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No Angels in the Outfield for the Dodgers

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While flipping through the channels this morning, I landed on Turner Classic Movies which was airing the 1951 Angels in the Outfield starring Janet Leigh. Like the 1994 Disney remake of the schmaltz-fest, it features a joke of a baseball team who gets the help of angels to win the pennant. Unlike the 1994 remake, the schmaltz is tolerable because Janet Leigh was involved. Oh and instead of the California Angels, the team represented was the Pittsburgh Pirates (although plenty of scenes were filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, the home of the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels.)

Leigh plays Jennifer Paige, a reporter who writes an advice column for housewives. In a typical stretch for Hollywood, Paige was sent to Forbes Field by her editor to give a woman’s perspective of the seventh-place team. The Pirates lost to the Cincinnati Reds 21-2 (or some other lopsided score) that sent them to eighth and last place in the National League. At the end of the game as the other beat writers were filing their reports, one of the writers asked her if she finished her story.

“I haven’t started,” she replied. “How can you write a story about this?”

“Oh. You just came on a bad day.”

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Well for the Dodgers, it has been more than a bad day. There is a distinct possibility that the team will lose 100 games for only the third time in franchise history (the 1905 and 1908 Brooklyn Superbas being the other ignominious teams to achieve this feat.) The one crutch the Dodgers have to lean on: Manager Don Mattingly’s optimism.

“We’re the Los Angeles Dodgers,” Mattingly declared with an ample amount of defiance in his voice. “We’ve got lots to uphold. It’s been a great organization. No matter what’s going on We. Have. Got. To. Play. The. Game. Right.

“We can feel sorry for ourselves. We can talk about not getting hits with men on base. We can talk about not getting outs. But we cannot carry ourselves in a way that says we’re not going to play hard, or we’re giving up.

“No. We’re going somewhere. Right now it may not look like we’re going in the right direction, but we’re going somewhere. We’re going to have to find out who’s going with us.”

Somewhere Herman Edwards smiled.

Despite the sunny disposition, Mattingly does have more grounded members in his coaching staff that get in his ear such as first base coach Davey Lopes.

“I’m always optimistic. But I’m realistic too. Davey told me, ‘You’ve got to be realistic too.’”

When did Lopes say this? “It was about two weeks ago.”

Unlike the movie there are no angels to lift the Dodgers. The delusional owner Frank McCourt seems intent on holding onto the team with no regard to anything but his ego. Every word that escapes his mouth is nothing more than a public relations ploy at best, outright lies at worst. The Dodgers are in the middle of both divorce court and bankruptcy court like a lifeless carcass of an antelope in the African savannah fought over my unscrupulous lions.

With each passing day the future just looks bleaker as the L.A. Times’ reporter Bill Shaikin reports on all the court cases. But for 99 minutes this morning there was actually some hope in my heart. Too bad that was completely obliterated once I entered Dodger Stadium.

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