GLENDALE, Ariz. — Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who spent his entire 14-year career as a major league player with the New York Yankees, said Tuesday that despite the major offseason moves and high expectations of the crosstown Los Angeles Angels, the Dodgers still own the Southland.
“It’s kind of like Mets-Yankees,” Mattingly said just before the Dodgers’ first full-squad workout of spring training. “The Yankees are the team. [The Mets] are going to have their years when they play well, but the Yankees are still the team. I don’t want to badmouth the Angels at all. Mr. [Angels owner Arte] Moreno has done a great job down there in Anaheim, and [Angels manager] Mike [Scioscia] does a great job. But we’re the Dodgers, and that isn’t going to change.”
Apprised of Mattingly’s comments, Scioscia, who played for the Dodgers from 1980 to 1992, was curt.
“We’re worried about our own club and that’s it,” Scioscia said. “We worry about what we have to do and that’s what we’re going to concentrate on.”
Mattingly’s playing career coincided with the longest dry spell in Yankees history, the team failing to reach the playoffs until his final season of 1995, when it suffered a first-round loss to the Seattle Mariners. The Mets, meanwhile, were a dominant National League team through much of that period, winning a World Series in 1986.
Similarly, while the storied Dodgers have fallen on hard times and currently are in bankruptcy and for sale, the Angels have reached the playoffs six times in the past decade and won a World Series in 2002. They made a national splash this offseason by signing both the top starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson (five years, $77.5 million), and the top position player, Albert Pujols (10 years, $240 million), on this winter’s free-agent market.
Mattingly contends that has changed nothing in terms of the esteem in which each organization is held locally.
“We’re still going to need to play good baseball,” Mattingly said. “But at the end of the day, if we do things right, worry about ourselves and take care of business, we don’t need to worry about what another team is doing. I don’t mean this as a negative, because [the Angels] have done a tremendous job down there.
“But at the end of the day, the Dodgers are still the Dodgers.”
Asked later about Mattingly’s comments, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp echoed what his manager had to say.
“Definitely,” Kemp said. “There is only one Los Angeles team. That’s the L.A. Dodgers.”
Mattingly later said that as a visiting manager, he actually likes the Angels’ rally-monkey promotion because it usually comes out only when the Angels are trailing.
“[The monkey] is funny,” Mattingly said. “I try to tell guys they should like the rally monkey because when the rally monkey comes out, it means you have the lead. You’re not behind. So I like when he comes out.”
It was on the subject of the monkey that Kemp went against Mattingly.
“I don’t like the rally monkey,” Kemp said. “I’m scared of the rally monkey. Out in the outfield, the monkey just pops up on the screen, and that can be scary. The rally monkey has gotten us sometimes. Hopefully, it won’t happen this year.”
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon contributed to this report.
Follow Tony Jackson on Twitter: @dodgerscribe
Mattingly: Dodgers are Yanks of LA, not Angels
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