Bagger’s Kid is all grown up!

By T.J Simers

The 7-Eleven Kid turned 18 on 7-11, the Grocery Store Bagger’s first born, Mary my grandchild who is known by Mackenzie to her family and friends.

I have an 18-year-old grandchild and I’m still alive.

I texted her to tease her like I didn’t know you had to be 21, to say: “Now we can go to bars, Vegas and smoke pot together.”

She replied: “I’ve already been doing that, but I guess I can join you now.”

Love that kid. We spent many of her 18 years practicing basketball, or going to basketball games or watching video of Michael Jordan or Steph Curry. Her high school team won the 5A state championship a few months ago, and she blew away most 3-point records in the state of Arizona.

I mention that and she wants to talk Luke Combs.

When I was writing for the Times I used to write about the Bagger, who met the daughter in frozen foods. At some point I began to urge him to get it on with the daughter so we could have a grandkid. He listened, and I wasn’t surprised.

Now she’s going to college but will not play basketball because she wants to be a college kid enjoying herself. I’ve always believed the worst thing that can happen to a kid is getting a scholarship and then owing most college days to coaches instead of enjoying maybe some of the best days of their lives.

I wanted her to go to Notre Dame as our oldest daughter had done, but once she learned Dwyre went there, too, she had second thoughts. Maybe it was just a coincidence, or it was Dwyre.

She’s a photographer, working in a physical therapy office with an eye on becoming a nurse. Just in time to take care of an aging GP.

I don’t know how they did it, but the happy-sappy couple who happen to be the Bagger and our youngest daughter did a stupendous job raising her, although I wonder where she learned to be such a wiseacre. I guess my wife had to creep in there somewhere.

She went through a stage late in life where she did not want to hear my voice, would not answer my texted questions and thought she knew better on almost everything. Like I said, I guess my wife crept in there somewhere.

Oh, to be 18 again and about to start college. She can do anything, be anything and I wouldn’t suggest being a reporter.

She’s already a great kid on the cusp of being a great adult and I feel so fortunate to have lived long enough to be a witness to such a treasure. We’re close, but not-so-close that I would ever be seen at a Luke Combs’ concert.

It’s like the rule I had with all the grandkids growing up: GP doesn’t play. Or go on Disneyland rides. That’s why they have other relatives.

But talking to Mary on the way to so many basketball practices was magical. Not sure if she ever noticed me slowing down or taking a detour to prolong our time together. She liked me to interview as if she was a big-time athlete; later she would understand when the Times wanted to get rid of me because of the way I interviewed.

We talked Presidents, Civil War, Taylor Swift and Barbra Streisand. Well, I talked Barbra.

The first 18 have been wonderful.

I’m greedy. I want 18 more. And a chance to have similar experiences with her three sisters. I can think of no better goal.

Attention book publishers and book buyers

By T.J. Simers

I wrote a book, beginning with one of my lawyers who made poisoned hamburgers to silence a watch dog so her husband could take some guy out to the desert, cut his manhood off and pour bleach on him.

It was pretty funny when one of the Times’ lawyers tried to bully her.

One of my other lawyers was like the best attorney on the planet, and I know that because that’s what he said about himself in his bio. He had 11 kids, so there were some who believed whatever he said

One of my appeals judges was identified by Erika Jayne from Real Housewives as her husband, Tom Girardi’s mistress. Erika Jayne said Girardi gave my judge $300,000 in misused funds for a beach condo. And my appels judge voted to give me nothing.

The reason I mention all this, I was wondering if any of you could suggest a book publisher. Maybe you have a friend, a former college roommate or some kind of contact in that world. I tried one here in the L.A. area and he said he wasn’t interested in the legal stuff in the book. He wanted a book just on the sports folks I got to know on Page 2.

They are all in the book, of course, a book about Kobe, Phil Jackson, Pete Carroll, John Elway, Junior Seau and Plaschke. I even mentioned F.P. Santangelo, although he hardly figures as a sports figure.

I also wrote about my love affair with the Los Aneles Times, telling a judge, jury and lawyers, “I love the LA Times. Still do.” And while it isn’t much now, it’s still the Los Angeles Times.

