Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Jason Varitek conundrum

Let’s start with a disclaimer, we here at Boston Irish are all about Jason Varitek. He is the man. He should never have to buy a beer in any bar across New England, ever. Apart from the fact Varitek has been such a rock for the Sox, during the magical 1999 season the catcher and Captain to be even signed an Irish National Baseball team cap at a game for me. This elevated his status in this column somewhat. As an aside, I paid $11 for the ticket that day. Are there many $11 tickets left at Fenway?

However, and you had to know there was a however coming, perhaps Varitek missed his 2011 opportunity to make himself indispensable to the Sox.

Taking a step back, earlier this week the Red Sox signed Kelly Shoppach to apparently play backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings as a surprise package with some serious pop in his bat, there would appear to be simply no room left for Varitek. There has been no official word from either party however after the Red Sox signed Shoppach, Jason’s wife Catherin Tweeted the following;

It would appear the Varitek’s feel as if Jason’s time in Boston is coming to a close. And that is a very sad thing. Looking at it from a Front Office perspective, the 2011 season provided a unique opportunity to Varitek to create a role for himself on the Red Sox for one or perhaps two more seasons. He had the chance the build a role as a Bench Coach with a bat. He had the opportunity to become an even more valuable clubhouse presence . We can only go on the evidence in front of us, and it would appear that Varitek did not grab this opportunity by the horns. In fact, it appears he let Rome burn around him and did very little to put the flames out. You have to stress the word ‘appears’ as we don’t know for sure, perhaps Varitek threw his weight around, however from what little we have to go on, it appears he didn’t do enough to discipline the clubhouse malcontents. Naturally, it would have been hard for Varitek to tell Beckett to put the bucket of chicken down, however that was the new role that was available to Varitek, the responsible guy in the clubhouse.

Unless there was a journalist with full access to the clubhouse that is about to write a book as illuminating as ‘Feeding the monster’ (An absolute must read if you haven’t already) we will never know the full story. Perhaps Jason felt his role was as a player, and perhaps it was never impressed upon him by Sox management to become an authority figure beyond regular Captain duties. Perhaps other forces were at work, and perhaps, most likely, the clubhouse was too far gone, was completely toxic and could not be saved.

Perhaps, at the end of the day, like plenty of other decisions in the business of sports, perhaps it was just a numbers game


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I must admit, sadly, that I agree.

'Tek was all too silent during 9/11 (September 2011 for The Nation.. checken-gate was just getting old) and wasn't vocal enough following Tito's execution by atomic device at season's end.

That combined with the declined numbers over a shorter season as back-up outweighed loyalty and folk-lore.

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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