EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 29, 2007

Chiklis: I wasn't missing this one

By Bill Burt , Executive Sports Editor

DENVER - Andover native Michael Chiklis was in Los Angeles earlier in the week hosting one of his high school chums, Dan McDuffie, who now lives in North Andover.

A phone call was made and he was set to get Red Sox tickets for Game 4. No matter what.

"I missed the clincher in St. Louis in 2004 and there was no way I was missing this one," said the star of "The Shield." "I was working like crazy, 85 hours this week, and I was trying to rush everyone along because I was coming to Denver."

Chiklis was down near the backstop watching the Red Sox celebrate when Curt Schilling noticed him and ordered security to let he and McDuffie on the field.

And then Schilling drenched Chiklis with champagne.

"We had never met personally, but I was supposed to make a surprise visit at his 40th birthday party. His wife had called me to set it up," said Chiklis, who has been to two of the Patriots' three Super Bowls. But the actor was doing 'The Fantastic Four' (movie) and had 200 pounds of padding on. "I couldn't get away. So to meet him this way is incredible."

Chiklis, who captained the 1980 Andover High football team, said he watched the Patriots' game beforehand, but "I fell asleep when they were up 45-7 or something like that. Can you believe our teams? We are so lucky."

Clayton cried with the rest of them

Royce Clayton was crying. The guy got eight at-bats in September, he wasn't on the playoff roster, but there he was, hugging family members as if he had hit the winning home run.

"I've been waiting for this my entire career. You don't understand what this means to me," said Clayton, who has played for 11 teams over 17 seasons. "I came here because I wanted this. Josh Beckett came up to me when I got here and said, 'We will get his for you. You deserve it.' Imagine him saying that?"

Don't sign A-Rod!

That's what a few thousand Red Sox fans still at the park at 11:30 p.m. (Denver time) were chanting as Mike Lowell made his way toward the Red Sox dugout.

"Don't sign A-Rod! ... Don't sign A-Rod!"

'Lowell waved.

"These people are amazing," he said. "Look, I've stated my case. This is where I want to be. It's not up to me, but we'll worry about the offseason at another time."

Turning point?

Like most people, Jonathan Papelbon said the turning point was not here in Denver, but Cleveland.

"I think that was the turning point in this entire postseason," he said. "We have a will to win here. It took all 25 of us to get this job done. It's just phenomenal, man."

Drew: It was nice to come through

Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew was smiling in the Sox clubhouse, sitting alone, sipping on some champagne and taking in the moment.

"Was it worth leaving Los Angeles for this? What do you think?" said Drew. "Look, I had an up-and-down season. And I heard about it. But I knew that if I could get going in September, that I could produce in October. In the end, we won the World Series. That's all the matters. Slumps and everything else is old news."

Wakefield won't compare titles

You'd never know that knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield had one of the most difficult Octobers of his career.

He couldn't pitch because of back and shoulder problems and thus was left off the World Series roster. Asked what the difference between this title run and the one three Octobers ago, Wakefield didn't hesitate.

"It's the same thing. We won it all," said Wakefield. "I think what we did was unexpected in 2004. Things had to go our way and they did. This year we were good the entire way. But in the end, it's all about winning."

Loose bench 'punks' Dice-K

The Red Sox were three innings from clinching their second World Series title in four years.

And Daisuke Matsuzaka, unknowingly, was walking around the Red Sox dugout with gum, bubble and all, on top of his hat.

Not the time for a practical joke?

As Pedro Martinez once was known to say, "Where you been, man?"

The Red Sox, led by Mr. Loosey Goosey himself, David Ortiz, have been enjoying these playoffs like no other. The Manny Ramirez "Don't worry, be happy" mood has permeated this clubhouse for the entire season.

Even in difficult times, panic was not in their vocabulary.

Would this have happened in 2004 against the Cardinals?

Absolutely not. Actually, that's why it can happen, because of their championship in 2004.

Sox take pride in home-grown talent

The Boston Red Sox and their fans will be hearing it real soon: They bought another World Series title.

While the numbers, $143 million in payroll, seem to favor that theory, a closer look at these playoffs, and especially the World Series, show that the home-grown talent is as good as there is maybe in the Major Leagues.

Look at the recent stars, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon and even last night's starter, Jon Lester. Not to mention Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez, who were traded for Josh Beckett.

Ellsbury led off last night's game with a double and scored on a David Ortiz single.

Pedroia leads the team in big hits, starting with the Cleveland Indians series and continuing here (he had the big two-run double to put the Rockies away on Saturday night).

Youkilis got things started after the Sox fell behind 3-1 against the Indians by hitting a first-inning home run in Game 5, which ignited everything since.

Papelbon has not allowed a run to score in 102/3 innings this postseason, striking out seven. And Lester did his job last night, which was to keep the Red Sox in the game. He more than did that with 52/3 innings of three-hit, no-run ball.

