Rocco Baldelli Remembers Where He Came From

Without once putting on the uniform, Rocco Baldelli has already distinguished himself as the classiest player on the Red Sox. That’s because the former Rays outfielder took out a half-page ad in the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES thanking Tampa fans for all their support.

Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli, a Rhode Island native, must be thrilled to be playing for his favorite team growing up. But he’s not forgetting the only franchise he’s ever known, and one that’s been nothing but supportive through his myriad health problems. “It’s where I got my start,” he said. “I have a lot of friends, and I will always have some friends down there, so it will always be a special place for me.”  (Full text of the letter, after the jump.)

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Speed Read: Matt Stairs Is A Very Bad Man, Eh?

Matt Freaking Stairs. The 40-year-old who had all of 17 at-bats with the Phillies after being acquired from the Blue Jays on August 30th hit the first postseason bomb of his career in the eighth inning off of Jonathan Broxton as the Phils came from behind to stun the Dodgers 7-5 and go up 3-1 in the NLCS.

Matt Stairs

Stairs has had a decent career. He has 254 regular-season home runs, which is second all-time among Canadians. But if you’re a Phillies fan did you ever think that a guy who coaches hockey in Maine in the off-season was going to turn into your hero? Stairs, who seemed a little astounded by the whole experience, makes no bones about trying to hit long balls (and man, was it long):

“I try to swing for the fences,” Stairs said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole career. I was very fortunate to square one up tonight.”

Meanwhile, things are going so well for the Rays that Rocco Baldelli is hitting home runs off Red Sox pitching. Baldelli has overcome seven knee replacements and Ebola to get back into baseball, and now his team has a 2-1 series lead over the defending champs. The BOSTON GLOBE’s Amalie Benjamin is panicking a little because Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t getting on base and David Ortiz doesn’t have a hit in the series, while the Rays have hit seven homers in the last two games.

Rocco Baldelli

The Giants can take some solace in knowing that most of the sports world was watching baseball last night, because they got their heads bashed in by the Browns, 35-14. The rest of the world rejoices as the Brady Quinn era just got moved back at least another week. And I guess Kellen Winslow’s balls can keep swelling up because his teammates didn’t miss them.

How bad is the upcoming Tampa Bay-Seattle matchup on Sunday Night Football this week? So horrifying that John Madden can’t even imagine sitting through it. The big winner in all of this? Cris Collinsworth, who doesn’t have to hang out with Olbermann and Patrick all night now. (”Dan, have I used ‘it’s deep, and I don’t think it’s playable’ this week yet?”). Of course we all know the real reason Madden is staying home: he can’t miss the season premiere of Frank TV.

Frank Caliendo is John Madden

• I know you want to see it, so here it is. Footage of a bunch of idiots slamming as many Famiglia pizza slices into their yaps as they can in 10 minutes. Famiglia? I’ve had that garbage in the JetBlue terminal at JFK. I can barely keep one down.

• Two Toledo football players celebrated their win at Michigan by getting arrested. From one big house to another, all in the same day!• The season of North Carolina receiver and kick returner Brandon Tate is over. Bill Cole of the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL has all the details. Tate is the all-time NCAA leader in combined punt and kickoff return yardage.• After the Lane Kiffin firing, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has turned his attentions to all things Adam Jones. Mort says that if Sir Adam was drinking the night that he got in his bodyguard altercation, that would be violation of his probation and could mean the end of his season.

• ESPN RISE has the odd story of a Florida high school football game that ended 91-0. The winning coach is being told that he ran up the score even though he didn’t even play some of his best players and his team only ran 31 plays.

• The “Thunder” played their first game in the state of Oklahoma last night, a win over the Rockets in Tulsa. The TULSA WORLD can’t contain its excitement.

• Poor Washington State. The SEATTLE TIMES reports that the Cougars have managed to lose yet another quarterback to a serious injury, and will go on Saturday with a guy who has already broken a vertebra this year. I’m giving this guy roughly six plays before he’s carted off the field in a mangled mess. The Cougs are currently 42-point home underdogs to USC.

• The TELEGRAPH’s Gill Hornby wonders how exactly AIG is honoring its ridiculously expensive sponsorship deal with Manchester United.

• Screeching Weasel singer Ben Weasel grew up a Cubs fan, but jumped off the bandwagon when Rick Aguilera gave up a home run to Jason Kendall in 2000, according to his blog, WEASEL MANOR. I managed to stay on the bandwagon until Wil Cordero immediately hit another homer off Aguilera.

• What do you do when you’re playing cricket all day and it starts getting dark? According to FOX SPORTS AUSTRALIA, you just go home and call the match a draw.

What was the best moment in Monday’s Dodgers-Phillies game?

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Rocco Baldelli Does Not Have Muscular Dystrophy

SEE UPDATE/CORRECTION AFTER JUMP …

Yeah, this one has me speechless today. ABCActionNews.com is reporting this afternoon that doctors this week diagnosed Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli with “Mitochondrial Myopathy, a very rare genetic illness. It’s one of the 43 neuromuscular diseases recognized under MDA - the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”*

Rocco Baldelli

Dr. Allan Weiss is the presiding neurologist: “I’m optimistic. I don’t think this is his last year of baseball. I think he can play a number of years after this.”

That said, there is no cure for the condition, which primarily weakens the legs. Read more…