didn't have to give up anything in the trade-deadline deals. After this weekend's implosion in Pittsburgh it is clear you got nothing in return. The Dodgers bullpen is worse now than before the trade(s). You are sending Donnie Baseball to fight a forest fire with a water pistol without any water in it.
It's clear the organization believes in the application of PES. Performance-enhancing statistics. Donnie Baseball's continuous pulling of levers for pitchers and pushing of buttons in daily changes of the lineup prove that. However, when it's pointed out that the Dodgers lose 66% of the time to teams with winning records, Donnie Baseball says that doesn't matter during the regular season. The Dodgers, governed by the Wizard of Loss, believe their fans don't care. Our passion is distracted by the weather and the bouncing beach balls. The players are in a haze, regularly running into outs on the bases. And 1988 was a long time ago. You want fun? Try bringing a championship to L.A. instead of checking to see whether your at-bat was ruled a hit or an error.
If the brilliant Dodgers' brain trust was looking for a new batting practice pitcher this year, they did a great job and found their man in Jim Johnson. And Joel Peralta can be his backup when he gets tired.
I had the strangest dream. I was next in line at the supermarket checkout when the fellow checking out the customer in front of me accidentally rang up the same item twice, messed up the computer trying to fix it, dropped four cans of tuna on the floor, started taking stuff out of the bags he'd already been filling, got something stuck in that conveyor belt, and then spilled the tray of pennies. By then there were 42 people behind me waiting to check out, and we could all see that there was another checker standing off to the side feet away, ready to take over.
The store manager finally came over and replaced the hapless checker with the new one. The store manager's name tag said "Hi, My Name Is Donnie M."
Does the dream mean something?
I see where the Dodgers put reliever Joel Peralta on the 15-day disabled list with a neck strain. Yep, makes perfect sense. It happened when he abruptly turned his head and neck to see his big, fat pitches rocketing out to the bleachers.
Take a deep breath
The Times' usual love affair with USC football has become even more absurd with its inclusion of Cody Kessler as a favorite in the Heisman Trophy race. Sports Illustrated, a venerable national publication, didn't even mention Kessler in its discussion of Heisman hopefuls in its college football preview issue. A thorough review of Kessler's statistics from last year provides a possible explanation for SI's view.
At first blush Kessler's performance last year seemed impressive: connected on more than 69% of his passes for 294 yards per game with 39 touchdowns and only five interceptions. But a closer examination reveals that those gaudy stats came at the expense of the fluff of the Trojans' schedule. Against Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and UCLA (whose combined record was 47-19), Kessler's performance was far less impressive. Against these good teams, he averaged only 207 yards per game, throwing for only four touchdowns with three interceptions. It was against the remainder of the opponents (whose combined record was 45-56) where Kessler shined: 349 yards per game with 35 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
To be truly worthy of the high esteem which The Times bestows upon him, Kessler should be able to perform well against everyone. But by running up numbers against lesser teams, Kessler fooled myopic Trojans fans into believing that he is better than he really is. Bear this in mind before you hand him the Heisman Trophy in August.
Brian C. Gura
Everywhere a hero
It was the 1951 season and we played Cal up north. The first half went lousy and at halftime the Trojans were down 14-0. I was a student manager for the football team and I can tell you the halftime locker room was like a funeral parlor ... only it was quieter. We came out for the second half and Cal kicked to the Trojans. Frank Gifford took the ball fairly deep in our territory and ran it all the way back for our first touchdown. ... The fans of Troy went nuts, the coaches and our bench went crazy, including us "water and wet towel" guys. The final score: USC 21, Cal 14.
That was 64 years ago and I can't remember much else about the game. I can't even remember if the coach was Jess Hill or Don Clark. I do recall that the Bay Area was Trojan Land that night and it was all because of Giff's runback at the start of the second half. He was always gracious to the student managers and never pushed himself as a hero of any kind. I had to miss the 1952 season because I was on my way to Korea, but I'll never forget that game, Gifford or the rest of the team.
Frank Gifford was Monday Night Football. Howard Cosell was the man viewers loved to hate, and Dandy Don did his singing, but Faultless Frank was the steadying force that made Monday Night Football the American tradition it is today.
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