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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Talking Baseball with Scrubs' John C. McGinley
2005-12-29 09:14
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

When it comes to interviewing actors, some people want them to stick to talking about acting.  I've given an actor license to do much more, but hold your fire - because it's too much fun to have an actor who wants to talk baseball - really talk baseball.

McGinley.halfA couple of years ago, I got the assignment from my editor at Variety to do a feature on John C. McGinley, the artist currently known as reluctant mentor and anger-mismanagement expert Dr. Perry Cox on the NBC comedy Scrubs. You're just happy to share the field with a quality actor in a quality show, but little did I expect the conversation to begin like this:

Weisman: "How're you doing this morning?"

McGinley: "Well, the Yankees won last night, so I'm doing great."

And so my entertainment interview with McGinley, who has played roles ranging from Sgt. Red O'Neill in Platoon to Bob Slydell in Office Space, began with 10 minutes of straight shooting about baseball, before we finally forced ourselves to talk about his Emmy-worthy performance on Scrubs.

As much as anything else that day, what I learned is that McGinley will talk baseball anytime, anywhere. So during his vacation break from shooting the fifth season of Scrubs (which returns to air Tuesday with back-to-back episodes starting at 9 p.m.), it took no convincing to get him to not talk shop, and instead talk sports.

The first words out of his mouth after the initial exchange of hellos? "I feel really, really good about (Nomar) Garciaparra," referring to the Dodgers' recent free-agent singing.

"I like that signing. I don't love it; I like it," McGinley added. "I like it because they didn't have to give anything away for it. … I think he's a quality player, and I think he's going to thrive out there."

While acknowledging that Garciaparra might not physically be the player he once was, he was surprised at the caterwauling out of Boston about Garciaparra's clubhouse personality.

"Everyone's talking about he's such a cancer," McGinley said. "Give me a cancer who wins three batting titles and hits .360."

Having had a residence in Southern California for years now, McGinley has grown familiar with the Dodgers. But it would be misleading to go much further in that direction, when his first baseball love remains the Yankees. McGinley grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, and his fondest baseball memories reside at Yankee Stadium.

"Ron Blomberg becoming the first DH," McGinley said of his earliest baseball recollections, "and then for the Mets, when the Mets were playing at Yankee Stadium, I saw Willie Mays hit a home run. I couldn't believe my eyes. It's not that early, but I remember it vividly.

"Other than that, I just remember those Reggie Jackson teams winning the World Series," McGinley continued. "Those guys, they just rocked me. I just lived and died with the Yankees."

Asked to name his single favorite baseball memory, the first thing that came to mind was Yankee reliever Rich "Goose" Gossage.

"Every time he came in, he looked like was going to kill someone," McGinley said. "It just looked like he was going to kill someone."

And then, in the mid-1980s, McGinley got to see something Dodger fans didn't - Darryl Strawberry at the height of his game.

"For a stretch there," McGinley said, "when Strawberry stepped to the plate, waving the bat lefthanded, à la early (Gary) Sheffield, literally every time he stepped into the box, it looked like he was going to hit a home run. That stroke was just from God."

Asked to name his baseball hero, McGinley Blinked the late Yankee catcher, Thurman Munson, and after him, first baseman Don Mattingly.

"I want to love Bobby Murcer," McGinley said, citing one of his early fascinations, "but I couldn't feel it."

McGinley segued into talking about hanging out with former Yankee and current Mets manager Willie Randolph on the field a couple of times this year, and it became clear that for this actor, access to athletes is a perk much more important than having the biggest trailer.

"It's been the total biggest benefit, aside from being able to do stuff for Down Syndrome," McGinley said. (His son, Max, was born with Down's Syndrome, and McGinley is the spokesman for the National Down Syndrome Society's Buddy Walk program.) "You get the NBC tickets every once in a while, and they're not in the bleachers. They're pretty fantastic, to tell you the truth."

McGinley's brushes with athletic greatness aren't limited to baseball. While filming the football movie Any Given Sunday, director Oliver Stone had McGinley rehearse Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

"It was a really ambitious (monologue) to give a non-trained actor to do," McGinley recalled. "I worked with LT on that, and the tradeoff was he would explain Cover 2s.

"And I found myself at the Orange Bowl with LT, whom I grew up worshipping, explaining Cover 2s. … And I'm thinking, 'I've got LT talking to me.' But after spending four weeks with him on that monologue - which he nailed - it was like, 'Of course, I'm talking to LT.' "

McGinley next talked about two of his neighbors: hockey star Chris Chelios ("God, I love him. He's having the renaissance year of his career.") and surfer Laird Hamilton, "who is probably one of the five best athletes on the planet." This led, inevitably, into another vitally unimportant digression.

"We were doing this the other day," McGinley said. "If you're doing the greatest (athletic) freaks of all time, the easy ones are (Michael) Jordan, (Babe) Ruth, because of the crossover with his pitching. I easily put Jim Brown on there because of his lacrosse crossover."

McGinley added Wayne Gretzky to his top five, but got tough when it came time to pin down the fifth.

"Fifth is tough - and don't freakin' say Muhammad Ali to me," McGinley warned. "What he did politically is unbelievable, but you can't put up a boxer - it's fixed. … (John) Cusack was arguing to me the other day about boxers, I'm like dude - it's not their fault, but you cannot have it."

"It's tricky with non-modern athletes," McGinley continued. "(Jim) Thorpe was an Olympian, the greatest player of his era. … People like to put Jesse Owens on there."

Unwilling to commit to evaluating athletes within their given era, McGinley returned to the more recent.

"A lot of people try to put Bo Jackson on there," McGinley said. "Bo Jackson, if he had stayed healthy, would be right up there with Jordan.

"Barry Bonds is clearly one of the greatest athletes in the history of the species. What he's done may in fact be unbelievable. I can't take everything away from him because of the (small) number of strikes seen in a game - and he tags it."

In the end, McGinley left the question of the top-five athletes unanswered - meaning he'll be picking it up again in no time.

Obviously, McGinley is not alone among actors in his sports infatuation. Cusack is deep into it, according to McGinley, though no one may be more hardcore than D.B Sweeney of Eight Men Out and The Cutting Edge.

