May 2011

SPECIAL GUEST IN THE BOOTH

     You never know who you’ll run into at the ballpark.  That’s one of the beauties of the game.  From the most anonymous fan in the world, to the President, Americans love baseball.  It came as no surprise that former Providence College Basketball Coach Pete Gillen was at McCoy the other day to watch the PawSox beat Indianapolis.  Gillen has a home on the Cape and says he stops at McCoy every time he is passing through to renew acquaintances with the friends he made while at P.C.  “Of course it’s sad that Ben Mondor is gone, but it’s great to see Mike and Lou.”  Gillen made friends with the PawSox brass while he served as head coach from 1994-1998.  Gillen told us that Ben Mondor, Mike Tamburro and Lou Schwechheimer were the “best people I’ve ever met in sports in over 50 years as an athlete and a coach.”

     Gillen visited with us in the radio booth, spending a half inning with Dan Hoard and then with me on the air.  He told Dan that although he enjoys not coaching, he’d never rule out a return.  Pete is a college basketball analyst for CBS.  Gillen said he enjoyed his time in Rhode Island.  “I loved it here.  It’s a tremendous basketball community.  Joe Mullaney, Rick Pitino, Ernie D, Marvin Barnes, Kevin Stacom, Mike Riordan.  A great tradition.  I loved my four years here.  The people were wonderful.  They love basketball here.”

     Gillen fondly recollected the season he took the Friars to within a whisker of the final four.  “96-97, we had a special year.  Austin Croshere.  Rick Barnes recruited him and I inherited him and coached him for three years.  Ruben Garces, Jamel Thomas..we had a special team.  We beat Marquette in the first round, then we beat Duke.  We beat Tennessee-Chattanooga.  Then we faced Arizona.  They were beating us the whole game, then we came back.  We had two shots at going to the Final Four, but they beat us by 4 in overtime.  As you know, they went on to win the national title that season.”

     Gillen is optimistic about new Friars coach Ed Cooley, but he knows firsthand, how tough a job it is.  “Providence has great tradition, but it’s a challenge, in all candor.  It’s a small state and you don’t have a lot of players in the state.  You’ve got to go outside, to Boston, New York, Connecticut…It’s a challenging job, but I think it’s an excellent job.  Ed Cooley, who comes from my alma mater, Fairfield, is going to do a great job, but it’s going to take some time.”  Gillen seemes sincere in his praise for Cooley.  “Ed Cooley is a tremendous recruiter.  He’s a good person, solid.  I think he’s going to do a fine job.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  It’s going to take a little bit of time, but I think he’s going to do well.”

     As our time together drew to a close, the always upbeat Gillen said so long.  “Great being with you guys.  You do a wonderful job.  I love baseball and you guys have a great place here in Pawtucket.”

DUSTY BROWN IS BACK IN TOWN

     As the Indianapolis Indians stretched out before their batting practice yesterday, there was a very familiar face, a very familiar unshaven face among them.  Catcher Dusty Brown signed with the Pirates during the offseason and he is sharing backstop duties with Jason Jaramillo and Wyatt Toregas.  Brownie made his return to McCoy this week after playing for the PawSox for all or part of the last 4 seasons (2007-10).  His best season in a Pawtucket uniform was 2008, when he hit .290 with 12 homers and 55 rbi.  That season, Brown appeared in 84 games.

     Brown was soaking it all in as he returned to Rhode Island.  “It’s weird.  It’s like I never left, but it’s good to come back and see everybody.  I was here for three plus years and I never once walked into the visitors’ clubhouse, so it was a little strange.”  Brown, however, hasn’t really been away long enough to feel nostalgic about his return.  “Since I was here so long, I haven’t really lost those memories.  For me, it’s still new being in Indianapolis, rather than having it feel new coming back here, because I was here so long.”

     PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur worked extensively with Brown and he said that one of the things that made him so good was his ability to “call” a game and the retention of information from day to day in regards to opposing hitters.  Brown hoped that the latter would come in handy during the series.  “It’ll be a little different.  These were guys I watched hit from a different angle, not so much behind the plate, as I would with opposing teams.  I think I have some extra information to offer that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t play with a lot of these guys.  We’ll see how it works out, though.  It’ll be weird to be on the other end of it.”  

