Vincent Bonsignore of the Daily News put together a great Dodgers game wrap on an otherwise horrible contest last night versus Jim Tracy’s Colorado Rockies. Most telling was Bonsignore’s lead quote from Joe Torre vis-a-vis Manny Ramirez’s return not being the panacea for an ailing ballclub:
“He can’t pitch,” Torre said wistfully, reminding everyone the Dodgers’ problem isn’t scoring runs, it’s preventing them.
YKI NOTE: Yes, folks – that is probably the last time you see Charlie Haeger in a Dodger uniform. YKI is a fan of the knuckleballer but realizes that Hoyt Wilhelm, the Niekros, Tom Candiotti and Tim Wakefield come around about once per generation, and though Haeger is capable of bewildering foes (12 k’s vs. Marlins earlier this year), he is not the lockdown, consistent starter necessary for the Dodgers rotation.
Anybody else think Randy Wolf & Jon Garland would look real nice back in Dodger jerseys? Both local boys were spurned by the organization this offseason in the unofficial spending freeze.
Back to Bonsignore, though – who seemed to relish this opportunity to overshadow his L.A. Times counterparts while filling in for the vastly-talented Dylan Hernandez while he is on paternity leave (congratulations, Dylan). YKI particularly enjoyed VB’s seamless interlacing of the miraculous 1988 season with this drab, uninspiring summer:
How bad was it? The last time a Dodger pitcher got lifted so early was Aug. 8, 1988, when Tommy Lasorda pulled Shawn Hillegas after facing just four Houston Astros.
The good news is the Dodgers went on to win the World Series later that season, stunning the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series before upsetting the heavily favored Oakland A’s in the World Series.
The bad news is Orel Hershiser is now an analyst for ESPN, no longer able to pitch for the Dodgers, and even Kirk Gibson will tell you his heroic home run to beat the A’s in Game 1 of the World Series never happens without Hershiser’s ace-pitching performance that season
A Shawn Hillegas reference? Esoteric and well-played; now if the Dodgers can only live up to VB’s writing as they play out the season. . .
A fantastic way to begin the 2010 Major League Baseball season: Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has a Q & A with Vin Scully, the focal point of a solid baseball preview edition. Though the LATimes’ was a bit more NYTimes-esque; compact boxes featuring two tidbits and an outlook, at least the DN went old school and dedicated resources & print to the paper – always appreciated by the loyal if not-quite-as-erudite reader base. The print copy was wrapped with fairly thorough National League, American League, Dodgers & Angels preview stories. The jewel, of course was L.A. landmark Vin Scully, who amongst other things elaborated on the severity of the head injury that scared the bejeezus out of the Los Angeles fanbase.
My wife said it sounded like a watermelon had been dropped from five stories up. It was a marble floor and if your head hits that at full tilt, anything can happen.
Vin also admitted that he’s not too fond of “the kids and their music” these days, in an anecdote from Ray Charles: I said, ‘Ray, please don’t ever sing a rap song.’ And he put his head back and howled. That would be the last thing he’d do.’
Hoffarth continued the Q & A on his blog with questions from fans answered by Mr. Scully.
Whether or not they’re winning ballgames, Dodgers fans will be blessed as long as Vinny is behind the mic.
A big shout to Tom Hoffarth (he of Farther Off the Wall & Daily News success) for penning a series of very Valley-centric stories, celebrating the Pierce College Athletic Hall of Fame, which announced their first class this past week.
The pieces on Denny Crum & Mark Harmon were enlightening, as both give genuine credit to the Junior College for providing the foundation/springboard to their multi-layered successes. Even more impressive is the actual list of HoFers, again proving that Los Angeles – and specifically the Valley – is forever a hotbed for athletic talent.
|Denny Crum :: Basketball
|Doug DeCinces :: Baseball
Mark Harmon :: Football
|Erik Kramer :: Football
|Barry Zito :: Baseball|
Congrats to the L.A. Daily News for breaking the news that Athletic Director Mike Garrett hired Lane Kiffin to be the next head football coach of the USC Trojans. (sidenote: the Athletic Department may or may not have given the story to DN because of T.J. Simers’s current rift with Garrett.)
This is a very savvy move on the part of USC; bringing home a young, fiery, competitive coach who is VERY familiar with the system – as well as the players – having been the offensive coordinator in 2005-06, and coaching alongside Pete Carroll the previous four seasons (entire coaching career below). The benefit of retaining a coach that knows the program, the mentality and the personnel can not be overstated.
Furthermore, with Signing Day only three weeks out, the Trojans wasted no time in answering optimistic Bruin supporters who anticipated that Rick Neuheisel would finally have UCLA as the front-runner for local athletes.
Kiffin, of course, brings his baggage, most of it neatly exposed in a (literal) Powerpoint presentation, by his former employer: The history with Al Davis & the Raiders was a debacle (though it’s fair to put the blame mostly on Davis, eg the Dark Night/Darth Vader/Mr. Burns, Death Personified), but the intrigue really appears with Kiffin’s tenure at Tennessee.
In his first month at the SEC program, Kiffin managed to outright piss off every fan in the SEC, while simultaneously firing up his own fanbase.
A decent season and an apparent good recruiting class turned Kiffin into a darling in The Volunteer State, with big expectations for 2010. And as the timing was great for the Trojans, it may have a deleterious effect on the Volunteers. Three weeks left until the big day and he leaves? Wow. He’s probably taking Ed Orgeron and his dad, Monte, with him – further depleting UT at the most inopportune time.
That said, Kiffin’s cajones have belied his age, and he has a great knack at entering his new job in a PR maelstrom. The Bill Plaschke HateWagon is already out in full-force, and I’m sure many college football loyalists (even those outside the SEC) are ready to pounce on LK at the first sign of controversy or scandal.
Aside from that, there is still the Will-Reggie-Bush-Lead-the-Trojans-to-an-SMU-caliber-Death-Penalty issue hanging over the program; right now, Kiffin is calling this position his dream job – but shall the Garrett-imposed sanctions not be enough to appease the NCAA, it may end up very Pollyannish.
LANE KIFFIN COACHING EXPERIENCE (34 Years of Age, 13 years coaching experience)
|1997-98||Fresno State||Graduate assistant|
|1999||Colorado State||Graduate assistant/offensive line|
|2000||Jacksonville (NFL)||Assistant/defensive quality control|
|2004||USC||Passing game coord./wide receivers|
|2005-06||USC||Off. coord./wide receivers/recruiting|
|2007-08||Oakland (NFL)||Head coach (4-12, 1-3)|
|2009||Tennessee||Head coach (7-6)|
Thank you Los Angeles Times, for the sweet Kiffin graphic.