"Sweeney is right up there," McGinley said. "And (Tom) Sizemore, before he got into all this trouble, he had close to a photographic memory. He was kind of like Bob Costas; he was unbelievable.

"D.B. is just, I don't know, he'll just go toe-to-toe with anybody on anything, just because he likes to argue. Plus he's just a Red Sox freak, even though he's from Long Island. He likes Yaz (Carl Yastrzemski) because Yaz's dad was a potato farmer from Long Island.

"Johnny is a pretty great Chicago sports freak, but it kinds of ends there. He kind of has blinders on. All he can talk about are the '85 Bears and Jordan - it's just a little stupid. For instance, he tried (on his list of top-five athletes) to put Scottie Pippen."

"I've had to hear from John how the Cubs now have the fastest outfield in baseball. No joke - a lot of speed. (And) no hitting."

McGinley also incorporated baseball into a self-improvement book project he completed for publication a year from now. Inspired by a Canadian cartoon character, the book is The Untalkative Bunny: How to Be Heard Without Saying a Word. The book focuses on the importance of non-verbal communication, and baseball comes into play in a chapter about perseverance, which McGinley defined as the rate at which you can return to effort from an unforeseen circumstance.

"In the Hall of Fame, .302 is the median batting average for offensive Hall of Famers. Even if they fail seven out of 10 times, they got back in the box as quickly as possible, it's the one thing Hall of Famers do. … What you can do nonverbally: you can return to effort. It's the one thing you can control, no one can take that away from you. You may not be able to control that the fax machine broke. You don't have control over that, but you do have your effort, and you can do something else."

Just as the Scrubs interview a couple of years ago leapt easily into baseball, the informality of this baseball talk couldn't help but find its way back to talking about the television show, especially with the season premiere finally arriving following its surprising early season benching. It was a hiatus that McGinley understood intellectually even as he struggled with impatience.

"Now that networks are allowed to produce and own their own content, the mandate at NBC is to create and own," McGinley said, citing The Office as an example. "Disney is the producer of Scrubs, so you're hosed.

"When you're the new head of NBC (Entertainment), Kevin Reilly, he's a super guy, but he needs a hit on his watch, but (we're) not that. We're on (former NBC Entertainment president) Jeff Zucker's watch. We come back, we do okay - Kevin doesn't get any credit for it. (My Name Is) Earl is doing well for him, but that's 20th Century. That doesn't really fulfill the mandate he was given. Will and Grace is a perfect example - NBC Productions for NBC, they make a killing on that."

"All I can tell you is it's good to be back on the air. Of the first 13 we did (this season) … I'd say 10 were A-pluses, and 3 were B-pluses. The writers came back from getting nominated for Emmys loaded for bear. … Wait 'til you see the first couple. We did a Wizard of Oz Scrubs that's so good. Zach (Braff), of course, plays Dorothy, and the other three play the Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. I, of course, am the Wizard."

From his excitement at talking about Scrubs, you are reminded that acting really is the stuff that comes first for McGinley. It's not a job; it's a passion - and he takes it seriously. You could say he gets his game face on.

"I love (reading about baseball) if I don't have a rant I have to get into my dome in the next 10 minutes," McGinley said. (In case you haven't seen Scrubs, McGinley's character has a mile-a-minute monologue or two in about every episode.) "But if Billy (Scrubs executive producer Bill Lawrence) has me going on a rant, then everything else stops."

Still, his love of baseball is there. Someday, everything else may stop long enough for McGinley to win an Oscar or Emmy.  If that happens, most will look for McGinley to celebrate the craft, his colleagues, his son. 

But as McGinley takes the statuette and goes to the podium to speak to the millions around the world via satellite, I'll also be looking for him to give me a few words about the latest Yankee score.

Comments (162)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-12-29 09:33:14
1.   Bob Timmermann
Great interview Jon.

Did McGinley actually figure out the median career batting average for HOFers?

2005-12-29 09:36:08
2.   Jon Weisman
1 - Actually, he asked me for it, and I asked Mike Carminati.
2005-12-29 09:43:42
3.   Sam DC
What a great treat to bring lunch back to the desk and find this piece.

By the way, Jon, a commenter over at Bronx Banter is questioning your secret identity (in a nice way) . . .

2005-12-29 09:46:53
4.   Suffering Bruin
This article is yet another reason why I'll never be too busy to check in with this blog on a daily basis. Great stuff, Jon.
2005-12-29 09:49:50
5.   Jon Weisman
3 - Comparing me to Alex Belth is about the nicest way possible.
2005-12-29 10:11:28
6.   Sam DC
The bit about Cusack putting Scotty Pippen on his list of the 5 best athletes ever is hysterical.
2005-12-29 10:11:57
7.   Bob Timmermann
I've never seen Jon and Alex in the same place at the same time.

Then again, I don't think I've ever seen Alex in person ever.

2005-12-29 10:12:05
8.   Marty
Great piece Jon. It's funny, Cusack sounds pretty much like every other person from Chicago I've met. Sports doesn't exist outside the Chicago city limits.
2005-12-29 10:13:17
9.   Jon Weisman
7 - It happened once, in a Manhattan coffee shop in July.
2005-12-29 10:16:42
10.   bhsportsguy
Really good interview, Scrubs reminds me of one my favorite underated comedies of all time, "NewsRadio." NewsRadio had a great cast (Phil Hartman, Dave Foley, Maura Tierney and Stephen Root) but it did not ever seem to find a fit on the network. Unforturnately, due to the sudden death of Phil Hartman, it ended its network run and it never found a home in syndication.
2005-12-29 10:27:39
11.   Jon Weisman
I was a big NewsRadio fan, and it actually did have a run on syndication for a while. But I'm not sure you can find it today.

In this day and age - maybe any day and age - a series run of five years is something to be proud of. And as you said, the loss of Hartman was a lot to overcome.

By the way, today I was rereading my Variety story on McGinley today (the story was dated June 2004) and noticed that he called John Spencer "the best actor on television."

