Flags were at half-staff at Casa Diablo this week as we bid adieu to the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox, Johnny Pesky. He was one of the best loved New England sports figures of all time — not just because he was a fine player (.307 lifetime batting average), but because of the many roles he performed for his team, with panache.

At various times, Pesky was a Sox manager, first base coach, batting coach, bench coach, and broadcaster. He also did a stint as the interim manager for our own, beloved Pawtucket Red Sox.

And of course there is the foul line marker 302 feet down the right field line at Fenway Park. It was coined Pesky's Pole by former Red Sox pitcher and broadcaster, Mel Parnell, who recalled a home run Pesky hit in a game he pitched in 1948 that just curled around the pole and won the contest (though records show he didn't actually hit a home run in any home game Parnell won).

For those who want to know more about Johnny Pesky, we highly recommend David Halberstam's book The Teammates, which chronicles the long friendship between Red Sox legends Pesky, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Dominic DiMaggio. In the world of modern professional sports, there are very few remaining like Johnny Pesky.


CHILD'S PLAY

If you're a fan of the excellent novelist Lee Child and his picaresque hero, Jack Reacher, start cringing right now.

Reacher, an ex-Army M.P. and special operations officer, wanders the country with just the clothes on his back, a toothbrush, and his credit card, dealing out punishment to the wicked at almost every stop.

He is 6'5", 250-plus pounds, wears the preferred high and tight haircut, is harder than a ton of granite, strong as two oxen, and snaps necks like dry twigs.

So, with Child's book One Shot headed for the silver screen, who would you expect to step into the role? A monster man like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson? Alexander Skarsgård or Joe Manganiello of True Blood? Guess again.

Yep, that's right, it is Tom Cruise, the blow-dried homunculus Scientologist who claims to stand 5'7" (presumably wearing Sly Stallone's platform boots), which would make his ex-wife Katie Holmes about 6'2" if you were to judge by the photos of them standing next to each other.

Shoot me now, Jack. This is about as absurd as Cee Lo Green playing LeBron James in the latter's biopic.

Cruise has offered a defense of the casting, claiming that he was Child's pick for the role. That means one of Lee's friends better empty out his medicine cabinet and get him into rehab pronto, or Cruise is being less than truthful.

According to Tinkerbell Tom, he was chosen because he can "drive fast and kick the shit out of people on screen." Well, as the Reacher character is generally averse to driving fast in Child's novels, and Cruise couldn't kick the shit out of people his own size, maybe Tommy is having trouble separating fantasy from reality. Of course, that's a common problem for Scientologists.

The film's title has been changed from One Shot to Jack Reacher, opening the door to a series of film adaptations of Child's brilliant books. In theory. The problem is, we can't imagine Cruise passing the laugh test, in the first film, for the many, many fans of Child's tough-guy-with-a-heart hero.

Hey, Tom, perhaps you'd be better suited to One Munchkin.

Send action figures and Pulitzer-grade tips to p&j@phx.com.

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  Topics: Phillipe And Jorge , Ayn Rand, Johnny Pesky, Paul Ryan
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