Asian awakening

Remember those unusually, er, mature Taiwanese teams that used to pound the apple pie out of the American kids in those lopsided Little League World Series finals? Even though some of the Taiwanese kids were later found to be older than Jamie Moyer, it always struck us as odd that so few went on to major-league success. Well, the Dodgers, who have always had their international antennae set high, are getting production from Taiwan's Hong-Chih Kuo. Kuo was part of history on Saturday, when the Dodgers became the first team to use pitchers from three Asian nations - Kuo, starter Chan Ho Park (South Korea) and closer Takashi Saito (Japan) - in the same game. Had this been an earlier, less-enlightened baseball era, the Dodgers likely would have anglicized the pitchers' names, in the same way Pedro Ramos became Pete, Jesus Alou became Jay and Roberto Clemente became Bob. In that case, Sunday's trio probably would have been Harry Kuo, Charlie Park and Theo Saito.

Food for thought

Historically, teams that play poorly on the road have looked for excuses. "We're out of our routine." "We're jet-lagged." "We can't see the ball well when we're hung over." Dodgers first baseman James Loney recently came up with a new one when he was asked why his team was so lousy away from home. Loney suggested it might be the food. Hmm, that's interesting. Except for the fact that it's illegal to wear a tie to dinner in L.A., we weren't aware the dining experience varied substantially from there to, say, Phoenix. "Yeah, those burrito burgers or tacos or something," Loney said of the offensive Arizona cuisine. "I don't know what those were." Yeah, whoever heard of a burrito or taco in L.A.?

The dirt on Schmitty

You had to feel sorry for Mike Schmidt. All those years, when his prolific skills ought to have made him the Prince of Philly, he was miserable, worried that he wasn't sufficiently staining his uniform. In Tim McCarver's new book,

Diamond Gems

, the hypersensitive Schmidt talks about how he tried to emulate Pete Rose and Lenny Dykstra, gritty players whose headfirst style endeared them to the same Philly fans who were slow to warm to the future Hall of Famer. "Pete Rose wanted to be like me, but I wanted to be like Pete and get dirty," Schmidt said. "I wanted to be like Lenny Dykstra and have tobacco stains all over my uniform, because the fans would have loved that. I would have given anything to be the hero of the fans in Philadelphia, and they had no idea how hard I was working to be that guy."


San Diego ace and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy could be headed for the disabled list with soreness in his pitching elbow. . . . Pedro Martinez threw 41/3 innings of a simulated game, and the Mets plan to have him throw a bullpen session tomorrow or Thursday. Martinez has been out since straining his left hamstring April 1.