October 2009


Although the 2009 baseball season isn’t over yet, we PawSox fans have already been thrown a bone as far as 2010 is concerned. the PawSox released a tentative schedule of games for ’10 and I have to admit, I am looking forward to it.  I look forward to it a little differently than most of you.  While you check out the home games, I check the entire slate.  I look forward to seeing certain people in different cities, the restaurants, the ballparks and life in general with the Pawtucket Red Sox.  April 8th is opening day at McCoy Stadium against Rochester. It’ll be cold, but it’ll be great.  Always is.  Our first road trip takes us to Buffalo, Rochester and Allentown.  Nothing like Buffalo in the spring, except maybe Buffalo in the winter.  All the familiar sights and sounds of the International League will be in full bloom, long before the first robin is spotted.  There is no way of knowing who will be wearing the familiar PawSox uniform, but they become instant, unconditional friends, travelling companions and partners for the summer.  There will be the usual prospects talked about.  Bowden, Bates, Wagner and others will more than likely return.  The Lars Anderson “watch” will start.  All the names that are familiar to us long before we can associate a face with a name will darken the doorway at McCoy.  There is a rhythm to the season.  Certain things at certain times of the day.  To me, there is nothing better than standing down at the batting cage, watching batting practice.  Making small talk with the guys, gleaning “nuggets” of information for the broadcast.  For a broadcaster, especially one who was never a good baseball player, it provides an inside the ropes look at a world that otherwise, would be off-limits.  It allows me a look into a fascinating realm that most of our listeners learn about due to the access I get.  As I’ve said before, it is not something I take for granted.  I look forward to Spring Training, getting reacquainted with the old fellas, and meeting the new ones.  No better feeling of validation than when a former PawSox standout, now successful in the Majors, gives you the big hug/handshake combo (according to my former broadcast partner, ex-NFL running back Raymont Harris- it’s known as “dapping someone down”) and you share a story and some laughs.  In a way, it gives you credibility with the new guys.  Veterans can help make or break you with a club.  For example, if Jeff Bailey didn’t treat me nicely or respectfully, I could have a hard time with new guys.  I think guys like “Bails” appreciate what we try to do and realize we’re all in the same boat.  I’ve mentioned before in this blog that a ton of credit goes to manager, Ron Johnson for treating us like we’re “one of the guys.”  Buffalo wings in Syracuse, barbecue in Rochester, Italian food in Buffalo.  Red in Scranton, Marv in Columbus and Thurm in Rochester.  Good hotels, long bus rides, early morning wake-ups or late-night arrivals.  All a part of the fabric of life with the PawSox, and what I think about when a new schedule is released.     


Imagine watching the first game of the World Series with two men who’ve combined to win 4 rings.  One man was the MVP of the 1980 Fall Classic and the other was the manager of the team that tore the heart out of Red Sox Nation in 1986.  Mike Schmidt and Davey Johnson were in Portsmouth R.I. on Wednesday night and I was asked to act as emcee for the gathering at the posh Carnegie Abbey Club.  I introduced the men, asked some questions and the others gathered had a chance for Q & A, as well as autographs and photos.  Johnson and Schmidt are former teammates (Philly in ’77 and ’78).  Most recently Johnson was the manager and Schmidt was the third base coach for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.  I asked Johnson his thoughts on a couple of his players, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.  He was a big fan, noting their work ethic.  “No one on that team worked harder or played harder than those two.  I love ’em both.”  Johnson got a taste of the Pedroia confidence we’ve all come to expect.  “Pedroia was taking batting practice and this group of little girls was screaming and begging him for an autograph.  He just stepped out of the box, turned to the stands and said he’d be over just as soon as he finished hitting “more rockets all over the yard.”  Well, these teenagers went crazy, and I just shook my head and laughed.  I thought to myself…”Who is this guy?”  He finished hitting his rockets and went over and signed.”  I had to ask the 4 time All Star his thoughts from the other side when his Mets defeated Boston in 1986.  “Hey, we were a pitch away from losing the whole thing.  Everybody remembers Buckners’ error, but I’ll tell you what, (Bob) Stanleys’ wild pitch was really the key.  When we won game 6, I knew they (Boston) had no chance in the seventh game.  They were done.”  Mike Schmidt is going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for game three on Saturday in Philly.  On Wednesday, however, we talked baseball.  Schmidt is simply, one of the best to EVER play the game.  3 time MVP, 12 time All Star, 548 homers, Hall of Fame, All-Century team, the list goes on and on.  The third baseman offered his thoughts on steroids, and they were quite candid.  “I can’t sit here and tell you that I wouldn’t have taken them if they were around in those days.”  When asked if there should be an asterisk next to the names of the people who have been implicated in the use of performance enhancing drugs, he said no, “It’s enough for me, that you people, baseball fans know who did things the right way.  I don’t need anything more than that.”   When the Phils won the Series in 1980, Schmidt and Pete Rose were teammates.  Schmidt says that although he considers Rose a great player and a friend, he probably won’t ever get inside in Cooperstown. “Unfortunately, I think Petes’ time has come and gone.  I don’t think they’ll ever let him in.”  Both Schmidt and Johnson were very nice and accomodated all the requests for photos and autographs.  They patiently answered all questions and analyzed the game for everyone betweeen innings.  Johnson won two rings as a player with the Orioles and one as a manager with New York.  Schmidt won his hardware (ring and MVP trophy) 29 years ago.  For one night, though, these baseball heroes settled in in R.I. and we watched the Phillies beat the Yankees together. 


