Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Star is Born

In a 10-2 Philly blowout Sunday Night a most-unlikely Philadelphia sports legend was born, as the more-likely hero brought the Phillies just a game shy of their second World Championship in the post-Rutherford B. Hayes era.

The Phillies picked Joe Blanton off the scrap heap after starting 2008 with a 5-12 record for Oakland. Since coming to Philly, however, he’s won five straight. But none of those wins will cement him in Philadelphia lore like his performance in Game 4. Blanton, after playing almost his entire five-year career in the American League, had a pathetic 2 for 26 record at the plate. But with two out in the bottom of the fifth, Blanton’s bat head ran into an Edwin Jones fastball and plopped it securely in the left field bleachers. It was the first extra base hit of his career and the first World Series home run by a pitcher since Ken Holtzman drove one out for Oakland 34 years ago.

With the usually ill-willed Philly fans firmly in his pocket, Blanton finished his night by striking out two in the top of the sixth to elevate his status in the city of brotherly love from 'footnote' to the 'never-have-to-buy-a-beer-in-this-town-ever-again' level.

But the emerging story in this World Series has been the return of NL MVP Ryan Howard’s gigantic bat. Rarely has the league MVP risen in the World Series to become it’s MVP, but Howard set the stage in the bottom of the 8th when he lambasted a Trever Miller fastball into the mob in the left field bleachers for his second homer of the night. Howard only had 3 RBI in the post season going into Game 2 but has had a timely turn around hitting .429 with 3 HR and 6 RBI.

What has become a most bizarre daily event in this year’s World Series is a horribly blown call by the league’s best umpires. In the bottom of the first, 3B Umpire Tim Welke missed seeing a tag on Philliy’s Jimmy Rollins as he was avoiding a rundown. To the naked eye it was an easy call and replays showed the tag clearly land long before Rollins made it to third. Although Rollins did end up scoring, the blowout erased Welke’s gaf. But in four World Series games, this crew has come up with six head-scratchers that, luckily for them, have had no impact.

But the town is ready for the ghost of Ben Franklin to ring the Liberty Bell as Phillies’ Ace Cole Hammels will take on Game 1 loser Scott Kazmir to try to put an end to the city’s 25-year championship drought.

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