The players we love to hate

Open Thread: 2/28 Camp Notes
Pondering A Switch Atop The Lineup

The New York/Boston rivalry lost a familiar face on Tuesday when Jason Varitek and his scarlet C announced his retirement. Varitek had been all but pushed out by Boston and couldn’t find or imagine finding another job with another club anywhere else. And so he’ll join the long list of players who have left the game but served as familiar faces during the halcyon days of the great Yankee/Red Sox games.

Varitek, before I get too nostalgic for a player I could barely stand to watch, was one of those guys who seemingly defined the great rivalry years from the mid 2000s. He was the player Yankee fans loved to hate, and hate him we did. Ironically, his defining moment came when he went after a Yankee whom Yankee fans love to hate. After an ill-timed beanball, Varitek and A-Rod started shoving each other in a 2004 fight. Varitek kept his mask on, and the rest, they say, was history. Yankee fans could never speak of the Sox’s catcher again without referencing his fight.

Of course, Varitek’s place in this dispute was more than just about that fight. He was supposedly the Red Sox’s answer to Jorge Posada, but the comparison never was a good one. Perhaps his pitchers liked him more, but Varitek’s bat paled in comparison to Jorge’s, and despite some unfortunately memorable home runs, Varitek’s offensive career against the Yankees was subpar. In 172 games, he hit .226/.308/.388 with just an 80 tOPS. In 2005, he battered around a bruised Yankee staff, but during most years, he didn’t do much hitting.

Yet, he was always there, a reminder of what exactly for Yankee fans? A team that would fight with its masks on? An undeservedly smug attitude? Something dirty about Boston that Yankee fans hated? Whatever it was, Jason Varitek seemed to embody that ethos, that thing that we couldn’t stand.

These days, Yankees/Red Sox games are rote affairs. We must go through the overly dramatic production of a FOX game or an ESPN special. We’re forced to pretend to be outraged when the new Red Sox manager says something strange about a thing that happened 11 years ago. We try to get worked up as though beating one team during a regular season contest is about glory, life, baseball. Plus, there are only a few guys worth even somewhat despising on the Red Sox of 2012.

So today, perhaps we lost a part of a history we can’t decide if we want to forget or remember. Varitek was around in 2003 when the Yanks dashed the Red Sox’s hopes, and Varitek was front and center when the Red Sox stormed back for an historic victory in 2004. Then he hung around for years as the Yanks and Red Sox squared off now and then in a series of sometimes-tense and sometimes-tedious regular season series. Now, with his mask still on, he’s joined the long list of players who had a starring role in during the heyday of the rivalry. I don’t think I’ll be missing him too much, but I may begrudgingly tip my cap to him on the eve of his retirement from the game we all love.

Open Thread: 2/28 Camp Notes
Pondering A Switch Atop The Lineup
  • Mike from Jersey

    Glad Varicose is done. Can’t wait for Pukelis, Big Poopy, Josh Spitoon, and the Dusty Troll to hang ’em up too. Let’s go Yankees! It’s baseball season.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    Fuck that asshole. No hat tip from me that’s for sure. FUCK HIM.

    • johnnybk

      Couldn’t have said it better myself

    • steve s

      You got my vote for the Comment of the Year award!

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      Mom…while I agree with you, you really should watch your mouth when posting.

    • A-Rod

      Fast forward that fight about 3 seconds and we can see me putting that POS in a head lock and throwing bombs on that jack asses head. Tek can go bang Wally the Green Monster and catch herpies. Good riddance you sack of crap.

      • Jesse

        Sorry, but I had to comeback here later to see the comments in the thread, and this one gets my vote for comment of the year. I sure as hell got a good laugh out of this one.

        Pure awesomeness.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Good riddance.

  • J6takish

    Xavier and Magneto needed each other

  • Jesse

    Glad he’s gone, couldn’t stand that asshole. He bugged the shit out of me every time he’d look up at a batter to see if he was peeking, mostly because the stupid look he had in his eyes when he did it.

    Too bad his last career AB wasn’t a K with the bases loaded and down by a run against the Yankees with 2 out on the last day of the season to finish off the Red Sox collapse.

    • Chris in Maine

      Where was the the Capt’n when they needed him most last year in September? Where was the guy with the clubhouse intangibles when the pitchers all were out back drinking, gaming and eating fried chicken?

      Epic fail on his part.

      • Double-J

        Stop it, you’re ruining the narrative!

