Game 86 – At Fenway Park – July 11
Red Sox vs. Kansas City Royals
Game 3 of the Series: W ~ 15 – 9
John Smoltz vs. Gil Meche
Since I was at the game this past Monday looking too see John Smoltz’s first win in a Red Sox uniform (and didn’t), I decide I’m going to go to see Saturday’s game virtually at the last minute. And, yes Sport’s Fans, a Red Sox fan can get tickets to Fenway Park at the last minute. Well, I can anyway. I am a huge fan of John Smolz. I want to see him get a win.
I also am a big fan of a couple of Kansas City pitchers: Both Zack Greinke and Gil Meche. No, I’m not a band-wagon Greinke fan; I can spot a pitcher with something special a mile away. But what on earth ever happened to Gil Meche? For a few seasons past, he had something remotely special, especially against the Red Sox. Oh, what these teams do to their pitchers.
Anyhoo, the game starts out as a virtual slug-fest. Gotta love those bats coming alive early and often. My boy Youk, having some recent trouble at the plate nails two, I say two, homers! Varitek, knowing I had my camera, decides to show off and give me a home run treat. I know he did it for
me to show his appreciation of my support for him in the off-season. No, really; I know he did. And, BIG PAPI! I’m loving the comeback, dude! Not to forget, the little man, Pedroia, hits a triple.
So we sail into the top of the fifth with a 9 – 0 lead. One would think, yea(!), Smoltz has this one wrapped up: His first Red Sox win. Wrong! By the seventh inning stretch, I’m ready to throw up. With the
combined efforts of MDC and my boy Masterson (who incidentially gets my free-pass on this one), the KCR have come within two runs of tying this one up!
Well, when all is said and done, the Red Sox get back into the game and pull a win out of the blue. Ya know? Ya gotta’ love these guys but it really
still takes a lotta effort to love them unconditionally.
Glad the All-Star break is here. We could use some regrouping. Let the second half of the season begin. I’m definately psyched for some October-like baseball!
Game 81 (I think) – At the Fens – July 6
Red Sox vs. Oakland A’s
Game 1 of the Series: L ~ 0 – 6
Staging was set for a perfect evening at Fenway. Driving in, saw it was 85-degrees; Smoltz on the mound for his first Fenway appearance. We were coming off the Seattle series on a high note. Nomar’s first return to Fenway since July of 2004. Orlando Cabrera in the house. What more could we ask for?
Well, that is a loaded question. What more could we ask for? How about some offense…how about Lugo actually playing like a major league short stop? How about an outing that resembles something decent from our ‘new’ Hall of Fame pitcher? Should I continue?
We can’t let those A’s get us down. Beckett’s taking over tonight. Tek better be catching him because I’m thinkin’ the last couple of Beckett starts that Tek DIDN’T catch were nothing short of disastrous.
Just of note: Tonight was Nomar’s first visit back to Fenway since July 2004. I was never a big Nomar fan so when reports say everyone welcomed him back, they really don’t mean everyone. I think he shut down worse than manny ever did. I saw him as a Cubbie play the Red Sox so that was my “thanks for your service, Nomar; now you’re the enemy” gig, and that was many years ago.
One upside to last night’s game was that I was able to score a ton of decent pictures of some of our boys of summer. In quest of John Smoltz pictures, I was able to score this Tek shot that, in my less-than-humble-opinion, is close to award-winning. Got a great temporary seat for a ton of on the mound Smoltz shots, some Youk shots at third, but that’s about it, afterall our A-squad was somewhere else other than on the field.
I really wanted to have something to report before this but…. This is really out of hand – entirely ridicules. It’s less than a month until pitchers and catchers (key word: catchers) report to spring training and the Red Sox, in their infinite wisdom, are going, as of now, to spring training with Josh Bard and Dusty Brown as our catchers, and two other youngin’s from Portland. We have this fully loaded, top-heavy pitching staff, a lot of them new and coming back from injury: twenty-two pitchers to be exact. The fact that this bit of minutia bothers me is nothing short of an understatement. But I’m not the only one. It’s the buzz everywhere. What on earth does Theo have in the works? Tek, what up?.
I suppose what prompts this finalization is speculation based on an outside source, an email I got not too long ago. I’ll get to that later. I need you to read with baited breath. Not really. It probably has nothing to do with nothing.
In 2004, the Red Sox hadn’t even started selling the champagne bottles at auction after the WS win before they re-inked a four-year, $40 million contract for Jason Varitek. In 2004, we couldn’t live without Tek calling games. He fought for us. He was our Captain. The RS haven’t had a captain since 1989 when Jim Rice retired. He became only the third captain since 1923 keeping company with Yaz and Jimmy. This is a guy that has spent his entire ML career playing for the Red Sox. Yea, I know he was Mariners prospect, details, details.