As the 2009 World Series finally gets underway on Wednesday (seems like our season has been over for months!) the opening game features an extremely compelling matchup.  A pair of former Cleveland Indians teammates will take the ball for their respective clubs.  C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees faces The Phillies and Cliff Lee.  Lee and Sabathia were teammates in Cleveland 2002-2008.  That has to be anguishing for Indians fans. (hey, nobody forced you to be an Indians fan)  Not only are they former teammates, but they are both Cy Young winners, as well.  It will mark just the sixth time ever that two Cy Young winners start a World Series game.  Sabathia, who could possibly win his second Cy this year has been phenomenal in the postseason.  Sabathia was named the MVP of the ALCS.  This postseason, the big fella has gone 3-0, with a 1.19 ERA three starts.  Not to be outdone, Lee is 2-0 with a gaudy 0.74 earned run average.  Indians general manager Mark Shapiro was honest in his assessment.  He engineered the deals that sent Lee to Philly this year and Sabathia to Milwaukee last year, before he struck gold with New York.  “I’m excited for the guys to get this opportunity, but I’m bitter they’re not doing it for the Indians.”  Reportedly, the two aces have remained friendly and text each other often.




Can you name any of the five other times that Cy Young winners have squared off in a World Series game?

1. October 14, 1983  Orioles Mike Flanagan vs. Phillies Steve Carlton


2. October 21, 1995  Indians Orel Hershiser vs. Braves Greg Maddux


3. October 26, 1995  (Same as #2)


4. October 22, 1996 Yankees David Cone vs. Braves Tom Glavine


5. October 27, 1999 Yankees Roger Clemens vs. Braves John Smoltz


Don’t feel badly if you guessed Bob Gibson of St.Louis vs. Denny McLain of Detroit in 1968.  Neither was awarded the Cy until after the postseason!


Umpires are kind of like offensive linemen in football.  If they do their job correctly, no one knows their name.  They make a mistake, they make headlines.  This entire postseason has been a disaster for the men in blue.  Guys like Joe West, Phil Cuzzi and C.B. Bucknor have brought a lot of unwanted attention to the officials of Major League Baseball.  Virtually every playoff game this October has been marred by a bad call or two.  It has been so obvious that MLB has revised the roster of umps for the upcoming World Series.  Every year they try to integrate new blood into the lineup, but the officiating has been so poor that they will go with veterans to try to minimize the mistakes. I recently read an interesting column pointing out the number of injuries and illnesses that have afflicted the ranks of the umpires, forcing them to use the likes of Bucknor.  Here is a partial list from a column written by Dan Lamothe.  Lamothe credits Fox Sports.  Although MLB won’t discuss the nature of injuries or illnesses, Fox uncovered this roster of the fallen.  John Hirschbeck (testicular cancer), Charlie Reliford (back), Jerry Crawford (back), Tim Welke (concussion), Ed Montague (concussion and back), Gary Darling (ankle and foot), Rick Reed (stroke), Kerwin Danley (concussion), Alfonso Marquez (back), Bill Hohn (back), Ed Hickok (concussion). 24 of the last 25 World Series have featured a first time W.S. umpire.  MLB liked to reward the newer guys who have done a good job.  That will not be the case this season.  Crew chiefs Joe West, Dana DeMuth and Gerry Davis along with veterans Brian Gorman, Mike Everitt and Jeff Nelson get the call.  In the last two Fall Classics, there had been three rookies working in each.  Bucknor was scheduled to work his first World Series, but after his incompetence in the ALDS between the Red Sox and Angels, he lost out.   Certainly, adding just veteran umpires doesn’t guarantee anything. Joe West, Tim McClelland and others have had rough nights  too.  There are times when I am inclined to think that  maybe baseball needs to employ further instant replay to help with botched calls.  People might argue that we didn’t use the replay years ago.  We didn’t have the technology then.  I’d rather have them get it right.  So what if we hurt their feelings.  This is, of course, not a new phenomena.  I vividly remember Larry Barnett and Don Denkinger blowing calls in the 1975 World Series that hampered the Red Sox against the Reds.  I guess it doesn’t really matter if they get the calls right in the World Series, especially if they go against the Yankees.  


