Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quick thoughts as pitchers and catchers prepare...

Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers for the start of spring training in just a few weeks. With snow still on the ground and more forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning, the thought of baseball getting underway soon adds a bit of warmth to the air and a hint of sunshine and green leaves. With that pleasant thought rattling around like a grounder into Fenway's right field corner, here are a few thoughts as baseball season approaches.


Jason Varitek is a classy guy and a Red Sox player that everyone can love. Yes, he suffered through a miserable offensive season last year but some slack must be cut as he went through a breakup with his wife during the season. Plus his lack of offensive output is counterbalanced by the fact that he has to be considered one of the best, if not the best, game callers in the major leagues. Do you really think he caught four no-hitters in his career just because he was lucky? Add to that his leadership on and off the field and he's earned that team captain's "C" on his jersey. All of this makes it so unfortunate that he has Scott Boras as his agent and, as a result of Boras' advice, is in the contract pickle he's in.

Varitek turned down arbitration that would have resulted in a $10 million 1-year deal based on Boras' belief he could score a freakish deal like Jorge Posada's 4-year, $52 million payout from the Yankees. Now, Varitek is getting no offers from any other teams (they'd have to give up a first round draft pick because Tek had been offered arbitration). Now the Red Sox have extended an offer of a 1-year $5 million deal with an additional option year and only giving him until Saturday to make a decision, leaving him with few options. It doesn't help that the Red Sox probably have a general sense of loathing for the agent after the Manny Ramirez fiasco and Mark Teixiera negotiations, which makes the idea of making the agent look like a fool gratifying. Unfortunately, it's hurting Tek while not doing much to hurt Boras' wallet.


And on the topic of the Yankees, Red Sox fans and others around the country are just salivating at the thought of the circus that will surround Yankees spring training courtesy of their former skipper Joe Torre and his well-timed revenge...er...book, "Yankee Years." It couldn't get any better -- the Yankee brass humiliate him with a miserly 1-year contract and no show of faith or support, he leaves for LA, the Yankees miss the playoffs, and he leads the Dodgers into the post-season. Now, to cap it off, Torre is holding one of those "Spy vs Spy" bombs and is getting ready to roll it into the Pinstripes's clubhouse. Really, it couldn't happen to a nicer team.


John Updike passed away today after a battle with lung cancer.

I was introduced to him through his brilliant 1960 New Yorker essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," his recollection of Ted William's career within the confines of his final game at Fenway Park. It was this essay along with a few others that sparked and solidified my lifelong love of baseball writing. I encourage you to read it. It's a wonderful piece bookended by two immortal lines:

Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.


Gods do not answer letters.

RIP Mr. Updike. I hope The Splendid Splinter tips his cap to you when you see him.

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