Like many Yankee fans, I’ve always hated Jason Varitek. I probably don’t have a good reason for doing so. Varitek was an underrated in the way that most catchers usually are. He was a strong defender, and had more than a few very strong years with the bat. He was never a dirty player, and never made the kind of inflammatory remarks or gestures that gave us reason to hate Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martin, or even Kevin Youkilis. I hated him because he was the public face of the Red Sox, wearing the ‘C’ for absolutely no reason, and therefore an enemy. He will likely be the first
Its fitting that Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek both retired this off-season. Their careers in Boston and New York almost exactly coincide with each other. They caught literally hundreds of games opposing each other. Both were outspoken leaders on highly successful teams, and one or the other was behind the plate for each of the bench-clearing incidents that so often marked the early 2000s between the two teams. Both struggled both on defense and offense in the twilight of their playing days, but their absences will be felt in spring training for some time.
Jason Varitek is not a Hall of Fame candidate the way that Jorge Posada theoretically could be. However, I don’t think that everyone outside of the Boston area should forget him once he leaves the field. Varitek was the unquestioned leader of the Red Sox team that broke an 86-year curse in the most dramatic fashion imaginable. He led them to another World Series. The Red Sox in Varitek’s hayday were probably the second best team in all of baseball, and you could make an argument that they were better in the Yankees during the aughts. It should be no coincidence that the Red Sox started to decline as Jason Varitek also did.
So, worthy adversary, congratulations on a great career. Maybe we’ll see you as a coach or manager somewhere, someday.