There are times when I am amazed at what goes on in the baseball world.  I guess the same could be said about any world, but for the sake of this blog, we’re talking baseball.  I’m not a big memorabilia guy.  I have gotten a few autographs over the years, but they are always for my kids.  When a major league player does a rehab assignment with the PawSox, it is fairly common practice for the star to sign a box of baseballs for manager Ron Johnson.  RJ will always offer me one for each of my daughters.  That is about the extent of it.  I am always a little surprised when I see the amount of money fans are willing to pay for an autograph or a piece of memorabilia.  Uniforms, caps, shoes bats, balls and gloves are all of value to someone.  When Yankee Stadium closed down, everything from trash cans to urinals went up for bid.  One mans’ trash is clearly another mans’ treasure.  As bizarre as this sounds, the world of collectibles has hit rock bottom.  A memorabilia dealer in Saugus Mass. has apparently acquired some “game-worn” underwear and is putting it up for the highest bidder.  Phil Castinetti says he has the undies of Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Hideki Okajima and as Rich Fields might say on my favorite game show- “They can be yours, but only if the price is right.”  I have several questions.  #1- Who’s the creep that traipsed around the clubhouse and picked up the dirty skivvies?  #2- Where do you put them?  #3-  How do you approach someone and tell them you’ve got this particular item to sell? I’ve got a lot of other questions, but you get the point.  Have we plummeted so far as a society, that this barely raises an eyebrow?  Last year, this guy reportedly sold a pair of Alex Rodriguez’ underwear for $200.  His teammates, Madonna and Kate Hudson are really the only ones who should ever see his “drawers.”  I don’t want anyones’ underwear.  I can honestly tell you that.  When I was a kid, I shuddered when I was given any hand me downs.  The thought of touching, much less wearing someone elses stuff, grosses me out.  I’m reasonably confident that Pedey, V-Mart and Okie make enough money that they have nothing to do with this.  If this has become acceptable practice, I’m really afraid to see what’s next.  I’m not even going to go there, but use your vivid imagination.  A jockstrap once worn by Mike Lowell was reported to have fetched Castignetti over $400 a couple of years ago.  What’s next, people?  Pardon the pun (I guess it is intended) but, this whole used underwear thing- stinks! 


