IT’S A TOUGH SEASON, BUT DODGERS NEED TO STICK TO THEIR GUNS

When I was a kid, my dad used to get Dodgers tickets through his work and we spent many summer evenings at the ballpark….

And as a couple of Dodger-haters, nothing made us happier than driving home and discussing them losing….

But despite our disdain for the team, one thing was undeniable: The setting was beautiful, the ballpark was immaculately clean and the atmosphere was safe and fan friendly….

Which makes what’s going on this season surreal….

I’ve been to two games this year and been astonished at how this franchise has fallen off the earth….

A few months ago I took a friend and her young son to their first baseball game, expecting to see a large, Saturday night crowd. Instead, the place was empty and there weren’t 10,000 fans in attendance….

My friends live in Australia and asked why the Dodgers had such a big stadium when nobody goes to the games….

“We get more than this for a friendly cricket match,” said the mom….

A week or so ago, I went to another game and when the crowd was announced at 30,000, I broke out laughing….

Once again, there weren’t 10,000 people there….

The excuse people are making is the McCourts personal troubles and the team’s poor performance, but that is politically correct rubbish. The attendance was fine during the McCourt years, so that explanation is bulls***….

The reason for the drop in attendance is a result of Raider Nation’s savage beating of Giants’ fan Bryan Stow; the aftermath of which resulted in a huge police presence at the ballpark….

Over the past 10-15 years, the Radier Nation thugs have taken over Dodger Stadium, resulting in long-term fans refusing to attend games….

But this didn’t hurt attendance, because the ex-cons and gang bangers replaced the civilized former fans….

Of course the Dodgers and Major League Baseball should have cracked down and instituted a zero-tolerance policy on these sub-humans, but ticket sales and, more importantly, beer sales dictated the organization turn a blind eye….

The result was a nightly display of cursing, deplorable treatment of women, beatings, threats and obsenity-laced taunts from these drunken hoodlums….

The stadium was hijacked by Raider Nation, with nary a protest from Dodger management….

So, 15 years too late, management was pressured into finally doing something about the violence after the Stow incident. The McCourts and the organization would have preferred to sweep the thing under the rug and conduct business as usual; evidenced by McCourts silence on the matter as the Giants did the right thing and paid the medical bills of Stow….

Finally, after enormous criticism, the Dodgers announced a fund for Stow and an increased police presence at the ballpark….

And, with the increased use of L.A.P.D, the Raider Nation neanderthals stayed away in droves; fearing getting busted on a parole violation for consorting with known felons….

Yes, this is going to be a horrible season for the Dodgers; because the attendance is embarrassing, the team is awful and the McCourts have to scramble to make payroll….

But in the long run, if the organization sticks to their guns and makes the zero-tolerance policy permanent, this season will all be worth it….

The Dodgers will be sold, the team will improve and the long-term, law abiding fans will return if they’re convinced Raider Nation has been exterminated….

But if the team caves in to political pressure and charges of profiling, the gang bangers will slowly return as the police presence declines….

And the beatings, violence and abhorrent behavior will be back….

NOTES ON A SCORECARD

With the Lakers up 2-0 over Utah in their Western Conference playoff series, all signs point to L.A. getting to the Finals and facing LeBron and the Bronettes for the NBA title. But if they don’t start playing better defense, it’s going to be another offseason without a championship ring….

There’s no doubt the Lakers have the best talent, but Cleveland defends hard on every possession and makes you earn every point. Yes, they’re not as good offensively, but if the Lakers are giving up uncontested layups and not defending the three-point line, LeBron will be lifting the hardware over his head come June….

The Lakers problem defensively? In my opinion, it’s the coaching staffs philosophy of double teaming the post and poor rotations….

For some reason, Phil Jackson does not believe in defending the three-point line, believing it’s a tough shot. It’s been burning him all year, but evidently he’s too stubborn to change….

Whenever the ball goes into the post, the Lakers run a double team, even though there are very few good post players in the league. And with Andrew Bynum and Pao Gasol down there, there is no reason to double team….

So the ball goes into the post, the Lakers collapse, the ball rotates back outside and the opponent gets a wide open shot. The Lakers are always two steps late rotating to the shooter, and the result is an easy shot for most NBA wing players….

Why Phil continues this philosophy is a mystery, but it’s going to result in another year without a trophy if things don’t change….

I’ve been watching “Hatton-Pacquaio 24/7″ and as usual HBO has done a magnificent job….

The May 2nd fight at Mandalay Bay figures to be a war and HBO has done an excellent job of whetting boxing fans’ appetites….

