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In the clutch, Dodgers' Andre Ethier stands alone -- sort of like a logo

May 7, 2010 |  6:19 am

Can we just change the Major League Baseball logo to an outline of Andre Ethier right now?

If the NBA logo is a silhouette of "Mr. Clutch" Jerry West, then MLB’s has to be of Ethier.

It’s almost getting ridiculous the way Ethier delivers with the game on the line. They write songs about guys like this. They make movies in which stadium lights explode.

He was at it again Thursday night. The Dodgers’ game with the Brewers was tied 3-3 with one out and the bases loaded when Ethier walked to the plate.

The Brewers should have Tasered him right there. Should have just walked off the field and saved themselves having to suffer the dramatics.

Every single person in Dodger Stadium knew exactly what was going to happen. Joe Torre, in his 29th season as a major-league manager, had seen it all before.

"I’ve managed some pretty good players, but the opportunities he’s had and as many times as he’s done it, I don’t remember anybody being as heroic as he’s been," Torre said.

Ethier might as well have come to the plate wearing a red cape and with a giant "S" across the front of his jersey. Milwaukee reliever LaTroy Hawkins instantly knew the jig was up when he walked Matt Kemp to load the bases.

"I don’t know what it is, for some damn reason I keep getting up there in that situation," Ethier said. "I can’t figure it out. I don’t know who else has that many opportunities to win games like that."

There’s getting up in those situations, and then there is delivering. Nobody has delivered like Ethier for the last few years.

Ethier could see it all unfold has he stood in the on-deck circle: Kemp working the count, the crowd recognizing the building moment, rising to its feet, the anticipation rising."

"The hairs stand up on your neck a little because you can feel the energy, you can feel the excitement in those situations," Ethier said.

Hawkins fell behind 2-0 and then threw a high fastball Ethier chased and missed.

"I was awful in those situations in the beginning of not just my pro career but in college and high school," Ethier said. "I had a tendency to press too much. I think you saw a glimpse of that tonight where on a 2-0 pitch I chased ball three up in the zone. But I definitely was able to recover and calm back down."

Yeah, you could say that. With the infield in and the outfield playing up, it was an optimal situation for a hitter. A bouncer through the hole, a fly ball of any distance, a little single, and the winning run is scored.

Only this being Ethier, any of that would have seemed almost mundane. He crushed a 2-2 Hawkins’ pitch to straight-away center. Instantly everyone knew the game was over. Milwaukee center fielder Jim Edmonds simply turned toward the fence to see how far it would fly.

Of course, the ball didn’t just land over his head for a hit or simply fall on the warning track. It kept going, clearing the fence for a walk-off grand slam. The crowd exploded.

It was the 11th walk-off hit and sixth walk-off homer of Ethier’s four-year career. He had six walk-off hits last season alone.

Cool as can be. Like the serial killer whose heart rate never rises during the crime. Only his crime is committed against opposing teams throughout baseball. Pressure baseball, a warm embrace.

"I enjoy it," Ethier said. "I want to go up there in that situation. I’m excited to get up there and do it. I want to end the game right there."

Take the photo, film it in high contrast, trim the outline, splash it with red, white and blue, and set the logo. Andre Ethier, baseball’s Mr. Clutch.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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