Off Base
Yes, it's the Lakers Town Now, But it Doesn't Have to Be

June 10, 2008, 3:01 p.m.

Forget about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and their prepositional phrase of a name. No one in Los Angeles gives a rat's bass about them.

The Dodgers could go another 20 years without a championship and still tower over the Anaheimians, and own L.A. baseball convincingly. OK, ten.

But to own L.A. period, to really own the city like they once did, it's the Lakers the Dodgers must concern themselves with.

If the Lakers fall to the Celtics, it's a break for the Dodgers, albeit one with which they accomplished nothing. But even if the basketballers pull out an NBA Finals victory, the Dodgers can still regain top dog status in Los Angeles. It won't be easy, but it can be done.

It starts with winning, obviously. Like, duh. The Dodgers have to win to own Los Angeles. They have to win. An argument can be made that even as much as a single postseason series triumph would do the trick. A pennant, and forgetaboutit. And a World Series win, are you kidding me? I'm sorry, but the Lakers would be toast. Absolute complete burnt toast. Nothing can possibly matter more to L.A. than a Dodgers World Championship.

The how-to is the hard part, of course, but it's not the rocket science our resident general manager would have you believe. Just look at what the Lakers did midseason, with Andrew Bynum out and a season on the brink. Never mind that no one expected even as much as a final seed and first round exit out of them to begin with.

Lakers g.m. Mitch Kupchak, maligned here as the "Bill Stoneman of basketball" and just plain maligned most places, went out and made the trade for Pau Gasol, almost instantly transforming his team into a real contender. Easily the best in-season trade in franchise history. And in case you forgot, Kupchak jettisoned Kwame Brown in the process. Talk about your two-for-one. Wow.

The Dodgers don't have a Kwame Brown, but they do have Andruw Jones. Can you can imagine Ned Colletti moving Jones, while getting a tide-turning player in return?

Fine, that's asking a lot, but does it really take six weeks to acquire a banished Kansas City Royals shortstop in exchange for a low level minor leaguer? C'mon.

This business about other clubs holding the Dodgers hostage when they know the Dodgers have a need is total BS. It goes back years and really needs to stop. The organization has tons of prospects who'd bring quality in return. You can't keep them all, nor should you.

Excuses from the personnel man are as old as Fred Claire. That's your 20 years right there, by the way. I'm going to keep saying it till I'm Dodger blue in the face. There are always things you can do. Always.

And Colletti can talk about the less experienced players challenge in getting to that next level, as he does in his conversation with Helene Elliott in Monday's L.A.T., but look who's calling the Gatorade cooler green.

The young Dodgers are rounding into major leaguers at a faster rate than is Mr. Colletti. They're learning from their mistakes? Is the general manager?

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Forgotten Dodger: Ramon Martinez, out since April 12 with the same thumb injury experienced by Andy LaRoche, is mostly recovered and about to rehab in the Gulf Coast League. Martinez is a steady presence at second, short and third, can play first if necessary, and is smart veteran player; "veteran" being the operative word. He's a clutch hitter, can pinch hit or pinch run, and can get a bunt down for you as well as any Dodger.

There are at least two prominent Dodger bloggers who rag on the guy, but I like him, and would love to see him considered as a bench option for the team. At the very least, in September…

There's No Crying in Baseball: But there is childishness, apparently, and plenty of it. Recent examples include pretty much any post-game rant from Ozzie Guillen or any helmet slash coach's box item relating to Larry Bowa.

It would be nice if we'd seen the last of Carlos Perez, uh, Zambrano beating the crap out of an oversized dugout thermos, much less two, but alas, there's not a chance of that happening anytime soon.

And look, I love Jeff Kent, and I get the thing about the kids, but his line about how today's players don't question things enough, and how that somehow justifies his getting ejected the other night, is about as lame as can be. You don't argue balls and strikes like Kent does and expect to play another minute of a ballgame. You just don't.

Matt Kemp gets tossed after a fight he started and immediately owns up to it. I mean, takes responsibility for his actions as fast as is humanly possible. Kent gets tossed and composes a ridiculous excuse. Which guy looks like the adult there?

RFK: What I remember from that day, and to be more precise, the following morning, was this: Getting ready for school, I came into the kitchen for breakfast. My mother was standing in the adjacent living room, listening to a rebroadcast of Bobby Kennedy's speech the night before. I remember distinctly the look on her face. Like it was yesterday.

She'd heard the news but I hadn't. I didn't put two and two together, and listened as if the speech was the news. I remember Kennedy congratulating Don Drysdale on his sixth consecutive shutout, thinking, how cool is that?

In the years since, whenever I found myself on Wilshire, around Normandie, I'd always look over and think about that day. I'd take note when the Ambassador Hotel became a school for a time, and was the subject of a host of landmark status conversations. And I wondered what the citizens of Dallas felt like, identifying.

Media Savvy: If you haven't heard about Dave Winfield's event to honor Negro Leaguers with an honorary major league draft, check out this nice piece by favorite Tim Brown, of Yahoo Sports.
And an editorial in the L.A.T. on the same subject.

And from what I call the "sports anarchist file,"'s Michael Rosenberg's case for replay in baseball…

Investors Wanted: is a growth enterprise. I’d say we’re looking for Angel investors, but that’s vulgar, and I promised my mother. Invest a thimble full of venture capital today; make major league minimum tomorrow. Inquire

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….






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