     Brown and his beautiful wife, Jordan are the proud parents of an almost 2 year old son, Jude.  Brown jokingly boasts that in a fight between Jude and Dan Hoard, it’d be no match.  “Jude has gotten nothing but bigger and I imagine Hoard is losing some of his strength, whatever he has left.  I definitely think that Jude would dominate him in any sort of physical activity.”

     Brown was the resident expert on “American Idol” while he was with the PawSox.  It was fitting he returned to town the same week season 10 of “Idol” wrapped up.  Like many loyal fans, Brownie was not pleased with the results.  “Not happy at all.  I wasn’t happy with the voting.  I think out of the final three (Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Hailey Reinhardt) Hailey was the best singer and she didn’t make it into the finale.  I didn’t watch the final show I was so upset.  I wouldn’t habve picked either finalist to win.  It just shows you what the majority of America listens to and it certainly isn’t my kind of music.”  Brown and I were in full agreement when it came to one person.  Pia Toscano.   “Yeah she got voted off in the top nine.  She was probably the best singer in the competition.  Casey Abrams was probably my favorite and he was voted off too early as well.  I wasn’t happy with the result and if I were voting I would have voted (eventual champion) McCreery off.  I couldn’t stand him every week.”

     Another thing that Brown has always been known for is his luxuriant brown hair.  Last season, teammate Chad Paronto discovered that Brown used a natural concoction of “Berries and such” to keep his locks shiny.  Brown is in a different mind set these days.  “I just cut my hair last week so I’m getting used to shorter hair.  Right now I’m just going with the normal wash and dry.  Maybe when it grows out again, I’ll resort to more drastic measures.”

KEEP THE FAITH AND STOP DRINKING SODA

     We are closing in on the first anniversary of Daniel Navas’ historic grand slam.  On the very first pitch he faced as a Major Leaguer, he smashed a Joe Blanton offering out of the park and into the history books.  Nava became just the second player ever to hit a “Granny” on the first pitch he faced in Big League action.  Daniel quickly became the toast of the town in Boston and his story became oft-told.  “The Little Engine” comparisons were inevitable.  The guy who “knew he could” while all others had their doubts.  Daniel finished the season with Boston, and for the first time in his career, came to Spring Training as a known commodity.

     The Sox, as you know, had a busy offseason acquiring Carl Crawford for the outfield.  With Jacoby Ellsbury healthy and J.D. Drew in right, the Red Sox opted to keep Mike Cameron, a veteran with quite a resume, and Darnell McDonald, who was another feel-good story in 2010 as reserves.  That left Nava as an odd man out.  Daniel returned to Pawtucket, with his trademark smile always on his face.  He continued his militaristic training regime, working out and taking tons of batting practice.  Yet, for whatever reason, the results were not the same as they’d always been.  He wasn’t hitting .300, in fact, he wasn’t batting .200 for the year.  His average hovered around the .175-.190 plateau.  You had the feeling that he’d bust out at any moment.  After all, this is Daniel Nava we are talking about.

     His father Don is a legendary fitness coach who has worked with the likes of Joe Montana during his career.  Don has chided me in the past for my consumption of soda. (Apparently, even diet soda is not good for you).  We made a deal that I would stop drinking the stuff until Daniel got his batting average up to .271, a hundred points higher than it was that day.  I had faith.  In fact, I still do.

     Nava was designated for assignment on Friday.  That means the Sox took him off their protected 40 man roster to make room for Drew Sutton.  It also means that any other team can pluck him from the waiver wires if they put him on their 40 man roster.  Some team may take a chance on Daniel.  Oakland might be a perfect fit.  Daniel is from the Bay area and hitting coach Gerald Perry is the A’s instructor and he loves Nava.  He worked with Daniel extensively in 2010, while both were in Pawtucket.  If Nava clears waivers, meaning he isn’t taken by anyone, he would rejoin the PawSox on Thursday at McCoy.

     Either way, I refuse to believe that Navas’ baseball odyssey is over.  It does teach you a valuable lesson, however.  You better enjoy it when things are going well.  You just never know how long it’s going to last.

