Like baseball’s purity, Vin Scully never gets old: Anyone who thinks the Dodgers’ legendary play-by-play man has ‘lost it’ really ought to just get lost. Or simply listen to Scully enthrall listeners while losing himself in the beauty of the game.

Photo: Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, shown in August 2010, is continuing his “love affair” with baseball in the Dodgers’ booth this season. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

They carved out a tee ball field for the city’s 4- and 5-year olds in the middle of the park. If the city mows the grass, it’s sometimes possible to see second base from home plate. There’s one bench for spectators. This is the first baseball experience for hundreds and hundreds of kids. “It should be better,” Jason says.
—  — Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on Monrovia (Calif.) Youth Baseball League’s funding

Read T.J. Simers column for the Los Angeles Times (its a new month, so I have 10 articles before getting locked out of their paywall again!). In the piece, Simers, who has already raised the ire of Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Caulkins during the Clippers’ first-round match-up against the Grizzlies, goes after Express-News columnist Buck Harvey for this piece on Blake Griffin.

Simers might cover the Lakers normally and is now covering the over-matched Clippers, but anybody that proactively attacks fellow columnists is a must-read every week. If only because griping in the pages of your column is like watching your grandparents troll each other on facebook. I can’t get enough of it. It’s millennial beefing on the Internet, but from the Boomer generation in the pages of major city newspapers. 

Irony is funny.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

He says he won’t miss the season opener as he did a year ago with a cold, “But I’ve added to my fun this season. I have a torn rotator cuff. Maybe pulling a suitcase, I don’t know.

"The good thing is I won’t miss a turn because it’s not my throwing arm," says the old southpaw.


"I would be frightened if I retired," he says when asked about the prospect. "I don’t know what I would do."

So how does he get through an off-season?

"I have one little secret," says Scully, who will be bringing his wife to work Monday. "I know I’m going to work again.

"You know it hasn’t all been beer and skittles," he adds. "We’ve had heartache and pain. I think I need these fans far more than they need me."

Every now and then, T.J. Simers puts out a piece that’s an enjoyable read and that doesn’t rely on his curmudgeonly persona. I suppose when Vin Scully is your subject, that’s not too hard to do.

Also, while I’m pretty sure the “beer-and-skittles” line wasn’t a reference to Homer Simpson’s “Skittlebräu,” how awesome would it be if it were? (Props to @bobtimmermann on Twitter for picking up on that.)

Finally, while I know better than to question the great Vin Scully, I have to correct him here—Vin, there’s no way you could need us more than we need you.

Los Angeles Times Page 2 scribe T.J. Simers calls out Andrew Bynum for persistent apathy and immaturity, on and off the court. Bynum will be a huge boost to the Lakers when he returns from suspension on Sunday, but he has no place as a long-term fixture for the proud franchise. 

I have a suggestion for a three-team trade to land Dwight Howard and a solution at point guard. Like the failed Chris Paul trade, it involves Pau Gasol going to Houston and the Rockets shipping out the same players:

Lakers receive: Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Luis Scola

Rockets receive: Pau Gasol

Magic receives: Andrew Bynum, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, draft picks from Lakers

O’Malley will be the sentimental choice, maybe the most popular one, to make folks feel good again about the Dodgers, but only by those struck by amnesia. The Dodgers were irrelevant under O’Malley his last nine years on the job, as horrible a thing as anyone can say about a sports team. The Dodgers advanced to the playoffs twice in that time but failed to win a playoff game. They were mediocre at best, with no promise of better games to be played any time soon.
—  Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, who may bid for the team again 
It would be difficult to find someone better suited to stand tall as UCLA’s football coach, the good-looking, peppy recruiter who played for the school and who has proved the naysayers wrong by staying out of trouble since returning. Unfortunately, his lofty, enthusiastic sales pitch for respectability has fallen flat. It’s always been my biggest problem with the guy; he talks a good game but his team can’t play one.
—  — Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel 
The ideals of the Wooden era are just that — the ideals of the Wooden era. I remember Dr. O’Donnell making house calls when I was kid. Ideally, I wish every doctor did the same today. The ideals of the Wooden era allowed Wooden to remain coaching at UCLA for 16 years before he won his first national title. Every UCLA coach should enjoy the same opportunity today. Howland has no obligation to maintain the Wooden era.
—  Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on the accusations of impropriety in UCLA men’s basketball 
I mention USC to Mora and he says, “I’m not worried about Southern Cal; I’m worried about UCLA.” That doesn’t make him any different from most of us. I don’t think anyone is worried about USC. But how can you not be worried about the Bruins after watching this collapse to a team coming off six straight defeats? If I were UCLA’s next coach, I’d be really worried.
—  Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on new UCLA football coach Jim L. Mora 
Leiweke says he’s confident AEG will release the EIR in February, putting it on track to be approved by the City Council by July. Just imagine where this process would be if it required Coliseum Commission approval. “We get approval,” Leiweke says, “and the NFL is going to say we’re ready to push dirt; we’re real.” Ed Roski has had EIR approval for a stadium in Industry for some time, and no one considers his project real.
—  Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on the city’s chances at an NFL team 

HARD-CHARGING’s BEST OF 2011: "With Al Davis, issues went beyond black and white" by T.J. Simers. Los Angeles Times, Oct. 8.

Mostly, obituary columns are worthless. Mostly, they’re formulaic. Mostly, they’ve got one personal flourish and a whole lot of biography. The more guarded the deceased was in life, the worse the obituary columns tend to be.

When Al Davis, the glorious and notorious Raiders owner, died in October, I lamented his guarded nature. The stories about perhaps one of the five most important men in the NFL’s history were, mostly, bland. But one stood out. The source surprised me, until I gave more consideration to it.

Simers is angry, often. He doesn’t take crap from anyone and is quick to beat down unsuspecting Los Angeles sports folk. (The Google results for Simers Neuheisel can let you in on that secret quickly.) Simers also was the Times' NFL writer before moving to his columnist position, and many to this day cite him as one of the best beat reporters in the business.

So it makes sense that a columnist who took no crap and covered the NFL extensively would have a few stories about an owner who took no crap and altered the NFL extensively. Simers delivers. His recollections are charming, pointed and oddly poignant. He pulls no punches. He doesn’t quote “Just win, baby.” And the end was fantastic. This is how an obituary column should be done.

Editor’s note: Hard-Charging will spend December picking out favorite sports stories of 2011. We’ll post one story each weekday morning. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment or send me an idea on Twitter. This list isn’t meant to be authoritative or complete, just the best of what I read.

It’s time for the Clippers to take a stand as a team to overcome such a hit, but instead Williams is saying, “I just want to know where I stand with the Clippers.” Translation: He’s looking for a contract extension. Me, me, and me, he’s saying, as we sit down to talk about life without Billups, and why am I not surprised? He was upset when the Clippers acquired Paul and Billups, two future Hall of Famers to buoy a long-lost franchise. Everyone is talking about what it might mean to have the Clippers improve so quickly except for Williams, who wants to know, what about me?
—  Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers
on Clippers guard Mo Williams’ whining (h/t Michael Katz