Jason Varitek turned back the clock on Tuesday Night in Cleveland. (AP Photo)
I've been hard on Jason Varitek. OK. Maybe I've been extra hard on him. Maybe I should allow the slack so many other Red Sox fans seem to give without hesitation. Jason's been with the Sox since 1997, has caught multiple no-hitters, won two World Series, a Gold Glove, appeared in numerous All-Star Games, and has called countless gems. I respect these accomplishments to the utmost degree, and for me, a 32 year old guy who graduated from High School the same year Tek came to Boston, in my mind he's the best Red Sox catcher of all-time. With all due respect to Fisk of course, but I never saw Carlton play live, or on a daily basis like I have with Jason. I'm of a different generation, and Varitk is my catcher, and he helped bring the Sox and their staff to the Promise Land. Twice.
So why have I been so hard on him? Simply put, to balance out the Sox fans who blindly clamor for 2004/2005 Tek, when it's six years later, and he hasn't hit higher than .255 since. Part of it also has to do with my hope in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who because of Tek's spectacular career, has bloated expectations from the Faithful and a very short leash. My attempt to balance the homer heads was starting to go too far though, and I was forgetting what our Captain has meant to this franchise. I tweeted last night the following:
When catching with runners on base, Jason Varitek is a liability. When hitting with runners on base, Jason Varitek is a liability. #Pattern
Call it a reverse jinx, call it what you will. But Jason went on to hit a two run HR which ended up being the difference in the game, and he also threw out two runners on the base paths while calling another great game. Now, before you get too excited with pie, crow, and told you so's - this was Jason's first Homerun in nearly a year, he's still only hitting .209, and with those two throws he doubled his total with caught base stealer's (4 out of 22), and is now good for catching people at only a 15% clip. I still think he's well past his prime, but I'm going to try and better appreciate the game's he's in, because there's not that many left. Pedroia should get the 'C' once V-Tek hangs up his spikes, but in the meantime he's still our Captain, and last night, although only for one game, he showed all the reasons why.