Pipe down, Spicoli.
We’re not going to turn Dodger Stadium into Grover’s Corners, with the weird kid with the Member’s Only jacket from the Slide Rule Club wearing the gray wig and a sweater with elbow patches trying to look like an old man reminiscing about his miserable New England life …
USC and UCLA can co-exist in Los Angeles. They have for years. Without any ugly turf wars.
They can even play Monopoly together. USC gets the sports car, UCLA gets the old shoe.
But according to the Dodgers, each has to claim a piece of their territory. Tonight, when the Dodgers face the Pirates, it’s USC night. Friday, it’s UCLA night. They’ll give out caps and T-shirts to prove it fits into their “My Town” marketing stratetgy. That, and a $45 ticket will get you all you can eat up in the upper right-field reserved level.
There are former USC baseball players who’ve been employed by the Dodgers: Ron Fairly, Rod Dedeaux, Len Gabrielson, Ray Lamb, Bobby Mitchell. Did you know: Current USC athletic director and former Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett was drafted by Dodgers, but for some crazy reason picked pro football.
How would the world of sports be different today if he took baseball over football?
UCLA players on the Dodgers’ roster over the years: Eric Karros, Todd Zeile, Tim Leary, Glenn Mickens, Dave Roberts, Ron Roenicke, Matt Young. Oh, and Jackie Robinson.
How would the world of sports have been different if Robinson took up football or basketball instead of his third (maybe fourth-best sport after track and field) choice?
The baseball venues for both schools are named after former Dodgers: Dedeaux Field and Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Jordan Hershiser, the 6-foot-8 son of former Dodger Orel Hershiser, is pitching these days at USC. He played in the recent Dodgertown Classic — where UCLA beat USC 6-1 in a non-conference game at Dodger Stadium in February.
But we could do on and on … and we should.
Me, the USC graduate, shot an email off the UCLA guy Karros about this Dodger promotion.
I have no status around the USC campus. Karros is a UCLA Hall of Famer, by the way. Two-time All Pac-10 first baseman (with the team from ’86-’88), a .365 career batting average, hit .415 in ’88 with 17 HRs and 54 RBIs. A sixth-round draft pick by the Dodgers … you know the rest. And if you don’t, he’ll get you up to speed.
EK received the email. Responded. More typing ensued:
TH: EK, gotta hand it to you, the Bruins are off to a crazy start this baseball season. What was it, 12 wins in a row to start the year? 15? I lost track .. all I know is I was at Dodger Stadium two months ago for the UCLA-USC game and saw first hand how solid this Bruins team is. How do you explain this abberation in UCLA sports history — uh, and maybe overlooking that 16-4 loss to Long Beach State the other night?
EK: This aberration in sports for UCLA? Women’s Gymnastics just won a National Title…..adding to over 100 National Titles…where is SC? And Coach Savage and the baseball team didn’t want to peak too early…….lose a few and go to Arizona and take two of three from the Wildcats and retain the 5th spot in the country…
TH: Really, you’re pulling the gymnastics card? You don’t want to “beyond baseball” in this argument. And that stale national titles argument … If you’ve got to count trophies to feel good about yourself … Focus on baseball for a minute — it used to be USC’s dominant sport, like UCLA’s basketball program. And we won’t even venture into football …. I got my ideas about what’s happened to USC’s glory on the diamond. What do you think? Do scholarship limitations have anything to do with the state of college baseball programs — especially private vs. public universities? Can Chad Krueter fix this? You played with and against him, right?
EK: Focus on baseball? With the state of the team at SC maybe intramural activities ought to be the focus……And our basketball program, we had to have a down year to let the teams in the Pac-10 catch up. You’ve got the scoop on SC, when are the sanctions being handed down? By the way…UCLA just beat Irvine in baseball…
TH: And USC’s baseball team just lost another one, to that juggernaut UC Santa Barbara… after losing two of three to Oregon … but then there’s news that USC’s women’s golf team will go to the post season for the 12th year in a row in search of an NCAA title … oh, wait, that’s South Carolina …. and there was a UCLA player taken before a USC player in the recent NFL draft … and … wait, I keep giving you more amo. … hold on, was Rick Neuheisel really telling the fans who showed up at the Rose Bowl for last week’s spring game that the team was going to win the Pac-10 championship and “see you back here on January 1″? Apparently the Football Monopoly in L.A. really is over. As least UCLA has that going for ’em.
EK: I like our football team in the hands of “Rick” and even more so that Pete has migrated north. …. football will be like it was in the 90’s, as it should … anyhow, enjoy your evening tonight as it may be the only benefit of supporting SC, a Dodger game….
TH: Thanks. hope you make it out Friday for … oh, that’s right, you’ve got a committment to make a buck up in Seattle for a Fox MLB broadcast. Say hi to Pete for us if you run into him at a Starbucks.
The Dodgers will have that famed USC women’s basketball coach Michael Cooper throw out the first pitch tonight (no Lisa Leslie?) Garrett and USC men’s coach Kevin O’Neill will also be there. No Lane Kiffin? Friday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will throw out the first pitch on UCLA night, with AD Dan Guerrero (a former Bruins second baseman) and basketball coach Ben Howland hanging around.
If you get a ticket for the Dodgertown section, you get the T-shirt, plus all-you-can-inhale Dodger Dogs, pastrami sandwiches, chips, popcorn, nachos, drinks … go to www.dodgers.com/mytown for more info.