2005-12-29 10:30:53
12.   blue22
11 - It was on Bravo quite a bit last year. If you search on Tivo you might find some episodes still lingering.
2005-12-29 10:49:53
13.   still bevens
11 News Radio also had a good run on A&E when I was in college. It was on at weird times, but I was able to catch it between classes.
2005-12-29 11:04:42
14.   D4P
I'm not the jealous type, but I must say that I wouldn't mind being in a position to interview John McGinley and Will Arnett.
2005-12-29 11:06:26
15.   Jon Weisman
14 - I am the jealous type, and I'd rather be writing their material.
2005-12-29 11:09:16
16.   Blue Thrue and Thrue
Thanks for the belated Christmas gift, Jon. That was a great read.
2005-12-29 11:11:33
17.   Linkmeister
It's always useful to have reminders that the people on the screen have the same sort of human prejudices the rest of us do. Scottie Pippen? Bobby Murcer?

Very good work, Jon.

2005-12-29 11:21:53
18.   Sam DC
While the Dodgers' rotation may look a little rickety, remember, things could be worse: "On the Rockies front, we'll go with the good news first. Byung-Hyun Kim 'is on the verge of re-signing.' This comes as a great relief as I do not have a great deal of confidence in either Zach Day or Sunny Kim as starters." (From Bad Altitude.)
2005-12-29 11:24:59
19.   Bob Timmermann
But can Dodger fans live a life without Giovanni Carrara?
2005-12-29 11:27:20
20.   D4P
19
Looks like I'm gonna have to retire one of my favorite screen names from the ESPN board (i.e. "DoneGiovanni").
2005-12-29 11:38:34
21.   Marty
I'm very happy that Gio is heading eastward. Pittsburgh fans can look forward to Tracy leaving him in for that deadly second inning of work.
2005-12-29 11:54:43
22.   Sam DC
So, what's the record for ownership of the top sidebar slots? Bob has the top 4 right now -- if Randa signs soon he can go for five.

Do you believe in Miracles?

2005-12-29 12:01:57
23.   Warren
Gio had his moments in 2004 and a few in 2005. But I think he's about done.
2005-12-29 12:02:06
24.   Bob Timmermann
I put Randa's signing into the Carrara post.
2005-12-29 12:05:21
25.   D4P
23
Yes. Thus "DoneGiovanni".

BTW: It appears as if the Lakers might be getting Ron Artest after all, though I have to think it would cost them more than just Devean George.
http://www.probasketballnews.com/pbnnews_1229.html

2005-12-29 12:29:04
26.   Sam DC
24 Maybe you could cook up a quick 2005 retrospective or something . . . (could gin up a reason to link that Panthers cheerleader story and send your traffic through the roof for a double bonus).

On another note, msnbc.com, in discussing the Manny/Matt for Miggy deal, makes this argument: "The Orioles' near agreement with 36-year-old outfielder Jeromy Burnitz could also scuttle the deal because Baltimore won't have as big a need for Ramirez."

Uh, I guess . . .

2005-12-29 12:32:14
27.   Bob Timmermann
We here at the Toaster don't stoop to such cheap theatrics as posting links about the Top Cats Scandal....

Actually, I just haven't found a clever way to do it yet.

2005-12-29 12:38:36
28.   jasonungar05
Great Post Jon. Somehow, someway after reading this article, I went into imdb and got into Miami Vice which was my favorite show as a kid. Then, being very slow here at work, noticed a pretty impressive (while not inclusive) list of guest actors who were on vice. Many were no names then, but stars now. I think this started cause I though for sure that McGinley was on Vice. Well here is the list:

Jimmy Smits
Mykelti Williamson
Ed O'Neill
Dennis Farina
Bruce Willis
Eric Bogosian
Glenn Frey
Richard Jenkins
Pam Grier
John Turturro
Ving Rhames
Luis Guzmán
Anthony Heald
Penn Jillette
Gene Simmons
Little Richard
Bruce McGill
David Strathairn
Nathan Lane
James Remar
Frankie Valli
Miles Davis
Dean Stockwell
Bob Balaban
Patti D'Arbanville
Iman
G. Gordon Liddy
Phil Collins
Emo Philips
Kyra Sedgwick
Ted Nugent
Leonard Cohen
Harvey Fierstein
Bernard King
Michael Richards
Bill Russell
Roberto Durán
Frank Zappa
Michael Bay
Bianca Jagger
Byrne Piven
Richard Belzer
Tommy Chong
Gary Cole
Lee Iacocca
John Leguizamo
Liam Neeson
Laurence Fishburne
Ron Perlman
Charles S. Dutton
John Spencer
Steve Buscemi
Willie Nelson
Stanley Tucci
Bill Paxton
Wesley Snipes
Don King
Chris Elliott
Robert Pastorelli
Helena Bonham Carter
Brad Dourif
Vincent D'Onofrio
Annette Bening
Viggo Mortensen
Lou Diamond Phillips
Melanie Griffith
George Takei
Ian McShane
Benicio Del Toro
Philip Baker Hall
Brian Dennehy
Ben Stiller
Paul Guilfoyle
Kelly Lynch
Penelope Ann Miller
Isaac Hayes
Chris Rock
Sheena Easton
R. Lee Ermey
Lori Petty
Harry Shearer
Oliver Platt
Dylan Baker
Frank Stallone
Michael Wincott
Chris Cooper
Julia Roberts
Tony Sirico
Michael Chiklis

2005-12-29 13:04:06
29.   blue22
13 - Yeah, A&E. That's the ticket. Not Bravo.

25 - Probably George and Odom, thought it's possible it could be George, Kwame, and every other scrub on the team to make the salaries fit.

2005-12-29 13:14:13
30.   D4P
29
I'd be kinda surprised if Phil has given up on Odom already.
2005-12-29 13:14:48
31.   Marty
Check out the latest from Yard Work on our man Choi:
http://www.yard-work.org/?p=457
2005-12-29 13:32:06
32.   Linkmeister
31 The anguish leaps off the page.
2005-12-29 13:32:52
33.   Linkmeister
Is everyone here picking Oregon over OU this afternoon/evening?
2005-12-29 13:35:47
34.   Vishal
[33] i am. the ducks will handle Overrated University, no problem.
2005-12-29 13:37:01
35.   blue22
30 - I don't think Kobe and Odom are very complementary to each other. Both need the ball too much. Of course Kobe gets it more, and Odom doesn't play without the ball very well so he ends up just standing around. Artest would be a great fit for this team, even if it means giving up Odom.
2005-12-29 13:41:41
36.   Bob Timmermann
I am going with the Ducks as I am a Pac-10 loyalist. There is someone at work here today wearing a UH football jersey. It's a woman so I don't think she's on the team.
2005-12-29 13:44:53
37.   D4P
35
I'm not sure Kobe and anyone are complementary.
2005-12-29 13:47:50
38.   oldbear
35. I agree completely. Lamar Odom is my 2nd least favorite Laker (Kwame Brown being #1). Odom is just too passive or lazy. Kobe needs a legit #2 scorer to shoulder some of the load, and Artest just might be that guy. Plus the Lakers defense gets a ton better with Artest in the lineup instead of Lamar Odom.