But I sued the L.A. Times because the Times hired a managing editor and editor who tried to get rid of me. I won in court three times, and I wrote about that as well as testimony from Tom Lasorda, Joe Torre and Garret Anderson. I had Kobe’s name on a list to testify and our judge said he wasn’t interested in hearing from people who were going to just gush about me. Kobe would have laughed at that.

My judge wasn’t the best, and I write about that. He seemed to have no faith in juries, and how is that for a selling point to get people to serve?

A book agent said he detected no interest in the East Coast about a book featuring notables from the West Coast and a newspaper writer they never read. Ouch! I’d like to see them get close enough to Salma Hayek to be kissed.

My East Coast book agent disappeared faster than Gary Matthews Jr.

Some folks have suggested I go the vanity press route, and I got a feeling that’s a commentary on my ego and coming from my children.

I’m told if a book publisher takes on the book, I would get about 10-14% of what the book costs in royalties, while keeping in mind only 1% to 2% of all the manuscripts submitted to publishers result in a book.

If I self-publish, supposedly I could get 70% of what I sell, but then it would be up to me to find folks to buy the book. If only I had the names of alumni who have cheated when it comes to USC sports, I could print them in the book and it would become a best seller.

They say the average book these days sells only 350 copies; I don’t have that many family members. Probably never had that many readers. Maybe I should just blog the book.

I guess I could start a list of who wants to buy a book, assuring someone like Rob Pelinka anonymity, and convince a publisher there is an audience. But I don’t know how much more disappointment I could take. One more day of reading about the Angels might end me over the edge,

If I were Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of the Times, I would buy 350 copies and then burn them.

Maybe I should rewrite the book. and make it more flashy. I don’t know if I could get anyone to read about the lawyer the Times hired who wore a little bell around her ankle so whenever she had to go to the bathroom we would hear her tinkle.

But it’s a thought.

Killing a dog, the very best friend

By T.J. Simers

Nixon was the very best dog, loyal and loving, and not his fault he was named Nixon.

The daughter owned Kennedy, so Nixon it was. He was a nine-year-old, 93-pound white lab, who loved hearing the leash but could walk anywhere without it and not get in trouble.

He walked into the vet’s office this week and didn’t come out. We had to put Nixon down, and I wish I had been stronger and stayed with him, but I could not. My wife remained with him.

He was playing Monday with our other dog, the schizoid Rona, short for Coronavirus and monster, bought because she was also a white lab who grew up to be a whippet and a monster. She had puppy strangles, Parvo, her jaw fractured and survived.

Nixon didn’t eat his food and we had to put him down. They called it “hemangiosarcoma of the spleen,” and said it’s quite common. He was fine Monday, catatonic on Tuesday, better on Wednesday and had to be as surprised as we were that he would never see Thursday.

The tumors got him, and they said maybe surgery would help but just for weeks. There is no way Nixon was going to feel pain; that was left to us to absorb.

Rona now walks around wailing and looking for Nixon and it was tough enough explaining “sit” to her, so no way she understands Nixon leaving and not coming back. I’m struggling a little with it, too, Nixon not there like always when I woke up to pet him like every other morning.

Rona was with the wife this morning, probably hearing that I wasn’t there in the end for Nixon.

We’ll work our way through all that, while remembering Nixon waiting at the front threshold for permission to come outside and Rona already long gone down the street. He loved walking with me and the trash cans to set them out for the garbage trucks; now I might never again take out the trash again to honor him.

He once took down a neighborhood dog charging at my wife, grabbing the dog by the throat and laying down the threat on the street—no one getting hurt. Rona, the monster, is the puppy but dropped an alpha personality on Nixon from the start and Nixon took it without even a growl.

He was absolutely the best friend.

He deserved better than what he got this week but reading all the heartfelt stories online about the number of dog owners impacted by hemangiosarcoma, that’s just the way it goes. So, it’s onward with Rona, and “sit, Rona, sit. Sit. Come on….please.”

Oh boy, Nixon.

Tell me it isn’t true about Ridley-Thomas

By T.J. Simers

It looks like I might have this all wrong and that bothers me that I could be that wrong about Mark Ridley-Thomas.

It’s not exactly a sports story but sports are how I came to know city councilman Ridley-Thomas. The NFL wanted back in Los Angeles years ago and possibly to the Coliseum, and that meant the NFL had to deal with the elected official and politician that Ridley-Thomas was.

