Jason Varitek, the Captain, said goodbye Thursday. There is a moment that will forevermore define him, and we all know what it is….It started with this,
How many Red Sox fans lived vicariously through Jason Varitek at this moment?
How many Red Sox fans would have traded places with Tek for this one moment?
How many Red Sox fans left their seats with a raucous cheer at this moment?
How many Red Sox fans will ever get tired of looking at this?
Remember the scene? Remember the scenario? All winter long, ARod was coming to Boston. The Fenway Faithful (the “Nation” hadn’t quite arrived yet) were giddy with excitement, with anticipation. Remember when you wanted to date that gorgeous cheerleader but she “would never be interested in you”. The cheerleader said yes! Wow, finally and the Fenway Faithful were ready, flowers ordered, suit pressed, reservations made, finally, she said yes. And then, that freaking quarterback, called and said, “sure I’ll take you” leaving the Faithful all dressed up with nowhere to go…..Again!
The 1967 Red Sox are credited with saving the franchise and setting into motion what has become Red Sox Nation. That team was led by one of only three Red Sox captains since 1943.
Carl Yastrzemski 1967 Triple Crown Winner and MVP.
I submit to you that just as that year turned the franchise around, the redefining of this Red Sox era came at the moment Jason Varitek invited Mr. Rodriquez to have a taste of his glove! It was that moment which re-defined the 2004 Red Sox season. It was that moment that they embarked upon a path that would change the history of the franchise and the game. It was that moment which encapsulated the rebirth of the Boston Red Sox. And it was Jason Varitek who lead the band of “idiots” and the “Nation” to their long eluded promised land!
For “the Captain” was a presence! The stat geeks will not get all worked up about his “numbers”. He was an all-star three times, a Gold Glove winner but once, and he did win a Silver Slugger Award in 2005. A solid offensive career but nothing to really “wow” about. But he was a force and sometimes a force cannot be quantified. Pick your cliché and it will apply to Varitek, “played the game the way it should be played”, “he always had your back”; the reasons clichés are born is simply because they are weak attempts to quantify immeasurable forces and Jason Varitek was an immeasurable force.
The simple fact is that he made everybody around him better and that is the essence of a team player. Adrian Gonzalez said of him, “he cares more about his teammates than anyone I’ve ever played with.” Nuff Ced!
Arrivederci Captain, grazie !
And so it is on this date in Fenway Park history, March 3, 2012.