As Competitors Go—Bisheff Was The Best

By T.J. Simers

I did not agree with a word written by Register sports columnist Steve Bisheff.

But every budding sport writer should study and emulate Bisheff, who was the consummate pros pro.

I hear he died Wednesday and I only wish he could have written his own obit giving me the chance to critique it before he left us. What a wonderful argument that would have made.

I read his final column at the Orange County Register written years ago only because one of his colleagues referred to it so much in his tribute to Bisheff. He covered it all, as Bisheff noted, and what a career it was.

He had a fantastic feel for sports history and was a solid reporter writing as a columnist. And he had lots and lots of opinions giving him the ammunition to survive for more than 40 years as a noted voice in southern California.

He wrote about the Chargers and so did I, but our paths never crossed on the beat. He worked at the Register as did I, but he had retired by the time I made my brief appearance at the newspaper.

But we collided so many times on the same sports stories while I was at the LA Times, and he was a giant. He wasn’t my idea of what a sports columnist should be, and I certainly wasn’t his. But that’s what made the profession so great for so many years, writers offering differing viewpoints with clashing styles and willing to almost come to blows to defend their approaches.

I would never have gone to dinner with Bish, although it would have been a way to make sure I knew where he was and not have to worry about him beating me on a story. He was a super newspaperman.

Bish gave it everything he had when writing a sports column, and while I would have cut 12 inches out of most of his work, he would have scoffed at that. He was after all, a staunch believer in telling the story, the whole story no matter how boring I might have considered it,

He wrote often like a serious sports fan, and while some might consider him old school because of that, that was a mighty fine school. He cared, he showed up in person to learn more about what he was writing and then offered an educated opinion.

He was also a USC fan, and so he had his faults.

But he might have been the most timeliest columnist in southern California, and I wish he was here to tell me if “most timeliest” makes any sense. But I know this, if USC won a big game, readers woke up knowing they would learn more by reading Bish.

Too often now we get columnists rifting from home about things wandering around in their own heads rather than seeing up close and personal what is happening in the sports world. If it just happened, Bish would have something to say about it. He was dependable; newspapers no longer are and I wonder if Bish might have finally agreed with me on something?

I never met his family as Bish and I were really competitors and that’s how it worked for the most part in our profession. But I’m sure it’s an outstanding and loving family knowing how solid he was as a pro and a competitor.

I’m also sure he left them a million great memories to relive, so many written words to ponder again and maybe even Pete Carroll’s explanation why he didn’t have Regie Bush on the field on fourth down against Texas.

I’d like to see how Bish, the USC honk, handled that, and you know what I’m really saying: The sports world was a better place with Bisheff in it.

Another Malibu at Mandalay

By T.J. Simers

I’m sitting in the Mandalay Bay sports book with my daughter.

As mouthy as she can be, the attraction is really the daughter, the two of us getting together almost 20 years here to be the first 48 games of March Madness. The daughter picks Grand Canyon, I take Gonzaga and so you can see a fther’s jo of educating never stops.

We spend four days together, point spreads, fried lunch, Malibu and Coke and because we wager, they give us four comp nights to use next year, Mandalay Bay making sure we will return to make our annual donation. Isn’t America great?

I prefer to think the casino folks just love to bring father and daughters together rather than using this as some sort of cheap trick to get into my 401K.

They even have a nice guy named mike, who runs the sports book and who makes sure we enjoy losing. I get the impression Mike would do this for anyone.

The big deal, of course, is spending such time with the daughter, who has never been arrested. I’m such a proud father.

She’s accomplished a few other things as well. She’s still employed and still single. She thinks we’re here to bet, but I thought this would be the place to troll for a husband, maybe find a guy who likes to gamble, drink and hang out with her dad in the future.

By the way, I highly recommend having daughters,, especially the ones who grow up and agree to spend four days with you every year in Vegas. How many parents get the chance to just hang with their kids when their kids are almost 50? It’s living the life.

I was there in the delivery room when she made her first appearance and I have to say it’s been a wonderful relationship ever since. She makes good money so she gives great Christmas presents and uses her own money to be on Grand Canyon.

Can you say the same about your daughter? Look at her? Where did you go wrong?

