Making the scene in L.A.

As the Phillies are introduced, manager Charlie Manuel (left) looks on as Jayson Werth greets (from left) Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Ryan Howard.
As the Phillies are introduced, manager Charlie Manuel (left) looks on as Jayson Werth greets (from left) Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Ryan Howard.

At Dodger Stadium, it's the laid-back - and Tommy Lasorda.

Posted: October 16, 2009

LOS ANGELES - It is 2 p.m. on a brilliant, blue-sky, Southern California afternoon at Dodger Stadium. From the Mount Palomar-like vantage point of the auxiliary press box, way up high behind home plate, here is some of yesterday's pregame scene:

Curiously, when the gates open, there aren't many crazies in the stands, or at least not nearly as many as you'd imagine in a city whose loon population surpasses Minnesota's.

Down in a still-quiet Phillies dugout, manager Charlie Manuel stands alone, chin resting on a railing, perhaps pondering what kind of doomsday scenario would need to occur for him to insert Eric Bruntlett into the game.

The vast parking lots surrounding the stadium fill slowly. Because of L.A.'s fiscal troubles, the Dodgers, who normally split the costs with the city, are paying the entire $40.92-an-hour salaries of the traffic policemen on duty. L.A. has traffic policemen? That's a revelation. I know the city has traffic. And policemen. But I don't see much being done to control it.

On a scruffy mountainside out beyond left field, a "Hollywood"-like sign says "Think Blue." Do the Dodgers really want their fans blue? Shouldn't it say "Think Rosy" instead?

Tommy Lasorda is roaming foul territory. The ex-Dodgers manager apparently is keeping active, if dining can be considered an activity.

The early-arriving fans are carrying rally towels. Waving linen in unison might be a stretch for a traditionally laid-back crowd that's more likely to use them to dab their mouths after sushi.

Inadvertently, I'm sure, many of the advertising signs around the ballpark reference famous baseball figures, past and present. There's Bud Light (Commissioner Bud Selig), Bank of America (Manny Ramirez), AM/PM (Billy Martin), MasterCard (Tony La Russa) and Farmers (Charlie Manuel).

A United Nations

The ethnic diversity here is astounding. There were more languages being spoken in the ballpark yesterday than at Manuel's news conferences.

Expensive split?

The Dodgers organization took a broadside this week when it was revealed that owner Frank McCourt and his wife are planning to divorce.

Since they've been married for 30 years, there's a good chance Jamie McCourt is going to want a sizable piece of the $750 million ball club that her husband believes is his alone.

Maybe they can come to some sort of agreement:

"OK, you get Manny and Torre, I'll take the kids."

"The kids? They're 42 and 36."

"Not our kids. Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw."

"All right, but I get Scully, the TV package and Dodger Dogs."

"The dogs are a deal-breaker."

Flying message

A plane flew in endless circles around the stadium before the game. The only word visible on the banner it towed was "Worthless."

That led to some speculation about what it might be referring to:

The franchise by the time the McCourts' divorce is final?

The Phillies if Jayson signs elsewhere?

Brett Myers' rushing back from his injury?

Jimmy Rollins in the early innings?

A Chase Utley interview?

Analyze this

When most of the Dodgers' staff was introduced to the crowd before the game, there were more therapists than in Larry David's Rolodex.

Charlie-ism of the day

The Phils manager's response to a question about what he said to Brad Lidge during a mound visit in Colorado:

"Basically what we said, we said we was going to [inaudible] if you remember, Madson struck him out on a high fastball, like we wanted to go up out of the strike zone and try to get him to chase, get ahead of him, and then we was going to try to bury a breaking ball, slider in on his hands, kind of up in on his hands. We definitely didn't want to get it down, and at the same time, I said in the worst scenario, the worst thing that can happen is we walk him. But that wasn't the purpose."

Got it.

Philly who?

Not surprisingly, as the only team left in the postseason that's not from one of America's two most populous and influential cities, the Phils sometimes seem like an afterthought out here.

Stories and an awfully lot of questions have been focusing on the possibility of either a Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels or a delicious rematch of L.A.'s Joe Torre and the Yankees.

Best they could do?

Billy Ray Cyrus, whose main claim to fame is that he is supported by his teenage daughter, sang the national anthem and "God Bless America."

L.A. is the music capital of the world and yet the best they can manage is Billy Ray Cyrus, doing double-duty no less?

Speaking of the music at Dodger Stadium, whoever is in charge of the ear-splitting noise is either a.) deaf, b.) Gene Simmons, or c.) angry at baseball.

Lopes left out

The great Dodgers infield of the 1970s and 1980s reunited to throw out the first pitch - almost.

Steve Garvey, Bill Russell and Ron Cey were there, but Davey Lopes, now the Phils' first-base coach, who joined the trio for similar duty during their 2008 postseason meeting, was curiously absent.


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.

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