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:

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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:

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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.

14 Responses to “Random post-World Series stuff on a Sunday afternoon”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    In the end, with the American League Championship series down to a do-or-die Game 7, the Red Sox came down like an Assyrian that was coming down like a wolf on the fold. And the Indians? Well, they were playing the part of the sheep. And if the Indians were the sheep, the Red Sox were like a pregnant woman who doesn’t want pickles and ice cream, but instead has an insatiable craving for mutton.

  2. Give Bob Ryan more exposure to the internets and his work will look like this:

  3. Coley Ward says:

    After the last pitch had been thrown and the last swing had been swung, Coco Crisp limped back to the infield like a soldier returning victorious from battle, his hair spilling out of his cap like mutant cotton candy with a belief in its own manifest destiny.

  4. E. Lynched says:

    Bob Ryan is one of the good guys in the business and a legendary\’s not his fault these games go over 4 hours and end at midnight on a Sunday Night==the man has been around since Bill Russell patrolled the paint at the Garden…he is entitled to mail it in once in a while…Go Sawx!

  5. Nick Kapur says:

    I disagree Mr Lynched. Nobody is entitled to “mail it in” when they are getting paid, especially if they are taking up a job that millions of people only wish they could have. If Bob Ryan can’t keep himself together anymore (which seems to increasingly be the case), he should gracefully step aside and let someone else have a turn.

  6. Sarah Green says:

    E. Lynched, I disagree. Bob Ryan is no doubt a lovely person, despite how he seems on television and despite that time he said that Jason Kidd’s wife needed to be “smacked” in 2003 (no, I haven’t forgotten). And every now and then, he turns in a nice piece of writing, though he does seem to fall back on chastising the fans an awful lot these past couple of years. Nonetheless, if sporadic is the best he can do, why not let him write every now and then, when he actually has something worth saying? I would be happy to have several inches of prime real estate devoted to my words in the storied sports pages of the Boston Globe. Dan Shaughnessy is similar, in that his articles still have punch and even pathos (see above) but his columns have descended into a level of vitriol that I don’t find particularly illuminating or even enjoyable to read.

    It’s “tenured” guys like Ryan who blocked Bill Simmons from being anything but a backup Bruins beat writer at the Boston Herald. Now, I think Bill Simmons’ life worked out okay. But how many other Bill Simmonses are out there, toiling in obscurity, because these guys don’t know when to pack it in? Don’t they have grandkids they need to spend time with, or something? “Omigawd”?? Did he really write that? I wouldn’t even write that on this blog, much less in New England’s paper of record. That’s not to say my columns never contain mistakes (not possible) or that they never come out less-than-perfect (the perfect is the enemy of the done, and I have a deadline). But the “good old days” of Boston sports are happening right now, and he gets paid to write about it! Now, we could talk about all the sundry business challenges that face newspaper journalism, but damn, that’s still nice work if you can get it.

  7. Tom Brady misses an open receiver now and then. David Ortiz fails to get a hit 70 percent of the time. So if Bob Ryan, after decades of prolific, quality sportswriting, turns in a clunker, I’m more than willing to let it slide.

    You, my child, have a lot to learn before you start criticizing a legend like Ryan.

  8. Dimminutive, plucky Dustin Pedroia, who is only 3 feet 6 inches tall, later said he circled the bases in a daze, like a red-and-white Oompa Loompa on Vicodin. His home-run shot had just sent the Indians’ hopes for a World Series crown fluttering off into the night, like a flock of Canada Geese on a cool autumn day, raining down their acidic turds into the gaping wounds of the fans in the city by the lake.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    BobH, from the sports page of the Boston Globe to the op-ed page of the New York Times to most major newspaper syndicates, the newspaper world is in desperate need of a changing of the guard. Those stables are full of horses that really should be put out to pasture. I’m sorry if that strikes some as the arrogance of youth, but think about it for a second: part of the reason Ryan got to have those glory years writing about the Celtics was that he started *young.* (He actually started at the Globe the same year as Peter Gammons, whose writing about the Red Sox was, if possible, even more amazing than Ryan’s writing about the Celts.) But by now, I can tell you what Ryan or Shaughnessy would say about something before they even write it themselves. Likewise, I’ve stopped reading the Times op-ed page because you know without looking that Friedman will take a middle ground, that Dowd will be snarkily cynical, that Kristoff will be, you know, “outraged” about Darfur or ANWR or whathaveyou, etc. And when you look at the major syndicated columnists such as David Broder, many of them have been doing this decade after decade. Yeah, that means they bring a lot of experience and hoary wisdom to the table, but it also means that maybe they’ve run out of stuff to say. It also means they started when they were in their 20s or 30s—they got their shot. They had their chance. They made the most of it. Why not give some new writers that same opportunity? Why not give Shira Springer a column, or Amelie Benjamin?

    People in print journalism are always fretting about how readership is down, but they have only themselves to blame. The problem is obviously bigger than this issue, but part of the problem is that commentary in the papers has gotten stale. To take the Times example, how refreshing is it when Sarah Vowell fills in while one of the Times columnists is off finishing a book? It’s such a breath of fresh air! As newspapers compete with the 24-7 news cycle of the internet, they have increasingly turned to commentary as something they can offer. But if newspapers let their most innovative, energetic writers (the Bill Simmonses of their staffs) go to their direct, internet-based competitors, they will be shooting themselves in the foot and the downward cycle of the newspaper business will only continue. To use a baseball analogy, you can’t let the veteran players (who were good, even great, in their day! no one is saying they weren’t!) block your young prospects. Quite simply, that’s the way to lose ballgames. You waste the prime of your young players, and you lose games. Why? So your aging veterans can feel good about themselves, even if the bat-speed ain’t what it once was?

