It's all on Pedro's shoulders now

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The Phillies managed to score four runs in six innings against a fully rested Andy Pettitte in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday. Given that he’ll be working on short rest tonight, it seems doubtful that they’ll be shut down entirely. Pettitte hadn’t even started on four days’ rest since Sept. 5. His track record in big games shouldn’t be dismissed, but this is the most vulnerable he’s been in months.
So, tonight’s Game 6 figures to come down to Pedro Martinez. With the possibility of Mariano Rivera for two innings looming, it’s imperative that the Phillies build an early lead. If they don’t go to the bullpen ahead by two or three runs, it’s advantage Yankees.
WEEI’s Alex Speier has the rundown on Martinez’s previous record in elimination games. The future Hall of Famer played a big role in some of Boston’s comebacks, winning Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS against the Indians, Game 5 of the 2003 ALDS against the A’s and Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.
Perhaps even more famously, though, Martinez blew Boston’s lead in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees. That game, ended by a walkoff homer in Aaron Boone in extra innings, cost Grady Little his job as Boston’s manager.
Martinez doesn’t figure to get a chance to spoil a late-inning lead tonight. With any luck, manager Charlie Manuel learned his lesson by sending Martinez back out for the seventh inning in Game 2. If Pedro can hold the Yankees to two runs over six innings — which is what he did last time out before Manuel pushed his luck — then the Phillies should be in pretty good position to send the World Series to a Game 7.
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I’ll be hosting a live chat during Game 6. Check back at 8 pm EST to join in.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.