As for the March Madness experience in Vegas, are you telling me work is better than this. The thrill of Thursday’s opening tip at 9:15 in the morning is still with me—-not nearly as much as some guy from San Diego State being allowed to shoot free throws while the game has ended and covering the 5 1/2 point spread.

There was some guy here screaming to call the FBI and investigate, figuring the fix was in. I immediately told the daughter to ask him if he was available for dinner?

I highly recommend trying this experience, having a daughter and going to Vegas. Right now she is screaming “Izzo,” bless her heart, and I don’t have the meanness in me to tell her the shrimp isn’t playing. I just figure it’s time to cut off the Malibu—-here at 9:30.

Key to Marriage: Staying Alive

By T.J. Simers

We were scheduled to fly to New York and then train into Washington D.C. to celebrate 50 years of marriage, but we ran into a problem: We’ve gotten too old.

We both turned 72 recently, and I don’t know if you know this, but they affix a target to your back at that point making it easier for muggers and others to prey on senior citizens like my wife

We talked about it, and I didn’t think it would be a good look just for me to go and celebrate.

We drove to Arizona to be with the kids and grandkids. She told our daughters no parties, knowing who would have to clean up and wash the dishes, and I know how tired I am after 50 years of marriage, so I understood.

When we arrived in Arizona, the son-in-law told us to get in the car. He carries a gun, you know, and I thought this was how it was going to end after making so much fun of him for being a Grocery Store Bagger.

I was right, too, the lug driving us to a church, and I don’t know how many times I’ve been told if I go in there, I’ll be struck dead.

We entered a side door leading into a church hall to find our kids and grandkids cheering for us. I know it’s harder for us to walk these days but a standing ovation for walking into the room without falling was a bit much.

But that’s all who was there, the kids and grandkids. I guess Plaschke couldn’t make it.

They had one table in the middle of the room all decorated, and pictures of the wife and I around the room, some blown up, I presume, to check if the young people pictured were really my wife and I some 50 years ago. I could see now why I had fallen for her.

This was going to be a party, a party only for the people who would not have been here had I not picked up the wife more than five decades ago.

The most important thing to stay married 50 years, of course, is stay alive. I had gone into the Army as a draftee during the Vietnam era and had come so close to fighting in Vietnam, whatever that distance is between Fort Ord, Ca and Vietnam.

I had fallen asleep at the wheel, waking up while running over those little metal reflectors in the grass to separate highways. And remained alive. I had interviewed Jeff Kent countless times, Barry Bonds as well and remained alive. I had eaten a tuna casserole made by my mother-in-law, and I can’t swear that’s what killed my father-in-law, he did die.

I was explaining this to the Grocery Store Bagger. Nineteen years ago, we ran his picture in the Times standing next to my daughter, who was in a wedding dress. Twelve years after the picture ran, the Times’ lawyers on behalf of the Times’ top two editors, complained to a jury that my son-in-law’s picture had been in the newspaper.

Amazingly, he’ still in the picture, and I’m not complaining because we have four outstanding granddaughters. One of them had us hold up “bride” and “groom” signs while she quizzed us about who was the best kisser? I held up “groom,” and she held up “bride,” and it was so many years ago how is anyone supposed to remember?

We were quizzed about the price of gas in 1972 when we were married (34 cents a gallon), won the not-so-newly-wed game over the bagger and daughter and then they played our favorite song from our courting days. Too mushy to repeat here.

Then our 17-year-old surprised us by announcing she had gone online that morning and had been anointed a minister so she could marry us again. That was before the minister put on a dirty dancing exhibition for the entire family, and I guess it won’t be long before she goes off to college and pays for it by appearing at a local strip joint, billed as the “Rev.”

We all danced some more, the music getting louder and louder and I even stood up on occasion and wiggled. We cut a cake together, sat down again thank heavens and listened to one of our daughters read a poem she had written. Good stuff.

It was the perfect party with the perfect partygoers and the perfect companion.

Now when the bagger and daughter celebrate their 50th, my wife will be 103 and I hope she brings the whole family and stops by the cemetery for a visit.


Paid Not To Write

June 11, 2022

           T.J. Simers here to answer the question: “Whatever happened to that troll?’’

          Well, the L.A. Times paid more than $1 million to stop me from writing for Page 2. I would have just fired me, but they never did that.

I’m also projected to receive several million in recouped court costs for winning a lawsuit against the Times. Look out billionaire LeBron, here I come.

