Well it’s official. After 11 illustrious seasons in the NBA, Brian Scalabrine is hanging up his jersey. Despite not being known particularly for his skill on the court, Scal was and will continue to be one of the most beloved players to ever sport a Celtics uniform. It’s hard not to feel bad for the guy a bit when he’s treated less like a player and more like a joke on the court, but he never lost that intense yet humble attitude, which probably contributes to his adornment to the fans. That, you gotta respect. The NBA even put together a Brian Scalabrine highlight reel in his honor. So one last time, SCAL…FOR THREEE!
On July 31st, 1997, the Boston Red Sox received Derek Lowe and first round pick Jason Varitek from the Seattle Mariners for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. After being traded as a minor league prospect, there was no way Varitek could have imagined playing his entire 15 year major league career with one team. Similar to Tim Wakefield, it was assumed by many that V-Tek would walk away after the season ended last year. News has now broken out that Jason is set to announce his retirement Thursday at Fort Myers.
Throughout his long baseball career, Jason was always a winner. He is one of only two players in the history of baseball to play in the World Championship of the Little League Championship, College World Series National Championship, and the World Series in the MLB (Ed Vosberg is the other for those keeping track). His high school also won the State championship for Florida in 1990 and was ranked as the number one team in the nation by USA Today.
I hope your starting to get the “pitcher” (pun intended, horrible, but a pun nonetheless) because it was felt by many Sox fans that V-Tek knew some of the pitchers better than they did themselves. He was never the best hitting catcher, but not the worst either. Despite this, Jason was the perfect battery mate for every Sox pitcher (with the exception of Timmy and his knuckleball) and perfect teammate. He was crucial to both championship teams in 2004 and 2007 and Captain of the Red Sox from 2006 on. He caught a Major League record four no-hitters, which is a true testament of how well he could call a game behind the plate. I hope Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway were able to learn a lot from Jason Varitek in their short time with him. His endless preparation and knowledge of the game was a huge benefit to the Sox pitchers throughout the last 14 years.
My favorite Varitek memory (along with many other Red Sox fans) came on July 24, 2004. In one of those summer games vs the Yanks at Fenway on Fox, A-Rod got pegged by Bronson Arroyo. Naturally, A-Rod started to bitch back at Arroyo, yelling “F*ck you, F*ck you.” There was no way Tek was having any of that and shoved his glove square into A-Rod’s face and starting a bench clearing brawl. The Sox went on to comeback from a 9-4 deficit and beat the Yanks 11-10 in the 9th by scoring three on the “invincible” Mariano Rivera. The game immediately went down as an all time great. That moment seemed to be the turning point of their championship season. The Sox posted the best record in the bigs from that point on and developed a much-needed swagger against the Yanks and Rivera that proved crucial when they were down 3-0 in the ALCS.
It’s going to be tough in the Sox clubhouse this year with all the crap that unfolded during their September collapse. Not having guys like Wakefield and Varitek won’t help, but as I have said before hopefully guys like Salty and Adrian will step up like they said. As I noted in my catcher positional rankings, I hope that the Red Sox can reward Varitek similar to how the Pats treated Kevin Faulk. The only difference would be since Varitek will be officially retired, his role will be a coaching job within the organization, not the player/mentor role Faulk had this past year. Either way, Timmy and V-Tek will be missed greatly, both in the clubhouse and on the TV screen. They are true heroes of Red Sox Nation and they deserved to be honored for their accomplishments.
Which brings me to this poll question, feel free to put in some comments.
There’s not too much excitement coming out of Patriots Nation these days, but this is something that might leave a tingling feeling in any Pats fan. The big news of the day, which happens to be his birthday, is that Randy Moss wants to come out of his short-lived retirement. Initially, it’s hard to think too much into this right now. 1.) I don’t really even want to think about the Pats right now, and 2.) How many times do we hear this from recently retired athletes? The whole T.O. ordeal at the beginning of this season is a perfect example. Look how that turned out. Brett Favre? Don’t even get me started. We all know where that goes. You get my point. We’ve even heard Moss say he wants back before, but it just never happened. Even if it did happen, what if he’s not the Moss of old? Sorry Chad, but it could turn out to be a bust again. And remember, for the most part I can’t argue with the fact that he’s a poison to the locker room. Not the Pats locker room, but locker rooms in general. If it’s Bill and the Pats locker room, nevermind.
On the other hand, how can it not excite you just a bit? With the final game of the 2007-08 season aside, how great is reliving those times. Absolute domination. Over the past few seasons, it’s become clear that the deep threat is what we are missing the most. The final piece of the puzzle that we once had. Add that into the mix this year, with the short field threat of Gronk and Hernandez, and there’s no way any defense could contain us. Not to mention, Moss loves the Patriots. He loves Brady and Bill. If Moss comes back, if anyone could get him back in Foxboro it’d be Bill. The ups and downs are pretty much clear. With that said, Pats fan or not, would you welcome Moss out of retirement onto your team?