Someone needs to give Floyd Mayweather Sr, Hatton’s trainer, his own reality show, because he is a fascinating character. There’s no one alse like him in boxing and some cable channel should simply follow him with a camera and watch the rating soar….

Throw in his brother Roger, estranged son Floyd Jr. and the various characters surrounding Floyd Sr. and watch the meter move….

Prediction? Hatton is one tough SOB and has never lost at 140 lbs, but the Pacman’s superior power and hand speed will be the difference….

I like Manny by mid-to-late round knockout, but it’s not going to be easy. Ricky is in his prime, fighting at his best weight and wants desperately to bounce back from his loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr….

Unlike Oscar De La Hoya, who meekly took a savage beating from Pacquaio last year, Hatton is going to fight back and make it a tough fight….

Manny by knockout, but it will be much, much more difficult than the De La Hoya fight….

The early rounds will be unbelievable, as both men will not take a backward step and the bombs will be flying. Both men will land and do damage, but Pacman will have his hand raised after a brutal fight….

Make sure you order this on pay-per-view, because this has fight-of-the-year potential….

Yes, the Angels are currently 5-8 and three and a half games out, but as long as they hang in there until their injured players return, they should be fine. The A’s, who figure to be Los Angeles toughest rival in the A.L. West, are also off to a bad start….

I don’t believe the Mariners are going to be a factor, so as long as the Halos are hanging around the A’s and Rangers, I’m not worried….

It kills me to say this, but I really like this Dodgers team. The young players are all good, they have a great player in Manny and if they get any pitching at all they’ll run away with the N.L. West….

God I hate saying that….

WEEKEND NOTES

As I pen this column, Brooklyn has already closed out the Cubs in three straight and advanced to the National League Championship Series. Yes, this is bad news for fans of Los Angeles baseball and a dark day for local sports, but also comes as no suprise; because I predicted this the day the Squatters received the gift of Manny Ramirez….

Imagine it’s July and you are Brooklyn GM Ned Colletti. Your team is fading into oblivion, fans are staying away and every move you’ve made has been an unmitigated disaster. Then, while going over the employment ads, the phone rings and it’s superagent Scott Boras, requesting a few minutes of your time to talk about Manny….

Here’s how the conversation might have gone:

Boras: “Hello, Ned, it’s Scott Boras.”

Colletti: “Hi, Scott.”

Boras: “So what are you doing?”

Colletti: “Just putting my stuff into boxes and looking for my next job. Andruw Jones, Esteban Loiza and Jason Schmidt just haven’t worked out.”

Boras: “Hold on, Ned, I might have something for you. The trade with the Marlins just fell through and Manny is now available. Would there be any interest on your end?”

Colletti: “Are you kidding? I’m going to get fired in less than a week! How can we make this happen?”

Boras: “Let me call Theo Epstein and get back to you.”

A few minutes later the phone rings and it’s the superagent….

Colletti: “Hello.”

Boras: “Okay, here’s the deal, Ned. The situation in Boston is so bad they want Manny out of there by any means necessary. They’re willing to take two minor league scrubs AND pay Manny’s full salary just to get rid of him.”

There is now a minute of silence as Colletti picks himself off the floor….

Boras: “Ned! Ned! Are you okay? I thought I heard something crash onto the floor and you were not responding.”

Colletti: “I’m okay, Scott. Just had a bad connection, I guess. So you say we can get Ramirez without giving up any players AND Boston will pay his full salary?”

Boras: “That’s right, Ned, do we have a deal?”

Colletti: (In full Beavis and Butthead mode) “Uh, huh, huh, huh. Yes!”

And thus an Executive of the Year was born….

In the meantime, the Angels are down 0-2 and on the verge of yet another sweep at the hands of the Red Sox….

I’m thinking about not watching Game 3 and saving myself the torture of seeing Los Angeles get eliminated while Brooklyn moves on….

Because if that happens, I’m going to walk onto the freeway and throw myself in front of cars until I successfully kill myself….

I’ve been watching baseball for over 30 years and thought I’d seen everything, but the Manny Ramirez deal tops everything….

I have never seen one player, in any sport, single handedly turn around a team, a franchise and an entire fan base. Brooklyn was a team on life support before Manny Mania, but now are on the verge of (gulp) winning the World Series….

And all because Ned Colletti happened to be sitting by his phone when Boras called….

If only I could have such luck….

WEEKEND NOTES

I’ve been watching baseball for a long time, but have never seen what transpired Saturday night during the Angels-Dodgers game….
 