There’s no question that Manny Ramirez has been one of the premier hitters of his generation and really, of all time.  The numbers speak for themselves.  A career .313 hitter with 546 home runs and 1788 runs batted in.  Before his 50 game suspension earlier this season, his name had never publicly been connected with any performance enhancing drugs and by anyones standards, was a sure fire, first ballot hall of famer.  His legacy remains to be determined in some eyes, but not mine.  He was great for a while, while he was in Boston, but at times, it was abundantly clear, he didn’t feel like playing.  We’d laugh and just chalk it up to “Manny being Manny.”  He’d botch a ball in left field, and we’d roll our eyes, rationalizing that he’d win us a lot more games with his bat than he’d lose for us with his glove and lack of effort.  We kept feeding the monster, patting him on the back and soon it became unbearable for everyone.  If Ramirez hadn’t been traded last July, there might have been a mutiny in the Boston clubhouse.  He got into a fight with Kevin Youkilis in the dugout, in front of the cameras, telling Youk that he was too intense and needed to relax.  I’m sorry, but I’ll take Kevin and his intensity seven days a week.  While nothing seems to matter to Ramirez, Youk works hard and every at bat means something to him.   The final straw may have come when Ramirez shoved club employee Jack McCormick to the ground after he told the Sox’ traveling secretary to “just do your job”.  Ramirez was angry that McCormick couldn’t fill his unreasonably large game-day request for 16 tickets to a game in Houston.  A lot of us pictured Ramirez treating our grandfather that way, and it was more than we could stand.  The last straw.  Manny not running out ground balls, Manny taking three straight strikes from Mariano Rivera, Manny forgetting exactly which knee was hurt, Manny telling Terry Francona just minutes before a game, he couldn’t play.  The litany goes on and on.  Manny being Manny.  So he goes out to L.A. and the fans drink the Kool-Aid.  They buy those goofy looking wigs.  They rename the town Mannywood and when he hits like he can hit (after lying down in his final months in Boston)  Dodger-mania goes through the roof.  This year comes the suspension.  This year comes very average numbers (.290, 19, 63 rbi) and during the postseason, below average numbers. (1 HR in 29 postseason at bats, 2 rbi in NLCS against Philadelphia).  I’m sorry, but when you’re making more than 23 million dollars a season, you better produce more than that.  He “lollygagged” after the ball hit by Shane Victorino that resulted in a triple, his throw in, was again, “Manny being Manny”.  The love affair in Hollywood will last about as long as a Britney Spears marriage.  It will end and it will end quickly because Dodger fans are smarter than that.  After the Red Sox won the Series in 2007, Ramirez skipped the visit to the White House with the rest of his teammates.  Regardless of what you thought of the President, George W. Bush had one of the all-time great quips.  “Sorry Manny Ramirez couldn’t be here.  His grandmother must have died…again.”  Even the leader of the free world knows that “Manny being Manny” always ends badly and L.A. will be no exception.


I am not a prude.  I am not a tea drinker.  I enjoy a cold beer, a nice glass of wine or occasionally, a martini (dry with olives).  Granted, I don’t drink nearly as much as I did when I was a younger man, but that’s not my point.  I understand that alcohol has its’ place in our rituals and celebrations.  A toast to the new baby, the bride and groom, a new job, happy times, better times…whatever the case may be, we can find a reason to drink to it.  Ordinarily, I’m all for it.  Celebrate the wild card, let off steam and recognize a job well done.  In recent days, something was brought to my attention that just hasn’t sat well.  The Los Angeles Angels endured a long hard season and currently are battling the Yankees for a World Series berth.  Early this season, Nick Adenhart, a promising young pitcher in the organization was tragically killed in an alcohol-related, hit and run car accident.  The horror came just hours after Adenhart had worked six shutout innings against Oakland.  The driver of another car ran a red light and Adenhart and two others were killed.  All season, the Halos brought his jersey with them on the road and hung it up in the dugout.  An angel on the shoulder of the Angels, if you will.  If it served as a motivator, or at least as a constant reminder of their fallen comrade, that’s great.  God forbid, if it had happened to one of our guys, I know he would have been remembered.  These guys are tight.  Where the Angels went desparately wrong in my mind, was after clinching a postseason berth for the sixth time in 8 years, according to an Associatred Press article of September 29, 2009- ” About ten minutes into the clubhouse celebration, the players grabbed Adenharts’ #34 jersey and gave it a joyous group dousing in  champagne.and beer.”  I’m sure the intention was good, but even symbolically, this is wrong on so many levels.  It was beer and champagne or some other alcoholic beverage that lead to his death.  There have been whispers, that Adenharts’ girl friend, who was driving the vehicle that was hit, had allegedly been drinking, as well.  It doen’t matter.  They’re gone and apparently, not forgotten.  This is clearly one case of “the hair of the dog”  that should not have occurred.  Although I am sure there were good intentions, it had to re-open wounds that his family has been nursing for months and will continue to care for forever.  There are ways to celebrate a fallen compatriot.  Right ways and wrong ways.  


