As the World Series MVP, as the best pitcher going in the game today, Orel Hershiser went on national TV to give thanks to all the right people.

In the midst of a wild clubhouse celebration, Orel thoughtfully had kind words for, in order, the Lord, his wife, his parents, Tommy Lasorda, Fred Claire, the O'Malley family, and finally, for all great Dodgers on earth and in the sky.But for a guy who had been making the right pitch for nearly two months, a guy who had allowed an incredible three earned runs in his last 100 innings, Orel obviously forgot the count while making his thank-you roll call. He finally hung a mistake.

Come on, Orel. You should have known that up there No. 1, even ahead of the Lord himself, should have been this name:

Jim Sundberg, Arlington, Texas.

And for, oh, say half your World Series cut, Sunny probably would be willing to forget the oversight.

But really, what should be remembered here is that old baseball thing that says, "The trade you didn't make usually turns out to be the best."

And what the Dodgers regime of today would like to forget is that Orel Hershiser, among others, was traded to the Rangers on Dec. 4, 1982.

But because Sundberg personally killed that trade, you might say he's the one person most responsible for Orel Hershiser reaching this season's new heights.

Don't ever forget that, OK, Orel? If nothing else, Sundberg saved you from Doug Rader, which means he also probably saved your sanity, not to mention your Dodgers career.

Can you imagine a pitcher named OREL, with the physical demeanor of a geek who splits atoms for a hobby, surviving under the Rader reign of macho, muscle and madness?

Tom Henke comes to mind immediately. With a personality similar to Hershiser's, Henke was branded as "gutless" because he didn't like the smell of napalm in the morning. In Rader's army, you had to.

So Henke and his 92 mph fastball were given away to Toronto, where he is now regarded as merely one of the best relief pitchers in the business.

You too, Orel, could now be pitching elsewhere. And watching the World Series on TV.

Except that Sundberg said no.

"We were in Hawaii when the trade was made," said former Rangers general manager Joe Klein on Saturday, "and we knew we had scored big with this deal. But we also knew Sunny had to approve it, and he had like 24 hours to do so. Then came the word that he had rejected it. It got very cloudy in Hawaii for me. The sun was still shining, but it rained on me."