HERE IN THE O-H-I-O

     Despite all the rain we’ve had here in Columbus over the last few days, it’s been a good trip.  On Tuesday, I enjoyed the most fortuitous rainout in International League history.  My daughters Eva and Carly live in the area, so it’s my favorite trip of the year.  It happened that Eva, who’s a student at Olentangy High School was having her Senior Awards Assembly that night.  Frustrating to be in the area and not be able to attend.  Well, the weather/baseball Gods cooperated and as the skies opened up with torrential rains, I was the happiest guy in Buckeye Nation when the game was postponed.  I borrowed the Penske Truck that Rick Medeiros carts our equipment around in, and made the trip to the school in plenty of time.

     First, what are the odds that I’m in Columbus that night?  And second, a rainout?  I am indeed blessed with the daughters I have.  “Proud” only begins to describe the way they make me feel.  Eva, who acts as my conscience and advisor, even at the tender age of 18, is wise beyond her years.  She is giving and caring, things that I am working on, myself.  She hauled in several awards at the assembly.  She was recently recognized as the member of her senior class who contributed the most service hours to the area.  She was named the top marketing student in her class.  She also received recognition from the National Honor Society.  Eva was named the student that had contributed the most to her school.  If it sounds like I’m bragging, I am.  As I’ve said before, if you have a daughter or friend like Eva Hyder, you are lucky.  She will be a freshman at Ashland University in Ohio, this fall

     The next day, when Dan Hoard saw Eva, he congratulated her.  He added that her most impressive feat, however, was getting her father to sign on to Twitter.  I guess I still have one foot firmly planted back in the 20th century.  I’ve been on for a couple of days and have only “tweeted” a few times.  I will get it rolling very soon.  You can follow me on Twitter @SteveTHyder. 

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     When I rejoined the team on Tuesday, I was excited to see Tommy Hottovy in the clubhouse.  The extremely talented and likeable lefty was promoted from AA Portland.  Like fellow southpaw, Rich Hill, Tommy has been working on a sidearm delivery that has met positive reviews.  Hottovy said it was a bit disappointing to begin the season in Double A, but he quickly added that Pawtucket wasn’t his goal, either.  “No. I want to be in the Major Leagues, and I’m trying to do whatever it takes.”

     As is usually the case, when a new player arrives, another player has to depart.  In this case, Hottovy replaced Kris Johnson on the PawSox roster.  Johnson, who had been on the Pawtucket roster for parts of three seasons, was released by the Red Sox.   Hottovy, who has known KJ since he was 12, and were both players at Wichita State still has high hopes for his friend.  “I hope KJ gets his confidence back.  His stuff can play.  His stuff is as good as it was when he was at his highest of highs.  Maybe a change of scenery is what he needs.  I’m sad to see him go.  We’ve known each other for a long time.  He’s a good friend.”

PAY ATTENTION- THIS ALL MAKES SENSE

     As you may know, I was just in Salisbury, North Carolina for the annual convention of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA).  Not only do they recognize statewide winners, but they also acknowledge a National Sportscaster and Sportswriter of the year, too.  Peter King, of Sports Illustrated who writes the “Monday Morning Quarterback” was there.  Peter is an avid Red Sox fan, and I have invited him to be my guest at a PawSox game when he has the time.  He seemed genuinely pleased.  Mike Tirico of ABC and ESPN was also there.  Mike has traceable ties to the PawSox radio duo of Hyder and Hoard.  His talent has always been undeniable.  Mike worked as the weekend sports anchor at the CBS affiliate (WTVH) in Syracuse while he was a student at Syracuse University.

     Tirico was humbled by the nod, his first.  “It means a lot, because it’s from your peers.  It’s an accomplishment for all the people of all the teams that I’m on.  People like Ron Jaworski of my Monday Night Football team.  Jon Gruden, too.  All the people that are on my “tennis” team, my “World Cup” team.  I’m just the “front” man for all those people.  I’m on some darn good teams and I’m very lucky.  That’s what it means, more than anything else.”  Jaworski made the trip from Philadelphia.  Tiricos’ golf analyst, Curtis Strange was there to present Mike with his award.  “Jaws” has a tremendous amount of respect for Mike.  “Besides his great intelligence, and his ability to communicate, Mike is a wonderful person.  We’ve been together for 20 years now in the broadcast profession.  We started on an NFL show together in 1990 and Mike has been my broadcasting mentor.  I always tell people that Dick Vermeil was my mentor on the football field.  Any success I’ve had in broadcasting is directly attributable to Mike Tirico.” 

