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Coach remembers Charlie Sheen as cool-headed bullpen ace — at least until he got expelled

Charlie Sheen was an adaptable, even-tempered and not easily rattled figure — just the qualities you’d want in a relief pitcher. …

That, at least, is the recollection of Jose Lopez, the Santa Monica High varsity baseball coach in 1983. …

Lopez says that Sheen, then known as Charlie Estevez, was his bullpen ace, foreshadowing the actor’s unforgettable role as reliever Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the 1989 film “Major League.” …

“He was very, very efficient,” notes Lopez, describing the senior as “an outstanding athlete” and, “with me, a model kid.” …

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The Vikings, who finished third in the Bay League, could have used Sheen in the Southern Section playoffs, where they squandered an early 3-0 lead and lost to future major leaguer Wally Ritchie and Glendale Hoover in an opening-round game. …

Unfortunately, Lopez says, the future “Two and a Half Men” star had been expelled from school two days earlier. …

Lopez, by the way, was a standout soccer player and backup baseball player at UCLA, where his teammates on the baseball team included current Bruins Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. …

Lopez also was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League, helping the Aztecs win the NASL championship as a rookie in 1974. …

A strong finishing kick against Cal kept Alex Stepheson and USC in the running for a possible NCAA tournament bid. …

Mike Scioscia and the Angels won’t care how many letters Kendrys Morales adds to his name as long as the injury-rehabbing first baseman removes the question mark at the end of it. …

Reader Mark Hager of Woodland Hills, reminding that Major League Baseball defines any matchup that starts before 6 p.m. as a “day” game, e-mails to note that the Dodgers’ tradition of daytime home openers technically will continue when they face the San Francisco Giants on March 31 at 5 p.m. …

The Dodgers last opened their home schedule at night in 1995, when a strike wiped out their planned day opener. …

Michael Jordan, endorsing Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls as the NBA’s most valuable player: “And if he doesn’t get it, now he’ll see how I felt a lot of years.” …

Jordan, a five-time MVP, was runner-up to Magic Johnson in 1987 and 1989 and to Karl Malone in 1997. …

Twice, he finished third. …

Strange but true: Malone and John Stockton are the only players in NBA history with as many as 4,000 turnovers. …

Malone, with more than 4,500, is the all-time leader. …

DeAndre Jordan wasn’t the highflier that Boston Celtics fans came to see Wednesday night, but the energetic Clippers center happily put on a show worthy of Blake Griffin. …

A tweak in NHL rules making non-shootout victories the No. 1 tiebreaker in the standings could prove costly to Anze Kopitar and the Kings, who trail a number of Western Conference contenders in the all-important statistical category. …

Tiger Woods, explaining that family obligations preclude him from expanding his tournament schedule: “If you’ve been divorced with kids, then you would understand.” …

Landslide winner: In a USA Today reader survey asking who is the greatest player in UCLA basketball history, 78% of respondents named Lew Alcindor and 19% tabbed Bill Walton. …

Lagging far behind, each garnering about 1% of the vote: Gail Goodrich and Sidney Wicks. …

Ben Howland and UCLA may be headed back to the NCAA tournament, but the Bruins’ average home attendance was their lowest since Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965. …

Leave it to a New York Post headline writer to encapsulate what happened at the end of Wednesday’s St. John’s-Rutgers game: “Johnnies win as clueless refs rob Rutgers in clock crock.” …

Cal State Fullerton and Louisiana State, which between them have won 10 of the last 32 College World Series championships, meet for the first time in a regular-season series this weekend at LSU. …

Mike Tyson’s misidentifying the Michelin Man as the “Michigan Man” this week reminds reader Geoff Strain of Redondo Beach that Tyson once refused to answer a question from UPI because, “One of your drivers ran over my dog.”

jerome.crowe@latimes.com


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