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Stairs' homer makes manager look good

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Stairs' line-drive homer in the fourth inning -- it spent about 17 nanoseconds in the air before landing in the right-field stands -- must have felt especially good for both Stairs and his manager, Bud Black.

Stairs, as you might recall if you're old, is old.

Well, not old. By most standards (if not mine), Stairs is middle-aged. But 42-year-old baseball players who can't pitch usually can't play. Not in the National League, anyway. Especially if they can't really hit.

And as recently as a month ago, it looked like old Matt Stairs couldn't really hit. As September dawned, Stairs had a .211 batting average. He'd shown some power, but that was essentially wiped out by the batting average.

But the Padres kept him around for five months, and with the rosters expanding they might as well have kept him around for one more.

So they did. And since then, Stairs has seven hits in 23 at-bats. Even better, three of those seven hits have been home runs. That is why you keep Matt Stairs around, for just one more month. And that is why Bud Black, so desperate for something, anything from his lineup, has actually given old, slow, Matt Stairs four starts in left field in the last eight games.

Hey, if it really works? They'll rename the Manager of the Year Award after Bud Black. And 42 will be the new 30.