Forsythe a nice idea, but Dodgers aren’t there yet

Two rites of passage happen for many men every February.

They get optimistic because pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than three weeks. And the ones who don’t own a glove or bat pull out their spreadsheets and micromanage convoluted theories over which teams can win the World Series.

To wit, a group of well-meaning IT guys created a baseball stats think tank called Fangraphs. At this moment, thanks to the trade that brings second baseman Logan Forsythe to Los Angeles, these guys tell us that the Los Angeles Dodgers project as the best team in baseball for 2017.

It’s not true.

To be clear, I like the Forsythe deal enough. The Dodgers sent top pitching prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay to get the guy, who is an above-average second baseman. It sounds like a lot, but De Leon doesn’t project to be a staff ace. After Clayton Kershaw, the current Dodgers pitching staff is overstocked with guys who project as a No.2 or 3. Another No. 2? 

Before the deal, if somebody hit a ball to the right side of the infield, it would roll all the way to wall. So yeah, De Leon can toil before 5,000 people in that nasty concrete pimple the Rays play in.

I’m OK with Forsythe. I realize fans saw 42 home runs from Brian Dozier in Minnesota and wanted that guy no matter what. Baseball history tells us a lot of guys hit close to 50 home runs in a breakout year and follow it up with 15-18 the next. The ones who consistently push for 45-50 HRs? They’ve either sold their souls to Satan or are on ‘roids.

So the Dodgers, once again, project as a so-called deep roster team with lots of options that will make the playoffs and probably have a showdown with the Chicago Cubs. Vengeance is theirs, project the fearsome mighty slide rulers at Fangraphs!

Nah.

First of all, let’s talk about what the Cubs have — which is everyone from the defending championship roster. Their starting pitching was and is superior to the Dodgers. Their lineup is approaching its physical prime, and it’s hard to believe that Jayson Heyward will have another bad year.

The only everyday position where you look at the Dodgers and say they are superior to the Cubs is at shortstop — Corey Seager over Addison Russell. Everywhere else? The Dodgers at best, match or come close to matching. Chicago’s outfield is better. Every  Angelino loves Justin Turner, but Kris Bryant is better at third base. Adrian Gonzalez might be a hall of famer, but right now Anthony Rizzo is better.

Moreover, the Dodgers’ addiction to analytics means a heavy reliance on the bullpen, which has been shortened by letting reliable Joe Blanton and J.P. Howell walk in free agency.

None of this is to imply the Dodgers suck. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see them win the National League West for a fifth consecutive year. But with no World Series titles, or even World Series appearances, since 1988, winning a division is about as big a deal as being the valedictorian at summer school. Nobody cares.

For the Dodgers to be the best team in baseball, the Cubs have to regress — whether by injury or complacency. Those are things that simply can’t be forecast on Microsoft Excel.

What I think has held up the Dodgers offseason

To say that the Dodgers were just two wins away from the World Series simply doesn’t cut it, anymore.

Not when we are approaching 30 years without the Dodgers in the World Series. Not when every other team in the division has been to the World Series since then. Not since the Angels won the title and the Giants won three.

And definitely not when those two games were a mirage. The suggestion that the Dodgers were just two unlucky games — just a whisker away — from beating the Cubs to get to the Fall Classic is absurd.

So it’s a tad alarming when you realize the team has probably regressed. Much of the roster is mostly intact, except for an abyss at second base since Chase Utley became a free agent and Howie Kendrick was traded to Philadelphia. Rumors online have linked LA to Minnesota’s 42 HR-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier and Logan Forsythe of Tampa Bay.

A Dozier trade would be somewhat costly. Prized prospect Jose DeLeon might be part of a package deal. How good is he? Last spring, he was No.3 on the Dodgers list of most valued minor leaguers. The other two? Corey Seager and Julio Urias are already in the majors. DeLeon is the next impact guy up.

So the question is: Why not add Dozier and be done with it? Especially when you have about a dozen starting pitchers currently under contract led by Clayton Kershaw?

Because the Dodgers see this guy in Tulsa, Okla., as a possible Dozier type if they’re patient.

Willie Calhoun was somewhat unheralded, drafted in the fourth round in 2015 likely because of defensive deficiencies and a poor season playing for the University of Arizona. In the Pac-12, Arizona wanted him to be a contact hitter. Once he left the school and started swinging with a little uppercut, Calhoun started crushing home runs. Last year, he was second in the Texas League with 27 home runs. Compare that with Dodgers first baseman of the future Cody Bellinger, who hit 23 in the same league.

