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Oh Captain, My Captain

By Adam Corriveau

Captain Hook? Captain Morgan? Captain America? Forget about it. The only captain I recognize is Captain Jason Varitek. Since 1997 Tek has been the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox, a brick wall behind the plate, one of the best strategic catchers of all time, a gold glover, a silver slugger, a three time all star, twice a world champion, and has caught the most no-hitters in MLB history, with four. He is a leader and a gentleman. Oh and he banged Heidi Watney. He is the definition of a savvy veteran. He’s been there, done that, he once even saved Theo Epstein from a regiment of Nazis. The only piece of hardware he didn’t manage to earn was MVP. Tek has repeatedly been noted as the most prepared player in the game, pouring over opposing team’s batters and lineups. For years Cap’n was the only man I wanted or could imagine behind the plate… well except every fifth day when Doug Mirabelli was woken up from his cryogenic pod to catch Wakefield.
Sadly however, his prime is far behind him. Varitek’s glory days are just a highlight reel video on mlb.com. His offensive production hasn’t just dropped off; it has driven off a cliff, holding hands with Geena Davis. His batting average has been career lows the past two seasons. In 2008 and 2009, seeing Varitek on deck was like seeing Eric Gagne in the bullpen in 2007; everything is about to go wrong. His defensive ability is also starting to decline. He only threw out 13% of the runners who tried to steal in 2009, by far a career low.
As much as I love the guy, things are getting pretty ugly. Perhaps the best way to summarize the Captain’s career is to look at my dog, Champ. The similarities are quite striking. I got Champ in 1997. For years he was the epitome of awesome. He was reliable and energetic. He was everything you could want in a dog. But in the past couple years his age has really started to show. Champ has slowed down significantly, his eyes are starting to go, and most of the day is spent on his bed. And last year he only threw out 12% of runners. As much as I love him, and he will always been my dog, I’m starting to accept that he is very much on his way out. I’m so thankful for all of the good memories that he is a part of (some of the bad ones too). No matter when he’s done, he’ll go out as a hero around these parts any we’ll never forget him.
The same goes for Varitek all the way done the board. He was a hero, he is a hero, and he will be a hero. It’s just about time for Cap’n to hang up the C and ride into the sunset to live on a farm where he can be happy and run free with other catchers past their prime like Carlton Fisk and Mike Piazza. It’s my official belief is that 2010 will be Jason Varitek’s Farewell Tour as a player. Will he be a coach? Or a mentor? A full time super hero? No one knows. But I do know this… He banged Heidi Watney, and that ain’t too shabby.
Let’s go sox.

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