Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Plusquellic more than pinch-hitter

It's not often that anyone writes the names "Don Plusquellic" and "Jhonny Peralta" in the same sentence. But that's what came to mind with Goodyear's announcement Wednesday.

The Indians shortstop batted sixth most of last season ... and batting that low in the order often means that you don't get many of the headlines and curtain calls. Leave those to Grady, Victor, Travis, etc ...

On Wednesday, Plusquellic was the sixth guy to take the podium during Goodyear's big announcement ... more than 20 minutes after Goodyear's leaders had made their future plans public.

Goodyear CEO Robert Keegan hit leadoff with Governor Strickland bunting him to second. Lt. Governor Fisher hit third and Wingfoot V.P. Joe Gingo batting cleanup. As the inning progressed, developer Stu Lichter was in the five hole before Plusquellic got to the plate.

It may have been a team effort to get the team out of the dugout, but Plusquellic was the one name that everyone in the lineup kept saying they couldn't have taken the field without.

It began with Keegan, who reaffirmed that he gave his word that he wouldn't listen to any other offers until at least the end of the year. Translation: Keegan wouldn't have done that without believing that Plusquellic was on top of his game.

Strickland then praised Plusquellic's passion for marketing Akron's strengths and fighting to attract good things for the city's future. (The Mayor later told the Governor that he was a better politician than Plusquellic.)

The praises went on and on ... albeit in front of a brick wall. Didn't anyone think to hang a Goodyear banner or at least a toy blimp???

That's when it struck me.

I've never been to a PC in this town where Plusquellic wasn't either batting lead-off or on deck. It's his castle after all and he's been king for two decades. So he should be at the top of the list.

Yet, hitting sixth didn't seem to bother Plusquellic today. His eyes seemed focused on the bigger prize of the team getting a win instead of him getting credit for a hit. As much as politicans like to take credit for their accomplishments, Plusquellic's remarks and demeanor tossed back-slapping aside to echo the seriousness of Goodyear's predicament.

"There was a day when communities took companies for granted, large and small," Plusquellic said. "They're here, they're always going to be her, but the world has changed. I wish I could explain that to our citizens and be able to get them to see out into this new world, this competitive new world."

At one point, I thought Plusquellic might even cry as he discussed the dark days when other tire companies up and left without giving city leader a chance to save the businesses.

"Thank you Goodyear for making a commitment," Plusquellic said gratefully near the end of his nine minutes and 44 seconds he used for his remarks.

Plusquellic even tempered his usual shots at the media saying only that we failed to report that city employees working to acquire land for the new Goodyear buildings had received "hugs from little old ladies who were happy to get out of their old homes and go into better homes."

That's probably because we didn't know about them ... good hugs usually make good TV!

But with the game on the line, most agree it's always better to have a secret weapon batting sixth, than a lineup full of big names who don't deliver in the clutch.

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