        Boston Fans

        • Jesse

          Greatest catchah evah!!! How many catchahs have 2 World Series Rings and caught 4 no-hittahs?! He’s the greatest fingah puttah downah evah!!!

          NESPN and all of Red Sox Nation.

  • David

    I will miss his 0-3 at the plate against the Yanks.

  • Gonzo

    Loved the comments so far! Keep it coming.

    • Pounder

      The animosity between Varitek and Arod began when Arod stole Variteks girlfriend when both were in spring camp with Seattle.True story.

  • Ethan

    No varitek and no papelbon. Going to be fewer players on the red sox to hate, but hate them I still will. Pedroia and Youkillis are now my definitely most hated red sox players.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Beckett, Youk, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lackey and the laptop thief are all players that you would be glad if they all sucked for eternity.

    • Fin

      Dont worry they only lost one asshole, they picked up 2. Padilla and Valantine place on just about anyone’s all time
      asshole list.

      • Steve (different one)

        Seriously, after last season it’s kindof mind boggling they would bring in a guy like Padilla.

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

          They do have an amazing propensity to stay well stocked with douche bags.

    • G

      I hate them all as well, but I have reluctant respect for Pedroia. He’s always the hardest worker on the field and obviously loves the game.

      That said, fuck him.

  • Kulish

    Good riddence to the Masked Ball Grabber, Jason Vagitek.

  • Manimal

    Ok can we please talk about Bobby Valentine constantly bashing the Yankees since he has become manager? He pretty much shat on Arod and Jeter today and has emphasized his hatred for the yanks in pretty much every press conference I’ve heard of him. Girardi has been relatively quiet and collective about the rivalry (I mean, what says more than winning the world series…)and Bobby Valentine does NOT have the reputation, nor the track record to say anything bad about the yanks, ESPECIALLY since the season didn’t start.


    • Benjamin Kabak

      It’s not worth it. Valentine’s a clown. He was a clown when he was managing the Mets, and he’s still a clown. Let him talk. He’s always thought it was just about him anyway.

      • Jesse

        I agree. And besides, he said all of that just to try to get under the skin of Yankees fans. Being pissed off at what he said is exactly what he wanted to accomplish.

      • Matt DiBari

        I prefer buffoon. Clowns have charm.

      • Tom Zig

        Bobby Valentine is literally trolling in real life.

        • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

          Lol. This.

      • Jonathan

        I thought it was pretty ironic they have an alcohol ban when I was pretty sure he was drunk on Sunday Night Baseball several times. Hell, maybe the ban was so he didn’t get shitcanned during the game.

  • Manimal

    Anyways, I was shocked when ESPN labeled the Arod fight as “one of Varitek’s greatest moments”. Seriously? He smothered Arod in the face with his glove WITH HIS FACE MASK ON. Thats like, the biggest bitch move I can think of… maybe chasing someone with a bat or something. Hockey players take of their equipment for a reason… they aren’t bitches.

    • Manimal
      • JAG

        Derek’s response is absolutely epic.

    • Tom Zig

      I’ve seen plenty of Boston fans defend Varitek for keeping his mask on. I’m still not quite sure why.

      • Pat D

        I was bashing people on the story about his retirement last night, pretty much destroying their comments. I had one guy say that the mask was probably hurt him during the brawl. He also acted like Varitek never had a chance to take off his mask or anything.

    • Juke Early

      I saw the “fight” as it happened. Caveman wearing body armor sucker punched A Rod—-whose head & body were turned backwards. The only thing lower than Varidreck’s intellect is that eyebrow level hairline.

      AND Valentine dissing “the flip” shows what a transparent gaping ahole he is. Bobby had to practice putting on the Groucho glasses before he could get that right. He’s just baiting all of NY to suck up to Sux fans. I sincerely hope he falls flat on his face —- with or without a mask. . ..

  • joek

    I don’t hate pedroia or ellsbury or even papi its the youkillis’s and becketts of the world that I can’t stand and with Bobby v constantly running off his mouth to say stupid things I actually miss francona!

  • BillR

    Growing up in Western Mass It was amazing how many people thought Vagitek was such a tough guy for doing that. It was such a pussy move, He’s a bitch and I’m glad he’s gone!

  • David

    Talk about going out with a wimper. That’s one more Red Sux on the ash heap of baseball history.

  • Este15

    Fuck The Sawx. Glad to se ya go.

  • Matt DiBari

    I have nothing nice to say about Captain Facemask.