Only Calhoun’s batting average is a somewhat unimpressive .254.

So the Dodgers have a bit of a conundrum. They can afford to wait with Bellinger, because they are happy with Adrian Gonzalez at first. They can keep their No.1 prospect and let Dozier hate life in the Twin Cities. If they do that, however, they take the risk of a platoon situation at second base with a basket of deplorables or rush Calhoun. They also could trade for Dozier. In doing so, the Dodgers lose a likely No.2-level starter in the process and find out that Calhoun was the next Dozier in the first place.

If you’re wondering why the Dodgers are sleeping through the offseason, my guess is this is why.

Because they’re hitting the snooze alarm, which likely means year 30 of the World Series drought is coming sooner than you think.

The Dodgers season goes up in flames, but we knew this

The Dodgers, as I type, are about to set a dubious mark. Should the current score stand, Los Angeles will be eliminated in the 2016 NLCS in Chicago. In the process, they will have set a record for most consecutive seasons of qualifying for the playoffs without reaching the World Series.

In other words, they’re going nowhere. Even worse, they will continue to go nowhere. Here’s why:

1) The most bloated front office in the history of baseball will continue to purge salary. Closer Kenley Jansen? He’s gone. Analytics experts such as the Dodgers “smart guys” don’t value closers. Jansen, meanwhile, is apparently looking forward to getting paid.

Third baseman Justin Turner is due for a raise. Buh-bye. The “smart guys” resist position players older than 30.

It should be the same for Rich Hill. The feeling here is the smart guys are betting Clayton Kershaw will be backed up by much of what you saw before trading for Hill — Scott Kazmir, Julio Urias, Kenta Maeda and whatever noodle-armed injury-prone dreck with a low WHIP they can cull.

You see, analytics drones only think in terms of buying low/selling high. Hill was bought low. He’s in line to get paid. The smart guys will pass.

Matter of fact, the Dodgers have 14 free agents this offseason and the only one that I am confident they will retain is situational relief pitcher Joe Blanton. Maybe they make a run at keeping Josh Reddick, but that’s only if they luck out and find a suitor for Andre Ethier and/or Yasiel Puig.

Hmm… Jansen’s in the game, auditioning for a job next year.

2) Take a peek at the list of MLB free agents next year. The top guys are in their early 30s. The Dodgers will pass.

In their defense, the list is not particularly inviting, either. 

3) Let’s assume something possible: That Urias blossoms quickly into a No.2 behind Kershaw. It might happen. Kid has major capability. And perhaps that stabilizes an utterly chaotic rotation.

Fine… But who hits other than Corey Seager?

The Dodgers reliance on home runs made them one-dimensional. Keep the ball in the yard, and they lose. It’s that simple, because they just can’t hit. Puig was supposed to be a cornerstone with Seager, only the Cuban was sent to the minors this year. Joc Pedersen might follow him with that abyss in his swing.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers ballyhooed farm system is loaded — with pitchers. There are no offensive threats due to arrive next year.

It also is worth noting that the great Adrian Gonzalez — who just filed out in the eighth inning — might be slowing down.

4) The Dodgers are incapable of making impactful moves because, as previously mentioned, they have the most bloated front office in baseball. They have six general managers on the payroll — Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes, Ned Colletti, Alex Anthopoulous and Tommy Lasorda.

How in the hell do you get anything accomplished with such micromanagement?

Earlier, I had mentioned that people obsessed with analytics are into buying low and selling high. It would make sense to have that mentality when you are forced to squeeze what you can out of limited resources.

Only the fatal flaw is this: The Dodgers don’t have limited resources. Because they’re the freaking Dodgers.

That is why the Chicago Cubs, who rebuilt themselves from scratch, have a future and the Dodgers do not. The Cubs did, in fact, take risks this offseason. The Cubs were the ones to sign Jon Lester, whereas the Dodgers let Zack Greinke go. The Cubs remembered offense by signing second baseman Ben Zobrist and outfielder Dexter Fowler. 

The Dodgers? Last offseason with numerous possibilities to improve, they added Trayce Thompson.

Analytics is “a tool” used by the Cubs. Analytics is “the only tool” the Dodgers recognized.

