Before I regale you with my innermost brilliant thoughts again, let me acknowledge the passing of “Red Sox Royalty.” 82 year old Dick Williams, the manager of the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Red Sox, has passed at the age of 82. The Hall of Famer was felled by a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Williams was the very first manager I was aware of as a young boy. He piloted the ’67 Sox to a seven game World Series meeting with the immortal Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. He later guided Oakland to a pair of World Series titles in 1972 and 1973. He also took the Padres to the Fall Classic in 1984. Williams was elected to Cooperstown in 2008. Just a random thought. Dick Williams has passed at age 82 and Jack McKeon, at age 80, is currently managing the Florida Marlins. Skipper, RIP.
It boggles the mind when you think of all the injuries and/or callups the PawSox have endured, yet still remain in the very thick of the I.L. North and the Wild Card playoff chase. I am hard pressed to think of anyone who hasn’t made a significant contribution this season. I’m no “brown-noser”, but allow me to be the first to say that Arnie Beyeler, in his first season as manager of the PawSox, warrants strong consideration as the 2011 I.L. manager of the year. There is obviously, still a long way to go, but Arnie has masterfully shuffled whatever deck of cards he is handed, on any given night. One of the latest “cards” is infielder Ryan Khoury. Khoury is off to a fast start in Pawtucket. It’s his third stint in a Pawtucket uniform.
What makes this time around so special, is that Khoury was rescued from baseball “purgatory”. He was released by the Red Sox late in Spring Training and hs found his way back. “I’d be lying if I said I’d ever expected to be back in a PawSox uniform. It’s been awesome. Just like I remember it. Great support. It’s great to be back.” Khoury was all smiles as he talked about his return to professional baseball. He laughed out loud as I stole a line from ESPN legend and basketball Hall of Famer, Dick Vitale about Khoury having the “Greatest comeback since Lazarus.” After his release, he was contacted by former PawSox teammate, Zack Borowiak, a coach with the independent Gateway Grizzlies. Khoury considered his offer to play, and accepted. Khoury compared the level of play to high-A ball. The major exception was that the pitching in indy ball is not as good on a consistent basis. Khoury said one of the best “perks” for him with the Grizzlies came on the bus. “It was kind of different for me. I was about the highest ranking or highest tenured guy in terms of playing in Triple A. It was kind of weird getting on the bus and getting the best seat, or getting a seat to myself. Those bus seats in independent ball are pretty valuable. The buses aren’t as big. They’re not as spacious. It was kind of cool to be able to do that for once.” he chuckled. As a point of reference, on the PawSox bus, Kevin Millwood, a former National League All Star and winner of 159 Major aleague games is the guy who should always get the seat he deserves.
Ben Crockett, from the Sox front office called Khoury and made him the offer he couldn’t refuse. Did he want to come back? Silly question. “Obviously, it was exciting and something I was eager to get back to.” With this new lease on life, that not a lot of guys get, Khoury almost feels like he is playing with “house” money. “Oh yeah, but a couple of years ago I tried to start taking pressure off myself. That’s when I’m the most loose and have the most success on the field. There’s still wanting to prove yourself and wanting to play well for the team. We’re right in the playoff hunt and you want to play as well as you can.” Khoury is off to a fast start. He homered in his first at bat back and hasn’t slowed dow, hitting near .300 so far. He admits that the fact that he has played in Triple A before with the PawSox has been helpful. “In terms of being comfortable and knowing the ropes and the guys, Yeah, it’s been really helpful.” Just another trump card for Arnie Beyeler.