"Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way"
For those members of Red Sox Nation who are familiar with the writings of Thomas Paine, the American writer and political pamphleteer, there is no shortage of quotes, which describe the "Common Sense" way that Jason Varitek has embarked on this season.
The Captain is in the midst of silencing the critics, who were ready to bury Varitek after last season's miserable campaign. He batted only .220 with 13 homers and 43 runs batted in last season, by far the worst of his career.
In last night's 5-3 loss in Inter-league play against the New York Mets, Varitek hit home run number eight, while raising his average to .246. He has also driven in 20 runs.
"These are the times that try a man's soul."
Varitek struggled mightily at the bat last season, while going through a heated, and sometimes public, divorce from his wife of twelve years, Karen.
The catcher has long been known for his ability to handle a pitching staff, but has historically not been the automatic out he became at the plate last season.
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and Angels know of us.
A notorious streak hitter, Varitek hit home run number eight last night against Mets lefty Johan Santana. The pitch came on Santana's best pitch, a change-up, which Varitek blasted onto Landsdowne Street to tie the score at 1-1 in the second inning.
Varitek's numbers have been revolutionary against Santana. After yesterday's two hits in four at bats against the tough left-hander, Varitek is 9-for-19 with two homers, a .524 OBP, .789 slugging pct. with a 1.313 OPS.
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection."
The home run was Varitek's third in as many nights on the Red Sox home stand and fourth in the last five games.
The switch-hitting catcher has owned left-handed pitchers this season. In just 24 at-bats, he has five homers and a double, while hitting .333 from the right side of the plate. He is tied for third in the majors for most homers against lefties this year.
He also has a .414 OBP and a .958 slugging percentage to go with a 1.372 OPS against south paws this season.
"Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it."
In addition to his home run last night, Varitek singled and smashed a shot to left-center that was caught up against the wall.
He also hit a hard shot to shortstop in the fourth that was scored an error, even though it ended up bouncing off the wall after hitting shortstop Ramon Martinez.
With runners on second and third, Varitek hit a shot to short. The ball deflected off Martinez glove and bounced all the way down the left-field line allowing two runs to score. The play was ruled an error much to the disdain of the Fenway faithful.
"At that point in time, it gave us a run either way," Varitek said. "It just so happened to give us two. The important thing was that either way, we got more runs across, and it got us right back in the game."
"If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately."
Originally, Varitek was 1 for 4, but a fielder’s-choice grounder in the sixth was changed to a single after the game.
Varitek's three round trippers so far on this homestand brings his total to eight on the season in just 32 games this season. Varitek didn’t hit his eighth homer last season until July 21, in his 81st game.
He needs one homer to tie Jackie Jensen (170) for 12th on the Sox' all-time list.
He also reached 1,992 career total bases, moving him past Jimmie Foxx (1,988) for sole possession of 15th place on the Red Sox' all-time list (14th Mo Vaughn, 2,074).
The continued play of Varitek is critical to the success of the team, which currently finds itself in second place, only one-half game behind the division leading Toronto Blue Jays.
Varitek hit home runs in two of the three victories against the Blue Jays earlier this week.
"Character is much easier kept than recovered."
Varitek began accessorizing his holiday wardrobe behind the plate last season, wearing special catcher's gear made by All Star Sports. He then auctions off the special gear to raise money for various charities.
This year, the Red Sox Captain wore kelly green gear with embroidered shamrocks on St Patrick's Day and wore it again for Earth Day on April 22nd.
After the game, the gear was auctioned off at Redsox.com for $2,525 benefitting Children's Hospital of Boston.
On Mother's Day, he wore red gear with pink accents, which will be auctioned off to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
This weekend, Varitek will wear special camouflage gear behind the plate on Monday in honor of Memorial Day to benefit the Massachusetts Soldier's Legacy Fund.
Todd Civin is a free lance writer who is available for hire. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com with comments or story leads. If you enjoyed my story, you'll enjoy the writing of my favorite BR writers Heartbeat of the Bronx, John Howell, Peter Schiller and Hao Meng.