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Off Base
Trading Places

October 24, 2005

OK men, word association. When I say "trading places," what’s the very first thing you think of?

Right. A certain scene with a certain female someone.

Also right. That’s got nothing to do with baseball as we know it today, but c’mon, tell me you didn’t welcome the distraction.

It’s just that, lacking a legitimate segue to mention Jim Healy in this column for the first time ever, and I really wanted to mention Jim Healy in this column for the first time ever, I came up with “Trading Places.”

"Trading Places," Healy, Jamie Lee, the USC “Brain Surgeons” and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brain Surgeons trading places with the Dodgers.

What did you think of my performance? “I thought it was bleeping brilliant.”

Thank you. Sure, it’s a distant memory, but the Dodgers were once widely successful while Southern Cal was adrift in a sea of lameness. USC “couldn’t hit water if it fell out of boat.” The natives became increasingly restless as losses mounted, and the press was absolutely unmerciful. The organization lacked leadership at the top and only the most pedestrian of candidates interviewed for the skipper’s post.

In other words: “Bad team, man. Bad bleeping team.”

Like the Dodgers. “Garvey?! Garvey needed a bleeping oar to hit the bleeping ball!” Now, do you see where I’m going with this? “Yeah, I did.”

You mean, “yeah I do,” but close enough. And yes: “This job is not that bleeping easy!!”

OK, enough of this. We’re coming up on “the dreaded six o’clock tone” and “we’ve gotta get off the air.”

Look, Dodger fans are getting pristine pastel pieces of plastic for their posteriors, while all the USC faithful has to look forward to is another National Championship. I can think of at least one general manager who’d make that deal in a heartbeat. All together now, please: “It’s not my bleeping fault!! DePodesta is the bleeping guy!!!

Prediction: Orel Hershiser will be named manager of the Dodgers by the end of the week. It’s a no-brainer for Frank McCourt. Not because Orel is a creative choice or because we suggested him weeks ago. Hardly.

Even without a seasoned baseball PR man to guide him, McCourt will make the call himself, jump at the chance to take credit for something L.A. will actually like, and minimize Paul DePodesta’s presence, all with one felled swoop.

He’ll gain momentum with his second straight popular move when he fires DePodesta in November, and voila, image problem solved. At least until the team starts the season with a $70 million payroll and J.D. Drew as the center fielder slash number-three hitter…

BTW, only the greenest of GMs subscribes to the notion that pitching coaches make bad managers. More importantly, Hershiser is a pitcher first; a pitching coach a very distant second…

Police Escort: Game Four, 1947 World Series, Yanks lead the Dodgers 2-1 in games and on the scoreboard. Bottom of ninth, and Bill Bevens is an out away from the first no-hitter in Series history. Brooklyn’s Al Gionfrido is at second, Pete Reiser’s on first, yes, with New York manager Bucky Harris putting the winning run on base intentionally.

Cookie Lavagetto smacks a game winning pinch hit double, spoiling Bevens’ no-no and evening the series, and is mobbed by teammates. Red Barber apparently could believe what he just saw: “It’s gonna take a police escort to get Lavagetto away from the Dodgers!!”

Now the club uses a police escort to get vice presidents away from the Dodgers…

October Prediction: For every meeting of Paul Konerko’s bat with ball, hundreds of sportscasters across America will exclaim, “Ca-ching!!” Even so, Konerko’s ca-ching total will fall well below Carlos Beltran’s 2004 figure…

Time will tell if Brad Lidge is the second coming of Dennis Eckersley, who recorded 324 of his 390 saves after his World Series defeat, or Calvin Schiraldi, who, well, didn’t...

It’s time to start talking about Albert Pujols and Henry Aaron in the same breath. At the very least, Pujols is the greatest right-handed hitter since Hank, and it’s frightening to think of what Pujols might accomplish if he continues the way he’s going. And heaven help us if the man actually improves.

Pujols, 25, has averaged 40 home runs and 124 RBIs, while hitting .332 during his five seasons in baseball.

In his first five seasons, Aaron averaged 28, 99, and .316. By age 23, Aaron had won an MVP, was a World Series hero, and owned a particular piece of jewelry Pujols can only dream about.

Aaron appeared in a single NLCS, the pre-LCS MVP 1969 inaugural, batting .357, with three homers and seven RBIs. Pujols is at .371 and counting in LCS play, with seven homers, 17 RBIs, and an MVP.

Pujols does have one item on his mantle that Aaron doesn’t, however. A Hank Aaron Award…

2007 Prediction: With Leo Mazzone leaving for Baltimore and Bobby Cox another year removed from getting his team all the way into the second round of the playoffs, Terry Pendleton gets the Atlanta job in ‘07. That’s the real reason Pendleton passed on the Dodgers…

Look-alikes: Charlie Weis and Rodney Dangerfield…

Statue for Sandy : The Koufax in bronze campaign continues, so please scroll down to the photo below and vote yes on 32…

Remember, glove conquers all….



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