I am a talk show host at heart.  I’ve always enjoyed doing it and I’ve had some good opportunities over the years. I’ve worked at Sporting News Radio in Chicago and after a while, you become trained to turn almost any topic into a talk show issue.  Well, this morning in the Providence Journal I saw one of the most ridiculous polls, ever. TSN ranked the best sports cities in America.  Pittsburgh, home of the World Champion Steelers and Penguins, ranked number one.  The previous number one, Boston had fallen to third in the rankings.  I’ve got no problem with a top 10 or even a top 25, but these guys went 399 deep.  Are you kidding me?  Now I’m no expert on places like Eugene, Oregon (#68) or Natchitoches, La. (#256) but I do know a thing or two about the Ocean State.  TSN ranked four different Rhode Island cities in its’ top 399.  They apparently, did not do much, if any research.  Kingston was rated #117, ahead of Providence (#182), Smithfield (#269) and, oh yeah, Pawtucket, way down at #315.  Are you serious??  I’d be willing to bet that more people click the turnstiles at McCoy than all the URI, P.C. and Bryant games combined.  And you can throw in Brown and the Providence Bruins, for good measure.  PawSox fans are the most loyal minor league fans in the country.  Perennially, the PawSox rank at or near the top of the standings for attendance, not only for the International League, but for all of minor league baseball.  This season alone, more than 600,000 again turned out to watch the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Now, I’m not writing this to rip other towns in the state.  Kingston and Smithfield are lovely communities, but not exactly sports meccas. Providence is one of Pawtuckets’ nicer suburbs and has some merit, but let’s face it- until Keno Davis turns around the Friars, Federal Hill is clearly the best thing the city has to offer.  To me, the city of Pawtucket was the Rodney Dangerfield of the poll…”No respect, I tell ya!”  Amazingly, Pawtucket was last among I.L. cities ranked in the poll.  Only Gwinnett, Georgia did not appear, but I’m guessing they lumped Gwinnett in with Atlanta (#13).  Some of these cities offer other sports like #20 Indianapolis (Colts, Pacers, Indy 500) #23 Charlotte  (Panthers, Bobcats)  #34 Columbus (Blue Jackets and Ohio State) and  #40 Buffalo (Bills, Sabres).  But believe me when I tell you, I’ve been to all these other places and although you can find something redeeming about each of them, there is no way they all rank ahead of Pawtucket.  #67- Louisville, #90- Syracuse, #136- Toledo, #164- Norfolk, #261- Scranton, #267- Rochester, and #297- Allentown all finished ahead of us.  Even Durham had to be combined with Raleigh and Chapel Hill to finish seventeenth.  Ask any I.L. player, manager, coach or broadcaster, which ballpark has the best atmosphere in the league and I guarantee you, if they’re telling the truth, they will say Pawtucket.  Pawtucket isn’t some punch line to a bad joke, it’s not a punching bag for the rest of the sports world, it’s not a whipping boy for The Sporting News.  Pawtucket R.I. is our home.  The home of the PawSox.


As I sat in my seat at Fenway Park on Sunday, I had it all figured out.  Buchholz leads them to victory, Lester comes back to pitch on Monday and then we head back west and completely demoralize the Angels by sweeping the third straight game.  Then, it was on to the Bronx and next a return to the World Series. As I was hatching my master plan in my head, something bad happened…REALLY bad.  The Sox coughed up a 5-2 lead and lost to the Angels.  The rage and disappointment  was clearly palpable in Boston, as normally good-natured fans were turning on each other, dropping f-bombs left and right in front of women, children, the disabled, the elderly.  It didn’t matter.  Their hearts were torn out and it seemed like they needed an outlet.  Twenty years ago, I might have joined in.  No one loves the Red Sox more than I do.  I remember crying when the Sox lost in ’75 to the Reds.  I sobbed a little in silence in ’78 when Bucky “Bleeping” Dent hit his homer.  In 1986, I was inconsolable after the epic collapse.  Since then we’ve been fortunate to win a couple of crowns.  There is no better feeling.  As we get older, with the state of the economy, the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the world going seemingly crazier every day, you realize that this just isn’t the end of the world.  What is hard now, is finding something to do at night.  From April until September, I am the lucky one that watches and broadcasts baseball on a nightly basis as the voice of the PawSox.  By the end of the season, you’re weary.  The pace is arduous, as we average about one day off a month.  Our season ended a month ago, and already, I’m looking forward to 2010.  There is a dearth of television programming, even with more stations and networks than ever. If I’m not watching baseball or some other sport,  it’s more than likely I’m checking out reruns of The Sopranos, Seinfeld,or the Andy Griffith Show.  You miss the camaraderie of the press box.  It’s a great group of folks we have up there at McCoy.  My man, Joe Callahan, has spent the last 6 seasons peppering me with M*A*S*H* trivia questions when he isn’t updating stats on the scoreboard.  Official scorer, Bruce Guindon, with his unmistakable laugh is a welcome and nightly staple.  Kevin Galligan, who runs our website, has done an incredible job with the music and video board, as well.  P.A. announcer, Jim Martins’ dry wit belies his offbeat sense of humor.  There are certainly others who you might take for granted, but when they’re not there, they are definitely missed.  John, Tom and Chris all make valuable contributions to the effort under the watchful eye of Bill Wanless, V.P of Public Relatons, who runs the press box.  Team photographer, Louriann Mardo-Zayat clearly is the rose among the thorns up there as she makes her way around.  There is also a steady stream of media members.  Joe McDonald, the talented writer from the Providence Journal, who now mainly covers the Red Sox, has become a dear friend.  It is always great to see guys like Paul Kenyon and Kevin MacNamara, writers whom I respect a great deal, represent the Projo.  Brendan McGair and Eric Benavides from the Pawtucket Times are always around and present for the daily dose of good-natured abuse I take from Manager, Ron Johnson.  Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my partner, Dan Hoard.  He and I have developed a language all our own, and communicate at times, by a mere glance.  There are others who float in and out.  Media members are always more abundant when there’s a Major Leaguer on the roster for a rehab assignment.  Most nights, though, it’s just the happy, little, dysfunctional family I just told you about.  The offseason is merely a month old and the sting of the Red Sox loss is still fresh, but I do look forward to April when we’ll all be together again.


