Monday, May 01, 2006

News From Red Sox Nation - Reversing A Knucklehead Decision: Theo Makes A Wild Pitch To Salvage Wakefield’s Season And Sanity!

Never before in the history of Major League Baseball have the names, fortunes and vicissitudes of back-up catchers been more on the minds and on the lips of baseball fans. But in these first few weeks of the 2006 Baseball Season, opinions about what to do about Jason Varitek’s back-up have fluctuated as wildly as a Tim Wakefield knuckleball in a stiff New England nor’easter.

For those of you who do not live within the signal radius of WEEI – 850 on your AM dial – let me give you a quick update. In the off-season, the Red Sox traded back-up catcher, Doug Mirabelli, to the San Diego Padres, in exchange for second baseman, Mark Loretta. In a normal world, this would hardly cause a blip on the average fan’s radar screen. However, this is Red Sox Nation we are talking about, and Doug Mirabelli just happened to be Tim Wakefield’s personal designated catcher, earmarked to handle Wakefield’s erratic knuckleball. The Red Sox brain trust must have figured that anyone could be taught to catch Wakefield’s trick pitch, but the job of finding an adequate replacement proved to be a bit trickier than anticipated! Josh Bard wore a Red Sox uniform for only a few weeks, but he has carved a permanent niche for himself in Red Sox history and folklore. The name of the hapless Josh Bard has already been added to the Red Sox fans’ Hall of Shame and Pantheon of Villains – joining the likes of Harry Frazee, Aaron Boone, Bill Buckner, Larry Barnett and Bucky #%*&ing Dent! In a Red Sox career that spanned a mere 7 games and 18 At Bats, Bard also managed to set a new standard in futility behind the plating – leading the major leagues with 10 passed balls!

Theo Epstein, the Red Sox reincarnated General Manager, did the right thing and tacitly admitted the egregious error of letting Mirabelli slip away like a Josh Bard passed ball. This morning, Theo completed a deal that will ship Bard to the Padres, along with Cla Meredith and some cash, in exchange for the timely and merciful return of Mirabelli to the Good Ship Red Sox. As I write these words, Mirabelli is winging his way via private jet towards Fenway Park, where he will catch Wakefield tonight against the Yankees. I will be in attendance at Fenway, and I can’t wait to compare and contrast the reception that fans will offer both to Mirabelli and to Johnny Damon. Damon, the one-time darling of Red Sox Nation, has been born again as a Boston bete noire, now that he has traded his Sox uniform for the hated pinstripes of the Yankees. The place will be rocking.

Wakefield handled the nighmarish month of April with his accustomed grace and dignity - refusing to publicly criticize Josh Bard's woeful performance behind the plate. But with each passed ball, the unblinking eye of the TV camera caught Wakefield looking very much like a dental patient undergoing a root canal at the hands of Josef Mengele - and without a shot of novacaine to dull the pain.

Hats off to Theo for quickly moving to correct a mistake.

Welcome back, Doug Mirabelli. Red Sox Nation loves you even more than Carson Kressley did last season!

Enjoy.

And Go Sox!

Al

1 comment:

Mark said...

I'd be interested in hearing your take on Damon's return!