And the NFL was scared of him.

He talked with a measure to his voice, refused to buckle to NFL intimidation and defended Los Angeles. Everything he did seemed so righteous.

But I read now he was indicted on federal corruption charges a year ago, and as bad as that can be, someone from USC pleaded guilty Monday for bribing Ridley-Thomas and that makes Ridley-Thomas look even more guilty before facing a November trial.

I don’t know all the scandal details, but am flabbergasted at what has become of him.

He was thrown off the city council.

That’s not the man I knew, but what does that say about the people we think we know.

I thought I knew Patrick Lynch, the Los Angeles Coliseum general manager, better than some of the folks on the LA Times staff. I certainly trusted him more.

But he eventually stood before a judge hoping to stay out of jail. He received three years of probation for his role in a Coliseum corruption scandal, and maybe it’s best not to have anything to do with the Coliseum.

Don’t get me started on Darryl Henley, the former UCLA-Rams’ cornerback who is currently serving a 31-year sentence for cocaine trafficking and attempting to murder a judge and witness.

He used to call me from jail so often, the prosecutors said they took a look at me to make sure I wasn’t somehow involved in his wrongdoings.

I was at his home the night before he was found guilty and hauled off to jail. I met Henley’s parents, who were ministers. I was in the jail visiting room the first time his baby walked and sitting behind glass Henley was not allowed to touch her.

He was so believable when he talked, so innocent he said.

I visited him in the same prison in Illinois that was holding John Gotti, the Rams a few miles away in St. Louis and preparing for a Super Bowl while he was given an hour in the prison yard.

That pretty much makes me a rotten judge of character, I guess, and so when I tell you how much I admired Karl Dorrell, that probably doesn’t bode well for him. He’s expected to be fired after failing to coach Colorado to success, and will be matched against UCLA Saturday, a school that fired him previously as head coach.

Maybe he hasn’t proven to be a great coach, but a great guy he was when I knew him, and I put him through the ringer for being boring. I didn’t say I was a great guy.

But that’s how I knew Ridley-Thomas, as a great stand-up guy. I recently began reading everything I could to find out more about him because I was bothered with the accusation levied against him and how wrong I appeared to be.

I learned some things that were troubling, but how many of us make it through life without some troubles. I stood before a judge and jury three times, and swore I did nothing wrong and three times I won. But it didn’t feel that way and may not read that way.

Ridley-Thomas was accused of wanting to spend too much on office remodeling, washed his car too much while under water restrictions, and OK, throw away the key.

As a reporter I would have mocked him for such malpractice, while adding a harsh rebuke privately, but now the accusations have been ratcheted up to a $100,000 bribe to help one of his twin sons out.

No idea how it might go in a courtroom, but every time I spoke with the man, I felt I was better off. I thought I was talking to someone who majored in public service; it doesn’t read that way now.

Can’t wait for that November trial. There are two sides to a story, and I hope Ridley-Thomas has a good one to tell restore my faith in my own judgment, or I might never again be able to trust what a politician has to say.

Plaschke needs to write more, gush more about USC

By T.J. Simers

I have called for an investigation via Twitter, and once the Russian bots, or whatever is insidious about Twitter get ahold of that, look out.

The Los Angeles Times has a problem: Kevin Baxter.

He is the newspaper’s designated soccer writer, which should mean he seldom is allowed to write.

But I’m not sure there is day when he is not featured in the sports pages, today a full page on the Galaxy and yesterday a story on curling from Oakland.

What does Baxter have on the editors?

I know hm, but not well enough or interested enough to say hi.

I sat next to him in the Times’ sports department, but we didn’t talk; he covered soccer. He is not considered one of the sports section’s better writers, and that is troubling because there aren’t many better writers left in the Times’ sports section.

Maybe he’s not considered a good writer because he writes about soccer and no paper would have one of their better writers covering soccer. Or curling.

The same holds true for the Angels, the Times’ believing no one reads about the Angels so why put anyone who can write on the beat, and they haven’t.

Baxter, though, has a grip on the Times’ sports editor. I blame Dwyre for that. He stepped down as one of the nation’s top sports editors to have a love affair with Zenyatta as a columnist. I remember what his wife said at the time: “I don’t care.”