Tek’s ability to call games is said to be due to his knowledge of the game and his intense preparation that includs studying scouting reports and video, as well as knowing the habits of the opposing teams, plus his one-on-one work with our pitchers to share this knowledge. The guy is a work horse and that paid off. As everyone must know by now, he’s helped lead the Red Sox to two
World Series championships. (I had to say it. I love hearing that even if I’m the one saying it.) The value Tek added to the Red Sox has been described as nothing short of priceless.
I’m trying not to describe Tek in past-tense but it is difficult to write about him without doing that. Tek has been a Boras client since he became a Major Leaguer. It has been said that he’s always had the ability to call Boras off when he felt enough was enough. According to reports though, this time around Boras has been shopping Tek using Posada’s contract as a measure of Tek’s worth. We all know that was a ridiculas contract for a 37-year old catcher: 4 year, $52 million.
Tek is a Gold Glover, a three-time All-Star, as mentioned earlier, has two WS rings, and ironically enough, has a Silver Slugger Award. I say ironically, because one of Tek’s downfalls in his career, as well as hugely in 2008, was his offensive numbers. Yes, they were down-right offensive at times. And Tito didn’t help much. I can name on at least three occasions that he left Tek in, when the game was pretty much on the line and Tek failed at the plate. And no, that failure was not an aberration; it was expected and, quite frankly, that truly bothers a Red Sox fan. Or at least it did this Red Sox fan!
So what happens now? We are captain-less. Theo claims we are still in pursuit of Jason Varitek. My guess is that he’s offering Tek a one, maybe two year contract, and Boras says no way. I’m thinking it’s not so much the money. Or is it Varitek the one saying no way? We all know that he’s going through a divorce. There are rumors everywhere. My take on it is he’s going through a mid-life crisis. I, for one, have never been a cheerleader for Varitek (until last year). I guess I’m not a bandwagon kind of girl. I don’t like the top dog. He
always reminded me of an over-sized punk. I loved the Mike Lowell until everyone else did. I supported the Beckett/Lowell acquisition. I fondly recall the WS parade in Boston in 2007 when Tek was holding a sign that said, “Re-sign Lowell.” Is Mike Lowell holding a Re-sign Varitek sign? Or is Mike Lowell just trying to keep his third base job for the Red Sox?
Now, I’ll talk about my personal view of Jason Varitek. As noted above, I was
never a huge fan of Tek’s. The day of the 2004 World Series, my family saw Jason Varitek on the streets of St. Louis. He wasn’t with his family eating or anything. He was walking with Maribelli (remember him?). He’s lucky we even recognized him being a little RS fish in a huge St. Louis pond. We discovered at that time, he’s not the friendliest chap around. Sure, it’s a big day. The World Series is obviously the coup de grace but he not only snubbed me, my 3-year old and my 7-year old, he was down-right
nasty. It’s hard to explain to children why people that are in their living room every night, can be so arrogant and ignorant. Now, note the picture: this is the same guy who wouldn’t look up when out on the street, to this picture being taken on the field before a game the night of a playoff game. This guy couldn’t keep from staring at me and my son…It was so awkward I put my camera up to my face and took lots of pictures just so he’d stop staring. Never saw him so un-game focused in my many years of following the RS. Anyhoo…..
I (finally) became a fan of Jason Varitek’s last season. (Go figure). I don’t know what it was. The stars must have been aligned correctly or something. His looks even seemed to change from that over-sized punk look, to, let’s just say, to him becoming pleasant to the eye. And those quads…I found myself cheering for him and actually saying positive things about him. Well, except during the playoffs when Tito left his lame bat in when an active bat was necessary.
Last summer my son won a summer camp experience at the Jason Varitek Baseball Camp and we were able to see him speak. In fact, my son was able to meet him on a few occasions. This camp for years was the Trot Nixon Baseball Camp, but we all know why it’s not that anymore. I know what he does for baseball, how hard he studies and all, but he didn’t strike me as Mensa material, if you know what I mean? What I found irritating about him was during this speech and while he shook hands with young kids, he had his cell phone in his hand and kept checking it. Sure, he could have been waiting for a important phone call but, what was his recourse if he actually received a call during this speech, or shaking hands with these kids? Was he going to take the call? Who knows….I just thought that was kind of rude.
Anyway, there are so many unanswered questions that revolve around Tek. First of all, where will this 37-year old catcher end up? For how long and for how much? If he comes back to the Red Sox, will he still be Captain, and for how long? When does loyalty kick in? I know baseball is a business, and it is an ailing economy. I suppose only time will tell. Decisions, decisions…it must be tough to be a millionaire.
Now, the email. I received an email this year announcing that my son was invited to join the Dustin Pedroia Baseball Camp this year. Say it ain’t so. I’m not ready to cut ties with my catcher, yet. And, after all these years, I’m finally a fan and he goes away. Why does that happen to my ballplayers? I didn’t buy a Tek shirt but, as I said, only time will tell what happens to our Captain, oh, Captain.