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Giants bench coach Ron Wotus argues a call in 2009. Wotus will participate in his second World Series with San Francisco. (Photo credit: San Francisco Chronicle)


When the leaves change color and the air becomes crisp, Ron Wotus thinks of Connecticut.

His mind takes him back to the fields of his youth, vivid memories of soccer matches won and lost on penalty kicks. The Colchester, Conn., native had planned to return Monday for his annual visit home. But that will have to wait at least another week.

Wotus and the San Francisco Giants, for whom he serves as bench coach, begin the World Series tonight (7:57 p.m., FOX) against the Texas Rangers. It’s Wotus’ second Fall Classic after reaching it with the Giants in 2002.

In his 22nd season with the organization, Wotus joined as a player and worked his way up from minor league coach and manager to his current position, which he reached in 1999.

“The biggest thrill is getting back into the postseason,” he said. “I think anybody who is a competitor or in sports, you strive, your motivation is to win. That’s what you plan on doing when you go to spring training.

“There’s a sense of accomplishment when you execute and you perform. Certainly as a coach, that’s what you want the players to do. Getting into the playoffs and having a shot at going to the World Series is what you play for.”

The Giants last won the World Series in 1954.

Wotus was on the staff when the Giants played in their last World Series. He knows the opportunity to play in baseball’s biggest event doesn’t happen every year.

Just ask the Yankees.

“It’s very difficult to get where you are going; it’s one bad pitch, it’s a bloop hit, it’s a matter of inches on a hit or not,” Wotus said. “You really have to be appreciative when you get here and do everything you can to win.”

In 1979, Wotus graduated from Bacon Academy where he was an All-State honoree in baseball, basketball and soccer. He averaged 30 points per game on the hardwood and was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 16th-round draft choice, but his heart was on the pitch. Wotus was All-New England in soccer and set the state scoring mark.

“I enjoyed them all, but soccer was special to me,” he said. “We enjoyed a lot of success. Not that I didn’t enjoy the other ones, but it was special. I had a lot of great coaches in Frank Aloia, Dave Shea and John McKiernan.

“Maybe it’s something about being outside and playing in the fall. Maybe it’s in my heart. I always come home in the fall. The fresh crisp air and the competition in soccer, I loved it growing up. I loved all the sports. That had a special place. I can’t put my finger on it but it was special to me.”

Wotus’ family still calls Colchester home, and several members were in Philadelphia on Saturday to watch the Giants beat the Phillies for the National League championship. He hopes to be back in Connecticut in January for the World Baseball Coaches Convention at Mohegan Sun.

Wotus’ All-State basketball photo and a basketball with his career point total are still on display at Bacon Academy. School legend Shea coached Wotus in basketball, and remembers him being all the things you want in a student-athlete: Hardworking, dedicated and a good teammate.

“He was a great competitor regardless of the score,” Shea said. “He always played hard and played to win, right up to the final buzzer.”

Joining Wotus on the Giants are eight former Norwich Navigators/Connecticut Defenders — Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson, Jonathan Sanchez, Travis Ishikawa, Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz. That gives this World Series a Connecticut feel.

Wotus said the topics that came up most among the teams’ alumni are the local fishing hot spots and the difficulties playing at Dodd Stadium.

“We talked a little bit,” he said. “The thing that always comes up is it was an extremely tough hitters’ park. It was difficult to hit there in Norwich. I certainly always told the guys I lived up the road in Colchester, and they knew where it was at. I always heard about how crazy it was in our area on the lakes.”

And if the Giants were to win the World Series, it may serve as the perfect send-off for Wotus, who expressed interested in the Pirates’ managerial opening to MLB.com. The Pirates drafted Wotus in 1979 out of Bacon Academy.

“It’s not really the right time for me to speak about it on the record,” he said. “I can’t say I’m definitely interested in managing Pittsburgh or any club that would be interested in me. That’s what I’d like to do and it’s certainly out of my control. That’s up to the people that are doing the hiring. … I’ve been here my whole career as a coach. The personal thing of managing is great, but it’s not at the forefront for me, it’s finishing a job that we set out to do here.