     Tirico knows he is living the “American Dream”.  He has reached the pinnacle that we all strive for.  “We don’t pay to get into games.  Most people have to.  People look to escape the realities of their life through sports.  This is the reality of our lives.  We are fortunate to follow the best athletes in the world, and describe what they do.  It really is a dream.  For me, working at ESPN, it’s taken me all over the world to cover all kinds of sporting events, it’s what I always dreamed about and I’m able to live it, which is pretty rare.”

     Believe it or not, the National Sportscaster of the Year is quick to credit Dan Hoard with getting him started.  That is something that Mike and I share.  Dan was very instrumental in my getting going in broadcasting, back in the 80′s.  Tirico explained.  “True story.  My first year at Syracuse (University) we were assigned to help the sportscasters who were on the air.  Dan was a senior, I was a freshman.  I helped Dan with his morning sportscasts.  He taught me how to write, how to work with audio, he taught me all the basics.  Without Dan teaching me these things the way he did, he made it fun and exciting…without that, I don’t know if I would have fallen in love with this business the way I did.  I give Dan a ton of credit.  He’s been a special guy to a lot of people.”  Tirico adds that he looks forward to seeing Dan on the NFL trail as he begins with the Bengals in the Fall.  “All the things that are happening to Dan right now are beyond well-deserved.”

     Ultimately, Mike hired Dan to work with him at Channel 5, shortly after Dan had hired me to work with him at WSYR radio.   It was a long time ago, but it was great to see Tirico and his lovely wife Debbie and catch up with them.  Despite all his success, he hasn’t changed a bit.  I was honored to have him present me my state award.

THIS IS MAYBERRY

     For the last three days I have been reveling in victory.  I have been fortunate enough to be named the R.I. Sportscaster of the year four times in the last 5 years.  It is an honor that humbles me, when I consider the caliber of the competition in R.I., especially the man who sits a foot and a half away from me in our broadcast booth, Dan Hoard and my dear friend John Rooke.  For what it’s worth, I share my good fortune with Dan, Mike Tamburro and Lou Schwechheimer and the loyal and kind listeners we have.  

     Since I’ve been in Mayberry, er I mean Salisbury, I have encountered nothing but remarkable kindness.  A gentleman named Bobn Setzer picked me up at the airport on Saturday.  Within 5 minutes, it felt like we’d been friends forever.  In his high-pitched southern drawl, the executive from a local bank asked me if I’d had lunch.  It was only 11 a.m. so I hadn’t (just a lucky day).  He took me to a barbecue festival in a nearby town and treated me to the best bbq lunch this side of the Dinosaur Barbecue in Syracuse.  After getting checked in, I ran into several old friends, like Paul Keels.  Paul, aka “Big Daddy” is the voice of Ohio State football and basketball.  His voice makes me sound like a soprano, and I’m not talking Tony or Uncle Junior.

     As a kid , I often fantasized what life in Mayberry might be like.  Having a peach soda at the fillin’ station with Gomer.  Fishing with Andy and Barney.  Riding bikes with Opie.  Taking Helen Krump on a date.  Even having a snootful of moonshine with Otis.  I say this in the most respectful way possible.  This is not intended to be a joke or a slam against anyone.  Salisbury is Mayberry and I am jealous.  Everyone is uncommonly friendly.  EVERYONE!!  It seems to be a nice slow-paced lifestyle, that we from the northeast could learn from.

     On Sunday night, there was a dinner dance at a vintage car museum (Again, phenomenal barbecue).  Alas, my “date” was my friend from the Pawtucket Times, Brendan McGair.  If you see “B-Mac” congratulate him on his first win at the tender age of 30.  Now, I told you the people here are nice.  Colleen Smiley, the assistant to Executive Director of the NSSA, Dave Goren (formerly of WJAR) saw that I was alone and she came over and said “Come on.  You are dancing!”  She introduced me to a lovely woman who was there with a female friend, and next thing you know, I’m cutting the rug.  That is just how they are.

     Ran into all-time greats like Gene Deckerhoff (Florida State and Tampa Bay Bucs), Wes Durham (Falcons and Ga. Tech) as well as Hall of Famer Bob Ryan and National Sportscaster of the year, Mike Tirico of ABC and ESPN.  No “big timers” here.  They treat the guy from little old “Rhody” the same way.  They treat everyone the same way.  And even though we may see each other just once a year, it’s like old home week.