They have gone through a number of sports editors since Dwyre and I don’t know much about the new one except she approved Baxter writing about curling from Oakland. Dwyre approved of hiring J.A. Adande as a columnist, so he didn’t always know what he was doing, but he had far more hits than misses.

Baxter now gets whatever he wants into the newspaper, and I surmised in a tweet that this works to the newspaper’s benefit because the Times wants to get rid of its print section. It’s too costly to produce, a better chance to make money if the newspaper is only on online.

By putting Baxter into the newspaper every day, I’m sure the thinking is the readers won’t be able to stomach it and flee. I did. I cancelled my print subscription recently because the editors were successful on showing to me there wasn’t much there.

I get maybe two Plaschke columns a week for yucks, one Hernandez column a week because he apparently doesn’t like to write and Elliott dribble from the U.S. Open every day.

I lived through Sam Farmer’s yawner on a raven flying over Wimbledon, which only goes to show you the newspaper has a tennis-writing problem.

You put Farmer’s tennis stuff in the newspaper, along with Elliott’s and then mix in Baxter and Los Angeles collectively nods off. I’m beginning to understand why Plaschke has gone so far over the top gushing about USC’s football team.

No one better at being outrageous than Plaschke, which is a much-needed wake up call for the newspaper’s remaining readers. Given all the glory teams of old at USC under Pete Carroll, John Robinson and John McKay, Plaschke has seen enough from wins over Rice and Stanford to know this is a national championship team beyond anything we have seen.

Now I like that. That’s a reason to still buy the Times, Plaschke willing to make a fool of himself and we can follow his journey through the USC season.

He just doesn’t write often enough. I would suggest the editors take away space from Farmer, Elliott and by all means Baxter and throw in Woike, the guy who will be slobbering over the Lakers’ front office, and let’s have Plaschke write a USC daily diary on its march to predicted glory.

We know it will be a positive story until USC plays Utah, the buildup monumental if written by a gushing Plaschke, and should USC stumble, he’ll trash the Trojans.

It’s a win-win, getting Farmer, Elliott, Baxter and Woike out of the newspaper the rest of the football season, or watching Plaschke take out his prediction embarrassment on USC.

Now that’s good newspapering, so I know the Times won’t do it.

Poor, poor parents who have kids playing soccer

By T.J. Simers

The grandkids were in from Arizona because one of them had a soccer match in Irvine. If only I could have had a dental appointment out of town.

Soccer is the worst thing that has happened to parents since Chuck E. Cheese.

Our little darling played three soccer matches and her team had one goal. I think. The field is so big, and I’m told it was scored at the other end.

I couldn’t even tell you for sure which one of the three girls sitting on the bench across the field was our kin. If you are benched in soccer you have to be really crummy as I was telling our granddaughter who was born in the wrong month as her parents were explaining to me.

It’s something about being born in December and you are the youngest, which makes every other girl older and bigger, so they have driven from Arizona to watch their kid sit on the bench and are OK with it. That’s what happens when you don’t plan a pregnancy and just leave it to the whims of the Grocery Store Bagger.

Those whims drove me worried as a father until the Bagger married the daughter and then I was cheering him on not knowing it might lead me one day to watching a soccer game. Had he just waited six months, she wouldn’t be on the bench.

If you are going to play club sports those are the kind of things you need to think about.

As far as being a spectator, it was freezing for one match, blistering hot for another. Parents have to schlepp chairs, tents, and coolers to far away fields while noting the bathrooms are a long walk away and there is the fear of missing something, but it’s soccer so they will miss nothing.

This is club soccer so it’s more arrogant and important than just soccer, hundreds of 12-year-olds running around like it’s going to get them somewhere and gawd it’s boring.

But you have to tell your little darlin, “You were great, kid, running all around the field and I think I saw you kick the ball once and that was great. You’ll tell me, won’t you if you ever score?”

The Times had a story Monday on some kid playing for the Angels, blowing up a quote from the kid’s mother: “I think the whole city of Yorba Linda knows about Ryan (Aguilar) right now.”

I live in Yorba Linda; never heard of him. But I’m happy for his mother who probably went to hundreds and hundreds of Little League games, high school games, club games and it all paid off.