I’ve witnessed teams coming back from 10 run defecits, make huge ninth inning rallies and win games when down to their last strike; but never seen a team pitch a no-hitter and lose….
 
Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Los Angeles Saturday night, as Jered Weaver and the bullpen combined for a nine inning no-hitter against Brooklyn; only to lose 1-0….
 
As a lifelong Angels fan, this was the worst thing since the Game Five loss to the Red Sox in the 1986 ALCS….
 
Wow, just when it looked like the Halos had things going and were threatening to run away with the A.L. West, they get shut out twice in a row by the hated, carpetbagging freeloaders from Brooklyn. What’s next, the Dodgers and Raiders both win world championships? ….
 
If that happens, just point me to the nearest tall building and I’ll leap to my death….
 
Either that, or I’ll go back to L.A. County Jail and beg them to take me back…. 
 
I’ve been saying all season the Angels don’t have enough offense to get past the Red Sox and nothing this season has changed my mind. Yes, Torii Hunter is a nice addition and Vladimir Guerrero is heating up, but they still don’t have an answer for the Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz hammer….
 
Sure, the Halos are good enough to win their division and get to the ALCS, but that’s where it’s going to end unless they add a bat to match the Sox….
 
If I’m Arte Moreno, I’m not trading prospects or weakening my pitching staff; I’m putting in a call to Barry Bonds….
 
The other day, Barry said he’d be happy to play for the major league minimum, which is $390K. A day later, he said he’d donate his entire salary to charity, in order to “give kids a chance to see baseball.” Sounds good to me….
 
The fact Barry is willing to humble himself and take the minimum says to me he would not be a problem in the locker room. I can’t imagine him playing for free and then demanding his lazy boy chair, big screen plasma and half the room roped off to seperate himself from his teammates….
 
I like Hunter, Garrett Anderson and Casey Kotchman; but they don’t strike fear into the opposition. In the playoffs, nobody is going to pitch to Vlad because they’re crapping their pants over one of those guys….
 
But if Bonds is hitting behind Guerrero, the Red Sox will have no choice but to pitch to him. Ditto if the Halos hit Bonds in front of the Superfreak. With Vlad hitting behind Bonds, Barry will have his first opportunity in years to get pitches to hit….
 
I don’t want to hear anything about locker room problems, an overdcrowded outfield or Barry’s upcoming federal trial. I’m interested in winning, and without another bat the Angels will not go to the World Series….
 
If you can get the best player in baseball history for free, why the hell not?….
 
What a sensational performance by Manny Pacquaio on Saturday night, as he knocked out WBC lightweight champion David Diaz in nine rounds….
 
After absorbing a frightful beating, Diaz went down face first early in the ninth, giving the Pacman the lightweight title in his first fight at 135 lbs….
 
Forget about Manny losing any speed with the added weight, because he looked better and faster than ever. The hand speed was devastating, the power was frightening and Diaz was overwhelmed….
 
After the fight, Pacquaio said he felt stronger and more powerful than ever at lightweight, which means he could be moving up in weight again….
 
If he goes to 140, it sets up a fascinating matchup with British dynamo Ricky Hatton, who is a natural 140 pounder. A Pacman-Hitman matchup in England would break box office records and get a million pay-per-view buys. It would also be one great fight….
 
Hatton is too small for Welterweight, but moved up to challenge Floyd Mayweather several months ago. Ricky put up a gallant effort, but was predictably stopped in the 10th round. You can’t blame Hatton for taking the fight, because it was for huge money; but he’s much stronger at 140….
 
Which makes a fight with Manny so interesting….
 
Prediction: I have to go with the Pacman, who will have enormous advantages in hand speed, power and boxing ability. Look for the Hitman to get stopped in the middle rounds….
 
After that, who knows? There’s been talk of Pacquaio fighting Oscar DeLaHoya at 147, but it seems the Golden Boy is going to fight Miguel Cotto first, on December 6th. If Oscar can somehow win, what a titanic matchup DeLaHoya-Pacquaio would be….
 
Another gigantic matchup could be Pacman against Mayweather, which would break the all-time pay-per-view record….
 
Whatever the future holds, Pacquaio was spectacular Saturday night and moves to the top of the pound-for-pound list….
 
Years ago, Manny began as a 106 lb. Jr. Flyweight and then won a world title in the 112 lb. Flyweight division. Since then, he’s won championships all the way to 135 and probably will win a few more….
 
I know championships don’t mean as much any more, with all the divisions and alphabet soup organizations; but what he’s done is still a remarkable accomplishment….
 
Usually, a fighter loses some power as he moves up in weight, but Manny seems to get stronger with each additional weight class….