The Sports Report: Are the Dodgers holding all the aces?

Tony Gonsolin
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to the news.


At the trade deadline, the eyes of many Dodgers fans were on pitcher Dustin May. After all, he was the team’s top pitching prospect and in high demand in any trade around the league involving the Dodgers.

But maybe those eyes, and those demands, should have centered on Tony Gonsolin instead.

Gonsolin took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and pitched six shutout innings in an 8-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.


“Just in complete control tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It was really, really fun to watch.”

“I’ve learned to just trust my stuff,” said Gonsolin. “I feel like learning that i can compete here whenever I get the opportunity, whether it’s starting or out of the ‘pen, I think that’s a great experience for me and great to know.”

The last time these two clubs met, Gonsolin was one start into his triple-A career and the Cardinals (58-53) completed a four-game sweep in St. Louis. It was early April. The Dodgers emerged from the trouncing 8-8. They have since gone 67-34 and opened a season-high 18-game lead in the National League West, solidifying themselves, undoubtedly, as the team to beat in the National League. The Cardinals have since gone 50-48. They are clawing for a playoff berth. The disparity was evident Monday.

“I’ll take our chances against anybody,” Roberts said. “I don’t think that any team is a barometer for us. I think we kind of set the bar.”

More baseball reading:

Rich Hill could be a bullpen option in the playoffs for Dodgers

Angels’ loss spoils Patrick Sandoval’s solid debut


Angels’ Andrew Heaney is expected to return this weekend


Shareef O’Neal was preparing to start his career at UCLA last year when he “felt funny” during practices. He was diagnosed with an anomalous coronary artery — a congenital heart defect that caused an artery to grow in the wrong place.

He underwent open-heart surgery on Dec. 13, 2018. Now he’s back. Mia Berry has more:

“The recovery was probably the easiest part,” said Shaunie O’Neal, his mother . “It was the pre-surgery and surgery that was the toughest part. Recovery, it was just patience for him. I know he was frustrated and wanted to get back faster, [but] we pushed through.”

“The pain after his surgery was unlike anything O’Neal had felt before. Still, he wanted to walk around the hospital just days afterward.


“Sitting around for months and not being able to play challenged him mentally.

“The recovery was hard. It was hard to sit around and do nothing for almost a year,” he said. “So the mental side I had crazy thoughts in my head [and] people telling me this and that. I had to overcome. Every time I play, I still think about it. Every time I look in the mirror, I have this giant scar on my chest [that’s] going to be there forever.”

“After months of rehabilitation, the 6-foot-9 forward was medically cleared to play in March.

“He decided to play in the Drew League, which features high school, college, professional and street players competing on 24 teams.

“I was itching to get back after my surgery, so the Drew League was the first thing that came [up],” O’Neal said. “I feel good playing in the Drew League. It’s fun playing here. I didn’t announce that I was playing or anything. I just showed up and then people started following along.”

“When O’Neal arrived at King Drew Magnet High in Los Angeles to play on June 15, he was excited to play in front of his hometown crowd.

“I feel like if you’re an L.A. basketball player you have to come to the Drew League and kind of just get that respect in house,” O’Neal said.


In his first game following surgery, O’Neal caught a lob from former NBA point guard Brandon Jennings for his first basket in months. He finished a putback dunk after a miss from K.J. Martin.

“I felt weird. I felt new to the sport,” O’Neal said. “I had like a cool 10 points. I was just trying to get my run and my wind back to see how I felt. I felt really good. I felt like a whole new player. I could definitely feel the difference from my last high school game to my first Drew League game. I felt stronger, better. I felt like my breathing was better.”

He is averaging 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game in the Drew League, playing for Tuff Crowd, a team sponsored by his mother.

O’Neal’s return is a source of great joy for Shaunie O’Neal.

“That is the best part of it all. His passion and his dream is to play ball,” she said. “So, I knew how bad he wanted to get back on the court and now that he is [back], it’s even more joy watching him now than it was before.”

And now for something completely different

It’s easier to just let Chuck Schilken explain:


The Phillie Phanatic is an excellent dancer. He has a great sense of humor (although men with bald heads or people who don’t like having popcorn dumped on them might disagree). He’s popular with the ladies. And no one can handle an ATV or hot dog cannon better than him.

But how is he at pitching in the late innings?

That’s something the Dodgers might want to find out, since the Philadelphia Phillies’ longtime mascot could be hitting the free agency market next summer.

The Phillies filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan last week to prevent the company that developed the Phanatic’s costume from backing out of a 1984 agreement that transferred the rights of the wildly popular character to the team “forever” for $215,000.

According to the lawsuit, Harrison/Erickson Inc. sent the team a letter in June 2018 stating its intention to “make the Phanatic a free agent” after June 15, 2020, unless the contract is renegotiated. The documents say H/E is looking for “millions of dollars.”

The Phanatic was an instant success upon making his debut in April 1979 and he still tops pretty much every ranking of MLB mascots.

While it’s unclear whether any other teams would want to enlist the services of a mascot that’s been so closely associated with another club, you’ve got to admit the large, fuzzy, green, pear-shaped creature with an anteater’s tongue would look sensational in Dodger blue (although Tommy Lasorda might disagree).


Neither Harrison/Erickson nor the Phillies have commented on the dispute. True to his nature, the Phanatic also hasn’t discussed the matter.

Odds and ends

Joint stake in horse by state regulator and Santa Anita executive raises questions…. Osa Odighizuwa hopes his leadership will boost young defensive line corps…. Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr poised for more opportunities in USC’s offense…. Sebastian Joseph-Day aims to tackle starting job on Rams defense…. Evan Mobley, the nation’s top basketball prospect, commits to USC…. College football 2019: Which underachieving Power Five division will rise?

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Today’s local major sports schedule

St. Louis at Dodgers, 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Angels at Cincinnati, 4 p.m., FSW, AM 830

Born on this date

1904: Basketball coach Henry Iba

1908: Tennis player Helen Jacobs

1919: Tennis player Pauline Addie

1922: Golfer Doug Ford

1926: Former Dodger Clem Labine

1945: Former Dodger and Angel Andy Messersmith

1957: Baseball player Bob Horner

1960: NBA player Dale Ellis

1965: NBA player David Robinson

Died on this date

1946: Baseball player Tony Lazzeri, 42

2012: NBA player Dan Roundfield, 59

2015: Golfer Louise Suggs, 91

2017: Baseball player Darren Daulton, 55

And finally


David Robinson scores 71 points. Watch it here.

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