     On Monday, former Salisbury resident Ron Morris (South Carolina sportswriter of the year) took me on a behind the scenes tour of the town.  We stopped at the Innes Street Drug Store (located, incidentally, on Main Street) and it was as if we stepped back to “Miss Ellies’ Apothecary”.  The gal behind the counter of the soda fountain made us fresh “orange- ade”.  Talk about a step back in time.  Fantastic.  We opted out of the planned luncheon at Rons’ suggestion and dined at “Happs”.  Four hotdogs with chili, mustard and onions and two “Cheerwines” (locally produced soda)…$9.00 total!!  No seats.  We stood outside the restaurant at tables and ate while chatting with locals, including a senior citizen named Jean Brady, who proudly proclaimed her love for the Red Sox.  I love it here.  Not sure I want to leave!!  My dear friend Rick Medeiros (“Rollin’ with Rick”) would love it here. 

     Monday night, I will accept the award.  My first time, they gave me a magnificent plaque.   Subsequently, though, they give you a little bar with the year you won, to attach to the plaque.  It’s all good.

     I will rejoin the PawSox on Tuesday for the series in Columbus.  Until then, though, I’m hoping to run into Aunt Bea for some fried chicken and nestleroad pie.

MAKING THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITY

     Players come and go all the time.  That’s a fact of baseball.  Some are prospects.  others are regarded as suspects.  It makes no difference to me.  When they wear the colors of the Pawtucket Red Sox, they are PawSox.

     Matt Sheely is 24 years old.  He’s a Floridian who has spent most of this season on the “phantom disabled list.”  That means that he’s been with our club, almost stashed away, as an insurance policy.  With the injuries recently to Ryan Kalish (shoulder) and J.C. Linares (ankle), Sheely has been activated.  He contributed right away. Sheely was thrilled to see action.  “I’m really excited.  It’s been a long road, but I’m excited.”   Sheely would take batting practice and shag flys in the outfield, but had to deal with the boredom that comes with sitting on the bench evey night.  “I just had to keep my routine, and not hope that someone gets hurt, but be ready in case someone does.  It’s inevitable.  Someone will get hurt eventually and I just have to be ready.”

     Sheely made his first start in right on Mothers’ Day in Scranton.  He was bouncing off the walls, in anticipation of the action.  He felt like he was getting a gift.  “Yeah, it was exciting.  The first day I had “fresh” legs, so I was flying all over the place.”

     Sheely was a long shot to make it even this far.  He was taken in the 2005 draft in the 48th round by Boston.  The 1446th player selected.  Sheely feels that he’s defied the odds, avoiding the “grim reaper” of baseball.  ” To still be around, yes I have.  there were a lot of first, second and third round guys that aren’t still here.  I’m not going to say that I was more talented than them, but I’ve been able to stick around and still be here.”  Sheely thinks he knows why he’s still around.  “Because of my speed and great defense.  I think once I figure out how to hit, I’ll be able to make that next step.”

     On Sunday, Matt was hit by a pitch late in the game against the Yankees.  He stole second and scored the game winning run when Daniel Nava singled him in.  Although it was satisfying to Sheely, he didn’t even realize what he’d done.  “I really hadn’t noticed until I called my mom later in the day and she said ‘you scored the winning .run’.  I said ‘Really?  I didn’t even notice’.”

     Since Sunday, Matt Sheely has been a fixture in the Pawtucket lineup.  He’s had a 3 hit game.  How long that lasts, no one knows.  He’s not hung up on labels or trying to out play highly touted guys like Kalish and Josh Reddick.  Sheely seems to be a realist.  “I’m not a top prospect and I’m fine with that.  I just come to the park every day and do what I can.  There are a lot of teams out there.  I’m with Boston now.  We’ll see what happens.  Ya know?”

