Here’s a round-up of recent baseball tidbits. Sigh. It must be November.
In case you missed it, Red Sox catcher (and captain) Jason Varitek did one better than handing out candy this Halloween: he gave out autographs. After the Variteks’ Halloween party broke up (the guest list included the Mirabellis and the Lowells), Tek took a lawn chair out to the driveway and started signing, at the suggestion of his 7-year-old daughter. The short version:
Christopher Roberts, 10, dressed up as the catcher – a white number 33 Red Sox jersey, baseball pants, and red colored socks pulled up past his calves – only to find himself standing face-to-face with his hero.
“He signed my shirt, right on the first three,” Roberts said.
Two police cruisers came to direct traffic and control the crowd, which swelled to some 50 youngsters and parents on a leafy block in the tony village of Waban, in Newton.
“Varitek looked really tired,” said Chris O’Connell, 45, who brought his sons Joshua, (dressed as a Japanese ninja), 9, and Zeke, (Darth Vader), 7, to get autographs. “It was great – for him to be sitting out there after 9 o’clock on Halloween says a lot about the guy.”
At the local commuter station a few blocks from Varitek’s home, the village’s affection for the Sox catcher is articulated on handwritten signs hung on a fence – “Waban Loves V-Tek!” and “Tek is the best” – that he passes on his route to Fenway Park.
“Waban has been good to us and respected our privacy,” Varitek said yesterday in an interview at his home. “It was a good opportunity for me to say thanks.”
At the O’Connell house, Joshua woke up the morning after Halloween in disbelief. He spotted the baseball signed by the catcher of the 2007 World Series champions, but still ran down stairs with a question. “I asked mom if it was a dream,” he said.
And not quite a family man yet, Jonathan Papelbon took to the airwaves, using some colorful language on The Late Show. He also exposed fellow fan favorite David Ortiz….as an avid Bedazzler:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/_gNRRihIVMo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
I kept waiting for Letterman to ask him about the Papel-face. Oh well.
Manny Ramirez also went on the Late Show, where he at first seemed almost in thrall of Jay Leno, which was kind of cute. Despite some requests to be traded away from Boston in the past, it sounds like Manny is quite happy to stay there now:
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Steve Carrell was the other guest and just seems happily bemused by the whole thing.
And to round out our late-night lineup, we present the video Conan O’Brien interviewing one Bedazzled motherf*cker, David Ortiz, who came bearing gifts:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/T0YunV_qdEM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
His advice to you? Go home and get some ass. (Seriously, he said that!)
In other news, Scott Boras continues to furiously backpedal from his mismanagement of A-Rod’s already dubious public image, which he cast into further disrepute by announcing his client’s free agency during Game 4 of the World Series. He now insists that A-Rod didn’t really mean to stand up Hank Aaron. Nonetheless, any warm feelings that half-assed excuse could stir were instantly negated by news leaking out that Boras and A-Rod considered the Yankees’ lucrative $230 million contract to be about $100 million short. The Hardball Times has a full breakdown on the challenges Boras and Rodriguez face en route to securing that massive contract.
In other douchery, Barry Bonds whined about getting scapegoated. If you don’t click on the link, did he make a sound? The AP reports that Bonds won’t attend the Hall of Fame ceremony inducting his record-setting home run ball if the ball is branded with an asterisk, as fans have demanded (an artist bought the ball and set up a website where seamheads could vote on whether the ball should be asterisked or not; the result was overwhelmingly in favor of asterisking). Bonds explained:
““You cannot give people the freedom, the right to alter history. You can’t do it. “
Those are some strong words. Does this mean we can count on George Bush to invade Barry’s house?
A few last Red-Sox-as-World-Champs notes: Charlie Pierce has an engaging column on the Sox’ win that a) refreshingly demonstrates that the Red Sox are not, in fact, the New Yankees, and b) contains this interesting nugget:
On Sunday, they brought out Papelbon, and that fearsome goofball ended the game by blowing away pinch hitter Seth Smith with some high heat, and by demonstrating some impressive upper-body strength by hoisting the fully armored Jason Varitek off the ground.
(Note to Papelbon: Baseball etiquette requires that the catcher lift the pitcher in such situations.)
This may be true, but at least on the Red Sox, the last time I saw Tek hoist the pitcher, it was when he lofted 120-pounds-soaking-wet rookie Clay Buchholz after his no hitter. Everyone else seems to insist on hoisting Varitek (as Foulke did in 2004, I might add).
And sadly, just as I was coming to rely on Will Leitch’s Fair and Foul blog, it is stolen from me. But not before he points out a few salient items, one of which I was thinking of myself as Leno interviewed Manny: why doesn’t anyone ever ask him about hitting? Maybe that’s not of interest to the typical Late Show viewer, but I would dearly love an opportunity to hear the Maestro break down his art. Maybe some day.