That’s the only good thing about not having a boy. I had two girls, four granddaughters, but I never had to sit through a six- or seven-inning Little League game.

I have two granddaughters playing basketball, time coming off the clock and constant action. I don’t have to man the snack bar, dress for polar conditions or worry about our boy crying because he wants a Freddie Freeman glove and that’s what Freddie would do.

I know our girls aren’t going to dream of being WNBA players one day because like everyone else they have no desire to even go to a game. If they were boys hitting baseballs off a tee, their father would be dreaming of the day they go play for the Dodgers.

One of the basketball players sat there miserable watching her sister play soccer while wondering why her parents had a December baby when her mother told her to take the baby of the family to the bathroom a million miles away.

. She stood up in a huff like teenagers do, said a very bad word and started to storm off before her father lit into her.

Now I understand why they sit away from all the families at one end of the field.

I’m not sure if the baby of the family heard the foul language, but she did witness her older sister getting scolded by her father at a soccer game, and I’m kind of hoping it scars her.

The little one will be making a choice between soccer and basketball very soon.

So, here’s hoping when the teenager stalked off, she told the baby of the family what she had said and made the point of saying this would never happen at a basketball game.

Mind Boggling: Why is Bryant’s lawyer talking body parts

Explain this: Last week there was a lawyer standing in the courtroom where Vanessa Bryant is suing the County of Los Angeles for invasion of privacy, addressing the coroner, who was on the witness stand: “Captain (Emily) Tauscher, my name is Jennifer Bryant (no relation). I represent Vanessa Bryant. I have a few follow-up questions specific to Mr. Bryant and Gianna and their location and condition at the crash site.”

Vanessa Bryant’s attorney then started digging into the autopsy report for Kobe Bryant, putting it into the public record in open court, body part by body part.

I thought the trial was about photos; what do autopsy reports have to do with it?

I don’t get it. Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester are suing Los Angeles County first responders to a helicopter crash that killed nine, including her husband and daughter and Chester’s wife and daughter. She worries that photos taken by County employees may one day surface.

Vanessa, in effect, is suing taxpayers for millions of dollars for an invasion of privacy and emotional distress and yet it is her own lawyer who is providing deeply disturbing mental images for anyone sitting in the courtroom and who will later read the testimony.

I have read the testimony, Bryant’s lawyer asking the coroner about the autopsy of “Ms. Gianna Bryant,” and “the location where Gianna’s remains were found at the scene.” It’s not a be repeated here.

Keep in mind most of the testimony being offered has already been heard in depositions, so the lawyers knew what was going to be said. Thus, Bryant and Chester were not in the courtroom, but their legal representatives asked questions in their places to elicit emotional reaction for the benefit of the jury,

“So, Ms. Tauscher, I’m going to turn to a few more specific questions, but I want to read very carefully and ask
very specific questions. I’m just looking for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer,” said Vanessa’s lawyer. “So, did Mr. Bryant have any charring or burns on his remains?”

The answer was “yes,” and what followed sure seemed like an invasion of privacy, Bryant’s lawyer wanting to know about his missing right hand, and “Was his right arm recovered separately from his body?”

The answer, “it was,” as most people might guess in such a devastating crash, but until Bryant’s lawyer asked, it had been left unsaid. And now there will be outrage, but directed at whom?

“Were his feet also recovered separately from his body?” the coroner was asked, and beyond enflaming the jury, why is Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer going there?

The lawyer for Chester went deeper, making “Private Ryan’s” opening scene of mayhem G-rated by comparison to his line of questioning about missing organs, including fallopian tubes and ovaries, and whether they could be found in Mrs. Chester’s autopsy. It read like nothing most people would want to read but apparently was delivered with the plaintiffs’ permission since their lawyers were asking about it.

The County tried to put a stop to such testimony and Bryant’s own request that the coroners bring their photos of the victims to court. Why would she even want the photos to be in the same building with her?

Please, please don’t misunderstand. This is no effort to let the County off the hook, who has some explaining to do in front of the jury.

There is a suggestion that since the photos taken by the first responders were deleted, the coroner’s photos were being offered in their place. The County said they would not be the same and suggested they would muddy the water for the jury who had been told no photos had surfaced.

Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a court document “because first responders deleted those photos or failed to preserve them, plaintiffs must present witness testimony about what defendants’ photos depicted.”

Must they? Must we know if someone’s liver was found, a question asked by Chester’s attorney?

The judge agreed with Bryant’s and Chester’s argument, and learning from personal experience, judges don’t always get it right.

Autopsy reports are available for a fee, but what’s the price paid for the attention that Bryant’s lawyer will bring to it?

USA Today’s report on the trial raised the same note of confusion as I have experienced.

The Coroner’s “testimony underscored a cruel irony about this case.” reported USA Today. “Bryant’s and Chester’s attorneys say their clients live in fear of these gruesome death photos reemerging one day and are haunted by the thought of that. But they also are eliciting graphic details from witnesses in open court about the photos and the condition of the bodies from the crash site — to the point that Bryant stayed out of the courtroom…”

Vanessa Bryant skipped the coroner’s testimony and then left the courtroom after her lawyer asked a Norwalk bartender if he had seen a photo of a young girl in any of the photos a sheriff’s trainee had shown to him. Everyone can sympathize and understand the emotional distress Vanessa has experienced, but is it really necessary for it to be self-inflicted?

Two other families settled with the County to presumably avoid this public spectacle, but Bryant and Chester declined. It can’t be easy for those two other families to avoid reports of what is being said now about the crash.

In her amended complaint, Bryant said, “Many social media users and Internet trolls have claimed to have seen photos of the victims’ remains, and their accounts are plausible given the number of individuals who took and transmitted improper photos, the ease with which cell phone photos are electronically shared and saved in cloud storage.”

If her legal team can locate these social media users and trolls who have claimed to have seen photos of the victims’ remains, then seemingly she would have made her case.

Whatever the end goal here, there is no excusing the first responders who behaved recklessly. And if it’s proven there is a history of such behavior, and it’s known the County has already tightened its policies, then what took so long? Shame on anyone who didn’t put dignity on lost loved ones over almost everything.

As for winning or losing in court, it is Vanessa’s legal team’s job in technical terms to prove the Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department acted in a manner that shocks the conscience and offends the community’s sense of fair play and decency.

Maybe that’s what reading the autopsy to the jury is all about, the shock there in brutal detail as Bryant’s lawyer detailed how the crash impacted the body of Bryant’s daughter, which you won’t read here. As I wrote a week ago, I just don’t get the motivation for putting oneself through such emotional stress once again.

It’s already being reported that there is great twitter outrage out there over the release of autopsy details and a sketch of Kobe, but that was a choice made by Bryant’s wife and her legal team. And I repeatedly ask, why?

Maybe the explanation is in an Instagram displayed by Law & Crime that shows Vanessa driving on Oct. 31, 2021 while dressed in blonde hair, white fur coat, and red gloves as Cruella deVil from 101 Dalmatians.

She has spoken about the disrespect shown to her husband and daughter in death, and maybe the caption she wrote below her Halloween picture explains: “They say there are five stages of grief:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Well, I’d like to add one more . . . revenge.”

The judge ruled that her Instagram could not be shown to the jury.

RE: Kobe Photos—no such thing as rest in peace

By T.J. Simers

I don’t get the whole Kobe Bryant trial over photos taken of his corpse.

So, it was wrong, foolish, disrespectful and a million other horrible words attached to the poor judgment shown by the Los Angeles County sheriffs and firemen, but what do the relatives want?

Vanessa Bryant filed a federal civil lawsuit and was joined by Christopher Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his daughter.

The agony is unimaginable, but to date there is no indication any of the photos taken afterward surfaced on the Internet. Or, in any public way. That justifies nothing, but what’s the ultimate pursuit here?

The Times reported Wednesday morning that a settlement has been reached in two other lawsuits, but Bryant and Chester refused to settle.

Is it all about money? Hard to imagine that Bryant would need more, but maybe it’s true you can never have enough. I know that’s how John Travolta says you hurt people in a lawsuit in the movie, “A Civil Action”—you take their money, but is this about bankrupting sheriffs and firemen? Or, L.A. County?

I would like to think Bryant’s cause is more noble and she’s trying to send a message, but the message is already loud and clear: What a stupid, insensitive and lousy thing to do.