Which means the Cubs played to win. You can’t be mad at them for that.

While the Dodgers merely play to qualify. You should be mad as hell about that.

Life with Vin Scully, or rather through him

Mr. Chaus was preoccupied during a lengthy test at Serrano Junior High School, and so was I in the corner of his classroom. Thankfully, he had arranged the desks in an awkward theater-in-the-round pattern. Had they been in traditional rows, his sight line would have been clear to me, where I had a garish plug in my ear connected to a transistor radio.

It’s Oct. 19, 1981. The Dodgers are playing a winner-take-all Game 5 in the National League Championship Series in Montreal. I’m 13 years old.

Mr. Chaus excused himself from the room, saying he needed a bathroom break during a test. And there I was, hoping the static would stay clear so that I could listen to Vin Scully tell me if the Dodgers would reach the World Series.

Only it didn’t. The radio feedback had me freaking out far more than the exam. After all, it was open season for cheating if the teacher is in the restroom.

Only he wasn’t in the restroom. He snuck to the teachers lounge to watch the game on TV. He ran — if you could call it a run — and the only thing he could say through an awkward grin: “Dodgers 2, Expos 1!”

Teacher privilege. It would be one of the few times in my life when I didn’t get to hear The Great One call Another Great Moment.

Truth be told, I learned more about the English language from Scully than I ever did Chaus. As the tributes pour in for Scully’s final broadcasts as Dodgers announcer, you’ve likely read about the warmth and the cadence in his voice. That’s a gift God gave him. What he did with that, among other gifts to us, was convert that into a conduit for literacy.

To say Scully is one well-read fellow is to say Beethoven could play a scale. He was more likely to quote Thoreau from the top of his head than to read a statistic that was already flashing on your TV screen. He earned his degree at famed Jesuit institution Fordham University, a school that counts two Pulitzer Prize winners among its graduates.

Yet, it was intelligence that never seemed forced on his audience. Considering the Dodgers draw about 3 million fans every year, that’s a sizable group.

***

Normally, when I post I try to stick with one simple thought. How could I when one considers the magnitude of the Voice of the Dodgers? The youngest man to call a World Series game? The man who introduced Joe Montana and Dwight Clark to the world?

When you have a favorite team, often your impressions are formed through the prism and voice of its play-by-play broadcaster. His words invariably become linked to the events in your life, perhaps by happenstance, perhaps by providence.

How much of an influence was Vin Scully to me? I knew I wanted to get into sports journalism when I was 14 years old. Vin Scully was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame that year, and he continued to call Dodgers games for another 34 years after reaching that pinnacle of a career.

So, how can a stranger impact your life?…

***

When newspapers still had considerable clout to inform the public, The San Bernardino Sun occupied a building that stretched an entire block of its downtown district. Its sports department was influential and respected for a midsized publication. In the summer of 1988, a reporter worked Centre Court at Wimbledon, another at the Summer Olympics, still another at The Forum when the Lakers won the world title.

Yet, the cubicle that department toiled in looked like a battleship grey shoebox. This was my upbringing into sports journalism, crammed into that tin can with malfunctioning computers every night while my friends were chasing girls.

It wasn’t all hard work. I was the office prankster. I had a suicide pact with coworkers about Vin Scully. Who wants to live in a world without Vin Scully calling Dodgers games, after all?

The Dodgers were underdogs against the Oakland A’s in the World Series that year. I was 20 years old.

You know this call.

This was also the last time I truly lost composure watching a sports event. Had I been in a sports bar, although I couldn’t legally drink, it would have been appropriate. Had I worked for another sports department, say in North San Diego County, the only thing that would have been held against me was that my scream wasn’t pro-Padres.

But it was in an accomplished sports department, which meant I damaged my career for a few years. Oops.

Meanwhile, please note that while people were losing their minds at Dodger Stadium over what Kirk Gibson did, Vin Scully kept silent for almost 1 minute, 10 seconds, and let the roar permeate the broadcast while he considered his next line. That line became the exclamation point to one of baseball’s most memorable moments.

Grace under pressure. Wish I had learned that from Vin Scully earlier.

***

Qualcomm Stadium was never a comfortable place. It’s one of the last multipurpose stadiums in the country, which meant it lacked personality for both football and baseball. I was asked to cover the Dodgers minor leaguers as they played the Padres’ prospects before the major league game later that night. I’m wrapping up my career as a sportswriter in 2002. In less than a year, both of my parents will be diagnosed with cancer and I’ll be divorced because I will learn my wife has been cheating. I’m 34 years old.

