Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The best reason to root for the Phillies... MATT STAIRS!

In case you are on the fence about who to root for in the Philadelphia/Los Angeles series... I present to you Matt Stairs.

First of all, his homer last night that put the Phillies up for good I don't think has landed.

That was a magnificent moonshot... a thing of beauty that may have broken the backs of the Dodger's juggernaut (and no doubt gnawing at Cub fans who must be thinking "Why couldn't WE hit the Dodger pitching like that?")

But look at this guy!

He's a big barrell chested, bear gut, slow pitch soft ball league looking guy.

He's not a product of the carefully conditioned and possibly chemically altered slugger era. He's a throwback to the days of Steve Bye Bye Balboni where a tubby guy can have a spot on the roster based on how he can bust one out.

I saw him play in 1994 as a member of the New Britain Red Sox... he looked exactly the same as he did now. And at the time he had some big league experience, but was back in AA ball trying to work his way up.

He is the definition of a journeyman.
A look at his stats shows a back of a baseball card with many stops.

Over 16 seasons, he has played for 11 teams.
A native Canadian, he was an Expo in the early 1990s and a Blue Jay in the late 2000s. He has called Fenway and Wrigley his home. He played for the Brewers, Pirates and Royals when nobody was in the park. And he came to the Tigers during the pennant winning 2006 season too late to be on the post season roster.

His tastes of October included a pinch hitting appearance for the 1995 Red Sox and was the platoon DH for the 2000 A's. Neither team advanced.

He's a regular joe, never a star and will probably keep finding work as long as a team is looking for a left handed pinch hitter.

And then he hit a game winning homer in the playoffs.
Yeah he pumped his fists and got high fives in the dugout.

But did you see him afterward?
He looked emotional... he looked reflective.
He looked like every game he ever played in, every change of uniform, every season that came and went without a guarantee of next year, was playing in his head.
He looked like he was remembering every time he could have quit and decided to give it another go.

He looked like a man who realized that he was experiencing the zenith of his professional career.

How could you not want a guy like that to get a World Series ring on his finger?

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