I am cranky.  Partly because I stayed up late on Thursday and Friday to watch the Sox.  Mostly, because they lost both games.  The potent Boston offense has managed just one run in 18 innings.  Jacoby Ellsbury is the only Red Sox player to cross home plate in two nights in Anaheim.  The legendary rock band, Eagles sang about the Hotel California- “This could be heaven or this could be hell.”  It has not been a slice of heaven as both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett pitched well enough to, if not win, at least keep their club un the game.  I’m not going to bash anyone individually, because I genuinely love these guys, as individuals and as a group.  It becomes even more difficult to watch when the Yankees, just minutes before, rally for a pair in the ninth and then get a home run in extra innings from Mark Texeira to take a 2-0 lead over the Twins.  There is no great mystery to the problem.  See the ball, hit the ball.  I’m not sure if they’re seeing it, but they sure aren’t hitting it.  Now, we’ve been here before.  The Red Sox have come back from 0-2 deficits in the ALDS twice.  In 1999 and 2003 the Red Sox had to win three in a row to advance in the playoffs and they did it.  I know a lot of people had written them off then and probably have written them off now.  Don’t do it.  The Sox have won three games in a row millions of times and they could do it again.  They play extremely well at home and the next two games are scheduled for Fenway.  Thanks to the generosity of PawSox owner, Ben Mondor, I will be there.  Ben always makes sure that his employees get good seats to Fenway playoff games.  It is one of the greatest “perks” ever.  As a broadcaster, you have to remain somewhat objective on the air, although, I think you can probably tell sometimes by the tone of my voice how we’re doing.  As a fan at the park, it feels great to let loose.  I will stand and applaud Clay Buchholz as he takes the mound.  Ellsbury, Pedroia, Martinez etc. could explode at any moment and bury the Angels.  The Halos have to have their record of futility against Boston in the back of their mind as the teams head east for game three.  We know exactly how the Cardinals feel, down 2-0.  They sent their best, maybe the National Leagues’ best 1-2 punch at the Dodgers and lost twice.  Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright were not enough.  Thanks to Matt Hollidays’ error, Mark Loretta becomes a hero. Yes, that Mark Loretta.  Tim Kurkjian pointed out on ESPN that baseball, unlike any other sport, can consistently produce the most unlikely hero.  In basketball, Kobe Bryant will take the final shot most of the time.  Peyton Manning will throw the pass that wins it.  Baseball gives you the “Bobby Kieltys” and “Craig Counsells” of the world.  Men, that otherwise are mere footnotes in the history of the game.   In the long and glorious annals of baseball, the big stars have come through plenty of times in the clutch, but it gives hope to the bench guys, the lesser stars, and subsequently, it gives hope to us, as well.  In the late ’70s blockbuster, “Animal House”,  John Blutarsky, played brilliantly by the late John Belushi, told his frat brothers in the Delta House- “That it wasn’t over when the “Germans” bombed Pearl Harbor, and it isn’t over until we say it’s over.”  I hope “Bluto” is right.