And then, the Dodgers got involved. Having already lost out in their bid to sign outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who wound up going to the Chicago Cubs, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who wound up staying with the Cubs, the Dodgers made a last-minute push for the speedy Pierre – even though he bore no resemblance to the middle-of-the-order power bat they were looking for. Knowing that their last-minute push was almost a too-late push, the Dodgers came up with an offer that blew away anything the Giants were willing to give Pierre. The result was a five-year, $44 million contract that Pierre signed Nov. 24 and a happy home for a guy who has always been one of the game’s happiest players anyway. “The Dodgers were an intriguing team, number one because of the weather,” Pierre said. “But it was also because they had a guy like Rafael Furcal.” Before being traded to the Cubs before last season, Pierre spent three years with Florida, where he and fellow speedster Luis Castillo combined to form a rare but lethal speed combination at the top of the Marlins’ lineup. The result was that the two fed off each other, served as dual catalysts for the Marlins’ offense and played a key role in the club’s run to a World Series championship in 2003. Pierre recognized almost immediately that he and Furcal could form a duo just as dynamic. Add that to the fact the Giants’ offer no longer was competitive, and Pierre was headed to Los Angeles. That left the Giants to sign veteran Dave Roberts, the former Dodgers center fielder and UCLA standout. Pierre and Roberts are similar players. Each one is a left-handed, top-of-the-lineup hitter who possesses little power and a weak throwing arm. Each one uses speed on the bases and in the outfield as his primary weapon. But Pierre is five years younger, a little faster and has a slightly higher career on-base percentage. Roberts, on the other hand, is a whole lot cheaper. The Giants got him for three years and $18 million – just more than half what they were prepared to give Pierre. So, while this weekend’s showdown will feature many subplots – the rivalry, Barry Bonds’ home-run chase, the return of Jason Schmidt (he isn’t scheduled to pitch) – alesser storyline will be the comparison of those two center fielders, which could provide an early indication of which team got the best deal. From his point of view, Pierre clearly got the best deal for himself. “I’m happy here, and that’s the No. 1 thing,” he said. “I knew a couple of the guys who were already here. I just liked the way everybody went about their business in spring training. It’s a good mix of young guys and veteran guys. They welcomed me here. For at least the next five years, and hopefully beyond that, I’m going to go out and play my heart out for the Dodgers organization.” Pierre’s arrival comes at aperfect time for the Dodgers, who are dedicating this season in part to the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. Although he has a slighter build, Pierre, when viewed from a distance, looks remarkably similar to Robinson in a Dodgers uniform because of the way he wears it: the bottom of his pant legs pulled high on his calves, which not only reveals solid blue socks underneath but also creates a baggy effect in the upper part of his uniform pants. Pierre said while his look goes almost unnoticed and is rarely commented on by others, it is fully intentional. It is his personal tribute not only to Robinson, but to all the players from the old Negro Leagues. “I usually wear my pant legs pulled all the way down in batting practice,” he said. “But when it’s game time, I always pull them back up.” Somehow, that look just wouldn’t have been the same in orange and black. firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3675160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN FRANCISCO – Juan Pierre was always going to be at AT&T Park tonight, patrolling the stadium’s cavernous center field in the opener of a three-game series between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. His first career dance with free agency was always going to bring him here, for the latest renewal of one of the game’s classic rivalries. It’s just that he was supposed to be wearing a Giants uniform. “I don’t even want to get into that,” Pierre said. “They were a team that was talking to me, and I’ll leave it at that.” In fact, by the middle of last November, Pierre’s free-agent flirtation with the Giants had gone far beyond talking. It had almost reached the point of agreement on what reportedly would have been a three-year, $30 million contract.
Abraham Lincoln called upon “the better angels of our nature.” Theodore Roosevelt inspired us to be “the man in the arena.” FDR cautioned us, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Soaring words that have echoed throughout the annals of American history. But move over, MLK, you might have “had a dream,” but you’ve got nothing on Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who will keep the boys at Bartlett’s busy with his soon to be immortal words, “What about El Pollo Loco?” “Give me liberty or give me death!” “Remember the Alamo!” “What about El Pollo Loco?” “Would El Pollo Loco be included?” he continued. Stunned, the committee, Perry included, sat frozen like a low-carb, zero-trans-fat Jenny Craig entr e. “You can’t get healthier food than grilled chicken with the skin off,” continued Huizar, demonstrating not only a mastery of parliamentary rhetoric, but a commanding grasp of the El Pollo Loco menu. “It’s like he was a shift-supervisor or maybe even an assistant manager,” said a former El Pollo Loco assistant manager who accidentally walked into the meeting while looking for Laura Chick’s office. I know what you’re thinking. “Damn! The one night I didn’t go to the Planning and Land Use Committee meeting!” Don’t cry on my pillow. With Jose Huizar the magic just happens. Which is not to short-change Councilwoman Perry. Girlfriend should get her due. Let’s examine Perry’s quote of note: “We have a serious problem in my district with fast-food restaurants and the increasing level of obesity and diabetes.” Now, if we made this a fill-in-the-blank contest and asked Perry’s constituents to complete the sentence: “We have a serious problem in my district with __________.” How many folks do you suppose would answer, “fast-food restaurants?” I’d be high-balling it at 0percent. Rotten schools, gang murders, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, crummy housing, no jobs, lousy public transportation, did I mention gang murders? Any or all jump to mind as pressing, immediate priorities for the L.A. City Council, but leave it to Perry to tackle the really tough problems lesser leaders might dodge – the Egg McMuffin vs. the Bacon Breakfast Jack. This is just the latest outbreak in an epidemic of nitwit, feckless posturing and legislating by politicians who dare not stick a toe in the waters of what really ails Los Angeles. Jan Perry’s proposed fast-food restaurant ban for South L.A. is the legislative equivalent of junk food. She’s offering up a hollow solution to fight hollow calories. Americans are getting fatter, and diabetes among kids has never been higher. These are real problems. Perry’s solution is fake. It’s just another sugar-coated fix from the lie merchants of Spring Street. In Los Angeles, Burger King ain’t the only one’s serving up whoppers. Doug McIntyre hosts the “McIntyre in the Morning” program on Talk Radio 790 KABC, weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champBelieve it or not, the city of Los Angeles has a “Planning and Land Use Committee.” If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad. It’s more commonly known as “The Whatever Eli Broad and Ron Berkel Want Rubber Stamp Social Club and Chowder Society.” But believe it or not, Los Angeles actually has a committee to oversee planning and land use, which is something to chew on as you circle Art’s Deli for the 38th time looking for a parking space. But we do have a committee, and at its most recent hootenanny Councilwoman Jan Perry – fresh off her triumphant negotiations with the ACLU allowing the homeless to sleep on the sidewalk in front of your house – earned another feather in her Wikipedia biography by convincing the committee to send her fast-food ban to the full council. “We have a serious problem in my district with fast-food restaurants and the increasing level of obesity and diabetes,” said Perry to the committee. And so the stage was set for Councilman Huizar’s moment in the sun. Rising to the challenge, Huizar gathered his thoughts. Those lucky enough to witness the event are conflicted; some claim Jose Huizar shot to his feet, others say he simply shouted from his chair, but all agree on the phrase itself: “What about El Pollo Loco?” A line like that would be enough for most politicians, but Huizar isn’t most politicians. The words came to him as if he was possessed by the spirit of Daniel Webster himself!