The Boston Red Sox: Defenders of the 2004 World Championship!! "Whoever plunges into his experiences with the momentum of hope, will remember so that he cannot forget." - Soren Kierkegaard.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Long Overdue and Mushy Post About VTek

Given all the rigamarole going on due to the holidays, I was never able to make a post that properly gushed over the re-signing of Jason Varitek. It was an event deserving of celebration and sappy, sentimental outpourings. For various reasons I wasn't able to post about it, but now I plan to make up for lost time.

Some of my more vivid memories of the man we call VTek or sometimes JVT - or sometimes simply Tek - are how he kept hitting homers whenever I would go to the
bathroom during 2003, how he dropped to his knees on the field after the Sox won the World Series, how he shoved his glove right in A-Rods purple-lipped fucking face to
turn the 2004 season around for teammates and fans alike. But by and large, I think Tek has been a little under-appreciated by yours truly - perhaps a little taken for granted. He is the bedrock upon which every Red Sox team has been built for the last five years or so, yet maybe I haven't given him all the props that he is due. I'm not talking about the "shout-outs-in-my-blog-for-a-good-play" props, I'm talking about the "sitting down in my chair watching the game and idly musing about how fucking great that Jason is" kind of props. Like a baby, my attention and imagination are captured by flashy, colorful things - like Manny's over-abundance of personality, Pedro's vitriole, Trot's WWF-interview-esque ferocity, JD's laid-back, pothead elan. Varitek is much more down to earth than all of that. He says all the right things. His appearance is stalwart and professional. His physique fits his role - the Atlas that shoulders the weight of an entire 25-man roster. In Varitek the Red Sox have a switch-hitting catcher capable of hitting around .300 with 20 homeruns who is a veritable genius at handling a pitching staff, and who is so consistent and reliable that I didn't know what we had...until it was almost gone.

When Varitek and the Evil Scott Boras first made public their desire to have a contract worth $50 million over five years with a no trade clause, I wrote Tek off as a resign and started focusing more on the Pedro Martínez negotiations. I was more upset about the possibility of losing Pedro, and I thought his return was more of a sure thing. Yet while Pedro and Fernando Cuza were busy double- and triple-crossing the Red Sox and the Mets out of every possible cent they could get their fingers on, Varitek had told the Evil Scott Boras that he didn't want to be contacted by any other teams until the January 8th negotiating deadline with the Sox had passed, such was his committment to returning to the team. Personally, I think that a five-year contract with a 33-year old pitcher is a little risky, and that $10 million dollars a year is a lot of money to pay a catcher who isn't a statistical clone of Carlton Fisk or Johnny Bench, but if there was one free agent that was worth overpaying for it was Varitek. (Not Renteria, cough cough.) Theo and Co. seemed to agree, and were able to meet in the middle to strike a deal for $40 million over 4 years. Not too bad for one of the top five catchers in the game who just happens to be the unofficial team captain. Wait. Make that OFFICIAL team captain. When Tek takes the field next year, there will be a red "C" on the upper left side of his jersey to confirm what we all already knew: This is Tek's team. And I'm damn glad to have him back.