On June 28, the Angels and Dodgers settled into last place in the western divisions of their respective leagues (both were seven games out of first place with near-identical records). Perhaps now everyone can agree that the preseason hype and expectations surrounding both teams were about as valid as Robert Downey Jr.'s pledge of sobriety. And perhaps now executives in the Anaheim and Los Angeles front offices are spooked enough to consider seriously a blockbuster trade.
No, I'm not suggesting that franchise players Mo Vaughn and Gary Sheffield should switch uniforms, nor should fan favorites Tim Salmon and Darin Erstad go to LA for Eric Karros and Raul Mondesi. And this isn't about the Angels swapping their ineffective starting rotation for the Dodgers' ineffective bullpen.
I'm talking about a straight-up trade: Angels manager Terry Collins for Dodgers manager Davey Johnson.
Stop laughing! This makes perfect sense. When Collins came aboard three seasons ago, he was just what the Angels needed: a fiery skipper who could get on some young, talent-laden butts and take a team everyone in baseball had dismissed further than anyone expected. And that's exactly what he did, getting the Halos within a hair of something accomplished only thrice before in team history: postseason play.
But now that the young Angels players have gotten some seasons under their belts and the Disney-owned team has complemented them with a strong supporting cast of veterans, the Collins act is wearing thin—as it has about this time everywhere he's managed.
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Instead of a swift kick in the butt, what the Angels need now is a steady, reassuring, battle-tested leader like Johnson, who took the young, talented Mets to the World Series in 1986.
Unfortunately, Johnson is much too steady and reassuring for the Dodgers, who need the kind of fire Collins brings—and stat! Bill Russell, Glenn Hoffman and now Johnson are just too laid-back for the overpriced, underachieving Blue Crew. By contrast, Collins is a ticking time bomb. Putting him in the Dodgers dugout—and making it clear that he is all that stands between the players and the team's even scarier owner Rupert Murdoch—would take them to the next level out of sheer fear. Either that, or they'd self-destruct—which is going to happen eventually anyway (if it hasn't already). Why not speed things up so the team can get on to the rebuilding process?
Yeah, the Angels just extended Collins' contract, and the Dodgers made a hefty financial commitment to lure Johnson west. Mere details for high rollers like Disney and Murdoch.
Face it, folks. Southern California's major-league baseball teams—like, well, all its professional sports franchises —are in disarray. And yet the simple solution is right here. Put Collins in Dodgers blue, Johnson in Angels, uh, white?, and, as Vin Scully puts it, pull up a chair. We may watch sparks fly or even have to hide our eyes, but anything would be more entertaining than the current dreck that's been foisted on us.