Fat and Happy in Oakland…
Geesh, do we really have to leave Oakland?…
The three game series against the Oakland A’s was perhaps the most stress free, relaxing series the Yankees have enjoyed this season. Usually, they get much resistance from the A’s but not this series. The Yankees completed the three game sweep on Wednesday night with a 6-2 win.
A.J. Burnett continued to show that he is a much better pitcher under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Eiland. Burnett’s struggles came while Eiland was on a leave of absence, and his improvement has coincided with Eiland’s return. A.J. went 7 innings and only gave up 5 hits and 2 runs. He struck out 3 batters, while walking 2. He improved to 7-7 and lowered his ERA to 4.75.
The A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez, successfully weaved his way into and out of trouble until the 4th inning when Ramiro Pena and Derek Jeter had run-scoring singles to go with Mark Teixeira’s 3-run homer as the Yankees erupted for 5 runs. It would prove to be the only runs they would need, although Nick Swisher added a solo homer in the 6th.
John G. Mabanglo/EPA
The late innings were quiet under the supervision of Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain as the Yankees picked up their 53rd win of the year. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays kept pace with the defending World Champs as they completed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox. The Rays are 2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East standings, while the Red Sox fell to 4 ½ games. Hey Julia, what is that speck in the mirror? Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem so close anymore!
The Final Man Vote is in, and so is Nick Swisher! As if the Yankees didn’t have enough attendees for this year’s All-Star Game, Nick Swisher will tagging along with Derek Jeter and company for next week’s All-Star Game in Anaheim. Both of my Final Man votes made it to the All-Star Game, as I also supported the NL selection, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds. Congratulations to both Nick and Joey!
The Star Ledger
I am nearing the end of my “forced” spotlight on Boston Red Sox players (courtesy of a lost wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants). Originally, I had to write a paragraph about all 25 members on Boston’s June 26th roster. However, Julia was gracious enough to reduce my sentence to 10 players for good behavior. So far, I have completed 7 profiles, so this will be my 8th. Just two more to go. For this post, I am going to go with the Captain…
#33 Jason Varitek
Jason is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right foot, but he was on the active roster as of 6/26/10.
Tek, as he is affectionately referred to by the RSN, was born April 11, 1972 in Rochester, Michigan. He enjoyed baseball success and glory at a very early age as his team won the 1984 Little League World Series (Altamonte Springs, FL). The team would lose the world championship game to a team from Seoul, South Korea, the international champion, but it was only the beginning of championship and personal success for young Jason.
In high school in Altamonte Springs, he was catcher and third baseman for the 1990 state champions. In 1992, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team and was recognized as the National Collegiate Player of the Year. The next year, he was named Baseball America’s College Player of the Year. Along with Nomar Garciaparra, he would lead his college team, Georgia Tech, to the 1994 College World Series title game (which they lost to the Oklahoma Sooners).
Tek was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1994 and joined their system in 1995. In perhaps one of the most foolish trades of recent memory, the Mariners sent Tek and pitcher Derek Lowe to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997. At the time, I didn’t know much about Varitek or Lowe, but I remember thinking that it was a lot for a guy that had been a journeyman reliever at best. Little did I know that it would help set into a motion the grand plan to end the Curse of the Bambino.
Tek made it to the Show for a single at-bat in September 1997, but he was up for good in 1998, sharing catching duties with Scott Hatteberg. His leadership qualities really began to took hold in 2003, the year the team lost the ALCS to the Yankees, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run. The next year, he would be one of the driving forces behind the team’s run to the World Series championship (their first in 86 years).
Following the championship season, Tek has named the third Captain in Red Sox history behind Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski and Jim Rice.
Jason would go on to win a second World Championship with the Red Sox in 2007. He has caught a major league record 4 no-hitters (Hideo Nomo, 2001; Derek Lowe, 2002; Clay Buchholz, 2007; and Jon Lester, 2008).
Tek is on the downside of a great playing career, but his potential as a future manager is huge. There is no doubt that 2007 was not the last championship that he will experience in his career. I can only hope that it will come after his Red Sox playing days are a distant memory. George Steinbrenner always takes great pride in his “warriors”, and it goes without question that Tek is a warrior and a champion.
Just 2 more to go…