Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Dateline: 7/28/04

This should ring a bell with most people, since it was recently voted the most memorable Red Sox vs. Yankees regular season game since 1979 by the brilliant men and women who make up the ESPN Baseball Tonight audience.

Bronson Arroyo, who is now known in Cincinnati for his bat and his pitching and not his unbelievably terrible music, hit A Rod with his 81 mile per hour fastball. A Rod, tool that he is (bear in mind I write this as a hater of the Red Sox, not a fan of any team), took issue with that. There are a couple of ways to look at this. First, A Rod is a bully and a fraud trying to intimidate Bronson. Or, getting hit by a baseball hurts a bit, and A Rod was just a bi upset, as anybody would be in that situation. It isn't really important which interpretation you favor.

Jason Varitek took issue with A Rod's verbal jabs at Arroyo. Then Varitek pushed A Rod, and a fight ensued. The momentum of the game changed, Bill Mueller hit a walk off home run to end it, and the Red Sox turned their season around. They made a huge comeback in the ALCS and then beat the Cardinals (who were either confused about the start date, or simply had a morbid aversion to winning big games) in the World Series. That was not a good time.

Since that time, I have been assured that this particular game was of great import. I have also been told that Jason Varitek is a tough guy. Of course, I've been assured that Jon Stewart is funny, Santa Claus brings presents to good children, Diet Dr. Pepper does in fact taste more like regular Dr. Pepper and that there is a possibility that intelligent life could exist somewhere else in the universe.

Of all those statements, the only one I firmly believe is the first. It was a big game. I find Jon Stewart smug and insufferable. I think my problems with Mr. Stewart rest in a difference of opinion: he (or his writers) think that he is the smartest guy in the world, I think that alone doesn't make a guy funny. Nobody wants to see Stephen Hawking do stand up (his talking machine is really creepy, not very sensitive of me... but honest). As for Santa, if the virtuous were rewarded, there is no way that the Red Sox would have won it all. I can not say whether Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper. I hate them both. Jason Varitek's case is worth examining more closely.

If you look closely at the footage of Jason Varitek's confrontation with A Rod, you'll see some interesting things. When our so-called tough guy confronts A Rod, he is wearing a chest protector, a mask and shin guards. For all intents and purposes, he might as well have been wearing a suit of armor. A Rod had already gotten rid of his bat, leaving him unarmed and unarmored. And people expect me to believe that Varitek is a tough guy?

Carlton Fisk was a tough guy. He has to be considered the gold standard of toughness at that position, especially for the Red Sox. This fact has been amply proven, without my citing examples like the time beat down Thurman Munson and another Yankee who came to Thurman's aid in a play at the plate. I wonder, though, whether anybody could point to an instance where Fisk got in someone's eye and threw the first punch while he still had a mask on (I think we can say that Varitek's two handed shove to the chest/face of A Rod counts as a punch)?

In analyzing this fracas, it is just possible that I am overlooking one factor might mitigate Tek's behavior. I mentioned the mask, the shin guards and the chest protector, but what of the junk? Could it be that Jason entered a fray with a heroic disregard for the welfare of his family jewels? I must confess that I do not know if Mr. Varitek chooses to gird up his loins with a cup before he takes the field (and I am not in any hurry to find out).

It seems like it would make sense, since a stray bounce on a pitch in the dirt could render him a eunuch. However, I have watched his career somewhat closely since he came to the Sox, and I am not sure that this is something Jason need fear. I think the part of the body colloquially referred to in the last generation as the male anatomy is Mr. Varitek's least vulnerable spot. I think any man that starts a fight when he's virtually invulnerable has no need for a cup.

Jason Varitek is a bully, and a fraud. In short (and simply put for Red Sox fans) Jason Varitek has no balls. The events of 7/28/04 prove my point.

P.S. It has finally happened, Wily Mo Pena has caught Bronson Arroyo in their home run race on April 26. Imagine how wide that gap might have been if Arroyo played more than once every five days. Nice trade by America's prom date. Even better sentence fragment by the Cincinnati Kid.

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