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Watson likely moving from disciplinarian to GM

Baseball's chief disciplinarian, Bob Watson, hasn't said yes yet, but look for the former Red Sox first baseman to become the interim general manager of the team formerly known as the Expos when they begin play next spring in Washington.

That's according to an industry source who knows Watson well. Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of field operations, would replace Omar Minaya, who did a terrific job under very trying circumstances in keeping the Expos competitive while they were wards of MLB. Minaya won't be going to D.C., having taken over as GM of the New York Mets.

Way back flashback
When David Ortiz became just the second Red Sox player to hit a home run in his first World Series at-bat, the man who was the first player to accomplish the feat was in the ballpark to witness it.

"It was like a dream come true to be here," said former Sox pitcher Jose Santiago, who homered off Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in his first at-bat of the 1967 World Series. "I've come back a few times over the years. I saw a lot of the guys when they had us together for the 25th reunion -- it's too bad some of the guys have passed -- but I'm so glad the way the fans still remember what we did in 1967."

Since retiring as a player, Santiago, 66, has been working in radio and television in his native Puerto Rico. He is here with WKBA in San Juan. He is walking with a cane, having undergone knee replacement surgery about six weeks ago.

"I hope before I die, I can see the Red Sox win a World Series," he said. "I think this could be the year. If [Curt] Schilling and Pedro [Martinez] pitch well, I think they can do it."

Santiago, on his home run: "I remember talking to Yaz [Carl Yastrzemski] and Rico [Petrocelli] and some of the guys telling me Gibson was throwing pretty good. When I came up, I got a high fastball and hit it over the Green Monster. I came back and told them I didn't think his stuff was that good. But I guess he was throwing pretty good. He had that great slider.

"But imagine what it was like for a jibarito, a country boy from Puerto Rico, who never played baseball until he was 7 years old, in a town, Juana Diaz, that didn't even have a ballpark, to hit a home run in the World Series like that? That had to be one of the greatest thrills I've ever had.

"Now, the only thing I want to see is the Red Sox win a World Series."

Sunny disposition
"This is like Milwaukee weather," said commissioner Bud Selig, for whom every day seems like the sun is shining, given the roll baseball has been on this season (non-steroid division). "If we had predicted this kind of year back in January, nobody would have believed it. Record attendance, record TV ratings, competitive races all season, great playoffs.

"I was just talking to Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of my heroes, and I told her that this is the kind of year that will be the gold standard for years to come. You couldn't write a script like this."

Needless to say, Selig, who was stopped numerous times as he made his way through the concourse by fans wishing to shake his hand and say thanks -- a far cry from when he was derided as "Bud Lite" in the strike year of 1994 -- takes special satisfaction that a Series has come under the watch of the current Red Sox ownership group, one that Selig's critics say the commissioner all but handpicked behind closed doors.

Selig vehemently has denied that characterization. "[Massachusetts attorney general] Tom Reilly was ripping me and others, but I always maintained that this was a special franchise, one that needed to be taken care of, and I knew these guys were as good as they come. All those people who were ripping me, they've all gone underground."

Selig still has plenty of friends here, including John Harrington, the former Sox owner who played a key role in the team being in the Series. As head of MLB's scheduling committee, Harrington was instrumental in the adoption of the wild card, which was the Sox' ticket into the postseason this year. Current Sox chairman Tom Werner, as head of MLB's television committee, also played a major part in adding the wild card.

"I believed it was important for television to create more excitement," Werner said, "not just for October, but in September, too, so I fought really hard to create an additional round of playoffs."

Selig, long a proponent of new stadiums, would not predict whether he expected a new park will be built to replace Fenway Park, though it is evident across the country that enthusiasm for committing public funds for ballparks has cooled signficantly. "That's a decision Larry [Lucchino], John [Henry], and Tom will have to make," Selig said. "This is one of those historic stadiums, like Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. They have to decide what more they can do here, or are they going to have to do something somewhere else."

Long way home
Hard to top the lengths to which Robert Kuwada, an international investment counselor originally from Newton, went to be at the Series. Kuwada works for the Ministry of Finance in Thailand, and boarded a plane in Bangkok on Thursday morning. He flew from Bangkok to Taipei, had a two-hour layover there, flew from Taipei to Los Angeles, had an eight-hour layover there, flew from LA to Newark (with another three-hour layover), before finally making his way to Boston. He arrived in Boston at 10 a.m. Saturday, and while en route was able to purchase a pair of tickets (for $900 apiece) for each game. Total cost of his trip: roughly $5,000. Total travel time: 40 hours.

Cracked Pete Greene, the fan sitting next to Kuwada: "I'm from Framingham and it took me 20 minutes to get here."

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