    I don’t even have a grudging respect for the guy like I did for Pedro and Schilling or Manny and Ortiz.

    Take your mask and ridiculous C and go away.

  • Matt DiBari

    Actually, I take that back. I liked when he used to dress up as Wonder Woman on July 4.

  • jim p

    For balance, Posada’s numbers against Boston would be nice to see. I don’t know where to look for that info.

    • nick
      • Jesse

        Beat me to the punch.

    • Jesse

      Baseball Reference is where I looked.

      Career against the Red Sox (208 games, 821 PA) Posada has hit .266/.371/.473/.844 with 31 HRs, 115 RBI, and 101 runs scored.

      • jim p

        Thanks Nick and Jesse. So basically, he had a pretty good season and a quarter against them. Nice to know.

  • hogsmog

    For me, it’s Pedroia taking ground balls with a broken-leg. Fuck. That.

  • nick

    why does everyone forget Arod subsequently put cap’n facemask in a headlock immediately after the shove?? The way yankee and arod haters talk its as if Arod got beat up.

    • johnnybk

      If I remember correctly, the only one who took any real damage was tanyon sturtz, and even that was only because he was being held down while kaplar punched him.

  • Naved

    ARod destroyed him. He put him into a headlock and just started to pound on him. Captain Facemask tried to pick him up and toss him. You don’t **** with ARod, he is like the biggest baseball player on the Yankees. Espically back then when he was in his prime shape.

  • Pat D

    Everyone remembers Varitek “winning” the fight because he threw the first shove, since he didn’t really throw a punch, because it swarmed so quickly that no one could see ARod take him down, and because the Red Sox won that game.

    Remember, Sox players are pretty terrible in brawls. Remember Caveman Youkilis charging Porcello a few years ago? Porcello took him down pretty easily.

    • Steve (different one)

      It’s remembered that way because an iconic photograph was snapped at exact moment he shoved his glove into ARod’s face. This photo became famous and a narrative was born: that this moment was when their season turned around. Even though they played .500 ball for several weeks after the fight, we know how powerful narratives can be.

      Varitek is a guy, along with Trot Nixon, whose power dried up right around the time they started seriously drug testing. Is this a baseless accusation? Kindof, but so what, f that guy.

      • Kevin Ocala, Fl

        Look at Varitek photos through the years. I would bet that he lost 5-6 inches off his chest in “drug-testing” off season a few years back.

  • Moskva

    In his defense, I’m sure he kept his mask on to protect his pretty face :)

    • SevenAces

      You mean he kept his mask on to keep his ugly face from getting any uglier.

  • Charles

    Most of today’s Sox aren’t that bad to deal with, when they had Schilling/Varitek/Manny in the mid 00’s that was terrible, it seemed like there was something every week coming out about how the evil empire is ruining baseball. But I have to admit, nothing irks me more than hearing how Dustin Pedroia is such a ‘gamer’ and how gritty his play is, NESPN is pretty good about inflating the grit aura around him.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I have zero issue with the Sox I grew up with. Nothing ever bad to say about Evans, Fisk, Rice, Yaz, etc. Half of these guys now don’t bug me. Always respected Pedro, Manny, and Ortiz as much as I hated them. It’s the Schillings and Pedroias and Variteks and Becketts that get me to no end as well.

      I actually don’t mind Youk all that much. I always thought he really just wants to be a Yankee. Can’t blame him. We actually have showers.

      • CW

        Agreed, although I think Bill Lee is a dick.

  • Frigidevil

    Not gonna lie, I’m gonna miss that offensive black hold on the end of the Sox bench. What a hilarious use of the C.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    Next retirements to look forward to:

    1) Youkilis and his stupid batting stance
    2) Papelbon and that idiotic look on his face that apparently is supposed to intimidate hitters but really just looks like he ate something too spicy the night before
    3) Pedroia and the silly ‘griding’ meme
    4) Ortiz and the melodramatic spit into the glove and his ridiculous, classless posing after he hits home runs
    5) Beckett and his apparent lack of control when it comes to the Yankees and their backs

    • Jesse

      Don’t forget the jackass Manny Ramirez who also falls into the category of being classless after hitting home runs.

  • David Ortiz’s Dealer

    He’s human garbage, I always thought the “C” stood for something I can’t type in a forum read by the ladies.

    They are all wastes, “Bobby V” is perfect for them. A mental midget leading the pack. Whats the 2nd basemans name you can’t tell becuase the letters wrap around his shoulders all you see is “OR”.

