loy⋅al / [loi-uh l] -adjective
1. faithful to one’s sovereign, government, or state: a loyal subject.
2. faithful to one’s oath, commitments, or obligations: to be loyal to a vow.
3. faithful to any leader, party, or cause, or to any person or thing conceived as deserving fidelity: a loyal friend.
4. characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.: loyal conduct.
Sometimes it’s tough being a Red Sox fan.
O.K., I lied. It’s always tough being a Red Sox fan. As I’ve said in the past, I live in Connecticut, a state deeply divided: 40% Red Sox fans, 40% pinstripe fans; 10% Mets fans; 10% other teams. Of course, the 10% Mets fans only
seem to surface when their team is doing well, then they go away when they choke. It seems I spend my entire year defending my team. During the season, I’m defending them to the opposing team (and that NY team), and during the off-season, I’m defending my team to Red Sox ‘fans.’
That concept I just can’t grasp. I thought when you are a fan it should be through thick and thin. I think they call it loyalty? Isn’t part of the definition of a team, the sum of all its parts? Of course, to err is human, but I think some Red Sox fans lose sight of that. Some players really get a raw deal. They get run out of town on a whim. I think too many Red Sox fans are
nothing but a bunch of sheep. They find it very difficult to think on their own, basing their opinion on what others think. Maybe something they heard on a local sports talk show. You give them a little knowledge and someone else’s opinion and they become dangerous. Some people even lure others to ‘their side’ just to toughen up their own stance. How pathetic. When I was younger, my mother taught me a saying: Are you ready to stand up for what you believe; are you ready to stand alone?
Yes, I am talking about Tek – our Captain. I have found myself supporting this guy against some Red Sox fans that are now bashing him. Yes, we all new he was eligible for free-agency after 2008. The guy had a terrible second half of the season OFFENSIVELY but you know the last I checked, a catcher’s job isn’t to be the biggest bat in town. Yea, that sure would be a bonus but that’s not what it’s all about. One of life’s biggest mysteries has got to be a baseball
slump. For some it is career ending, while others get over them quickly. Take our 2008 AL MVP for example. Thankfully the post season doesn’t count in
voting on MVP because our little Dustin in the ALDS had an .059 batting average; .200 OBP and .118 slg. Those numbers are down-right offensive. No one ran this guy out of town. Don’t get me wrong, I love having Dustin Pedroia on our team.
I just wonder if it is that way with other teams. I look at, for example, the Oakland A’s. Giambi has once again joined their team and from what I have read, they are embracing him with open arms. The thought of him makes me sick, and if a team like Oakland can accept such a player back into their organization, it defies me why some Red Sox fans are so brash, so nasty to our, or should I say, my loved ones.
Perhaps bashing and running a player out of town is indicative of this disposable society we now live in? It seems to me the world could use a bit more love and loyalty. I just wonder how these folks deal with issues within their own families. Their kids get greedy and they write them off; bashing them to anyone that will listen to their spew. Is it general insecurity? Is it something their mothers did to them as a child? I just can’t understand their way of thinking. Unless our players go to pinstripes, I remain loyal to them forever.
I love the Red Sox; they are favorably in my heart. They are in my living room six (sometimes seven!) months of the year. Yea, I realize that baseball is a game; I realize baseball is a business. I understand players leaving for more money. I understand teams not wanting back a player which doesn’t perform. But what I still can’t swallow is all of the ‘fans’ that have nothing but bad things to say about the players that spent much more time performing than not. Some small minds even resort to calling him names about his personal life, like they have concrete information that allows them to form this less-than intelligent
opinion. Give me a break.
So, we wait for the decision of our Captain. The FO gave him until the end of today to figure things out. Good luck to you, Captain. I just hope that all of the ‘fans’ that liked driving him out of town don’t use him as an excuse as to why we are not performing in the first half of the season. I don’t like excuses.
(Note: Here’s my prediction – He’s not going to accept a 50% pay cut. He’s going to sit out the first half of the season until the July trading deadline. Then a team, I won’t say which one, will put an enticing dollar amount on his personal value of being a catcher and it will attract him. He’s worth more than the RS are offering him and another team will benefit from that, and ultimately, so will Tek. Only it will be at our expense.)
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.