That was the tagline from Star Trek: Generations. One of the lesser Trek films but definitely the one which brought most Trekkies war of words in the Kirk versus Picard battle to a zenith.
Hypothetically, till we hear otherwise, Jason Varitek is gone.
And hell, since were getting more questions than answers… let’s rock… I’m Bobby V., my first year at the helm, I’m psyched, nervous and in need of a team captain. Do I leave it to the veterans to guide the team? Do I not appoint, anoint or christen a new captain and just seize the role of Supreme Leader? Should I go with the highest paid perennial all-star and MVP candidate who works with a proven yet quiet determination? Do I look to the two-time World Series Champion, the most clutch Designated Hitter in the history of the team (who made a d!ck of himself during ‘the fallout’)? How do I not give a serious look at the stalwart, rugged and unwavering 3B who always seems to be somewhere on the MVP ballot? Or I do take the risk of getting a no holds barred tell it like it is in your face pint-sized MVP who is the first to arrive, the last to leave and has been consistently reminded he’s just too damn small to be in the major leagues. In the words of Stone Cold Steve Austin, “Oh Hell Yeah!”. Dustin Pedroia. Pedey may in fact be the baseball equivalent of SCSA, or for a modern-day wrestler, C.M. Punk. Both are guys who let their personal lives, struggles and feelings permeate their ‘characters’ and both are the wrestling equivalent of Kevin Millar. I’ll go to war with either ‘One-Five’ any day of the week and a doubleheader on Sundays. Pedey was the loudest voice following the destruction of Tito Francona and the first we heard from following the confirmation of Bobby V’s hiring. Like Varitek, he’s a proven warhorse on the field and his voice and opinion obviously counts for something off it. For as much as Valentine is going to take the ‘pressure’ off the boys and make it an atmosphere where they can play… let’s remember that he’s there because the last manager made it too comfortable. If we’re supposed to believe the reputation, Bobby is a diva… and should have a captain who can balance that image with one of his own.
Let’s look at the history of a few Boston Captains… Ted Williams was the best hitter of his and arguably any generation while also being a loud, foul-mouthed know it all with an ego the size of his home state and a hatred for the ‘Knights of the Keyboard’ to match. Captain Carl was a lifelong Red Sox who carried the respect of the ‘The Nation’ and quietly took the teams he was given on his Hall of Fame shoulders for a good deal of his twenty plus year career bridging the gap between Ted and Jim Ed. But, let’s look at a few other Bostonians to wear the ‘C’. Eddie Shore refused an anesthetic while a doctor sewed his ear back on. Bobby Orr, only the greatest hockey player to wear skates (sorry Wayne Gretzky lovers, but Wayne only played forward… Bobby played defense and dominated the all-around game) and he shared his captaincy with Bucyk and Espo for the most part. Ray Bourque was known simply as ‘The Captain’, a quiet yet powerful presence who led by example and had no problem putting himself before the team (except when he requested a trade due to his age and knowing the B’s weren’t going anywhere) nor did his alternate captain and Hall of Fame partner Cam Neely, a player of equal quiet ferocity who as president of the Bruins changed the landscape of the entire franchise and helped deliver the Stanley Cup. Big Z is in the same mold, with no fear of physically defending his teammates on the ice and setting the example in the locker room. Bill Russell, Hondo, Bird and Garnett… nuff’ said.
Sure, Varitek will in no way be an easy act to follow, but nor should he be. A team is a changing dynamic and requires someone who can change with it. That, if anything, would be the undertone of this off-season. Change and adaptation. Bobby Valentine is that change while Dustin Pedroia is the adaptation.