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Mitch's Sports Report: A Walk-Off Instead Of A Walk Would Have Been A Better Last At-Bat For Papi

In an idealized baseball world, the career of David Ortiz would have ended with a walk-off instead of a walk. But the real game of baseball, more inclined toward failure than success, only rarely offers up those Hollywood moments, and the reality is that Big Papi's final career at bat was a walk in the eighth inning of last night's 4-3 Red Sox loss to the Cleveland Indians that eliminates Boston from the post-season.

The Indians gave Big Papi nothing to swing at in his final at-bat, a classic unintentional intentional walk, and when he reached second, he was lifted for a pinch runner, trotting off the field to a mad frenzy of applause that was at once at acknowledgment by the fans that they could have seen his final plate appearance and a collective hope that a late rally would guarantee at least one more.

But the Sox, who finally showed some fight in this series when it was far too late, could not get the equalizer in the 8th, nor in the 9th, when Jackie Bradley Jr. singled for his first hit of the series, Dustin Pedroia drew a walk, and Travis Shaw, who showed so much promise in the first half of the season and then slumped badly in the second, popped out weakly to right field to end the game and any hopes of seeing David Ortiz win just one more World Series ring.

I have so much more to say about Big Papi's career and too little time to do it here, so I'm going to put up a separate podcast episode of the sports report later this week. I'll say this for the Red Sox fans in attendance at Fenway last night. They didn't let their disappointment at their team's tepid performance in this series cloud their appreciation for the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history, and as soon as the final out was recorded, even amid Cleveland's celebration on the Fenway lawn, they began chanting the name Papi, the name of the player who transformed the franchise and brought so much hope and delight to a fan base that for generations had known only teases of greatness followed by crushing disappointment.

I would be remiss by not adding that Cleveland simply outplayed the Red Sox in this series, and it's somewhat fitting but maddening that former Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp had the game winning hit, a two run homer in the 6th, and it's probably not a coincidence that the very manager, Terry Francona, who was behind the Red sox bench for two Red Sox world series titles and knows his old team inside out, also out-managed his good friend John Farrell. He made sure not to let Ortiz beat the Indians and employed just the right pitchers and approaches at just the right time to defuse any Red Sox comeback hopes. They'll have their hands full next taking on the powerful Toronto Blue Jays, but the Indians showed they are not a team to be taken lightly moving forward.

And oh, how I wish the Red Sox could have done what the San Francisco Giants did. San Fran was also facing elimination, in danger of getting swept by the Chicago Cubs, but they staged three different late rallies and beat the Cubs 6-5 in stunning fashion out on the west coast last night, staying alive on a 13th inning double by Joe Panik after wild back and forth momentum swings that saw the Giants go ahead in the 8th off lights-out flame thrower Aroldis Chapman, who yielded a triple to Conor Gillaspie, only to have the Cubs tie things up in the 9th when Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer off Giants closer Sergio Romo. The Giants could have rolled over then, or earlier when their ace Madison Bumgarner gave up a three run blast to the Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, but they kept battling and live to play another day thanks to Panik's wall ball walk-off double in the bottom of the 13th. The Cubs still lead the series two games to one, but you know in Chicago there's going to be nervous rumbling about the Billy Goat curse of 1945 and until the Cubs actually lock this series down and move on, the Giants will believe they can exploit those fears.

The Washington Nationals don't really have much history to fret over, and after an 8-3 trouncing of the L.A. Dodgers yesterday, they're on the edge of moving ahead to the NLCS, now leading L.A. two games to one. This one was actually close tight up until the 9th inning, with Washington clinging to a 4-3 lead, but Jayson Werth homered and the Nats went on to score four times in the 9th to move within a game of playing for the pennant.

Monday night football, and he Carolina panthers probably won't be back in the Superbowl this year. In fact, it's highly unlikely they'll even make the playoffs. The Panthers dropped to 1-4 on the season after getting beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last night 17-14 on a 38-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal as time expired.

Both the mens' and womens' soccer teams for the Norwich Cadets were in action yesterday. The men emerged victorious with a 4-0 shut out win against Mount Ida, powered by a hat trick from senior Jacob Zimmerman, while the womens' team was shut out by Lasell 5-0.

A big win by Middlebury's football team yesterday ended their opponent's amazing winning streak. UMass Amherst had not lost a football game dating back to October of 2013, 21 straight wins, until the Panthers took them down 27-26 yesterday, led on defense by junior John Jackson, who recorded seven tackles and forced two fumbles. Martin Williams sealed the win with a late 4th quarter interception that quashed a chance for Amherst to win with a potential field goal. With the upset the Panthers are now 3-0 to start the season, their best start since 2012 when they opened NESCAC play at 5-0.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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