I think the Lakers originally thought Lamar Odom was going to be their Scottie Pippen. But he's more of a Toni Kukoc.

Maybe Artest can be that Pippen type to run along Kobe.

I also read the Lakers might be getting Jalen Rose in the deal too. Kobe, Rose, Artest at the 1,2,3 would be very good.

2005-12-29 13:50:43
39.   Bob Timmermann
Kobe would like to be complementary in the sense that he scores 80 while a teammate scores 10.
2005-12-29 13:51:43
40.   Vishal
might it not take too long for artest and rose to get up to speed on running the triangle? i thought the reason most people had been attributing for the lakers' improvement is that the players were finally understanding how to implement phil's system.
2005-12-29 13:55:53
41.   blue22
37 - Think of Kobe on the Clips with Elton Brand. That'd be a match made in heaven. Elton enjoys doing the dirty work, doesn't want the ball, and would be able to score 20 points a game on table scraps from Kobe.

40 - Artest and Rose both have experience with the triangle from their days in Chicago. Tim Floyd ran the offense after Phil left per the Jerry's (Krause and Reinsdorf's) orders.

2005-12-29 13:56:21
42.   D4P
Odom currently leads the team in rebounds and assists and is 2nd in blocks. Given the team's weakness at C and PF, I'm not sure they could afford to lose his height and rebounding.
2005-12-29 13:56:56
43.   oldbear
Lakers just need Kwame Brown to morph into Dennis Rodman.

Mihm does a good Luc Longley.
Kwame is no Rodman.
Artest does a good Scottie Pippen.
Kobe does a good Michael Jordan
Rose does a good Ron Harper.
Smush is no Kerr/Paxson.
Cook does a good Bill Wennington.
Odom does a good Toni Kukoc.

2005-12-29 14:02:50
44.   blue22
This deal would also put the Lakers in a better position to make a max offer to Chris Bosh (the best upcoming FA in the next 2 offseasons) after the '06-'07 season.

So both of the major local teams (Dodgers and Lakers, sorry Clippers) are holding out for 2007. Wake me in 12-18 months.

2005-12-29 14:04:37
45.   Linkmeister
36 No, I doubt if she is. If it were a volleyball or basketball jersey there'd be a better possibility. Even the women's B-ball team has decided to be good this year; they're 8-2 with a 6-game winning streak.
2005-12-29 14:09:47
46.   Penarol1916
I don't know how anyone can make a pick on the Holiday Bowl this year after what happened last year with Cal, you just don't know how these kids are going to react to the disapointment of missing out on a major bowl.
2005-12-29 14:11:32
47.   Vishal
[46] cal also had major injuries to its receiver corps last year, if i recall correctly. and texas tech is a better team than oklahoma.
2005-12-29 14:12:46
48.   D4P
46
Exactly. I kinda wish a team like Oregon would decline the bowl bid after getting shafted. Accepting the bid (and the shaft) only perpetuates the system. And like you said, the players can't help but feel a let down in this situation.
2005-12-29 14:14:05
49.   jasonungar05
Rose and Artest have exp in the triangle. Both are really nice defenders on the perimeter and both can play in the post.

Odom if we can keep him, great, but if not then its not that big of a loss. The man isnt even willing to shoot more than 10 times a game.

Kobe bashing is easy, but he has no team around him. The guys just sit there and hope Kobe will do it. Lamar included. Jalen and Artest won't. They are tough players. And yep, it does put us in a much better place cap wise heading into 07 season

2005-12-29 14:18:47
50.   D4P
49
The guys just sit there and hope Kobe will do it.

I'm not sure about this. Are you suggesting Kobe actually wants other players to take shots, glory, fame, etc. away from him? It's not as if Kobe is looking to give the ball up all the time and only shooting because no one else will.

I think Kobe's behavior with Shaq was a pretty good indicator that he would rather be the star on a losing team than share the limelight on a winning team.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-12-29 14:19:04
51.   Bob Timmermann
The bowl bid would have been pretty hard for Oregon to turn down. The Pac-10 would not have liked having its biggest non-BCS bowl getting spurned. The Pac-10 didn't fill up its allotment of bowl slots as it was.

Also, how Cal did last year against Texas Tech shouldn't really affect how Oregon plays against Oklahoma.

2005-12-29 14:29:32
52.   Penarol1916
47. Texas Tech was not very good last year, maybe a little bit better than Oklahoma this year, but they didn't beat a decent team until Cal, and do you really think that Cal's receiver injuries last year are more important than Clemon's injury this year. Oregon did not look very impressive. I also happen to think that Cal last year even with injured receivers was a much better team than Oregon this year.

51. I'm not saying that what happened last year should affect what happens this year, but it should at least play a part in people's expectations.

2005-12-29 14:30:59
53.   D4P
Pen - The other day I saw the word "Penarol" carved into a post at the Metro North train stop in Beacon, NY. I thought of you.
2005-12-29 14:33:08
54.   Penarol1916
53. Yeah, we Uruguayan soccer hooligans are everywhere, especially where you least expect us.
2005-12-29 14:33:29
55.   Bob Timmermann
Texas Tech has a unique offense and Cal was not prepared for it. Oklahoma's offense is not something that Oregon will find unusual. If Oregon can keep Peterson in check, they should be able to do OK.

There is also the matter of Oklahoma having to be able to play good enough defense to slow down Oregon. Not many teams have outside of USC.

2005-12-29 14:40:45
56.   Steelyeri
Odom is my favorite Laker. His contribution to the team is greatly underrated because he doesn't score enough points/take enough shots.

