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An '11 preview, an '86 flashback

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  March 28, 2011 08:11 AM

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Just a couple of quick programming notes/linkage/incurable baseball dorkdom:

As I've said here many times (and usually via an overdose of maudlin nostalgia, I know), I wanted to work for the Globe since I was a little kid covertly swiping the Sunday sports section from my dad so I could read Gammons's baseball column before him. If Gammons said the Sox were going to get, say, Shane Rawley from the Mariners, well, I had to know it first, dammit.

So it's probably no surprise that all these years later I still get giddy about the baseball preview section. To be able to contribute to it these past few years is a privilege, probably my absolute favorite thing about hendersondavefinn.jpgmy job. I couldn't be cynical about it if I tried.

Anyway, here are two of my small contributions to this year's preview: A look at ESPN's new Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting team, with the requisite jabs at the departed Joe Morgan, and a brief that expanded into more than that on Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. James Andrews, the former the pioneer of Tommy John surgery and the latter the man who pretty much made his career by saving Roger Clemens's way back in 1985.

Along with Sean Smith, I also pulled together a page on Red Sox seasons that were derailed or affected by injury, the theme this year being that attrition is the only thing that can stop this stacked roster. If you know me, you know I got a '78 Butch Hobson mention in there. I think you'll have to check out the section in the paper yesterday to see that, though.

One that did not make our cut was 1986, when Tom Seaver's late-season knee injury kept him out of the postseason, indirectly leading to more than a cameo for Al Nipper in the World Series. Nipper pitched OK in his Game 4 start, but in Game 7 he got lit up like he was . . . well, he did have his moments (four starts of eight or more innings in which he allowed three or fewer runs). It's fair to presume that a healthy Seaver might have risen to the occasion against the Mets, the team with which he made his name.

That makes a lovely segue to one other item about the '86 Sox. (I was about to say "has it really been 25 years?" but come to think of it that season actually feels longer ago.) This is about a member of that Sox club who did get a chance to accomplish some memorable things that season -- the admirable Hendu, Dave Henderson.

Tonight at 9 p.m. on the MLB Network, its "20 Greatest Games" series will continue with Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS, which checks in at No. 8. It's compelling stuff -- here's a sample clip of the episode -- not only because of Hendu's season-saving ninth-inning home run, but of course because of the tragedy that happened in the years afterward.

Donnie Moore, the pitcher who served up the homer, shot his wife and committed suicide three years later. Henderson, who is joined by former Sox lefty Bruce Hurst and Angels second baseman Bobby Grich on the panel that discusses the game as it is being replayed, said he appeared on the program to give context to the effect the homer had on Moore. Henderson said to this day he will hear people whisper when he's out in public, "That's the guy who killed Donnie Moore." Which is just terribly wrong in every way.

In a lighter moment, Henderson noted that he felt no pressure from the supposed Curse of the Bambino.

"I’m from California," he said, "and we don’t do curses there.”

The Red Sox haven't had many more likable players than Hendu. Tell me again why they gave him away for Randy Kutcher?

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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