         The Times’ editors thought I was too tough on Angry Arte, the owner of the Angels, the dump that is the city of Memphis and Mark McGwire. In truth, as the jury ruled, the Times was just cutting back on old men.

         It took three trials and nine years to get a resolve. If you think the Lakers are dysfunctional, try our legal system.

      Tommy Lasorda testified and was an absolute hoot, and as he told the story, the jury gave him a standing ovation. I wonder if the Big Dodger in the sky has heard all of Tommy’s stories yet.

           Judge William MacLaughlin took away the jury award of $7.1 million in Trial No. 1, $15.4 million in Trial No. 2 and then retired, presumably exhausted from being both judge and jury.

I had a chance there to get paid as much as your average USC quarterback.

MacLaughlin told the juries they were performing a public service vital to the American way and then ignored their verdicts.

The judge wouldn’t allow Chris Paul, Billie Jean King, Jeff Kent or Kobe Bryant to be subpoenaed and testify in Trial No. 1 on my behalf, fearful they might be prejudicial and say nice things about me.  I’m sure that would have gotten a big laugh from Kobe.

       The judge wouldn’t allow Peter O’Malley or Bob Arum to testify in Trial No. 2 and it had nothing to do with Arum saying previously: “Yesterday I was lying; today I’m telling the truth.’’

I have no doubt he would have been open to Kevin Brown testifying.

By the way, O’Malley is the finest man along with John Wooden, that I ever had the good fortune to meet.

       Joe Torre testified on my behalf in Trial No. 3 and did so without a subpoena.

Ultimately, the jury awarded more than $1 million with the Times’ lawyer admitting to the jury the newspaper had done me wrong. It wasn’t the same as Salma Hayek apologizing for not being available, but I appreciated the sentiment.

To make up for cutting my career short, the Times’ lawyer suggested to the jury they give me a new home in Orange County and throw in an Escalade as well. The Times can be so nice.

Now the stories I could tell on Page 2 if it still existed. One of my lawyers was accused of poisoning hamburger meat to feed to a dog to make it easier for her escaped convict husband to take someone to the desert and cut off his manhood.

I’ll say this, she could take a mean deposition.

One of the appeals’ judges ruling on my case was accused by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Erika Jayne of being her husband Tom Girardi’s mistress.

        More on all that in a forthcoming book.

Some might think I have something against the Times, but nine years off and now paying me for that afforded me the lifetime chance of spending time with the grandkids. The 7-Eleven Kid is going to be a senior in high school and is already one of Arizona’s premier three-point shooters. We’re all excited she might try playing some defense this year.

As for the Times, the top two editors who engineered the Page Two coup were fired, and the same can be said for the guy who was hired to fill the Page Two void. Boy, he must’ve really made Arte mad.

       I understand there is no more Page Two in the paper, as there is no more pull-out sports section in the Times. Sounds like it has become a shopper.

       On a positive note, I hesitate to mention the friendship of former Times’ sports editor Bill Dwyre and Times’ columnist Dylan Hernandez for fear the USC yahoos might mock them between losses.

But imagine the courage it took for Hernandez to stand up in court and testify on behalf of the former Page Two columnist while the Times’ top two editors sat a few feet away.

     In retaliation, the Times held back on officially giving Dylan his column or paying him columnist wages until after they had been fired. I wish he’d shave and use his Japanese skills to give us more insight from Ohtani, but here’s hoping you have friends like Hernandez in your life.

As for Dwyre the Times lost so much as it continues to this day trying to find a sports editor to fill his golf shoes.  

        As good a friend as he is and still writing for the Times, I stopped reading the newspaper like most of you. But I gave it a try recently; I even read a Plaschke column. Almost finished it.

Plaschke is this generation’s Jim Murray, and a tremendous survivor given how many great journalists are no longer with the Times. So many losses, though, including any semblance of entertainment in the sports section, and the devastating death of Chris Dufresne.

Text me, or whatever you do on twitter if I missed some entertainment in the sports section.

     But now as I move on, I have an incredibly tough decision to make as I begin anew with this blog. I will want to comment on what is happening in sports, but will it be worth it to get the online sports news from the L.A. Times—spending as much as $1 for a six months subscription?

      Seems pretty pricey for what you get anymore.