MVP…MVP…MVP

David Ortiz does it again. The Red Sox slugger hit a two run homer in the eight inning to snap at 3-3 tie and lead the Red Sox to victory over the Blue Jays. The victory picked up the spirits of his Red Sox teammates and fans, who had witnessed Gabe Kapler rupturing his Achilles tendon while running the bases on a Tony Graffanino home run in the fifth inning. Sean McAdam writes that Ortiz once again showed why he is the best hitter in baseball with the game on the line. David Heuschkel says that Ortiz put his teammates on his back and carried them home. Again. Chris Snow examines how Ortiz’s blast was so uplifting to a team that saw a popular teammate end his season with a devastating injury last night. Michael Silverman notes that Ortiz continues to push aside the conventional thinking that a DH cannot be the MVP. David Borges reports that Ortiz last night set a single season record for home runs by DH. What’s the record for game winning home runs?

Tony Massarotti examines the injury to Gabe Kapler in context to what he’s been through all season, and what he means to this club. Kapler may be the fourth outfielder on the team, but he means a lot more than that to all the guys in the clubhouse. I need to give Massarotti props for updating us on the injury using the Herald Clubhouse Insider blog during the game. That’s just the type of thing that a blog can be used by a reporter for. Good job by him and the Herald on this. Gordon Edes looks at the hole that Kapler’s absence will leave for the Red Sox outfield and clubhouse. David Borges has more on the bizarre injury that ended a rough year for Gabe Kapler. Ugh…I hate just thinking about Achilles tendon injuries.

Bill Reynolds feels that Jason Varitek should be recognized as the MVP of the Red Sox, over David Ortiz and Johnny Damon. Reynolds uses the argument that Massarotti and others have been tearing apart for the last couple days – that Ortiz doesn’t play a position in the field so that takes away from his value. Silverman talks briefly to Kevin Millar who hopes to be back in Boston next season. Massarotti talks to Mike Myers, who believes people misinterpreted his comments about the use of the bullpen from yesterday’s papers. The reliever has talked to Terry Francona, and things are fine. Silverman has a short report on the fine performance of the bullpen in last night’s win.

Snow’s notebook looks at Edgar Renteria getting a night off. Silverman’s notebook reports that Johnny Damon hopes to play tonight against the A’s. McAdam’s notebook and Heuschkel’s notebook both have more on the injury to Gabe Kapler. Borges’ notebook reports on the grumbling by the Red Sox relievers over their roles.

Michael Felger says that while the Panthers and their fans might view this Sunday’s game as a Super Bowl rematch, the two time champions do not take that view. They’re getting used to having other teams come at them with a score to settle. Tom E Curran looks at Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, whom he describes as a “Southern-fried offensive version of Rodney Harrison”. Michael Parente also has a story on the fiery Delhomme. Alan Greenberg says that Tom Ashworth is going to have all he can handle in Panthers DE Julius Peppers. Christopher Price says that the Panthers are a team of big plays, but has an interesting observation from Chad Brown, who played the Panthers with Seattle last season, he notes that they use a lot of formations, but only a few running plays.

Howard Bryant (subscription only) says that the Patriots do not present a “sexy” image on the national front. The don’t encourage that type of image, but are sure to keep track of all the slights. He notes:

It's a new year, but these perceived slights don't disappear, not with this team. They will fester and they will roil, constructively, until Saturday night. On Sunday, they will be refined from crude ingredients to efficient fuel. That's the only way this team knows how to operate.

Eric McHugh says that one of the Patriots biggest hopes this season is that they can keep both Deion Branch and Benjamin Watson healthy. Jerome Solomon profiles rookie tackle Nick Kaczur. Felger files a short report on Jason Sehorn’s comment that he would take Marc Bulger over Tom Brady. Glen Farley has a look at second year nose tackle Vince Wilfork who had his interception in the Raiders game changed to a fumble recovery.

The Globe notebook looks at Duane Starks, who is eager to get on the field and see some action. Towards the end of the notes, they also provide a contact point for those wishing to offer assistance to former Patriot Otis Smith who the piece reports is “hosting 30 evacuees at his home in Gaithersburg, Md” after the Hurricane devastated the area. The address is [email protected]. The notebook is credited to Solomon and Mike Reiss, but I hear that Ron Borges, who wrote the article on Sunday, is the one who got the email address. Parente’s notebook leads with more on Starks and has quite a few other items as well. Felger’s notebook examines the matchup problems caused by Julius Peppers. Curran’s notebook has Carolina safety Mike Minter praising Tom Brady.

Stephen Harris, Kevin Paul Dupont and Joe McDonald report on the Bruins signing goalie Tim Thomas as insurance should Andrew Raycroft’s holdout become extended. Paul Doyle reports on the retirement of long time Hartford Whaler Ron Francis. Matt Jenkins reports on the second stint with the Bruins for Shawn McEachern. Harris has a short report on surf bum Glen Murray. Harris’ notebook looks at defenseman Jay Leach, hoping to make the team that his uncle Steve Leach once played for.

Mark Murphy looks at Al Jefferson, whose family is putting things together after Katrina. Kevin Henkin also has a report on Jefferson and Justin Reed. Murphy’s notebook reports on knee surgery for Tony Allen, as first reported by Michael Holley yesterday morning on WEEI.

Michael Vega looks at the Boston College linebackers as they prepared to take on Florida State in BC’s ACC debut this Saturday. Steve Conroy looks at the BC offensive line. John R Johnson says that FSU certainly has the attention of Boston College. Conroy’s notebook says that this isn’t Bobby Bowden’s first trip into Alumni Stadium.

Fluto Shinzawa reports on how fuel prices are affecting NASCAR. Ron Borges has his Wednesday boxing notes, with a look at prospect John Duddy. Bill Griffith looks at ESPN landing a new baseball contract, which includes a weekly Monday night game.

The Yankees held on the defeat the Devil Rays last night, remaining 2.5 games behind the Red Sox. Catch that coverage and other stories at the New York Sports News page. With the A’s coming into town for a four game series against the Red Sox starting tonight, catch the coverage from their papers on the Bay Area Sports page.

NESN has Red Sox/A’s at 7:00. TBS has Braves/Phillies at 7:00. ESPN has college football with TCU/Utah at 7:30.