    Now, if you want to say that I have no right to criticize the apparently sacred Bob Ryan, or some giant luminary of print journalism like David Broder, say it, but don’t make it about me and my youth. Don’t make it about all that Bob Ryan has accomplished in decades past. I know that journalists have a lot to do with their time these days, since they’re pretty much all expected to report, write columns, blog, and do TV appearances (or even host their own shows). I have sympathy for those guys—the way the business is right now, they are spread way too thin to give 100% to everything. Nonetheless, Bob Ryan is at a point in his career where if he wants to do Globe 10.0 and the occasional Around the Horn appearance and a blog, he can do that. He doesn’t need the Globe column as his platform anymore, and if this is the kind of stuff he’s going to turn in, it might be better for him just to move on.

    The problem isn’t just Bob Ryan, so I don’t want to just pick on him. The problem is industry-wide. There are a lot of talented young writers who deserve a shot. And they shouldn’t have to wait for someone to die before they get it.

  10. Sarah Green says:

    And not to beat a dead horse, BobH, but to take your metaphor (very appropriate for the post, by the by!) of Bob Ryan as Tom Brady, I think it’s worth noting that the Patriots are run very differently from your average newspaper. Everyone occasionally makes mistakes—misses an open receiver, gets a fact wrong in print—but Tom Brady always gives 110%. Why? Partially because of Bill Belichick. The Belichick Way (TM) dictates that even the superstars on the team have to play like they’re trying out for a spot on the club. So Tom Brady is the first to work and the last to leave. If Belichick was Ryan’s editor, he would bench him for this column, or at least make him eat an ample amount of humble pie. A column like this is not the equivalent of missing a receiver. It’s the equivalent of, I don’t know—punting? Settling for a field goal? Taking a knee? The metaphor is sort of falling apart now, but hopefully you see what I’m saying.

  11. My point is simply that while writing on deadline, which he was on this case, and trying to be creative, Ryan swung and missed. It happens, which you’ll learn after you’ve done this for a while. It has nothing to do with a lack of effort.

    And if you’ve ever worked in a sports department for a metropolitan daily trying to make deadlines on late games (yes, I have), you know that there isn’t always time to send a column back for a rewrite. You do the best you can with the time and material you have.

    It’s easy to sit back, read someone else’s work and say “I could do better.” It’s something else to go out and do it, as Ryan has done as well as anyone for years.

  12. Sarah Green says:

    BobH, I see where you’re coming from. But try to understand that my writing career is very much still in the ramen-noodles-and-roommates-and-crap-there’s-no-hot-water-again?! phase, and that Bob Ryan’s job security is something I can’t even imagine right now.

    And you’re right—I haven’t done what Ryan has done. Now, neither Bob Ryan nor I could hit even the junkiest fastball even if we knew it was coming, nevermind a breaking ball. But that doesn’t stop either Ryan or myself from writing about guys who make their livings doing just that. I’m sure there are days that Curt Schilling wakes up and wants to say to Dan Shaughnessy, “Fine, Dan, *you* throw a splitter in the dirt!” And basically, what you’re telling me is, “Fine, Sarah, *you* make your deadline after these ridiculous, late, Fox playoff games and see how great your writing is!” But that’s the job description. And I’m not saying I could do better: I’m saying that *Bob Ryan* could do better. When Bob Ryan writes something, I want it to justify his job security and his column inches. I want him to write like he’s still trying to make the team. I know it’s not always easy, but that’s why he gets the byline and the medium-sized bucks. And if he’s at the point where he’s writing just because he has to say something, instead of writing because he has something to say, then he should reconsider his options. Now, I can understand taking a calculated, creative risk because that is something I try to do myself. You’re right, sometimes the magic just doesn’t work. But unfortunately, it’s not just this one column that’s been sub-par. Think of a veteran pitcher who’s had a great career but loses some velocity. He can still be effective as long as he throws strikes. But when he can’t find the plate anymore, it’s time to hang up his spikes. He becomes a pitching coach, or a manager, or just plays golf and counts his money and plans his Hall of Fame induction speech. There is absolutely no shame in that. But you don’t want to go out like Roger Clemens, lifted before the 5th inning of a playoff game, not knowing whether you’re ever going to be back, not knowing whether you should tip your cap or just head straight to the showers.

    Now, I assume you ended up here because of Deadspin. In the fine tradition of headline-writers everywhere, Deadspin sort of misrepresented the point of this post. The main point was not to hate on Bob Ryan, which I don’t. The main point was: Boston is a talkative town; here are some different (and variously effective) lead paragraphs; let’s have fun making up our own. Nonetheless, it turned into something different, and that’s fine—c’est la internet! And with that in mind, of course we had to do a follow-up post, which I recommend for anyone interested in the State of (Sports) Journalism Today.

  13. Paul Moro says:

    Regarding the whole “not the Yankees” thing, Sarah, that article totally ignores the fact that the Yankees built their late 90s team from within too. So stating that the Red Sox aren’t the Yankees because they plugged key holes from the minor league system is not very apt. It’s also an outdated idea considering the team this year.

  14. Jojo Fireball says:

    thank you very much for bringing truth to the rumor I had heard about Tek and the trick or treaters… what an amazing dude… Would Jeter do that?

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