Like D4P mentioned earlier, he leads the team in assists and rebounds. He leads the team in assists because he is a great ball-handler, he has great court vision, and he is unselfish. He leads the team in rebounds because he hustles, he knows how to get good position, and because of his height. Lamar also plays good defense. I don't think lazy would be a good way to describe him.

Both Odom and Phil talk about how the media and fans should get off his back because what he does is what the team needs from him. In fact, Phil got mad when Lamar said that he was going to score more points when reporters kept asking him about his scoring.

I perceive a player who rebounds, blocks shots, and plays good defense as one that hustles because that takes hard work and effort (atleast it does for me when I play). When a player doesn't take many shots I see him as a team player, not a lazy one.

2005-12-29 14:51:42
57.   Penarol1916
55. Was USC's defense this year really that good? Even though the Oklahoma defense had some bad performances early in the season, they did manage to improve and hold the vaunted Texas Tech offense to 23 points at the end of the season.
Look, Oregon is the better team, but they are disapointed college kids, while Oklahoma is a young team that has improved over the course of the season and if I still gambled on college football I wouldn't go near this game because of that huge psychological factor.
2005-12-29 14:58:32
58.   Telemachos
11. 12. 13:
For all you NewsRadio fans (I'm one of them)...

http://tinyurl.com/cvcko
and
http://tinyurl.com/8opvb

2005-12-29 14:59:31
59.   Telemachos
57 I don't have the stats in front of me, but USC played 8 of the top 30 offenses in the country. Texas, I think, played 1 or 2.
2005-12-29 15:00:55
60.   Bob Timmermann
I just am not as sold on psychological edges in football as I am on talent.

Keep in mind that Oklahoma sees Texas Tech's offense a lot, so they are able to adjust to it. But Oregon has a variety of offensive weapons while Oklahoma has Adrian Peterson.

2005-12-29 15:03:07
61.   Penarol1916
59. And they showed they could stop some of those offenses some of the time, and couldn't stop them other times, the sign of an okay, but not that great defense. As for Texas, I don't really care about who they faced, to be perfectly honest I wasn't really discussing them and don't want to have to get into a position where defend yet another team I hate.
2005-12-29 15:06:02
62.   Penarol1916
60. When it comes to college sports I see psychology having a big effect. As for Oklahoma only having Adrian Peterson, have the Ducks shown the ability to stop any good running backs this year? I'm off, and glad that I don't have to defend a program I utterly despise any more, usually I'm the one running down Big 12 programs, here it is the other way around.
2005-12-29 15:16:59
63.   Telemachos
61 I don't think USC is a top-notch defense, but I think they're underrated. But then again, I think the Big 12 is overrated in general.
2005-12-29 15:18:15
64.   Bob Timmermann
Oregon gave up 278 yards rushing to USC and 172 yards to Washington State (most of all it to Jerome Harrison).

Oregon has a typical Pac-10 defense.

2005-12-29 15:20:52
65.   Bob Timmermann
Of course there is also the psychological factor of Oregon wanting to show people that they are good, but apparently the psychological factor of them being slighted is more.
2005-12-29 15:25:05
66.   D4P
64
Oregon has a typical Pac-10 defense.

Yeah, it seems that Pac-10 teams (or at least Oregon) have found it much easier to attract high-quality offensive talent than defensive. Oregon has always had good QBs, RBs, and WRs, but always gets stuck with undersized DLs and LBs and 5'8" CBs that can't cover anyone.

2005-12-29 15:27:10
67.   D4P
65
There's also the psychological factor for Oregon of feeling like they have much more to lose than to gain. Beating an unranked 7-4 team doesn't really mean much. Oklahoma, on the other hand, clearly has much more to gain than to lose.
2005-12-29 15:33:03
68.   jasonungar05
"The Los Angeles Dodgers seem to have a head start on the rest of the NL West and they should walk away with the division title if they stay healthy. But that's no guarantee"

Ryne Sandberg

2005-12-29 15:38:49
69.   Marty
If Sandberg said that, we're doomed.
2005-12-29 15:39:55
70.   Vishal
[68] wow, that's the kiss of death.
2005-12-29 15:44:11
71.   Robert Daeley
68 That's okay, this dude on FOXSports seems to think the Diamondbacks have the NL West locked up:

http://tinyurl.com/cv7uj

"However, in recent days, rookie GM Josh Byrnes has improved an already astounding lot of young talent; and as a result, the D-backs are uniquely coiled (snake metaphor!) for a run of dominance in the otherwise lackluster NL West."

2005-12-29 15:48:01
72.   jasonungar05
lol. that IS the kiss of death.
2005-12-29 15:52:09
73.   Break Out
Darryl Strawberry...

I walked by the old Astro ticket office at the Astrodome last Saturday on my way to a Texans game, and the image that came to my mind was of a tremendous, high-arcing home run to right-center off the bat of a skinny Darryl Strawberry in his prime.

2005-12-29 16:01:18
74.   regfairfield
71 I have to admit that I'm starting to get scared of the Diamondbacks very quickly. That lineup got cleared of chaff with the rate of the, well, 2004 Dodgers.

Fortunately, they still have no rotation, so the Dodgers should be safe for one more year.

2005-12-29 16:02:44
75.   Steve
Didn't you read the article? They're going to flip Russ Ortiz and Shawn Green for pitching.
2005-12-29 16:35:58
76.   King of the Hobos
Perry seems to hate the Dodgers prospects. We trashed him a lot last time he wrote about the kids. So it's natural to like the other team in the division with lots of prospects. How the DBacks plan to compete without any pitching is beyond me, but Perry can continue to think Nippert and Webb will lead the DBacks. And to think you could trade any of the players he mentioned, and their contracts, is ridiculous
2005-12-29 17:18:16
77.   FirstMohican
"What would you say... ya do here...?"

Has anyone else heard any more about that Artest->LAL thing aside from probasketballnews.com article? The day the Lakers give up Devean and change for the scariest defender in recent history and a decent shooter is the day I'll call Kupchak a decent GM.

