Friday, December 24, 2004

Hot Stove 6: All Hail the Cap'n

It's official - as of 11:00 this morning, Jason Varitek is returning to the Red Sox for four years and 40 million dollars. He is now also the first official captain of the Red Sox since 1989 (Jim Rice) and the second since 1966 (Carl Yastrzemski). The solution to the no-trade clause issue was announced too; as part of a new club rule, "players who already have a certain amount of no-trade protection in their contracts can not be traded by the Red Sox without permission if they have at least eight years of uninterrupted service with the team." Varitek will qualify for this new rule at the end of this season; Trott Nixon will qualify at the end of 2006. Presumably, since the article didn't mention him, Tim Wakefield, who is the senior member of the team by two years (started 1995) does NOT have these protections. Since Nixon is a player the team would want to hang on to anyway and the agreement got the deal done, I'm happy about the whole thing - Varitek is now officially what he's been unofficially for years, the team is one step closer to completion and (hopefully) another run for the World Series Rings and as a Boston fan, I'm gratified about Varitek played the situation out. Even though the Sox had to negotiate with Scott Boras, Varitek and his wife apparently made it clear they didn't want to hear any offers from any other teams until the deadline...two weeks from now. In other words, he put the team and the fans first, unlike some other former Sox I could mention...*

I leave you this day of Christmas Eve with a poem that was posted today on that does a pretty good job of capturing why part of me wishes it was April right now. GO SOX!!!

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

'Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the Nation,

We were happy for ‘Tek, but worried about the rotation;

Randy in pinstripes? That deal fell through,

But Pedro went walking to the orange and blue

Schill was nestled online, reading a thread,
While thoughts of ripping Petey a new one danced in his head;

But then he looked at his “2004 World Series Champions” cap,

And forgot about the Met and his mouth that yap-yaps

When out on the ‘net there arose such a clatter,

Who was getting away? Now what’s the matter?

Typing on boards fingers flew like a flash

Like when Tony Soprano slips his girlfriends the cash

And on some dot com I got such a blow,
They were reporting “RJ to NY” is finally a go;
He’s #1 for the Yanks, or so I feared,
But wait – it was on ESPN, and the report was unclear

Johnny Damon was on his honeymoon, the new newlywed,
Now will he pull a Ricky Williams? Will he ever leave his bed?

We'll miss Roberts, and Kapler, OC, D-Lowe and Pete

And Mientkiewicz or Millar, 'cause one of them is hittin' the street

Now Curt’s on the shelf, no more blood in his socks,
And D-Lowe is home playing with his mental blocks;
Our starters are gone! Who is to blame?
Who are these new guys? What are their names?

“Now, Boomer! now, Miller! now, Clement and Halama!
On, Mantei! plus Payton! and Vazquez and Edgar!
A whole new clubhouse! GM made the call!
Free agents dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

But Theo went to the Wells and a Cub named Clement;
Have faith in our genius, it’s money well spent;
And now we’ve got Miller, the second best Wade,
in the history of Boston (so his labrum’s a little frayed)

And then, in a twinkling, he was back on the mound,

The prancing and pawing of the new top throwing hound,

Laying his finger aside of the seam,

He gave ‘Tek the nod, an almost impossible dream;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

He went into his windup; then turned with a jerk,

As he threw out his hand, and was coming around,

Down towards home plate, the ball took off with a bound;

He threw like the old days, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment, Schill was no longer sick;
His heater’s mid-nineties, the splitter has bite,
Let’s mark him down for eight innings a night!

More rapid than eagles came the Opening Day game,

Up went The Flag, the Yanks looked ashamed;
Johnny's speed back in center, Manny’s long drives lit the sky,

Papi had the old stroke back, when he hit ‘em, they fly

I sprang to my feet, to the team gave a whistle,

They circled the bases, Schilling threw another missile;

The good times were back for our championship ballclub,


* - It's true, I did say no Pedro bitterness, but he DID bash the Sox and make it sound like they were the unreasonable ones after his new signing. I'm done, I promise.