I got so rattled after hearing Jeff Kent criticize Vin Scully, I had Kent batting ahead of Manny Ramirez in paragraph one and behind him in paragraph two in Sunday's column.
Nice timing, too, on the Page 2 goof. The Times just hired Eddy With a Y as its new publisher, completing an exhaustive search to find someone out there who still reads the newspaper. Obviously, our copy editors in sports don't.
On a bright note, the former DirecTV whiz -- supposedly now our TV Guide into the future although we're a newspaper -- will probably last as long as all the others, The Times going through more publishers than the Dodgers have GMs the last decade.
No getting around it, though, the mistake was still mine, and so while taking the opportunity to apologize for a sloppy column, I thought I'd give Mr. Chuckles a chance to say he was sorry for taking Scully's name in vain.
But he just looked at me -- as if I was asking him to embrace the return of Milton Bradley.
I said a bunch of angry folks had e-mailed, defending Scully while blasting Kent to pieces.
"Folks are upset," I said.
He started dusting off his shoulders as if brushing away dandruff, while saying, "bloggers," spitting out the word like it was some kind of infectious disease. The way things are going in the communications business, incurable might be a better word.
"You wrote it as tongue in cheek, and I said it as tongue in cheek," said Mr. Chuckles, who was greeted by a smattering of boos when he came to the plate -- then turning them into cheers with an RBI double.
"You told me Scully was saying this and that about me hitting third, and I said, 'Vin talks too much,' and he does. But I say that in a respectful way."
I understand. I love savaging Plaschke, but always in a respectful way.
"I said it to you -- because I knew you'd write it tongue in cheek," Kent said. "But as I've said, a lot of people don't get your humor. They take something you write and make it more serious and bigger than it really is.
"People think you and I hate each other," he said, a shock, I must say, to learn we don't. "As you get on me to make adjustments -- you're over the top for some people, too."
I've spent the better part of four years trying to soften the sourpuss and convince folks Kent is not a jerk. Then he takes a poke at Scully.
There's a thin line between sticking one's tongue out and placing tongue in cheek, and the other day it seemed Kent was not only sticking his tongue out, but holding each of his ears as well while talking about Scully.
That's why I cautioned him to retract what he had to say about Scully before I wrote my mistake-filled column -- Kent getting the chance to save both of us.
"You know I'm not going to do that," Kent said, a tough guy on and off the field, the very secret to his success for the last 17 years, he will tell you. "I said it, and I knew you would write it. Vin hasn't been down here in the four years I've been here. It's just a fact.
"Vin talks too much, too, but I don't have a problem with Vin. None whatsoever."
I'm not buying that because Kent has a problem with everyone who says he's doing better now that he's hitting ahead -- and that's ahead of Ramirez. He's hitting almost .500 now, three more hits Tuesday night, while hitting .256 before Manny breathed new life into his career.
"Yeah, I'm upset with people who say that," Kent said. "You never hit third, so you don't know. People [Scully] who talk about me hitting better third don't acknowledge the hard work and everything else that goes into grinding it out all year long. . . ."
Blah, blah, blah.
"I'm also ticked off at anyone who misreads the situation and thinks this has something to do with Manny," he said. "I don't care about birthdays, anniversaries or winning games; my wife just had her 40th birthday and I didn't buy her a card."
Wouldn't it be a hoot if Mrs. Kent had her own blog?
"What I care about is winning the World Series, and that's what this is all about. And we're all in this together right now; it's not about any one person."
"Manny, Manny, Manny." Sorry, just got carried away there for a second.
By the way, bumped into Scully before the game and asked him how he was holding up after Kent's (tongue-in-cheek) remarks.
"The Russians are pulling out of Georgia and you're asking me about Jeff Kent," Scully said (tongue in cheek). "Goodness."
I mentioned that to Kent, who said, "Write that."
One minute the guy says Scully talks too much, and the next he wants the guy quoted.
Baseball players (tongue in cheek)!
THE DODGERS continue to acquire players the ParkingLot Attendant does not have to pay, which means GM Ned Colletti can stay here as long as he wants.
The latest is Greg Maddux, Colletti initially misleading everyone by saying, "No," the Padres are not paying Maddux's salary. Further questioning revealed they are paying an undisclosed portion of Maddux's salary -- the Dodgers a little sensitive because it appears they're only willing to improve if it costs them nothing.
Wonder where anyone got that idea.
MANAGER JOE TORRE was asked whether he might give a day off to Ramirez, which probably would ruin Kent's chances of getting a hit.
"I'm probably going to have to do it," he said, "although I'm not thinking about it right now."
"Will you give fans 48 hours notice so they can skip going to the game?"
"He might pinch-hit," Torre said, the answer I would expect from Frank McCourt.
JUSTINE ROSENBERG sang the national anthem, her proud father, Lon, the Dodgers' head of stadium security watching and ready to have anyone ejected who didn't love her performance.
No problem, she was great.
T.J. Simers can be reached at
email@example.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.