I don’t remember who won the minor league game. Behind me, as I type, Vin Scully is reading the San Diego Union-Tribune because there’s more to the world than baseball. This would be my last chance to introduce myself to him, tell him how much his work meant to me on a personal and professional level. I didn’t. If there’s no cheering in the sports department, there surely isn’t hero worship in the press box.

The Dodgers shortstop is Cesar Izturis, who can’t hit to save his life but was one of the most dynamic defensive shortstops I’ve ever seen. Scully is a little past his prime — heresy, I know — but even at age 75 he can startle you with flashes of brilliance. Such as when a Padres batter hit a grounder that was a sure base hit, if only Izturis hadn’t drawn gasps from a sellout crowd with an electrifying stop.

“Render unto Cesar that which is Cesar’s!” Scully exulted, and I reflexively looked to his closed press box as if I were the only one who would appreciate the reference to Mark 12:17.

To say Scully is a man of faith … Well, I suppose comparisons to religious figures could come across as blasphemy. What I can say is that players have told me of his regular attendance at Catholic Mass and that while he doesn’t shy away from admitting his faith in God, Scully never told you to go to church. He never lectured us on morality at all. He simply assumed we want to be good people.

Because despite our issues, be they societal strife or microaggression, we do want to be good people. Most of us, anyway.

And if you don’t think having faith matters, take it from a guy who had a few hard knocks. It helps to be reminded there’s a God, sometimes.

***

I mentioned earlier that like ornaments on a Christmas tree, the lives of many Dodgers fans reflect memories crafted by the words of baseball’s poet laureate. Sometimes, in our frustration over injustice, it would do us well to hope that eventually societal wounds can heal. 

It’s evening in Atlanta, a city I didn’t even know existed then. Heck, on April 8, 1974, I didn’t even live in Southern California or know who the Dodgers were. I’m 6 years old. The Dodgers are playing the Braves, and Vin Scully is unafraid to heap praise on the accomplishment of an opposing player:

It’s a high drive into deep left center field. (Bill) Buckner goes back to the fence … It is gone. …

“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron, who was met at home plate, not only by every member of the Braves, but by his father and mother.

“He threw his arms around his father and as he left the home plate area his mother came running across the grass, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him for all he was worth.

“As Aaron circled the bases, the Dodgers on the infield shook his hand. And that was a memorable moment.

“Aaron is being mobbed by photographers. He’s holding his right hand high in the air. And for the first time in a long time, that poker face of Aaron’s shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months. It is over.”

Roberts: The Dodgers micromanager

Common sense tells you there’s no such thing as magic, but there are times in life that we are willing to suspend our disbelief — a good show at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, or the pursuit of something historical in nature.

Consider what happened to end the seventh inning during Rich Hill’s bid for a perfect game at Marlins Park on Saturday. Yasiel Puig, derided for years over a perceived lack of hustle, made this supernatural catch of a Martin Prado drive. Hill threw his arms up in the air. The Dodgers bench erupted with joy, congratulated Puig and the team returned to the dugout. Because it was good fortune. Enchanted, perhaps.

They didn’t congratulate Hill, by the way, because baseball players are superstitious by nature. Who wants to jinx a perfect game? To do so, perhaps that would be the baseball equivalent of black magic.

Magic, humanity’s feeble attempt to comprehend moments in the joy we witness.

But as we’ve come to expect from the micromanagers running the Dodgers — who ironically enough are owned by a guy named Magic — there shall be no joy in Chavez Ravine. There shall only be strict adherence to the mathematical equation.

Manager Dave Roberts pulled Hill aside and told him his quest to pitch Major League Baseball’s 24th perfect game was over. Hill had some redness and heat on his finger, a blister could possibly form. Thanks for helping the team. Hit the showers. Make it a cold shower, while you’re at it.

I was at Marlins Park last night, Tweeting and posting live updates of this incredible effort from five rows behind the dugout. When the bottom of the eighth inning was about to start, I was looking up the history of Dodgers no-hitters and perfect games. They had two no-hitters in 2014. It was 51 years, one day from the only perfect game in Dodgers history, pitched by Sandy Koufax and documented by a man far classier than I.