2005-12-29 17:32:50
78.   Jon Weisman
77 - Good imitation!
2005-12-29 17:53:17
79.   King of the Hobos
77 Indy Star reporter Mark Montieth says it isn't likely, although not dead, and Denver is the new favorite (reported by Rotoworld, although the original source is a radio report)
2005-12-29 18:13:55
80.   trainwreck
77-
That deal is financially impossible. The Lakers would have to give up Odom if they got both Artest and Rose. Artest will be a Nugget or a Clipper. I do not know why Laker fans think we have a chance. We have nothing to offer that will make the deal work. Kupchak will not trade Odom just for Artest and the salaries do not match as well.
2005-12-29 18:16:38
81.   oldbear
76. I dont think the Dbax have a very good lineup. Next year they are going to get:

#1. A post-roids and Older Luis Gonzalez.
#2. Subtract Troy Glaus 37HR's.
#3. Tony Clark will go back to being Tony Clark.

Isnt their lineup significantly worse? And dont they need to score runs with that bad bullpen and starting staff?

2005-12-29 18:20:33
82.   King of the Hobos
81 Really, next year isn't the problem. It's 2007, when Jackson, Quentin, Young, Nippert, and Drew are ready. The DBacks only hope for next season is that severe injuries cripple the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres. What are the chances that it will happen once again?
2005-12-29 18:34:55
83.   jason h
Once I waited after a concert to talk to one off my favorite musicans and record producers, a guy by the name Gene Eugene.He turned out to be a HUGE Dodger fan with season tickets. We talked about baseball and the Dodgers for a long time and it was one of my favorite conversations ever. He told me that he struggled to pay attention to the bands that were recording in his studio often becuase he was thinking about baseball. It's always great when your two favorite worlds collide like that.
2005-12-29 18:59:06
84.   PennyJavy
I think the D'backs have a solid lineup. They are replacing Clayton with Hudson, replacing their trio of Catchers last year with Estrada, Chad Tracy is moving to 3B (I wouldn't be surprised if he outproduces Glaus), and Chris Young will be their CF.
2005-12-29 19:26:44
85.   caseybarker
82-

LaRoche, Guzman, Billingsley, Martin, Ethier. I know that their prospects, Drew in particular, may hit better, but the Dodgers will have a deeper pitching staff.

2005-12-29 19:28:43
86.   caseybarker
A.M. 1090 is reporting insane David Wells offers from Pads and Dodgers.
2005-12-29 19:51:21
87.   Bob Timmermann
The start of the UCLA-Stanford basketball game (18-1) makes up for my disappointment with Oregon in the Holiday Bowl (down 17-7)
2005-12-29 19:51:31
88.   trainwreck
86-
What are they?
2005-12-29 19:52:10
89.   trainwreck
Yeah this UCLA game is great so far. When is UCLA going to have a healthy team?
2005-12-29 19:54:59
90.   trainwreck
Apparently Kobe and Odom got into a physical altercation after the Wizards game and Kobe broke some track lighting and threw a tv.
2005-12-29 19:59:04
91.   D4P
90
Where did you hear that? If true, that would lend credence to the speculation that Odom might be on his way out. However, would trading Odom for Artest really result in a net gain in chemistry and character?
2005-12-29 20:03:39
92.   trainwreck
David Aldridge reported it during TNT's first game tonight. We can not trade Odom straight up for Artest because Odom makes too much, would take a third team involved or just more players. Lakers apparently do not want to give up Odom and just get Artest back so I think it would take a three team deal. Artest is a better player than Odom and his personality is more like Kobe's, but who knows if that is a good or bad thing. Kobe needs to cool it some. I understand why he gets mad, but you can not do stupid stuff like that over a game.
2005-12-29 20:13:31
93.   D4P
I keep waiting for Kobe to demonstrate some maturity but it hasn't happened yet. I actually think he has regressed since the championship years.
2005-12-29 20:16:19
94.   trainwreck
He wants to be the greatest so if other people screw it up for him he goes insane.
2005-12-29 20:21:38
95.   D4P
I bet he never considers the possibility that his 13-37 shooting performances have more to do with "screwing it up" than what the rest of the team is doing.
2005-12-29 20:25:53
96.   King of the Hobos
86 It's not cool to say that and then say nothing more
2005-12-29 20:31:26
97.   natepurcell
from what ive read, its suppose to be this:

Kwame + George + Slava + McKie
Croshere + Artest+ anthony johnson
Jalen Rose

rose and artest to the lakers.
kwame, george and slava to the pacers.
croshere, mckie and johnson to the raptors.

i assume our starting 5 would be
rose
kobe
artest
odom
mihm

??

2005-12-29 20:35:23
98.   Steve
An offer for David Wells is de facto insane. Now you're just talking about how tight to put on the jacket.
2005-12-29 20:36:59
99.   natepurcell
dont worry steve, colletti is just selling high on broxton, laroche and ethier.

wells is the golden calf.

2005-12-29 20:43:05
100.   King of the Hobos
84 Don't expect to see Chris Young in CF initially. Reports are that the DBacks are signing Eric Byrnes as their CF. That could fall through, but it seems their intent on having Young in AAA. An OF of Gonzo, Byrnes, and Green is almost as bad as Bonds, Winn/Finley, and Alou
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-12-29 20:46:52
101.   Andrew Shimmin
I missed most of the game: did Oregon's bus crash on the way to the stadium? What happened? At least the refs seem to be rooting for them.
2005-12-29 20:46:53
102.   D4P
97
Kwame, George, Slava, and McKie for Artest and Rose would be a pretty good deal for the Lakers. However, who would take Kwame's place as PF/backup C? Mihm is a foul-magnet and needs a competent backup.
2005-12-29 20:48:35
103.   natepurcell
that trade opens up roster spot for the return of turiaf, who is suppose to sign a 3 yr 1.3 mil deal soon.

i guess it would mean bynum and turiaf get thrown into the fire early.

2005-12-29 20:52:13
104.   D4P
Oh yeah. I forgot about Turiaf. I'd be happier with Turiaf and Bynum in there. They will struggle and will probably be underperform Brown for now, but at least they have "upside".
2005-12-29 20:53:49
105.   PennyJavy
100. Ah better for the Dodgers then lol
2005-12-29 20:53:50
106.   Steve
Copper cow.
2005-12-29 20:54:30
107.   Bob Timmermann
Penarol1916 will claim that Oregon was underperfroming because they are hurt psychologically about not playing in the Fiesta Bowl and they are meeting the same fate as Cal.