Short of stripping everyone naked ala Game of Thrones and walking the disrespectful slobs down main street with everyone chanting, “Shame,” I don’t get it.

Is it a pursuit of justice beyond what everyone already knows: It shouldn’t have happened?

Maybe if I suffered the same dramatic shock as those who suffered through the helicopter crash, I would feel differently. But I think it’s universally understood now that privacy and dignity are near absolutes in a case like this, and those who abused those basics were saved from themselves. Nothing surfaced.

Maybe they weren’t punished enough by Bryant’s and Chester’s standards, and if there is a possibility a trial will get them suspended or fired, I won’t quibble. I suspect the County administrators will be too busy assuming a defensive posture there won’t be any finger pointing at specific cops or firemen.

Even though the police are involved I don’t think the solution is public beatings.

I know about the pursuit of money. This lawsuit is for unspecified millions, and I just received millions from a judge for winning a lawsuit against the Times. But for privacy and dignity why go this route in such a public setting?

Maybe the Sheriff and fire chief didn’t apologize enough to the families. Maybe there was offense taken because many of those who had the horrible images chose to delete them from their phones. But isn’t that the best course of action unless someone deemed them more important as evidence in a civil trial.

I sat through a civil trial, well, really three of them. It’s painful even when you think you are right. If the fight here is to preserve the sacred image of those who perished, understood, but seemingly unnecessary. And painful.

Bryant’s attorneys said she is fearful she or her children will one day come across horrific images of their loved ones on the Internet. I would hold open the courtroom doors to facilitate the prosecution of the idiots who did such a thing. But it hasn’t happened.

A verdict in favor of Bryant and Chester would do nothing two, five or ten years from now to safeguard the families against idiots. I understand the gut-wrenching concern Bryant and Chester might feel about what might make their nightmares worse, but it appears the Sherriff’s office and fire department have done everything they can to fix an embarrassing break in proper decorum.

If an ugly picture had surfaced, then no mercy and I stand corrected.

But if this is all about some kind of revenge against those who didn’t function as appropriately as everyone would have liked, I don’t get it. We already get there were considerable mistakes made.

I asked my own lawyer about it Wednesday, and he said, “So you would have just had her forget it?”

I would have, while joining others in accepting the settlement offered, and preserving the privacy and dignity of those who died. Now I hope my opinion is never put to a practical test, and honestly, maybe these aggrieved people are entitled to salve their emotional wounds in any way they choose.

But I will still be curious to watch and learn what the goal is here.


Wooden Should Have Seen This

By T.J. Simers

Tomorrow will be the 7-Eleven Kid’s 17th birthday, the day my wife officially became a grandmother.

You can just imagine how old she is.

Ok, she’s the 7-Eleven Kid because 7-11 has the most consistent tasting coffee available, and I thought the stars just had to be in alignment to have her born on 7-11.

Her parents named her something or the other, while I renamed her Mary. For several years she disagreed, even crying as she yelled her name was really something or the other, and I would buy her pens, rulers and other cool things with the name “Mary” on them.

She would throw them back, so I bought things that could not be broken.

I call her now and she does not answer. I text her and she doesn’t read her texts. We’ve bonded like most adults and teenage girls.

I had two daughters so none of this is new.

She sat on John Wooden’s lap; he would have probably told her to take it to the hoop instead of shooting it from long range. We would have argued. Gosh, I miss that.

She’s going to be a high school senior, a year ago being named to the Prom court because the kids in school thought she was one of the cutest and most shallow girls they knew. She will fool you like that.

She’s brilliant, starting her own photography business and finding joy on the student council. She was her conference’s basketball offensive MVP and convinced her parents to give her a car nicer than her father’s.

Her father is the Grocery Store Bagger still. It’s a tough business, promotions slow to be awarded, and since this is the 7-Eleven Kid’s 17th birthday, I know he has remained married to my daughter for at least 17 years. I lost that bet.

Hollywood Park named a race after him, probably only a coincidence they then tore down the place. Wooden met him and he told me he had a problem with Bill Walton in the beginning, too, but Walton could dunk. I told Wooden how the Bagger’s forte was reaching the top shelf stock and he still wasn’t interested.

