<
>

Dodgers painted as villain in Australia

SYDNEY -- Before the Los Angeles Dodgers even boarded their plane for Australia, one player said he thought the fans Down Under would be rooting for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Zack Greinke set that tone when he said he couldn't think of "one reason to be excited" for the trip to Sydney.

Greinke's not even here, but the Dodgers are continuing -- against their wills -- to play the role of the villain.

On Wednesday, the Daily Telegraph newspaper ran a headline that read, "Another Dodger hits at Australia." It linked to a Los Angeles Times article about Andre Ethier being upset about the outfield playing surface at the Sydney Cricket Ground, though Ethier was never quoted saying as much. The Dodgers media relations people scrambled to quash that story line by having Ethier do a series of interviews with Australian media members after Wednesday's workout.

Didn't matter. The Dodgers continue to be viewed as Goliath here.

In Thursday morning's Sydney Morning Herald, there is a rooting guide to the opening series. It said that if the Dodgers lived in Australia, they "would spend most of their time sipping lattes at Bondi. The payroll at the Dodgers is U.S. $245 million compared to $110 million for their rivals Arizona. If you like the idea of hanging with celebrities in Hollywood and strolling down Rodeo Drive, the Dodgers are your team."

The article went on to say that Dodgers players would spend their offseasons on private jets visiting resorts while the Diamondbacks would "spend time catching up with family and friends enjoying sports on television."

The Diamondbacks, of course, haven't done much to dissuade the public in Australia of these notions. They held a press conference before they boarded their charter in Phoenix to announce to the world, once again, how thrilled they were to be going to Australia. While the Dodgers sent a small contingent of backups and minor-leaguers to Bondi Beach for a clinic with little-leaguers Wednesday, the Diamondbacks' entire roster hit the beach nearby.

The narrative is pretty well set in motion these days. The Dodgers only hope this is one of those rare movies where the bad guys win.