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Mourning Saints still delusional

Someone needs to get the word to the New Orleans Saints that coach Sean Payton didn’t die.

They have left open seats in honor of the suspended Payton in the draft and team meeting rooms, and they will leave an open seat on bus and plane rides next season.

The NFL sidelined him for a year for his role in a bounty scandal, and the Saints seem to forget they wouldn’t be in New Orleans if not for the tireless efforts by commissioner Roger Goodell to bring them back after Hurricane Katrina.

“How would Pittsburgh react if Chuck Noll was gone? Or how would Dallas react if Tom Landry wasn’t there? Or San Francisco without Bill Walsh?” Saints assistant Joe Vitt asked in The New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Sean’s put those kinds of numbers up.”

No, he hasn’t.

He’s won one Super Bowl. Those other coaches combined to win nine titles.

The Saints, once again, are delusional. Just like they were when they lied repeatedly to Goodell and thought they could get away with it.

■ NOT SO HEAVENLY – Los Angeles Angels fans got what they wanted Tuesday when the club fired longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.

The Angels, no stranger to offensive droughts during Hatcher’s 13 years, have been shut out eight times this season despite adding Albert Pujols to the mix in the offseason.

Getting rid of Hatcher might have been only the first step.

Manager Mike Scioscia also could be in trouble. The decision was made from above his head.

“Once so in charge of this franchise, Scioscia’s grip evidently isn’t so tight anymore,” wrote Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register. “He almost certainly wouldn’t have dismissed his close friend and former teammate.

“So, if there were any lingering doubts that the Angels’ leadership dynamic changed when Jerry Dipoto was hired as general manager, those doubts now are officially buried.”

As Miller pointed out, this is a team that needs a spark, and sometimes even changing an iconic manager is needed.

They have too much invested in Pujols, who is off to a horrendous start.

If a decision comes down to keeping the face of their offseason marketing campaign or a guy who fills out the scorecard, you know which way the Angels are heading.

■ STAYING HEALTHY – Kobe Bryant watched and learned.

He decided early in his career he wouldn’t take charges after watching Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen deal with late-career back problems. The Los Angeles Lakers star noticed Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson didn’t take charges and ended their careers without major issues.

“I might not be the smartest guy in the room, but I can figure that (stuff) out,” Bryant told reporters.

Actually sounds pretty smart.

■ LADY’S MAN - As if Las Vegan Bryce Harper didn’t have enough good things happening in his life, he was photographed at an Ultimate Fighting Championship event with octagon girl Brittney Palmer, who also has appeared in Playboy.

She wore a tight two-piece red bikini-like outfit and Harper a big smile.

Google the picture. It will be worth your time.


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