What I couldn’t see in the dugout was how angry Hill was, as well he should. I realize it’s no consolation, but that anger was magnified by my fellow Dodgers fans that I could see.

What happened at Marlins Park last night was the latest in an ever-increasing list of Dodgers decisions that illustrate the shortcomings of analytics-exclusive front office decisions. To recap, analytics in sports — as popularized in the excellent Michael Lewis book “Moneyball” — is a tool to help teams without wealth and resources to stay competitive.

Only the Dodgers do have wealth and resources.

So the front office personnel consult the numbers and sign/trade for the affordable injury-prone: such as Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood, Bud Norris, Scott Kazmir, Mike Bolsinger, Brandon Beachy … are you starting to get the point? The otherwise durable Zack Greinke was let go in the process. No worry. We were told. We’ll make adjustments on defense for something called “run prevention.”

Pulling Hill from a historic quest was simply “asset protection,” for he, too, has a history of injuries. Wouldn’t want to risk another guy getting injured six outs away from a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment.

Had the Dodgers chosen to retain Greinke instead of acquire a stable of injury-prone pitchers, Hill would likely be a No. 3 starter, at best. As such, Roberts likely believed him to be the only reliable pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw.

This is how important baseball history actually is: Curt Schilling became a national hero for pitching a game where he eventually started to bleed through his sock. Hill? Maybe he has a blister. Maybe, but doggone it, can’t be too careful.

Of course, the front office wouldn’t have to worry about asset protection if it studied injury reports with the same vigor it does spreadsheets. 

You almost have to wonder what prior Dodgers managers would have decided. Actually, you don’t. Tommy Lasorda would have kept him in. Every Dodgers manager prior would have likely done the same. Don Mattingly, who leads the Marlins after the Dodgers cut him loose last year, I haven’t seen his comments. He probably didn’t make one.

As such, it was not Rich Hill who made history, it was Roberts and the Dodgers front office. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that no pitcher had been removed in the quest for a perfect game that late in the game, at least not since 1900.

After the game, Roberts told reporters that the decision actually made a 5-0 Dodgers victory feel like a loss.

That is ironic, because that is precisely what I was saying outside of Marlins Park while I cursed the Dodgers front office in the mist.

We’ve seen this act from the Dodgers before

Earlier in the season, when the Dodgers were under threat of getting buried by the San Francisco Giants — L.A. was behind by 7 1/2 games at one point — some dude kept trying to troll. According to him, I should be satisfied that the Dodgers have won the National West Division three years in a row. According to his words, I’m spoiled by success.

At risk of sounding like a brat — I’m not, I’m not, I’m not.

But seriously folks. Sports fans need a quick reminder of what the point is for all those tickets, caps, parking, hot dogs, beer, kids toys, nights in front of the flatscreen while your wife fumes over putting her shows on DVR. You want your team to win the championship, to hoist the trophy, to have that silly parade through your town.

There is no such thing as a division champion, no matter what that T-shirt says. That’s MLBshop.com trying to pull another $25 out of your credit card. Winning the division three consecutive years doesn’t constitute a dynasty.

There is no such thing as a league champ. You win a pennant for winning the league. Your team is not a champion for reaching the World Series.

The only championship comes from winning the World Series. The Dodgers haven’t won it, or for that matter been in one, since 1988.

The Giants have won three championships since the Dodgers last went to the Series. Arizona won one. The Padres and Rockies have been to one since. Only six teams have not reached the World Series since L.A. last went.

The Dodgers get ready for six uncomfortable hours flying across the continent — through that hurricane-generator known as the Gulf of Mexico — for a series in Miami this weekend. They’re in a good place, otherwise. They’re five games up on San Francisco, with a magic number of 19 to qualify for the playoffs. Number crunchers a fivethirtyeight.com estimate the Dodgers have a better than 99 percent chance to reach the playoffs. (Although they are the same guys who give Donald Trump a 20 percent chance to win the presidential election and current polls don’t seem to indicate that to me.)

As to the Dodgers reaching the playoffs, so what? We’ve seen this before.

Can anyone give me a rationale that the Dodgers will win the World Series that doesn’t involve blind hope? From where I see it, the current roster is the weakest of the last four Dodgers seasons. The last three included Zack Grienke, who they let go in a cost-cutting move. This is the year L.A. finally put its foot down on an immature Yasiel Puig, because his production slipped drastically. We still have no idea if Clayton Kershaw can pitch again.