“This is what it’s all about right now.”

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Oh, what a Pheeling!

Yankees win

It’s been a long time — since my last post and the New York Yankees last championship.

A lot has happened on both fronts, but what better way to break out of hibernation than in celebration of the greatest team in baseball history?

By winning the World Series on Wednesday in six games over Philadelphia, New York returned to the stage that has been its own for many seasons.

In the process, the Yankees shut up many of their detractors.

Let’s start with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Rollins, an all-star shortstop, did more with his mouth than with either his bat or glove. In other words, he was useless.

On the eve of the World Series, Rollins declared to a national television audience that the defending champion Phillies would handle the Yankees in five games.

Just for clarification: The Yankees, who had the best record in baseball playing in the toughest division in the toughest league, would go out with all of the force of a New York City taxi driver’s burp after a slice of pepperoni pizza.

Rollins, so used to making predictions about the New York Mets should have realized these aren’t the same teams.

Rollins tried to not show his ass, but the more he talked, the more everyone realized it was between his ears.

Then after earning a walk against the great Mariano Rivera in Game 2, Rollins declared Philadelphia had the answer for Rivera. That’s right folks, 15 years of league-wide futility against Rivera is done because the Phillies — THE PHILLIES — had solved him.

It hasn’t been published in such formulaic terms before, but here is the solution to Rivera: 5 1/3 innings, three hits, two walks, three strikeouts and zero runs. Rollins’ contribution was one of those walks.
Yep, Rollins had the answers.

While Rollins was consumed with winning the one-man battle of words, the Yankees handled matters on the field.

Word of advice: If you have Brad Lidge or Pedro Martinez on your team and you are facing the Yankees — you lose. Martinez smiled as he was serenaded when he was pulled after a solid Game 2 outing at Yankee Stadium. But for all his bravado and sterling track record, he simply isn’t the same as he was a decade ago.

Mixing Martinez, the Yanks and a decisive playoff game can only equal disaster for Pedro. He declared the Yankees were his “daddy” years ago. Nothing’s changed except Martinez may need a new diaper, bolting from the clubhouse shortly after the game. The man who threw down a senior citizen, head hunted and talked trash simply couldn’t dignify his latest failure in the Bronx.

phillies ad

There's complaining about the money the Yankees spend, yet Macy's wasted theirs on this ad.

Let’s not forget the fine editors at the Philadelphia Inquirer, who allowed an ad celebrating the Phillies’ supposed back-to-back championship to run after Game 4. Was that stupidity for not proofing their pages or did someone think the Phillies would sweep — even after they trailed 3-1 after four games?

Let’s also not forget Mike Francesa. Big Mike spent days proclaiming the decision by Yanks skipper Joe Girardi to use a three-man rotation as a recipe for failure and insulting any listner who would suggest Francesa could be wrong. In typical Francesa fashion, it’s as if he never uttered a harsh word.

Of course, there are also the stupid element of Red Sox Nation that still thinks that the Yankees’ title is flawed because of the team’s payroll. Riiight.

This coming from the team that has the second-highest payroll, second-most expensive ticket prices (first until this year) and has a regional network. Of course, the concept of having to win despite the money spent is lost on the Sux Nation. The Yanks should be ashamed for signing CC Sabathia but their signings of Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Smoltz and Brad Penny made sense.

Typical Red Sox fan

One fool said the Sox, which finished nine games behind the Yanks, would have defeated the Yankees in the postseason — beacause 162 games didn’t prove anything..

Some idiots suggested the World Series has been disgraced and invalid because Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte admitted to steroid use. Of course, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez don’t sully the Red Sox’s two titles. Such things are allowed in Beantown.

Or as one Boston fan told me during the Angels’ sweep of the Red Sox, “We’ve got Papi, Youk, Pedroia, V-Mart, Bay, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew…”

You can have all of them, plus Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon — We’ll take the World Series.

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