    Ortiz and the spit slap crap just cries for a fast ball through his wrists, Beckett as for him I hope Tex drag bunts on him then runs through him while covering 1st.

  • David Ortiz’s Dealer

    Better yet lets bring back Karim Garcia and have him steal 2nd,… that should take care of “dusty troll”

  • David Ortiz’s Dealer

    Add that to his “accomplishments” Captained the Collapse, wouldn’t have happened on Thurman’s or Jeter’s watch.

    But I am annoyed how those folks refer to him as the captain. Thats Jeter’s Title.

    • Steve

      Yeah, good thing Jeter wasn’t at the helm for the biggest collapse in post season history against the team’s biggest rival. He wouldn’t let that shit happen.

      • thenamestsam

        This seems like a silly argument to get involved with, but I don’t really think they’re comparable. The Yankees “collapse” if you can even call it that, was 4 straight losses to a team they were extremely evenly matched with. That happens fairly frequently between two even teams, it just so happens that in this case because of the situation it was a huge deal. But that doesn’t mean it had anything to do with a lack of leadership, or a lack of mental character etc.

        With the Sox last September, it was a month+ of playing horrible baseball, far below their talent level, and the way many of the players reacted with seeming indifference demonstrated a serious lack of leadership throughout the organization (in my opinion, obviously). To me, the Yankees situation has nothing to do with leadership. You can lead all you want, but sometimes teams lose 4 games in a row (for example, the Red Sox came within a pitch or two of doing it immediately before the Yankees did it). When that goes on for a month, it’s a pretty different situation.

        • Rick

          I agree. The Yanks won 3 in row, the Sox won 4 in row. Its wasn’t a collapse, wasn’t a choke. Two evenly matched teams, Yank pitchers couldn’t pull it off.

      • rogue

        I agree. Jeter > Spike Owen

        Game 6 1986 was a bitch.

  • Yank The Frank

    I hated the way Varifuck would tip toe down the baselines like he just has an enema. He will not be missed.

  • bill

    him wearing that stupid C on his jersey was the most annoying thing that he ever did. Who the hell wheres a C on their jersey in baseball?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I once was at a game where the guy in front of me had a custom-made “Varivaginatek” Sox shirt made for him. Will never forget that.

    Have fun pissing on a street corner in Harvard Square with Tim Wakefield, dipshit.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Beckett has to be uspset more than anyone else. Vagitek is Beckett’s wookie catcher.

  • Regis

    I hated Varitek. But I didn’t HATE him. He wasn’t much although he would get the occasional timely hit against the Yanks.
    I HATED Manny and David because their steroid infused bats actually did something. Couldn’t stand those guys.

  • Joel R

    I’ve just heard that the Red Sox will unveil a statue in honor of Jason. It will bat 9th and be worth about 1.2 WAR.

  • JT

    So who will wear the legendary douche “C” for the Sawx now?


    Actually, I don’t think they have a bigger C than Ellsbury …

    • Jesse

      In seriousness, I wouldn’t be too surprised if PEDroia got the honors of wearing the legendary C.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    I put Valentine’s tenure as manager of the Red Sox at 2 seasons. Your over/under predictions to that number? And why?

    • Jesse

      Over. I think the team would really have to suck (Like less than 75 win suck) back-to-back years for that to happen. I just don’t see them sucking that bad considering they have a lot of talent.

      • gageagainstthemachine

        I agree in a sense, however, how quick do you think the Sox would’ve yanked Francona without his immediate success in 2004? Look at how fast they through him out and under the bus when things went sour in a single month. Look at Girardi for that matter, what if the Yankees don’t win in 2009? Is Girardi still manager in 2012? I think Valentine is on a fairly short leash. it’s not like they have to rebuild that team. They have enough to win. And I get the feeling the Red Sox are about as impatient right now as the Yankees were after 2001. IMO of course. Thanks for the response and thoughts.

  • JD

    Great post. Reminds us that the loss of a rival (even a hated one) is a loss. Varitek was a good opponent. Tough, old-school. We would have loved him in this City.

  • Evan3457

    My last chance do use this joke:

    Q: Why does Jason Varitek wear a big red “C” on his chest?

    A: Because otherwise, he wouldn’t know what position he plays.

    • Jesse

      0h my God, I seriously got a good laugh at that one. I’m going to save this comment just so I can look back on it after the Yankees (May the baseball heaven’s forbid) lose a tough game to the Sux.