The only position where anyone can argue the Dodgers have upgraded significantly is at shortstop. Corey Seager is that good.

But the way I see the NL West, the Dodgers good fortune stems primarily from a fantastic Giants collapse. San Francisco had the best record in baseball going into the All-Star break. For reasons I do not know, since then the Giants are the worst team in baseball at 16-33.

So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a tad skeptical about L.A. Oh, I’m watching. I’m even going to Miami to watch the Dodgers play.

But my skepticism will end when the Dodgers finally stop settling for mediocrity and win the World Series.

Then I’ll consider myself spoiled.

Friedman isn’t wrong; Ellis had to go

There are distinct flaws with an all-analytics approach to building a baseball team. If you’ve read the book “Moneyball” — excellent read, by the way — the point of the book was to make a team that couldn’t afford so-called five-tool players competitive with the teams that can.

Hence, my primary problem with the Los Angeles Dodgers with Andrew Friedman. They can afford the five-tool guys, and yet they’ve overdosed on analytics and let elite players that could increase their chances at world titles slip away.

Analytics isn’t always wrong, though. As such, catcher A.J. Ellis was expendable. Absolutely.

Dodgers fans bemoaned the catcher’s departure for Philadelphia on Thursday, sent in a trade for catcher Carlos Ruiz.

As a side note, that move triggered other interesting little roster shuffles. The Dodgers couldn’t go a game without a backup catcher, so for one day Shawn Zarraga was promoted. In order to accommodate that move, outfielder Scott Van Slyke’s season was ended. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

Now, that’s a lot of lives impacted for bringing in a backup catcher to replace another backup catcher. And Ellis was also one of those “clubhouse guys” you read about. The guy who doesn’t put up great on-field results but man, his teammates love him to death and you want harmony over a long season. Heck, three days before the trade, Ellis joined teammate Rob Segedin to welcome  the outfielder’s child into the world. I challenge you not to smile after clicking that link.

But this move presented itself and it had to be made. I may not understand everything the Dodgers front office does, but they have committed themselves to roster depth over five-tool players. In the instance starting catcher Yasmani Grandal gets injured, Ruiz is a far better hitter than Ellis. Currently, Ellis isn’t even hitting .200.

And the Dodgers need all the hitters they can get. Their starting pitching is in tatters and last night they didn’t even land a single base hit until they were down to their final out. Scoring one run in two games is no way to hold onto first place.

Their has been some speculation that once-in-a-generation-elite pitcher Clayton Kershaw will miss his pal Ellis enough to opt out of his contract after the 2018 season due to Ellis leaving. That’s highly doubtful. If Kershaw leaves, it’s because the Dodgers front office has continued to bring in substandard players on this idiotic prideful quest to prove you can win titles with minimum-wage talent.

But they weren’t wrong on this one. Ellis is a feel-good story. Ruiz is an insurance policy.

And insurance makes you feel pretty damn good when you need it most.

The week in L.A. sports (6/3/16-6/9/16)

I’m writing this a day early, because watching these commercials for the upcoming “Ghostbusters” bomb during the NBA Finals is making me bitter. I know people like NBA players, but you can’t trick me into making me think it’s “Space Jam” by adding Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony to the ads. If this hunk of cinematic phlegm is so great, and it likely isn’t, where are the stars of the movie in the ads?

I’ll take a deep breath now. On to the teams…

Dodgers: The team continues to tread the waters of Lake Inferior, but made a rather noteworthy player transaction this weekend by designating Carl Crawford for assignment. That’s a fancy-pants way of saying “you’re so bad, we will pay you not to be on the team.” Considering that he’s owed $35 million, that’s an intense level of bad.

What’s particularly striking about that decision is that nobody thought this golden parachute was a bad idea even though the Dodgers could only manage one base hit in Monday’s loss.

LA also cut Cuban defector Alex Guerrero, who hadn’t been seen in the majors since before Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy.

Lakers: Elite draft prospect Brandon Ingram is scheduled to showcase his wares in a private workout session for the team in El Segundo today. They have yet to schedule one with consensus top pick Ben Simmons. Make of that what you will.

There’s also a bit of a pissing match over whether the 1980s “Showtime” Lakers could beat the modern-day Golden State Warriors. Everybody said the obvious things and at the end of the day, Magic still has HIV for I believe 25 years now. That’s a silver anniversary, right?

