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Last call: USC and Joe Torre

September 25, 2008 | 11:15 pm

Lastcall_2

Well, at least Trojans fans won't have to worry about being jobbed out of the BCS title game.

And what was with the mini-celebration in the end zone after USC's Ronald Johnson scored to make the score, 21-7, Oregon State? Shouldn't you wait until you are actually closer than 14 points behind to celebrate? They were lucky the official decided to intervene and tell them to break it up rather than just throw the flag.

It was classy of Joe Torre to address the Dodger Stadium crowd after Thursday night's game. And, by the looks of things in the clubhouse, the Dodgers needed about 25 designated drivers after the celebration. The TV coverage showed Clayton Kershaw wearing a dress, with Mark Sweeney saying, "He's gonna love San Francisco." Hopefully, everyone's kids were asleep by the time that comment made it on air.

By the way, did Manny Ramirez shout out "Mannywood" or "Moneywood"?

So, the Dodgers are in the playoffs, adding to the legend of Torre. After all, he took a team that failed to make the playoffs last season, and made them division champions this season. But is this season's team really better than last season's?

The Dodgers are 83-76. Last season through 159 games, they were 80-79. So basically, the equation goes like this:

The 2007 Dodgers + Joe Torre + Manny Ramirez + Casey Blake + Hiroki Kuroda + Clayton Kershaw - Luis Gonzalez / Andruw Jones = Three games in the win column.

Last season, the Dodgers averaged 4.54 runs. This season: 4.35

Last season, the Dodgers' team ERA was 4.20. This season: 3.67

So it was mainly better pitching, not Manny and an improved offense, that made the Dodgers three games better this season.

Most NL West titles since 1969:

Dodgers 10, Cincinnati 7, San Francisco 6, Atlanta 5, San Diego 5, Arizona 4, Houston 2

Most NL West titles since the divisions were realigned in 1995:

Arizona 4, San Diego 4, Dodgers 3, San Francisco 3

Since the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, they are the only team in the current West division to not play the World Series.

Hey, whatever happened to Billy Ashley?

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Manny Ramirez has beer poured on him by  teammates as they celebrate. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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