However, this year's Holiday Bowl has little in common with last year's. This has been a defensive game. I'm shocked to see a Pac-10 team in a 17-14 game.

2005-12-29 20:56:42
108.   Andrew Shimmin
Did Leaf start for Oregon all year? He looked pretty awful in the ten minutes I've watched.
2005-12-29 20:57:54
109.   Andrew Shimmin
I was being snotty, about the refs rooting for Oregon, but I might be right.
2005-12-29 20:58:43
110.   Bob Timmermann
Leaf was filling in for Clements who started the first 2/3 of the season. Oregon used 2 QBs in this game. The other guy was worse.
2005-12-29 20:59:09
111.   D4P
Leaf did not start for Oregon all year. The Ducks lost their starting QB (Kellen Clemens) back up October. He was having a record-setting year at the time. They went on to win the remainder of their regular season games with backup QBs at the helm.
2005-12-29 21:01:26
112.   natepurcell
clemens got a broken leg in the arizona game.
2005-12-29 21:03:00
113.   trainwreck
That sounds like the Lakers are taking on too much salary in that deal making that report bogus. I do not think that deal works under the cap whatsoever.
2005-12-29 21:03:23
114.   Penarol1916
107. Or maybe he'll just claim that the Pac-10 is over-rated as it's second team lost to mediocre Oklahoma team that finished 3rd in a conference with only 1 good team. I kid cause I love.
2005-12-29 21:06:06
115.   natepurcell
the deal works, artest only makes something like 6 mil a year. hes super cheap.
2005-12-29 21:08:22
116.   D4P
114
How can the Pac-10 be over-rated when its "second team" is ranked 6th in the BCS and yet still gets stuck in the Holiday Bowl?
2005-12-29 21:09:53
117.   Bob Timmermann
114. So by your reasoning, there was no way for the Pac-10 to look good after the Holiday Bowl. Either an "expected" win or a "humiliating" loss. And the latter can be used as evidence that the conference as a whole is bad.
2005-12-29 21:11:31
118.   Steve
The Pac-10 is always over-rated in college basketball. The heavy breathing over UCLA is cracking me up. As if several more two point victories over small Long Island colleges would vault them into the Top 5.
2005-12-29 21:13:47
119.   Andrew Shimmin
Steve's just better because Cal beat BYU.
2005-12-29 21:15:14
120.   Bob Timmermann
119

I guess Steve is a good guy. But is he really better than us?

2005-12-29 21:19:41
121.   Andrew Shimmin
Bitter. Most of the time I spend editing my posts, these days, is in looking for errant "€"s and "$"s, since those keys flank my up arrow. Less time for spelling errors. Actually, there should be a system of ranking commenters here. I can't guess how to score comments, but it'd be neat.
2005-12-29 21:23:18
122.   Bob Timmermann
I do think UCLA's basketball team is significantly better than last year's especially if all the players can stay healthy (and Farmar sprained his ankle tonight). But UCLA will likely be a team that will hover around 8-16 in the rankings. They will win a game in the NCAA tournament this and maybe even get to the Sweet Sixteen. But I doubt more than that.
2005-12-29 21:25:19
123.   trainwreck
I do not understand why Toronto does that deal. They are not saving any money and Rose contract runs out in 07 while Johnson still has till 2010 on his deal.
2005-12-29 21:25:24
124.   Penarol1916
117. No, but apparently the idea that 2nd best team in the Pac-10 lost to the 3rd team in the Big 12 for reasons for reasons other than talent seem laughable to you, at least according to the tone of your post 107.
The real no-win situation is the Sun Bowl tomorrow, I've seen almost every Northwestern game this year and they are not a good team, they lose that game it really appears that the Pac-10 is as deserving the the title "Big 1" as the Big 12. Since it appears that my sons have finally fallen back asleep, I'll bid you goodnight.
2005-12-29 21:25:54
125.   Bob Timmermann
USC is playing Cal at Staples tonight and it sounds like there are a sizeable number of Cal fans at the game.
2005-12-29 21:28:18
126.   Bob Timmermann
124.
Yes, I laugh.
2005-12-29 21:31:03
127.   Bob Timmermann
On second thought, I prefer the adjective "risible" to "laughable".
2005-12-29 21:31:10
128.   trainwreck
I had no idea there was a Korean guy on UCLA.
2005-12-29 21:32:03
129.   Steve
Or of course, that Wagner of the west, Stanford.
2005-12-29 21:32:55
130.   Bob Timmermann
Final score
Griddle 71
Dodger Thoughts 54

Sheesh, if UCLA couldn't beat this Stanford team at Pauley, I would be greatly disturbed.

2005-12-29 21:34:50
131.   Steve
BY ewwww won five conference games and beat Eastern Illinois. I have no idea how beating Eastern Illinois made them bowl-eligible.
2005-12-29 21:35:08
132.   Bob Timmermann
Stanford has now lost to three of the four UC schools that play DI sports. They don't play Santa Barbara this year.

Unless they meet in the NCAA or the NIT.

2005-12-29 21:36:16
133.   Bob Timmermann
The NCAA used to be a bit more picky about accepting wins over 1-AA teams, but with so many bowls, a win is a win.
2005-12-29 21:36:19
134.   LAT
Cal 62
USC 58

SC 9 game winning streak toast

2005-12-29 21:37:34
135.   Steve
Unless they meet in the NCAA or the NIT.

Unlikely that...

2005-12-29 21:38:36
136.   Uncle Miltie
128- neither did I. I wonder if he has a cult following like Yuta Tabuse did. Great win for UCLA. Hopefully Farmar's injury isn't serious.
2005-12-29 21:40:03
137.   Steve
128 -- He has slow lateral movements and a hole in his shot.
2005-12-29 21:41:47
138.   Bob Timmermann
128

The Korean kid would start if Ben Howland didn't have a Jordan Farmar fixation.

2005-12-29 21:42:08
139.   LAT
118. Yeah put CW Post and Hofstra on the schedule!!!