Also, Brandon Bass has declined an option in his contract in order to become a free agent. Can you blame him?

Rams: This might not be as sexy a pick as the new quarterback, but if you’re looking for a player to love with the team returning, consider defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who was rated the No.3 overall best player in the NFL by CBS Sports beat writer Pete Prisco. Donald is behind only Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Houston’s multi-talented J.J. Watt.

“He was a dominant inside force for the Rams last season, breaking out into the star category of players. Donald is so quick and strong, even if he is undersized. He had 11 sacks last season and was outstanding against the run,” Prisco wrote. “The ability to get off the ball as quickly as he did sets him apart from the rest of the defensive tackles in the league.”

Clippers: Dude, are I hear about them are wild rumors and the only fantasies I deal with are about women I can’t have.

Galaxy: Major League Soccer is in this funky little pause/non-pause with the Copa America tournament. The Galaxy is missing some of its top players and it showed in that it couldn’t score in a tie against a rather lame Sporting Kansas City.

Kings: General manager Dean Lombardi talked about the team with ESPN “First Take” gasbag Stephen A. Smith. I’d tell you what happened, but I could sense my IQ plummet like a diabetic’s blood-sugar level.

The week in Los Angeles sports (5/20/16-5/26/16)

Before recapping a week that was weak from my old stomping grounds, I want to address the idea of the Oakland Raiders moving to either Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

If the Raiders can’t make it work in Oakland, the Rams should tell them to move to Vegas.

The cold truth is the Rams could lose the city they fought so hard to move to, because the Raiders are a damn entertaining football team right now and on the cusp of being a playoff threat.

The Rams? I’m not sure what the hell they are right now. I know they want to run the football, but they let a lot of their defensive depth go in order to make room for a quarterback. They’re likely a couple of years away.

The return of the LA Raiders could damage the LA Rams. Why would team owner Stan Kroenke allow that?

Now…

Dodgers: A national outlet’s power rankings asked if it was time to write off the Dodgers. Depending on what you’re writing them off for, it’s a fair question. Playoff berth? I wouldn’t write them off. World title? Grab your pen and start scribbling, because this team is currently very poorly designed and poorly led.

Consider they just finished a string of 10 consecutive games against last place teams and finished a painfully mediocre 5-5.

I have plenty of time to deconstruct the team, though. Instead, I want to take the analytics-enslaved management to task over how it treated Ross Stripling. You might remember how manager Dave Roberts ruined Stripling’s push for a no-hitter in his major league debut. Roberts, beholden to the spreadsheet the alleged “smartest front office in baseball” forced him to abide by instead of common sense, pulled Stripling, and the Dodgers lost.

Had Stripling — a journeyman minor-leaguer — finished the no-hitter, he would have had a better shot at landing a job with another team because he wasn’t in the Dodgers future plans. Or at least, he would have been known as “the guy who threw the no-hitter” everywhere he went afterward.

Stripling was demoted in the last week. It’s unlikely you’ll see him in Dodger blue again.

Good going, “smart guys.”

Lakers: Brian Shaw was hired as Luke Walton’s lead assistant coach, and sportswriters from sea to shining sea got the story totally wrong.

Shaw is not there to bring the Warriors “small ball” style to the Lakers. We don’t even know if Walton is going to try to replicate that.

Shaw was an assistant under Phil Jackson. Walton played for Jackson. And Jackson ran the triangle.

You’re jumping to a conclusion that the facts don’t support. Idiots. You don’t know what Walton will do yet.

By the way, if “small ball” is so great, why are the Warriors down 3-1 to Oklahoma City and its three seven-footers?

Galaxy: Rivarly Week for Major League Soccer ended with a thud when San Jose picked up a 1-1 tie with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. That sucked. It really did, especially since LA got its goal when a San Jose player accidentally kicked the ball into his own net.

Kings: The NHL draft is in late June. The Kings don’t have a first-round pick and even if they did, I couldn’t tell you if the dude could play.

Clippers: Just a gut feeling. Despite all the talk about blowing up the team, I think they simply focus on finding J.J, Reddick’s replacement at shooting guard. Dude is 31.

When was the last time an NBA franchise blew up, by the way? The last I can think of … the Chicago Bulls when Pippen and Jordan left?