By T.J. Simers
So I am going to tell you the LA Times’ top sports story Wednesday morning was a trite, silly waste of space— Dodgers’ question: Who is the greatest Dodger of all time?
Radio talk shows do this kind of stuff all the time to kill time. You’ve listened to Fred Roggin, haven’t you?
Newspapers do this when the columnists don’t write, andthat happens a lot these days with the LA Times. Or, they have nothing else to put in the newspaper other than a puff piece on Lincoln Riley, telling us he was a crummy coach 11 years ago, but he pulled himself out of a hole so surely he will do it again.
Even the Times’ editors didn’t think the puff piece was worthy of showcase viewership, going to the exacto knives again to show us the Dodger possibilities in front-page cutouts.
It’s stupid, lazy and not worthy of a mention, if it hadn’t ticked me off so much.
Why would I even consider acknowledging it?
Well, Sandy Koufax comes out No. 1 and how many great years did he have? Where’s the longevity for achieving greatness?
Jackie Robinson finishes No. 2 in the BS poll, and I don’t know about him being the best Dodger of all time, but he certainly deserves No. 1 pioneer plaudits.
Lik you I’m surprised I read this far, a tribute to the Times’ troll Houston Mitchell for hooking me in the first place to this kind of brain-numbing, meaningless story that I detest.
But No. 3 is Vin Scully, and I had both Koufax and Scully on the Nokia Theatre stage for charity and the editor of the Times told me it wasn’t my job to help the misfortunate. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his name on a list of greatness.
Scully loved helping the misfortunate, considering me misfortunate to be working with John Wood and Scully without having any idea what I was doing as an emcee.
I’d put Scully No. 1 on that list form bringing the Dodgers into the homes of so many for so many years. But he didn’t play the game, so I could be argued put of it and slap me for even suggesting I would argue about something the troll wrote.
No. 4 on the ridiculous list is Clayton Kershaw and did people misunderstand the question to read? Who was the Dodgers’ biggest disappointment?
I really liked Kershaw as a young Dodger pitcher, admired the way he conducted himself but cringed whenever he took the mound in the post-season. I was like a fan secretly rooting for him, but he stunk and he’s listed as the best Dodger overall at No. 4. Says a lot about the disappointing Dodgers.
No. 5 is Duke Snider, and I have a pretty simple rule: I don’t honor athletes I never saw play.
Jackie Robinson falls in that category but baseball reminds us every year what he contributed to the game with players wearing his number. No idea what Duke’s number was.
No. 6 is Don Drysdale, the third pitcher to get a mention and I thought those stupid car commercials Orel Hershiser has been doing would hurt his Dodger legacy. Don’t know why Fernando is getting overlooked, and I can hear Roggin making a big deal out of that whether he thought it was an issue or not.
No. 7, and this list is so bogus because I’ve bought into it enough to get this far is Roy Campanella who follows under my Duke Snider rule. Never saw him play.
THAT BRINGS ME TO No. 1 WHO THE TIMES HAS LISTED No. 8: Tommy Lasorda.
Are you kidding me, No. 8?
Like Scully, Lasorda spent a life time pumping up the Dodgers, every bit of his energy dedicated to eating and dripping Dodger blue. I spent a lot of time around him after he had finished managing and I saw the look on the faces of those who met him. He poised for pictures, and more pictures, slapped the men on the back, hugged the women and talked to the little ones.
I witnessed him speaking to kindergartners, and he had their attention, while never once swearing.
The Dodgers under owner Bob Daly tried to shove Lasorda into the background, sending him repeatedly to Japan for goodwill trips. Loyal but sad to know he wasn’t wanted, he kept pushing the Dodger brand.
Everything he did was to show his affection for Dodger Blue, his detractors contending it was all a play for attention, but go soak your head. He was a Dodgers’ constant, a Hall of Fame manager who just wanted to hang around with the team long after it forced him from the game with heart trouble.
I once told him he was full of it for suggesting he could take a bunch of college players to the Olympics and win a Gold Medal. When his team won the Gold I told him I was still half right; he’s full of it.
But everyone knew that, his good cheer and dribble making Dodger fans feel good about their team for more than seven decades.
He suffered the gut-wrenching death of his son, denying his son was gay, columnist Bill Plaschke, the muckraker, on Wikipedia suggesting Lasorda was lying. Who cares if his son was gay or old-school Lasorda was in denial?
“Whenever my wife mentions our son, I cry,” Lasorda told me at a breakfast in Yorba Linda. “I’ve cried a lot.”
That speaks to his private space, but some sportswriters thought he had to come clean about his son.
And he did, talking about his death-bed farewell to his son.
“He kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, Daddy, that I had to get sick,’ and I remember telling him, “Son, I thank God you were alive all these years.’ And then he was gone.”
Yeah, but did he have AIDS, the muckrakers wanted to know, and go soak your head.
Hook him up to a lie detector and maybe that machine blows up, but how many Dodger fans walked away with the highlight of their lives because Lasorda wanted to spend time with them?
He certainly wasn’t perfect, gawd dammit, as he would tell you, but I would tell you he was the greatest Dodger of all time.
Who cares who was No.9 or No. 10? Email the Times’ troll.