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It's always sunny in Los Angeles for the Dodgers

They are "Ruthless People," these Dodgers. Nasty enough to "Throw Momma From The Train." So relentless you would think they were "Twins."

Good enough, even, to provide one more starring role for Danny DeVito.

It happened earlier this week at Chavez Ravine after a confluence of events that provided not only a buzzworthy video and front-page photo, but a symbol of everything that has gone so charmingly right with baseball's most charmed team.

"Everything you hear about Hollywood, it was all that," said a grinning Nick Punto, the unlikely leader of the Dodgers' latest walk of fame.

The incident happened at Dodger Stadium on Monday night, during what feels like about 10 Dodgers wins ago, but it's worth retelling.

The roots were planted on a recent televised baseball show, when Dodger Skip Schumaker joked that Punto reminded him of another diminutive Italian, namely DeVito.

Said Schumaker: "I kind of, sort of, said it."

Said Punto: "I believe he did say it."

It was just another chapter in the season-long teasing between guys who were teammates on the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals before being reunited here this year.

Said Schumaker: "I guess we have sort of this thing going."

Said Punto: "Yeah, I'd say it's a thing."

It's more than a thing, it's a connection, perhaps the best in a tight Dodgers clubhouse brimming with them. Schumaker and Punto grew up in Orange County. They drive together to the ballpark. They dress in adjacent lockers. They are both role players who together have propped this star-filled club into first place ... while laughingly knocking each other down.

Said Schumaker: "We've been wearing each other out every day this year."

Said Punto: "More like every day for the last three years."

So now Nick Punto supposedly looks Danny DeVito, and the joke simmered for a few days until last weekend when a longtime season-ticket holder who sits next to the Dodgers dugout — Dr. David Kipper — casually mentioned to one of the ushers that he was bringing a friend to Monday's game.

Guy by the name of Danny DeVito.

Schumaker heard them talking, disappeared into the clubhouse, and returned with a package that he handed to Kipper with a request. It was a Nick Punto jersey and could DeVito please, please, please wear it on Monday?

Kipper, who says he "loves this team," agreed to present the shirt and the idea to his friend, which he did before Monday's game. One problem. DeVito had never heard of Nick Punto. But wanting to be a good sport, DeVito agreed to wear the jersey in the seventh inning.

You know what happened in the seventh inning Monday night, right? Punto hit his second home run of the season — and only the 17th of his 13-year career — to put the finishing touches on the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over the New York Mets.

Of course, DeVito was on his cell phone at the time.

"He was talking to his daughter and I told him, 'Danny, get off the phone, Punto just hit a home run,'" Kipper said.

At which point the 68-year-old DeVito realized this joke just became real, threw on the jersey, and began dancing in glee, sunglasses and all.

"When he realized what had happened, he was really into it," Kipper said. "It was sort of magical."

After the game, the magic continued when DeVito was exiting across the field to avoid the crowd crush and ran into — guess who? — Nick Punto. There it was, a "Twins" sequel, a regular guy in a Punto jersey embracing a tiny guy in a Punto jersey, a photo that probably will endure a season.

Said Punto: "He was coming in for the hug, he's a good Italian, I know he's a hugger."

Said Schumaker: "You can't script it any better than that."

One would think. But then Tuesday showed up, when the wonders never ceased.

Baseball's hottest team won its zillionth game in the last month by beating one of baseball's best pitchers, wearing out Matt Harvey and the Mets, 4-2 again. While it didn't appear any stars in the stands were wearing a No. 7 jersey this night — it would not have fit Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — Punto was a star again, leaning out and poking a fastball into left field to score A.J. Ellis and Juan Uribe in the fifth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead they never lost.

"That Danny DeVito mojo is rubbing off today," A.J. Ellis said afterward with a smile.

Whatever is happening, these early-season underachievers are no longer "L.A. Confidential." The entire sports world knows about them. The Dodgers are about a week from having baseball's best record, less than two months from entering the playoffs with home-field advantage, and right now are clearly baseball's best team.

"I have to admit," said Nick DePunto, "it's pretty wild."


Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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