Justice is prevailing for Stairs

Posted Oct. 14, 2008, at 10:35 p.m.

It is always sweet when justice prevails.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

On Monday night, when Bangor resident and consummate pro Matt Stairs of Philadelphia belted a game-winning, two-run homer to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving the Phillies a 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven National League Championship Series, justice prevailed.

When everyone was talking about flamboyant and egocentric Manny Ramirez and the dramatic impact he has had on the Dodgers’ noteworthy turn-around, this humble, unassuming New Brunswick native came off the bench and, with one swing of the bat, delivered the blow that could very well torpedo the L.A. Lovefest.

Despite all he has done for the Dodgers, Ramirez, the $20 million-a-year ingrate, could find himself watching the World Series.

In Stairs, he would be watching someone who has been grateful for every opportunity he has received in baseball.

Stairs epitomizes the term “team player.”

Ramirez doesn’t deserve to play in the World Series after quitting on his teammates and fans in Boston, forcing his trade to the Dodgers.

With 11 major league teams, 11 minor league stops and a stint in Japan on his resume, Stairs could probably retire with his frequent flyer miles alone.

However, next month he’ll be back at Bangor’s Sawyer Arena trying to help the John Bapst Crusaders win an Eastern Maine Class B hockey championship as an assistant coach.

The 40-year-old Stairs was traded to the Phillies by Toronto at the trading deadline for a player to be named later. That player turned out to be minor league pitcher Fabio Castro.

Stairs has certainly defied the odds by stringing together such a productive career.

He was never drafted.

His first love was hockey, but a knee injury steered him toward baseball.

He was signed as a free agent by the former Montreal Expos in 1989.

But he paid his dues, worked his way up the ladder and now has 1,662 regular-season games to his credit.

He is one of only two Canadians to have hit 200 or more career home runs in the regular season. He has 254.

Larry Walker is the other with 383, but many of those were hit in the rarified air of Colorado.

The Rockies are one of the teams Stairs hasn’t play for.

He has played for Montreal, Boston, Oakland, the Cubs, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Texas, Detroit and Toronto before going to Philadelphia.

Stairs is a career .266 hitter with 864 RBIs.

Toronto Blue Jays coach Brian Butterfield called Stairs’ homer a “great moment.”

“I can’t remember getting goose bumps like that before. It was emotional. That was the biggest hit of his life. What a great story!” said Butterfield. “He has persevered and continued to be a productive player.”

Butterfield is a big Matt Stairs fan. He said the two of them used to sit together on the plane.

“He’s one of my favorites,” said Butterfield. “He’s great with the younger players. He’s a great presence. He’s good to the coaches and to the manager. He’s always ready to play.

“And I’m sure he relishes the role of being a pinch-hitter in a league championship series. I’m sure he was looking forward to the move to Philadelphia to be in a situation like that.”

Wouldn’t it be special for Stairs if the Phils met the Red Sox in the World Series?

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