Hank White, Venezuelan Hero

The biggest shame of the 2005 Cubs season was that their removal from the pennant race in July (probably more like April) meant that Cubs fans were robbed of a chance to see the great Henry Blanco in action when the games meant the most.

Last night, down South America way (as Gob Bluth is apt to say), the world was treated to Hank White at his most clutch.

Down 4-3 in the ninth inning of the decisive game of the Carribbean World Series, who should stroll to plate for the Venezuelan nine?

Our hero, Hank White. With his eyes full of sleep from a good three hour power nap in the home dugout at Jose Perez Colmenares in his home nation, he strolled to the plate with a chance to etch his name in the record book for eternity.

Hank didn’t hold in his hands one of those weird heated screwdriver things that my brother used to use to carve his name into…well, anything. No, Hank had 34 inches of fresh lumber. (By the way, I’m still kicking myself for not plunking down the $100 the Cubs wanted for a game-used Henry Blanco bat. Sure, the price is absurd, but you had to see it. He doesn’t just have his name etched in the bat, he has his headshot. It’s beyond hilarious. Anyway, where was I?)

Oh, yeah…Hank the hero.

You can see it right here. Look halfway down the page on the far left under Video. First you’ll see Venezuela wins, which shows Hank’s heroics, then click on Venezuela celebrates and you’ll be struck by how much cooler their celebration music is than anything Ford Field played for the Steelers.

Here’s MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez’s account of the big game.

And here’s the high point.

Down, 4-3, in the ninth, Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez, named the Caribbean Series MVP, led off the bottom of the frame with a single and was immediately replaced by pinch-runner William Bergolla. The moved proved to be a wise one because Bergolla advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and tied the game at 3 when he rambled home on Gonzalez’s single to right field.

He would not stay at first long.

Cubs catcher Henry Blanco followed with a high popup to shallow left field between Dominican shortstop Erick Aybar and left fielder Napoleon Calzado. Backpedaling and seemingly confused, the ball hit Aybar’s head and rolled away. Gonzalez sped around the bases to send Venezuela’s Caracas Baseball Club into the record books.

The cheers were thunderous.

Of course the cheers were thunderous. Hank White was on the case. The game was over the minute he, his mighty piece of ash and his tastefully appointed mullet dug into the box. There are three hitters you don’t want to face with a big game on the line.

1. Derek Jeter
2. Big Papi
3. Hank White

The great ones rise to the occasion. The even greater ones, like our man Hank, drag the occasion down to their level. That’s how you win your country a championship by banking a double off the shortstop’s head.

Jeter’s a great clutch player, but how many World Series has he ended with a ball off the button of the shortstop’s cap?

Papi’s a legend for his postseason heroics, but any hump can blast one oppo over the Green Monster if he tries hard enough.

What Hank White did last night in the 40 watt lighting at a stadium named, apparently, after Neifi Perez’s other brother (not Rubby, but Jose, the one who moved to Venezuela and opened a successful chain of Pontiac dealerships), wasn’t just difficult, it was legendary.

Viva Hank White!

Indeed.

Viva Hank White.

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