"I think there's a lot of pride in that. Any time you talk with Theo (Epstein), he'll bring that up right away," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "You know, we do, we have the ability to - our owners give us a lot of money to go out and spend and get good players.

"But having guys come through your system is a great way to do it. They're able to come and contribute, and not just contribute but be pivotal players. We've got guys hitting first and second, Papelbon is closing games, Youkilis playing first, it's a huge source of pride."

Rockies fans lose a little luster

While the confines of Coors Field were as loud as ever when the game started, it didn't have the same feel or buzz outside the park before last night's game as it had for Game 3 Saturday night.

Fans meandering around the park last night were a little quieter and humbled by the Game 3 whipping the Rockies took.

The fans here cheer for everything. Every ball that is hit by a Rockies batter, even what appears to be a routine grounder, brings fans to their feet.

A-Rod booed as a no-show

Was it a coincidence or was it, well, a convenient excuse? Whatever the case, New York Yankees soon-to-be free agent slugger Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be here before last night's game as an honoree for the Hank Aaron Award.

The award goes to the top slugger in each league.

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder was the National League honoree and Rodriguez was the AL winner.

When his name was announced before the game, a loud chorus of boos roared through Coors Field. Commissioner Bud Selig said that A-Rod had a previous "commitment" and couldn't attend.

It was funny that the Rockies fans have such disdain for A-Rod, who has only played a few interleague games against their team.

Do you think his no-show had something to do with the Red Sox? I say, yes.

A high-five

The Colorado Rockies talked about the importance of getting off to a fast start.

Well, apparently the Red Sox took notice. Five pitches into the game the Sox led 1-0. That was courtesy of a lead off double by Jacoby Ellsbury, a groundout by Dustin Pedroia, moving Ellsbury to third, and a first-pitch RBI single to right by David Ortiz.

Aaron Cook settled down and got Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell to hit into easy outs.

Francona: I am better than Pedroia - at cribbage

Terry Francona says he has a lot of respect for his second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

"He doesn't quit," said Francona.

While that attribute fits for his baseball abilities, Francona is talking about their regular cribbage game, which happens before they get down to brass tacks each night.

"I beat him up pretty good," said Francona. "He's not that good. He's a really good baseball player. Thankfully, he's a really good baseball player. But he comes back for more. His mentality is he doesn't quit."

Ellsbury's not done with record book

Jacoby Ellsbury's fast start to his professional career and especially this postseason is making waves in the record books. He not only teamed up with Pedroia to be come the first-ever rookie tandem to bat first and second in a World Series, but his four hits on Saturday night made him only the third rookie in World Series history to have four hits in a game.

Fred Lindstrom, who played for the New York Giants, accomplished the feat in 1924, while Joe Garagiola did it in Game 4 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946.

His three doubles were the eighth time in history a player had accomplished that in a World Series.

Hurdle: We want Beckett ... sort of

That's what Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said before last night's game.

Before that goes on the bulletin board, it should be put in context.

He basically was saying, "We don't want to get swept and would welcome Sandy Koufax to pitch against us."

Hurdle said, "You know, I hope we face him. As far as preparing, I'm not so sure - we just need to get ready to hit. He's on top of his game. He's probably pitching as well as any pitcher I've come across, watched or faced or seen pitch in the postseason, command of all his pitches, pounding the strike zone.

"What's he got, 30 innings, two walks and 32 strikeouts?" said Hurdle. The exact postseason numbers were 4-0 record, 1.20 ERA, two walks and 35 strikeouts in 30 innings. "Come on. He's got Nintendo numbers going off the mound (laughter). But we've also been a team that beat him (midseason). We'd love the opportunity to face him again. We'll prepare for that tomorrow if necessary."

Obviously, that's not happening.

Rockies, MLB honor fallen Colorado state trooper

In a poignant moment before last night's game, the Rockies and Major League Baseball honored two Colorado state troopers. One died and the other was severely injured when a motorist struck both troopers while they were assisting another motorist on a median strip on a nearby highway (Route 76).

Zachariah Templeton died a day after sustaining injuries, while his partner, Scott Hinshaw, is recovering and needs a wheelchair to get around. Templeton's family was honored before the game and Hinshaw, from his wheelchair, threw out the first pitch.

Lugo comes through again in the field

It isn't always pretty, but Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo is getting the job done in this World Series in the field.

After some shaky play against the Indians, he has been involved with most of the big defensive plays in this series, particularly since the series moved to Denver.

Last night, he made a diving catch of a line drive hit to the hole toward third base by Garrett Atkins.

On Saturday night, he made a great play, going to the hole again toward third base and getting a force play at third base with Mike Lowell catching a short-hopped throw. Then in the bottom of the sixth Saturday he made a great leaping catch off a line drive with the white of the ball showing, ending their rally.