UCLA has a lot of young talent. Afflalo is going to be a great player but with Fey and Hollins in the middle UCLA can't get past the sweet 16 (and may not get that far).

2005-12-29 21:45:42
140.   Steve
139 -- Georgetown has already booked them through 2035.
2005-12-29 21:47:06
141.   D4P
CW Post was my favorite cereal growing up, although I only ate it at my grandmother's house. When at home, I based my cereal purchasing choice on the quality of the prize contained in the box.
2005-12-29 21:50:20
142.   LAT
Notwithstanding the problems at Ga, given that Herrick had great success at UCLA and turned around the Univ. of Rhode Island program and improved Ga. I assume there is a lot more that he did wrong that never came out. It seems like no one will touch the guy.

Footnote: Centerpeice of Herrick's URI program? Odom

2005-12-29 21:54:21
143.   Andrew Shimmin
142- Wasn't he run out of town for phony-ing up his expense reports?
2005-12-29 21:54:22
144.   trainwreck
Cuttino Mobley and Tyson Wheeler were really good players for Rhode Island. Odom did not stay there long, but he was obviously paid to go there. He had a bad rap and went to a bunch of high schools if I remember and for some reason went to Rhode Island...hmmm seems fishy to me.
2005-12-29 21:55:12
145.   Chris H
Fey and Hollins are unlikely to get off the bench the rest of the year. Mata and Wright aren't world beaters, but the fact that they play defense and rebound put them light years ahead of "Fellins".

Wagner is not a great team, but they will almost definitely be in the NCAA tournament. That is a lot more than you can say for Stanford right now (although if Hernandez and Grunfield get on track they could turn it around).

UCLA is a very good team and now that Josh Shipp is back they will only get better. Guard play is the most important thing in basketball and UCLA might have the best backcourt in the country.

2005-12-29 22:03:33
146.   Steve
Apparently, Oregon has already lost to Portland St. My rule of never picking PAC-10 teams in the NCAA tournament will again apply come March.
2005-12-29 22:04:57
147.   D4P
I typically only pick Pac-10 teams in the Pac-10 tournament. I have a great track record.
2005-12-29 22:05:12
148.   Uncle Miltie
145- Fey is UCLA's Jason Phillips, except he isn't stealing playing time from a Korean. Howland likes the younger big men better.
2005-12-29 22:11:58
149.   trainwreck
148
And Howland is no Jim Tracy.
2005-12-29 22:22:50
150.   LAT
143. Yeah but given the ever elastic rules of the NCAA, that didn't seem like such a big deal to me. After all the guy won a championship. I assume similiar violations take place elsewhere all the time. Maybe I should check my own moral compass
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2005-12-29 22:26:26
151.   Bob Timmermann
150

Herrick was fired at UCLA for turning in phoney expense reports, but that was more of a convenient excuse for Pete Dalis to fire him. Dalis felt Harrick was an NCAA probation violation waiting to happen. And the UCLA alums never quite took to Harrick because he wasn't all that polished of a person.

2005-12-29 23:16:36
152.   LAT
At most schools the alums don't care what you do long as you win. In fact they are the ones who encourage the coach to break the rules. But I think the standards set by Coach Wooden make UCLA diffrent in this regard.
2005-12-29 23:22:37
153.   LAT
How is it that i have something like 30 movie channels and there is nothing on any of them. Hard to believe for the price of premium service they have the nerve to show Strike Force with Burt Reynolds and Erika Eleniak. At least Burt has the best toup in show business.
2005-12-30 00:14:36
154.   King of the Hobos
From Friday's LA Times:

Los Angeles Police Dept. Lt. Paul Vernon said the Dodgers have reported a "theft from the organization" and said detectives would meet with team officials after the relevant executives return from the holidays.

The LAPD does not know what specific items were taken, he said

Can it please be Repko that was stolen? Actually, it was some documents pertaining to the NFL proposal. Supposedly, the proposal was a 65,000 seat stadium at $600 mil

2005-12-30 00:26:54
155.   Bob Timmermann
152

"Sam Gilbert, come to the white courtesy phone. Mr. Sam Gilbert, you are needed. Thank you."

2005-12-30 05:56:54
156.   Penarol1916
145. Might have the 2nd best backcourt in the country, there is no backcourt in the country that is even close to Villanova's.
2005-12-30 07:37:23
157.   Sam DC
153 While you were typing tat, I was staying up far too late watching Turk 182. Talk about your forgotten classics.
2005-12-30 08:52:45
158.   yankz
Great interview, Mr. Weisman. Baseball, Scrubs and the Yankees, probably my 3 favorite things, finally come together.
2005-12-30 09:25:10
159.   dzzrtRatt
154 What a morality tale!

http://tinyurl.com/73yae

McCourt, you reap what you sow. If you fire people left and right, you find your most embarassing memos showing up in the newspapers. And if you whore after public adulation (a.k.a. "psychic benefits"), you become both a laughing stock and a pariah.

This is going to be an extremely expensive mistake for McCourt. Just to get back to mere acceptability, he'll have to throw around massive campaign contributions, not just to Villaraigosa and Yaroslavsky, but every judge, every Water Replenishment Board candidate, and every out-of-state district attorney nominee for whom these powerful politicans want to do favors. He'll have to donate to all their favorite charities, and give away massive blocks of tickets to every youth group, private school and community gang diversion program in 83 cities. If Gov. Schwarzenegger wants to build a new rehabilitation center and name it after Maria Shriver, McCourt will be tapped to help pay for it, and get no credit.

And even after he does all that, the chances of McCourt ever owning an LA football franchise rank lower than anyone else in California, save maybe for Charles Manson. He is screwed.

2005-12-30 09:40:52
160.   Bob Timmermann
You seem very broken up about the McCourts' dilemma, ratt. I know you feel Frank and Jamie's pain a lot.
2005-12-30 09:51:27
161.   Jon Weisman
159 - He'll be giving away tickets to Harvard-Westlake students? It's about time we were cut a break. :)
2006-01-01 17:50:06
162.   CT Bum
Great piece Jon (I've been away from DT for the Holidays)!

One of the best movie monologues of the past 15 years or so is John's from "Watch It" where he talks about why women don't like "nice guys". Laugh out loud funny, all time classic!

Thanks again Jon.

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