By: John Molori
October 23, 2007

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THIS WEEK:

- Orsillo on the 'Rocks
- Flip-flop Theismann

Orsillo gives Boston the "Rockie" Mountain lowdown; Ex-ESPN analyst Theismann changes his tune on Randy Moss

At 38 years old, sportscaster Don Orsillo has attained some impressive titles, from lead Red Sox play-by-play man on the New England Sports Network (NESN), to national announcer for TBS's 2007 MLB Division Series.

This week, Orsillo has a new moniker, New England's resident Colorado Rockies expert. Orsillo called the Colorado-Philadelphia Division series for TBS. Before that, he was at the microphone for the Rockies' one game playoff win vs. San Diego.

As Colorado gets set to invade Fenway Park for Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday (Fox, 8pm), Orsillo has been besieged by the New England media looking for the straight scoop on what Colorado fans are calling "Rocktober."

"Colorado was so on fire and their offense was so tough to deal with," recalls Orsillo, who teamed with Joe Simpson in the Rockies-Phils series.

"Game 1 was the key. Philly was so fired up having beaten the Mets for the division title, then they lost the first two at home. Philly's pitching and some managerial moves by Charlie Manuel were very suspect."

This was Orsillo's first foray into national play-by-play. "It was awesome," he states. "It all came together when they approached me in August.

"At first, I thought I'd be doing an American League series, most likely Anaheim vs. Cleveland. At that time, it looked like the Yankees would not make the playoffs, but things shifted.

"TBS didn't want a Red Sox announcer doing a Yankees series. They thought Yankee fans would not like that. It was the same with Cleveland or Anaheim fans. At the national level, they fear any perception of possible bias."

Orsillo and Dick Stockton were the absolute best of a so-so lot of announcers and analysts on TBS. He deserves to be called back by TBS in 2008. "I had a great time," says Orsillo. "TBS has an 8-year deal. I don't know if I' ll be doing any games beyond this season, but I hope to talk to them later this year."

One thing that is a certainty for Orsillo is the magnitude of what the Rockies have accomplished down the stretch and in the playoffs winning 21 of 22 games.

"The Rockies are amazing," he gushes. "I knew nothing about them when they came to Boston for interleague play this year, but they beat Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, and took two out of three games.

"I don't put a lot of stock in what they did in June. They're like the Twins, stockpiling young talent that has come through. As late as September 15, they were 6.5 games out with three teams ahead of them.

"The only thing I can compare it to is Morgan Magic, when Joe Morgan took over the Red Sox in 1988 and the team went on that great streak (12 straight wins and 19 out of 20)."

Orsillo says that the positive for Colorado is a mixture of young and veteran talent, but the team's quick work of Philly and Arizona may have been a little too efficient for their own good.

"Their pitching staff has some young talent like Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez. Josh Fogg and Jeff Francis are solid. Todd Helton is a leader and Troy Tulowitzki is playing beyond his years, but I really think the layoff will hurt them.

"It was similar to the Tigers last year. Colorado has won 21 of 22. When you are on a streak like that, you want to play the next day."

In doing the games for TBS, Orsillo had a crash course in the travails of life at Coors Field. He states, "The air is ridiculously thin there. It was so tough for them to sign free agents, especially pitchers. The baseball becomes harder at that altitude.

"They started putting the baseballs in a humidor and it has totally offset the thin air. That is as loud a crowd as I have ever heard, especially for that one game playoff against San Diego."

Red Sox fans remain somewhat in the dark as to Colorado's strengths, one of which is the team's manager. "Their offense is very good," Orsillo explains.

"With Garrett Atkins, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe and others, they can put up big run totals. This year, they broke the Red Sox (2006) record for fewest errors in a season.

"Clint Hurdle is an interesting manager and person. I met him when I was calling games for AA Binghamton and he was managing the Norfolk Tides in the Mets' system. He has a saying, 'Go eat!' He tells his pitchers not to nibble, just go out there and eat."

While Boston fans and media may not be totally familiar with the Rockies, Orsillo says the Red Sox brass certainly is. "I know that during the last two weeks of the season, the team sent guys to scout prospective postseason opponents. They have extensive information on Colorado. There will be no surprises."

With seven holdovers from the 2004 championship squad, the Red Sox have a decided edge in World Series experience, but does that translate to the field? "It does," answers Orsillo, who will have preame and postgame duties for NESN during the World Series.

"Tim Wakefield was talking to me about this the other night. If you looked into the eyes of guys like Grady Sizemore during that Game 7 vs. Cleveland, their reaction to the pressure was different. Cleveland's youth caught up to them.

"Eric Wedge is a friend and he told me that the youth of his team would be a factor. As it was in 2004, the Red Sox pitching will be the key. Colorado 's pitching simply does not match up with Boston's. I like the Red Sox in six games."

Randy reverse

Former ESPN "Monday Night Football" (MNF) analyst Joe Theismann is singing a different tune about Randy Moss these days.

In the October 17 edition of "Patriots Football Weekly," NBCSports.com columnist Tom Curran quotes Theismann as saying, "I think Randy Moss is more reliable (than Terrell Owens). Randy doesn't drop the ball.

"The two best pair of hands I ever saw were Deion Sanders' and Randy Moss'. Comparing Randy and T.O. is like comparing night and day."

This unending praise is a far cry from what Theismann said of Moss in a 2005 speaking engagement when Moss was still with the Vikings.

"I would trade Randy Moss," Theismann stated. "He is a jerk. He doesn' t go over the middle. He is not physical and he won't block. Joe Gibbs said that to play this game, you need character, intelligence and ability. Randy Moss only has the third."

Theismann also related the 2005 thoughts of Patriots' coach Bill Belichick on Moss. Theismann said, "I could sit for hours and listen to men like Bill Belichick. He has been able to keep a core group of unselfish players together.

"Bill Belichick told me that it would never even cross his mind to acquire a selfish player like Randy Moss." Hmm, I'd say the turnarounds of Theismann and Belichick would rival any athletic move that even Moss himself could make.

John Molori's columns are published in Boston Sports Review, Boston Baseball Magazine, New England Hockey Journal, BostonSportsMedia.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportz.com, Staatalent.com, Methuen Life and several newspapers and websites throughout New England. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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