A GREAT DAY FOR AMERICA

     It’s been a little over a week since we learned that U.S. military forces finally tracked down Osama Bin Laden and killed him in his fortress in Pakistan.  While the news brought some closure to millions of Americans, one in particular was left to reflect.  PawSox strength and conditioning coach, Mike Roose is a Rhode Island native and a veteran of four years in the United States Air Force.  Roose served in both Iraq and Afghanistan with a counter-terrorism unit.  In fact, he was there shortly after the capture of Saddam Hussein and saw him imprisoned, first hand.  After some thought, Mike shared his feelings.  “It’s a very satisfying day for anyone that’s served after 9/11, at that time or guys who are serving now.  It’s absolutely satisfying to know what we did and what those guys are still doing over there, didn’t go for nothing.  It wasn’t wasted.”  Roose quickly added that the job is far from done.  “We did only get one guy.  We have to remember that.  There’s still a lot more work to do.  It helps out.  If anything, it lets the terrorists and the rest of the guys plotting against us know, that no matter what, we are going to track them down eventually.  If they know what’s good for them, they’ll think twice before trying anything, because we’re going to get you eventually.”

      Mike Roose knows from personal experience what the capture and killing of Bin Laden must have been like.  “It must have been exciting.  Honestly, I know the mentality of the soldiers that are over there.  It’s exciting because of the name of Bin Laden, but that’s what they are trained for.  That’s what they do.  They’ve been training for that and dreaming of that, so good for them.”

     Roose thinks that although the head of the monster has been cut off, the beast lives.  He applauds the U.S. Navy Seals that were credited for the kill.  He adds that they all share in the glory, anonymously.  “I’m pretty sure that those guys don’t have identities now.  You’ll never find out who it was that pulled the trigger and it’s not important because it’s a victory for the whole United States Military.  Within the unit, not just one guy is getting a pat on the back, everybody did their part to make that happen.”

     When asked if he needed photographic evidence that Bin Laden was actually dead, especially after his swift burial at sea, Roose answered with conviction.  “No, we don’t need photographic evidence.  If anything it shows the character of our country.  What we were doing was trying to respect the Muslim religious traditions and culture.  That’s my impression of what they were trying to do.  We didn’t want to start another Holy War.  If President Obama says that we got him, we got him.  He’s not going to make that announcement unless he’s 100% sure the job was done.  We need to trust the President and what he says.”

      Roose was so incensed by the events of September 11, 2001 that he enlisted.  Volunteered.  Put his money where his mouth was.  Now, in 2011, he is still trying to make a difference, helping veterans returning to the United States, who are dealing with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.  “I hope to give these guys an outlet so they know there’s hope in their life afterwards.  I’ve had friends that have gone through some hard times and are still going through hard times.  There are a lot of suicides going on because their mental state isn’t right.  They’re sick and they need help.  If I can help in any little way, get veterans together to form some sort of social network, so they have someone to reach out to…as a strength and conditioning coach, I’d like to do something to help with their physical fitness to help relieve stress and depression.  There are a lot of negative side effects that you can’t see.  You can’t tell just by looking at someone.  They might not even know they need help.  A lot of times, it’s something as simple as just talking, venting some of the emotions that these guys hold in.  Anyone who has seen combat duty, I don’t care what war, there are invisible side effects.  Hopefully, I can have an impact that can help somebody lead a better life.”

     Mike Roose has gotten involved with the “Home Base Program”.  It’s associated with the Red Sox Foundation as well as Massachusetts General Hospital.  There are events to raise awareness including a road race on May 22 that includes a lap around Fenway Park.  It’s all publicly funded.  “Since the Home Base Program has contacted me, I’ve approached the front office here in Pawtucket for help for the veterans.  We all know that here at McCoy, it’s one of the most patriotic places anywhere.  With the troops, firemen and women and the police always being honored on the field…God Bless America during the seventh inning, all that stuff.  The PawSox management jumped at the chance to help.  They said that whatever I needed to help make this happen, they were more than willing to help.”

     Roose adds that he is thrilled to help make a difference.  “I’m excited.  You never know what might help change somebodys’ outlook on life.  It’s great.”  Roose says that there are lots of websites on the internet thatare helpful, but the one he encourages everyone to check out is runtohomebase.com

     Mike Roose is what’s good about the United States of America.