The Bagger has done a good job as a father because they live in Arizona, I live in California and can’t be there all the time. The 7-Elevin Kid acts as if she really loves the guy and every time she hits a three, he yells, “boom.” He has three more daughters in training, so boom, boom, boom it should be fun.

The 7-Eleven Kid was in Chicago Sunday for the Nike Championships and she hit eight threes and scored 30 in her second game of the day. Had 14 in the first one with four threes, and how I remember those 6 a.m. shooting drills to beat the Arizona heat.

Her mother had 10 threes in a game while in high school in California, the 7-Eleven Kid had 11 in a club game last month. That makes her better than her mother, and everyone in the family likes to tell her so.

We’ll have to wait until the end of her senior season to see if she will be the first between her mother and herself to play a hint of defense.

She’s probably not going to play in college. My loss, but really her gain. College athletics do not serve the college athlete very well save maybe an athletic scholarship and she’s not going to get one of those. It should be a time for fun, the college experience and college coaches are more concerned about their jobs than the student athlete.

OK, enough preaching, but I hope to live long enough to see what she becomes beyond the very best granddaughter. In time I actually believe there is a chance she will answer one of my calls.

We continue to go on shopping sprees together because like her mother she knows how to get into my wallet, and I blubber each time she gives me a homemade Christmas gift commemorating our time together.

I know how lucky I am.

Dwyre Knew Thomas Edison

By T.J. Simers

On this day, probably his 100th or 105th birthday, Bill Dwyre wrote a tennis story for the LA Times. He’s always worked hard to put Times’ readers to sleep.

I read the story because I wanted it said before Dwyre stopped writing that I had read something he wrote.

I was there the night Hank Gathers died at center court in a Loyola Marymount basketball game and wrote about it for a newspaper in San Diego.

I did a terrible job because I was so hellbent on detailing the technicalities of death and failed to capture the emotion of the moment.

One of my worst journalism moments, and as so many have written over the years to say, a large number to consider.

I told Dwyre about it, mentioning that I didn’t even know Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra was standing a few feet from Gathers. Spoelstra a guard for the University of Portland.

“If you had read my column, you would have known,” Dwyre said, and I had never thought about doing that before.

When I saw the headline this morning in the Times: “Tennis legend shook sports world by turning pro 75 years ago,” I thought, that’s kind of wordy.

But I also knew the story had to be written by Dwyre who was probably there when Jack Kramer turned pro and Tom turned on the lights for the first time.

I like when old-timers are allowed to still write for the paper on occasion. Wonder why?

On the front sports page Monday, the Times featured a trifecta of who cares stories about hockey, soccer and tennis. I guess they held the bowling story.

But Dwyre’s byline was also there and speaks to so many decades of quality journalism. Not much of that in the newspaper anymore, but Dwyre led the Times’ incredible coverage of the LA Olympics back in 1984.

He was Jim Murray’s boss, as well as Chris Dufresne’s, Mark Heisler’s and Rick Reilly’s.

Dwyre hired me to cover football and write for Page 2, making sure my stuff never made it to Page 1. He also hired Bill Plaschke. He went 1-for-2, and I’ll let you decide which one was considered a hit.

I’ll get to Kramer in a moment, but there was a time when Dwyre was the No. 1 sports editor in the country. I know this because Dwyre told me.

He stepped down as sports editor in 2006 to become a columnist writing about subjects most people didn’t want to read. He wrote about boxing, tennis and horse racing—falling in love with Zenyatta.

I can report with great reliability, though, his wife was not jealous.

He might’ve been the sections best reporter, hearing of sexual assault charges levied against USC quarterback Mark Sanchez and going to the bar to find out the validity of the allegation. That’s what you would expect from a Ntre Dame grad trying to hurt USC.

I joke, I think, but he was the best journalist I ever met.

The Times hasn’t come close to finding a suitable replacement as sports editor, some real bozos in there, and the readers are the ones suffering.

They just brought back an assistant sports editor who had been bypassed several times over for the top sports job to help run the sports department again as an assistant.

He will do so from Florida. It will be his job to make sure reporters are writing nice things about publisher Patrick Soon-Shiong’s favorite sports.

Too bad. If Dwyre was in control of the sports pages now, they would be 100% improved. He would train those struggling to write, and demand his reporters hold those they are covering accountable.

And we wouldn’t have to read a Jack Kramer story.