Stopper: Billy Wagner More Than Just a Setup Guy for Boston Red Sox
A 96 mph heater crosses home plate, and strike three is called.
It's a heartbreaking night for the Mets, as another loss sucks more faith from the die-hards.
But one heartwarming story has made it all the way back to Queens. A story of struggle, grit, and an unwillingness to give up.
A story of perseverance.
It's the story of Billy Wagner.
Recently activated after making a full and very successful recovery from Tommy John surgery, Wagner is headed to the possibly playoff-bound Red Sox in search of his first championship.
He's going to get it.
Up and down the Red Sox lineup is players of world class. Jacoby Ellsbury is developing into a top leadoff hitter.
Batting second is reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia, while the second-most coveted Trade Deadline bat hits third in Victor Martinez.
One of the top outfield power threats in the AL hits in this lineup, Jason Bay, while Kevin Youkilis continues to impress.
You get the point.
Then you go to the pitching staff, and one of baseball's best anchors the staff in Josh Beckett, along with complementary pieces at Nos. 2-5. The stopper is Jonathan Papelbon, arguably today's best closer (Mariano-worshippers, realize I built myself a safety net with "arguably").
But where is the fire?
In this team, I don't see the hunger for a World Series victory. I see a team which is satisfied with their 2007 rings and happy to put up a fight, yet not go out of their way to do the jobs they are paid millions to do.
Welcome to Red Sox Nation.
Their scruffy, new, lefty setup man brings that fire. As his career winds down, is he going to come away from baseball with a World Series ring?
It's a realistic question he has asked himself many a time.
And this will be the year he comes home with one. The team he joins is the second-best team in the MLB, and with the hunger he will bring, they have to be World Series bound.
His scrappy, "Here I am, rock you like a hurricane" mentality is just what the Red Sox need. With one player on a video game cover and another practicing the Irish jig in his spare time, having a guy in the locker room who's going to light a fire can't hurt this team.
With this move close to done, I'd like to announce my World Series pick:
The Boston Red Sox.
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