JOSE, CAN YOU SEE

     According to my friend Gordon Edes, on ESPNBoston.com, Jose Iglesias is ready to make his Major League debut with Boston.  Marco Scutaro is injured and the Sox need a backup for Jed Lowrie.  Iglesias is already a rich man (a reported 8 .25 million dollar deal) but he isn’t ready for Prime Time just yet.  He hasn’t had an extra base hit.  Hasn’t come close, in fact.  While he makes the spectacular plays, seemingly effortlessly, he has made his share of errors at short this season.  He is still working on the subtleties of becoming a star.

     I know the Sox are somewhat forced into this move.  Yamaico Navarro was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain, but for all the talk of how deep they are at all positions, this one shows they’re not.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jose Iglesias is a very nice, humble young man.  For all his flash and bravado on the field, Iggy is really just a kid off the field.  He jokes around, grabs the P.A. microphone on the bus and sings.  He playfully boasts about his Miami Heat and just talks trash with his buddies, like any other 21 year old.  When asked, he will talk about leaving his family behind in Cuba.  He will also talk about making ten dollars a month over there.  He says Cuba is a good and beautiful place, filled with humble people.  He doesn’t live there anymore, but it’s clear that a giant piece of his heart is still back home.

     I’m not sure just how long Jose will be in Boston.  Maybe he won’t play, maybe he will.  I encourage all my fellow citizens of the Nation to remember that this s a young man, again, just 21.  Not yet a finished product, but someone with tremendous potential.  I think we are just loaning him out for the time being, but, you never know.   

     It’s remarkable that the battered and bruised PawSox are in contention.  Heading into Sundays’ game with Scranton, our boys are just a game and a half out of first place.  Arnie Beyeler is doing a great job holding things together in his first year at the helm in Pawtucket.  He’s managing without Opening Day starters Ryan Kalish (shoulder), J.C. Linares (ligament damage to leg), Navarro (oblique).  Pitchers Rich Hill and Alfredo Aceves are currently in the Boston bullpen and Scott Atchison is waiting to clear waivers.  He’s also waiting for guys like Daniel Nava (hitting under .200) to heat up.  Yet so far, so good.  Losing Iglesias hurts the PawSox in the short term, but that’s the way it goes in this business.  I wish Jose all the best, except when it comes to his beloved Miami Heat.

PROUD OF MY PARTNER

   Before I begin, let me wish the greatest kid in the world, my daughter, Eva, a Happy 18th Birthday.  You don’t get any luckier than having her as your daughter and friend.

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     I have been in broadcasting for a long time.  I ‘ve had good partners and I’ve had bad partners.  I will honestly tell you that I have never had a better partner than Dan Hoard.  Earlier this week, Dan was named by the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League, to be their play by play voice. They scored a touchdown with that hire.  I will tell you why.

     When it comes to preparation and creativity, Dan leaves no stone unturned.  He excels at finding an “angle”.  Something, as he calls it- a “nugget”, that takes an athlete or story to the next level.  His preparation is meticulous.  I have seen him working on “game notes” at some ungodly hours, on the bus, at the ballpark, where ever is necessary.

     Dan Hoard is not an overnight success.  He has put years, no decades, into perfecting his craft.  I always thought his next stop would be Major League Baseball, but that shows you just how good a broadcaster he is.  The Bengals, having heard his flawless work as the voice of the University of Cincinnati football and basketball teams, hired him last fall to do their exhibition games on TV.  No shock, he aced that exam, and has been rewarded with the NFL gig.  Hoard is well-loved in Cincy.  Believe me, I’ve seen it first hand in airports and ballparks across the fruited plain.  Dan is easy to listen to.  He’s your friend on the air.  He has the patience of Job.

     I’ve been lucky.  He’s been my friend on the air and off, as well.  We’ve been together in the PawSox radio booth now for almost 6 seasons.  Virtually inseparable, it’s a rare day when we don’t share at least one meal together.  We have known each other for over 20 years and I credit Dan for helping me get started in broadcasting, back in the 80′s.  I have learned a lot from him, both on and off the air.  We have shared our personal lives, the ups and downs that go along with what we do.    

     I have mixed emotions, though.  These are huge shoes the PawSox have to fill.  I have a hard time imagining that there is a better broadcaster or guy out there.  I will look forward to the rest of our final season together, eating unhealthy food, joking around and doing what we both love.  Broadcasting PawSox Baseball.  Congratulations.  You’ve earned it, and on behalf of whomever I may represent, thanks for being Dan Hoard.

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